Who's in It:
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes
The Basics: Strummer, in case you don't know, was the lead vocalist for the Clash, the most enduring and definitely the most talented of the first wave of U.K. punk-rock bands. He died of a heart attack stemming from a congenital heart defect, at age 50. And this fully packed documentary covers the music legend's life, from his childhood as the son of a diplomat to his boarding school nightmare to the first-night opening for the Sex Pistols and beyond. And it stays fascinating, even as it hits and goes past the two-hour mark. It's that good.
What's the Deal? Julien Temple was around for the beginnings of punk rock and has now made two great punk-rock docs, including the one about the Sex Pistols, The Filth and the Fury. He also made the clunky Glastonbury that was full of so-so bands (but you can't have everything). When he's on, he's really on, and his ability to reference other elements from popular culture make for a never-boring visual collage while he puts everything he wants to cover into very cool perspective. Meanwhile, he's been documenting Strummer since those early years, so he gives you great footage you've never seen before.
Nicest Touch: Strummer was fond of campfires and would organize them at places like the Glastonbury Festival. So nearly all the interviews here take place at campfires Temple set up to re-create Strummer's mini-communities. It makes everything seem more down-to-earth, even when it's Johnny Depp with his little braidy pirate beard getting interviewed.
One Problem: You sort of have to be a nerd to be able to say, "Oh, yeah, there's big-deal British artist Damien Hirst," or, "Oh, look, it's what's-her-name from the Slits." And that's because Temple never identifies who's who. Maybe that's to give all the interviewees equal weight or something. Not telling you that Bono is Bono is sort of irrelevant, you know
but it would have helped to name the less recognizable faces.
Who Refused to Participate: Former Clash band member Paul Simenon. No known reason why.