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February 3, 2009

2

Wassup Rockers

by Franz Patrick


Wassup Rockers (2005)
★★★ / ★★★★

Larry Clark makes interesting movies because most of them feel grimy and raw. People either love or hate them but everyone has an opinion by the end of each film–which I find to be a great thing. That’s what great filmmaking is all about: getting an emotional reaction from the viewers. In “Wassup Rockers,” even though I can’t relate to the kids’ lives on the surface (such as skating and living in the “ghetto”), there are scenes that really got to me: when the cop in Beverly Hills tried to get the kids’ names and addresses because they “can’t skate” in the area (which is really more about the cop’s bigotry and his stereotypes toward people who are not caucasian) and the one scene in the bedroom when one of the skaters really connected with one of the “white girls,” as they were so labeled. Even though a lot of skin is shown, especially in the beginning of the picture (which made me feel somewhat uncomfortable), this film is human at its core. My main problem with it, though, is that it tried to contradict some of the elements it is fighting against. I’m talking about the last few scenes with the kids visited different mansions in Beverly Hills. Each one they visit, the residents either get hurt or they end up dead. I’m not entirely sure what Clark is trying to tell his audiences but I ended up being confused because of the contradiction. Whether it’s supposed to be comedic, that’s an entirely different issue, but it did not work well with the rest of the film’s thesis. I was surprised when Jeremy Scott and Janice Dickinson, a former guest judge and a former regular judge in “America’s Next Top Model,” respectively. I thought it was hilarious when they made references to the fashion and modeling industry. But then again, as funny as those scenes were, they were so out of place to the point where the momentum is slowed down a bit. I can’t recommend this to casual audiences because they may think it’s pointless due to the lack of a climax (for me, each scene is as important as the next). But I do recommend this for the fans of Clark’s other film called “Kids.”

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 3 2009

    As I believe we’ve talked about before, I tend to like Clarke’s films more on a principled than a practical level. His films are often ‘interesting’ (Ken Park, Kids), but not necessarily ‘good’ (though Bully came a long way), and Wassup Rockers fits into this tradition. As you said, the tone of this movie generally is a little less cynical, but it’s still somewhat unpleasant when Clark lets his inner camera fetishist out. While WR is not great by any means, it’s another reason to keep watching out for what this guy will come up with next.

    Reply
  2. Feb 7 2009

    I agree 100% with your last statement. His provocative ways of telling a story is enough to pique my interest.

    As for “Ken Park,” I don’t think it’s available on DVD yet. Netflix doesn’t have it. Massive sadness! =[ I’m super curious to see it. From the summaries I read, I very much liiiiike. Hahaha.

    I need to rewatch “Bully” because the first time I watched it, I thought it was just OK. A friend of mine recently saw it and kept telling me how great it is. I own “Bully” but it’s just sitting there in my collection. Maybe I should watch it this weekend… I have some time. hehe

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