Saturday, September 13, 2008

Watched from the wings as the scenes were replaying


There is something most civilised about a cinema that permits a punter to carry a frothy pint of Guinness to one’s seat so it was a soothing pleasure to catch my first feature of the autumn season at Gloucester’s splendid Guildhall Arts Centre. The Joy Division documentary – or, if you will, "rockumentary" – proved a compelling hour and a half. Naturally the film covered a lot of ground that the post-punk cognoscenti already had seen, read and inwardly digested especially if they had tuned into last weekend’s Manchester music night on BBC4. However, the subject matter is ever fascinating and much of the footage chosen was sublime. I admired the juxtaposition of two performances of She’s Lost Control, six months apart, identifying the transformation from earnest yet atmospheric young guns to unleashers of maelstroms and brooding bringers of sturm und drang. The interviews were constructed sagely. It is always pleasing to note just how ordinary and self-deprecating the surviving band members are while the views and messages of sleeve designer Peter Saville, late Factory honcho Anthony Wilson and other assorted label-mates, roadies, and post-punk personalities were rewarding and fine. The music is, of course, everything; as one talking head suggested, one should forget all the myths, all the merchandising and simply remember that there are two ‘set texts’, Unknown Pleasures and Closer and not a lot else matters. Almost thirty years on, this brace of albums remains essential, seminal and utterly influential. This is a startling group. This is a startling group.

3 comments:

Adrian McKenzie said...

If you liked this documentary Martin, I think you'd enjoy the film 'Control', which you may or may not have already seen?

Having watched both, I have a preference for the narrative film as it does delve deeper into Curtis' personality and lifestyle, and you feel more familiar with the individuals involved. Plus, there's my favourite scene where their first inexperienced manager is challenged after the entrance of Rob Gretton (played by Toby Kebbell), the dialogue in that scene is hilarious.

Right! This has got me all nostalgic now. I'm off to sing 'Blue Monday' on Singstar. Unfortunately, it's not the original and superior 1983 version. They've put that 1988 remix by that twit Quincy Jones on the game; far too much cowbell.

Cole said...

Wise words, McKenzie. Yes, I have seen Control (see November 28th 2007) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Whatever the Joy Division story, be it televisual, film-based or prose, he always dies in the end sadly. I recall the Gretton dialogue with fondness. I'm not sure which film I prefer. Thanks for reading; hope you spotted the Spinal Tap reference in the above posting.

Oooooh, you and your Singstar....

Adrian said...

He dies??? Oh, flipping heck! That's the downside of buying pirated DVDs. They always cut off the end bit.