Two Views of the Other Venice Film Festival: Soccermom: The Movie

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By CJ Gronner

The weekend was another one of those gloomy, mist all day scenarios, which actually made it perfect to tuck inside and catch some film. As The Other Venice Film Festival venue of Beyond Baroque is my spitting distance neighbor, it made it pretty easy to catch the 2010 OVFF WINNER for Best Documentary, Soccermom: The Movie.

If you’ve lived in Venice for any time at all, you should know the band Soccermom. They’ve been a staple at music clubs around town forever, and its members, Helen, Matty, Cecil and John, have probably all been squeezed in next to you at a party at some point.

I loved Soccermom with all its humor and punk glory (and I say lovED because I have no idea what’s going on with them right now, and haven’t seen them play in quite some time. Or seen Helen around, for that matter …). This film about them – though cut a little sloppy in places, and in need of some sound tweaking – captures all of it, and really, only makes you want to see more of them.

The talking head interview bits spotlight all sorts of Venice characters: Jeff Ho, Valerie of Slave fame, Nik from Trim, and all sorts of friends of the band, that clearly love them. These are the funniest parts, as the surfer dude qualities that crack you up, and the sheer irreverence, make you instantly recognize YOUR people, and laugh along with them.

Helen says at one point, “I met Matty and he said, ‘Can you sing?’ and I said ‘No’, and he said, ‘Perfect.’ …. He taught me how to be retarded.” Then it cuts to them all going absolutely mental patient on stage.

They are punk rock, in sound, look, and attitude. Helen and Matty have gotten into fistfights on stage. They played their first show for some Realtor meeting, and opened with a song about what assholes Realtors are. They have hot girl groupies, and a song called “Mangroupie” about just that, the guys that show up to love Brazilian born, and adorable, Helen, of whom one guy fan says, “She’s like a Joseph Conrad character, the Heart Of Darkness.”

Their punk tunes are informed by surf and skating (and vice versa), and skate legend Jeff Ho is a treat to hear spin tales of Soccermom, and how “In Venice, something is always gonna happen … stabbings, beer bottles thrown …” and another guy talks about how “Soccermom usually plays somewhere where your car WILL get broken into …”. Classic, and we love it all.

It’s a bit of a time capsule about the early millennium in Venice, CA, and makes you feel a little nostalgic for the balls out way they – and we – would party here. (Ok, and sometimes still do). I think Helen puts it best when she says, “Aside from the blood and the tears, it’s all happiness.”

A bit like life here itself.

Check out Soccermom, both the band and the movie, whenever and if you get the chance. It’s a rowdy-good time, every time.

 

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