‘Gimme Danger’ is the new documentary by cult filmmaker Jim Jarmusch about seminal rock band Iggy and The Stooges.
With a title that hints at searing insights and the wild (now legendary) antics about one of music’s most pioneering bands, the warning for what lies ahead can be found in the first five minutes: “The greatest rock n’ roll band ever!”. This is how ‘Gimme Danger’ anoints its subject and from thereon in, you instantly feel that disappointment can only follow.
Speeding over its subject, it trips over its affection…
As foretold, ‘Gimme Danger’s’ headlong, reverential ardour for Iggy and The Stooges is its undoing. Speeding over its subject, it trips over its affection and refuses to show (rather than tell) key moments in the group’s life. Relegated to only interviews with Iggy and his other band members, we never see any real scenes of their life off stage. No fights, bust-ups, acrimony, contrasting versions of events or disputes with ‘the man’ are ever shown, nor persons interviewed, even if only to sycophantically pay homage at the altar.
Instead, its bleak narrative eschews key events. There is no solo career. ’The idiot’ or ‘Lust for Life’ do not feature and Iggy’s Berlin years are over in all but a flash. The litany of bands that the Stooges went on to influence (i.e. The Ramones, Sex Pistols amongst others) disappear in a drum roll. Equally invisible is Jarmusch’s trademark, laconic sensibility. The smoky swirls of his midnight associations with (and affinity for) other music legends like Tom Waits are nowhere to be seen and his touch is strangely missing from this movie.
With ‘Gimme Danger’, its passion is solely confined to its songs and brief concert clips. Hell is not raised but instead reverentially lowered on to a bed of vague asides where past indiscretions are never discussed. In the end, the story of this incandescent band and its articulate front man seems set to remain a gold mine whose velvet is never tapped. Instead of contextualising its subject and feeding off its infamy, ’Gimme Danger’ unfortunately renders Iggy’s riot into a procession. In hindsight, it would have done well to have heeded its own title.