SLC Punk! [1999]

SLC Punk starts out entertainingly enough as a sarcastic snapshot of the punk-rock scene in Salt Lake City in 1985--complete with mohawks, moshing, and vague avowals of anarchy. But gradually, the wanderings of Stevo (Matthew Lillard from Scream) and Heroin Bob (Michael Goorjian) turn into a multilayered exploration of character and culture shock. Though he spends his days drinking and mocking the values of his parents, Stevo turns just as critical an eye on his own rhetoric and lifestyle, and comes to find that aimless rebellion may be just as hollow as the mindless pursuit of money. No character has the right point of view; there are no easy solutions. Despite lacking anything in the way of a plot, SLC Punk sustains its energy through wit, realism, propulsive editing, and excellent performances from Lillard, Goorjian, and the rest of the cast. It's emblematic of the movie's sophistication that Stevo's lawyer father (Christopher McDonald, who played Geena Davis's husband in Thelma and Louise) is treated satirically without being dismissed; though baffled by his son's form of rebellion, he never loses hope that Stevo will go on to law school and continues to cajole Stevo and argue with him about how the world works. By its end, the constantly shifting perspective of SLC Punk achieves a surprising emotional depth. It's also given a lot of energy by a well-chosen soundtrack of energetic but not overly familiar music of the time, including selections from Fear, the Dead Kennedys, the Stooges, and even Roxy Music. --Bret Fetzer

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Stevo:
The Fight: What does it mean and where does it come from? An Essay: Homosapien. A man. He is alone in the universe. A punker. Still a man. He is alone in the universe, but he connects. How? They hit each other. No clearer way to evaluate whether or not you're alive. Now. Complications. A reason to fight. Somebody different. Difference creates dispute. Dispute is a reason to fight. Now, to fight is a reason to feel pain. Life is pain. So to fight with reason is to be alive with reason. Final analysis: To fight, a reason to live. Problems and Contradictions: I am an anarchist. I believe that there should be no rules, only chaos. Fighting appears to be chaos. And when we slam in the pit a show it is. But when we fight for a reason, like rednecks, there's a system, we fight for what we stand for, chaos. Fighting is a structure, fighting is to establish power, power is government and government is not anarchy. Government is war and war is fighting. The circle goes like this: our redneck skirmishes are cheap perversions of conventional warfare. War implies extreme government because wars are fought to enforce rules or ideals, even freedom. But other people ideals forced on someone else, even if it is something like freedom, is still a rule; not anarchy. This contradiction was becoming clear to me in the fall of '85. Even as early as my first party, "Why did I love to fight?" I framed it, but still, I don't understand it. It goes against my beliefs as a true anarchist. But there it was. Competition, fighting, capitalism, government, THE SYSTEM. That's what we did. It's what we always did. Rednecks kicked the shit out of punks, punks kicked the shit out of mods, mods kicked the shit out of skinheads, skinheads took out the heavy metal guys, and the heavy metal guys beat the living shit out of new wavers and the new wavers did nothing. What was the point? Final summation? None.

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