THESE UNDENIABLY COOL MOVIES ARE ESSENTIAL VIEWING FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN THE EDGES, THE OUTLIERS AND THE OUTSIDERS.
STREETWISE (1984) – An assembly of ostracised teens band together to survive the streets of 80s Seattle. New York photographer Mary Ellen Mark discovered the kids through a shoot for an article in Life about homeless teens on the streets of America’s most livable city. Fascinated by what she found, Mark, her partner Martin and reporter Cheryl McCall spent weeks slowly gaining the trust of these teens to properly tell their story for a documentary.
HOBO (1992) – Beargrease “catches the Westbound” from Minneapolis to Seattle. He rides the rails for free, and Irish director Davis tracks his movements 2,000 miles across the US while Beargrease narrates and philosophizes their way through the gorgeous scenery of a middle America that few tourists get to experience. This visual travelogue is such an important tribute to those weirdos on the margins of society.
ALL AMERICAN HIGH: REVISITED (2015) – director Keva Rosenfeld slavishly documented an entire year in the lives of sun-kissed high school students from Torrance, California, only for it to collect dust. Told from the POV of a Finnish exchange student who wants to make Cali her bitch, Rikki Rauhala. The audience is duly shown (or reminded, depending on the age) just how little you needed to coast through high school in the 80s. Rosenfeld chanced upon the doc while cleaning up his garage years later and decided to track down the documentary’s subjects. All American High: Revisited was released in 2015 and allows the film’s main characters to reflect on their buffoonery decades later.
FLYIN’ CUT SLEEVES (1993) – Streets that slice through New York and its outlying boroughs used to act as invisible border lines for the gangs that operated within them. Hostile towards their neighbours, turf wars were common. Patches and symbols that adorned clothing, the “colours”, were what signalled to others where your loyalty lay. This documentary dishes out rare footage of African-American and Puerto Rican South Bronx gangs from the 70s. It’s the perfect accompaniment for anyone casually obsessed with The Warriors, Walter Hill’s 1979 flick about the famous Hoe Avenue peace meeting.