By most accounts, The Stooges revolutionised rock music in the late 1960s and early 70s. Jim Jarmusch, in close collaboration with the front man Iggy Pop, offers a relatively conventional documentary on the band’s history, encompassing the traditional rock star bell curve of initial musical success, the descent into drugs and, for some in the tale, a significant reversal of fortunes. Jarmusch’s evident love of the music, and his artistic respect for Iggy and the other band members, both enlivens and inhibits the film. It rollicks along at quite a pace being both affectionate and funny with its cast of talking heads, and the roll call of obituaries is particularly heartfelt. But the bad times are passingly referenced more than explored (although this is no hagiography), and because the story is shown almost chronologically and mostly straight it leaves little room for visual or thematic invention.
For fans of The Stooges, however, this is a treat: an album-by-album analysis of the band; their members’ rotation and residency changes explored in-depth; and a tribute to their musical influences and the long list of who they would go on to influence themselves. But there is no doubt that Iggy is the star of the show. His olive, defined torso appears in various states of wear throughout the film, the only constant out of the aesthetic metamorphoses he underwent in his career. (He’s dropped the dog collar, now.) Iggy’s limber, visceral stage performances are displayed most immediately, but his intelligence, articulateness, self-confidence and musical ability also shine in the film. As an aside, perhaps it would have been interesting to have a slight digression into his solo career, and a larger emphasis on what happened in his personal and professional partnerships with the likes of David Bowie, which produced some of the great music of the late 20th century.
Gimme Danger repeatedly returns to the opening riff of The Stooges’ most famous song, I Wanna Be Your Dog, in lives performances and within the soundtrack, which encapsulates both the advantages and limitations of Jarmusch’s ode. The track is a brilliant showcase of the band’s seismic impact and singular talent, but it also makes you want to sit down elsewhere and just listen to the music: “And in my room I want you here.”
Gimme Danger does not have a UK release date yet.
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