Friday, June 08, 2012

SLC Punk!

James Merendino's SLC Punk! (1999) evokes certain music-based subcultures of 1985 in the US and UK, but more specifically in Salt Lake City. It centers around Stevo, Heroin Bob (who doesn't actually do heroin) and various aquaintances. The soundtrack, including songs that are not included in the "official" soundtrack, is a good one, and includes three well-placed songs from The Stooges (1969), plus individual tracks by Roxy Music, Blondie, Velvet Underground, and other thematically connected bands.

The narrative technique is sort of an out-of-time remembrance in which the main character (in this case Stevo) tells the story in retrospect, but also by commenting on action seemingly as it occurs -- sort of like in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977) and Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990). Considering it was shot on a very modest budget, SLC Punk! has some neatly executed scenes, and it breathes life back into the mid-1980s.    

I was working at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (North Carolina), in 1985, and was pretty aware of the various music genres and various "tribes." To me, Stevo and Heroin Bob are more like the local "hardcore" music scene of North Carolina, of which there were several bands carrying the torch. There was also a ska-tinged eclectic scene inspired by the English Beat, the Specials and bands like that. 1985 was, too, the year the Pogues released Rum, Sodomy & the Lash. Punk as in the Sex Pistols or even the Clash was long over, or so it felt. Even Dead Kennedys and the Cramps had almost burned out by then, as far as producing exciting new material. But SLC Punk! got me to thinking, and remembering. What else can one really ask of an indie flick?

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.             


the walking man said...

I like indie movies too but never caught this one. But then I really didn't get into punk until The Who got too old to make new music.

Charles Gramlich said...

If it evokes a place and time that one is fond of, then it would seem to have done it's job.