'Strange' approach in Doors doc

LIZ BRAUN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:10 PM ET

Ever since the Lizard King checked out early, myths and legends have been piling up about The Doors.

Now Jim Morrison and his bandmates get the documentary treatment in When Youíre Strange, a film from Tom DiCillo (Living In Oblivion, Box of Moon Light) that involves plenty of music and plenty of archival footage, some of it previously unseen. The movie takes an unusual approach in that itís all Doors, all the time ó an historical narrative that mentions other artists but presents no third-party interviews.

In other words, plenty of Doors and Doors music from the past, but you wonít see any wrinkly rockers reminiscing here.

Thatís both good and bad.

Perhaps to emphasize the concert aspect of When Youíre Strange, the movie is being released on a special national premiere basis, playing Thursday night at 30 selected Cineplex theatres across Canada ó or at least from British Columbia to Quebec (sorry, Maritimes).

In some cities, there will be a second showing Saturday afternoon (April 17) at 1 p.m. local time, so check your listings. And starting Friday in Toronto, the movie plays for a week at Canada Square theatre.

Serious Doors fans may not find too much new here to chew upon, but DiCilloís version of the band comes wrapped in an historical context thatís useful for the uninitiated. That involves the usual í60s shots of various Kennedy brothers, Kent State, Elvis, Jimi, Janis, etc.

Best of all in the movie is footage from weirdo experimental flick HWY, which Morrison appeared in around 1969. Heís featured as a wandering observer in the desert and on the highway. As for the rest, you know the drill: Morrison as artist, poet, free-spirit, drug user, heavy drinker, performance idol ó itís all here.

The big draw on When Youíre Strange is that itís narrated by Johnny Depp ó but even everyoneís favorite pirate canít add much zip to the hagiography-like writing. For example, ďThis much is true: You canít burn out if youíre not on fire,Ē is something Depp actually has to say out loud near the end of the movie. It sounds a lot like the very myth-making the movie is supposed to dispel.

The bottom line with When Youíre Strange is pretty simple, however: No matter how much you know about The Doors, itís always a trip to see and to hear them, and this documentary has all the music, concert footage and shots of band camaraderie to warm a rock fanís heart.

When Youíre Strange will be released on DVD in the summer.

(This film is not rated)

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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