Gimme Danger

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Director Martin Scorsese did a documentary on the band he considers the best ever — The Rolling Stones.

Director Jim Jarmusch introduced this movie calling The Stooges the greatest band ever. Well, you can’t even call them the greatest punk band ever (The Clash would take that title). But Iggy Pop (Jim Osterberg) is the “grandfather of punk” and he’s certainly worthy of a documentary.

Jarmusch did another documentary on a musician, the Neil Young picture Year of the Horse. Perhaps he’s too much of a fan. At two hours, this is 30 minutes longer than it should’ve been. Unless he wanted to take out all the talking heads (no David Byrne reference intended), and put in more concert footage; or maybe talked about Iggy Pop’s solo career before the Stooges got back together (especially when it’s his solo career that gave us his best song — Lust for Life).

Iggy’s heroin addiction, which was barely mentioned here, was a large part of the autobiography Danny Sugarman (The Doors’ manager) wrote. He lived with Pop for a year, and his antics were so crazy, it took about a fourth of his book.

We’ve all heard the stories of Iggy rolling around on broken glass, and singing as a bloody mess. That’s not shown, nor is it talked about.

As a fan of The Stooges, I was familiar with a lot of the things talked about, but it was great to hear from the other band members. A little outside perspective, from people other than a bandmate’s little sister, would’ve been nice. We see all the various bands covering Stooges songs (except Joan Jett, who does a terrific cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog); why not have some of those artists talk about Iggy?

I’ve heard Pop talk in many interviews about how influential Jim Morrison was, yet he doesn’t talk about him, or many of his other influences, here.

It was cool listening to him talk about hearing The MC5 working on “Kick out the Jams,” hanging out with Nico for a week, and his early bands like The Iguanas. Many don’t realize that, like Jack White (The White Stripes), Pop started out as a drummer.

“I got tired of looking at butts,” he jokingly tells the TV Eye.

It was fun finding out Elektra Records signed The Stooges for $5,000. If you count the deal they gave The Doors and Queen, and this amount for The Stooges…I’d be curious to hear how much of a profit that was on those initial investments.

Jarmusch, who has disappointed me with a lot of his work lately, doesn’t impress with this. He’s interviewing Iggy in some domestic looking environment. That could’ve worked. I’m not saying he had to talk to him in one of the bathroom stalls at CBGB’s, but…Jarmusch put Iggy in a great scene with Tom Waits in his movie Coffee and Cigarettes. He could’ve put him next to a jukebox again in this.

I’ve seen Iggy Pop live, own about eight albums and CDs, and was lucky enough to meet him before his show at 4th & B here in San Diego (a concert in which he swung on the curtains, and a woman jumped on stage and straddled his leg as he sang). And as a fan, I was let down by this. It’s strictly for the hardcore fans.

Pop might be an interesting elder statesman of the punk scene. Perhaps it would be nice to have a cup of tea on a sunny afternoon and hear him tell the stories of his halcyon days. Sitting in a theatre listening to it for two hours — not so much. This shouldn’t have been called Gimme Danger, as there was very little. Perhaps the song No Fun is a bit more apt.

2 ½ stars out of 5.

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