Because the definitive 2000 Clash documentary, Westway to the World, set the bar so damn high, it’s hard for me to encounter any new Joe Strummer-related chronicle without skepticism (such as the inexcusable rash of sub-par biographies that have flooded the market since his death). However, I had high hopes for Let’s Rock Again, an extremely personal portrait of Strummer filmed, edited, and produced by Strummer’s longtime friend, Dick Rude. I was not disappointed.
The free screening at EMP last night was packed (communications manager Christian Quilici said they were still turning away folks for almost half an hour after the film started). Filmed throughout the last 18 months of Strummer’s life, Let’s Rock Again examines both Strummer’s most endearing personal qualities (humility, humor, compassion) and his greatest strengths as a performing musician (the enduring relevance of his voice, his ego-free willingness to share the stage with younger musicians whose chops rival his own). I don’t want to give away too much, as every Clash or Strummer fan should go out and buy a copy of DVD for themselves (Rude financed the film on his own), however, there are a couple of moments that I can’t help but share:
1) The sound recordings are uniformly excellent throughout, but the moments Rude captures while Strummer and the Mescaleros are ripping their way through a cover of the Stooges “1969” nearly took my breath away.
2) There’s an unexpectedly sweet scene where Strummer is being interviewed and notices a terribly wilted, close-to-death plant in the room. Although a number of people in the room are trying to get his attention, he politely excuses himself to address the plant, apologizing for the lack of water, promising to get it “a drink soon.” A few moments later, after he’s dealt with his other responsibilities, he discreetly dumps his own pint glass of water on the plant. During the post-screening Q&A, an audience member thanked Rude for including that shot—a compliment that clearly pleased him. “That’s the thing—[that was] ‘typical Joe’ to be more worried about a plant than what’s going on with him.”
To learn more about the film, visit Rude’s site here.