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SLC Punk! (1998)
MUCH better than the box says
If you pick this up at the video store, you'll probably expect the wrong thing: kind of a goofy, teen-oriented, mock angst trip by a couple of overdone punks through Salt Lake City's holy land. That's not even close to the heart of this film, which is smarter and more vital than most.
Essentially a monologue by the main character, Steve or Steve-o, SLC Punk starts, ends, and runs with energy and insight, all without the ponderous pronouncements you'll find in most films focused on one character. The central character and his interesting entourage are not the caricatures you see on the box, they're the genuine, multi-dimensional people you went to school with if you were lucky.
The visuals are savvy and professional, opening up what could be a stage show to the wider world. A classic experimental 3-D pan shot done with over a hundred one-shot cameras would be hailed as groundbreaking, had this film not been released concurrently with The Matrix.
Film hounds will catch the theme and scene parallels with Easy Rider, particularly a drug trip much richer than the exaggerated freak out in that film.
Funny, smart, immediately engaging, dangerous, and often more textured and subtle than it appears at first glance, you will understand why SLC Punk (released by Sony Pictures Classics) has such a loyal following.
This is the film I wish Kevin Smith had made instead of Clerks. Yes, that's a compliment for Smith, who admits he has grown a lot as a filmmaker, and a mild slam on Clerks, which was what it was -- interesting characters wrapped in a poorly done film.