Salon movie critic Andrew O’Hehir offers one of the first reviews of Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, a new documentary from Julien Temple, director of the stellar Sex Pistols flick The Filth and the Fury. O’Hehir opens by discussing Chicago 10, which opened the festival to considerable buzz, but it’s Temple’s doc that earns lavish praise.
For a film that directly addresses aging, mortality, depression and betrayal, among other salubrious subjects, Joe Strummer is an incandescent experience. It celebrates Strummer’s fecundity and self-invention and honors his reticence and private despair, reminding us along the way what a contradictory and amazing affair a single human life is.
Temple’s film traces Strummer’s life from a well-traveled young man educated in boarding school through his R&B period and embrace of punk by his late 20s. In a technique that seems less punk than hippie philosophy, Temple interviews Strummer’s former friends and bandmates at outdoor bonfires. Hmm . . . . Still, a film centered on such an interesting musician by a director who has proven himself as someone who understands how to transcend the level of cookie-cutter rock docs sounds like a must-see.