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Culture

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Shut Up and Play the Hits

Playing for the rock kids one last time.


DIRECTED BY WILL LOVELACE AND DYLAN SOUTHERN

When LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy took to the band’s website in February of 2011 to announce its imminent retirement, it seemed a sad but fitting end to a charmed career. Murphy first got everyone’s attention in 2002 with “Losing My Edge,” a manifesto couched in a dance-rock anthem about being a thirtysomething ingenue—preemptively replaced by a crop of spookily hip indie kids with all the Modern Lovers hits in their back-pocket iPods (then a novelty). Given his late-bloomer status, after nearly landing a spot on the writing staff of Seinfeld right out of college, his nonstandard exit seemed preordained.

Shut Up and Play the Hits, its title inspired by Win Butler’s obnoxious catcall from the stage, isn’t so much a funeral for the band as a living wake. Co-directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern alternate smoothly between captivating concert footage of the last LCD show at Madison Square Gardens, Murphy’s interview at a cafe with Chuck Klosterman the week prior, and his day-after hangover, a Waiting for Godot–like stroll through the purgatory of early retirement.

The Klosterman segments are a bummer thanks to his badgering pop-psych approach to Murphy, yet they’re also a handy way to provide exposition without supplying ham-fisted voiceover, which can be the bane of an otherwise solid music doc. But the real reason to see the film is for the show, recreated without much fuss via about 10 tracks, including standout “Dance Yrself Clean.” It’s no accident that the last (in both senses) LCD album was called This Is Happening. At its best, the film too feels like a happening, albeit one with the wistful built-in knowledge that the whole thing is already over and done with, the confetti swept up and the equipment stowed away for the inevitable reunion.

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