I watched Joel Schumacher’s adaptation of Nick McDonell’s ‘Twelve’ recently and loathed it. If there’s a teen drama with a hint of grit, I’m fully down, but this was nonsense that hovered between fantasy and realism, before slipping over and choking on its own vomit. It was an unsuccessful experiment, and one that made me appreciate Roger Avary’s ‘The Rules of Attraction’ a great deal more. You’d think dead-eyed rich kids getting up to no good would be a no-brainer, but it frequently misfires on the basis that the entire cast are invariably totally unlikeable. I can’t tolerate the wobbling camera any more either.
I want beauty on my screen, even if it’s in the ugliest setting—I enjoyed seeing Coppola unleash the visual pyrotechnics again on the melodramatic ‘Tetro’, even if critics claiming it’s his best since 1979 omit the mighty ‘Rumble Fish’ (on which ‘Tetro’ bears many similarities) and ‘The Outsiders’. ‘Animal Kingdom’ made Melbourne’s underworld look pretty without compromising on the intensity. Accessible equipment doesn’t need to eliminate the art of cinematography. Twin a lo-fi look—albeit one with a digital sheen—with Larry Clark-lite sex and narcotics, and you’re in trouble. Larry Clark’s knack for composure means he can create a memorable shot in the gnarliest of circumstances too, and true-to-form, he’s stirring up a controversy in Paris right now as under-18s are getting denied entrance to his new exhibition, if they’re actually older than some of the exhibited subjects. I’m keen to see how Larry’s interpretation of Neil Jordan’s ‘Mona Lisa’ turns out.
That, plus Verbal and Yoon’s Runaways cover version (I recommend ‘The Runaways’ to anyone who’s interested in that era—it surpasses ‘What We Do Is Secret’ in the band biopic stakes) got me thinking about the golden age of teen flicks (I claim that 1979-1981 was a pretty good vintage) once again. I’ve discussed it here before, extolling the virtues of ‘Over the Edge’, ‘Times Square’, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen. the Fabulous Stains’, ‘Pixote’ and ‘Christiane F.’ but my lack of a scanner stopped me from upping what I think is the finest love letter to a cult movie ever written—Sarah Jacobson’s ‘1997 Grand Royal article on ‘…the Fabulous Stains’, entitled ‘Why They Didn’t Put Out’.
Sarah championed Riot Grrrrl on movies as both a journalist and filmmaker. Sadly, she passed away in 2004, but her dedication to an barely released 1981 movie that attempted to capture the new wave of feminist rock with a touch of Runaways and Go-Go’s in the plot, plus heavy testosterone in the form of a curious supergroup made of Pistols and Clash members with Ray Winstone as the vocalist. Sarah directed a nice little documentary about the movie too, effectively enlightening a snowballing cult audience who may well have been disappointed by the actual execution of the film. It’s a noble effort, well performed (witness Winstone thump Fee Waybill of the Tubes in the face for real), but for all the ladies and excess makeup, it’s heavy-handed in the extreme.
After years of hunts for copies of a friend’s VHS copy of a friend’s copy of a copy from a convention of a brother’s friend’s copy from New Wave Theater back in the ’80s, Rhino putting it out on DVD a few years back felt curiously anticlimactic. The lack of this documentary as an extra due to rights issues was sad, and the Grand Royal piece should have been included too in a Criterion style. Worse still, Sarah Jacobson’s absence to appreciate the fruits of her cheerleading made this long-overdue package’s arrival bittersweet. The story behind the film is a lot better than the film itself, and the article’s soundbite-heavy approach makes it a necessary read if you’ve got a passing interest in the film or any of the subcultures it sucks up in its attempts to channel a rebel zeitgeist.
Because I don’t eff with Tumblr, because they’re mostly excuses for posers to demonstrate how much of a pseudo-intellectual idiot they are and how quick their right-click forefinger is on Google Images is, like chucking extra images down here. Two of my favourite Nike-related images this time. This Friedman Bad Brains shot (used on the ‘Omega Sessions’ release) taken in 1980 is legendary for more than Darryl Jenifer’s Dr. Know’s (Thanks for the correction Nick) footwear. For years I thought they were Blazers, but is that malnourished swoosh not that of the legendary Franchise? And loosely tied into this talk of Riot Grrrl, the homie Sharmadean’s opening of Bleach a hair salon inside the WAH! space used Courtney and Lil’ Kim on the one-year anniversary and launch flyer, Kimberley looked cool on the cover of ‘Hardcore’, but her Air Max 95s look in the 1995 press shot for Junior M.A.F.I.A. is crazy underrated.
In the scanned piece above, boy genius Ben Fogelnest (of Squirt TV fame) shouts out ‘Thurston Moore’s Rap Damage’ that short film gets triple props beyond the Sonic Youth affiliations for having the legendary Maurice Menares guest star. Those who’ve met him can testify that he’s a very funny man. He was equally amusing in 1991.