Early on in Meeting People Is Easy, in what turns out to be the film's most memorable and touching candid moment, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke hops out of a New York City taxi, walks up to a club, gives the doorman his name, and gets denied. That's right, the frontman of the band who were on top of the pops and the world after the 1997 release of OK Computer (Capitol) isn't on the list. And as Yorke slinks away, the doorman even has the nerve to taunt him: "Creep! Dickhead!"
So, being a rock star in the '90s isn't all groupies and gak. In fact, through Yorke's eyes, it's a tedious business indeed, filled with pointless interviews, demeaning photo shoots, long plane rides, and strangers who resent your success.
Directed by Grant Gee, the music-video auteur behind Radiohead's "No Surprises" clip, Meeting People Is Easy chronicles roughly a year on the road with five alarmingly joyless egos at the height of their success. Amusing bits like the doorman scene or the snippet of two British talk-show hosts dissing the band are as few and far between as smiles on Yorke's dour face. And we never get to hear the band perform a song from beginning to end. Instead, Gee gives us an impressionistic vérité collage of Yorke and co. grimly enduring the grind of the road. The band are clearly not having any fun, so I guess we're not supposed to either. At the Brattle through May 6.