Would a Rock by any other name shoot as sweet? That’s the theme of this enjoyable, mildly pretentious documentary about iconic music photographer Mick Rock, who just happened to be born with the right name and skillset at just the right time. Rock has photographed everyone from Syd Barrett and David Bowie – he took those amazing shock-of-red-hair pics from the ‘Ziggy’ era – to Queen, Blondie and The Ramones. Left on the verge of death in the early ’90s by three heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery – the fallout from decades of substance abuse – Rock threw himself into yoga and clean living.
Narrated entirely by its subject – no famous faces popping up to tell us what a ledge he is – the film is intimate and crisply told. It suffers slightly from the fact that Rock takes himself terribly seriously, recounting passages from Rimbaud in the original French and going on about how rock stars (plus himself) were the ultimate outsiders. But a handful of breezily psychedelic visual sequences lighten the mood, and those photographs really are incredible.