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What We Do Is Secret

Exposition trumps atmosphere
By BETSY SHERMAN  |  August 20, 2008
2.0 2.0 Stars
whatwedoinside.jpg

That staple of the musical bio-pic — a close-up of dope bubbling on a spoon — punctuates Rodger Grossman’s account of the short life of Darby Crash, founder of ’70s LA punk thrashers the Germs. The band, seen in Penelope Spheeris’s Decline of Western Civilization, not only never made it to Boston, they had a hard time getting gigs at home, since their shows usually degenerated into a bloody mess. Shane West stars as the frontman with a fondness for Nietzsche who, Iggy-style, made his body a kamikaze critique of the divide between performer and audience. Off stage, Darby’s bluster masks his insecurity, especially regarding a gay relationship. Grossman and (Germs pal) Michelle Baer Ghaffari pack plenty of punk archæology into the dialogue, but that’s part of the problem: exposition trumps atmosphere. And though West tries hard, you never forget he’s acting. The fact that he’s been playing live shows with the surviving Germs is intrinsically icky. 94 minutes | Kendall Square

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