Saturday, April 28, 2012

She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column (d. Kevin Hegge)

A few minutes into Kevin Hegge’s long-gestating She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column, a critic calls the titular feminist post-punk act an art band that wasn’t necessarily arty. That sounds like an interesting distinction, but it’s also as far as the idea goes in a doc that almost makes up in enthusiasm what it lacks in depth. Hegge sets a fast pace, and the early history of intellectual centre and drummer GB Jones and lead singer Caroline Azar’s collaboration nicely establishes their dynamic of cryptic rock deity and big-sweatered frontwoman, with plenty of footage of their debut in the Toronto punk scene. (Azar suggests that their off-kilter sound was a happy byproduct of their musical ignorance.) The film picks up once the band intersects with a certain go-go dancing nascent film theorist by the name of Bryan Bruce, now better known as alt filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, of No Skin off My Ass fame. Along with Jones, LaBruce ran the influential queer punk zine J.D’s., and Hegge effectively incorporates this archival material, as well as their collaborative Super 8 films, into a mixed-media portrait of Fifth Column’s role in the formation of queercore. But the film is weirdly shy about the bandmates’ sexuality, abruptly stopping the conversation with Azar’s story about wanting to elope with Jones in her late teens. For all Hegge's attention to the combative spirit of the Toronto zine wars in the late 80s, the city also comes off abstractly, as a scene that could be situated anyplace. Fifth Column fans and queercore enthusiasts will appreciate the rare present-day input from Jones, but overall this is a surprisingly conventional story of a band that, as one member says, recorded the sounds of everything falling apart. **1/2/****


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