Director: Shaun Pettigrew
Wow, ten years in the making and it’s a two and a half hour ride and it’s riveting. The sort of film that fans and non-fans can curl up with and be fascinated by; because you couldn’t invent a better character than Jaz Coleman – the huge ego, the artistic restlessness, the anger – and of course the peripheral characters are a lot of fun too.
So here we have – finally – the Killing Joke story as made for the big screen. But it’s Jaz Coleman’s show, this – just as it’s Jaz Coleman’s band. So we have him doing what he does best – when not shouting out post-punk reverie or rearranging classic rock songs for string sections. Yep, there’s a load of Jaz mouthing off here. And he’s brilliant at it. Some of it sticks too. But it’s hard to know just how much vs. the amount actually flung at the wall.
Killing Joke are that rarity in music – they’ve never (really) let their audience down. Thirty plus years now and they’ve delivered the goods. But there’s so much of a story behind that sound.
There is a lot of madness – and possibly something downright evil – lurking beneath (and within) that sound. And it’s all dealt with – the madness, the music: equal measures.
We’re whisked from grimy bars and blood-soaked stages to acrimonious interviews and then to the pyramids in Egypt for a spot of meditation via so many drug happenings, séances and the (in)famous Coleman disappearing acts.
Throw in band-members being fired, some returning to the fold, plenty of anger, far too much booze, changes in direction (including a pop hit) and the musical eccentricities of Jaz Coleman’s ever expanding palette. You just couldn’t make this stuff up.
The cast of cameo-characters is colourful: Peter Hook, Martin Glover, Geordie, Paul Raven, Jazz Summers, Tom Larkin, Dave Grohl (indie-rock’s answer to Bono when it comes to such documentaries) and Jimmy Page (the best I’ve seen Page; he seems happy, healthy, enthused – probably just pleased the heat is off him for a bit and a much bigger nutter is under the microscope).
Coleman’s interviews take place just an inch or two from his face – we just see and hear this mouth going for it. And boy does he go.
Making sense of this, which, remarkably Pettigrew does, is no mean feat. The film is brilliantly put together, so much incredible footage – new and old – and in fact much as the director makes sense of it his best process has been in standing back and letting the madness happen, being sure to capture what he can. And he’s caught a lot – and shaped it just right.
One of the best music documentaries I’ve seen in years. Hilarious, baffling, brilliant, bonkers. Post-punk’s clown prince of faux-evil darkness won’t disappoint. You have to get to this. It will totally get to you. I already can’t wait to see it again. I just know it’s going to reward repeat viewings.