Anton Corbijn worked with the post-punk band Joy Division when he was a young photographer, which made him a good choice to direct a biopic about doomed Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis—not just because Corbijn’s stark black-and-white imagery originally helped define the band’s look and vibe, but because he knew the guys as guys, and not just as rock stars. If anything keeps Corbijn’s Control from being as great as it might’ve been, it’s that in its second hour the movie wallows in the gloom that overtook Curtis, unintentionally romanticizing depression and suicide (and turgidly so). But Sam Riley is vividly alive as Curtis, and Corbijn’s “stand back and watch” style is effective when it comes to capturing the shattering, live-wire energy of Joy Division performing songs like “Transmission” and “She’s Lost Control.” Most importantly, Control humanizes Curtis, showing him as a sensitive young man penned in by his marriage, his epilepsy, and his bleak Manchester surroundings, but also showing him as someone inspired by the promise of punk rock, and comfortable just having a beer in a nightclub with his Joy Division bandmates. The movie gives a fuller picture of Curtis and Joy Division than could ever be gleaned just from the band’s frequently dark, heavy music. Control airs on Indieplex at 10:45 p.m. Eastern.
August 26, 2014 newsreel