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My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Politics, Sex, and Punk Rock
Want to see a side of London you won't get from any other director? Then watch My Beautiful Launderette... The film opens with a scene in which squatters are forcibly evicted from a derelict building. Londoner viewers will recognize this as a sad yet common event... Immediately, we are attuned to the political bent of the movie. Fortunately for that intent, the dialogue in the film is intelligently written (note: this will not appeal to the lowest common denominator -- it scores low on commercial appeal). Unfortunately, the often "stiff" delivery of that dialogue is a significant impediment. That said, Daniel Day Lewis lends a powerful presence to his role as the punk squatter, Johnny.
The climax of the film aptly integrates the various tensions in the film: political, sexual, and social. We're surprised with a love scene between Johnny and Omar which is well-paced, erotic, and genuine.
Oi! Warning (1999)
An imperfect, disturbing, yet thoughtful film
Oi Warning is a film not to be viewed by the faint of heart. The characters of this story inhabit a brutal, unpredictable world. The Germany it depicts is summoned up as an industrial wasteland; bleak and soulless. We can only expect that the characters must reflect this depressing environment. We are introduced to Janosch (Backhaus), an insecure boy, who comes to manhood by studying the behavior of his peer, Koma (Simon Goerts). Janosch is then offered the chance to prove his masculinity via initiation into the skinhead lifestyle. Yet Janosch has a need both to prove himself, and to be closely involved with men. It is not socially acceptable for him to be out of the closet, the film seems to argue, and so he must achieve this homosocial intimacy through membership in the all-male, skinhead community. The dialogue does seem unlikely at times, particularly from the character of Koma. Yet the actors' emotive delivery redeems these awkward moments in the script. Jens Vieth portrays the only truly likeable character in the film. Zottel represents an alternative masculinity; one that is not dependent on aggression and domination. He takes life as it is, without needing to control it. Janosch begins to learn from Zottel's example. However, the angst of Oi Warning lies in the fact that Janosch has learned his lesson of maturity a moment too late.