The Future Is Unwritten
Way back, Julian Temple directed 'The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle', a young man's vision of punk rock and the Sex Pistols, put together while the corpse was still warm. It gave us some of the lasting images of Sid Vicious, hamming his way through 'My Way', while Paul Cook and Steve Jones were also allowed to sing daft songs and to turn the Pistol's dangerous story into a comedy show. No wonder John Lydon hated it.
Now here's a very different prospect. When Joe Strummer fronted The Clash, he looked for commitment and dignity and some kind of decent social order. After he quit the band, he lost some focus, but still aimed for music that mattered - right up to his early death in 2002. Until the end, Joe was trying to crack the punk code, to make it relevant to new generations. And that's essentially the point of this new Julian Temple film.
Anyone who cares for music with attitude needs to see this. The live sequences are thrilling, of course. The Clash at their best were a mystical force - all noise and ferment and babble. Offstage, Joe also talked it up well. Temple goes deeper that he needs to, tracing out the squat culture of the '70s and literally bringing Joe's old art school drawings to life.
The last third of the film is arguably the best, as Strummer and his legend duke it out. He finds a new method of communication, building bonfires and communities around the festival circuit. He makes a fresh connection with folk music and its rebel potential. And finally, he plays again with Clash guitarist Mick Jones at a fireman's benefit, the pair howling out 'London's Burning' like the heat had never gone out of them. Immense.
'The Future Is Unwritten' shows at the Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, June 22-28, 2007.
On Friday June 22nd, Radio Ulster's Stu Bailie will host a Strummer Special, starting at 10pm.