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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Control (DVD, 2007, ***)

control_box_5678.jpgCONTROL, ANTON CORBIJN’S EXQUISITE FEATURE DEBUT is restrained, melancholy and gorgeous, a matter-of-fact collection of the facts of the short life of 23-year-old Ian Curtis, frontman for the band Joy Division, who hanged himself in 1979. Sam Riley is the actor who plays Curtis, and it was one of the great, great performances of 2007. The fearful, vulnerable expressions that inhabit Riley’s face: the weight of two worlds, bourgeois and bohemian, resting upon his skinny shoulders, and atop that, the advancing symptoms of epilepsy (or the cocktail of drugs poured to stem them). It’s a performance of immense physicality: you can read these things into his expressions. But the musical performances, the numbers played live by the actors, are shocking in their simple, volatile shape. Riley’s Ian Curtis is a man who moves to shake the life, his essence, from himself. Not only does it convince as an embodiment of Curtis, but as the loss of control that performing artists sometimes seek. What is as transforming, as transcendent, as rising into a different physicality? (Some say now the saints and sages starved themselves to explore inner space.) Corbijn (best-known as a photographer) and cinematographer Martin Ruhe shoot in black and white widescreen, often in the very spaces and places where Curtis lived and worked and sang, and the pared-down decors suggest not only the poverty of the Manchester area in the 1970s, but offer objects the weight of icons: a Bowie poster, three binders on a desk—lyrics/stories/novels—a curtain in a window. Love tore him apart. Control brings him together again. The score, appropriately, is by New Order, who were members of Joy Division. Toby Kebell, as their manager, is a profane scene-stealer, alongside Samantha Morton as the salt-of-the-earth mother of Curtis’ daughter. The DVD (Miriam Collection, $29) includes commntary by Corbijn; Joy Division videos for “Transmission” and “Atmosphere,” as well as a making-of and interview with Corbijn. Below: a Dutch report on the filmmaker; a French trailer; and Joy Division playing “She’s Lost Control.” [Ray Pride.]






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“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson 

“The difference between poetry and prose, and why if you’re not acculturated to poetry, you might resist it: that page is frightening. Why is it not filled? The two categories of people who don’t feel that way are children and prisoners. So many prison poets; they see that gap and experience it differently. I’m for the gap!”
~ Poet Eileen Myles