Truth and Movies

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Julien Temple

Starring

Johnny Depp Shane MacGowan

Anticipation.

This is a man who is surely going to have some stories to tell.

Enjoyment.

Yes, he does, but doesn’t seem all that bothered about telling them.

In Retrospect.

Good enough to not be completely ruined by Johnny Depp’s abject toadying.

Occasionally interesting, overly glossy profile doc on the fiercely independent and outspoken Pogues frontman.

One of the things that crops up repeatedly in Julian Temple’s lively profile doc Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan is the fact that Shane MacGowan, erstwhile frontman of folk-punk doyens The Pogues, has a fondness for alcohol.

Yes, there’s evidence here which suggests that Mr MacGowan liked to burn the candle at both ends, and then snort up the pools of oily wax afterwards, yet this enforced image of a dentally-challenged hophead conceals a cultured, introspective and angry soul. And this isn’t just a case of a film cosying up to its subject, or desperately trying to convince you of his genius – you do actually believe that his renown as an artist is hard won and wholly deserved.

We follow the Tipperary scamp as he’s introduced to the world of smoking, drinking, gambling and the gospels at age six, toys with respectability after decamping to Tunbridge Wells, but then falls into the London music scene following an intense, dirty love affair with punk. The first half of the film is loaded with cultural and social history, supplying context for its subject’s life choices. It then ends on a fairly standard issue tale of rock excess, burn out and salvation.

In the present, Temple manages to glean a couple of fairly monosyllabic interviews from his star, but seems to want to ignore the fact that he’s in worrying physical shape. A meeting between MacGowan and one-time Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams yields the juiciest fruit, while shots of the main man in a cleared-out pub, sipping white wine across from Johnny Depp, who is so desperate to endear himself to the legendary rocker that he even feigns an Irish accent, are watch-through-the-fingers-level embarrassing.

The quirky editing and silly animated inserts have become a tired convention of the form (a convention that veteran director Julien Temple helped to coin), and this is no different, making this feel more like a slick, noodley contractual obligation than a rough-and-ready two-minute banger.

Published 3 Dec 2020

Tags: Johnny Depp Julien Temple Shane MacGowan The Pogues

Anticipation.

This is a man who is surely going to have some stories to tell.

Enjoyment.

Yes, he does, but doesn’t seem all that bothered about telling them.

In Retrospect.

Good enough to not be completely ruined by Johnny Depp’s abject toadying.

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