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The year is 1990, the rave scene has just entered England. The sound of the Stone roses lurks toward Shaun and the gang. This means that Woody and Lol are living in a domestic bliss, they are happy again. But this year will see huge changes in everyone. This is the year 1990. This is England.
Lyra Mae Thomas,
Christmas 1988. Soulmates, woody and Lol find themselves in exile from each other and the gang. Trying to understand the definition 'growing up', Shaun begins a course at College, that quickly takes the wrong turn.
2011. After 15+ years apart, the original members of iconic English band The Stone Roses - Ian Brown, John Squire, Alan "Reni" Wren and Gary "Mani" Mounfield - reform for a concert tour. Enlisting the film-making talents of director Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man's Shoes, A Room for Romeo Brass) this film documents their reunion, including initial meetings, practice sessions and the concerts themselves. There is also coverage of their 80/90s history. Written by
A loving documentary but doesn't really tell the story of the Roses
The Stone Roses are definitely a seminal band. In many ways their music set the scene for the musical landscape of British rock of the 90's. They didn't really record very much but a lot of what they did has proved remarkably timeless and sounds as invigorating today as it did back in the day. They recently reformed to massive excitement and a whole new legion of fans. So it seemed entirely appropriate that a film should be made to document their story. So the question has to be does it do the band and their music justice?
The answer is yes and no. The chief drawback is in fairness not so much a criticism of the film but maybe more one of expectation and that is that this doesn't really tell the story of the band, it actually specifically documents their reformation. While there is some archive footage, there isn't a lot (an especial shame seeing as the car crash interview with Ian Brown and John Squire from the archives is one of the best moments). There isn't any narrative that documents the rise of the Roses or discusses their albums or singles. And for a band with a fairly slim back catalogue, it's a shame that it doesn't even feature excerpts from all of their most famous tracks. Furthermore, quite a lot of the songs are recent live recordings, as opposed to the classic studio versions. These criticisms may seem picky but as a fan I was hoping to see a film detail their rise, discuss their music and detail their impact on the wider music culture.
What we do have is mainly recent footage of the band. There's really not a great deal of drama, the one bad moment being the Amsterdam gig where Reni refused to back on for an encore causing a lot of ill feeling and the cancellation of the remainder of the European tour. In the main it's really a documentary that focuses on positivity. Director Shane Meadows is too much of a gentleman and a big fan of the band to dwell on any negativity. This can affect the dynamic of the film overall but you can't criticise the sentiment. We see them playing a lot, jamming together and then later on stage in various gigs. The free show in Warrington was documented in more depth. Much of the focus was on the fans themselves here and as fun as this was, like them, we are really here to see the band. The finale is the huge Heaton Park gig and it's here that we have the highlight of the whole movie an absolutely blistering version of Fool's Gold. It's moments like this that really underlines the power and legacy of the group.
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