"Gimme Danger" is neither a success or a failure

GimmeDangerPressConferenceIggy and Jim Jarmusch at a media conferecde in Cannes.

“Gimme Danger” is not a great movie. It is flawed.

That said, no-one expected the Citizen Kane of rock documentaries. This was a cut about the MTV Iggy doco that you can see online for free, but was mixed in with arty pretensions.

“Gimme Danger” is screening at major film festivals around the world. Tonight (June 17) it is the turn of the State Theatre and the Sydney International Film Festival. The audience is evenly split between film people who might not have heard of the Stooges and are there to judge a film on its filmmaking merits, or hardcore rock pigs who want be blasted with Stooges music.

Firstly, we have to review “Gimme Danger” as a film first; this is not some new high quality Holy Grail Stooges bootleg that has been remastered. This not a live concert. It is a film and should be judged on its merits as a documentary and the standard that these meet and whether it achieves its goals.

“The Stooges is greatest band in world “an over- excited Jim Jarmusch's hollers. The statement is made; now deliver. Prove it.

It is up to the filmmaker to have his audience walk out of theatre with that same belief. That is what documentary film making is about: setting out a case and prosecuting it with a message, along with the facts it presents.

I felt like that annoying kid at school; I remember him that kid who bullied his taste in music onto you and could not explain why. You have to accept that.

The opening scene was a bunch of blokes in their early 20s returning home after excessive times; does that make them the greatest band world? Does this make them dangerous? Really?, I ask.This happens across Sydney everyday. Kids move out and then fuck up, sometimes on chemicals, and go back to Mummy and Daddy. As an introdciution to the oil, it was poorly executed. I know what they were trying to achieve with those opening scenes, but it was a failure.

Think of the book “Wonderland Avenue”. That worked.”Gimme Danger” was the opening pages of that book with Danny Sugarman in hospital with a liver collapse,almost dead at 25 and waking up: Danny managed Iggy Pop for a couple years in the early ‘70s in L.A. The stories in that book - of Iggy’s roll in depravity, smashing up girlfriends’ cars in manic fits - that wildness is never explored. Or Iggy checking himself into a mental asylum…to survive.

As the film moves along, it improves. The expectations are still high.

I had the feeling the lack of live footage meant we’d see some slapstick moments and old TV footage to cover. Repeated flashbacks to the Three Stooges were obvious and corny and served as distractions. This, sadly, is a trend in recent documentary making.

I am sure if the all the editing tricks were repeated on a U2 movie, fans would slam it. As it’s a movie about the Stooges, all is forgiven.The subject matter makes people less objective.

Parts of The Stooges story were skipped over. The impact of “Raw Power”, the recording of that album, why Williamson walked out and the importance of the London show as one of those gigs that changed the world and set the wheels in motion for British punk a few years later are nowhere to be seen.

They tell us about the MC5 in the narrative, not show us, and praise their virture for setting up the White Panthers. Why no Wayne Kramer appearance? The MC5 had a huge part in The Stooges story as it was their recommendation that got them sighed. They were one of the few bands that gave them gigs in the early days. Iggy does acknowledge that.

The Stooges were not a popular band at the time: they were dissed by almost all the music press. Let’s face it, Rolling Stone completely rubbished their first album and claimed it was fourth rate, giving it one star.

In my lifetime, I have met three people who saw the Stooges live in Detroit: only one claimed they were amazing. Others claim they were seen as a joke and no one liked them. The Stooges were unpopular, outsiders and completely out on a limb. No-one sounded like them. That aspect was not explored fully.


To the positives. As a documentary that’s declares as a “a love letter Iggy and the Stooges”, it pays loving respect to the band. The filmmaker claims he is their greatest fan. On the tribute level, it is completely successful.

In their early days, the Stooges were akin to rock ’n’ roll’s Manson Family. They were groundbreaking in their early noise gigs. Their house was a a drop-in centre populated by a bunch of circus freaks and degenerates. In fact, the myth says half their first album was only written the day before it was recorded.

The movie just gives the impression that they were simply a wild proto punk band who influenced 77 punk They were so much more then that.

That said, there is also much to recommend about “Gimmee Danger”. It is like a loving scrapbook, diligently put together with pictures posters and full of solid 16mm period footage - some of it previously unseen - and it is steeped in sentiment. But there are no knock-out punches. It was like the film was playfully engaging in a limp hand wrestle with its audience

It is OK to love the Stooges and criticise this movie. it is not a sin as long as you can back up. The movie was, at times, two dimensional and there were so many more angles that could have explored. The storyline simply plodded along when some real dangerous paths could have been taken.

Danger is NOT about excessive drug-taking. I mean, seriously, if that was premise of the greatest band world: Guns and Roses would win, hands down.

The reason to go and see “Gimme Danger”? It has some strong moments. It really does illustrate Iggy Pop as the wild showman. A cyclone,

The interviews are the other thing that works in this flick. In particular, the one with Iggy. They are funny, insightful and witty. Iggy is always brilliant, articulate and funny. It was like mates yarning; we feel are down at our local with our friends, sharing pints. This is intertwined with old footage of Ron Asheton, recent interviews with Scott, their sister Kathy, James Williamson Steve Mackay and the inner circle

There are many reasons why I feel iifelong fans will love it. As they will naturally rave and that is understandable finally the movie has been made about their heroes…but a movie should not be unchecked and held up yo be without flaws..

One of the comments about “Gimme Danger” was: “I felt it was so Hollywood”.

Then there are those who were disappointed by “Gimme Danger” as a movie . As Iggy says, “they got a right” to feel like that. As a movie. it was neither terrible nor brilliant. It was sort of OK. Being “sorta of OK” is not what the Stooges were about.

It is worth seeing. Go find out for your self.

Tags: iggy pop, stooges, gimme danger, jim jarmusch, sydney international film festival

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