Gimme Danger

Gimme Danger is by no means a groundbreaking documentary.  It’s by-the-book filmmaking, full of talking heads and archival footage, and very much reminiscent of the punk rock films of Don Letts.  The Letts comment, of course, is not a negative at all.  Don Letts is a great person to emulate when searching for cinematic punk rock aesthetics.

Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger matches the punk rock chaos of The Stooges.  Jarmusch’s personal experience with the no wave scene of New York helps, but the filmmaker is heavily indebted to the fact that his subject, Iggy Pop, is a raucous and fascinating character who engenders punk rock.  Hey, the easiest way to make a punk rock doc is to interview punk rock himself.

Gimme Danger makes no attempts at hiding the fact that it’s essentially a long interview, showing Jarmusch setting things up at the beginning before handing the reins over to Pop.  What follows is an in-depth discussion of the Stooges’ rise, fall, and re-rise as the musicians tried to introduce a new sound while trying to keep themselves accessible – they were absolutely their own worst enemies.  Meanwhile, the documentary also illustrates the band’s importance, both within their own scene in relation to other bands around them and through their influence on upcoming musical scenes.

The biggest selling point in this film is the vast amount of candid information from interview subjects and archival documents (photos, recordings of famous and infamous performances), which illustrates a timestamp of the band’s mindset during two of their most influential albums – Raw Power and Funhouse.  To remind the viewer that Gimme Danger also acts as a history lesson, Jarmusch includes archival interviews with since-deceased members of the band, stopping from time to time to eulogize the likes of Dave Alexander and the Asheton brothers.

Gimme Danger is absolutely an esoteric film, but there’s still a downside even for that specific audience of Stooges fanatics.  If you have ever read Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil, you know everything that will be discussed in the first two acts of the doc.  As mentioned, Iggy Pop is very candid, but all of his stories are already out there and heavily collected in this book. However, even those viewers who have read up on The Stooges should see Gimme Danger for the archival material and the modern resurrection of the Stooges;  they’ll just be one step ahead of Jarmusch’s film.


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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam

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