Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sad about Tony Wilson but i suppose at least before he left he did

a/ get to see cinematic justice be done the Joy Division story with the shocking visual beauty of Corbijn's Control

b/ have his wish finally come true, that Morley write the book

* * * * *

I had a disorientating experience off the back of Control last week. Went to a screening in mid-town Manhattan. Was utterly lost in the film's recreation of that time-and-place, which is done (as you'd expect of Corbijn, and which is so true to Joy Divison and what their music itself did with their time-and-place) in this way that is at once grimly verite and gloriously aestheticized (and there's certainly things you can critique about the movie, things that are missing or not opened out as you might like, it's not flawless, but while you're actually watching you don't really notice, it's so spellbindingly immersive). Exited the building, still under its spell, and headed down the hill only to almost immediately find myself in the heart of Times Square! Bit of a jolt, going from the lustrous monochrome of Corbijn's recreation of Manchester 1979 into that technicolor farrago, all the more blaringly lurid because dusk was falling. Also, Times Square seems to have gone through some kind of quantum leap since I was last there at night, possibly as long ago as five years back. Last time seems like there were just a couple of videoscreens plus the famous news headlines VDU ticker tape whizzing round and round that building. Now it's like every other billboard is a videoscreen. On every side, things are in dazzling motion. I lurched down the street, eyes wide and for all I know mouth hanging open, looking like the proverbial peasant in the big city. From Control's ravishing tonal austerity and stillness to that fizzy glut of color and animation... it was like being propelled out of Last Year in Marienbad and into The Matrix.

It seemed oddly fitting too, in a way, this drastic contrast, this dramatic swinging between the extremes of our pop culture... thinking about how European Joy Division's reference points were... and about how Ian Curtis ended his life just before they were about to make their debut tour of America... and then, a little later, how important New York and its bright-lights night life would be to New Order in terms of them finding a way forward, a new direction for themselves, away from the darkness. Two different visions of the city, both equally essential, equally seductive.

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