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Suburbia – 1983 Spheeris
- Penelope Spheeris’ first (available) feature film. She made a film with Richard Pryor in the late 1960’s that was destroyed I believe or doesn’t exist anymore, she is best known for making the documentary The Decline of the Western Civilization (about punk rock- our subject here in many ways) in 1981 and then a bunch of broad comedies in 1990’s. This is certainly more in line with the spirit of the documentary than Little Rascals and Black Sheep
- She uses real punk rockers (most aren’t good actors) for the realism. This is about a group of kids – a gang named TR- for “The Rejected” in LA. The title is ironic (supposed to mean suburban utopia). This is more like Bunuel’s brilliant 1950 film Los Olvidados (US translated title is “The Young and the Damned” which is fitting)– a dark film with kids running around in a realistically based dystopian nightmare.
- Opens with a crazy-manipulative dog attack and ends with a tragic death. There is domestic abuse—these kids are victims and they build like a surrogate family together.
- Half-way between Rebel Without a Cause (“our parents don’t understand us” stuff) and Harmony Korine’s garbage world work
- The best shot in the film is the gang approaching the camera in a slow-motion tableau walk like Clockwork Orange (definitely an influence) meets The Wild Bunch or Reservoir Dogs
- The film is ugly, it looks duct taped and stapled together, rushed, with some really bad acting—kind of fitting though the punk rock mentality. In one scene a character even breaks out of the film and flubs and calls Flea (from Red Hot Chili Peppers eventually) “Flea”(that’s not his character’s name) and Spheeris keeps that in the film
- Arguments with parents, police, going to concerts, bumming around their house, and the battle with the “conservative” group here reminiscent of Easy Rider. We even end in a tragic death at their hands and then we cut to a nice wide shot like the finale of Easy Rider
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1983