Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan
Features: Shane MacGowan, Johnny Depp, Gerry Adams, Bobby Gillespie
Pop video pioneer & documentarian Julien Temple brings his usual bricolage brio and sense of mischief to this rousing portrait of Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. Deftly assembled using rare archive footage, anarchic animation, and recorded pub encounters in which MacGowan shares a drink with such disparate figures as Johnny Depp (who also co-produced), his seemingly endlessly patient partner Victoria Mary Clarke, Gerry Adams and Bobby Gillespie, the picture traces MacGowan’s life from his childhood in rural Tipperary, the family move to London where the young Shane’s writing skills resulted in a scholarship at Westminster School, to his emergence as a charismatic ‘face’ on the punk scene, and his breakthrough with The Pogues and beyond.
Alas, such is MacGowan’s depleted state that the pub encounters consist mainly of the sixty-two year-old MacGowan, now wheelchair-bound after breaking his pelvis in a fall five years earlier, merely listening to recordings of earlier interviews with his drinking partners, and only occasionally interjecting, not always intelligibly. Especially poignant given in the earlier interviews MacGowan is genuinely insightful, particularly on Irish literary history. Tellingly, none of his ex-band mates appear.
It sounds maudlin, but Temple’s direction is suitably raucous and propulsive, sporting some fantastic footage of a young live-wire MacGowan at early punk gigs, and riotous recording of early Pogues’ concerts, while the animation interludes, replete with wilfully kitschy depictions of auld Ireland with leprechauns, pots of gold and the like, are cheeky fun. And the music is, of course, great.
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan is in cinemas (hopefully) from Dec 4th and available on DVD and Digital from Dec 7th.
David Willoughby. Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm