Iggy Pop learned brevity and I'm going to take a page out of his book. It was on the Soupy Sales show, which he watched as a child, that viewers were encouraged to send in letters, as long as they were twenty-five words or less. That struck him as the right amount of words, unless you were Bob Dylan, someone he did not want to emulate.
Pop is the focal point of Jim Jarmusch's new film, Gimme Danger, a documentary about the Stooges, one of the most important and influential bands in the history of rock and roll. Without them, punk as we know it would never have happened. And while Gimme Danger is a pretty straight ahead rock doc, it does distill the magical essence of what made the Stooges really work (and really not work, when they were crashing and burning) and what made them revolutionary.
The film covers early days in Ann Arbor, Michigan when Iggy was still Jim Osterberg, an unconventional kid who was incredibly knowledgeable about music and accomplished on the drums. It moves to the formation of the band, which seemed to involve a lot of hanging out and getting high. Eventually they started to play and build a small audience and were spotted by Danny Fields who signed them to Elektra Records. Good pacing allows Jarmusch to hit all the important points while still keeping the story moving and including a lot of funny anecdotes.
Jarmusch has been friends with Iggy for years and that allows for comfortable, colouful interviews. Iggy remembers a lot of details and he's smart and analytical about the music and the experiences. Even if you already know everything about the Stooges you will probably enjoy the interviews and the archival footage. If you don't know the music you'll find this a fun primer. The film isn't particularly interesting in form or style, and it does fall into a few pitfalls (we could have dispensed with the animation and much of the stock footage when it's used just to provide background colour) but it has clear intentions and succeeds with those.