Showing posts with label Topper Headon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Topper Headon. Show all posts

6 April 2015

Blu-ray Review - Rude Boy (1980)

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Music, Drama
Fabulous Films
Rating: 18
BD Release Date:
6th April 2015 (UK)
David Mingay, Jack Hazan
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Ray Gange
Buy:The Clash - Rude Boy: Collectors Edition [Blu-ray]

Rude Boy is a fascinating document of its time: it’s a fake documentary about a kid named Ray Gange (who is played by, well - Ray Gange), and he’s a young punk who becomes a roadie for The Clash. The film’s reputation over the years has been mixed to say the least, and The Clash famously boycotted it and got badges made with “I don't want Rude Boy Clash Film” on them. It does, however, have many virtues as a document of a band on the verge of mega stardom and of late ‘70s Britain.

Ray - like so many young punks at the time, is an uneducated and naïve kid who develops a passion for punk music, but despite the leftist views of punk he doesn’t really get it. Ray spouts anti-left wing nonsense and is sympathetic at times towards the fascist National Front. The Clash’s front-man Joe Strummer is in a great scene in which he tries to explain to him why the left is better than the right. It’s an interesting coming of age film that is almost reminiscent of the Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably in the sense that it’s a about a young man drifting through life with different ideologies, never truly finding the answer he is looking for.

The film’s obvious highlight is the footage of The Clash which is really them at their peak before they left to become huge in the States. The footage dates around the time of their first album and around the time they started recording their most famous album London Calling - it ends with a song from it, ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’. The live concert footage, with the possible exception of the So It Goes footage for Granada television, is the best document of The Clash in a live environment and all the energy and urgency is on show.

Despite overall enjoying the experience, Ray Gange regrets a lot of what the filmmakers did. They tried to force situations in the film, and all the political stuff was apparently the director’s decisions - he just went along with it. The film infamously has a blowjob scene in a bathroom which is unnecessary and simply there for shock-value and to show how much of a dick the character of Ray Gange is.

Despite many virtues, it’s terribly flawed in so many ways; there is a bizarre unconnected subplot about a black kid who gets arrested and goes nowhere, for example, but I guess it’s there to try and show that white middle class kids shouting about revolution can make it (The Clash) whereas blacks are still stuck where they are. It’s naïve, stupid and really misses the point of The Clash, but ultimately it just makes the film drag.

The film’s length is ridiculous: it’s over two hours long, and the aforementioned subplot should have been left in a skip somewhere outside of Slough. Realistically, 100 minutes would have been a better length, combined with a tighter edit or perhaps just the concert film that The Clash wanted instead. It’s still a very captivating film, however, and the Ray Gange kid - despite playing a total dick - is strangely charismatic on screen.

This new Blu-Ray looks shockingly good for a low budget British film from the late ‘70s; the print shows very little signs of dirt or grain. The live footage already just kicked you in the stomach in previous versions but it almost puts you right in the midst of the crowd. The disc includes interviews with Ray Gange who talks about his reservations of the film, the road manger Johnny Green and the two directors who come off as middle class twats. Like previous DVD editions, it has "Just play the The Clash" feature, a lot of deleted footage and some great earlier footage of them live in Munich in 1977.

Ian Schultz