The Blur Starshaped DVD is a culmination of three years of the band’s live European performances, spanning 1991 through 1994. Director Matthew Longfellow and producer Ceri Levy attempt to show, with gritty candid camera work and unreserved conversations, what life on the road, “in a service station on a motorway in a city” with Blur is like during the early 90’s.Having said this, it is not entirely clear to what point and purpose is this film. Yes, it showcases the live performances of some of their better earlier songs; their punky Brit-pop style that’s pleasantly stated as “not vulgar and discordant enoughâ€šÃ„Â¶with dangerous hints of melody”, but no new information is truly revealed about the band. The viewers are shown bits of imagery of this time period. Some of these were that Damon Albarnâ€šÃ„Ã´s stage presence is slightly pinched off of Ian Curtis from Joy Division and what the atmosphere of music festivals is like, but there is no insight given into the minds or habits of the band members.
The piece takes quite a while to get itself moving. The first live performance happens about 10 minutes into the film, and is comprised of all-too random snippets of the extensive footage that was shot, as if the editors were just choosing the moments they liked best without any explanation as to why. The style is a chaotic splicing together of bits of time which are taken out of context. The random interludes such as a speed-talking Dave Rowntree, a puking Albarn, and the contradictory tirades about PJ Harvey and failed tea-drinking-on-the-bus attempts by Graham Coxon are too loosely linked together with no rhyme, reason, or continuity to the flow. Even the performances, which one would think at least would be the solid, identifiable moments, are seamed together in a confusing manner. For example, during the performance of “She’s So High” bits of beer-drinking fans are laced with flashes of the band members jumping into a lake. There is no fluidity to the “scenes”. Still, sections which were obviously shot in some sort of order, as in when Blur visits Stone Henge, are cut up and reorganized in such a way that the entire point of the shot has been lost.
The mood that is being set is that of carefree summers, partying kids, masses of people jamming out to Blurâ€šÃ„Ã´s toe-tapping rock and roll. This was well-achieved by the shots that were chosen for the piece. They are all of fans and the band having a good time. As for whether Longfellow and Levy were looking to create a documentary or just some sort of artistic experiment, it doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t really work either way. Documentaries usually have some sort of a point that they address (or a story that they want to tell), some new information or explanations expressed with some modicum of continuity throughout the duration of the piece. It may have worked better as an artistic experiment had there been some sort of rhythm or underlying beat, some pattern that was being played with. Instead, a barrage of images is haphazardly jumbled together.
The most valuable aspect of this DVD is the special features. These features include sections of a 1990 show at the Princess Charlotte venue in Leicester and the 1991 show at the Kilburn National Ballroom in its entirety. This unadulterated footage indeed has a point: to show the band playing some of their more famous performances. The DVD is worth the purchase, only if the buyer is an avid fan wanting to see early European performances. However, it is not worth the purchase if the buyer is looking for an interesting, innovative showcase of the band, their personalities, and life on the road.