Atomic Blonde first look: Charlize Theron goes on the attack
Two summers after Charlize Theron redefined heroism in the decaying, post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max,she is re-imagining the Cold War thriller as a femme-fatale master spy
who brawls like an MMA star. Atomic Blonde, due out July 28 — and debuting at SXSW this weekend - is a poppy, punk-rock take on the genre by fight choreographer-turned-director David Leitch (John Wick).
It’s Berlin, 1989. Depeche Mode and New Order dominate the airwaves,
the wall is about to come down, and Theron’s character Lorraine
Broughton is sent into the chaotic city to retrieve a most-wanted
dossier. James McAvoy plays her hardened, fur-coated fellow agent.
(You’ve never seen a black mesh tank-top look so good.)
We’re worried about the two of you, all our other friends said. The two of us being me and my then-best friend/roommate, Maggie. We thought our friends were being boring and just not getting it, but oh my God, I’d be worried about the girls we were then, too, if I encountered us now. Our whole situation was weird and sad. Long story short, earlier that year we’d burned half our bridges—some of them because they needed to be burnt, others simply because, hey, the match was already lit—and become this codependent unit of two. We barely left each other’s sides, we barely left our apartment, we were broke and depressed and self-medicating with pills and weed and liquor. I truly, truly do not understand why I romanticize ye olde days so much, because when I look at them objectively I think: My life is better in almost every way than it was back then. Yet I continue to long for the past. But I digress—it was September 2004, me and Maggie vs. the world, and the few friends we hadn’t set ablaze rarely wanted to hang out because they were either worried about us or depressed by our habits. Because a party is no longer fun when it happens every night.
It was a crushingly lonely time. As much as I loved Maggie, it’s impossible to have all your needs for intimacy, connection, and affection fulfilled by one person. All my other Chicago friends thought I was a bummer to be around, my faraway friends were, well, faraway, and my romantic life was a shambles. And the Fireside Bowl—the legendary punk venue of Chicago—shut down; that place was the site of so many of my best memories that losing it felt like I’d lost another old friend. The other thing I remember about that September was the constant staticy noise in my head. I likened it to having a radio antennae connected to my brain that picked up the soundwaves of the city, so not only did I have to listen to the voices that were already in my head—I heard everyone else’s chatter, too. Everything was lonely and hard and cold and loud and I was just fucking exhausted, really.
It was in that bleak landscape that I heard American Idiot. I hadn’t loved a Green Day album since Nimrod. (Warning had a few great tracks, but the album as a whole didn’t thrill me), but I instantly fell in love with American Idiot. And there was one particular track that felt like it was speaking directly to, for, about me–“Letterbomb.” As I said in my piece about “She,” I love the Green Day songs about/from the point of view of girls. They’re so different from the casual misogyny that infects a lot of other pop punk bands’ Songs About Girls (I’m not naming any names, but…) Sure, maybe the girls/women in Green Day’s songs tend to be a bit larger-than-life, a bit idealized, but they’re also rebels and troublemakers, and they have their own distinct emotions. It’s so refreshing! American Idiot features three of them in a row–“She’s A Rebel,” “Extraordinary Girl,” and “Letterbomb.”
“Letterbomb” opens with the unmistakeable vocals of none other than Kathleen Hanna, someone whose words and songs had meant so much to me for nearly as long as Billie Joe’s had. In her sweet-bratty singsong she chanted the exact thing I was feeling: nobody likes you / everyone left you / they’re all out without you / having fun… The song is a poppy punk rock rager, wherein Billie reassured me that as bad as things were, my life wasn’t over (it ain’t over till you’re underground). And then the final verse harkens back to that lonely feeling from the opening. She said, I can’t take this place / I’m leaving it behind / Well she said, I can’t take this town / I’m leaving you tonight. I heard that and I thought–maybe I needed a break from the city that was beating me down. Though I loved Chicago, maybe what I needed more than anything was a change of scenery. And some new friends.
Jessie Lynn McMains is a writer, small press owner, and the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, Wisconsin. Recent and forthcoming publications include 10 Poems By Jessie Lynn McMains, an e-chapbook released by Hello America, and What We Talk About When We Talk About Punk, a memoir-in-fragments revolving around punk and her misspent youth, coming from Pioneers Press/Punch Drunk Press later in 2017. She is also a long-time zinester—she published her first zine the year Dookie was released. You can also find her on Tumblr at @rustbeltjessie
We wrote pop music, or real poppy sort of punk rock, and we kept doing it regardless of what anybody ever said in the punk scene, because that within itself is punk rock. There was all these people playing this aggresive music, and we were outcasts in the punk scene. People talked shit about us there because our music was too poppy and girls liked to come see us play. Which is ridiculous. We’re gonna keep being ourselves.
“I’m gonna be pissed if they don’t sound punk rockl” “I hope it’s not poppy” “if it’s not punk rock I’m gonna be so upset”
Like guys they’re not a pop band so don’t worry about the whole “pop thing” but guys “punk rock” is pierce the veil and Memphis may fire.
5 Seconds of summer are not a pop band. They are not a boy band but they are not punk rock. They are a pop punk band. They have been since 2011 and I’ve known that ever since then. Yes? Yes.