Gimme Danger (15.)
Directed by Jim Jarmusch.
Featuring Iggy Pop, Ron Asheton, Mike Watt, Scott Asheton and Steve Mackay. 109 mins. Out of DVD and Blu-ray from Dogwoof.
Ignacious Pop – what's your take on him? I'm of a generation that had him handed down to us as an undisputed rock legend, a wild frontman to be revered without question, or reservation. Well, the handers down were the 60s crowd who got to swank around to The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, etc, so you'd kind of trust their judgement on this. But all I could see then, and now, is a poor man's version of Mick Jagger; and being a poor man's version of Mick Jagger is like being Mike Yarwood's impersonation of Frank Spencer. He was also a Jagger without even a rudimentary sense of embarrassment: a drug fuelled freak, always showing off his physique, like a rock'n'roll Putin.
But this I assumed was down to my ignorance. Plus, I only knew him as a solo artist, so when Jim Jarmusch made a film about his early career with The Stooges I went into it with an open mind, eager to learn why the band had this fearsome reputation as pioneers of punk rock and the inspiration to countless bands. It certainly has an interesting story. The original line up got together as teenagers in the town of Ann Arbor in Michigan in the late 60s and made three albums: one each in New York, Los Angeles and London and got to hang out with Lou, Nico, Bowie and MC5. There were deaths and plenty of tales of rock'n'roll excess. And I tried, dear reader, I genuinely did, but in less than half an hour I was twisting restlessly in my seat.
This documentary about his favourite ever rock band The Stooges, was the Other Jim Jarmusch movie of 2016, the one nobody really liked. A Jarmusch film about a bus driving poet played by Adam Driver would seem to be the dictionary definition of tedium, but Paterson turned out to be a Return To Form for Jim Jar: odd because prior to Paterson I don't think many people quite knew Jarmusch was in need of a return to form. Watching it though you found yourself being awaken to things that had been missing in his work since Ghost Dog or Cigarettes and Coffee. Yes, now I can admit to myself that, overall, I found Bill Murray's totem pole performance in Broken Flowers a wee bit boring.
Gimmer Danger though indulges many of Jarmusch's bad habits, foremost of which is his desperate fawning over anything he considers to be cool. The Stooges are for him the coolest rock band ever, so anything they have to say, anything at all, will be cool. For anyone else though it's like listening to the grown-ups talk about all the wild things they used to get up to when they were young; it's every Friday Night on BBC4 ever, dragged to breaking point. At least on BBC4 they can whip through a band's history in an hour or less.
For this history of The Stooges he starts at the end, with the band drudging around on tour, playing shows that were degraded spectacles of violence; front man Iggy baiting the audience who would respond with bottles and fists, both thrown. It then flips back to the beginning to show how they got there, which is like crossing the finishing line and then being made to go back and run the marathon.
What is so particularly infuriating is that a film with that title should be so dull, so safe. There is a dearth of filmed footage of the band and at points animation is used to illustrate the anecdotes, but most of it is just talk, talk, talk.