While we wait patiently for Shane Meadows to make another proper film – any time now, dude – this study of Manchester's The Stone Roses will do well enough. Made of Stone is not, however, an entirely satisfactory entity.
A useful comparison could be made with Grant Gee’s by-the-numbers 2007 documentary on Joy Division. Meadows’s film is certainly more imaginative. He makes attractive use of monochrome and slyly bookends the piece with recordings of Alfred Hitchcock and William S Burroughs. But the Joy Division film is significantly more entertaining.
How can we put this delicately? The members of that earlier band are witty, smart and entertaining (a Peter Hook one-man show would be something to see). But none of the Roses has anything remotely interesting to say for himself.
An early, excruciating interview with Ian Brown (ear-splittingly discordant singer) and John Squire (brilliant virtuoso guitarist) finds the guys grunting monosyllabically at an unseen, increasingly desperate journalist. The boys have got slightly more polite and a good deal more wrinkled, but they remain infuriatingly unengaging conversationalists. Liam Gallagher, who turns up for a microsecond, seems, in comparison, like the reincarnation of Gore Vidal.
Made of Stone only properly comes alive when, as the Rose's much-vaunted reunion approaches, the director goes among fans fighting to get into a surprise gig. Meadows demonstrates his credential as a creative humanist by catching some gorgeous snippets: a young girl running to the barrier with her puffing dad; a bloke in a tie who just squeezes in; a purist decrying the admittance of people who aren't proper music fans.
To be fair to the Roses, the contemporary footage confirms that they remain – Brown's caterwauling aside – a tight unit capable of imaginatively refurbishing their resilient, still-soaring back-catalogue. "Lick my love pump" moments are kept to a minimum as band and director investigate new ways of delivering the old lines. A final, enormous expansion of Fools Gold will send fans pimp-rolling contentedly out of the cinema.
M’eh: we could have pimp-rolled from home.