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The Reeler Blog

Temple of Punk

Fired up: The Future is Unwritten filmmaker Julien Temple in interview mode (Photo: IFC Films)

By Ben Gold

Last Friday, while CMJ's Music Marathon was spreading tinnitus throughout Manhattan, a small group gathered at the Tribeca Cinemas to attend the FilmFest's New York premiere of Julien Temple’s documentary Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten, which details the life of the late Clash leader. Although you wouldn’t know it by the crowd Friday night, college-age fanboys aren’t the only people who worship at Strummer's altar (Future joined Westway to the World and Rude Boy among the Clash-themed films screening that day); Temple was able to wrangle a slew of stars eager to proclaim their love.

"They were begging to be in it,” Temple told The Reeler during a break in the after-party. “I was very pleased to have people like John Cusack, who have been really inspired by Joe.” Other featured film industry disciples include Jim Jarmusch, Steve Buscemi and even Johnny Depp. “He was a huge fan,” said Temple. “He started out as a musician, and I think his whole approach to the way he played Hollywood came from Joe and the Clash -- that attitude.”

Temple, who made his name nearly 30 years ago with the Sex Pistols chronicle The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, conducted all of his interviews for the film around bonfires modeled after ones Strummer became known for organizing later in life. Temple noted that while the conditions may not have always been conducive to such an event, they certainly seemed to have paid off overall. “The whole thing of being around a campfire, interviewing for 14 hours in the freezing cold -- even though there was a fire -- because we were in New York in February was unique," he said. "I thought I was going to die of interviewing there. But there was a lot of red wine going around, and you just yap out. So that all loosens the tongue. It was all good.”

Temple’s favorite -- and perhaps strangest -- interview, though, was with former Clash guitarist Mick Jones. “He’s hilarious,” Temple said. “He demanded a three-bar electric fire rather than a campfire. He’s a very funny and wise man; the interview started off disastrously with me and him staring at each other, really nervous, which was weird because we knew each other pretty well.”

The Future is Unwritten is one of numerous films about punk rock to emerge over the past few years, joining The Ramones doc End of the Century, the genre study American Hardcore and the recently released Ian Curtis biopic Control. Temple noted that moviegoers can thank him in part for filmmakers' recent interest. “Ever since The Filth and the Fury they all seem to find it fascinating,” he quipped, referring to his 2000 revisiting of The Sex Pistols legend. The crowd Friday night was certainly thankful.

Posted at October 22, 2007 9:25 AM

Comments (1)

Best part glossed over?

Temple made Earth Girls Are Easy.
That is truly punk rock.

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