BLONDIE: ONE WAY OR ANOTHER (Matt O’Casey, UK). 75 minutes. Friday (June 13), 1 pm, at NFB Cinema (150 John). $10, free w/ NXNE wristband (see page 62). 416-973-3012. Rating: NNN
This made-??for-??TV portrait of the rise and fall of the band Blondie is thorough; there’s tons of archival footage with the Ramones and Talking Heads at CBGB’s in New York. But it’s essentially a band bio.
While director Matt O’Casey talks to all the principals, Deborah Harry and Chris Stein (looking like a slightly bloated Mike Myers) are the main attractions.
Harry was a kick-??ass lead singer, especially in Blondie’s pre-??fame punk days. An articulate Shirley Manson, of Garbage, gets it when she describes her as a fucked-??up-??looking Barbie who effortlessly conveyed cool. According to this telling, Patti Smith was so threatened, she refused to play on the same bill. And Stein can take credit for being so connected to the black music scene that Blondie released Rapture in 1981, the first rap song to chart at #1.
Some figures here, especially estranged manager Peter Leeds and autocratic producer Mike Chapman, have no problem coming across as major pricks.
Most impressive is the relationship between Harry and Stein, proving you can sleep with someone in the band and remain friends. Who knew?