xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
If you're a Pulp fan, you know that cutting lead singer Jarvis Cocker off just as he starts to pick up speed is tantamount to blasphemy. But that's exactly what director Florian Habicht does at the start of concert doc "Pulp: a Film About Life, Death, and Supermarkets." Later, Habicht reveals that he's only doing what Cocker already did during the band's final concert in 2012. During that live show, Cocker pauses to introduce his band before he leads them in finishing off "Common People," Pulp's most famous single.
Therein lies Habicht's biggest misstep: he lets Cocker call the shots, and subordinates Cocker's band, a funny hybrid of cheeky Elvis Costello-style bawdiness, and Smiths-like naive social realism, to his ego. Even the blue-collar residents of Sheffield are patronizingly presented as exemplars of Cocker's artistic genius. They talk endlessly about Pulp, a band whose members all hail from Sheffield. But Habicht's film never goes beyond idol worship since his film only succeeds at reproducing Cocker's myopic vision of his band.
But instead of focusing on the band's last concert, Habicht alternatively mythologizes Cocker, and his hometown's residents. This is because, as Pulp biographer Owen Hatherley explains, "Common People" reveals Pulp's class-conscious concerns. So, we see the residents of Sheffield as a collection of quaint salt-of-the-earth types, like the little old ladies that talk about dancing, and the middle-aged, all-female a capella group that covers "Common People." What we don't see is Sheffield residents explaining what lyrics like "I want to sleep with common people like you" mean to them, the common people of Cocker's imagination.
To be fair, some of Habicht's interviews are charmingly off-the-cuff. This is especially true of the handful of scenes featuring Bomar, a mascara-clad lad who titters about Habicht's approach from behind an expertly poised cigarette ("Hopes and dreams of the common man, eh?"). And there are breathtaking images of Sheffield at sunrise that make the city look like a breathtaking Anytown, UK. These city views are beautiful because they show you a landscape of the mind's eye, the kind you might romanticize all out of proportion if your daily commute took you through Sheffield.