Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tell Me About Macclesfield: Control

After the film festival where I managed to see 8 feature films and 5 shorts, you’d have thought I might have wanted a break from the cinema for a while. And ordinarily I probably would have, but Control has just come out and I was impatient to see it. So we went to the cinema on a miserable Tuesday evening.

I really enjoyed it although as with most films I’ve seen in the last two weeks ‘enjoyment’ doesn’t really seem an appropriate emotion. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but somehow I thought it would be more experimental than it was – it was very much a straightforward biopic, albeit a beautifully shot one with fantastic music.

A few years ago I did try to read Deborah Curtis’ book ‘Touching from a Distance’ on which it is based, but the ins and outs of Ian Curtis’ domestic arrangements didn’t really interest me. I think I preferred the image of the tragic artist to the reality, but perhaps it’s a sign that I’ve grown up that the ordinariness is just as interesting. And when I cried at the end (rather embarrassingly as we were soon thrust out into the glaring light of the shopping centre, where my red eyes and trembling lip couldn’t be hidden), it wasn’t so much for the waste of genius, but for the broken family and friends left behind.

In interviews with the surviving members, its always obvious how devastated they were by the loss of their frontman at a ridiculously young age, but as a friend probably more than a creative force (they did after all recover and go on to greater success as New Order) and I don’t think that has ever left them. Control shows that friendship, the laddish behaviour, the ordinariness and their absolute youth which hadn’t equipped them to deal with this.

I do wonder though who is going to see Control besides those who already love Joy Division?
It doesn’t have any big stars in it like ‘Walk the Line’ (which I found hugely disappointing) or the triumphing adversity that ‘Ray’ did that seems to pack ‘em in at the multiplex, and it certainly doesn't glamorise rock n roll death as perhaps The Doors might. To existing fans the story is probably already well known what with the book, 24 Hour Party People, various Manchester music documentaries (which have been in overdrive recently with the death of Tony Wilson and the anticipation of this film). The story of Factory Records and its various bands is something so familiar to me, I suppose as the story of The Beatles might be to someone growing up in the sixties or Bible stories are to a strong Christian. I might have wondered if I really needed to see another film about this but it still brought something new to the subject and especially proves an interesting counterpoint to 24 Hour Party People, which was very much Wilson's story whereas this is undoubtedly Ian Curtis'.

7 comments:

V*Kstro said...

As much as I love to see images with writings, I enjoyed reading this more than anything I've read about "Control". I'm not sure how or when I became somewhat "obsessed" with British culture, fashion and music, but just reading every paragraph confirmed that in another life I had to be from some small town in England (maybe "Silk Town", I prefer the name "Treacle Town") definitely not Royalty!

Clever how you compared the last biopic-music films and even went as far as The Doors.

It's amazing how Ian gave so much and influenced so many musicians in his short lived life. It's a shame he married so young and had to deal with his illness and love(er) at that age. I also ask myself, if he did not have none of that... would have he still written what he wrote?

I believe anyone who loves good music and films will see this movie and if the word of mouth spreads it will be a true success.

At times it seems it's a cliché to mention JD as a favorite band, especially if you are in one. I have to give credit to New Order for my fascination towards Joy Division. I have come to embrace them more and more as I go through different stages in life. JD as many other artists in all fields have helped me put perspective in all my jigsaws. Truly reminding me that in all MΞLANcholy sooner or later some JOYfulness will shine through!

Cheers to Ian, Tony Wilson, Joy Division, New Order and Anton!

SandDancer said...

Thank you. I just hope you aren't disappointed now when you see the film.

Have you ever visited the UK and its small towns? I think music and literature paints a better picture than the reality but certainly a lot of creativity has come out of these places.

V*Kstro said...

It will be tough to disappoint me on this, though it is easier to do so when one expects more. Surprisingly, I have yet to visit the UK. I had a great opportunity when my uncle lived there for two years as an ambassador (2004-2006), but I just could not get away from my everyday duties. Don't want to do the "tourist" think when I go, want to experience it as a "local".

Miss Forthright said...

I want to see Control but I don't think it's a good idea- the whole depression/ hanging business will probably be too sad for me to bear. It looks fabulous though.

SandDancer said...

v*kstro - its a pity you've not been over here but I understand about not wanting to be too touristy - I felt the same about going to New York.

Miss F - obviously it was sad, it couldn't be anything else given what happened to him, but there were moments of levity in it too. So although I cried, afterwards I didn't feel that bleak, but I understand your caution. A couple in our screening left about 15 minutes before the end - not sure why but perhaps they didn't want to see a sad ending.

cogidubnus said...

Hmmm...clearly a bunch of control freaks...

WendyB said...

My husband had never heard of Joy Division but loved the movie. Maybe every Joy Division fan should be assigned to bring one non-fan to the theater.