Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Joy Division" (director: Grant Gee)

Watching this as a 1-2 punch, right next to 'Control' makes for the most comprehensive, and authoritative visual journey into the music of Joy Division, unquestionably. At a running time of an hour and a half, this feature-length documentary enlists the firsthand accounts of all surviving JD members (in remarkably in-depth interviews), as well as other 'I was there' types, including Curtis' little-seen mistress, Annik Honore, as well as people like Factory Records mogul Tony Wilson (who first signed the band), friend Genesis P-Orridge, photographer Anton Corbijn (who took the iconic photos/videos of the group), Cabaret Voltaire's Richard H. Kirk, the Buzzcocks Pete Shelley, and numerous others. There's tons of archival footage of the band, TV appearances, legendary producer Martin Hannett, associates, friends, you name it. The only person missing from the equation is Debbie Curtis - but some of her quotes are used here, so 'Joy Division' is as complete as could ever be hoped for. It's a beautiful film, illustrating the rough, industrial city that birthed the desolate sound, and how it shaped the Factory scene that Joy Division spearheaded. At the same time, it's a celebration of what made the group so great - and the important musical and cultural legacy they left behind. A magnificent documentary and a supreme example of a documentary done proper. (major release)

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