I guess it was inevitable after Interpol's second album tanked that late-80's postpunk recurrence was fated to be as short-lived as Ian Curtis. But how the hell did we reach 1994 in our retro cycle so quickly? The Wackness (trailer after the jump), the indie feature directed by Jonathan Levine, opens this weekend, revisiting the broiling New York City summer that you might not have before realized was so zeitgeisty. The film's being cited as much for its splenetic anti-Giuliani politics as for its remember-when hip hop soundtrack. Our hero Luke Shapiro (think a smarter version of Telly from the Larry Clark film Kids) is a virginal high school drug dealer who runs a mini-cartel of Jamaican weed out of an Italian shaved ice cart. Cosmopolitan! But his skanking around town with Ben Kingsley, a fiending Jewish psychotherapist dressed like Kramer, is about to be interrupted by broken windows law enforcement. Where were you standing when Newt Gingrich took over Congress?
Andrew O'Hehir at Salon gives the film a middling review, but then sits down for an interesting Q&A with Levine:
For me, a lot of it was informed by the music. We had the opportunity to listen to "Ready to Die" [by Notorious B.I.G.] or "Nevermind" [by Nirvana] or "Illmatic" [by Nas] or the first Weezer album. All this great music was coming out then. Especially the hip-hop - that was what I connected to on a visceral, personal level. The music you're listening to really determines a lot about your memories.
Where are they now, musically speaking? Dead, dead, destroyed by Jay-Z, and just as sex-deprived as poor Luke. Yeah, okay, maybe it was time to go there.