Archive for March 4th, 2015


 © 2015 by James Clark

 You might say that Anton Corbijn was remarkably positioned to do justice to the brief and lugubrious life of British rocker, Ian Curtis, the writing and vocal dimension of a short-lived sensation in the late 1970s called Joy Division. In his earlier career as a photographer—following in the footsteps, you might say, of Stanley Kubrick—he became involved with the band in the capacity of producing publicity stills, a coverage entailing extensive contact with Curtis, and also his wife, Debbie, whose book Touching from a Distance (1995) formed the backbone of the 2007 film. (She was also an associate producer of Corbijn’s project, his first entry into directorial duties.)

Be that as it may, there are, I think, even more important factors behind his long-after-the-fact, stunning illumination of the protagonist’s plunge toward suicide. They pertain to evidence of a deep appreciation of the film work of that renowned but unknown as such precursor, Kubrick, whose life had come to an end quite a while before our guide here commenced his new career. So it is that in his debut, Corbijn sends us from out of his forte, visual design, a Kubrick moment zooming in on the nub of the crisis of Ian Curtis and myriad others. It occurs at the time when Curtis’ band was clawing toward television exposure on a local (Manchester) bellwether of the best of recent rock. Having produced a demo and put it into the hands of the show’s supercilious guru, the lads are nonplussed that all they received for their trouble was, as the star-maker was signing off, a quick mention of the disc as promising. Later that night the musicians catch up with that lax responder to their talent (“He’s gotta put us on!”), in a bar and Ian is designated to go over to his table and straighten him out. He comes to the celebrity’s table, leans over to him and blows smoke into his face, bringing to rude Manchester the rude and lost Redmond Barry showing his contempt for a woman who was far more remarkable than the dubious object of Ian’s resentment. Unlike the passenger in Barry Lyndon, the attacker goes on to complain, “You’re a bastard!” and receives the assurance, “You’ll be the next band.” (more…)

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