MOVIE REVIEWS

What We Do Is Secret

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6/10 NR

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By John Chard January 29, 2017

Jan Paul Beahm (September 26, 1958 - December 6, 1980)

Who? Well quite, and that may well be the problem for any casual movie fan who happens to like musical bio-pictures. Jan Paul Beahm during his short run for fame was better known as Darby Crash, lead singer and founding member of Los Angeles punk band The Germs. Firmly picking up on the punk ethic for doing it yourself, Crash and his band made waves across L.A. for a short period of time. Much like The Sex Pistols back in the UK, The Germs were blighted by being unable to play venues as their reputation preceded them. With Crash growing ever more erratic as he tried to execute the various strands of his so called 5 year plan, those around him invariably suffered. Here director Rodger Grossman attempts to tell the "true" story of the life and death of an enigmatic young man on a "crash" course to oblivion.

With low production values and a choppy attempt at being a semi rockumentary, What We Do Is secret is really only of interest to fans of the band or those wishing to bone up on American punk rock circa 1976-1980. Even tho myself, an ageing old British punker, quite liked The Germs, this film only exists because of two major factors. For the facts are that outside of L.A. they were hardly known at the time. It's only because of Crash's subsequent suicide at a young age {on the day John Lennon was shot and killed} and guitarist Pat Smear's future involvement with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, that the band have had a reappraisal. With minimal input cut onto disc, one has to wonder if someone is trying to build up a legend that doesn't actually exist? What can be said with confidence is that the film at least brings the L.A. punk scene to notice. With all the historical talk about the New York punk scene that was born out of CBGB'S and Max's Kansas City, it often gets forgotten that L.A. had its moments too.

The cast here are pretty much the run of the mill performers one expects from such a production. Ranging from adequate (Shane West as Crash) to very decent (Rick Gonzalez of Coach Carter fame as Smear), Grossman's film will not be remembered for any great thesping. And since Crash is not very likable, or engaging on an intellectual level, the finale is unlikely to strike you with a sadness born out of the waste of a young life. However, the soundtrack crackles with punk vibrancy and emotive potency, and definitely some of the concert sequences have the look and feel of the original punk rock era. But ultimately the piece remains only worth an interest to an undemanding and small selection of music fans. Oh and 70s fashion guru's as well one thinks. 6/10

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