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Joy division (15)
Dir: Grant Gee
After 24 Hour Party People and Anton Corbijn's superb Control, cinemagoers must be close to bagging a collective PhD in the life and times of the titular Manchester band. When placed beside its dramatic predecessors Grant Gee's documentary is a fairly hum-drum business, but the story of Joy Division is one that can bear retelling.
Some familiar faces put in appearances - Bernard Sumner in typically lugubrious form, Peter Hook being his bullish and sometimes hilarious self, the late Tony Wilson - alongside several saloon bar-loads of talking heads, some unable to resist the temptation to take up residence in Pseuds' Corner when describing the band's contribution to pop culture. There are surprises, too, among them Annik Honore, Ian Curtis's lover, giving her account of the relationship that caused all concerned so much angst, and Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks recalling a particular gig at the Glasgow Apollo in 1979.
Though the film takes the story from the group's earliest days to their reincarnation as New Order and takes fascinating detours into such areas as album artwork, it is Curtis's story that inevitably attracts the most interest. Sumner's shock at his bandmate's death clearly hasn't diminished with the years, but it's Hook's account of events, half jesting, half sombre, that turns out to be the most moving. Hook emerges as the star of the piece all round. "I wasn't interested in depth," he says of their early music and performances. "I just wanted to kick them in the teeth."
Gee directed the 1998 Radiohead documentary, Meeting People is Easy, and was the cinematographer-editor on the acclaimed Scott Walker: 30th Century Man. His latest effort breaks no new ground, but it's a stylish, absorbing account of a band forever on the run from its own legend.