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Control

5th October 2007

Anton Corbijn’s biopic about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis - Control - was filmed mostly in Nottingham, because my city is grim and looks like the seventies.

Control movie poster

Today’s Guardian review calls it the best film of the year. The footage of newcomer Sam Riley losing himself as Curtis on stage is mesmerising and frighteningly accurate. It is shot in the crispest, most vivid monochrome, and for all its grime and desperation it looks like one of those films that reminds any of us brought up in scrappy Northern/Midland English towns that we can be heroes. I love this film, and I haven’t even seen it yet.

Update: I have been to see the film this afternoon, and have reviewed it in the comments below this article.

Responses

# Brad Dielman responded on 5th October 2007 with...

Looks incredible just from the trailer. I simply must see this film.

# Tom responded on 5th October 2007 with...

“I love this film, and I haven’t even seen it yet.”
- Couldn’t agree more!

# Stuart Maynard-Keene responded on 5th October 2007 with...

Yes, this is definately on my list.

# Olly responded on 5th October 2007 with...

That bloke looks a bit like my girlfriend’s Dad Andrew.
No I never liked Joy Division.
Yes, now i’ve grown up, I do.
Can’t wait for this, Nottingham looks brilliant on the big screen. Remember Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner? The Castle looked amazing!

# Tomasz Gorski responded on 5th October 2007 with...

I watched trailer and I can agree with Guardian review “best film of the year”. I will go to cinema when it will be open in my country! Regards

# Richard Rutter responded on 5th October 2007 with...

Yep. Can’t wait. The trailer looks great. And I really like Anton Corbijn’s work.

# Simon Rudkin responded on 5th October 2007 with...

Saw it on Wednesday, and it’s superb. Every shot, not surprisingly, is like a perfectly composed photograph, and it’s fun spotting Nottingham places (I even saw a Fon-A-Car sticker).

And although there’s tonnes of subtle detail that will delight Joy Division / New Order / Manchester music fans, I reckon it’s got pretty much mass market appeal, as the music is very much the context rather than the content.

Go see…!

# Simon Collison responded on 5th October 2007 with...

Olly: Lets go see it tomorrow. The flats in Lenton are on some of the Control movie posters, which makes me laugh. And you are taking the piss now about Prince of Thieves. Still, Nottingham did look great in Saturday Night, Sunday Morning of course.

Simon: Ah, did you go to the premiere thing at Broadway then? Excellent. I saw paul Smith and some others going on about it on the local news. And hey, if you (as the biggest New order etc fan that I know) loved it, then that is good enough for me.

# Simon Rudkin responded on 5th October 2007 with...

Yep, we got to walk down the moth-eared raspberry carpet. It’s certainly an absolutely beautiful, moving and funny film; and it’s all the better for not being *about* Joy Division. Probably the biggest compliment I can give is that, even though you know what’s going to happen, it’s still very, very dramatic.

# JamesM responded on 6th October 2007 with...

I can’t wait to see this film.

# Gasfornuis responded on 7th October 2007 with...

I’ll be watching this as well. Grim looking drama, well that’s definitely not the town I live in. I guess that makes it even more interesting.

# Simon Collison responded on 7th October 2007 with...

I’ve been to see the film this afternoon. Here’s a quick review, of sorts…

Loved it! Simon (above) is right. The music is the catalyst (much of it played by the actors, and sounding incredible through cinema speakers), but at the forefront are Ian and Debbie, their spiraling fears, Ian’s condition, and his lack of, well.. control.

Manchester, it’s music, it’s impresario (Wilson) and other key players (Hannett, Gretton) are omnipresent but very much in the background. In Control, Ian Curtis happens to be a writer, poet and singer, but he could just as well have been a factory worker. This is a film about existence and learning to accept the limits we have, and about how glimpses of something better can be destructive.

Yet throughout all this anguish, the humour and thrill of simple pleasures (the joy of a good cup of tea) remind us that our lot in life often isn’t so bad. Its just that the most ambitious, creative and/or delicate souls amongst us can find it all so overwhelming. I kept thinking about the unexplained disappearance of Richey Edwards in the 90s - another successful writer, poet, musician who by all accounts couldn’t bare the weight of the world, even though it wasn’t his weight to carry.

Oscar nominations should not be ruled out, especially if you compare the faultless performances in Control with the inferior Oscar-winning acting in Walk The Line (sorry for the lazy biopic comparison there). I wouldn’t rate the casting as a complete success, but then I’m comparing actors with the people they are playing, so I guess it is a tough thing to get right. The most important thing is that Sam Riley and Samantha Morton excel, and Riley in particular is wholly believable.

Today’s Guardian Guide addresses something else that has occurred to me. Ian’s wife laid his life bare in her book. From that book, Corbijn has animated that life on film. I can’t help thinking that this would be the last thing Curtis would want, and in death he has indeed lost control. Of his own story, at least.

As for my grimey old city, it certainly does impress on celluloid. The opening scenes at the flats in Lenton; some Lace Market action where Stoney Street meets Hollowstone; a scene near the end at the railway station’s side exit. Makes me quite proud, though not as proud as I would be were I from Manchester, looking back across one of the most inspirational and compelling music histories of any British city (or anywhere in the world for that matter).

# Dave Hall responded on 8th October 2007 with...

Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to see it.

It brings back memories of the inspiration they gave to me living in a bleak city that was Dublin in the 80s.

# Deed responded on 9th October 2007 with...

Yes, ti’s cool! Thanks!

# Shaal responded on 10th October 2007 with...

I am not sure if i’ll get a hand on the DVD of it sooner since it is no where to be seen even in the best stores here!. Looks too good though!

# paul haine responded on 10th October 2007 with...

Saw it last night and loved it. Surprisingly funny in places, looked great, sounded amazing, and the performances were excellent. Really can’t fault it. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Samantha Morton as well which was fun.

# Johan responded on 14th October 2007 with...

Anton Corbijn did also a documentary/interviews about/with Captain Beefheart. Recomended.

I also recommend BenX (http://www.ben-x.be), the best belgian movie to strike. About Cyber bullying, and autism.

# Marc responded on 18th October 2007 with...

Really a big movie, i have seen it yesterday and on weekend i will watch it again with friends.

# Shop window responded on 19th October 2007 with...

Yeah! It is realy great!!!

# Anonymous responded on 26th October 2007 with...

It’s very great.

Your blog is very useful.

I have add it to my favorite!!

thanks

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