As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.
Two innocent people are arrested. An interesting third person, with broken English, joins them in their cell. On his idea, they decide to escape from the prison. Their journey is the rest of the movie.
They had me at Jim Jarmusch. Even more at Iggy Pop. The Stooges to boot? Holy moley.
Having read (re-read actually) 'Please Kill Me", and having read a lot about Iggy Pop and the Stooges over the years, I didn't expect I'd maybe learn too much about them from this doc. Little did I know not only I would, but that I would be laughing much of the way (the story where Ron Asheton asks Moe Howard's permission to use the name 'Stoooges' kills, but not as much as Iggy's dead serious response when he is told he *willl* play Peter Pan on Broadway by David Bowie's seemingly scummy manager).
It's also at times dark, at times harrowing, and the most welcome thing to me is how Jarmusch starts with the Stooges at their (first) end in 1973, when they were broke, Iggy was missing gigs and often showing up so wasted on heroin he could "sometimes sing, sometimes not", and it changes up how we usually see these kind of rock documentaries. It often will start with the adulatory remarks. Here, Iggy Pop in the 1973 footage looks like he's about ready to puke all over himself... while stage diving... while probably slathering himself with some substance of unknown origin... maybe genitals out too, who knows(!)
This was an entirely fearless band, and they created art simply by virtue of only doing what *they* liked. F*** popular taste. Hell, if one follows Pop by his word (and how can you not?) there were many, many manufactured acts (Including CSNY? please not them) and that if nothing else the Stooges acted as a counterpoint to so much of what was going on in the late 60's and early 70's while being one of the hardest bands of the era. Jarmusch does an excellent job of showing us through Pop, the late Scott Asheton and other interviews, plus plenty of stock footage and, not unlike Julien Temple with Filth & the Fury, clips from old shows, movies and other rock acts (Soupy Sayles being one of them of course) that make joke of what we're seeing, or at least reference.
Even as someone who thought he knew the Stooges, or at least Iggy Pop (real name Jim Osterberg), this gives as full a picture as you can get while, at the very end, showing us just how massive an influence they had. Think about it: they couldn't play (at first anyway, they got better as they went), and yet they changed things simply by the force of what rock and roll could do and has done when it's at its most pure. The film reflects the aggression, the commitment to absurdity, and Pop's own madness in performance, which was an act depending on the night (or it was all of a piece).
FUN! And I never thought I'd see (or think about) the day when a Jim Jarmusch movie had animated sequences. Bonus!
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