Smithereens ★★★★

Happened to be reading about Richard Hell in the 33⅓ book on Television’s Marquee Moon when I saw this was playing nearby. So I decided to put a face to the scene.

If I’d watched this movie when it first came out, I would’ve thought it was stupid (“no plot”).

If I’d watched it in my twenties, I would’ve thought all the characters were lame (and gross).

And going into it now, I thought I was going to get laughable ‘80s kitsch.

Instead it was energetic, observant, unsentimental, unusual, and just plain rad, with amazing one-liners and great performances (Hell is perfect as rock star-on-the-brink/low-life nobody). Also, the loose, grainy 16mm cinematography ruled.

Score another one for the Metrograph.

Also: I know we’re talking punk rock here, but among all the other graffiti in the lot where Paul parks his van, there was also this, writ large behind Wren:

I’M GLAD THAT YOU’RE OLDER THAN ME
MAKES ME FEEL IMPORTANT AND FREE

Possibly a comment on Wren’s relationship with Hell’s older/cooler Eric, but also just kinda neat to see it there in the background. Along with capturing a specific time and place (there is also the spray-painted “advertisement” for a band playing at Max’s Kansas City), Seidelman’s NYC does feel an awful lot like Bowie’s Hunger City.

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