By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com November 16, 2010 at 3:00AM
We've written at length about our love for seminal punk band The Clash, but to reiterate: if they weren't the greatest rock and roll band in history, they're in the top five. Burning relatively briefly, but utterly gloriously, they show up other British punk bands of the period, like The Sex Pistols, as the charlatans they were. Frontman Joe Strummer was one of the greats too, going on to a terrific solo career, as well as consistently interesting film work with the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Alex Cox and Aki Kaurismaki.
Since his far-too-early death in 2002, Strummer's already been commemorated in a pair of documentaries, Julien Temple's exemplary "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten" and Don Letts' "Strummerville," the latter of which premiered at SXSW this year, and mostly focuses on the titular charity set up after the singer's passing. However, it looks like that isn't enough, as word's come in that a feature biopic is in the works.
Screen Daily broke the news that British company Film4 are working on a Strummer biopic with the working title of "Joe Public." The bad news, however, is that writer Paul Viragh, who was behind the Ian Dury biopic "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" is the man who's been hired to write the screenplay. While it featured an excellent central performance from Andy Serkis, none of us on staff who were unfortunate enough to catch the film could find many good things to say about it otherwise, particularly in regards to the film's maddening, ADD structure.
To be fair that wasn't necessarily Viragh's fault: we suspect that director Mat Whitecross may have been equally to blame but it's still making us a little cautious about the Strummer project. There's no word on what aspect of Strummer's life it'll focus on; if we were writing the thing, we'd probably focus on Strummer's political involvement, particularly in regard to anti-racist movements: the singer's brother joined neo-Nazi movement The National Front as a teenager, before killing himself at twenty, while Strummer's reputation as a working class hero sometimes clashed uneasily with his middle-class background.
Damian Jones (the Ian Dury pic, "Millions") and Simon Halfon ("Sleuth") are producing, and there's no word on an intended start date: our suspicion is that this'll be in development for some time. While we're waiting, check out some vintage Strummer below.