Gimme Danger review – Jim Jarmusch plugs into Iggy Pop's raw power

This documentary portrait of a great musical maverick is a terrific, terrifying blast of unwholesome rock’n’roll excitement

Jim Jarmusch’s documentary tribute to Iggy Pop and the Stooges is an act of fanboy – or rather fanman – love and it is entirely beguiling. This is not an obviously Jarmuschian film and Iggy is not himself a particularly Jarmuschian character – he is too humorously direct in conversation, too cheerfully ready to render up his meaning to you right away.

This film hooks you from the start, but I was especially smitten by the record-sleeve montage of those who have absorbed the great man’s influence: great to see the Adverts’ Gary Gilmore’s Eyes.

Iggy, born James Osterberg Jr, was a native of Muskegon, Michigan, who rejected the twee high-school band he was in to hang out with blues musicians and things continued from there. (His high school career itself is of course entirely irrelevant.) He describes his musical epiphany like this: “I smoked a big joint by the river and realised that I was not black.” But he did realise that he was a magnetically animal stage presence who revelled in sexy shirtlessness. He had moves like Jagger … better than Jagger.

When Search and Destroy crashes out of the screen, it sounds more terrifying than ever, and Iggy has some great commentary on it. James Williamson’s guitar, he says, fills the space like a drug dog, searching everywhere. Amusingly, he attributes his gift for pithy lyrics to a TV kids’ show presenter called Soupy Sales who asked viewers to write in – but to limit their messages to 25 words. Cheekily, Iggy contrasts this with prolix Bob Dylan, a cartoon of whom is shown droning: “Blah, blah, blah …” (Iggy Pop is one of the few people who can get away with this kind of blasphemy.) Unwholesome rock’n’roll excitement.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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