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Saturday, December 27, 2008

What We Do Is Secret: Review

Good morning, Wavers. I am back, having survived Christmas. This is the first in a (very) occasional series of reviews of movies and documentaries about bands and music. Written by a whip smart Los Angeles teenager and follower of the music scene, the Mini-W's best friend and my honorary god daughter, this review is more than informational; for me it is heartening to see a teenager as articulate and thorough about her passion as she is. I think of myself as a fairy godmother; wherever there's a teenager passionate about whatever - okay mainly books, music and movies since that's my bent, I like to encourage that teenager to articulate that passion and make sense of it. I figure it's my contribution to society to encourage thoughtful analysis of what's going on around us from those who will inherit our society in a few short years.


What We Do is Secret, the biopic of legendary LA punk band, The Germs, spotlights front man Darby Crash as a prophetic icon for the demise of punk rock. The movie, starring actor Shane West from hit TV show ER, playing Darby Crash, hits the old school LA punk scene head on, reenacting the hard drugs and harder demeanor of the kids and the music that held together that scene.

What We Do is Secret was the brainchild of Rodger Grossman who both directed and wrote the movie. Grossman set out for an accurate and authentic depiction of the rise and fall of America’s Sex Pistols; this was achieved through a nine year process which culminated in a Germs reunion set with Shane West fronting in place of Crash.

The movie was three parts educational and two parts nostalgic (despite the fact that I had no clue where my nostalgia was rooted, being as I’ve only read and listened to the remnants of the height of LA punk). The educational aspect of the film came from what appeared to be a precise depiction of the punk/hardcore culture in the '70s. From the original shots at LA’s own Okidog to the music producer for the film being one of The Germs original founding members, Pat Smear, it takes the Los Angeles that teenagers such as myself currently call their stomping grounds and transforms it to the setting of a counterculture cataclysm.

This revolution of sorts was figureheaded by Darby Crash, whose fascination with philosophy and fascist ideals formed a dynamic character that was soundly depicted as captivating, unattainable, and the epitome of charismatic. His view on circles as the blueprint to life plays a subtle narrative through out the movie. Darby theorizes that everything works in circles; while this proves to be rhetoric on the fluctuation of culture in society, this philosophy also works itself into the description of The Germs influence on music being allotted the title of ‘revolutionary.’ Darby understood and utilized the working of circles in civilization (and beyond) and worked that into his renowned ‘Five Year Plan.’ This takes the term revolutionary down to its core meaning, allowing ultimate subjectivity in interpreting art-based cultural movements.

All in all, I would describe this movie as a calling to music gourmands and modern history connoisseurs alike. Its controversy-ridden demeanor makes for a thought-provoking film riddled with good music and intoxicat[ed]ing personalities. This movie also appeals to the pretentious music fan motivated to learn the scene that parented the state of music today in order to ostentatiously inform peers of their ownership of such knowledge. What We Do is Secret is ideal for a day in which the weather calls for philosophical outbursts, uprooting societal rhetoric, and a good movie.

I give this movie four out of five safety pins.

Tony Blum

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millar prescott said...

Hey Tony - That's cool. Hadn't heard of it, but now definitely going to look for it.

Angela said...

Excellent review. Thanks for sharing.

rachel said...

so, err...if that's how well a teen reviewer writes, i give up! ;-)

kidding. awesome review of what sounds like a fascinating movie. thanks.

Julie Gray said...

@Rachel - I know, right?! Tony is so clear and thoughtful in her writing! It's heartening, isn't it, that there's a whole new generation of writers and they are informed, articulate and passionate?

rachel said...

heartening / terrifying...