Graham Reid | | 1 min read
This documentary about the British anarcho-rock band Chumbawamba – who had the Tubthumpinghit (“I get knocked down”) in 97 – opens with an unhappy, well-dressed man walking through an alley and announcing, “My name is Dunstan Bruce. I'm a 59 year old man and I'm struggling, struggling with the fact we seem to be all going to hell in a handcart, that we're heading towards the end-times”.
And from there Bruce folds back asking of himself and his former Chumba-bandmates, “Where did it all go wrong?” and why he's now a self-described, “rinsed-out retired radical”.
We see its members do the ironing, performing in musical theatre and recalling their glory days when punk inspired them to flee suburban monotony for the political climate and communal living of Leeds in the Thatcher era.
They changed musical and political direction frequently, made shouty and theatrical agit-prop,but just when it seemed to be ending they delivered Tubthumpingwhich took the affirmative working-class sentiment to Top of the Pop, Letterman and mainstream audiences.
A Frank Sidebottom-like figure punctures Bruce's reminiscences, former members moan about today's political landscape, Bruce talks to, and about, himself.
And you thought Beatle-era boomers were nostalgic?
It was a messy career – if that's what it was – and here we see idealism eroded by realism, sedition devolve into sentiment and, somewhat embarrassingly, Bruce making their own blue plaque for the wall outside their old commune.
Sad in a self-indulgent way.
This film screens in the DocEdge Festival which runs in various cinemas from June 1 to July 10.
For details of the full programme and bookings go here.