It’s been a few years since the release of Jim Jarmusch’s last film, Only Lovers Left Alive, one of the coolest and most stylish vampire movies ever made. The director — a Warholian enigma of a filmmaker vibrating on a unique frequency — has not one, but two films on the horizon; a narrative feature (Paterson) and a documentary (Gimme Danger). Paterson features Adam Driver as Paterson, a bus driver/poet in Paterson, New Jersey. The film is typical Jarmusch; quirky, original, and strangely beautiful. I recently watched it at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and wrote about it here.
Jarmusch’s fingerprints aren’t as evident in Gimme Danger, a rather straight forward, but totally rockin’ doc on Iggy Pop and The Stooges. The film’s aesthetics match its subjects; it’s a little rough, rollicking, and raw, unconcerned with polish or appearance and devoid of any artifice. Iggy Pop is presented by his real name, Jim Osterberg, and he’s interviewed in appropriately glam and fabulous settings such as the laundry room. He’s thoughtful and he doesn’t mince words. He’s funny and intelligent, and he speaks a little slowly, perhaps as a result from all of the ‘fun’ over the years.
The film chronicles the formation and trials of the band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and their fearless, shirtless, drug-fueled leader, rocking hard as a mother, crawling, twisting, writhing, and slithering his way across the stage like an eel possessed. At a time when lots of folks were busy giving peace a chance and sitting in circles singing Kumbaya, bands like The Stooges were pioneering a different kind of sound, an electric, in-your-face brand of aural kinetics that makes you wanna rock out and eff shit up. Jarmusch is obviously a huge fan and a perfect fit for the gig. His director’s statement says it all:
“No other band in rock’n’roll history has rivaled The Stooges’ combination of heavy primal throb, spiked psychedelia, blues-a-billy grind, complete with succinct angst-ridden lyrics, and a snarling, preening leopard of a front man who somehow embodies Nijinksy, Bruce Lee, Harpo Marx, and Arther Rimbaud. There is no precedent for The Stooges, while those inspired by them are now legion. Gimme Danger is more an ‘essay’ than a document. It’s our love letter to possibly the greatest band in rock’n’roll history, and presents their story, their influences and their impact, complete with some never-before-seen footage and photographs. Like The Stooges and their music, Gimme Danger is a little wild, messy, emotional, funny, primitive, and sophisticated in the most unrefined way. Long live The Stooges!”
There you have it. Fans of Iggy Pop and The Stooges will probably get the most enjoyment out of Gimme Danger, but liking their music certainly isn’t a requisite. If you have the opportunity, I recommend watching this in conjunction with Danny Says, a recent documentary about rock journalist-turned-manager/music exec, Danny Fields, who signed and managed Iggy and the Stooges.
3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Gimme Danger is playing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on the following dates/times:
Friday, December 2nd at 7pm
Friday, December 9th at 7pm
Saturday, December 10th at 6pm and 8pm
Sunday, December 11th at 5pm
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