Last Saturday night I went to see Shut Up and Play The Hits in the Lighthouse Cinema. The movie’s tagline is “The very loud ending of LCD Soundsystem” and it takes place on April 2nd 2011 when LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. James Murphy had made the conscious decision to end the band at a point where they had critical acclaim and commercial success and as a result the gig was instantly sold out. The band played for four sweaty electrifying hours and I wish I had been there to witness it. I never got to see the band live and judging from the film I really missed out.
Footage of the last gig is interspersed with clips from an extended interview Murphy did with Chuck Klosterman, pop culture essayist and writer of the “Ethicist” column for The New York Times Magazine. Klosterman is an insightful and astute interviewer and while Murphy is articulate the viewer gets the feeling that he’s being evasive at times. He says that he decided to end the band as he disliked touring and didn’t want to become part of the music machine. Having worked at a major label and seen some of the schedules that artists are subject to, I understand completely where he’s coming from.
Reed Morano‘s cinematography is one of the best things about the film. She captures the energy of the live show perfectly and the film is beautifully lit, atmospheric and arresting. There were many shots in the film that were perfectly composed and would make great photographs.
The person I went to see the movie with said it was self-serving and contrived. I could see his point but would be a little less harsh in my opinion! Personally I think the movie fell between two stools; it was neither a biographical documentary nor a concert film. One gets the impression that the directors and Murphy envisioned something more like an art film but Shut Up and Play The Hits falls a bit short of that aspiration.