What a wonderful, uplifting, and heartbreaking film. Kudos to Dick Rude for making this film. What no doubt started out as a tour documentary transformed into a wonderful eulogy for Joe Strummer.
I would have loved for this movie to be longer, but its brevity sustains its impact, like the best of the Clash's music. I didn't realize that Joe Strummer is the main reason I love the Clash until I got my first Mescaleros CD. The music is mature and wonderful, and very different from the Clash. When I got the first Mescaleros CD, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not, but it sure was good to hear Joe's voice again.
Back to the movie, though. It provides great insight into Strummer's personality, optimistic and earnest to the end. It's so obvious that he really *cared* about everything and everyone. "Everyone has a story," he says, as a justification for why he would spend 3 hours after a concert signing autographs.
One of the heartbreaking moments shows Joe trying to get into a Pleasantville, NJ, radio station to promote an Atlantic City concert. He talks to security over a telephone, and it's apparent they have no clue who he is. First he identifies himself as Joe Strummer, and then resorts to, "I used to be in the Clash." He is later seen handwriting and handing out handbills on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to promote the concert. It's all done in good spirits, but it's hard to imagine that he would need to do that to get people to come to a show. Of course, as a former "busker" or street musician, it's nothing new for him. We see him giving some change to a street performer as well.
He talks about how his goal for the second Mescaleros album is to break even, as the first one made a loss. It's interesting that he feels indebted to Hellcat Records, and he shows how motivated he is to bolster sales.
But none of that is the point of the film (even though in one of the bonus features Dick Rude mentions how he had to edit out some of Joe's earnestness because "he looks pathetic"). What you get in this movie is a look at Joe Strummer's energy, creativity, musical talent, philosophy, wit, and personality. It's all fascinating and a very rare insight.
This film is a must for any Clash fan, as is the music of the Mescaleros. The movie was made during a tour supporting "Global A-Go-Go," which I think is Strummer's best post-Clash work.
The bonus features on the DVD, including a Q&A session with Dick Rude and many deleted scenes, are excellent. The bonus features also include full-length performances of five songs.
I hope Dick Rude will release a concert video companion, as the performances shown in the movie proper are all incomplete.
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