Friday, January 9, 2009
They Didn't Put Out
Famed record producer and impresario Lou Adler directed Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981, Rhino, 87 minutes, $20), a sideways glimpse into punk and roll with all the grace of an elevator operator, but there is much about it to like, especially if you toss away the turgid and predictable rags-to-riches storyline and typical showbiz stuff. An adolescent Diane Lane (15-years-old or so, in only her second or third outing) totally nails it as the central figure, a riot girl before her time, a blank-faced teenage nihilist improvising a music career that’s poised intriguingly between true self-expression and nascent capitalism. She is surrounded by an even younger Laura Dern as one of her band mates, Tubes funny boy Fee Waybill as a rocker on the downswing, Christine Lahti as a baby boomer Aunt, and a movie band called The Looters, made up of Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones (who contribute songs), the Clash’s Paul Simonon, and, of all people, an unbelievably youthful Ray Winstone as a bratty-but-sensitive and forever snarling lead singer. It’s always difficult to imagine the coulda-beens, but, stripped of Adler’s pedestrian filmmaking, and with Lane’s evocative presence as a charter member of the blank generation and screenwriter Nancy Dowd’s underlying theme of feminine teenage angst this might have been a truly préciscent excursion into teenage wasteland.