Time is not on my side lately. I’m afraid things will be sort of stop-and-go here at Cinebeats for the next few months because I’m in the process of packing up and moving to a new town some 40 miles away. 2009 is turning into a year of major unexpected changes for me and film blogging isn’t at the top of my priority list at the moment. I’ll still try and share one or two new posts every week, but don’t be surprised if I’m MIA for long stretches of time.

I’m sharing all this with you because it’s an excuse to say that I didn’t have a lot of time to write much about my latest Modern Monday pick, which is Anton Corbijn’s incredibly striking and stark biopic Control (2007). Control explores the troubled life of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis and it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in recent years. It’s also one of the best biopics made in the last decade. I briefly expressed my interest in seeing Control just before its initial release in a post titled Music On Film. In that post I wrote:

“As a teenager growing up in the ’80s it was impossible to overlook the work of talented photographer and director Anton Corbijn. The man created many amazing music videos and album covers for some of the best bands and artists of the period such as Depeche Mode, U2, David Sylvian, Echo and The Bunnymen, Art of Noise, Front 242, Morrissey and Joy Division. It’s only natural that Corbijn would be inspired to take his passion for music and focus it on making feature films. His first feature-length movie is Control, a biopic about Joy Division’s tragic front man Ian Curtis. The early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive for the film and many have complimented its look, which isn’t a surprise since Anton Corbijn’s music videos have always been impressive to look at. Control is currently playing at many film festivals and should get a limited theatrical release sometime in October.”




When I finally got the opportunity to see Control it didn’t disappoint and the film quickly became one of my favorite 2007 releases. Anton Corbijn clearly has a deep love for of Joy Division’s music as well as an incredible eye and he found a great muse in Ian Curtis. The director’s ability to mix music and imagery is simply unparalleled and Control is an amazing accomplishment as well as an unsentimental tribute to a talented artist. Unlike countless other biopics, Anton Corbijn doesn’t propose any easy explanations for his subjects behavior nor does he try to sensationalize a life that was by most accounts a somber tragedy. Control is not easy viewing, but it is essential viewing for anyone who is remotely interested in Ian Curtis and the music of Joy Division.

The film also offers viewers a look at the early beginnings of the pivotal Manchester music scene and it’s one of the few worthwhile dramatic films with its roots firmly planted in the post-punk movement. Corbijn not only made a great film, but he has provided us with a snapshot of his own inspiration and some insight into the music that drove the director to become one of the most important music video artists of the ’80s and early ’90s.

Control is available for rent at Netflix and Greencine. You can also find used and new copies of the film selling at Amazon.




Modern Mondays is an ongoing project here at Cinebeats where I share a few thoughts or lengthy rants and raves about my favorite films produced during the last decade. Films previously mentioned on Modern Mondays include:

The Left Bank (2008)
Love Songs (2007)
Bright Future (2003)

7 thoughts on “Modern Mondays: Control (2007)

  1. I haven’t gotten around to this one yet myself, thanks for the reminder to try to reserve it from the library! And good luck with your move!

  2. Good pick! I saw this last year and liked it. It was beautifully shot, and the performances felt authentic. The modesty of the production and honesty with which Curtis’s life gave it something that many biopics lack (partially by virtue of the story, of course).

  3. Brian – I hope you appreciate the film when you see it. and thanks for the words of encouragement regarding the move!

    AR – I’m glad you enjoyed the film too since I know you’re a Joy Division fan as well. I’ve heard and read mixed things about the movie from long-time Joy Division fans, but I think the film is really well done. After sitting through other recent biopic films about musicians such as Ray (2004) and Walk the Line (2005), I fond Control to be a more interesting and authentic film.

    On a side note, Control would make a great double feature with the recent Grant Gee doc about Joy Division. Especially for those unfamiliar with the band and their music.

  4. Peter – I really liked 24 Hour Party People too.

    As for moving, I’m moving to Napa or Sonoma county because my guy recently found a good job in the area and the cost of living is much cheaper there. I’m also at a point in my life where I really need a change of environment and since I can’t afford to pack up and move to Europe, I’m settling for California’a version of Tuscany.

  5. Great to read another nice appreciation of Control. This really is a terrific biopic, bringing back memories of an exciting musical period. I was lucky enough to catch JD live on 2 occasions, which included their penultimate gig in Derby at a venue that is also long gone. My first encounter with the band came via John Peel’s essential show on BBC Radio One, leading me to their vital vinyl and intense stageshows; the latter leaving me physically and mentally exhausted.
    Today, the spirit of JD lives on, and Control provides an admirably unglamourous account of those heady days, while inevitably tinged with sadness.
    Ian’s short time amongst us realised some wonderful music, and films such as Control will ensure the JD legend continues to flourish.

    Kimberly, very best wishes on your move from my wife and I. We wish you health and happiness in your new home.

  6. Steve – Thanks Steve! I’m glad to know that you like the film too and naturally I’m super envious that you had the opportunity to see the band perform live. It must have been an amazing experience.

    And thanks for the well wishes regarding my upcoming move! It’s going to be an interesting experience since I’ve lived in the same town for 20 years. I moved a lot when I was a kid but I haven’t lived in a rural region for a long time. I’m looking forward to the change though.

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