I’ve been listening to a lot of Ian Dury recently. A few nights ago, I finally rented Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, the fictionalized film account of Dury’s career.
Why should fantasy/science-fiction fans care about a little-known music biopic?
- The film is a chance to watch Andy Serkis give a bravura performance as Dury. If you’re a fan of Gollum or Planet of the Apes‘ Caeser or Avengers’ Ulysses Klaw or whoever he is in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you should check out what Serkis can do in a leading role without CGI and minimal makeup.
- Doctor Who fans will note that Ian Dury is the musician The Doctor tries to take Rose to see in the Season Two classic, “Tooth and Claw,” before they get re-routed to Victorian England. Could Russell Davies’s have given Dury a better shout-out than to make Tennant’s Doctor a big fan?
- Dury’s guitarist, Wilko Johnson, was cast as executioner Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones, mostly because his on-stage glare matched George R. R. Martin’s description of the character perfectly.
Dury’s story–British kid gets polio, struggles with his limited mobility, and uses his “never give up, never take shit” attitude to help found punk rock–is pretty well known. I was impressed, however, that the film focused on Dury’s relationship with his son and his love of wordplay and the English language. Dury never went for cheap sentiment, and the movie doesn’t either.
The rest of the film is hit-and-miss. There are a few too many scenes of drugged-out people lying around. And there’s not much about other performers who crossed his path during that era of British music.
Here’s a video clip of Dury performing “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick” (the song Tennant blast in his TARDIS with Rose). That’s Wilko on guitar, and Davey Payne doing the dual saxophone solo:
Here’s the finale of one of Dury’s shows, performing “Blockheads”: