Control tells the remarkable story of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the influential band Joy Division and one of the most enigmatic figures in all of rock music. Based on his wife's memoir, Control follows Curtis' humble Manc... more »hester origins and his rapid rise to fame, tormented battle with epilepsy, and struggles with love that led to his death at the age of 23.« less
Control: The Short, Unhappy Life of Joy Division's Ian Curt
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 03/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on Deborah Curtis's book, Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, Anton Corbijn's fascinating and informative black-and-white film, Control (2007), chronicles the short, unhappy life of Ian Curtis (1956-1980), from his pursuit of art and literature at age 17 (while obsessed with David Bowie), to attending a Sex Pistols' show in 1976 (where he met Joy Division bandmates, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Terry Mason), to his contributions as lead singer and lyricist for that brilliant post-punk band (which he joined the same year), to his May 18, 1980 suicide at age 23. Corbijn, who is perhaps best known for directing videos of Depeche Mode, U2, and The Killers, cast an unknown actor, Sam Riley, to play Curtis, and Samantha Morton to play the part of of his wife, Deborah Curtis. Curtis married Deborah in 1975, while they were just teenagers. They soon had a daughter, Natalie, in 1979, while Curtis was also working as a civil servant at a Job Centre in in Manchester and performing with the Joy Division at night. In his spot-on portrayal of Curtis, Riley not only resembles Curtis in his appearance, but in his portrayal of Curtis's quiet, awkward demeanor. For the role, Riley masters Curtis's unique dancing style while performing (reminiscent of the epileptic seizures Curtis was known to experience, sometimes even while on stage). Beautiful Alexandra Maria Lara plays Curtis's extramarital lover, Belgian journalist Annik Honoré, the possible inspiration for the Joy Division hit single, "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Corbijn's film conveys all the existential angst, emotional isolation, alienation, and urban degeneration of his subject's short life. The film's dark, final scenes depicting Curtis drinking (on the eve of his first U.S. tour), while watching Werner Herzog's 1977 film, Stroszek, and listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot, all the while contemplating hanging himself are profoundly haunting. Although this film will appeal to anyone with an interest in Joy Division, it deserves a much wider audience for its mesmerizing character study of a troubled young post-punk artist.
Hands-down the Best Movie of 2007
Mike Smith | Albuquerque, NM | 03/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of great films came out last year, 2007--No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, The Lives of Others, and so on--but I honestly can't think of a better one than this: "Control."
This is a gorgeous and skillfully done film--all awash in silvery starkness, in luminous black and white--and all feeling so genuine and so far from anything fake or phony. I am not the suicidal singer of a New Wave band, I am not in love with a French journalist, and I do not think I married too early, but watching this, the movie really put me inside the man's skin.
"Control" tells the story of Ian Curtis, Joy Division's ill-fated lead singer--as well as his unfortunate wife, his band, his manager, his label, and his lover--and it does so without resorting to making it a slick biopic or a phony depiction of celebrity. It is one of the realest feeling films I have ever seen, and yet it doesn't sacrifice anything compelling or filmic to be so. The story plows ahead with amazing music and a formidable drive, with scenes that are artfully shot and gorgeous to behold.
The film's final scenes are indelible, cut forever into my mind, and the feeling the film invokes is powerful. I have never felt more genuinely punk than after seeing this--leaving the theater, I wanted to rip benches out of the ground and attack speeding cars head-on. More than that, I wanted to walk back into the theater, get another ticket, and watch it again. (I'm not really that into Joy Division either--at least I wasn't before seeing this.)
"Control": Best Movie of 2007. And Best Music Movie in Decades. So well-made and flawlessly executed that it couldn't ultimately depress me--it could only excite me. It's amazing."
DVD Extras Enhance This Powerful Film
Cubist | United States | 06/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since Ian Curtis, lead singer of the British band Joy Division, died in 1980, he has achieved the iconic status of an emerging artist showing signs of brilliance before meeting an early, tragic end. In Curtis' case, he committed suicide on the eve of his band's first American tour. His brief life has already been depicted on film in Michael Winterbottom's fast `n' loose look at the Manchester music scene of the 1970s and 1980s, 24 Hour Party People, but it was only for the first half of that film. Control draws most of its content from Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, the memoirs of Ian's wife, Deborah, and is directed by music video maker Anton Corbijn. He not only directed the video for their song, "Atmosphere," but also shot some of the most memorable photographs of the band, making him the ideal choice to helm this film.
There is an audio commentary by director Anton Corbijn. With his thick accent, he's a little hard to follow at times but manages to cover the usual topics: casting choices, shooting on location, and so on. He praises the performances of Sam Riley and Samantha Morton while also pointing out technical details, like how the concert scenes where shot with hand-held cameras and everything else was done with steadicams. This track is a little on the dull side but Corbijn does impart interesting factoids and it was clearly a labour of love for him.
"The Making of Control" takes a look at how the film came together. Corbijn moved to England because of Joy Division and took iconic photos of the band. So, he had an emotional connection to the material. His black and white photos influenced his decision to shoot the film in a similar style. The actors who played the members of Joy Division talk about the challenge of playing people who are still alive, learning to play musical instruments, and the songs. This is an excellent featurette filled with loads of interesting information.
"In Control: A Conversation with Anton Corbijn" tends to repeat some of the information from the commentary track and the making of featurette. The director talks about how he discovered Joy Division's music and how he eventually met them. He touches upon how they shot in Ian's hometown for authenticity.
"Extended Live Concert Performances from the Film" allows you to see "Transmission", "Leaders of Men", and "Candidate" in their entirety.
In a nice touch, there are the videos for "Transmission," a powerful rendition done for live TV with a riveting performance by Ian, Corbijn's video for "Atmosphere" that is haunting as it was done after Ian's death, and The Killers' cover of "Shadowplay" which is surprisingly effective.
Also included is a "Still Gallery" with photographs from the film.
Finally, there are "Promotional Materials," trailers for the film, a blurb for Deborah's book about Ian, the soundtrack, and so on."
Haunting, Stark, Beautiful, A Classic.....,
R. Deighton | Leeds | 11/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've now seen this story played out 3 times, twice at the movies in the last 2 days and once as a 15 year old from the North of England where the film is set. In the true spirit of the "Kitchen Sink" genre, it begins like a modern day "A kind of loving" and has a touch of " Room at the top" (the wedding car scene). Sam Riley plays Ian Curtis Lead singer of Joy Division, a band who influenced so many groups in the UK and internationally. Riley is outstanding, portraying Curtis in a way that does not show him as the icon he became posthumously but as a somewhat immature 20+ year old man. This of course is countered by a soundtrack that reminds us of his musical genius played by the actors in a very authentic "Garagey way". A portrait of a man torn between his old and new life complicated by the onset of an illness he was struggling to come to terms with.
If that wasn't enough the photography is glorious, every other shot could be hung on the wall, it never looked so good when I was a young! I understand that Corbijn was trying to shoot the film like a sequence of music videos and with his massive experience as a still photographer it all works beautifully. He sank a large amount of his own money into this project, and you can tell that making it was important to him as a fan and aquaintance of the band You can see his passion and committment to the film throughout. The sequence in the kitchen towards the end of the film was electric, an incredibly haunting dramatic shot. This movie demands the biggest screen that you can find.
I read a review that said you don't watch this movie you live it, the first time I saw Control I was angry at the futility of it all, the second I wept tears for lost youth, his and mine. My advice ? Go to a really big Movie screen and take a box of tissues and enjoy what must be considered the best music movie of all time. There's no getting away from the end, like Ian Curtis's all too short life it comes too soon in this movie, but enjoy the majesty of the photgraphy, the stunning performances, revel in the darkness and enjoy the music. Surely a candidate for Oscar(s)?"
VERY SLOW - Start with the new Joy Division Documentary 1st
Rob Burns | Collinsville, IL USA | 06/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a Big Joy Division fan going back to the early 80's. While I can appreciate director Anton Corbijn's personal tribute to JD's lead singer IAN CURTIS, the film is just too Dark and Excessively Slow to recommend to the average viewer.
Corbijn's stark B&W photography (He was a close friend to the original Band and held many a photo shoot with them..Their 1st two album covers were Black-then White. A third, Grey!) perfectly captures the atmosphere of dank Manchester, England in the 1970's. Sam Reilly is Amazing as Ian and mimics Ian's voice and performance mannerisms to-a-T. Samantha Morton (Minority Report, Woody Allen's Sweet & Lowdown, Elizabeth - The Golden Age) is heartbreakingly good as Ian's suffering wife. The actors playing JD band mates are noteworthy and seem to play their own instruments which certainly add to the realism. However, the film just plods on at a Snail's pace. Maybe this was the director's ploy, to depress us Slowly into Submission given the nature of Ian's illness and make us feel what Ian felt. Any solid JD fan knows that although their music could be Dark & Challenging, it was never Boring or Depressing. Although we're given very small glimpses into the creative psyche, recording and performance of the band, CONTROL is really the slight, personal story of Ian Curtis their lead singer. You'll rarely see much in the way of lengthy music clips here.
A better place to start is Grant Gee's new documentary JOY DIVISION just released by TWC as well. It paints a much broader picture of the Band and still maintains Ian's story as its main Focus. The music and performance clips of the Band are amazing and the Doc rarely drags. It features extensive interviews by remaining band members (nka NEW ORDER) and Control director Corbjin."