Monday, January 15, 2007

Movie Review: Sid & Nancy 4 Stars

I first heard Never Mind The Bullocks as a twelve-year-old fistbanging metalhead. I can’t and won’t say that The Sex Pistols blew me away, but within the next couple of years I was an angst-ridden insolent brat with spiky hair that was more The Alarm than The Sex Pistols, a JFA T-shirt and a skateboard. I snuck into the R-rated Sid & Nancy. That blew me away.

A couple of years ago, I saw The Sex Pistols reunion tour with the oh-so-clever title Never Mind The Sex Pistols…Here’s The Filthy Lucre. Johnny Rotten looked like a bloated Ronald McDonald and middle-aged men growling nihilistic anarchy anthems…well, it just seemed silly.

Watching Sid & Nancy again for the first time in six years, it was absolutely refreshing to see young punks growling nihilistic anarchy anthems in a time and place where it was relevant -- no offense to Blink 182. It was also refreshing to see the nihilistic anarchists who were Sid and Nancy portrayed as tragic and rather pathetic anti-heroes, but also, somehow, beautiful losers we -- or at least sixteen-year-old skate punks -- could relate to and actually root for.

Gary Oldman’s Sid Vicious is as bullocksed-up as you would imagine Sid Vicious to be; his performance promised his fascinating career-to-come. Although she continues to do fantastic work, Chloe Webb has yet to plum a role quite as juicy as Nancy Spungen, whom she portrayed with an incredible verve. Andrew Schofield’s onstage antics as Johnny Rotten are wholly believable and, curiously, a chubby-faced, twenty-one-year-old Courtney Love plays Nancy’s groupie friend, Gretchen.

Documentarians of the punk scene, and the other Sex Pistols themselves, go to great pains to deride the film as historically inaccurate, but who cares? Director/writer Alex Cox and co-writer Abbe Wool birthed a complex, funny, poignant film (gorgeously photographed by Roger Deakins) about the punk world and in particular the twisted relationship between Sid Vicious and groupie-junkie-girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

The Criterion Collection on DVD contains oftentimes hilarious commentary by the aforementioned naysaying documentarians -- DOA director Lech Kowalkski and The Great Rock-And-Roll Swindle director Julien Temple, Abbe Wool, Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, cultural historian Greil Marcus and musician Eliot Kid.

Also featured:

-- England’s Glory, a documentary on the making of Sid & Nancy
-- Bill Grundy’s 1976 interview with The Sex Pistols
-- A rare telephone interview with Sid Vicious
-- Scenes from Lech Kowalski’s DOA: Right Of Passage

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