Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Steve Van Wormer, Hamish Linklater, Lola Glaudini, Denny Kirkwood, Rachel True, MacKenzie Firgens, Nick Offerman, Ari Gold, DJ Polywog, John Digweed
Written by: Greg Harrison
Directed by: Greg Harrison
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 86
Date: 01/21/2000
IMDB

Groove (2000)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Two Turntables & a Microphone

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

On the surface, Greg Harrison's Groove -- a San Francisco-made fictionfilm about the rave scene -- may seem like an awesome moviegoingspectacle. But at its core, it's an old-fashioned and naive movie alongthe lines of John Hughes' Weird Science (1985) and other movies in theUltimate Party genre.

The story and characters of Groove are all terribly old archetypes written badly. And, unlike the characters in Weird Science, they just don't click. We start with the uptight nerd (Hamish Linklater) who has never been to a party before and wears the wrong clothes. He speaks in a dreary monotone and I quickly began to dislike him. Of course, like Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science the nerd finds true love, with a girl named Leyla (Lola Glaudini). Meanwhile the nerd's brother (Denny Kirkwood) finds himself kissing another man just hours after he has proposed to his girlfriend (Mackenzie Firgens).

I was particularly interested in the guts and gears of the rave scene, though, and the movie provides some interesting insights. DJs that most housewives have never heard of are Superstars to these folks. (DJ Polywog -- a female DJ with wild glittery dreadlocks -- is my new hero.) I especially liked one rookie DJ character (from Fresno) who keeps losing his concentration when a cute girl walks by. To the awe and excitement of everyone there, John Digweed, apparently the DJ to end all DJ's, shows up at the end of the party.

According to the movie, ravers simply find an abandoned warehouse, set up shop, and hope they can party the night away without getting caught. They even bring their own electricians who have the knowhow to rig up the power. Then they do a peace chant to keep out the bad vibes. The process of setting up and operating the rave was so interesting, I think I would have liked to abandon the cardboard characters altogether and see a documentary on this same subject. (I haven't yet caught up with the recent doc Better Living Through Circuitry which may well be the answer to my wish.)

I would recommend Human Traffic, another recent film about the club scene, over Groove, although that film takes place in England and is about legitimate clubs, not underground raves. But I found its characters to be much more universal and refreshingly natural, not to mention that it's a much more stylistically inventive film.

You can have all the style you want, but if the emotional connection is not wired correctly, the film has no interest. Yet, as disappointing as Groove is, it's almost worth seeing for the music, the mood, and the unforgettable image of one character balancing a huge mirror ball on his lap while riding San Francisco's Muni.

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