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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.


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?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…