- Thursday, July 12, 2007

Remember when we did ecstasy (E) and danced all night? You, know, last week?

Uhmm, for many of us here in LA those renegade rave-ups with endless map points and Shaheen on percussion were the stuff of legend, and history. In truth, the beat goes on and the legend lives as rave culture continues its trance and techno directions, Doc Martin and DJ Wilcox continue the vibe, and God’s Kitchen and Spundae metamorphosize into a scattering of weekend rave scenes.

Now comes Rolling, a chronicle of the times, an embrace of dance culture and a morality tale of too-much-too-soon excess that has indeed killed the scene for many revelers. The film has two real stars: MDMA and actor Josh Harper’s lips. The pitfalls and pleasures of exstacy use are told in a mad blend of Reefer Madness x Easy Rider mode, with the apparent morality tale of a PSA countering the high-energy scenes of the joys of Rolling.

In the director/cast Q & A following the DancesWithFilms screening, director Billy Samoa Saleebey and the producers stated they took great pains to present a balanced view of the illegal drug. To this reviewer, the moral of this tale is apparent: simply buy drugs from a reliable source and know when to say when. E is called non-addictive by some; this writer has known ravers who would take a dozen tabs a day, and well, that ain’t hay. Ever increasing amounts to chase the same high is a constant drug tale, and E is no different. Did I mention costly? Not cocaine costly, but a substantial chunk of money is needed to get the party started right. In this world of forty-dollar self-parking in Hollywood, well, maybe not so much money after all.

Back to Josh’s lips: big, sloppy, continually wet and inviting, whether held longingly in extreme closeup, kissing or licking a lolly pop, they travel across actor Josh Harper’s face like a luminous, blood red koi, inviting us to touch and taste…this boy is galvanizing.

The acting in general is first rate, and the recognizable and unique Sanoe Lake gives gravitas to her heartfelt role as a confused raver who wants out, playing opposite the chisel-faced, blue-eyed hunk Garrett Brawith, who gives a moving performance as well, filled with tragedy and sympathy.

The WeHo connection comes in the form of party boy/drag diva Matt, played with gusto by Brian William Toth. Toth interprets the work with much melancholy but never loses his sense of humor, especially around his faghag best pal Samantha, played by Christine Cowden in a lacerating performance of great bitchiness.

Their story alone is worthy of a sequel. Comic relief is provided in abundance by the natural comedic talent of Clinton Cargile, who’s loveable loser holds your interest throughout without ever having to resort to buffoonery. Everyone glows on camera and rings true in scene after scene. The film looks lush, L.A. looks dynamic and alluring, and editor Duncan Burns keeps the pace brisk, while cinematographer Aaron Platt keeps the many film elements, from time-lapse to dv cam to 16mm to 35mm looking sharp and cohesive.

This vibrant, captivating slice of Los Angles party life captures the heady nights and hangover days of an era still with us, still strong and now in its second generation of hardcore fans. Rolling is a chronicle of one side of the most significant youth movement since the 60’s.

If you haven’t rolled, it’s about time.
Roy Rogers Oldenkamp

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