PULP: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets is a musical documentary about the band PULP that was released on home entertainment from Entertainment One Australia (and NZ) in late 2014. I do apologise it has taken us this long to get the review up, but hey, get over it, you can now win two copies of it on DVD thanks the peeps at Entertainment One ANZ :). Personally I do not even remember the band and this was my time, from the film clip I am not a huge fan of the lead singer, but this is why I got our muso reviewer, Kernel Andrew Brusentsev, to review this one, enjoy his thoughts and enter away to win a copy. All the best…..JK.





Before you read any further let me set the context for my review. I really like Pulp. I have seen them and their charismatic lead singer Jarvis Cocker and have thoroughly enjoyed both their live shows and their work on albums.

If like me you are a Pulp fan then you know what you are getting into with the band, as well as Jarvis. He is an idiosyncratic man, softly spoken and seemingly odd on one side and fiercely self-assured and boisterously charismatic on the other. I just wish perhaps Florian Habicht, the director of PULP: A FILM ABOUT LIFE, DEATH and SUPERMARKETS, had scratched a bit under the veneer of Jarvis and the band. Unfortunately there is a fair amount of hero worship going on.




That is the documentary’s biggest faux pas. It is as if Habicht has transferred artistic control almost completely to Cocker. It’s hard not to get swept up in the charm but a director’s job, if not anything, is to understand what makes their subject tick, not blankly, accept every word that comes out of their mouths. You know Pulp is a band, not just a backing group, for their larger than life front-man. Cocker is supremely clever. He is cheeky, bawdy, but also has a quite unaffected charm mixed in with his ego. It would be pretty easy to get swept up in it all. In fact when we the audience are transported to Sheffield, where all of Pulp’s members are from, we are regaled with countless local stories about the band of which the town is very very proud. Even here though it’s hard not to see Cocker’s hand in the framing of these interactions, however subtly.




It’s a shame really. If you have just come to this movie and you had never heard of Pulp you would have thought it was a solo project for Jarvis and a group of studio musicians. It most certainly isn’t but that’s the impression. The other band members are not given much leeway to express their side of the story. You almost get a feeling that following their 2012 breakup the band had a few issues to work out amongst themselves. Instead of focusing perhaps on this tantalising thread the movie glosses over this almost completely. Pulp most famously known for their massive worldwide hit “Common People” show themselves to be quite concerned for the plight of the working man but the stereotypes that Habicht presents never really gets under the surface either. It’s as if we are to take Pulp’s lyrics at face value and then find stereotypical members of the working class to fill them out. It would have been great to hear these people give some form of feedback as to how they feel they have been painted or mythologised in Cocker’s brilliant and witty lyrics. But chalk that up to another lost opportunity.

Look it’s not all bad. There are some fantastic scenes throughout the documentary. Some scenes of beauty, a gorgeous sunrise over a sleeping Sheffield, a real highlight. The city is presented as a character and so it should be, many of Pulp’s songs are about this place and it is captured magnificently. But although this character is presented spectacularly Pulp’s songs aren’t about scenery, they are about real flesh and blood people. There is unfortunately nothing but scenery here as well.




When we do get to the fans I was also disappointed. I almost thought for a minute the movie would hit its straps coming from this angle but unfortunately declined as well. There is just not enough concert footage to really work out this kind of angle. We do meet two fans from the U.S. who have travelled to Sheffield to immerse themselves in all things Pulp. But without context these interviews also fall flat.

When we do get to eventually see Pulp perform it is nearly entirely shown from the perspective of Cocker again. Don’t get me wrong he is an electrifying performer. He is a superstar, of that there is no doubt, but he is not the only noteworthy member on stage. It is a band after all.

Cocker’s magnetic persona is a huge part of Pulp’s identity. But Habicht really should have known better than to be so enamoured with it especially if he set himself out to show us anything more than a PR blurb.

It’s a real shame because you feel that both the band (who deserve better) and Cocker (who is effortlessly fascinating) deserve much better than this.


2 and a Half Pops


With special thanks to eOneANZ to win one of the 2X DVDs of PULP you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite music documentary and why? Some of you may want to punch me but IN BED WITH MADONNA, ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US and JUSTIN BIBER’S BELIEVE would top my list hahaha – for your choices, if you get stumped – try HERE.

If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

Prizes will no longer be awarded to first in first served. It will now be a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be sent after APR 15th! Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.



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