DVD Review: “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten”
The leader of The Clash was a fully self-invented man, and as Julian Temple’s exhilarating documentary “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten” illustrates, the punk who was born John Mellor spent nearly the last 20 years of his life not knowing what to do with his invention. Strummer was a charismatic idealist, and when he died in 2002 of a congenital heart condition, rock music lost one of its most important guiding lights.
Temple (“The Great Rock and Roll Swindle”) employs an unusual device for his background interviews, shooting friends and colleagues seated around campfires with no one identified by onscreen titles. We see people who knew him when he was a hippie squatter who called himself “Woody,” and we also see bandmate Mick Jones and well-known friends such as Bono, but Temple equalizes them all in this setting — one that makes total sense in the end. Furthermore, Temple compiles footage of The Clash playing “White Riot” and “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.” that make a lot of modern punk bands sound like Norah Jones.
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