Shut Up And Play The Hits (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/09/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

Entertaining, impressively structured documentary that features some terrific concert footage and offers an intriguing glimpse into Murphy's thought processes and feelings surrounding his decision to call it quits, but the tight focus on the band's frontman means the film essentially ignores the rest of the group.

What's it all about?
Directed by Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern, Shut Up and Play The Hits documents the final, farewell concert by the band LCD Soundsystem, a four hour gig that took place at Madison Square Garden on 2 April 2011. The concert footage is intercut with material from the 48 hours surrounding the event (from the initial setting up to the day afterwards) and an interview that 41 year old frontman James Murphy gives to pop culture journalist Chuck Klosterman, in which he explains and reflects upon his decision to disband the group at the height of their popularity, after nine years and three successful albums.

The Good
The structure of the film is intriguing, as it begins with Murphy waking up in his apartment the day after the farewell gig, making coffee, feeding his dog, ignoring phone calls and wandering around New York, meeting his British producer Keith Wood (who is either playing up his resemblance to This Is Spinal Tap's Ian Faith or is blissfully unaware of the irony) before heading to the interview with Klosterman. After a certain point, this is intercut with the concert footage and the backstage material, so we gradually get a sense of the full impact of the aftermath, of what Murphy has given up and of what his life will be like from now on; as a result, it's often surprisingly moving, particularly when Murphy breaks down in tears after looking through boxes of band memorabilia.

Needless to say, if you're already a fan of LCD Soundsystem then the film takes on a much greater significance (fans of the band can probably go ahead and add an extra star), but it's fair to say that the concert footage is extremely impressive (Spike Jonze was an in-audience cameraman) and the music is excellent, owing no small debt to Talking Heads, just as the film also owes a debt to Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that the tight focus on Murphy completely ignores the rest of the band, so we never find out what the rest of them think about his decision (though you can sort of tell Keith isn't particularly happy about it). Similarly, the lack of talking heads means that the film doesn't provide any real context for the band, so it's hard to engage with the sense of loss felt by both the musicians and the tearful audience members – at least, it is if you're not already a fan.

Worth seeing?
Shut Up And Play The Hits is a well directed, engaging and surprisingly thought-provoking music documentary that serves as a fitting send-off for the band. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 18/09/2018 14:54

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