Thursday, 21 November 2013

Made of Stone - Film Review for Journalism Diploma

When the much-mythologised, Manchester rock band the Stone Roses announced their reformation in 2011, after 15 years apart, they wanted a director to document what they hoped would be a successful return.
Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes) is the man who got the call. His brief was to follow the band, from the announcement of their comeback through to their homecoming gig at Heaton Park, Manchester in summer 2012.
That Meadows is a big fan of the band is soon obvious as an early scene shows him in front of the camera, giddily excited, about to watch the Roses practice.
It is this enthusiasm that engages the viewer and produces a documentary that is less about the band but more of a celebration of the fandom surrounding them.
There is no expert analysis of the music or media savvy doyens discussing what the band meant to the working classes of northern Britain. It is a film for the fans, about the fans.
What Meadows excels at in his movies is the expressing of the passions of the common man. He puts this to good effect by impeccably capturing the aftermath of the announcement of a free gig in Warrington as a warm up show for Heaton Park.
We get shots of decorators leaving halfway through a job to queue for tickets, a man dashing from his house with a baby in his hands mid-feed and an impassioned announcement from a middle-aged office worker on why the Roses mean so much to him. Critics are not needed when the joy of getting a ticket expresses so much more.
Meadows’ respect for his subject means there is no probing into the animosity that caused the band to split for 15 years.  When there is a brief band argument that threatens the tour, all we see of the members is tense faces at the airport. What we get instead is Meadows, upset, in his hotel room, expressing the grief that all Roses devotees would feel.
The lack of dirt digging is not important though. This documentary is a statement that shows in this age of musicians being more famous in the gossip columns than the music press; there is at least one band that transcends all of this.
This is an expression of the joy that the music of the Stone Roses brings. A 90-minute ecstasy trip of a movie.

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