As the four charmless men run towards the camera, there is a sense that the memories of Blur are, well, just that. A blur. Attempting to be some cheeky, modern-day Fab Four, Starshaped presents a reality that brings them far from that allusion to Beatlemania. While they, Oasis, Pulp and Suede may have spearheaded a movement for British music that was unlike anything since the wave of 1960s masterpieces, the allusions and desires to hit the highs brought about by The Beatles were simply not possible. But Blur and the other three members of the Britpop four brought about a new wave for music. No wonder we must need and desire to pick apart their personal lives in behind-the-scenes pockets of documentary-filmmaking.
Starshaped, from director Matthew Longfellow, makes for a good enough inclusion to his music-based filmography. He tours the green and somewhat pleasant lands of England as the band tour through Reading 1991, and subsequently with their Modern Life is Rubbish setlist. Helped along masterfully by their early perfection with There’s No Other Way, there is a redemptive state to Starshaped that aids the band and audience along. These clips are pieced together with variation, but little impact. Its vox pops are the desirable fodder needed to boost a band and their ego, but with special effects pitching the tone of their voice up the Alvin and the Chipmunks-levels of annoyance, we must turn to Longfellow and simply ask “what were you thinking?”
But the thoughts of the band and everyone involved doesn’t appear to be all that important, nor are they investigated much either. Still, if you’ve ever wanted to see Damon Albarn hurl his stomach up, or black and white shots of an airport schedule, then Starshaped may be the place for you. It is not an effective documentary for showcasing the band, but it does present us the opportunity to engage with them as people, rather than as a product. Had we wanted to do so, then perhaps candid interviews and a goal in mind, like No Distance Left to Run would have been not just smarter, but preferable.
Where it is possible to experience the behind-the-scenes brilliance, Starshaped turns a bit pear-shaped and never quite recovers. Moments like this are once in a million. We are through the looking glass, peeling back the ever-fabled curtain and peeking into the minds of our idols. Turns out, they drink, play music, and get on like great mates. They are normal, like the rest of us. The same happened for all those Pulp documentaries, and the latest Suede documentary too. Eventually, you realise you’re just watching them do their thing. Their thing being drugs, drink and disco. Not a bad triple, but it gets a tad tiring after a time with the mega-stars of the nineties.