Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Recently I have been going through a "No Wave" and "Cinema of Transgression" film movement phase; a few weeks ago I watched the feature-length documentary Blank City and enjoyed it very much, so much so that I've been intending to do a blog posting regarding the film. Profiled in the doc was a low-budget "first feature" film that I had heard of but had not seen: Directed by Susan Seidelman, Smithereens, as evidenced by the clips within Blank City, looked like something I would want to investigate.

Last night I did just that. Not only did I enjoy the flick but I was impressed at how good it was in an overall sense, as a story film, but also in its bits and pieces; from cinematography to directing to acting.

Richard Hell and Susan Berman
The main character of Wren, played by Susan Berman, is authentically annoying and obnoxious, lost and desperate to connect with whomever will facilitate her quest to be absorbed into the punk scene -- albeit one on its last legs, at least in New York City. Her journey, consisting of ping-pong-like movements, is painful for the viewer who has at one point in their lives wanted to fit into a culture or group seemingly unattainable.

What was no surprise to me, once I got into the groove of the flick, is how and why Smithereens catapulted director Susan Seidelman into the big leagues; as in, studio feature film with 'carded' actors: I'm speaking of 1985's Desperately Seeking Susan.


Greg Woods said...

Great post Barry. "Smithereens" is very good- and you're right; it is commendable for giving us a protagonist who isn't entirely likeable. Still have to see "Blank City"... and there are SO many films from this movement that we have yet to rediscover.

Barry Smight said...


Yes, it is commendable that the filmmakers rendered a character that "isn't entirely likeable"; as in a real person.

Audiences have been educated by the Hollywood model of protagonist. Of course, the "flawed hero" has been a rage for years, but we don't see enough 'studio' films with not-so-nice main characters. This is understandable since the "high overhead" studios don't want to turn off a large portion of the movie-going population. Don't kill your box-office babies.

Thanks for your comment!