Monday, June 26, 2006

WASSUP ROCKERS - Larry Clark is off his meds again, good thing too

Purveryor of movies and photos about fucked up teens, Larry Clark, is back with yet another movie about teens, although this time, the kids are all right, at least to start with. Clark's kids in WASSUP ROCKERS are a group of Hispanic (six Salvadorean and one Guatemalan) teens living in broken and poor homes in South Central, LA. Skaters and punk rockers all, they are total outsiders, to the black kids they go to school with, who all want to know "why they wear their shit so tight?" and to an outside world that really doesn't care about their existence until they come knocking. Living the American teen dream, they hang out with a purpose; skating wherever they can, taking on the world together, trying to get laid and giving each other shit. The characters are fantastic, from Jonathan, lead singer of their band and heartthrob extraordinaire to Milton, who would no longer like to be called "spermball" and Kico, who is so cute he really ought to get laid but something keeps happening to fuck it up. The other characters are developed to varying extent but are interesting in their own right. Part of why the characters are so interesting and ring so true lies in the fact that they are all amateurs playing themselves basically. Half the characters share their names with the actors playing them.

The first half of the movie plays slowly and aimlessly, more like a paen to teen boredom than any attempt at storytelling and it's really good but really slow. If you've seen any of Clark's movies, you already know about his obssession with the world of teenagers and there is no shortage of material for him here. With racism, class conflict, teen sexuality, growing up in an urban environment all examined in such detail, this movie could have been titled "An ethnographic study of deprived Hispanic youth who live in the Los Angeles dystopia and the things they do for kicks." That is, before you get into the LSD inspired second half of the movie where the narrative really kicks in as our heros leave home and go skating in Beverly Hills only to be plunged into one insane adventure after the other. The movie develops a magnificently mean sense of humor, with cliches aplenty, a body count and twisted joke after twisted joke. After the slow buildup of the first half of the movie and the near documentary realism of it, adjusting to the zaniness and mischief of the latter half of the movie is both disconcerting and fun. This is kind of a must see.

Wassup Rockers is in limited theatrical release around the US. I don't know when, if ever it's coming to a country near you.

No comments:

Post a Comment