Friday, July 31, 2009

My Favorite Movies: Sid and Nancy

"There are seeds of self-destruction in all of us that will bear only unhappiness if allowed to grow." -- Dorothea Brande (American Writer and Editor, 1893-1948)

With a nod to Cyberkitten and his very entertaining series of "Favourite Movies ...", I'm going to take a wack at a few of my faves. Much as Gary Oldman was first up in my series of favorite actors, the first movie I saw him in, Sid and Nancy, is what I'll kick off my favorite movies with.

Sid and Nancy is the story of the destructive 22 month love affair between Sex Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious and American groupie Nancy Spungen that broke up the band, led to her murder, and later, Sid's death by overdose.


I've seen this movie so many times (at least 50), that I'm pretty sure I could recite the entire script from memory. And as far as random quotes that I say on a daily basis, it surely rivals the Holy Grail. The script, written by director Alex Cox, is alternatively funny and dramatic.


It's not presented as straight reality. There are scenes where Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McClaren shoots the ground with a pretend gun, where Sid and Nancy walk away from a crime-scene unscathed, and another where Nancy comes back from the dead. Obviously none of them really happened, but like most other things with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, they may present more truth than the actual occurrence. Truth is all relative.

The cinematography by the famous Roger Deakins (Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, O' Brother Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men) is gritty and fits the subject matter and setting.


Gary Oldman is the obvious star here. I think it is his finest performance. Chloe Webb's Nancy Spungen is annoying, but that is pretty much the point. By every account, Nancy was violent, drug-addled, and verbally abusive.

The rest of the cast was largely unknown actors but included cameos by other punk notables such as Iggy Pop and the Circle Jerks. Courtney Love also has a small role.


It's evocative of a time in my life that I'm very fond of ... my college years. You have to consider that these were the pre-Nirvana wasteland days of music. All pop-metal and pop-garbage. We were hungry for anything that went against that and thus immersed ourselves in punk, especially the Sex Pistols. So when we saw this movie, we just ate it up. Full of pop-culture references from late 70's London (Rod Stewart, Gary Glitter, Dr. Who) and with a great soundtrack (Joe Strummer, The Pogues), Sid and Nancy was permanently near our VCR. We watched it pretty much every weekend for about a year and a half.

There is a sick beauty in observing wanton self-destruction. It reminds me a lot of the similar death spiral of Nic Cage's character in Leaving Las Vegas. It's obvious that the person is intent on somehow killing themselves and you have a front-row seat. People say that movies like these glorify drug-use, but I think they do the exact opposite. If you can watch what happens to Sid and Nancy and still want to do drugs, then you are truly a sick puppy.

Definitely one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time, Sid and Nancy has stood the test of time. It came out in 1986 but I watched it again last night and it had the same power.

"Well, love is insanity. The ancient Greeks knew that. It is the taking over of a rational and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power over yourself, you can't even think straight." -- Marilyn French (American Writer, b.1929)

1 comment:

Watch Movies said...

The acting from Gary Oldman & Chloe Webb is nothing short of amazing, the photography from Roger Deakins is very impressive......