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(TV) My "Meet Theresa Stern" review
Friday night, I went to see the "Blank Generation and Beyond" film festival
running at the Pioneer Theater on 3rd. and Ave. A in Manhattan. Friday was
'Richard Hell night', more or less, with "Meet Theresa Stern" and "Blank
Generation" (the Ulli Lommel film, not the Amos Poe film) showing at 8 PM.
Hell was on hand to introduce the two films, which he started by saying to the
effect of, "I want to disassociate myself from both of these movies"
(paraphrased). He talked about how he and Verlaine came up with the Theresa
Stern character and read a few poems from their book, "Wanna Go Out?"; he then
explained how the film came into existence, noting that all that was ever
finished was a 20 minute excerpt, which turned out "more like a student film, I
guess". He then talked about how he got mixed up with Ulli Lommel, thinking
Ulli Lommel was the great filmmaker behind "The Tenderness of Wolves", and only
later realizing what a mess the film "Blank Generation" was becoming.
Ok, my reviews: "Meet Theresa Stern", made in 1990, definitely does look like a
student film - messy editting, B/W print, etc. The whole thing is filmed in
Hell's apartment, and the plot has Richard Hell as a devoted fan who has
tracked down Theresa 10 years after her book was published to find her still
working as a hooker, and totally disinterested in her literary past.
Unfortunately, her pimp lives downstairs, and keeps coming up to 'visit'. If
Hell weren't in it, I'd call it pretty bad - he and the woman playing Theresa
can act, but otherwise the film looks unprofessional in many ways. But it's so
short - around 18 minutes - that it doesn't get too boring.
The soundtrack is courtesy of Tom Verlaine. Richard didn't talk about how
Verlaine got involved, but his name appeared in the credits. The music sounded
like a stripped-down version of the film soundtracks he is doing now.
Ok, "Blank Generation"... unlike "Meet Theresa Stern", which mostly suffers
from execution and resources (but is built on a decent idea), "Blank
Generation" is built on nothing except having a drop-dead gorgeous woman
(Carole Bouquet - "the face of Chanel", as my girlfriend told me later) walk
around and Richard Hell, as Billy, play with the Voidoids in CBGBs. It's
watchable, but only just - the various subplots (the boorish investor, the
quick-talking band manager, the German TV mogul (played by Lommel) trying to
get Andy Warhol for an interview, Warhol's eventual appearance, the injured
sports hero and his alcoholic dad, etc.) are unbelievably bad. Hell and Bouquet
are the movie's saving graces, and they're wasted in every scene. The only
worthwhile portions are a few minutes of live Voidoids footage (performing
"Blank Generation", "New Pleasure", "Liars Beware", and "Love Comes in Spurts",
I think) and a scene that captures the last hour of VERTIGO in ten seconds.
Really awful, and not quite in a so-bad-you-can-laugh way. It was the only film
I have ever attended where people booed when the director's name appeared
during the closing credits.
Hell stuck around afterwards and signed copies of the new English/French
edition of "Wanna Go Out?" for a long line of people. Susan Seidelman's
"Smithereens" was shown at midnight as well.
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