January 28, 2015 -- I was expecting a movie along the lines of “Pulp Fiction” when I put this disk (which just has the title “Pulp” on it) in the machine, but instead, it is a documentary about a rock band I'd never heard of before. The music sounds pretty good to me (they have 10 million albums sold, according to IMDB.com) and the band members are fairly interesting people.
Like most movies of this nature, there are interviews with members of the band, Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Steve Mackey, Mark Webber, and others involved with the band. Also like most of these films, there is concert footage. The film features the December 8, 2012 concert at Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England that was billed as the band's last concert, but it wasn't. Sheffield is where the band members grew up and where most of their songs were written. There are also interviews with fans of the band and people in the community who know members of the band from years ago.
What makes this rock doc a little different is that there are also interviews of other people in Sheffield who talk about Sheffield itself as a city and as a backdrop for Pulp's music. The film has a lot of footage of buildings in different parts of Sheffield. There is also an interview with a young girl who is unfamiliar with the band. She gives her own first impression of Pulp after listening to a song. The first song played by Pulp in the film is their hit “Common People.” The theme of common people, working class people, runs through the whole film.
Some of the band members do come across as common people, but one who stands out is the lead singer, Jarvis Cocker, who is eccentric. On stage, he seems to be a true exhibitionist, but he describes himself to be shy and introverted. He got into the music scene to meet girls, he said, and he did. The band's “common people” image seems to appeal to a lot of the people interviewed in the film. The people of Sheffield seem to have embraced this band.
The concert in the film is very elaborate. The band members talk about putting on a very elaborate stage production because of some problems with past productions, like inadequate wind machines, fog effects, snow effects and lighting effects. Since this is their hometown crowd, they wanted to have all these effects work right this time.
Band members talk about their disillusionment with being part of the British pop scene in the early to mid 1990s. They backed off mainstream pop and went with a more independent sound with their 1998 album “This is Hardcore.” The band, founded in 1978 by Cocker (the only person who has been in the band continuously since it began) and Peter Dalton when they were teenagers in high school, broke up in 2002, and did not reunite for live concerts until 2011. The Sheffield concert in the film was near the end of a series of reunion concerts by the band.
I had not heard any of Pulp's music before (although they have toured in the U.S. and there is an interview with a U.S. fan in the film who traveled to Sheffield just for this concert). From what I heard in this movie, the music sounds good to me, and Cocker is certainly an entertaining stage presence. The band members, particularly Cocker and keyboardist Candida Doyle (who talks about her problems dealing with very early onset arthritis) are interesting people. On the whole, however, this movie is probably going to appeal mainly to fans of Pulp and people interested in the city of Sheffield. This film rates a C+.
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