What's the Buzz?

Guide to Summer Films

All the Rave

In Search of Ecstasy, Glowsticks, and the Perfect Party

"The weekend has landed!" declares Brit import Human Traffic's tagline, and though both it and Greg Harrison's San Francisco-shot Groove are sure fire, 24-hour party people crowd-pleasers in the vein of Trainspotting, this pair of drug-saturated, up-all-night ensemble films has less to do with Ewan McGregor and projectile vomit than it does with the global rave community and its penchant for designer drugs and perpetual dancing. Unlike Doug Limon's celebrated Go, which used the Los Angeles rave scene as a barely-there backdrop to the director's Pulp Fiction-esque riff on young America, these two films focus squarely on the scene behind the scene, forsaking standard plotting in favor of catching the elusive moonbeam grins of ecstasy-fueled, late-night bacchanals. Not surprisingly, the Brits have the better résumé when it comes to this sort of thing: Human Traffic (June 9) -- already widely compared to Trainspotting in the U.K. press -- follows the drug-mad adventures of a group of Welsh teens and twentysomethings over the course of one weekend in which they score "E," get high, have sex, dance a lot, and dream of becoming superstar DJs like Paul Oakenfold (only without the hedgehog haircut, presumably). Advance word is that the film moves with the sleazy, serpentine power of a real night out on the town. Anyone young enough to have checked out Austin's own rave scene will recognize the characters on display here, from the drug-addled dancing queens to the gropey bathroom shags. Groove (June 30) director Greg Harrison came by his background story as a member of the expansive San Francisco rave community in the mid-Nineties. The film tracks a group of ravers and newcomers to the scene as they gear up for a massive, clandestine warehouse party and features cameos by such electronica luminaries as superstar trance DJ John Digweed and Polywog. As in Human Traffic (and even Go), Ecstasy plays a major role here; if they're not on it, they're looking for it, and if they can't find it, they're not smiling very much. Groove is notable for the pains Harrison has taken to portray his beloved scene in all its glow-sticked glory, from the baggy trousers to the frequent advice to rehydrate while out on the dance floor. Less an outright comedy than a fictional peek behind a real-life global phenomenon, Groove promises to be the first in a series of films to document the guiding PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) ethos behind all these neo-hippies and their trillion-watt argon lasers. And with a huge roster of bass-happy DJs along for the ride, it also promises to have one of the best soundtracks of the year, if not the millennium.

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