Lukas Moodysson's We Are the Best! hits UK screens this Friday. Adapted from the graphic novel Never Goodnight by his wife Coco, it sees three teens in '80s Stockholm form a punk band. A tender take on youth rebellion and the spirit of DIY, it's not the downer that the Swedish director's brutally bleak but brill Lilya 4-ever was, so have no fear if you're intent on keeping your Easter weekend upbeat. Or if nihilism is alright, here's a full range of punk cinema picks.
THE FILTH AND THE FURY (2000)
The Sex Pistols were THE quintessential punk band, with a chaotically short career and sensationally controversial God Save the Queen single, released during Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, which equated the monarch with fascism. Julien Temple’s second documentary about the group is an attempt to redress his 1980 The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, which was skewed in support of manager Malcolm McLaren's claim to have cynically masterminded their creation like a puppet-master. Through interviews with band members and archival footage of Britain's socially depressed '70s state, The Filth and the Fury portrays the Sex Pistols as a genuine manifestation of working-class discontent.
In hock to punk style, English director Derek Jarman's grainy-looking cult classic was shot in London neighbourhoods still piled with rubble from the Blitz, and sees Queen Elizabeth I transported forward in time by an occultist to a desolate '70s Britain in which her successor's been killed in a mugging and nihilists roam the streets. Punk icons appearing in the film include Jordan (the platinum-bouffanted, raccoon-eyed fixture at Vivienne Westwood's SEX boutique), Adam Ant, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Slits. In an open letter to Jarman printed on a T-shirt as part of her '78 Seditionaries collection, Westwood decried the film as self-indulgent and demanded he "cut the crap".
THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILISATION (1981)
Black Flag, Germs, X, Alice Bag Band, Circle Jerks, Catholic Discipline and Fear all feature in this low-budget doc by Penelope Spheeris on the LA hardcore punk scene, which looks into the nature of the movement through dingy, raw gig footage and interviews. Germs singer Darby Crash, who overdosed very soon after filming, plays with his pet tarantula and makes a fry-up while discussing his injury-heavy stage performances, while Black Flag muse on their lifestyle from their graffitti-filled, former Baptist Church digs.
VALLEY GIRL (1983)
Shot on a shoestring budget, this satirical rom-com directed by Martha Coolidge sees valley girl Julie (Deborah Foreman) torn between getting back with her conceited jock ex-boyfriend for the prom or flouting the disgust of her pastel-pink-clothed gaggle of friends to pursue her attraction to Randy (Nicolas Cage), a Hollywood punk she met at a party he crashed. Movie executives had wanted a teen exploitation film and demanded a requisite number of scenes with bare breasts, but the film - the soundtrack of which includes The Plimsouls - transcended genre to become a cult '80s classic.
SID AND NANCY (1986)
Alex Cox, who directed punk-inflected '80s classic Repo Man, was also behind this biopic on the notoriously self-destructive romance of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), the obnoxious American groupie who sourced his heroin and ended up fatally stabbed in their Chelsea Hotel room. Later slammed by Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon for being inaccurate "middle class twittery", the raw and visceral film features no tracks by his band on the soundtrack, but original music from Joe Strummer and The Pogues.
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985)
Soundtracked by deathrock and punk bands of the era including The Cramps, T.S.O.L., The Flesh Eaters, The Damned and 45 Grave, this morbidly comical zombie film by Dan O'Bannon sees a bunch of teen punks contend with a horde of brain-hungry zombies that have been unleashed on the their Kentucky town after a mess-up at a medical supply warehouse.
DRESSING FOR PLEASURE (1977)
John Samson's legendary celebration of rubber, latex and leather celebrates a quintessentially English bent for eccentricity. Along with genteel interviews with off-duty bondage fetishists, it features King’s Road boutique SEX, run by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren, who tapped into taboo clothing to define the punk look and whose sometime employees and regulars included the four original Sex Pistols members, Adam Ant, Siouxsie Sioux and Jordan.
TAXI DRIVER (1976)
Explosive with anger and disgust from society's fringes, returned serviceman Travis Bickle as played by Robert De Niro is one of cinema's most iconic characters. Operating his taxi cab around New York's depraved underbelly, he turns vigilante and starts stockpiling guns, shaves his hair into a mohawk (which some Vietnam soldiers had done before going into the jungle for combat), and targets a politician for assassination. His ethos of vicious rebellion against his disenfranchising and morally bankrupt surroundings reflects the era that punk sprang from.
BLANK GENERATION (1980)
Directed by German horror film director and Warhol collaborator Ulli Lommel, this cult drama stars punk innovator Richard Hell - who inspired the spike-haired, safety-pinned look of the Sex Pistols - as punk star Billy, and is soundtracked by his band the Voidoids. Billy enters into a volatile relationship with Nada (Carole Bouquet), the beautiful French journo who's come to New York to chronicle him. She's torn between him and a fellow journo lover who's trying to track down the elusive Andy Warhol (who appears in the film).
BAD BOY BUBBY (1993)
Bubby is 35, and has been kept locked in a dingy room his whole life by his abusive, fanatical mother in this notoriously taboo-flouting, pitch black-humoured and extremely bizarre Australian cult classic by Rolf de Heer. When Bubby escapes into the outside world he's wholly naive about, his erratic and garbled behaviour is condemned by some, but celebrated by others - including the punk band that puts him centre-stage of their act, prompting a surge in their fan base.