What a wonderful collage of a movie. A scrapbook of images, old film footage, doodles, sketches, friends and family all talking about Joe Strummer, one time lead singer of The Clash and full time creative soul.
The film is as charismatic as Joe Strummer himself - carrying the people in his life along in his wake even while he was unpredictable and unreliable, slept with mates' girl friends and had other people fire band members because he wasn't so keen on confrontation; they were still affected by him and drawn to him. When asked about his moral stance he said "I would never steal money off a mate," and then he thought for a moment before adding "but I'd steal his girl friend."
An authentic, determined, strong willed, thinking man, Joe Strummer protected himself with a tight persona and presented it to the world as an expression of will. I could feel the distance between who he was and what he showed us in the film and always felt at arms length, neither the film maker nor Strummer himself let us get to see "the real Joe" for more than just a blink of an eye.
The film starts with Joe's voice as he lays down the vocal track in a studio, then gathers momentum until it feels like we're hurtling along a train track. The film seems to lift right off those tracks and soar as we realise it's not a movie about music anymore, or punks, or bands or even the man himself, but it's about living life. This film is about being alive. About making the intangible tangible, about thinking, about nutting things out, living out the puzzle of our lives at full tilt, with guts and glory. Living it with people we love, about loving people we are with, by being a thinking, feeling, part of the human race. Strummer even admits later in the film that punks were really just hippies after all: hippies with zips.
Joe Strummer was a locomotive of a man and this is a heartfelt, moving film showing some of his public life, told in his own voice, and those voices of people who were close to him.
Oh yeh, and the soundtrack rocks.