|John Doe in Border Radio (1987)|
Border Radio (1987)
d. Alison Anders, Dean Lent, Kurt Voss
Criterion Collection #362
The idea of "punk cinema" is fraught with issues, mostly because punk was primarily a musical phenmenon. The adoption of "punk" ideas into cinema butted up against the conflicting values of punk and film. Punk was supposedly rough and spontaneous. Film, with some very limited exceptions during the late 70s early 80s punk era, was not. Additionally, the relatively high costs of shooting films and limited possibility of obtaining wide spread distribution militated against any kind of widespread punk cinema.
Punk did at least help to inspire many of the American and English independent/experimental film community of the mid 1980s. In England, Derek Jarman released the punk influenced, non-narrative Jubilee as early as 1978. In America, Jim Jarmusch was treading in punk water in Stranger Than Paradise (1984.) Scorcese did Taxi Driver in 1976 (with Robert DeNiro sporting a mohawk.) Repo Man by Alex Cox came in 1984 as well. So, Border Radio, which didn't even get a theatrical release, was not the first movie to use a punk scene as a backdrop.
But at the same time, Border Radio, which is essentially a student film done well, shows actual LA punk musicians in lead roles- namely John Doe of X and Chris D. of Flesh Eaters. Many punk scensters also appear in minor roles throughout Border Radio. The plot is a thin film noir type thing but it isn't the main attraction. It's more about the atmosphere.