Pulp: A Film About Life Death & Supermarkets

Film Title: Pulp: A Film About Life Death & Supermarkets

Director: Florian Habicht

Starring: Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Mark Webber

Genre: Documentary

Running Time: 90 min

Fri, Jun 6, 2014, 00:00


Much is, understandably enough, made of the fact that it took Pulp some 16 years – from the post-punk era to the early days of Britpop – to achieve anything like mainstream fame.

Golly, time moves on. A further two decades have passed since His’n’Hers, their breakthrough LP, finally announced the Sheffield band to a wider world. So, rather than addressing a happening phenomenon, this sincere, efficiently made documentary ends up celebrating something of an institution.

When such films emerge, even the most loyal fans may find themselves pleading that the focus is not exclusively on the present (yes, we’re thinking of you, Made of Stone). It’s nice that Jarvis Cocker, the Sta Prest Queen Mum, has become a crusty regular on BBC Radio 4 and Question Time, but that’s not the incarnation we most savour.

Sad to relate, the main focus of A Film about Life Death & Supermarkets is, indeed, a recent (possibly “final”) concert in Pulp’s home city. We do encounter the odd snippet of archive footage, but fans hoping for a nostalgic trawl through the back catalogue should prepare themselves for disappointment.

Still, it can’t be said that Kiwi director Florian Habicht doesn’t put his shoulder to the wheel. The film meanders about that characterful south Yorkshire city and draws views on the band from a variety of eccentrics and loudmouths. We see the choir rehearsing. Encountering a pounding lack of subtlety, we go among old people for a rendition of Help the Aged. Jarvis talks us through his drift from unwanted outsider to greatly desired outsider.

It’s all carried off with great integrity and some invention, but the film is unlikely to win over many not already converted. Even hardcore fans may wish for a little less Las Vegas Jarvis and a little more Jarvis before he went into the army.

Do you get my drift? Do you? Well, I can’t see anybody else smiling in here.