Sometimes, long-forgotten films are best left untouched in their well-deserved state of obscurity. A case in point is “Blank Generation,” which was shot in 1978, barely released in 1980 and all but ignored for three decades until this DVD release.
The film focuses on an unhealthy relationship between an up-and-coming punk rocker (Richard Hell) and a mercurial but gorgeous French journalist (Carole Bouquet). He seems indifferent about the sudden fame and fortune being waved before him by a pair of lumpy music industry executives, while her violent mood swings put endless friction on their relationship. The abrupt appearance of a dumb German journalist obsessed with the French lass (Ulli Lommel, also the film’s director) creates a wobbly love triangle that belabors the immaturity of the environment.
“Blank Generation” strives for Godardian insouciance, but winds up delivering Film School 101 pretension. The film lurches forward in clumsy and confusing sequences, with overacting and illogical behavior ruling the roost. The result is an advanced state of incoherence that becomes so suffocating that often feels that four different movies were recklessly cut together. Even a self-parodying guest appearance by Andy Warhol cannot shake any value into the proceedings.
The one item of worthiness in this belated re-release is an intimate glimpse of the legendary (but now defunct) New York club CBGB, where Hell and his band, The Voidoids, perform several numbers. But a better glimpse of New York’s 1970s punk scene can be seen in Amos Poe’s similarly titled (but cinematically superior) documentary “The Blank Generation.”
This DVD features an interview with Hell, who happily denigrates the film by calling it “atrocious” and “stupid.” His honesty is a welcome rush of fresh air from this otherwise fetid time capsule.