Blank Generation (MVD)
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., Dec. 3, 2010
Richard Hell in the late 1970s wasn't unpleasant to look at, which saves this bleak film from complete disaster. That, and revelatory footage of his band the Voidoids playing CBGB at the height of their downtown punk pleasure. Former Fassbinder actor Ulli Lommel "directs" Hell as a rock star on the verge of success who falls for a pale French journalist (Carole Bouquet). The long, poorly edited stretches of silence and shots of dirty, snow-filled streets and dank clubs mirror the car-wreck feel of New York City at the dawn of the 1980s, and in the manner that Andy Warhol films wander around as beautiful, odd creatures without a real plot structure, Blank Generation feels too long and self-indulgent, especially when Warhol himself makes an appearance toward the end. The 45-minute bonus interview with Hell is another saving grace, and he doesn't hold back his distaste, telling interviewer Luc Sante: "There wasn't a single honest moment [in the film]. Everything was so inappropriate." It's a shit-talking session, but an enlightened, humorous one. Addressing the plight of the musician-turned-actor, Hell remarks he does "get some consolation that I'm not as bad as Bob Dylan."