Lovers Lane
Rialto Square Theatre
Avondale Music Hall
ATT Internet 75

DVD Zone: July 2008

| June 30, 2008

Joe Strummer:
The Future Is Unwritten


After the demise of The Clash, Joe Strummer wandered. His musical inspirations stagnate, he relegated himself to film scores and the odd acting gig with a side project or two here and there. Eventually, he would hold a series of “bonfire discussions” originating at the Glastonbury Music Festival. At these bonfires, anyone and everyone was welcome to sit around and discuss music, politics, or whatever was on their minds. Eventually, these assemblies would fuel Strummer’s own creative fire and lead him to assemble the next phase of his musical life, first with Latino Rockabilly War, and his final band The Mescaleros. It is these events that form the narrative thread of Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.

Director Julien Temple entices a host of contemporaries to sit around the bonfire and ruminate warmly about the late frontman of “the only band that matters.” The lineup spans the course of Strummer’s life, from members of his first band, The 101ers, to fellow Clash-mates Mick Jones and Topper Headon, to musicians, actors, and others who felt his influence such as Bono, Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese, and Jim Jarmusch.

The loving rememberences and Temple’s superb direction elevate the film above mere documentary status simply by his skills as a filmmaker. The interviews are far from static, and the archival footage of Strummer is fresh and alive, with many never-before-seen sequences. Although the film runs a good two hours, you never feel like you’re watching a history lesson.

If the interviews in the original film don’t satisfy your need for Joe stories, then the special features section should sate the appetite quite nicely, thank you. Another hour and 40 minutes of discussion from nearly everyone involved is included, as well as the commentary track from director Temple.

Film: ***1/2 Features: ***

— Timothy Hiatt

New Order: Live In Glasglow

Though New Order’s on again/off again status isn’t always easy to predict, the bulk of the 2000s have been fairly productive thus far, including two studio CDs, a couple of hits collections, and the brand new Live In Glasgow (a concert film culled from its 2006 tour). The collection is stuffed with 18 tracks, from the obligatory dance-floor packers “True Faith,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” and “Blue Monday” through today’s surprisingly vital electronic-laced expositions. “Crystal” and “Krafty” sound particularly relevant in the wake of groups like Interpol, Editors, and The Killers, while players’ influence upon those younger acts is particularly apparent during their Joy Division recollections. The timing couldn’t be better considering Anton Corbijn recently directed Control based on the life and death of frontman Ian Curtis, though surviving band members still do “Transmission,” “Shadowplay,” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” remarkable justice.

But the true treasure trove comes during the second disc of bonus features mined from New Order’s rare and unseen vaults. Faithful can trace the group’s evolution from a burgeoning act with “Ceremony,” “I.C.B.,” and “Chosen Time” from Celebration 1981 to larger events like Rotterdam in 1985 (“Sunrise,” “The Village”) through 1989’s massive conquering of Hype Park Wireless with “Run Wild” and “She’s Lost Control.” Despite the early footage being a bit grainy and sometimes just above bootleg level, they make for charming additions to an otherwise exceptional collection.

Film: **** Features: ****

— Andy Argyrakis

Also Available . . . Proving three aging members, three chords, and the truth can still command a stage, ZZ Top release their first live DVD, Live From Texas. They may not play with the fire and sheer groove of their early days, but performing in front of the hometown crowd insures much adoration all around, and it’s still well deserved. The disc comes with loads of special features, such as a behind-the-scenes look at the day of the show and a photo shoot, as well as an extra performance of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady.”

Category: Columns, Monthly

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