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SKINHEAD SEARCHES FOR SELF IN SURREALISTIC SOUTHERN DRAMA

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Loren Cass

This might be the kind of cult film that Romper Stomper and American History X became, and since we haven't had a movie about boneheads this decade yet, it is about due. Loren Cass was produced in 2006, but it is just coming out on DVD. This may prove a rather interesting view, given the fact alone that the narrators are Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves, Keith Morris of both Black Flag and Circle Jerks, and Omali Yeshitela, the founder of the St. Petersburg-based Uhuru Movement (they are known best for being the black activists that protested Obama at a campaign stop in that city). The movie is also based in St. Petersburg, which has seen more than its share of racial tension and police brutality uprisings in the black community, and that alone makes a movie about boneheads there something that might bring the issue home a lot more than other movies dealing with this subject might have. Kam Williams provides the review.

Loren Cass
Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated 
Running time: 83 minutes
Studio: Kino International
Review by Kam Williams


Back In 1996, riots broke out in St. Petersburg, Florida following the fatal shooting of an 18 year-old black driver by cops who had incorrectly suspected him to have stolen his vehicle. During the disturbances which ensued, a police officer was shot and 28 fires were set by rampaging hordes of African-American youths.

Chris Fuller, a white resident of the city who was 15 at the time, started writing a script about the incident, but from the controversial perspective of a skinhead. Although it took him over a decade to complete the project, the upshot of his efforts is Loren Cass, a surrealistic Southern drama sympathetic to the plight of young white rebels without a clue.

Using St. Petersburg’s palpable black-white tensions as a bleak backdrop, Loren Cass focuses on the empty lives of three individuals from the Caucasian side of the tracks. But looks can be deceiving, for as the narrator inscrutably notes, “This is their story, and it’s all a mother-[bleeping] lie.”

There’s bald from the ears up Jason (Travis Maynard), a tattooed wonder who likes to contemplate the meaning of life while waiting for a ride from Cale (Fuller), an equally-ignorant pal with a pickup truck. By day, the two have nothing more productive to do than to cruise around their lily-white enclave looking to beat the living daylights out of any African-American pedestrians unlucky enough to be walking alone in the neighborhood. Evenings, they unwind in a nearby nightclub’s mosh pit watching stage diving as noisy punk rock bands perform.

The third wheel to this tacky triumvirate is Jason’s girlfriend, Nicole (Kayla Tabish), a slightly more complicated soul who works as a waitress in a truck stop diner. What the racist Jason doesn’t know is that the object of his affection has a bad case of Jungle Fever. For at the point of departure, we find her secretly sleeping with a brother (Din Thomas) in her own bedroom and practically right under her parents noses.

But the movie is more of a meditative mood piece than a melodrama about race relations, because it is given to long stretches where Jason just sits on the curb holding his shaved pate in his hands staring at the piece of the street between his feet. Along the way, the daring director drops big hints that his antihero might be depressed, such as by having him hang out in a cemetery or extinguish a cigar on his own arm.

I’m not sure why it’s even in the movie, but for some reason the film includes the disturbing scene featuring the unedited, graphic footage of R Bud. Dwyer committing suicide by shoot himself in the head. I went into shock at that point and could think of nothing else.

So, what’s the movie’s message? Perhaps, that underneath the antisocial veneer, angry white males with suicidal tendencies are people, too. A sobering reminder if we all are going to have to get along in the all-inclusive, post-racial Age of Obama.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2012 16:21  

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