Sundance 2012 Review: ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’ Puts On a Show For the End of an Era

From the film’s opening, it is clear that while LCD Soundsystem may be over, they certainly went out with one hell of a goodbye party. The decision to end the band was more than surprising to their fans and Shut Up and Play the Hits takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the moments leading up to, during, and after the band’s final show. The film takes its cue from the title and focuses on the music while directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace also lace in interviews and quiet moments with front man James Murphy off-stage.

The film opens asking the question on everyone’s mind – why would a band, at the height of their career, decide to walk away from it all? During an interview with Chuck Klosterman, Murphy explains that he simply wants to lead a normal life and while he is not sure that is a good enough reason to quit, it’s the truth. Murphy sums his experience with LCD up by saying he just wanted to make a record that happened to lead to these different experiences and successes, but that was never his goal, he just wanted to make music that people could dance and have fun listening to. And whether he meant to our not, Murphy did just that, just on a much scale bigger than he could have imagined.

Shut up and Play the Hits bounces around from the day after the final show to the preparation for it and, in doing so, paints a picture of Murphy from feeling anxious and excited to experiencing some simple relief when all is said and done. While on stage, Murphy seems to have a child-like glee watching what he created affect so many people, but as the show nears its final hour, you see that glee start to fade and the tone goes from excited to bittersweet.

The end of anything you love is sad, but Southern and Lovelace create a moving narrative that not only shows the band’s affect on their fans, but on the band members themselves. While Murphy says he feels normal the day after – sleeping in, shaving, taking his dog for a walk – he still bases his day around going out to dinner with everyone that night for fear that this might be one of the last times they are all together. It is clear the members of LCD and those around them are a family and, while families grow, change, and move away from one another, that unconditional love is always there and while the band may be over, they created something that not only inspired them, but brought that joy to so many others.

The Upside: Shut Up and Play the Hits is a moving rock-doc that not only takes you inside Madison Square Garden for an up close seat at the band’s final show, it really shows the feelings that would accompany making the decision to end such a big part of your life and looking towards what will happen next.

The Downside: If you are not a fan of LCD Soundsystem, you will probably be bored here as Southern and Lovelace let many of the songs get performed in their entirety.

On the Side: Murphy’s dog can join the ranks of charming canines currently gracing the big screen lately in films like The Artist and Cosmo in Beginners as he also steals all the scenes he is in.

Allison has always been fascinated by the power music has when paired with an image – particularly its effect in film. Thanks to a background in recording and her days spent licensing music to various productions (including, of course, movies), Allison can usually be found sticking around to see all the songs noted in a film’s credits and those listening to her iTunes inevitably ask, “What movie is this song from?”

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