One of the greatest British bands of all time and one of rock’s most baffling/botched career stories, the Stone Roses are the subject of a new documentary that – true to form – is making a bit of an odd go-around in movie theaters this week.
“The Stone Roses: Made of Stone” will be shown in Marcus Theaters around the country on Wednesday night, with encore presentations a week later (Nov. 13). In Minnesota, however, Marcus doesn’t have much of a foothold in the Twin Cities. The film was initially scheduled to screen in Elk River, Hermantown, Waite Park and Oakdale, but not in Minneapolis or St. Paul. Click here for info and tickets for those showings.
This is one rock doc that definitely deserves to be seen in a theater. Even for those of us who caught one of the Roses’ only two U.S. appearances at Coachella in April – personal fanboy note: I made the trip on my own dime almost exclusively to see them – watching “Made of Stone” still feels like a special occasion. And a funny coincidence: I watched it this past weekend after also seeing My Bloody Valentine live at Wilkins Auditorium on Friday, another band from across the pond that took a 20-year-hiatus.
Directed by British feature filmmaker Shane Meadows (“This Is England”), the Roses documentary weaves between the Manchester rockers’ initial 1983-1993 run and their first round of reunion gigs last year. Footage of the quartet’s early years is more amusing than it is eye-opening of their genius. In it, we see singer Ian Brown sporting Dick Butkis-like haircuts instead of his signature shaggy look, and the entire band looks just a few paying gigs away from becoming petty thieves.
The various explanations for what went wrong in the early-'90s give the movie a little extra purpose, but the story is still murky. A long court battle with their first record company is the primary culprit. Personalities also clearly played a role. Personal habits probably did, too, but that’s not really addressed in this “sanctioned” bio doc. One of the big surprises of the film is that the members actually seem to like each other and have fun together. But that only adds to the confusion.
“Made of Stone” goes to a whole other level once it gets to the reunion footage. The on-screen performances are gorgeously filmed and just as impressive musically. If anyone went looking for a guitar god from the '80s/'90s U.K. scene, here's vivid proof it'd have to be John Squire.
The reunion half of the movie starts with a surprise gig at a historic 2,000-capacity hall near Manchester, where the fans’ manic excitement is palatable. It ends with scenes from the band’s triumphant, three-night, festival-like run in Manchester’s Heaton Park. In between, the band rolls across Europe, and – spoiler alert – things did not turn out quite so rosy on that trek.
The film ends on something of an opaque cliff-hanger note, one that leaves you wondering if the Roses’ reunion will be short-lived and as tumultuous as before. That adds to the intrigue of “Made of Stone” in a storytelling sense -- but also in a this-might-be-as-close-as-you-get-to-seeing-them-live sort of way.