Sunday, November 30, 2008


Lord Don't Slow Me Down

On the surface, what seems like a yob's eye view of "Eat the Document" or even Radiohead's "Meeting People Is Easy" tour documentary quickly becomes so much more. The plot is a simple and familiar one within rock n' roll: band tours the world, deals with all the attendant highs and lows that come with the surrealities of "pop stardom." "Lord Don't Slow me Down," much like the aforementioned "Eat The Document" or even Nick Cave's "The Road To God Knows Where," is less concerned with what happens onstage - songs are only presented as snippets, bookends - and instead concentrates on what happens in between the concerts. The endless promotional grind of clueless interviews (Noel, why don't you like Liam? Liam, why don't you like Noel?), planes, buses, trains, sitting and waiting for the show, sitting and waiting for all of the hangers-on to leave the backstage area, a procession of bars and late nights followed by punishingly early mornings. What elevates this particular film from a "tortures of fame" pity party is that Oasis are so fucking grumpy and bemused and funny about the whole affair. Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher clearly enjoy being rock starts, but as they start to get a little older, it's just as clear that they realize just how ridiculous all the rituals are; even though it doesn't kill their crucial/original love of music. An unselfconscious encore of The Who's "My Generation" proves that.

Didn't I say funny? The movie begins with a backstage party where Noel is unable to open a comically large bottle of champagne, leading every band member to have a go, with members of their entourage joining in too. It's only after several minutes and ever-more ridiculous scheming that the bottle finally yields, to relieved cheers. A few minutes later, Noel is incredulously asking an interviewer, "You do know I'm not Liam, right?" Then there is a shot of Noel at a radio interview in New York, giving a "What the fuck" look at the camera, as the hosts prattle on about nonsense from ten years ago. Even later, when a reporter asks Liam how he prepares for a gig, he doesn't even hesitate before deadpanning, "Wank."

The use of black-and-white film stock lends "Lord, Don't Slow Me Down" a hazy, timeless feel. Even more interesting, given that the subject matter is gonzo anthem factory Oasis, is that the camera work of director BaillieWalsh is subtle, non-linear and strangely beautiful. But then again,wasn't smilin' Paul McCartney the Beatle who introduced the rest of the group to tape loops and avant-garde music? It ain't all appearances, pally. The editing jumps from scene to scene, the camera blurs out the principals to focus on one small seemingly inconsequential detail in the frame, there are beautiful landscape shots from every country they visited, nighttime becomes magical, airports look like alien realms, backstage green rooms look like small fishbowls, their fans drunkenly stumble about, and the closing scene is a voiceover of Noel expressing doubts about their future of a touring band juxtaposed against an endless sea of audience. But when the members of Oasis do the long walk onstage, they look every bit as iconic as that famous walking shot in "Reservoir Dogs."

Oasis is a very lucky band, while it's clear they'll never recapture their initial rush of creative energy and commercial fame, they're in no way tethered to a particular song or album. Oasis are still a productive band, and despite their apparent stodginess and obstinance, they're able to change and adapt to the times every so subtly. And beyond that the Gallahaghers give great interview. Approximately 70% of the fun of this film is listening to Liam and Noel banter and belittle each other, anyone within a twenty foot radius, and every rock band ever. Their delivery is so unforced and deliciously deadpan, it's like "Zelig" by way of Roger Daltry and Stephen Fry.

The package is an essential one for the Oasis fan. Included is the documentary film, a commentary track featureing the entire band (priceless), and a full live set from their home city of Manchester, filmed in sharp, cinematic color. Even if you're not an Oasis fan, you'll get a kick out of all the surreal indignities of the entertainment-industrial complex writ large upon a group of mouthy Brits, without actually having to put up with any but the best bits of their music.

- Matthew Moyer

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