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Martin63

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Reply with quote  #1 
The Scotsman

http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment/Love-torn-apart-again.4022563.jp


Love torn apart, again

Published Date: 26 April 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Do we need yet another Joy Division film?

                                                                                ONE PERSON IS CONSPICUOUS BY their absence from Joy Division, Grant Gee's new documentary about the hugely influential Manchester band. And no, it's not Ian Curtis, the singer whose suicide on 18 May, 1980 infamously cut short the band's career. It is Deborah Curtis, his widow.

Arguably Curtis has had her say already – Control, last year's biopic, was based on Touching from a Distance, her book about her late husband, and she was credited as co-producer. Joy Division producer Jacqui Edenbrow says Curtis declined to participate in the new documentary because she didn't feel she had anything new to say, but sent a supportive message. Peter Hook, Joy Division's bassist, muddied the water last year by claiming Curtis "f***ing hated" Control. Whatever her real feelings about either film, perhaps she just wants to put the past behind her.

Just about everyone else is represented, however – the rest of Joy Division, label boss Tony Wilson (interviewed not long before his death), Curtis's lover Annik Honore, and various contemporaries.

To make up for Curtis's absence, Gee peppers the film with written quotes from her. What's interesting is the effect this has on proceedings. The makers of Joy Division, conscious that it follows so soon after Control, have been pitching it as the story of the band and their music, therefore different from Control, which was Curtis's story. This is accurate up to a point, and means the two films work well as companion pieces. But it's also misleading. Control went to great lengths to recreate the band's music – the cast performed it themselves, with a remarkable authenticity and passion – and original recordings were also used to propel the story along.

As for Joy Division, it may begin by attempting to put the band in a context – cue shots of grimy 1970s Manchester – but it ends up talking about Curtis's depression, epilepsy and suicide, the same ground as the earlier film. The real difference is that, where Control was subversive, Joy Division mostly tells you what you already knew. It's a quality that makes Control, by some distance, the more significant film.

The band, and many of their fans, might not see it this way. But what Control did was portray Ian Curtis as a normal person, not a musical icon – it showed him as unfaithful husband, office worker, father and son. He was a hugely talented man, it acknowledged, but also a very ordinary one, ground down by the conflict between the rock 'n' roll dream and everyday, grown-up responsibilities – a conflict he may have resolved if his mind hadn't been clouded by epilepsy medication, although we will never know for sure. This, the film said, was the key to understanding his emotionally raw songs.

What's striking about Joy Division, the film, is how oblivious almost everyone seemed to be to this. The band confess that they never bothered to read Curtis's lyrics properly until after his death; that when he wrote a song called Love Will Tear Us Apart while his marriage was breaking down, no-one thought to ask whether it was about Deborah. In one of the film's most poignant scenes, Tony Wilson recalls how Honore told him Ian's lyrics filled her with worry about his mental health: Wilson loftily pointed out that they were "art" and that she shouldn't read anything into them, as if art had nothing to do with real life – in the interview he admits this was "f***ing stupid". Sleeve designer Peter Saville recalls realising, just after Curtis's death, that his decision to put a gravestone on the cover of the unremittingly bleak album, Closer – clearly the work of a deeply troubled writer – would seem exploitative. The implication – although nobody ever says this – is that for everyone involved, the band's "art" was often little more than posturing, like their decision to name themselves after the prostitution wing of a concentration camp. But for Curtis it was real.

It is unfair to judge Curtis's friends harshly. We are talking here about young, working-class men in the late 1970s. Talking openly about emotions was, as they now guiltily admit, not something they were skilled at (they still aren't, judging by their expressions on film). Peter Hook recalls how he heard about Curtis's suicide as he was sitting down for Sunday dinner; afterwards, he calmly went back to his food.

One of Joy Division's most revealing interviews is with Genesis P Orridge of Throbbing Gristle, who recalls his conversations with Curtis. Mostly, Orridge says, they talked about emotions. Orridge is, of course, a transsexual, and this female perspective, alongside that of Annik Honore, gives the film an extra dimension whenever they are on screen.

Which is why I longed to hear from Deborah Curtis too. Her contribution would help, at least, to counterbalance the predictable male posturing of Tony Wilson, who waxes lyrical on screen about how Joy Division's achievements marked the beginning of the "new" Manchester, but never really offers a coherent argument as to how or why, leading you to suspect that his words are boasting disguised as reverence – he is really talking about the legacy of his label, Factory Records, not anything Joy Division themselves did.

This is exactly what you'd expect from Wilson, and will probably play well to the film's core audience of male music obsessives. But watch out for the scene that shows you how many people have recorded covers of Love Will Tear Us Apart. Compiling my own list afterwards, I couldn't help noticing how the ones that seemed to get to the heart of what the song is really about are those sung by women.

• Joy Division is in cinemas from 2 May. Control is out now on DVD.

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Uncut

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The List

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Reply with quote  #5 
Independent 

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Brett

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Reply with quote  #6 
Film of the week in the Observer:

http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Observer_Film_of_the_week/0,,2277810,00.html
LittleBoy

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Reply with quote  #7 

So, the guy of the Observer writes a balanced review of the documentary and then blows it with his last paragraph. You can clearly tell he's come fresh to the story.

Brett

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Reply with quote  #8 
Exactly.  Although the past 12 months has seen "The Great Joy Division Revival", and has brought the band to more people's attention, it's slightly depressing to see the same old journalistic falsehoods rear their ugly heads again - I actually thought the whole "fascist" thing was long forgotten about, but evidently the press need a bit of tabloid scandal to inject a little bit more drama to the story.

Or perhaps a lot of mainstream journalists are too lazy to do proper research.

I suspect the truth lies somewhere between these two poles...
lee

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Reply with quote  #9 
a couple of inaccuracies in his review

He refers to one Sex Pistols concert

The band (w/out Ian) were formed at the first gig, and Ian & Deborah only attended the second one

He also adds that the remaining three members still continue as New Order.....

Although to be honest, if you're talking errors - I find it funny that in the doc itself - it lists 4 June 1976 as the day Ian and Debbie were married!



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groundcontrol

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Reply with quote  #10 
hey all,

we have a review up for this on Ground Control. Check it out here if you're interested: http://groundcontrolmag.com/detail/4/1019/

enjoy!

-mark




christ

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Reply with quote  #11 
i really enjoyed this film, more so than control, although i`ve come to like control  more now, and simply see  it as it is, a different film.
 i think its what i was kind of expecting this from control somehow.

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hobo

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Reply with quote  #12 

not enough info on writing the songs in this doc.

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