David Strat­ton as­sesses The Im­mi­grant

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

WE’RE a lit­tle spoiled for mu­sic doc­u­men­taries at the mo­ment.

The Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences doesn’t al­ways get it right but it has sniffed some kind of zeit­geist in its two most re­cent selections for Academy Awards. The rous­ing Mo­town back­ing singer doc­u­men­tary

20 Feet From Star­dom was the cat­e­gory award win­ner this year, a year after Ma­lik Bend­jel­loul’s dis­cov­ery of a lost tal­ent,

Search­ing for Sugar Man, won the gold-plated statue.

Th­ese days 20,000 Days on Earth, an orig­i­nal take on Aus­tralian star Nick Cave, is win­ning fans and we don’t need to go too far back to pluck another hand­ful of rip­pers from the mu­sic doc­u­men­tary shelves, in­clud­ing Dave Grohl’s Sound City; Mis­taken for

Strangers, Tom Berninger’s de­light­ful look at his brother’s band, the Na­tional; or Alex Gib­ney’s Find­ing Fela!

Now we can throw Pulp: A Film About Life,

Death & Su­per­mar­kets into the mix too. This week’s re­lease (M, eOne, 149min, $24.99) is a charmer. Flo­rian Habicht’s chron­i­cle of the Bri­tish band’s re-for­ma­tion for a farewell con­cert in Sh­effield is a loving look at a de­cid­edly dowdy, mid­dle-aged band headed by a true pop star, Jarvis Cocker,

The film is not a tell-all or likely to rock the es­tab­lish­ment. Rather it pieces to­gether a scatty por­trait of a band con­tent enough to look back with a lit­tle wis­dom and hu­mour as it pre­pares to play one last, be­lated gig in its home town, Steel City.

In­cred­i­bly, Cocker, who con­tin­ues to play the pop star as a BBC DJ and dap­per man­about-the-UK, is over­shad­owed by the in­hab­i­tants of Sh­effield in this film.

From the grin­ning newsstand pro­pri­etor to fe­male fans who still thrill at Cocker’s gy­rat­ing, skinny hips and jig­gling el­bows, the old and young of Sh­effield have a con­nec­tion with the band. Some of them, in­clud­ing lo­cal dancers and singers, are even pre­par­ing to par­tic­i­pate in Pulp’s fi­nal show, which Cocker de­scribes as an act of “tidy­ing up”.

Their ob­ser­va­tions are as witty and pro­found as any­thing Cocker de­liv­ers. One old darl pro­fesses to pre­fer Pulp to Blur be­cause “they’ve got bet­ter words”.

Pulp’s con­nec­tion to a town Cocker reg­u­larly re­ferred to in his lyrics is re­cip­ro­cated with pride and af­fec­tion.

In find­ing ter­rific sub­jects on the street Habis­cht es­chews as­sess­ing Pulp’s place in Brit­pop. The mid-to-late-1990s wave was all about Blur and Oa­sis, but Pulp was as sig­nif­i­cant. Its 1994 al­bum His ‘n’ Hers ar­rived with Blur’s Parklife, sig­nalling an era of guitars, so­cially in­sight­ful lyrics and ex­cess. As Blur and Oa­sis ham­mered it out in the charts in 1995, Pulp stole the show at Glas­ton­bury as a last-minute re­place­ment for the Stone Roses.

This doco puts Pulp in its place: Sh­effield. De­light­fully so.

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