August 18, 2006

‘Dramedy’ of anarchist commune moving, ‘spotted with funnies’

by Kiley Rosnes
Everyone can recognize an inspiring movie. It’s packaged with praise from Ebert & Roeper, driven by a dramatic, moving plotline and nearly carries the title of Drama of the Year. It’s meant to draw in large crowds — and an even larger profit. It’s often an inspiring true-life tale based on a book, conveniently packaged for your viewing pleasure.

“The Anarchist Cookbook” is not one of those films. It isn’t an award winner, lacks a star-studded cast and the plot doesn’t involve a winning struggle for the downtrodden, overlooked and underestimated main character. By all means, it shouldn’t win a place in your heart.

Why have I fallen in love with it then? The characters are dirty, catastrophic and under the shady side of the law.

Somehow, they’re still endearing.

The movie follows the exploits of an anarchist commune. We’re introduced to the core members, and they become as close to the heart as a very dear friend. (Or family member, if you like them.)

We’re introduced to Puck, the “main” character, searching for his identity and hiding from his past, a close-knit family located in a hellacious and stifling suburb; Johnny Red, the former hippie, and his partner, Gin. We meet Karla, the man-hating she-player; Double D, the spacey pacifist; Sweeney, the ladies’ man who gets what he wants without hurting anyone; and the numerous flower people living in the lots out back.

This group of outcasts lives a peaceful, non-hierarchical life, standing for what they believe in and spreading the rights to freedom — a picture quite different from the one painted of violent, rebellious young punks seeking to forcefully bring down the establishment.

The arrival of a stranger, Johnny Black, changes everything. This nihilist brings to the commune drugs, danger and a threat to the peaceful lives they’ve led.
I could summarize the plot to the point of knowing every excruciating detail. But you don’t need to expect every exclamation point to appreciate the storyline.

Spotted with funnies that shouldn’t be there (the sado-masochist by night, good Christian Republican by day girlfriend of Puck would be one), it’s a movie you want to end but miss when it’s through.

As inspiring and beautiful a film as this is, it remains a movie that is not family-friendly. An adult dramedy (drama-comedy) that forces you in love with it, “The Anarchist Cookbook” is a motion picture to which I became deeply attached as it rolled along.

A man searching for himself — how familiar does that sound? The story is in fact a moving one, simply taking place in an anti-establishment environment.

“The Anarchist Cookbook” may have the odds stacked against it in the run for inspiring cinema, but somehow it’s a more moving film than any of the award-winning, inspired-by-true-events movies out there.


Post a Comment

<< Home