Saturday, June 12, 2010

Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper, 1980)

I don’t know all that much about punk, but I’ll be damned if there’s a better movie about it than Dennis Hopper’s Out of the Blue, a harrowing film about a rebellious youth named Cebe (Linda Manz) whose alcoholic father (Hopper) is soon to be released from prison after a traffic collision that killed several children and whose misguided optimism for familial security withers and dies with his destructive behavior and the resurgence of repressed memories of abuse she suffered as a child. She recoils into herself as the film careens forward, not unlike the semi we see crashing into the school bus at the film's start, erupting in a blazing ball of nihilistic self-destruction. The grungy locations and use of non-actors imbue the film with a flashbulb cultural and historical relevance and Manz is such an affective performer that even the most conventional scenes—a counselor played by Raymond Burr lecturing Cebe on her delinquent behavior—are worth crying over. The film is so brutal that any proposed solution looks like childish didacticism in comparison to the real-life horrors of Cebe’s walled-in life and the final, fatalistic stab at punk poeticism achieves an elegiac inevitability that manages to transcend both manufactured defeatism and logical nonsensicality in how sadly perfect it is.

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