Review: Gimme Danger (2016)

Gimme Danger (2016)

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch | 108 minutes | documentary, music | Starring: Iggy Pop, Ron Asheton, Mike Watt, James Williamson, Scott Asheton, Danny Fields, Kathy Asheton, Steve Mackay, David Bowie, Ed Sanders, Ewan McGregor

‘Jim Osterberg as Iggy Pop’, is the title role of music documentary ‘Gimme Danger’ about Pop’s punk rock vehicle The Stooges. Feature filmmaker Jim Jarmusch – recently blessed with an art house hit in the form of ‘Paterson’ – has a great reputation for befriending musicians – such as Tom Waits, and likes to integrate them into his films; sometimes in a role like Pop in ‘Dead Man’, usually in the form of a soundtrack. ‘Gimme Danger’ looks like an authorized biography – although that is not a limitation in the case of Jarmusch and Pop. A friendly relationship seems to be the basis of the end result, as in Jarmusch’s feature films.

Naturally, Iggy Pop (1947-) has the leading role in this talking heads parade with music fragments. Proven qualities plus Pop’s gifted anecdotal narrator make the documentary worthwhile, also because the singer has such a good factual memory. On the other hand, rock documentation is essentially flawed, because the absurdity of rocker existence has more to do with fictional than documentary description. The title role with the artist’s proper name is therefore a nod to the ambiguity of a documentary featuring one of the most physical personalities in rock’n’roll history.

Strictly speaking, that history is shorter than Pop’s own life story—a child when Elvis came on the scene. The Stooges have grown together with the boom of pop culture and that is made pretty clear. A bit obedient, and that may have to do with the bond between Pop and Jarmusch, as a result of which the former trades his maniacal unpredictability for a certain homely friendliness. It would have been better if a director had followed Iggy like a stranger in his daily life. ‘Showbiz is not a friendly place’, he says himself in this documentary.

Because although Iggy Pop is no longer a recording artist, he can still be an interesting performer on stage – or in front of the camera. And that snows in a bit in ‘Gimme Danger’, or missing if you like. And – oh yes: The Stooges, as said a vehicle of Pop. Not because he has too dominant a personality, but a much greater charisma than that of the other band members. So it’s no coincidence that we don’t get to know them very well. Iggy Pop is The Stooges, best known for the 1969 proto-punk hit ‘I wanna be your Dog’. Their story is told, but sometimes you want to yell at the screen: ‘Gimme Danger!’

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