Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Decline Of Western Civilization: Part 1

Very different material to work with on this show but sometimes you need to go out to the edge.

From the same in my consideration, brilliant woman who directed Wayne's World comes a documentary filmed between 1979 and 1980 delving into the Los Angeles punk rock scene, not so much as to get all philosophical and get to the meaning of the culture, community, and music but more just to showcase the community and music. It's a super loose documentary with no real beginning or end, intercutting footage of the bands performing, and brief off stage personal time asking them questions and the like, with a dash of interviewing the fans of punk music. It's super candid and doesn't shy away from any aspect, drugs and alcohol are talked about, it gets them cuss words and hateful shit in there, the moshing before it was called moshing and why people get into those scuffs, but it doesn't potray punk rockers or punk fans in a demonizing way. Hell some of them don't even fit the mental image of a punk, and some are very laid back, casual, nice to talk with, it shows them as people and not menaces to society. Now I will fully admit on record, I don't generally know much about punk rock despite my love and appreciation for all the subgenres of rock and roll. So I was more or less just an open minded witness to this sub community in all it's wild glory. But you better believe I was jamming to the music and really dug the hell out of some of the bands, primarily Black Flag and X both onstage and off stage, they just seemed like super nice folks who do not take themselves that seriously at all, and could play quite well. I'm not expecting anyone to fully understand the genre or even the people who enjoy it by watching this, but it's a very unique window into a time period over 50 years ago now to just see what it was like. It's almost very very difficult to critique documentaries, because what the hell are documentaries? To me, it's film footage on an event, a period of history, an individual, an environment. Whether it be nature documentaries by the BBC, or the CNN documentaries on the 60s through the 90s as they cover all aspects of that decade from entertainment to politics to fashion. So obviously this does indeed focus on punk rock, so now the question comes is it enjoyable and even a bit informative? I would say yeah, it does dig a tiny bit into why people enjoy punk rock, why they get into fights, what drives them, what are the bands like, it had my interest throughout. I will say the best parts of it was when the director was interviewing people outside of the bands, club owners, the fans themselves, because you get the best picture of that time and place in the world when you hear them discuss this type of music. It's not super flashy production wise either, the cameras have that unique grain and color saturation that only 70s cameras can give you, it moves very freely, there's not too much structure in the overall "story" of the thing. But I enjoyed it and I wouldn't mind broadening my brain into this genre though I think history showed punk went to the wayside fast once metal music kicked off good and hard. Which is what Part 2 will cover and we will discuss tomorrow. I give Part 1 a solid 3.5 stars, 8.5/10, and a firm recommendation.

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