Monday, December 31, 2007

rock and roll films

On Saturday I saw "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten," the documentary about Joe Strummer by Julien Temple. The doc was a memorial to The Clash's lead singer in that his friends, family and collaborators gathered around a bonfire to reflect upon their experiences with him. I thought Temple used some interesting storytelling techniques for a documentary (animations built from Strummer's first band, The 101's, slow shutter speed during the fireside interviews, Strummer's voiceover giving a London Calling radio broadcast as the narrative thread), which I appreciated from a filmmaking point of view. But overall I have to say that in terms of a rock and roll film, I liked Control better. And I know that you can't compare apples and oranges (one film being a narrative shot in black and white with fabulous actors, the other being a documentary pieced together with a interviews and a lot of stock/archival footage); however, inasmuch as they are both fruits that come from trees (films about deceased British rock and roll stars), I am comparing them. I felt more moved by the portrayal of Ian Curtis's character in Control than I did Strummer's in Unwritten. I felt that I got to know Curtis more intimately, even though several of Strummer's closest friends retold his story with private details only friends could know. I just felt there could have been a little more detail, and a stronger turning point. The music in both films was great, but then again how could you not enjoy music from two of the most influential bands from that era, and it was fun to relive the moments. So put them both on your queue and rock on!

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