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As the front man of the Clash from 1977 onwards, Joe Strummer changed people's lives forever. Four years after his death, his influence reaches out around the world, more strongly now than ever before. In "The Future Is Unwritten", from British film director Julien Temple, Joe Strummer is revealed not just as a legend or musician, but as a true communicator of our times. Drawing on both a shared punk history and the close personal friendship which developed over the last years of Joe's life, Julien Temple's film is a celebration of Joe Strummer - before, during and after the Clash. Written by
IFC First Take
I absolutely love The Clash and, because I liked Temple's film about the Sex Pistols, I had high hopes for this. Like many other people, I found the campfire interviews completely unsatisfying, especially since none of the subjects are identified at all. We hear very little from Mick Jones and not all from Paul Simonon. On the other hand, we are treated to John Cusack and a pirate-costumed Johnny Depp. Matt Dillon shares a fascinating anecdote in which he recounts something a taxi driver once told him about Joe Strummer, and Anthony Kiedis tells us that Joe hired someone who used to drum for him. Gosh! If any of these people knew Joe in a meaningful way, they don't make that clear on screen. Why Bono and not Billy Bragg talking about Joe's political effect on his own music? Perhaps Julien Temple is hopelessly starstruck. The film's only redeeming features were the home movies, photographs, live performances and excerpts from Joe's BBC radio show.
This film is not worthy of the man who inspired it. I will keep my fingers crossed that another filmmaker, one who favours substance over style, will some day make the definitive Joe Strummer documentary.
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