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Soul Boys of the Western World

2014 1h 50m Documentary Biography Music List
72% Tomatometer 18 Reviews 58% Audience Score 100+ Ratings
The rise and fall of '80s pop sensation Spandau Ballet. Read More Read Less

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Critics Reviews

View All (18) Critics Reviews
Drew Hunt Chicago Reader This has the quality of an illustrated oral history, though the incessant nostalgia and revisionist history are exhausting. May 14, 2015 Full Review Michael Rechtshaffen Los Angeles Times An energetic, entertainingly assembled documentary portrait ... May 7, 2015 Full Review Dave Calhoun Time Out This slapdash but endearing doc about the rise, fall and resurrection of '80s pop outfit Spandau Ballet is an inside job, packed with strong archive footage yet lacking anything you'd call truly incisive. Rated: 3/5 May 1, 2015 Full Review Austin Trunick Under the Radar [Soul Boys] does a fantastic job explaining the youth movement that birthed the New Romantic genre. Rated: 6/10 Apr 28, 2015 Full Review Mark Adams Screen International An absorbing and insightful delve into how the band defined the post-punk -- and consciously flamboyant UK -- music scene and went on to be an international phenomenon. Apr 27, 2015 Full Review James Mottram The List This trawl through the band's history has enough guile and guts to keep you watching. Rated: 3/5 Sep 30, 2014 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (7) audience reviews
Audience Member This documentary about '80s New Romantic pop band Spandau Ballet is quite interesting to begin with as it explains the post-punk London youth culture behind the band's look and sound. It does this using hitherto unseen footage of the band, their fans and contemporaries attending sartorial soirees in hotspot clubs against the uglier political backdrop of Thatcher's Britain. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/26/23 Full Review Audience Member Funny how it seems that just when a band embarks on a world tour, along comes a documentary about them. I know this much is true with SOUL BOYS OF THE WESTERN WORLD, the new film about '80s UK boy band, Spandau Ballet. Hailing from humble, council house beginnings in north London, the five lads were all school friends (two are brothers) and they formed their first band in 1976 when they were barely into their teens. Frequenting Soho's now iconic Billy's and Blitz clubs in the late 1970s, they latched onto the eccentric hipster fashion - if not quite the music - of the scene there. After a few name changes and one personnel change, they became Spandau Ballet in 1979 after a columnist reported seeing the words scrawled on a wall of a Berlin toilet. Their popularity grew, as did other so-called "New Romantics", including Duran Duran, Boy George and Visage. In 1981, they struck gold with an appearance on the British TV show, "Top of the Pops". This event launched their careers on the global stage, leading them to become, as we are told in the film, one of the most iconic groups of the '80s. What? I don't think so! Duran Duran and Boy George had far more influence on pop culture than these boys did. While Spandau Ballet were masters at merging music, fashion and video, their salad days were very short-lived. After scoring a few megahits (anthem/bar mitzvah party songs, if you will) and an appearance at Live Aid in 1985, the boys started drifting apart. The Kemp brothers wanted to pursue acting (which they did very well in the 1990 film, THE KRAYS) and, in interview after interview at the time, it became painfully obvious that while Tony Hadley was the voice of the band, Gary Kemp, who wrote all the songs, held all the power (and the royalties, in case you forgot or didn't know about the court battle in 1999). May all the Spandau Ballet fans forgive me for saying that I found SOUL BOYS OF THE WESTERN WORLD a tad narcissistic. The film's commentary comes solely from the five guys (and some of that sounds scripted) so we're not presented with opinions from others who were there at the time - cultural icons like Vivienne Westwood, fellow ex-New Romantics like Midge Ure, even fans. It all seems rather self-serving and vain. (Not surprisingly, a soundtrack album is expected to be released shortly along with a new album collection featuring three new songs.) Interestingly, or perhaps unfortunately, there is no contemporary footage used in the film. It's all archival material. There is no question that fans of the group will enjoy this film. I admit to having "Gold" and "True" (as well as P.M. Dawn's "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", which samples "True") in my music collection but this film didn't make me want to pull out my credit card and download a few more of their tunes. It did make me appreciate Tony Hadley's soaring vocals all the more but I won't be buying a ticket to their show should they decide to come here. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/28/23 Full Review Audience Member ***** Excellent This poor boy from the eastern world was absolutely enamored with the Spandau Ballet music documentary "Soul Boys of the Western World" on the infamous 80's New Wave Band. I will definitely musclebound my review with puns; why? Because too cut a long story short, I've lost my mind. Director Hencken lays a strong foundation on the "Soul Boys of the Western World" by showing the childhoods of the five Spandau Ballet members, the origination of the band, their bitter breakup, and their exuberant reformation; not to mention how they incorporated fashion within their music brand. Oh, before I go round and round with this review, let me inform you who is included in this ballet: Tony Hadley, frontman; Gary Kemp, Guitar and Main Songwriter; Martin Kemp, Bass and Gary's Brother; Steve Norman, Sax & Guitars; and John Keeble, Drums. My instinction of the documentary was that it was going to be a great one, and boy was it gold. You really don't have to be a Spandau Ballet aficianado to enjoy it, but it sure does help; especially as you see the band members move in through the barricades within their own personal challenges. Make sure that in your lifeline, you watch "Soul Boys of the Western World". It is one of the best, if not the best, music documentary I have ever seen. And of course, this much is true. You will love it and not only when you leave after seeing it. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member O poka Martin nättinä <3 Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member I was always right about S/B they were a bunch of posing prats Rated 1 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member A very well made documentary about the ups and downs of the band Spandau Ballet. Its very insightful asnd well made. Fame isnt always good news. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Soul Boys of the Western World

My Rating


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Movie Info

Synopsis The rise and fall of '80s pop sensation Spandau Ballet.
George Hencken
Steve Dagger, Scott Millaney
Documentary, Biography, Music
Original Language
British English
Release Date (Streaming)
Apr 4, 2017
1h 50m
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