Joy and Sorrow

Bernard, Ian, Peter, & Stephen in Manc

Y’know, I felt expectedly sad but still in control throughout Grant Gee’s documentary about Joy Division—long one of my favourite bands—before finally breaking down and sobbing over a visual pun at the end of it all. Gee had overlaid footage of a New Order performance of “Shadowplay” and footage of a Joy Division performance of same (one shadowing the other, you see) and, my God, what a terrible feeling of loss came over me.

Ian Curtis was gone before I’d ever even heard the band. I was introduced to the music of Joy Division by my friend Peter (who had eclectic tastes and who introduced me to a lot of interesting music) when I was in third-year university. At that time, the band’s dark and brooding post-punk music resonated with me and it has remained very important, very personal to me even though I’ve gone through a lot of changes since then. The intriguing thing about their music is that it just doesn’t sound dated. It doesn’t sound out of place today—nor has it ever, throughout all the years since it was laid into wax. They were way ahead of their time back then and, despite their minimal output, are generally considered a hugely influencial band.

I first heard of Gee’s documentary in the run-up to TIFF07, where it got its world premiere. This film, along with the North American premiere of a dramatized version of the story (Anton Corbijn’s Control) meant that Joy Division was certainly well represented at the film fest. Unfortunately, neither film screened during the few days I attended and—naturally—neither film ever showed up onscreen in the city where I live, so their release this summer on DVD was much anticipated.   Continue reading

Chasing the buzz

Clearly illustrating how true it is that it ain’t whatcha know but, rather, whoya know, I was invited to take part in a survey of what we most wanna see at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. What was the criteria for being invited to participate? Something about being buff. Or mebbe it was something about being a film buff. Or someat like that. But the rules! Oy, the rules! They were cruel: I could name only three films and I could justify each choice with only one sentence. Ye gods.

But, hereabouts, my rules rule. So here’s a little further elucidation…

Stuck, dir. Stuart Gordon

I haven’t seen all of Stuart Gordon’s films but I have really liked every one I have seen (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, Castle Freak, King of the Ants, and Edmond).

Stuck is based on a true story that I can remember being all over the news a few years ago. In Texas, an intoxicated woman struck a man with her car and he flew up over the hood and lodged in her windshield. Did she call 911? No. Did she drive to the hospital? No. Instead, she drove all the way home with him like that, pulled into her garage and closed the door and then went in the house and left the poor guy to die a slow painful death overnight—ignoring his cries for help that she could hear from inside her house. Then she dumped the body. Isn’t that sweet? A girl you’d like to take home to meet Mom, eh?

Anyhow, throughout his filmmography, you will find that Stuart Gordon has a deft hand when it comes to finding the blacker-than-black comic side of a gruesome story. His films are what you could call transgressive–just a step beyond where other filmmakers might draw the line, y’know?

Making a smartass remark about head would be too easy, don't you think?
(Like, oh, say, a sex scene between a nubile young thang and Dr. Hill’s re-animated decapitated head.)

That approach and tone is what I like best about his work. I don’t know if he takes that kind of off-kilter funny/weird/awful tack with this film, but I am sure anxious to see!   Continue reading