Friday, August 1, 2008
Joy Division is a depressing band to be a fan of and I don't necessarily mean because of the "morose" lyrics or the haunting image left by singer Ian Curtis after his suicide. The depressing thing is that, given their relatively short shelf life, if you have both of their studio albums - well, congratulations! You now have the complete Joy Division catalog!
Of course, they left behind some crumbs for the completists. A few badly recorded shows, a book written by his wife and a few BBC show appearances are really all that's left of a band so was influential, so vital to the evolution of post-punk rock & roll that it's really hard to underestimate their impact on popular music.
So I wasn't completely sure what to expect from the new documentary. What I really wanted to see was some footage of the band on stage that I hadn't seen or perhaps some MTV Cribz-type segment with Ian introducing people to his pimped-out SUV and his swimming pool shaped like a man screaming in pain. In the end, I guess there was enough of the former for me to give it a semi-interested thumbs-up.
I just noticed that the IMDB entry for this movie has the keywords hidden by a "Spoiler Warning!" notice (I guess that's because one of them is "suicide") so I'm sorry if a gave anything away in my opening paragraph.
A couple of notes on the "talking head"-type sequences: Someone (and it's kind of hard to tell who's talking most of the time) mentioned how much their signature sound developed out of mixing the loud, Sex Pistols-derived punk of their early days as Warsaw with the proto-disco, R&B that was pretty popular at the time, which I guess should have been pretty obvious to me but having watched 24-Hour Party People, I just assumed it was another invention of mad scientist producer Martin Hannett (who, incedently, says in an interview that he loved working with Joy Division at first because "they were clueless").
All in all, not a bad flick - certainly worth the 4 bones I paid to "rent" it. I'm sure that any Joy Divisionite will find some interesting tidbits and the grizzled visages of the current New Order chaps will surely produce a few thrills. Just don't be expecting any re-inventing of the Joy Division mythos or a collection of all the commercials they did for Dunkin Donuts ("Dreaming of darkness, walking the line, one dozen crullers, for $2.99!") and you won't come away depressed.