Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including the music documentary “Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan” on iTunes and select cinemas in Ottawa and Kingston, the HBO documentary “The Mystery of D.B. Cooper” and the surreal “Black Bear, ” in theatres and on VOD.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the romantic drama “All My Life” (in theatres), the surreal “Black Bear” (in theatres and VOD) and the music documentary “Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan” (iTunes and select cinemas in Ottawa and Kingston).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the romantic drama “All My Life” (in theatres), the surreal “Black Bear” (in theatres and VOD) and the music documentary “Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan” (iTunes and select cinemas in Ottawa and Kingston).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the romantic drama “All My Life” (in theatres), the surreal “Black Bear” (in theatres and VOD) and the music documentary “Crock of Gold – A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan” (iTunes and select cinemas in Ottawa and Kingston).
A portrait either in self-destruction or the indomitable spirit of someone whose demeanour suggests a hangover come to life, “Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan,” now on iTunes, is a vivid look at the life of the man best known as the lead singer of The Pogues. “He just doesn’t enjoy life without a drink.”
Most music bios focus on follow a standard rags-to-riches format but director Julien Temple applies his trademark visual and narrative density to MacGowan’s story, creating a movie that is as much a cultural history as it is a biopic.
Temple spends half the movie detailing MacGowan’s youth, from his birth on Christmas Day, 1957, to his early childhood in County Tipperary, Ireland. Illustrated with stock footage of rural life and re-enactments, it paints a rosy picture of a hard scrabble life, where hard work and even harder drinking are the norm. Life on the farm, with a Guinness in his hand at the age of six, gave MacGowan a deeply rooted sense of Irish pride, a sentiment that fuelled his greatest successes.
Less romantic is the move to England as a youngster. Poverty, drinking, drugs, anti-Irish racism and punk rock led to MacGowan’s first taste of fame, a blow to the head at a 1976 Clash concert that earned him notoriety as the jug-eared face of London punk.
Cut to 1982. Several failed bands and thousands of pints later, he formed The Pogues and married the spirit of punk with traditional Irish music. Feisty and furious songs about Irish nationalism, history, and experiences made MacGowan and the band wildly successful, but a tune the singer calls “Our ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’” was their undoing. The release of “Fairytale of New York” set them on a never-ending tour with only a handful of days off in the coming year, leading to MacGowan’s descent into a walking, talking cautionary tale after a psychotic break while performing in New Zealand.
The story continues, covering his post-Pogues time with bands like The Popes, but it is the portrait of MacGowan as a poet who grabs songs out of the ether—“That’s why they’re called airs,” he explains—and a nationalist whose Irish identity energized his work that lingers. “I always felt guilty that I didn’t lay down my life for Ireland,” he says before adding, that at least “I participated in the revolution as a musician.”
Ultimately, culture and politics aside, “Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan” is a story of a man with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for drink and drugs. Recent footage shows the ravages of a life lived hard as he mumbles his way through recent interviews with the kind of befuddled intensity that can only be found at the bottom of a bottle. His angels, a way with words and melody, robbed from him, he bemoans his inability to write new songs even as he washes down those words with a swig of wine or whiskey. It’s hard to believe him when he slurs, “I have no self-destructive impulses whatsoever,” but it completes the portrait of a complicated artist whose best work stemmed from his worst behaviour.
Joe Strummer was the embodiment of punk rock even though he was the polar opposite of what the punk movement stood for. As the leader of The Clash his edgy good looks and charisma made him a star in a culture that treated celebrity with contempt. He squatted in London’s abandoned homes but came from a privileged background, with a father who was a career diplomat. He moved The Clash away from punk’s do-it-yourself ethos, skillfully crafting ambitious and interesting songs; and for a movement whose rallying cry was “No Future” he created music that more than twenty-five years on still sounds rebellious and fresh.
In other words he was a paradox, but it was this contradictory nature that made him one of the most exciting and unpredictable musical figures of the twentieth century. In Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten director Julien Temple presents the facts of his life, told by those who knew him best.
Temple, best known as the director of the outrageous Sex Pistols’ film The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle uses Strummer’s friends and associates—most of whom are seated around a giant campfire, reminiscing and playing music—and beautifully edited montages to paint an intimate portrait of a man many thought they knew, but few really did.
But this isn’t a typical big screen bio. Although it is told in a linear straightforward fashion, Temple uses his visual flair to punctuate each of the pieces of Joe’s life. For instance when the Sex Pistols burst on to the scene they were, arguably, punk rock’s big bang, so Temple accompanies the Pistol’s footage with an explosion. He uses stock footage and clips from Animal Farm the way Strummer used his guitar—with a rambunctious power that is guaranteed to grab your attention.
What holds your attention, however, is the spirit of Strummer, which is infused onto every frame of the film. We see him at various stages of his life, from round-faced “boarding school bully” to long haired art student to sneering punk rocker through to chunky elder statesman with voice clips from his radio show London Calling and various interviews providing the soundtrack.
As cantankerous and confounding a character as Strummer was in life, (he died in 2002 at age 50) his overriding love of life and people shines through. “Without people we’re nothing,” he says near the end of the film. Sounds more like hippie-speak than the words of one of punk rock’s most famous sons, but there you have it, yet another contradiction.