I reviewed Julien Temple’s CROCK OF GOLD: A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN for Cine-file Chicago.
Julien Temple’s’ CROCK OF GOLD: A FEW ROUNDS WITH SHANE MACGOWAN (UK/Documentary)
Available to rent through the Gene Siskel Film Center here
As the subtitle of Julien Temple’s portrait of Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan suggests, this basically consists of a series of informal hangout sessions with the unique Irish genius and witty raconteur who stands as one of the great singer/songwriters of the post-punk era. In a series of conversations—with former Sinn Féin leader and admirer Gerry Adams, wife and journalist Victoria Clarke, friend Johnny Depp (who also serves as producer and, unfortunately, appears to speak with a slight Irish brogue during his brief screen time) and others—MacGowan tells the story of his raucous life and times. Like a lot of modern documentaries, this feels more like an audiobook than a movie: MacGowan’s words and songs are superficially illustrated by an overly busy, and overly literal, image track consisting of archival footage, animation, an ironic interpolation of educational film excerpts, etc. But in spite of Temple’s futile attempts at imposing a “cinematic” veneer, this is essential viewing anyway. The chance to hear the larger-than-life MacGowan talk about his groundbreaking fusion of punk rock and traditional Irish folk music makes it unmissable for longtime Pogues fans and a good introduction to his work for the uninitiated. Also, this is one new quarantine movie that will undoubtedly work better when viewed from your couch, where you can freely imbibe along with the interview subjects. (2020, 124 min) [Michael Glover Smith]