None of Ian Curtis’ Mondays were happy.
Although I’m inherently a critical person, I typically focus my assessments on social behavior and religion, not music or film. But every now and again. . . why not?
Yesterday, I decided to go to the movies.
Control, for those who don’t know, is Anton Corbijn‘s film about Joy Division’s (my favorite winter-time band) deceased lead singer, Ian Curtis. (You’ve probably seen Corbijn’s most memorable photography on U2’s Joshua Tree).
The new film focuses on Ian’s romantic and medical dilemmas, both of which contributed to his May, 1980 suicide — a mere 11 days after my birth. At the time, Joy Division were about to embark on a two week tour of America, their first. Although Ian hung himself, surviving members crossed the sea anyway and became New Order, a band that is melodic sensibility.
Actually, I won’t attempt a proper review, for I trust my editor will eventually write a better one. [ED: Flatterer.] But here are my personal opinions, put as tersely as possible.
I was worried that this flick would augment reality in favor of maintaining legend, as do many movies about bands. Corbijn didn’t let it get out of hand.
The movie’s chief strength is actor Sam Riley, who played Curtis contemporary Mark E. Smith in the far lighter 24 Hour Party People. No one else could have taken on this role. He even looks like Curtis, at times. The band scenes were my favorite, and the other actors really played the instruments. Riley sang all the Curtis parts, but it wasn’t always for the best — particularly during a studio scene featuring a solo vocal on "Isolation." His voice is just way too high. Part of Curtis’ uniqueness was that his mature, baritone voice sprang from such a boyish countenance.
Corbijn certainly let his photographer’s instincts inform the scenes, which I enjoyed. Black and white was a particularly effective choice.
And the soundtrack? I was thrilled to hear Kraftwerk’s Autobahn — a film first, I believe.
I feared the worst, but Control wasn’t terrible. I must admit, I’m severely bored with movies about the romantic lives of music personalities: Kurt and Courtney, Sid and Nancy, Jim and Pam, Ian and Debbie. . . I just find it dull. But for those who enjoy romantic drama, this flick will be more up your alley. You don’t even need to be a fan of the music.
Curtis died young, and if anything, Control will elicit some sympathy. Its protagonist thought big, but he wasn’t meant to be a star. I love the fact that Curtis never appeared to give a shit about fashion, musical or otherwise. He was sincere and original. That’s why I’m a fan. And fuck, he got married when he was sixteen, and became a father at the inexperienced age of 21. Pair that with epilepsy and the remnants of adolescent angst, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. And watching Werner Herzog’s Stroszek on the night of his suicide might have just given him the confidence to go through with his misguided escape.
Was it really worth making a movie about Ian? I don’t think so. Still, it should introduce a whole new slew of people to Joy Division. It also works as a showcase of Corbijn’s newfound skill with film. . . the cremation scene alone proves he has a director’s eye.
So yeah, go see it.
I’ll be back at some point, hopefully with something elaborate to say about this new U.S Embassy they’re hoping to build in Iraq. 750 million dollars to construct, this slap-in-the-face to Iraqi laity is black comedy at its best. Supposedly, it’s going to have an arcade, a water-park, a casino and a golf-course with lots of sand-traps. I love life.
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