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Review: A love letter to The Stooges in "Gimme Danger"

Iggy Pop’s story may not be over, but the tale of his iconic band, The Stooges, is. Pop’s ability to create stellar, influential music since 1969 is almost unrivaled in the industry. Gimme Danger director Jim Jarmusch returns to the genre for the first time in nearly 20 years with a film that is as thorough a history as Pop's music is powerful. Following the story of how early punk band The Stooges came to be up until their messy split in 1973, Jarmusch highlights the moments that made the band legendary. 

Although any true rock historian would be well familiar with Iggy and the band’s story, the documentary makes the history and music accessible to those who may just be casual viewers. Featuring interview footage from all the key members of the band, many of whom died years before the movie was completed, Pop and the others narrate the story of the group. For a man who has lived as much as Pop has (he is notorious for being a wild man), he is still able to be totally charming and coherent. 

At times, the documentary feels like a visual PowerPoint of Pop’s Wikipedia page, but the stories he tells are always able to remind you why he is so beloved. The Stooges’ music is mixed over television and B-roll footage from the era to keep things stimulating, but the sometimes wonky and amateurish editing tools get in the way of what is being conveyed. Even if you don’t care for the music, the photos and concert footage of the band are remarkably captivating.

This documentary doesn’t have quite the “raw power” that Iggy embodies on stage, but it does a more than sufficient job in illustrating why the band is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pop and the band are far from self promoters, and for people who don’t quite grasp the impact of the band, it may be understand the influence of their music. Instead of featuring famous musicians who are fans of the band, the documentary decides to just show all the album covers from the bands who owe a great deal to the group. Instead of simply implying the impact of The Stooges, the documentary would be have been more well served to include unassociated music figures to provide a more engaging take on the band’s legacy. 

For fans of rock and punk music alike, this film is a must see. Simply hearing some of the band’s iconic grooves on the big screen gave me chills.This is a straightforward, no nonsense documentary that effectively articulates why Pop belongs in rock’s pantheon, but don’t expect it to reinvent the wheel. 

Gimme Danger opens on Nov. 4 at the Landmark E Street Cinema. 

Grade: B+

growell@theeagleonline.com


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