The Über Rock DVD Review: Iggy, Sid and some Portuguese punks called Parkinson… Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Sunday, 29 January 2017 05:00

‘The Stooges - Gimme Danger’ (Dogwoof Film)

 

Gimme DangerJim Jarmusch decided to shoot a flick about one of my favourite bands before they were all gone, and ended up getting Jim Osterberg (Iggy Pop) to pretty much tell the story of the Stooges, together with a pretty stellar cast and some juicy clips, all shot and tied in together in a way that makes for a great flick, regardless of if you were a fan or not.

 

It’s always difficult to give a fair assessment of a film when it's about a band you love and have poured over this internet looking for interviews and footage over the years… and just when you think the story is exhausted, along comes a decent budget flick to capture your love for the band and thrust them into the general public on a level they haven't done for quite some time.  From the iconic front cover, it was going to be an interesting viewing, yet quite sad and poignant - especially at the end when up flashes a picture of the band and you realise that, of the people who can claim to have been Stooges, four of them have now left this place and managed to leave shoes that are impossible to fill.

 

Sure there is some iconic footage that we've all seen a hundred times over.  I particularly loved hearing the talking heads like Scott and Ron's sister speaking fondly about what the band meant to her and her mom and ultimately her brothers; also hearing what James Williamson's take on The Stooges was/is makes for fanboy fascination overload.

 

The flow of the film is really good and it's not overly geeky (uber fan boy), so that a casual rock fan wouldn't be interested, so that is a generally a really interesting story of a band and their struggle and triumphs.  I think where the film really comes good is it lets those of us who love The Stooges give a nod that says smugly “yeah, I was right this band were awesome”: all these decades later they've lost none of their coolness or the danger that went with listening to a Stooges record. 

 

This film would mean nothing if it wasn't for the music created by the band with hindsight being what it is you have to appreciate what a fantastic body of work from the self-titled debut to when they broke up in the mid 70's they were peerless. Their influence is shown from The Damned to Sonic Youth, The Pistols to Dinosaur Jr, they tapped into some pretty important bands as well whilst probably not getting the respect they deserved.  Whilst Iggy Pop has become a household name the contribution from the Asheton brothers should never be underestimated, and what Jim Jarmusch has done is give equal props to their immense talent.  It could have been all about Iggy and the drugs and the scandal and all the rubbish that sometimes acts as a side show to the main circus act - but it isn't. Instead, the film centres around the interview with Pop and flows well with the segments contributed by the supporting cast.

 

Sure it might not be the best ever music documentary but it’s pretty damn captivating.  The story is told without sensationalising it or resorting to telling tall tales, so I'd say if you love music and love movies then dive in… because if nothing else the soundtrack is sensational!

 

‘Sad Vacation - The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy’ (Chip Baker Films) 

 

Sad VacationI was really looking forward to this film. It had been hyped up pretty nicely to be fair: but this is one of the most trodden down paths in rock and roll history, with the “whodunit” and armchair detective exposes, while Room 100 at The Chelsea Hotel is a weird landmark in rock and roll history, considering it’s also the place where a girl was murdered.  I possibly was expecting a bombshell or someone to walk on set and bring new facts and clear John Ritchie's name: that would definitely wrap up this whole sorry tale once and for all… but it never happens. What it does cover is their tragic love story, from the point of view of people who were around the couple at the time.

 

Sid has turned into something of the poster boy for punk rock and his story has been told a thousand times over by people close to him - and people not so close to him: some you take with a huge pinch of salt, and others just might be onto something. One thing for sure, the Chelsea Hotel back in the late 70's wasn't anything like the place it is today : with the whole aesthetics of Noo Yawk post-Mayor Giuliani and his gentrification of the city, I guess would be unrecognisable. It seems fitting that such a seedy end happened in what looks like such a seedy place.

 

I loved what filmmaker Danny Garcia did to Johnny Thunders in his epic 'Looking for Johnny', and knew that he was a good guy who would also do justice to this tragic love story. He certainly had a decent cast of talking heads for this flick, and I appreciate it's a tough call to come up with a new angle or uncover some new fact, seeing as the main central characters - from Sid and Nancy to Sid's mam - are all passed away; had one of them lived and gotten clean, maybe over the years we'd have gotten a truer picture of what really happened all those years ago.  

 

I did snigger at Howie Pyro and his ashes story - even if it's not funny really - and it was cool to hear points of view I don't remember hearing before, from the likes of Neon Leon and Sid's real friends. It's so well shot, and the soundtrack, using the talents of Sami Yaffa, again is exceptional. Ultimately it just turned into a really well shot and pieced together film with a superb soundtrack (using 'Terminal Love' was a cool move however obvious).

 

I've read so many books on the subject, and seen all the films and docs I guess I've reached saturation point, and felt slightly let down: maybe that's more to do with my expectations (what was I expecting?).  I did get how tragic a story this whole shebang was, and how it must have been like 1000 miles an hour for a young Sid (who at the end of the day was just a kid). Whatever you want to believe about Nancy, she loved the guy, and certainly didn't deserve to die, and it was nice to hear people say some good things about her for a change (maybe not everyone though).

 

It’s a fascinating story and one we'll never get to the whole truth, sadly; but damn, it sure threw up an awesome soundtrack, and for that alone it's worth a tenner of anyone's money. If you like rock n roll documentaries with great music, then it's a no brainer. Maybe now Sid and Nancy can rest in peace.

 

‘A Long Way To Nowhere - The Parkinsons Story’

 

The ParkinsonsThe Parkinsons might not be a band many of you reading this have heard of: but hopefully after reading this they will be a band you’ll hurriedly go and research and buy up the back catalogue and make sure you catch this film. 

 

Out of all three movies in my round up, I can quite honestly and easily declare that the rockumentary of who and what were The Parkinsons to be the most captivating, interesting and downright entertaining out of the three. They might not be up there with The Stooges, and they will never have the infamy of Sidney, but, my God, for sheer entertainment and likeability, The Parkinsons are hands down champions of the silver screen.  

 

Theirs is a familiar(ish) story. The guys in the band do the narrating, and come across as absolute diamonds in a sea of shit wannabees. They were/are a force of nature and can kick the backside of a million bands who managed to climb further up the greasy ladder of success: these boys had heart and soul. 

 

The film is superbly put together and no stone is unturned. The sheer enjoyment and love for the band shines through during all the interviews, and some of the footage (which is incredible) proves that, away from the madding crowds of manufactured bands and insipid sanitised rock and roll, there is a heartbeat as big as any bass drum for honest, exciting, incendiary rock and roll with integrity.  The Parkinsons were rock and roll!  They lived it, breathed it and played it like there was no tomorrow.  Their time might well have been way too brief but with a heart full of napalm they burned bright.  How can you not root for these boys? Afonso might not have velvet tones, but he led from the front and was a fireball of energy that was captivating and exciting, and the guy had an abundance of charm that is endearing and alluring and for a front man he's captivating and absolutely riveting.

 

Plain and simple, the film tells their story from start to finis: you get to feel the highs, the frustrations and the lows, but throughout you will be entertained - that is without question. This should go down as one of the finest rock and roll films, a sort of celluloid 'How To Play Punk Rock n Roll' that is the go to for future  bands seeking advice  on  playing wild and reckless rock n roll.  The whole feel of the film draws you in from start to finish as you root for the boys to succeed; and by the end I guess, even though they never got to headline stadiums or became a household name,  they have kinda succeeded because they kept true to themselves… and the fact they remained friends and can still get up and play is a triumph in itself. 

 

The film is without question my pick of the bunch and one I would highly recommend you make the effort to see.  God bless The Parkinsons - you rocked and rolled and left a fine back catalogue of tunes (and destruction) in your wake.  I only hope that the naked fan has managed to find another outlet now the band have moved out of London. Crazy fucker!