Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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This got 3-1/2 stars for its entertainment value, not cinematic quality. Extremely amateurish production and story, but hell, it was fun and the music is classic.
What to say about a 78-minute film that feels a half-hour too long? "Blank Generation" (not to be confused with 1976's "The Blank Generation," an underground concert movie) is wholly incompetent as filmmaking. Director Ulli Lommel and his co-writers (including star Richard Hell) have no idea how to structure a narrative arc. What is exposition? How does one pace a story and build drama? These are esoteric questions for this bumbling crew.
We are roughly thrown into the sleazy end of Manhattan, and eventually deduce that punk-rocker Hell is playing an autobiographical character named Billy. He has a volatile relationship with a gorgeous TV interviewer (Carole Bouquet). She is known as "Nada" (ooh, so nihilist). She regularly turns exasperated with Billy and kicks him out of her flat, but always takes him back. Except this time, she returns to her German ex-boyfriend Hoffritz (Lommel, who is no more impressive as an actor). What passes for suspense in this film is whether Billy and Nada will reconcile. Meanwhile, Billy is becoming disenchanted with rock 'n' roll, even though his handlers assure him that he's headed for platinum-level success. (Uh, have they heard his music?)
Hell's idea of acting is to mischievously bulge his eyes. Bouquet is a stiff, and has a thick French accent that's barely decipherable. (Realistically, how could this woman get an English-language job on television?) The movie lurches from scene to scene of sloppy quarreling, inserting a music performance where possible. When Lommel wants to pull back and breathe, he drops in a reflective moment where Billy walks around or thinks about something while jazzy music plays on the soundtrack. He also has an obvious infatuation with Jean-Luc Godard, so he makes ridiculous attempts to add meta-commentary about cinema. It's a mess.
The film's only virtues are outside its fiction. The elusive Andy Warhol flashes onscreen as an interview guest, though the build-up suggests his role will be much larger. He mumbles a variant on his "superstar" philosophy and is gone. There's also a fun cameo by avant-garde violinist Walter Steding (spelled "Steading" in the credits). Most importantly, we're snuck into legendary punk club CBGB's during its heyday and see thrilling onstage footage of Richard Hell & the Voidoids (songs: "Liars Beware," "Love Comes in Spurts" and of course "Blank Generation"). Hell is also shown recording vocals for "New Pleasure" in the studio. No doubt, this material is essential viewing for anyone interested in the New York punk scene. But if you fast-forward through everything else, you'll scarcely miss a thing.
I really hate it when people decide to review movies that they didn't even finish viewing, neglecting to give the film its fair chance before digesting and regurgitating a thoughtful response. That being said I only watched about 35 minutes of this. It's pretty amazing because all this movie really needed to be good was some nice concert footage of Richard Hell performing with the Voidoids, which would take up most of the film. Ulli Lommel is such a maverick of bad blocking and direction that he couldn't even do that right. And this dude was a buddy of Fassbinder, he could have at least aped his style to make it slightly watchable/marginally interesting. However, to the film's credit, it can now be considered a collector's item in some cases. I keep my copy in the trash, for safe keeping.
Arthouse punk rock from Ulli Lommel, with Richard Hell and his "complicated" French girlfriend. Nice footage of late 70's NY & CBGB's but the "plot" is made up they went along!
an interesting "documentary" that's more like a hour long music video... it's interesting to watch but really not the most amazing piece of film... but nice to see the first film from the downtown movement...
While not a great film, this is an excellent time capsule of New York in the late seventies punk era. The scene with Andy Warhol's assistant is priceless.