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When You're Strange 

Wednesday, Jun 2 2010
A rock doc with more than a whiff of fried brain cells, Tom DiCillo's When You're Strange serves to remind the faithful that the Doors were a fabulously tight, ferociously talented musical unit fronted by the drop-dead-gorgeous Jim Morrison—and why not? The Doors provided a suitably carnivalesque soundtrack for the High Sixties funhouse, and the band's lederhosen-clad lead singer offered an amazing parallel to his father, a Navy admiral who happened to be commanding the U.S. fleet during the Gulf of Tonkin incident that jumpstarted the nation's full-scale involvement in Vietnam. DiCillo overburdens When You're Strange, narrated by Johnny Depp, with a cliche barrage of a-chronological news events, but the archival Doors footage he has assembled is anything but banal—the band compelled to perform with house lights on and within a police perimeter, Morrison mixing with his audience at the Singer Bowl or mixing it up with the cops in New Haven, the career-capping Miami debacle that locked him in permanent martyrdom mode. Like the Living Theatre or Lenny Bruce, Morrison embraced the Jesus thing. His self-medicated bloat-out—dead in Paris at 27¬—only sanctified his anti-career. For a couple of years, Morrison was the best act in American show business. And the best thing about it: It wasn't an act.
Wed., June 9, 2, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Thu., June 10, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2010

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J. Hoberman


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