Saturday, February 4, 2017

Duran Duran: Unstaged

I never imagined I would see a Duran Duran concert video intercut with images of frankfurters roasting on a barbeque, much less a spatula repeatedly banging on that grill in time to "Come Undone".  That's exactly what is on view in the 2011 film DURAN DURAN: UNSTAGED.  During other tunes, Barbie dolls with tape over their breasts dance like Rockettes.  Weird shrunken heads appear elsewhere, for reasons perhaps only David Lynch - director of this entry in a series of concerts sponsored by American Express  - can explain.

Overall, I would say that Lynch's involvement with this project is mostly inspired, but some of the time it feels, gratuitous.  The 2011 performance, captured at the Mayan in Los Angeles, is shot in striking monochrome.  Lynch drops clips of people, places, and things that sometimes match the lyrics, often not (at least in any immediately obvious way). Nails are hammered.  Cars drive through tunnels.  Minute hands on clocks speed through time.  Smoke (overlaid digitally) bellows between songs.  Crowd shots are through fish eye lenses.   I found it especially puzzling that this most abstract thinking of auteurs chose to use a picture of a wolf during "Hungry Like the Wolf" and a rotating blue earth for, "Planet Earth".  Did Lynch's third eye fail him for those crowd pleasing hits?

The set itself is solid.  Several tracks from the 2010 album All You Need is Now are included, and fit nicely with the older material.  The retro feel of the Mark Ronson (who also appears in this video, playing guitar on a few numbers) produced album makes me curious for further exploration. Other guests include My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way and Beth Ditto of The Gossip, who duets with Simon Le Bon on "Notorious".   Album cuts like "Careless Memories" and "Friends of Mine" were a nice surprise to old fans like myself.  There's a cool medley of James Bond themes during the encore, which coalesces nicely in the band's title track for 1985's A VIEW TO A KILL.

At the end, Le Bon asks several collaborators to join him on stage, including Lynch.  The director is a no show, prompting Simon to conjecture that maybe he had already left, escaping into another dimension.  Entirely possible.  David Lynch's graffiti over an already well produced concert film at times does reek of Black Lodge eccentricity.

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