After Deliverance, it seemed impossible to cinematically redeem white trash. But then Christian Slater and Helen Rachel Slater (no relation) made a movie about two poor Texas punk rockers who stand up to a gang of corrupt good ol’ boys, and, well, people are still nervous about their cars breaking down outside of trailer parks. And that’s sad, because The Legend of Billie Jean has all the right motifs to redeem the new South: hip rural teenagers, women with aggresively short New Wave haircuts (Madonna would lop off her shag a year later in 1986), and a soundtrack by Pat Benatar. Almost no one watched the movie and it’s still waiting for a DVD release, which, based on the current popularity of the movie’s stars, will probably never happen. Catch it this once and cheer on Billie Jean as she yells, “We didn’t start this but it needed to happen and we’re not giving up!”
THE FILM SHOWS AT 5:25 P.M. AT AFI SILVER THEATRE AND CULTURAL CENTER, 8633 COLESVILLE ROAD, SILVER SPRING. $6–$10. (301) 495-6720.