WHAT WE DO IS SECRET

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Posted August 28, 2008 in Film

In three years, LA punk band The Germs went from jokes to legends. Lead singer Darby Crash, young and unhinged, wrote lyrics that read like political-philosophical screeds but sounded like yeaaawrooghh! (Penelope Spheeris had to subtitle him in The Decline of Western Civilization.) Though in 1977 Crash and the Germs released LA punk’s first ever album and their shows broke taste and safety barriers, director Rodger Grossman’s biopic hews so closely to the rock-faux-doc genre they could have easily been The Eagles. Even those introducing themselves to the band can predict Crash’s drug addiction and death before he ever picks up a needle. More interesting are actor Shane West’s confrontational monologues as the doomed screecher who used Hitler as a template for his plans of world domination. The battering live shows prove West’s dedication to the role (the band’s since reunited with the actor taking Crash’s place), but as always there’s too little insight into both music and musicians and too much period design, though Bijou Phillips’ tattered glam outfits help make her a credible bassist Lorna Doom. As Crash’s manipulative bisexual lover, Ashton Holmes is a slimy underground Yoko Ono—a grim sort of irony for a minor star with the misfortune to die the same news week as John Lennon. (Amy Nicholson)

 


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