Skip to main content

labour of love

movie review :: control

the idea of making a film about joy division strikes me as odd. the band's appeal lies in their unfathomable mystery, some magic that others could feel, even if they couldn't explain it. the sheer diversity of joy division fans, and i count myself as one, is testimony that there is some validity to that. outside of the post-glam, post-punk context of the band, there is something inexplicable about them.

thankfully, director anton corbin- an avid joy division fan and chronicler himself- is aware of this. every scene in his biopic of joy division's lead singer ian curtis (and the film is about curtis, not the band as a unit) is suffused with the same atmosphere and aesthetic as the band's albums and videos- restrained, melancholy, emotional.

curtis' story is almost pedestrian on the one hand: far from dreaming of rock stardom, he was an exceptionally average (oxymoron alert!) teenager who listened to music (bowie, the stooges, etc.), wrote poetry, smoked, did some drugs and, eventually, married his high school sweetheart and started a government job. his ascent to icon status seemed unexpected, and, for all concerned, perplexing.

the title of the film is an important "tell" on its perspective. even as he met with success in the various areas of his life, control seems to be the one thing that ian curtis was never able to feel. he at first went through the expected motions of a young man in his social situation and then became driven by the band and the lifestyle that went along with it, while never feeling comfortable in either. curtis had little control over his job, his fame, his money, his emotions and, eventually, even his own body, which fell prey to increasingly disturbing epileptic seizures. viewed in that light, his eventual suicide seems not only sad, but inevitable.

as a result, the film is unrepentant in its bleakness, but wrapped in a beautiful soundtrack. which is not a bad description of joy division. corbin's most deft move as a director- and this is saying something, because he shows a phenomenal attention to detail throughout- is that he relies on joy division's music to form a sort of ancillary script. rather than trying to explain the appeal of the band or the reactions to their music, he gives plenty of time for the music to be heard. this is risky- it undoubtedly alienates people who aren't joy division fans- but it is really the only way to communicate what was so special about them without falling into the trap of over-explaining.

the film does at times become a little heavy-handed (it would have been stronger without the "hypnotism" scene intended to drive home points that were already well made), but overall maintains a sort of dignity that does the band and ian curtis proud.

Comments

Richo said…
I'm STILL waiting for the opportunity to see this. Hasn't, as far as I'm aware, been screened at any of the cinemas here in Krakow. Wonder if it has played at Warsaw, though...?!

as long as you're here, why not read more?

wrong turn

as some of you are aware, i have a long-term project building a family tree. this has led me to some really interesting discoveries, like the fact that i am partly descended from crazy cat people, including the patron saint of crazy cat ladies, that a progenitor of mine once defeated a french naval assault with an army of scarecrows, that my well-established scottish roots are just as much norwegian as scottish, and that a relative of mine from the early middle ages let one rip with such ferocity that that's basically all he's remembered for. but this week, while i was in the midst of adding some newly obtained information, i found that some of my previous research had gone in an unexpected direction: the wrong one.

where possible, i try to track down stories of my better-known relatives and in doing so this week, i realised that i couldn't connect one of my greatĖ£ grandfathers to his son through any outside sources. what's worse that i found numerous sources that con…

dj kali & mr. dna @ casa del popolo post-punk night

last night was a blast! a big thank you to dj tyg for letting us guest star on her monthly night, because we had a great time. my set was a little more reminiscent of the sets that i used to do at katacombes [i.e., less prone to strange meanderings than what you normally hear at the caustic lounge]. i actually invited someone to the night with the promise "don't worry, it'll be normal". which also gives you an idea of what to expect at the caustic lounge. behold my marketing genius.

mr. dna started off putting the "punk" into the night [which i think technically means i was responsible for the post, which doesn't sound quite so exciting]. i'd say that he definitely had the edge in the bouncy energy department.

many thanks to those who stopped in throughout the night to share in the tunes, the booze and the remarkably tasty nachos and a special thank you to the ska boss who stuck it out until the end of the night and gave our weary bones a ride home…

eat the cup 2018, part seven :: oh, lionheart

it all seemed so magical: england's fresh-faced youngsters marching all the way through to a semi-final for the first time since 1990. everywhere, the delirious chants of "it's coming home". and then, deep into added time, the sad realization: it's not coming home. oh england, my lionheart.

now, if we're being really strict about things, my scottish ancestors would probably disown me for supporting England, because those are the bastards who drove them off their land and sent them packing to this country that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. and indeed, shops in scotland have sold through their entire stock of croatian jerseys, as the natives rallied behind england's opponents in the semi-final. however, a few generations before they were starved and hounded from the lands they'd occupied for centuries, my particular brand of scottish ancestors would have encouraged me to support england [assuming that national football had even…