Things that aren't there anymore


Day three of the Toronto International Film Festival, and on the heels of Control comes Joy Division, a documentary about the groundbreaking (and heartbreakingly short-lived) post-punk band. While the narrative Control busied itself more with Ian Curtis' complicated personal life, Joy Division taks a closer look at the band's music, rise to fame, and also the roots of their dark, moody sound -- specifically, the city of Manchester in the late 1970s, where as one interviewee points out, "Nothing looked pretty." Just about everyone still living who had anything to do with the band chimes in on the doc, which benefits from director Grant Gee's ability to contextualize Joy Division's place in landscapes physical, sonic, and artistic. (He also made the 1998 Radiohead doc, Meeting People is Easy.) There's a great attention to detail -- the film visits places that are crucial to Joy Division lore, like the Factory, now shut down and living on only in the collective rock n' roll memory. Some great Joy Division peformance footage too -- seeing the doc so soon after seeing Control made me truly appreciate actor Sam Riley's portrayal of Curtis. The resemblance is pretty spooky.
Fun fact: the artist who designed this iconic album sleeve did so without ever having heard a note of Joy Division music.

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