Friday, October 12, 2007

Sturm and Twang

Vienna being about three to six months behind the US in movie premieres(and fifty to 100 years behind in manners), I've only just recently seen two movies that my friends in America probably saw ages ago. Two documentaries about two musical phenomenons so unrelated as to seem to belong to two different planets: Joe Strummer, of the Clash, and the Dixie Chicks.

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten is a one-dimensional love letter, featuring, um, campfire testimonials, and cameos by people like Johnny Depp, who appears in full Pirates of the Carribean drag, using the sort of wack hyperbole that gets rock critcs burned at the stake. It manages to turn Strummer, the driving force behind a super influential, maybe even important band, into a barely compelling poseur. Thirty years later, it made me wonder why everyone made such a fuss about the Clash. I remember a guy in my hometown named Polar Bear--he always said the Clash were phoneys.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, The Dixie Chicks don't matter at all. But Shut Up and Sing: The Dixie Chicks, by the master documentary director Barbara Kopple, turns the band into heroines. Flawed, occasionally bitchy, and smart, chicks who spoke out against the invasion of Iraq, and paid a price for it. It juxtaposes scenes of Donald Rumsfeld lying through his teeth with scenes of three women who, clever as they are, still can't quite believe how unpopular some opinions can be. Four years later, it made me wonder again how that big-eared monkey from Crawford, TX, managed to con the nation into the disaster we call the Iraq war. And it made me wonder, again,
What's really going on in the US of A?

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