Saturday, November 10, 2007

saw control

I've been looking forward to seeing Control ever since I first heard that Anton Corbijn would be directing it. When was that? It must have been like two years ago. Anton has never made a movie up until now, but I am a fan. He's sort of a famous rock photographer who's handled U2, the Killers, Depeche Mode and stuff like that. I mostly know him from his Depeche Mode work. He's done nearly all their videos. In fact, the credits list a "special thanks" to Martin Gore, Depeche Mode's songwriter.

I heard that he didn't want his first feature film to be a rock music biopic, but he was drawn into Control because even though he wanted to get away from being labled a "rock photographer," the subject matter was intensely close to him. Corbijn was one of the only photographers to shoot the band Joy Division. It was just about his first gig when he arrived in England from Holland or wherever he's from.
Joy Division's music isn't just considered depressing. They're the reigning princes of misery in late 70s British music. I was turned onto Joy Division as a teenager. It wasn't because I was a severely bleak kid or anything, the music was just sort of therapeutic.

The movie Control is centered around the tortured life of Ian Curtis, Joy Division's singer. Watching the movie is like playing tennis with a brick wall. It's relentless.

Most of the film's effectiveness can probably go to Sam Riley, the actor who portrays Curtis. If we were to take Curtis's life and actually measure how tortured he should have been, we'd probably come up with a seemingly low score. He had his problems such as trying to overcome his severe epilepsy as well as being torn between two women, but he was also becoming prestigious and always had available support from family and friends. All he really had to worry about was keeping his condition in check and staying faithful to those who loved him. The decisions he makes that damage him and the ones he loves so savagely are not understandable at all. Even if his actions can't logically be explained, Riley perfectly explains that Curtis was constantly tortured by the life around him. He just had this way of portraying a believable victimization constantly. The movie really makes no apologies for the guy, but it leaves no doubt that Curtis struggled with everything he did.

We get the film in black and white. Corbijn said that he likes seeing things in black and white because it makes the world so much simpler. I felt that the black and white brought Ian's world to us more concretely. I've often thought that the world is more real, more solid in times of depression. The black and white carried a similar weight.

There are other actors in the movie, one of them the sweetheart Samantha Morton. They're great. Fortunately, the band and management provide a small dose of comic relief every once in a while. It was also a wonderful pleasure for me to see the personality and dynamics of the band that would become New Order.

The movie was really well-done. Extremely well executed. I just don't know if I can say I like it. I'd totally totally totally tell you to see it if you're in the mood for a downer.

On the way out I wondered if I'd ever be able to really enjoy Joy Division's music again. I might just constantly associate it with Ian's lack of control.


Blogger Monica said...

Sounds like this movie is right up my alley, I'll have to try and catch it. I really like that they filmed it in black and white.

November 11, 2007 9:36 AM  

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