Every Cheap Hood Strikes A Bargain With The World
Director and writer Paul Hodson apparently felt that a biopic of Strummer’s life wouldn’t have felt right, and I think I have to agree there. Instead he created a (Hornby-ish, now I come to think of it) tale of how Joe’s life was reflected in those of two others. Two blokes got into The Clash in the late seventies, but eventually had to grow up. Nick (Huw Higginson of “The Bill”) was a middle-class but pretended he wasn’t, and despite being the initially more strident (in a student-y sort of way) ends up a soap actor. Steve (Steve North of “London’s Burning”, aptly enough) was working-class, and initially completely antithetical to punk before being convinced by The Clash. He stays faithful throughout his life but has never met Joe, and his looking forward to doing so works as one of the main plot hooks.
I was faintly worried beforehand about this being full of hero-worship, which is surely not what the man was about. There was naturally some, but not enough to upset. It was more about looking at the qualities others perceived him as having (because, as we learn, people aren’t always what they appear), how these affected their lives, and how they went on to continue to affect their lives when all context changes. Do you grow up and calm down and start working for the clampdown?
I really enjoyed this; it was fun, but also had a very stealthy streak of thoughtfulness that more or less took me unawares. The thought only just now occurs that this mirrors a lot of the very best bits of punk.
It also, unsurprisingly, made me want to go and listen to The Clash a lot. That’s never a bad thing.