Instead of adhering to the norms of their South Central neighborhood, a group of skater boys opt to bus into Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where they attract local rich girls - and plenty of... See full summary »
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Instead of adhering to the norms of their South Central neighborhood, a group of skater boys opt to bus into Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where they attract local rich girls - and plenty of trouble with the police, jealous boyfriends, and nervous parents. Written by
Larry Clark is one of the rare active filmmakers in North America-and in the world-who makes films that are overwhelmingly important and immediate. Though on the surface his subjects are not openly political, nor full of grand pretenses, his films are among the most vital portraits of the cultural, political and social landscape of North America in recent years. In Wassup Rockers, Clark, the leading infant terrible of world cinema, has perhaps created his greatest polemic. He has put his fists down. After the roars of rage of his two previous films, Bully and the masterpiece Ken Park, the filmmaker lets more tenderness into his scenes than ever before. Ken Park certainly had moments of great tenderness, often between shocking moments (the concluding sex scene, which has been hailed by some as the most moving sex scene in cinema, certainly comes to mind), but Wassup Rockers has a different sense of tenderness. This portrait of punk-rock Latino solidarity, of Salvadorian and Guatemalan refugees in South Central Los Angeles, who belong only in their own worlds, is poetic and inspiring, like all of Larry Clark's films it is most beautiful in its portrait of the ugliness with which the world treats the wretched of the world, perhaps because it provides us with a sense of reality that we recognize. Like Kids, Wassup Rockers is set during one eventful, symbolic or completely meaningless day, in which they decide to visit the white man's world, of which they can only imagine, like all oppressed people think of their oppressors. Just wanting to skateboard (a fetish of Clark's) in the luxurious parts of Los Angeles is enough to change their world, as they battle bigot after bigot and are exposed to the extreme violence that lies beneath the surface of bourgeois comfort. There is one extraordinary scene between one of the boys (who, like all of the other main actors in the film, is a non-professional more or less playing himself, whose character, like the others, even has his own name) and a wealthy girl that he meets, both try and have a conversation with one another, but they are never really able to communicate, to penetrate and to break through the walls of social class that separate them, they speak different languages, one speaks of constant struggle, the other of comfort, one speaks of death, the other speaks of knowing only life, one speaks of friends, the other speaks of brothers, of comrades in arms. The images, sometimes extraordinary for the sake of being so real, are made even more powerful by the blaring punk rock which provides an incredible rhythm for the film, instilling in the film an unmerciful and energetic musical counterpart to the proletariat struggle depicted in the images of the film. As always though, a simple analysis of a Larry Clark film tends to never really capture his incredible sense of ambiance, because his objective is not to make a statement about anything that can be easily understood cerebrally, but to understand these kids, who live in constant marginalization without realizing it, who didn't choose the conditions in which they live but face them fearlessly, collectively, like a tribe going into battle, fighting together.
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