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S.L.C. Punk!

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 12/20/99 20:30:00

"New Wave breaks on the shore of time"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

During the first few minutes, I thought SLC Punk was going to be some cheezy poseurish romp through the various anarchic, or subvervise subcultures of 1985. You won't find any Tiffany fans or day-glo Duran Duran inspired mallwear in this flick that is strictly core. Or so it would seem

1985 was one those years where every kind of teen rebellion was overlapping. Heavy Metal had succeeded rock, New Wave was in mid-breath, punk rock was on its last legs (until its recent reincarnation), and the sixties were still winding their way through the consciousness of a nation.

SLC Punk hits the nail with its tour of life on the inside of people who thought they were taking a stand.

Aside from the frighteningly accurate portrayal of the varieties of the bohemian experience during those years, Matthew Lillard (HACKERS) as the frenetic yet thoughtful anarchist, Stevo and Michael A. Goorjian as his lifelong compatriate in crime are gorgeous to watch.

The camera likes to move, the editing is intentionally choppy in parts and it all comes together to realize a montage of not just what was happening outside them, but what was happening inside them as well.

And the dialogue is smart and makes you think about being so compeletely one-sided about anything especially when it comes to things like how to either change or fuck up "the system".

I don't want to say this is the Easy Rider for the Class of 1987 (or thereabouts) but it is an accurate portrayal of not only the various styles of the time but what people actually talked about and did and how they felt about their relationship to such abstract things as "The World". You'll be taken back, maybe too far back, if you were there and knew first hand the ass-kicking chain of command, "...and rockers beat up New Wavers who just took it because they were the new hippies." You'll be taken into a world of young people who didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel and tried to carry on anyway and now, the film implies at the end, here they are, all grown up: doctors, lawyers, politicians and screenwriters.

James Merendino wrote more than a movie. He also wrote what passes as social history in the form of a film. Better than a documentary, SLC Punk plays like the collective consciousness of the post-punk, new wave, artsy bohemian scene of the '80s and what happened to them as shit got weird and they wound their way into the future that was never supposed to happen.

If the grandchildren of the '60s had filtered out the essence of countercultural ideology and either tripped out or thought too hard in the '80s, in the '90s they started to realize how and why their parents seemingly sold out their ideals to become a part of what they were at one time resisting. In SLC Punk you get the sense though, that each generation of people coming into power have come into that power with a different perspective then the generation before and so it will go with successive generations and the world will be a different place. Or maybe not. Maybe you just make money and die. But it doesn't hurt to be a little idealistic.

Who was a poseur and who wasn't. What anarchy was and what it wasn't. Who hated who and why and if there was an ideology underneath the agression towards society what was it and why did it matter? SLC Punk takes it all in, and lays it all out gently like figures on a chessboard to replay the losing match and savor each move and contemplate not only the meaning of the choices made, but the meaning of the choices not made as well.

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