Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Media Schmaltz: The Germs Movie

I caught the long gestating Germs biopic What We Do Is Secret on cable last night. By most accounts Darby Crash was a fascinating guy, as much a cult leader as a musician. (Maybe even more the former than the latter, actually.) Seeing his short life shoehorned into hour-and-a-half long conventional rockstar-rise-and-fall movie was unappealing at best and chore to sit through at worst. Pretty boy actor Shane West did his best (I guess) to emulate Darby's speaking and singing mannerisms but still managed to miss the mark by a wide margin. Darby Crash may not have been much of singer in the conventional sense and in theory he should be easy to imitate. However, his grunts, groans and stretching out of syllables were completely singular and distinctive. He was simply was one of the most fantastic punk vocalists of all time, and any portrayal that's less than dead on is going probably to ring false.

There's also the matter of the Germs' live performances in the film. It's probably inevitable that their staged nature could not replicate the wild unpredictability of the Germs in concert. Still, every show is treated as though it were a glorious riot when it was probably closer to an unfocused mess. On stage, it seemed like finding the mic was pretty low on the real Darby's list of priorities, as is evidenced in the clip below:

What We Do Is Secret has more problems than just those of authenticity. The film can't seem to decide what approach it wants to take, switching between straight narrative and faux-documentary style talking heads. In either case, one never got much understanding of the reasons for Darby's ultimate fate. And boy, is it contrived. The introduction of Penelope Spheeris in particular was pretty much on par with the Beatles scene in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

On the plus side, I will give kudos to the guy who played Kickboy Face.

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