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Famed documentarian takes on '80s syntho-gloomsters

Famed documentarian D.A. Pennebaker and his colleagues have captured the sweat of Otis Redding at Monterey, the sarcastic cool of a freshly minted Bob Dylan, and the weird androgynous glamour of Ziggy Stardust. (Outside the concert arena, they're most famous for The War Room, which chronicled Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign.) It must have been a bit of a shock when the team decided to film a band that could be accused of having no onstage charisma at all: Depeche Mode, the black-clad torchbearers for the '80s' synth-pop movement, whose lyrics were as disaffected as their sterile keyboard melodies.

Depeche Mode 101

Dir. D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, David Dawkins (R)
Rather than go the traditional concert movie route, the filmmakers latch onto a group of devoted DM fans - who won a radio contest to travel cross-country and join the band backstage - and use their viewpoint to convey the often mundane experience of touring. This footage is inter-cut with material from a single live show shot at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in 1988, the 101st performance of the band's tour (hence the name, which shouldn't be interpreted as a primer for newcomers to the group.)

The Alamo Drafthouse's screening will be augmented with a live performance by Girls in a Coma, an all-female San Antonio trio whose sound - heavy on guitars and live drums - is a good deal more muscular than the Depeche Mode of 101's era, although their attitude and style is clearly sympathetic with the moping pop world from which DM emerged `see "Eyes wide open," December 29, 2004-January 5, 2005`. By John DeFore

Depeche Mode 101 screens at 9pm Thursday, January 6 at the Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes, 1255 SW Loop 410. Admission is $8. For more info, visit www.drafthouse.com


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