DVD LET­TER­BOX

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

OH what boun­teous times for Joy Di­vi­sion fans. As if the won­der­ful drama­ti­sa­tion of lead singer Ian Cur­tis’s life in Con­trol wasn’t enough, now comes a sim­i­larly won­der­ful doc­u­men­tary about the Manch­ester band that bridged punk and dance in the 1980s.

As DVD Let­ter­box has pre­vi­ously ex­pressed en­thu­si­asm about An­ton Cor­bijn’s fea­ture film, I’ll be brief about Joy Di­vi­sion: A Doc­u­men­tary . ( See also re­view be­low.)

As Grant Gee’s doco says — through the voice of television host, club pro­moter and record la­bel boss Tony Wil­son — in the ’ 80s Manch­ester spawned a cru­cial cul­tural out­pour­ing in terms of con­tem­po­rary mu­sic.

Yet in many re­spects the story of the mu­sic and bands that sprang forth in the so- called Mad­ch­ester pe­riod — in­clud­ing the Fall, New Or­der, the Happy Mon­days and the Stone Roses — is as much about in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties as it is about the mu­sic. Gee recog­nises this and dwells at length on per­son­al­i­ties such as Wil­son and Joy Di­vi­sion mem­bers Bernard Sum­ner and Peter Hook.

Their en­ter­tain­ing ban­ter and rec­ol­lec­tions drive this very watch­able doc­u­men­tary. Typ­i­cal of its con­tents is the re­ac­tion of mem­bers of a band called War­saw ( which be­came Joy Di­vi­sion) to a 1976 per­for­mance by the Sex Pis­tols in a small trade hall in Castle­field.

Im­prob­a­bly, mem­bers of the Buz­zcocks, Wil­son, Sim­ply Red’s Mick Huck­nall and the Smiths’ Mor­ris­sey were also among the au­di­ence of less than 40 peo­ple, years be­fore any of them made it big.

‘‘ I thought it was shite!’’ Hook says, laugh­ing. Sum­ner re­mem­bers think­ing, ‘‘ F . . king hell, I could just about do that.’’

So they did, and the world was a bet­ter place, as it is with the re­lease of this rol­lick­ing doc­u­men­tary.

Now, when are the Smiths go­ing to get this sort of doco and fea­ture film treat­ment?

Time for a key change. Or time travel. The Steve Miller Band has re­leased a con­cert DVD, Live From Chicago , and a beau­ti­fully ap­pointed pack­age it is, too, com­plete with CD. It was sheer bore­dom that prompted me to in­ves­ti­gate it, plus an em­bar­rass­ing urge to sing along to Abra­cadabra.

The live con­cert seg­ment of the DVD mar­ket in­trigues me mainly be­cause so many bad con­cert DVDs are re­leased.

The pri­mary mo­ti­va­tion to go to a con­cert is to take in the live ex­pe­ri­ence.

Try­ing to repli­cate it at home with a shiny disc is fool­hardy. And to try to repli­cate an ex­pe­ri­ence that had its mo­ment more than 20 years ago, as Steve and his mates do here, is fraught with dan­ger and the risk of dis­lo­cated ver­te­brae.

But what would I know? Steve Miller Band: Live From Chicago en­tered the US Bill­board charts at No 1 a few weeks ago.

The DVD is harm­less stuff; that be­comes clear in the open­ing scenes when we see mid­dle- aged groovers drink­ing wine on their pic­nic rugs be­fore the am­phithe­atre show. Ah, nos­tal­gia, it is just as it used to be.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that what those 40- some­things then saw was a list­less con­cert, but I sensed my TV speak­ers were strug­gling to push any sound­waves as far as my couch.

This wasn’t U2 in 3- D at IMAX, which was a bit of a shame, con­sid­er­ing Miller has quite a recog­nis­able reper­toire of soft rock tunes from the ’ 70s.

But what are you go­ing to do af­ter you give your act the bland­est name in show busi­ness?

* * * DISC WATCH: So I Mar­ried an Axe Mur­derer ( Sony Pic­tures, M, $ 39.99) ONE of Mike My­ers’s forgotten come­dies gets the Blu- ray treat­ment. Not half bad, it fea­tures An­thony LaPaglia and co­me­dian Steven Wright and was di­rected, im­prob­a­bly, by Aaron Sorkin’s pro­duc­ing mae­stro on The West Wing, Thomas Sch­lamme.

bodeym@ theaus­tralian. com. au

Harm­less: Steve Miller, sec­ond left, and his band

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