Length: 93 minutes
Director: Grant Gee (Meeting People is Easy; Blur & Radiohead videos)
Starring: Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett, Rob Grettin, Anton Corbijn, Annik Honore, Pete Shelley, Lesley Gilerr
I want to give the new Grant Gee’s new “Joy Division” documentary a higher rating, but somehow I am unable to. It’s got all the right essentials to making a good documentary and it’s a band that I truly love and believe deserve a well done documentary. Maybe it’s because a lot of the familiarity of the material is all ready widely known by even slight Joy Division fans (I am always surprised to find people that can name off that Ian Curtis was listening to Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot” when he offed himself). Then again, maybe it’s because the movie has a severe case of bad timing- coming just a short time after the Ian Curtis bio-pic band photographer Anton Corbijn’s “Control” made a big splash (well, for an Ian Curtis bio-pic- I mean there was serious Oscar talk for Best Actor) - that we all ready know the story that is going to be told to. We get the standard interviews with the surviving band mates and only a few slight mentions of post-Divison’s morphing into the equally brilliant New Order. All the other essentials are here, including the always awesome, sadly late Tony Wilson. I think the problem may have been by trying to mix up the routine doc materials with some experimental bits (nothing too extreme- don’t worry) - usually just doesn’t mesh well. However, there are some chilling recorded interviews with Curtis and a heart rendering side by side of Curtis and New Order performing together twenty years apart. So Joy Division fans- you will probably not have a problem with the film. I didn’t have a problem with the film, because even though I know the story so well, they’re still one of my favorite groups. I do have a problem recommending it to the average documentary or regular film go-er, because I do think it could have been better and been more powerful and different enough to stick out without selling out- kind of like “Control” did but as a documentary. Your regular Joy Division fan may be enticed, but someone who hasn’t had much exposure to them (think “I’ve only heard ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and I thought it was the Cure, for like, ever!’) might not be and this band is too important to have that done to them. If you watch a movie/documentary about this band and don’t come away from it impressed with the influence they’ve had on a lot of your favorite music and a respect for Ian Curtis (if a somewhat sad one though), then the filmmakers weren’t as responsible as they should be have been. That or this band just isn’t your cup of tea. In that case, you’re -really not going to like it.
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