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November 5, 2007


control_samriley.jpgAnd here we have the story of a young man with a bright future and a knot in his stomach, adored peripherally but beset from within by a voracious discontent. He was compelled to reject all good things that came his way. Good will and well wishes he turned on their heads, and through clenched teeth and twisted throat he spit lead and spurned love until that knot spread into his veins and consumed him.

Or maybe I'm just projecting. Anton Corbijn's portrait of Joy Divison frontman Ian Curtis is so clinically removed from its subject that it's up to the audience to intuit the whys behind all the monochrome whats; anyone not up for the task might end up wondering why this moping lad from Manchester warrants such consideration. Corbijn, who photographed the band during their brief reign in the late 70s, seems intent on remaining outside, looking in; that this resolute stance extends to the one avenue that might have afforded the film a bit of subjectivity - Curtis' music - grounds the film within its biopic confines. The film makes admirable leaps across time, tearing down myths with single cuts, but there are moments where I wonder if he couldn't have just lingered for a split second more. When Curtis tells his wife Deborah that he no longer loves her and she walks off down the cobblestones, blinded with tears, Corbijn cues up the refrain of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' on the soundtrack. A predictable move, perhaps, but he could have turned it into something if he'd held on the scene, held on her and on the song and let a bit of musicality seep its way into what is otherwise a rigorous checklist of events.

Or maybe I'm just too close to the material. Control is a good film, but I feel it's arrived in theaters already bested by the 20 minutes devoted to Joy Division in 24 Hour Party People. Perhaps the truest portrait has yet to come: I'm very much looking forward to Grant Gee's upcoming documentary on the band, simply titled Joy Division, which played at Toronto alongside Corbjin's film and which sounds like a fascinating melange of Manchester culture and intimate perspectives.

I have a feeling this critique will get another spin in a year or so, when the recently announced Kurt Cobain biopic is released.

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Speaking of which, I finally saw About A Son again this past weekend, and hung out with AJ as his tour through the Midwest and my own leave of absence from Texas coincided in Springfield, Missouri. I couldn't stop looking at all the trees; I haven't seen genuine fall colors in I don't know how many years. A cold front blew in the other night. It was a fine decompressant.

Posted by David Lowery at November 5, 2007 3:36 AM


It was nice seeing you and hanging out again David. We'll see you in December!

Posted by: Dan at November 8, 2007 3:16 PM