“I find it faintly ridiculous that anyone would want to make a film about me,” says Luke Haines at the start of Niall McCann’s documentary, currently touring film festivals. Haines has spent much of his career as both a musician and, latterly, an author, raging splenetically and repeatedly against Britpop and those musicians he considers of lesser creative stature – which is most of them.
Dressed here in what looks like the kind of Edwardian cricketer’s outfit sported by Peter Davison’s Doctor Who, Haines essentially regurgitates his anti-Britpop spiel familiar from his first book, Bad Vibes, and revisits his glorious failures with The Auteurs, Baader-Meinhof and Black Box Recorder. His comment on The Oliver Twist Manifesto is bracingly honest: “No fucker bought that record.” Of the talking heads – mostly authors like David Peace and Stuart Home – Jarvis Cocker remains the most “mystified” by Haines’ “spectacular moment of sabotage”, when he used the word ‘cunt’ in “Upper Classes”. Author John Niven describes Haines as the “Travis Bickle of Britpop; a man who just won’t take anymore.” McCann seems to play around with the idea of Haines as a curmudgeon; but it’s only about two thirds of the way in to his sympathetic film that Haines relax enough to let his guard down; accordingly, the man who emerges is witty, erudite and charming.
It would have been good to have spent more time in his company.
Photo credit: Steve Double