Control / Joy Division Anton Corbijn / Grant Gee

Control / Joy Division Anton Corbijn / Grant Gee
Although these two films are sold separately, like Joy Division’s two studio albums, Control and Joy Division are meant to be experienced together. One is a biopic on doomed front-man Ian Curtis, masterfully envisioned by the band’s photographer, Anton Corbijn. The other is a documentary telling their story through key interviews, rare video and audio clips. The award-winning Control is a breathtakingly black-and-white adaptation of Curtis’s wife Deborah’s memoirs. Visualised by the gifted first-time director Corbijn, rookie and former rocker Sam Riley painfully embodies Curtis to a frighteningly accurate tee. Though it’s slow moving and unfolds more like moving photographs, the emotion carried in Riley’s performance as an epileptic tortured by his condition and the love of two women is riveting enough to keep you enthralled. Whereas Control dramatises Curtis’s life through one person’s lens, Joy Division is the in-depth history lesson taught by a number of instructors who lived it alongside Ian. Everyone from New Order (Bernard Sumner, Peter "Hooky” Hook and Stephen Morris) to Factory’s Tony Wilson, the band’s sleeve designer Peter Saville and any number of friends share their stories, giving genuine reactions that are both touching and hilarious, such as Sumner gagging as he revisits the band’s very first song. Gee’s cutting is tremendous, displaying the adeptness he’s refined doing work for such visual luminaries as Radiohead and Gorillaz, and such subtle touches, like tagging extinct locations with the numbered "Things that aren’t there” header show he knows what is important in telling the story. The extras for both are generous. Corbijn’s Control commentary is as solemn as the film itself. Despite the monotonous tone, Corbijn’s history and attachment to the band are evident in the exquisite details he divulges. Discussing the final fatal sequence, he admits it was very emotional watching Riley, who was so convincing it was as if the director was seeing the real thing. In the "making of,” Corbijn talks about how he didn’t want it to be considered a biopic and casting Riley gave the director a sense that he was making a documentary more than anything. Oddly enough, writer Martin Greenhalgh admits he was a New Order fan first and foremost and took on the job to fulfil his devotion to them instead of Joy Division. The extras on Joy Division revolve around the 75-plus minutes of extra interview footage, which provide further indulgence for any hardcore fan. Though leftovers, most of the subjects give fascinating sound bites, such as journalist Paul Morley’s appreciation for Gillian Gilbert’s contribution to New Order, which he feels added a crucial femininity that cracked the misogyny and added a necessary tenderness. Plus: Joy Division and Killers videos, conversation with Corbijn. (Alliance)