Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (15)

Directed by Mat Whitecross
Written by Paul Viragh
Screened at FACT

Reviewed by John Owen

The biopic portrait of Ian Dury and the Blockheads to me came as a total surprise, how do you capture the mood of revolt that spawned such talent as his and many others, the seam of revolt running through the veins of the country in the seventies conjured up on celluloid?

The film delivered, it was deeply personal insight - painful and also critical; by centering on Dury Whiecross and Viragh also document the social movement in Britain in the late 70s, in particular the rise of punk.

The death knell of free love hippie shit was replaced with hard headed reason in revolt now thundering amongst the young. Lyrics that said “fuck you cunt face arse hole bastards and prick“ emerged from the subconscious and were reluctantly broadcast by the establishment media, hence the rise of DIY record making. This was the revolution in musical terms, millions on the dole began to revolt and not take no for an answer.

Go figure, who would of thought the man who penned the immortal “spastic us autistic us” attacking middle class perceptions of disability in the music industry? Like Gormley's Trafalgar square plinth of a pregnant woman with disabilities, outrage ensued. Where once military 'heroes' who destroyed life stood...

He wasn’t the stereotypical hotties’ lead singer or blonde Aryan Olympic clone with good Osmond style teeth. In fact he could be scary and aggressive with a strong and alluring personality. This internal dynamic conflict drove him forward to challenge the status quo.

With the swastika overlade with the word 'smash', this was the rise of political pop or a resurgence of social revolutionary feeling in the country; inequalities, racism, bigots, fascists, challenge the whole rotten lot and attack the establishment. The time for change was at hand and Dury was the revolutionary Trotsky of the music world.

Not of course to the purist who were waiting for the traditional leftwing take to occur - a communist's takeover by workers clad in hard patent leather boots and dirty overalls, ciggie rolled behind the ear and recently acquired Kalashnikov slung low over the shoulder chanting “workers' power now.”

This time bands replaced soviets and the young for once smelt tasted and wielded power as well as the coffee.

Anyone could be anyone and you could do anything you like and more importantly get away with it, it being a many splendoured thing, and thing being what the hell.

This timely tribute is neither mawkishly sentimental, or over the top slagging off, or an anti dirge (say like Sid and Nancy, the say no to heroin opus of Alex Cox.

This film from the start celebrates life with a birth at the beginning; it has a pulse, a soul and a massive tiger's heart beating all the way through. It celebrates an individual who was a pivotal character in the punk movement in Britain - a pioneer of offensive lingo swear words FUCK and worse matron.Today it may seem old hat to neo-rebel gamesters and antichrist serial killer worshippers masquerading as teenagers.

This general had the peeps marching to revolution as the old establishment took the kicks to the groin and bared it, their turn would be next. It never did though, the New wave came in and exploded in their face, died but morphed into strange and weird but wonderful sounds we have today. Still!
If you want a message go to the post office opines Dury. The moral of his life summed up was live life for yourself, not others - religion, family or state.

A poet of punk rock and social revolutionary, his inner workings and motives are pinned down well by Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord Of The Rings), full credit for making him a 3D character not a poor spas or crip. Her hated patronising sympathy - from the orphaned upbringing to the success of number one in the pop charts he was no icon but a real person. To sum up: great sounds, film acting, see it eat it shit it! But above all believe it - it happened. A musical Bill Hicks was amongst us, carving his name in the pantheon of underground sounds. Firkin great!

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