Ohio-born American Indie auteur Jim Jarmusch, himself no stranger to the rock doc (namely, 1997’s Neil Young and Crazy Horse documentary, Year of the Horse), makes a very persuasive argument for the Stooges as “ the greatest rock-and-roll band ever” in his latest non-fiction offering, Gimme Danger.
Outrageous and unpredictable rock icon Iggy Pop (James Osterberg Jr. to his folks) along with fellow Michigan natives Dave Alexander, Ron and Scott Asheton (and later joined by James Williamson) sprang from the bustling Ann Arbor scene, amidst the backdrop of the late 60s cultural revolution.
Something of a raconteur, Jarmusch wisely lets Iggy reflect and share his biography of the band––originally under the rather puerile denomination “the Psychedelic Stooges”––from being boosted by MC5 in the early days, inventing stage diving, being cussed at by Moe Howard, dicey drug binging excesses, and so much more.
“I started jumping up and the way baboons do before they’re gonna fight,” begins one particular chestnut, underscoring how Iggy and the band’s ruminations and anecdotes, many the stuff of legend, are shared and shown with a head-spinning enthusiasm.
Effective use of stylized animation, a wealth of stock footage, and signature Jarmusch savvy plus the expected nostalgic telling is all so terribly hard to assail. And there’s a heady mix of humor, too, in this damn fine rowdy vintage.
As the Stooges these gents pretty much invented punk, even though, as Iggy says directly to Jarmusch’s camera, “I don’t wanna be punk, I just wanna be.”
Appellations aside, Iggy and the Stooges are weird and affecting virtuosos, as well as cultural heroes, and Gimme Danger is an effective, intelligent, in-depth, and marvellously executed film, and certainly one of the best rock documentaries around. Not to be missed.
Taste of Cinema Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Author Bio: Shane Scott-Travis is a film critic, screenwriter, comic book author/illustrator and cineaste. Currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, Shane can often be found at the cinema, the dog park, or off in a corner someplace, paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneScottravis.