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Live Forever (2003)

Directed by:

John Dower

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 82 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

If there’s one thing ‘Live Forever’ seems Hell-bent on telling us all, it’s that the 90s were “f**king great”. Certainly it’s tough to disagree when it positions its self-proclaimed heroes of Brit-pop against today’s inherently evil spoon-fed diet of S Club Juniors, Pop Idol winners and Robbie Williams.

Unfortunately, John Dower’s documentary on the rise and fall of “Cool Britannia” is a one-sided, if at times fairly entertaining, affair. The film devotes most of its time to “talking heads”-style interviews with perma-bickering Oasis siblings Noel and Liam Gallagher. Others who sold their fair share of albums around the time, notably Damon Albarn of Blur, Jarvis Cocker from Pulp and Sleeper’s Louise Wener, have to make do with only the occasional look-in, whilst other contributors to the period such as The Verve, Ocean Colour Scene and the Lightning Seeds don’t even get a mention (even though the latter band came up with surely one of the most culturally significant anthems of the period, ‘Three Lions’).

One of the main problems with this sort of film is that musicians don’t generally have much to say that’s of any real interest. The Gallaghers, of course, don’t hold back with their comments (Liam, for example, when asked how he felt about not being invited to Downing Street to meet Tony Blair, comes out with “it looks like a shit house anyway”). But there’s nothing particularly incisive or thought-provoking being said by anyone.

Another problem is that the film makes an assumption from the very start that Brit-pop was much more important than it probably was. After all, British music in the 90s was just as much about the likes of Take That and the Spice Girls as it was the Gallagher swaggerers – in many ways perhaps even more so. But, again, it’s an area that Dower doesn’t even deem worthy of a mention.

Thankfully, the film is at times very funny, though not always where intended. Noel’s apparent obsession with being some sort of working class hero appears to have left him on the verge of turning into some sort of “we were so poor, etc” stereotype. At one point he says – with a straight face, mind – “all we had was rock n roll”. Likewise when Liam tells us how good a haircut he’s got.

The over-analysis of music isn’t something I’ve ever seen much point in, and there’s nothing in ‘Live Forever’ to change my mind on that. By all means buy the albums – there’s some terrific music on here – but do we really need to be exposed to the artists patting themselves on the back ten years on? I say let the music do the talking.

It's Got: The Stone Roses, Massive Attack, Suede, Blur, Sleeper, Oasis, Supergrass, Elastica, Radiohead, Portishead, Pulp, and – wait for it – MIKE FLOWER’S POPS! Wonder what that guy’s doing now?

It Needs: A bit of objectivity.

DVD Extras A collection of unseen interview clips (several of which are much funnier than a lot of the stuff left in the final edit), a video diary of the Oasis tribute act Wonderwall, a trailer, and an optional director’s commentary. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

24 Hour Party People

Summary

Brit-pop through rose-tinted “mad for it” spectacles.

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