The well-named Mick Rock is a sweet gentle soul who, through his ability with a camera, fell into palling around with some of the most groundbreaking and subversive musicians of the 1960s and ’70s. When he reminisces about his experiences or talks about the art of photography and explains how he took some of his most iconic shots, all of which will be familiar to anyone with even a passing acquaintance of punk or glam rock, Shot! is fine.
However, the subtitle is The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, and that’s where we run into trouble. When Rock strays to the spiritual or attempts to become philosophical, the film grinds to a halt. Add to that director Barney Clay’s odd wraparound, which involves dramatizing Mick’s 1997 heart attack and then having an actor playing 1997 Rock strapped to a gurney with an oxygen mask, lying in the same large warehouse of a room that the current Rock occupies and genially holds court. Occasionally, Rock will stare at the younger version of himself as ominous music rises in the background. Oh, and at certain points, four young nurses dressed in high heels straight out of an ’80s metal video sashay toward the gurney to care for Rock’s stand-in. It boggles the mind.
When Clay’s pretensions move out of the way and Rock divulges his encounters with David Bowie or Syd Barrett or Lou Reed (occasionally playing recorded conversations he had with them), Shot! lifts off the ground like a rocket. Rock clearly has affection for these folks, and it shows.
Eventually we get to the Behind the Music event where too much partying and too much cocaine come into play, and everything slows down again and becomes somewhat cliché. Luckily, there are the photographs. We see plenty of them, and they are, of course, the real deal. Rock is one of rock’s bona fide star photographers. He effortlessly captures the essence of his subjects and, more importantly, knows why and how he achieves a high-level of work.
So if you are a fan of punk or glam or you are keen on photography, you might find something to appreciate here. If you are casually aware or uninterested in this era, take a pass. This is not going to whet your appetite further.