Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger is about The Stooges and their four years together. Iggy Pop (née Jim Osterberg) might be the central interviewee, but a word of warning to all those wanting to hear about his Berlin years with Bowie or his resurgence in the 1990s: you might end up disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re in the market to discover how “one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever” came to be and how its frontman invented the stage dive, then this has you covered. Jarmusch fondly chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary proto-punks, assembling a treasure trove of footage and some excellent interviews with the surviving members, complemented by some amusing animation sequences and random image superimpositions.
Admittedly, there isn’t much subversion of rock-doc conventions, and a disappointing lack of on-screen shenanigans is noticeable: we hear about breakdowns and debauchery, but don’t witness much of it, and you end up wishing for more of the band’s legendary excess. The structure and filmmaking style never truly mirror the musical content; however, it can be argued that Jarmusch wanted to interview ageing geezers looking back and taking stock, while the audience is left to meditate on whether one has to compromise one’s ideals (“music is life and life is not a business”) in order to survive on the music scene. Moreover, the film truly soars when one Jim interviews the other, with Osterberg on eloquent, self-aware and humorous form.
Fans of the band will find a lot to like here and plenty to discover, including how children’s TV personality Soupy Sales and Hollywood pharaoh films influenced The Iguana and his motley crew. And while Gimme Danger doesn’t reach the heights of last year’s music documentaries Supersonic and One More Time With Feeling, this tribute remains a good place to start for the filthy heathens amongst you who don’t know their “Search And Destroy” from their “Raw Power”.
Gimme Danger | Directed by Jim Jarmusch (US, 2017). Starts April 27.
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