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Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

Director:Julien Temple
Release Date:2008
Genre:Documentary, Musical

By Bret McCabe | Posted 1/9/2008

British director Julien Temple continues being one of the most incisive and creative music documentarians working right now with this kinetic portrait of Joe Strummer, the late Clash frontman and all-around force of nature. And while, yes, as with Temple's 2000 Sex Pistols portrait, The Filth and the Fury, it helps that he has a familiarity with the time period and players involved, but Unwritten is no fawning hagiography, portraying Strummer--born John Graham Mellor in 1952--as the wildly ambitious and sometimes hypocritical man with a thirst for rock fame. That he pursued that glory in such a singularly passionate way is the thrilling energy of this movie, which combines the typical biography techniques--interviews with the people who were there, man, alongside archival footage, photos, and interviews with the subject--with a media collage of found/existing footage (such as from Lindsay Anderson's If . . . and 1954's animated Animal Farm) and animations of some of Strummer's own drawings/cartoons to create an emotionally resonating and dynamic vision of a musician's life that was just as jittery and always on the move. It's a powerful and powerfully entertaining picture, offering a rich look at one of punk's most gifted lyricists for the unfamiliar, while the longtime fan can fall in love with the man all over again.

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