24 July 2012

Shut Up and Play the Hits

James Murphy is one of a handful of people in this world who can not only make really awesome art, but can also talk about it in very interesting ways. LCD Soundsystem famously "quit" being a band last year, performing a sold out goodbye concert at Madison Square Gardens. The movie is partly footage of the concert, partly interview footage, and partly just scenes from the life, as it were. It's centered around Murphy - the other members of the band basically never speak. This is unfortunate, because I'd be quite curious to hear what they have to say. And the lack of any discussion of their thoughts and feelings is a rather glaring absence. That said though, it is an extremely warm and intimate look at James Murphy, who has a lot of interesting things to say about music, fame, the band, etc. One of his comments that I found particularly intriguing was the idea that fame or rock star-ness isn't about any sort of specific character traits, but about your position in culture. In other words, not acting like "rock stars"does not make your band any less of a big deal (though one might argue that the other members of the band have actually succeeded at this a bit more, and maybe this is also exactly why they don't want to be in the movie). Not that Murphy hates interviews - as he himself admits, there is a certain desire to keep explaining yourself and your ideas. This, I think, is what makes him so interesting - that he is a genuinely thoughtful person with intellectual curiosity and a certain amount of reflexiveness about what he's doing (the interviewer at one point suggests that this is the band's greatest flaw, their self-consciousness - an intriguing suggestion). But the movie isn't just him being all analytical, it's also quite emotional, occasionally in what feels like a very raw way. The end result is both thought-provoking and moving, and a real treat for any fan of the band.

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