directed by Florian Habicht
by Bill Chambers There's an episode of "The Larry Sanders Show" where tragic sidekick Hank Kingsley asks producer Artie what he thinks of him opening his solo act with Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel." "It's a showstopper, Hank," Artie says, briefly raising Hank's hopes before delivering the kicker: "Never open with a showstopper." I was reminded of this at the outset of Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets, which opens with the title band giving a rousing performance of their "Common People" that is, for those of us watching after the fact, vicariously thrilling. " won't produce a more indispensable song," wrote rock authority Robert Christgau, and indeed, "Common People" went on to crystallize the Britpop movement and be covered by the disparate likes of Tori Amos and William Shatner. If you're a dilettante like myself, you go into this first sanctioned documentary about Pulp (lead singer Jarvis Cocker receives a "concept" credit alongside director Florian Habicht) wishing to hear "Common People," and what follows pales for the instant gratification--at least until it becomes clear that "Common People" had to be up front: for purposes of this film, it's nothing less than the national anthem.