Clean wasn't written by Cave, but his dark yet redemptive residue is all over it. The main flaw in this otherwise graceful tale of a jet-set junk-bird's descent, flight, then ascent is the fact that the finale falls flat: This movie is all about the hangers-on, the incidental characters orbiting an absent, dark hole of a star, so when Cheung finally takes the mic and dares to fill the void left by her dead lover, her performance should have hit some Marianne Faithfull–esque lowlife high. Still, amid Assayas's detailed, obvious pleasure depicting ex-wife Cheung floundering after her man's passing, Cave look-alike Johnston gets in a few of the most memorable, candid lines in Clean when he tells Cheung that his latest album is simply mediocre, and while he may make better once again, he'll settle for whatever he can get to put it out now.
Why Cave now? Perhaps the culture is finally ready for his plain, unpleasant truths; his horror stories; and his scary, survivor's revisioning of reality. Dubbing him goth is too easy; calling him Johnny Cash's black-suited successor, facile. He's proof that one can go to hell and back.
Stealin' and Gilman Is anyone beginning to feel like Jack White's voice is a little like squeaky tires doing donuts on chalkboard? No? Excellent, because the Raconteurs, his current band with other mad Midwestern too-cool-for-schoolies, have put out a pretty swell rock record, digging into late-’70s to late-’80s sounds, be they Romantics-style new wave or AOR hair-band histrionics. And by gum, don't they look like the Replacements in the above promo pic — miming a much reproduced Let It Be–era ’Mats photo? A tribute to off-the-cuff randomness? ... The rock never quite stops — Bay Area party starters Rock ’n’ Roll Adventure Kids are back, recording a new album and playing shows once again. This week's is a doozy: 924 Gilman's annual Punk Prom — for students who can't afford the high price of dull high school–approved entertainment. Costumes, dancing, and like-minded souls — sounds like a rock ’n’ roll adventure worth crashing. SFBG
July 23, 8 p.m.
Warfield, 982 Market, SF.
Fri/26, 8 p.m.
924 Gilman, Berk.
Gypsy-inspired punk mixes it up with bilingual thrashers La Plebe. Wed/24, 9 p.m., Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $10. (415) 621-4455.
Tough and Lovely
Garage rock, ’60s soul, and girl group are all within groping distance. Thurs/25, 9:30 p.m., Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. $6. (415) 923-0923. Sat/27, Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph, Oakl. Call for time and price. (415) 444-6174.
Grind and Glory hip-hop conference