~posted by Mike
We old punk rockers are legion. We used to be in bands, we used to go to shows, and we used to believe in something, even if that something was “nothing” with a backwards stenciled N. Now we’re just tired all the time. What’s the least embarrassing way for us to relive those glory days? Why, by watching movies in the comfort of our mortgaged homes, of course! The following films effortlessly capture the infectious energy of that particular brand of idealism and naiveté. It sure beats regaling your friends with stories about the time your squat was subject to a scabies infestation.
Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best! is the most recent example of these punk rock reminiscences. The film is based on an autobiographical comic book written by Moodysson’s wife, Coco. It focuses on three 13-year-olds who navigate their way through fabricated romance and their clashing, changing ideals in between thrashing out renditions of their instant anthem “Hate the Sport”.
Linda, Linda, Linda captures the quiet moments of being in a band better than anything I’ve seen. Three teenagers recruit a foreign exchange student to be the singer in their band as they prepare a set for an upcoming school festival. While the music is great it’s the time in between practices that resonate, like hanging out on a rooftop after class or running with their instruments in the rain.
To see how ideals can be corrupted and co-opted, no better example exists than Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Diane Lane’s disaffected singer rises to fame by calling out the headliners on her tour and creating a unique look that leads to a legion of copycat “Skunks”. However, the media sensationalizes her style while business managers exploit the band for increasingly frivolous merchandise. Are the Stains complicit in these compromises or are they being cheated? This ambiguity is responsible for the film’s continued relevance three decades after its release.