I can remember when I first thought that punk was dead. I was watching one of the many installments in the Police Academy franchise, and there was a scene where a bunch of fumbling idiots were cornered by slapstick Mohawk-bearing punks, menacingly punching the inside of their semi-clasped hands, threatening the academy cadets with a beat-down. That was it. Pizdets. As far as I was concerned, punk as an underground phenomenon was no more. Punks were officially classified as a violent anti-establishment group, acting in clear defiance against authority figures. Nice and neat and ready to file away.
Throughout the history of cinema you can mark the end of all sorts of social and political movements simply by the fact that they have made it to the big bad B-movie screen. Reefer Madness, The Warriors, even the laughable Breakin' had successfully, through self parody, highlighted the end of significant sub-cultural movements such as beatniks, black rights activists and urban street gangs, and their subsequent migration to the areas of public domain and merchandising. Even Trainspotting killed the gangrene aura of the heroin junky and opened the door to heroin chic. If you're unsure about your movement's status, here is a simple test: walk into any downtown American head shop and if you can find a t-shirt comparable to Malcolm X's raised fist or a baseball hat that says east side, chances are it's time to hit up a new cause.
Threat, an independently produced film, focuses on the violence in the Straight Edge movement. For those too lazy to bother with Google, Straight Edge has its roots in the late 1970's, and primarily focused on promoting alcohol-free, tobacco-free and drug-free (and sometimes sex-free) appreciation of hardcore music. As any movement, over time it evolved more into a lifestyle than a hobby, with straight edge even finding a recent receptive audience here in Russia.
We are introduced to the straightedge antagonists almost immediately; an angry bunch of white kids who want to beat the shit out of anyone they catch drinking. Um, yeah. Eventually they form a crew, calling themselves OLD (One Less Drunk), headed informally by a goateed post-teen who ironically works as a barkeep. When night comes, and the last patron begins to stumble out, he pages his buddies to administer brutal stompings to any drunk still around when they arrive. The crescendo to this film is a massive bloody rumble between the ne'er-do-well straight edge punks and a group of socially conscious urban blacks. The film ends with the straight edge protagonist having unsafe sex with a similar minded gal-pal, followed by the suggested start to a Natural Born Killers rampage across America. Parents, the lesson learned here is this: if you note that your children have stopped drinking and don't seem to have characteristic mood swings resulting from a possible serotonin deficiency, perhaps it's time for an intervention.
I've only known a few straight edgers, all of whom seemed docile enough. In fact, I've mostly seen people become unstable in the midst or after an alcohol or cocaine binge, so it would seem to follow that straight edge fans would have a more balanced temperament. This, of course, is well beside the point. The point is that the twenty-some-year-old underground movement is finally dead after two decades, it has become mainstream, fit for the Big Screen. This means that last summer's amphetamine kids will be going to sleep a little earlier this season, Club Mix will see fewer tweaked out patrons and conversations will turn from cocaine empathy to the agonizing banal. Straight edge is dead. Long live straight edge!
What They Say: Watch out, the Puritans are coming!
What We Say: Low budget eulogy for a lame-ass movement.
The Lowdown: The Warriors meets Natural Born Killers by way of The Wonder Years.
Best Bit: In an act of defiance, the hot straightedge chick rips off her dude's condom as they're boning. These straight edge kids fear nothing!
Starring: Carlos Puga, Keith Middleton, Rebekka Takamizu, Kamouflage.
Playing At: Pirate kiosks, film festivals.
Lucky Number Slevin
What They Say: Josh Hartnett is mistakenly thrown into a long time rivalry between Morgan Freeman and Sir Ben Kinglsey, with each side trying to use him to bump off the other. Harnett must harness all the power of his irreverent wit and ironic private school sweater-vests, along with his trademark vulnerable-handsome-guy squint, to come out the unlikely winner. Will he succeed?
What We Say: Did you notice that after The Joshua Tree, everything U2 put out was fiercely mediocre, but still managed to top the charts? You see folks, that's how it works. You struggle with legitimate material, achieve a breakthrough, and can then spend the rest of your career flaccidly going through the motions to much success. [Unless you're the eXile then you just stay poor no matter what-Ed.] That's pretty much the whole point of this film: A bunch of name actors who half heartedly showed up to be filmed and collect their checks. The producers will make back their investment, and we will have forgotten this film by the next Nazareth gig in Chelyabinsk. Some critics are comparing this film to The
Usual Suspects. Shame on you people.
The Lowdown: Hollywood Squares meets The Rolling Stones.
Best Bit: Can't remember already.
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben Kingsley.
Playing At: Friday at Dome, pirate kiosks daily
V for Vendetta
What They Say: A masked freedom fighter struggles to topple a UK authoritarian government, which has seized absolute power under the false pretense of a terrorist threat. Mirroring Guy Fawkes' failed 17th Century attempt to destroy the Houses of Parliament, the masked figure known as V publicly announces his countdown to offer up the Houses a similar fate.
What We Say: Ooo, this movie really says something. It was only a matter of time before the collective Western fag intellectual community raised their left index fingers and said something daring about how terrorists are in fact good ol' people's revolutionaries who get a bad rap. You see, even America in its day only gained independence as a result of terrorist activities against the British Empire, so isn't it rather hypocritical for the nation to act the way it does? We say take a side, you spineless hippies. The folks in the Middle East don't care about a universal rights and wrongs. They care about making sure that their side wins. Hugging trees ain't like hugging a suicide bomber. Unless there's an angry logger on the other side of the tree with a massive 20-foot power saw coming right at you.
The Lowdown: Zorro meets Bush Jr. by way of Billy Jack.
Best Bit: The glorified and even justified feel of bombing major urban centers.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, John Hurt.
Playing At: pirate kiosks near you
What They Say: We weren't really paying attention during this film, but it seemed to involve something about a fetish-clad Mila Jovovich, who by the way has managed to lose most of her Eastern European accent (which is too bad really), creating havoc in a dystopian futuristic society. If this sounds like something you may have seen elsewhere, that's because it is.
What We Say: Someone should have told this film's producers that cinema resembling video games is so 2004. If you want to see big returns from a derivative script in 2006, you need to explore the pederast angle.
The Lowdown: The Matrix meets Louis Vuitton purchased in a perehod.
Best Bit: The appearance of a slight tummy-pouch on Mila.
Starring: Mila Jovovich, complete nobodies.
Playing At: Who cares