IN CINEMAS/BFI PLAYER
Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story)
This debut feature from Eva Husson is based on a real life incident in which several hundred teens in Atlanta were discovered to have been holding massive orgies in the homes of their absent parents, for at least a year and possibly longer. The ages of the participants ranged from twelve to sixteen, many of whom claimed to have had over a hundred sexual partners during that period. The ring was only exposed after multiple cases of syphilis were diagnosed amongst them.
The film is set in France, and we are left to assume that much of the narrative has been fictionalised. Fictionalised but, crucially, not sensationalised, for Husson takes a morally detached approach to the source material. The camera casually roves through the crazed sex parties, glancing at threesomes, lesbian encounters, drug abuse, and fellatio with the same complacent gaze. The ensemble cast, meanwhile, engages in these acts with a sense of calm that feels appropriate to the natural development of these orgies, yet with an inquisitiveness that reflects their age and inexperience.
Mainstream filmmaking is far too fearful of the depiction of sex, an aspect of life that is much more common and much less shameful than the extreme violence that continually permeates our screens, which is why films such as this one are so important, even if they are only seen by a relative few. Like the excellent Blue is the Warmest Colour before it, this film seeks to display both the positive and the negative effects of sexual relations in equal measure: sex is normally fun, of course, and this shouldn’t be denied in any truthful representation of it, but the vulnerability from exposure it entails can also lead to potentially huge emotional damage. The promiscuity on display in Bang Gang, amongst both male and female participants, is never associated with shame or degradation, as it so often is in a Hollywood where hypocrisy rules supreme. But when romances inevitably blossom amongst the entangled limbs of the vulnerable youngsters, it creates complications and distressing realities for them all, which they are touchingly ill-equipped to deal with due to their limited experience of life.
It is very well written and directed by Eva Husson, quite rightly refusing to pass judgment on the rather extreme sexual awakening of these teenagers and instead focussing on their emotional awakening as the realisation dawns upon them that sex might only be continually satisfying, not to mention fun, in tandem with a mutually loving and respectful relationship. The path they take towards this recognition might not best please Daily Mail readers, but it should prove entertaining and involving to anyone with an open mind.
Link to the whole film:
California – blink-182
Before you skip ahead to the star rating, just let it be known that I like blink-182. Their pop-punk styling was deliberately Green Day-esque from the start, but they always had the melodic quirkiness to match that band, and a uniquely puerile sense of humour (names of their two best albums: Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket). Yes, they put a porn star on the cover of one of their albums, and yes, they ran around butt-naked in a music video, but incredibly these kinds of antics came across as charmingly juvenile rather than irritating. Even more incredibly, they actually managed to release a few decent ballads in their time, with ‘I Miss You’ and ‘Stay Together for the Kids’ bearing the strain of repeated listening.
California is the first album to be released by blink-182 since the departure of their lead guitarist Tom DeLonge, who has gone on to, er, investigate the existence of UFOs with the government. The clear maverick of the group, his hooky, pop-laden guitar work and nasally, snotty vocals gave them a distinct sonic identity, which has now sadly departed along with him. Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba is the chosen replacement, bringing to the table hardly an ounce of charisma or tunefulness. The riffs are unremarkable, and his voice is so unerringly similar to bass guitarist Mark Hoppus’ that the harmonies and ‘na-na-na’ choruses are completely devoid of interest.
I have no problem with bands evolving over time – just look at the revitalisation that Brian Johnson brought to AC/DC, or Stevie Nicks to Fleetwood Mac; but blink-182 have chosen to use this abrupt change in line-up to demonstrate a newfound maturity, an attempt that fails abysmally. If you’re interested in being taken seriously and the best lines you can come up with are meaningless slogans like ‘life is too short to last long’, then really fellas, head on back to the drawing room. Boring break-up songs and self-pitying mantras clog up the album, inspired, as you might be able to tell from the front cover, by emo music, by far the least intelligent genre of music to emerge in the last twenty years.
I detest any type of music that mistakes ‘maturity’ with defeatism and an exaggerated depressiveness; blink-182 have fallen into that trap and it makes them appear a lot more silly than they ever did running around in the nude and singing about fart jokes and enemas all those years ago. The only moments of cheer on California are the skits ‘Built This Pool’ and ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’, one-liners that manage to raise a smile amidst the woeful majority of smug guitar odysseys. It’s rare in any album that you can say its best moments are the shortest. Maybe DeLonge really is better off searching for aliens.