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Punks as actors, not actors as punks - excellent.
During my career as an "angry youth," this film, along with "Made in Britain," (Tim Roth) "Clockwork Orange," and "River's Edge," were required viewing. Penelope Spheeris did a class-A job of depicting what it was like to be young and different in a time in America when outward weirdness invited violence by jocks or other assorted meatheads. Kids who dye their hair blue and get their eyelids pierced at the mall in 2000 should watch this film and see what the consequences for "expressing one's self" were for old schoolers who think Marylin Manson is nothing more than a cheap Vaudeville rip-off artist. Think the type of stuff depicted in this film doesn't still happen? Think again - the killing of punker Brian Deneke in Texas a few years ago will shatter that notion. This film is kind of hard to find on video. You generally won't find it at Blockbuster. Try the mom & pop places.
Over the Edge (1979)
A 22-year-old film with a message that resonates still today.
A friend of mine recommended this film to me a couple weeks ago. I grew up across town from where it was filmed and recently lived within a mile of the main location. Let me tell ya something - things haven't changed much in suburbia since the 1970s, at least not for those between the ages of 12 and 21. That's why this film still has a relevant message as we approach 2001: The economy may be great and growth is skyrocketing, but when society ignores the needs of its youth, those same youth are going to find an outlet for their frustration, and it will rarely be a positive one or at least one that "society" approves of. Most high-profile youth crimes in the Denver metro area (i.e. Columbine, the killing of State Trooper Lyle Wohlers in the early 1990s, a recent shooting of an Arapahoe County Sheriff's deputy, just to name a few) have been committed by youths from these supposed middle class "paradises." It's a farce, and "Over The Edge" hammers that message home. When a kid has nothing to do but loiter behind a 7-Eleven set among an ocean of tract homes, they're going to usually end up getting into "bad stuff," such as dope, violence or - even worse - too much TELEVISION (GASP!). Watch this film with this lesson in mind and it's not hard to see why things like Columbine happen.
Body Gulch (1997)
A frightening, surreal but refreshing plunge into the insanity a failing marriage can wreak on a man's mind.
I first saw this film six or seven months ago.
The quality of the cinematography is very evocative of late 1980s industrial music videos. It is at times grainy and claustrophobic but that only adds to the viewer's ability to empathize with the protagonist's plight - it's unclear whether his wife's affair is a product of his own paranoia or if she is indeed cheating on him. The surveillance quality of some of the scenes adds to the intrigue.
Director/producer Michael Lauter has a keen eye for locations and is a master of dark landscapes, both in physical reality and of the mind and soul. In Persistence, he also has the ability to turn up unusual insights in the mundane (see the scene in which a tabletop maze game plays out in a college library!).
The story of Mr. D's slip into madness is told well even with little dialogue and the film itself creates a seamless labyrinth that really makes one question their own perception of reality. The story is a poetic narrative of abandonment on two levels - emotional and physical.
If you want to see independent film-making in Colorado at its zenith, this film is high among them.