Oasis: Supersonic (UK, 2016)

ho00003887Directed by: Matt Whitecross. My take on music biopics/docs is usually the following: there’s no particular reason for you to take 2 hours of your time with it if you’re not already a fan. The purpose of these films is never to initiate the uninitiated, but if it were, this movie would have failed I think. Someone not already pretty enthralled by Oasis, their first two records, and specifically someone who didn’t get enthralled by the first two Oasis albums when they came out in the early 90’s, would, I assume, view this film as a documentary about a band of thuggish bros (literal bros) who got more famous than they could handle by making nice pop rock songs and by swearing and bickering at each other in front of the media (and then complaining about the media coverage). But happily, I’m in the former category, and I found this to be a really enjoyable film. I’m not sure I learned an awful lot about Oasis that I didn’t know before—I guess the details of their rise were pretty interesting. And it’s always great to see the looks on their faces—real human beings, scared to death as they hover in a helicopter over hundreds of thousands of adoring fans before their historic run at Knebworth. And it’s always good to see a gigantic rock band brought down to size, portrayed as a bunch of idiots bumbling their way through stardom. Come to think of it, this film might be performing the opposite function that most of these type of films do. Rather than taking a group that looks lofty and godlike and bring them down to reality with backstage access camera shots and whatever, this band already looked like a bunch of normal goofballs who bumbled into greatness, didn’t they? If anything, this film makes me suspect that these guys (okay, probably Noel) are actually very savvy businessmen, very adept at managing the rock music industry, handling press junkets, promotion, etc—but that image doesn’t jive with what people want out of a rock band like Oasis, so their coverage, up to and including this film, is careful to depict them as everyday idiots who breezed their way to the top by partying, taking the piss, and writing “great fuckin rock songs” as they would say. My preconceived notion of the dynamic of these two brothers hasn’t really changed, and it actually probably deepened. I’ve grown to think that while, of course Noel is a great songwriter and is unarguably responsible for a big chunk of what we all love about the band, I’m also of the opinion, in music or in film or in any art form, that what an individual brings to the table can rarely be replaced. In a band like this, the difference between the first drummer and the second drummer is night and day. Noel’s cocky (perhaps joking but perhaps not) insistence that anybody can play the drums isn’t quite true, because he saw the difference. If Alan White weren’t on the drums, What’s the Story would be half as good an album. And even though I love “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, and it sounds fine with Noel singing, and even though Noel ended up singing half the time anyway because Liam would walk off stage, etc, and even though Noel has a successful solo career now anyway…I still challenge Noel or anyone else to tell me with a straight face that any of us would be talking about Oasis right now if it had been Noel singing all along. Liam perhaps has many shortcomings—he does seem like a genuinely difficult person to work with—but his singing has a sublime  quality, an irreplaceable quality. And Noel seems to know this, and to have worked with Liam as long as he could before giving up (which I can’t blame him for). But I also detect that Noel is a discrete bully, a slight possibility that he’s actually a really bad bad person, who knew how to manipulate his little brother, bully his way into his brother’s band, use his brother for his voice when he needed it, and make him look like an idiot while Noel keeps his cool. All speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised. And even though it looks like Liam needs Oasis more than Noel, I think it’s a classic example of confidence. If Liam wanted to, he could go sing in any band and make that band better. Noel might write “brilliant” rock songs, but the vast majority of people would way rather hear his brother sing them.

One response to “Oasis: Supersonic (UK, 2016)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2016 | Offhand Reviews·

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