What We Do Is Secret is the true-life story of Darby Crash (Shane West), who became an L.A. punk icon with his band The Germs. With his friends, Lorna Doom (Bijou Phillips), Pat Smear (Rick Gonzalez), and Don Bolles (No... more »ah Segan), Darby Crash completely transformed the L.A punk scene, while sacrificing everyone he loved, his career, and ultimately his life« less
"If this movie has actually helped some people discover the Germs and the old school punk scene, then I guess that's a good thing.
This movie has nothing to do with reality. Far from a realistic portrait, this film presents Darby Crash as a nice, but misunderstood kid who could just as easily have been a supporting character on "Dawson's Creek" and makes the L.A. punk scene look like an episode of "90210."
Read "Lexicon Devil" or watch "Decline of Western Civilization" as a contrast. Or just listen to the Germs. Just Darby's lyrics on their own illustrate the yawning chasm between who he really was and who Roger Grossman and Shane West make him out to have been. Even Don Bolles has dismissed the movie as worthless in interviews.
Brilliant, whiny, pathetic, cruel, insecure, domineering, self-destructive, confused, deceitful and very, very sad, Darby Crash was a profoundly flawed and often unpleasant screwed up kid who also happened to write some of the best punk rock lyrics ever produced for one of the scene's most influential bands.
Grossman and West manage to gloss over everything that was difficult, disturbing and most importantly, tragic about Darby. And in their attempt to lionize him, they paint a bland and sterile picture of an average adolescent who seems like he'd be more comfortable singing for Fallout Boy than the Germs.
As I'm no stickler for obsessive historical accuracy, all of this could maybe - MAYBE - be forgivable if the movie were well-made or had something important to say. But no. It's just an oversimplified whitewash of one of the most complex, orginal and influential artists the punk scene has produced.
If you want a great fictional movie about early punk, skip this trash and go watch "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains." In it's way, that movie says more about old school punk rock than this film ever could."
Out of my element
SAM | , PA United States | 12/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a 63 year old grandmother, who is as far removed from the punk music scene as you could possibly get, this was difficult to watch...but I did. I believe that you can't dismiss things that you don't care for unless you try to understand what they are about. I hope that the movie was fairly accurate because it explains why someone might create music with so much "hurt" in it. I gave it three stars because that is a neutral number and although the material was one star for me it did a five star job at showing the gritty, difficult, unhappy lives that the band members lived."
Mixed feelings were a given...
Zelie Nic | Pittsburgh | 01/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, I'm not going to pretend that I was around LA when all of this went down... I was in New Orleans, and I didn't really get into punk until 1980 or '81, when Black Flag came through. Darby Crash was already dead by then, so I never knew him, met him, or even saw the Germs. With that said, the fact that the surviving Germs are happy with Shane West and "What We Do is Secret" is enough for me.
I'll be honest though, I would've liked to have seen some more of the earlier years. Show some more of the time spent at IPS (read "Lexicon Devil"). I think that the film does try to project the complicated person that Crash appears to have been. I do think it comes off short though, perhaps because of the fact that the film itself clocks in around an hour and a half.
The list of people involved in the making of this film is impressive. It is a who's who of punk in Los Angeles. This, coupled with the input of the Germs and their immediate circle suggest that the film was credible.
What surprised me though was how many of the scenes of turmoil within the band seemed cliche. I've no doubt it was, but it still surprised me.
The documentary/ bio-epic presentation is interesting. I wonder why Grossman decided to do it this way. I don't know. If this film had a larger budget and this is what they turned out I would rate this movie lower... but the fact of the matter is that this film had a small budget and took almost two decades to make. This fact perhaps explains the relatively short length of "What We Do is Secret" as well as other shortcomings.
I'm glad this film was completed. I'm glad its out there and it is absolutely worth seeing, but, if you are a Germs fan you'd see it even if it was absolute trash."
I'm Not a Commodity (or maybe I am)
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 12/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I liked punk back in the late 1970's but since I didn't live in LA I never had the chance to actually see a live Germs show. I have seen The Decline of Western Civilization as well as plenty of other Germ performances on video which of course isn't quite the same thing as seeing a live Germs show but its probably as close as most of us will come to seeing and feeling what punk in all of its filth and fury was all about.
The godfathers of punk were Lou Reed and David Bowie and Iggy Pop. LA punk was a fusion of these artist's attitudes and styles. It may seem to all have happened spontaneously but of course it was supposed to seem that way. In actuality punk was just as theatrical as a Lou Reed or David Bowie show. Reed and Bowie shows provided a venue for self-expression and punk shows were the same way. For most punks it was just plain fun to dress up in outrageous costumes and play or attend gigs. But for the hardcore punks like Darby Crash it was more than just dressing up and having a larf.
Whats sad is that Darby Crash was very funny in real life but had very little sense of humor when it came to performing. For Crash performance was a kind of validation and crowd approval was something that he couldn't live without. Unfortunately Crash made his reputation with destructive behavior and the crowd wanted to see destruction every night. And Crash aimed to please.
This film is very good at making the punk scene look like fun. It cleverly casts a very likable actor to play Darby Crash (Shane West looks like Ewan MacGregor) and equally likable actors to play band members (Bijou Phillips is especially enjoyable as the high-spirited and quirky gum smacking "Lorna Doom"). And most of the film really just feels like a bunch of kids having a good time playing music and creating good punk theatre. And I think for many this is enough to make the film worth their while. However, the film is less successful when addressing the specifics of Crash's motivations, ambitions, his ambiguous sexuality, and his lyrics. Though enjoyable the movie just kind of glosses over these substantive issues and so the ending comes as just as much of a shock to us (even though we know its coming) as it does to fellow band members.
If you don't expect it to be a genuine punk artifact (which it isn't) you might be entertained.
What We Did is ... Not So Secret Anymore
Mike Pearson | Los Angeles, CA | 02/16/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Some of this movie is exciting, intense and powerful. But it's hard to make a great feature film that retains the power of real life. This was one of those situations. It reminds me of when I saw the movie Dogtown as opposed to the documentary. The features often lose the power and depth of the situation by having to explain it somehow in a couple hours without a budget that can make it more real as far as concert footage, etc. If you want to know more about early L.A. punk this is good to see. You can see the fashion and hear some music and get the basic story of the Germs. I would suggest the book, Lexicon Devil, for those who really want to know the deep inside story of Darby and the Germs. I remember Darby and the Germs from 9th grade and going to shows and parties. The book Lexicon Devil helped me understand it more. Doing a movie about the Germs is so hard to pull off. I think only Scorcese or someone of that caliber could have made it awesome.
Check out my book about growing up as a goofy punk kid in L.A. during the early 80s:
One Step Beyond: A Teenage Odyssey in 1980s Los Angeles (Volume 1) "