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Duran Duran: Unstaged (2014)

Duran Duran Unstaged is a multimedia event that takes the audience on a cinematic journey with one of the most successful acts in the world during their performance at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. Directed by David Lynch.

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Duran Duran Unstaged is a multimedia event that takes the audience on a cinematic journey with one of the most successful acts in the world during their performance at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. Directed by David Lynch.

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4 December 2014 (Portugal)  »

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A lot like being there
12 September 2014 | by (Oregon) – See all my reviews

Duran Duran: Unstaged was a 2010 Duran Duran concert performed at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, filmed by David Lynch, and broadcast over the internet. Wednesday night it was turned into a Fathom event, in theaters for one night only.

I have reviewed concerts and films, but not both at the same time. I have been to Duran Duran concerts, but not since I have started writing reviews. Taking into consideration the merits of the concert, the film, and the theater experience will cover a lot of ground.

My previous shows happened on the Astronaut tour, which brought all five original band members together, and the All You Need Is Now tour. From that I know that Duran Duran stages phenomenal shows. Costumes, visual effects, and powerful performances combine into something that is obviously professional but doesn't feel stuffy or overdone. Copious amounts of charisma from the band members helps, but there is also a lot of expertise and savvy that is easy to overlook as you get carried away. Balancing those elements could be a difficult task for a filmmaker.

I am happy to report that being in the theater felt remarkably like being at a Duran Duran concert. I think making it available for only one night helped with that, turning it into an event that we had all chosen to participate in.

Most people did stay in their seats, which was different from a live show, but there was a lot of moving around in seats, singing along, and some shouting. There was that communal feeling and enthusiasm, even knowing that we were watching something from four years ago.

It was not just filmed as an ordinary concert either, because there was the broadcast going on. The primary different this made in the performance was the inclusion of special guests. They brought out Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance for "Planet Earth", Beth Ditto of Gossip for "Notorious", Mark Ronson for several songs, and Kelis for "The Man Who Stole A Leopard" and "Come Undone".

The guest performances were enjoyable on a musical level, but I think they were even more important for the sentimental factor. First of all you could see how excited the guests were to be included, reminding us how important and influential Duran Duran has been regardless of time periods and genres. In addition, seeing how sweet and supportive the band members were to their guests increased the emotional bond.

They are lovable. We know this, but seeing Roger hug Gerard at the end, after finally getting out from behind the drum kit, or seeing John wait for Beth to hug him, even though she had gotten in a hug earlier, gets the heart even more melted.

We had never known Kelis was pronounced that way, but then, Gerard isn't pronounced that way, so maybe Kelis isn't, but listening to Simon talk is so charming regardless. And then he told a total dad joke (How do you make a dog drink? Put him in the blender), but he is a dad now. They all are.

The film aspects worked pretty well for the most part. Often Lynch chose to overlay the visual effects over the band. These ranged from fairly amorphous objects like smoke, clouds, and flames to more concrete images like masks and houses. This made it possible to see both the visuals and what the band was doing, which was a good parallel for being at a show with a large screen behind the band. There were a few times when it was more obtrusive, with mixed results.

This was most distracting on "Sunrise", where the multiplying nude Barbies with blurred out faces could have been very effective for some type of commentary, but really did not seem to fit the song. Unfortunately, it felt like it deflated the song, which was tragic because that is a really good song.

On the other hand, the visuals for "The Man Who Stole A Leopard", while the initially appeared fairly abstract, shed a new light on the song for me which I hadn't been expecting at all.

Finally, while the footage for "Come Undone" was somewhat distracting, there is also something appropriate about completely ineffective grilling practices for a song about things coming undone, and I kind of loved the puppets. It felt so David Lynch, more than any other part of the concert.

Overall I have to call it a success, as a concert, as a movie, and as a Fathom event.


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