Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Joey Guitar: Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

An overlong, weird, and messy take on a punk rock legend that this movie made me a lot less fond of. The movie is a mess, and that has to be what director Julien Temple ("Glastonbury", "Earth Girls Are Easy") is attempting. The beginning is jammed with random images from movies (e.g. "If...", "Animal Farm", "1984"), which make telling Strummer's story harder. As in, the audience has a limited attention span. I could not keep track of what was going on onscreen. Plus, another problem was that the interviews were not subtitled, that is to say, I could recognize Bono, Johnny Depp, and Matt Dillon, but I could not pick out some of the people. Surely Temple has watched enough documentaries to know that you subtitle interviews with information about the person giving the interview. Also, the interview sequences were actually quite strange, including a huge campfire with slowed down flames for the most part. Beneath all this is a pretty engrossing story, about how a guy wanted success, which he got with The Clash (which is one of my favorite bands) and how he fell from glory not only with losing bandmembers and selling out, but having his music played as a victory tune as bombs were dropped in Iraq in the early 90's. Also, he appeared in a few movies ("Walker", "Mystery Train", "Straight to Hell") on his way to obscurity. He is a very interesting guy, but also a jerk. He kicked out two of the key bandmembers out of the Clash and then put in some fill-ins who were less than stellar. Which sucked, because it brought upon the downfall of the band. By the end of the movie, though, you could care less about Joe and the campfires and the interviewees and all the bands he was in and who went to college with him and when they appeared on "South Park." To sum it up in a short, sweet manor, the movie is a mess (however intentional), it is hard to review, Temple needed help editing it, and though it was good, it wasn't worthy of Joe Strummer. C+

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