Movies that are slightly off.
The Decline of Western Civilization
The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.
Pretty much anyone who was ever into punk rock has some boring story about how it affected them personally. Here's mine (nobody has to read this, but this movie welled up a bunch of old memories and feelings so I feel compelled to exorcise them here):
Last time I saw this movie I was 14 or 15-years-old, sitting on a musty couch with Mary Blackwell in the basement of her aunt and uncles' house in Candler Park. Mary was a senior in high school, and I was a freshman. We met because in some morning period class she would graffiti her desk, and later in the day when the room was used for a completely different class, I would come…
There's a slender thread here, and some would probably say in the DNA of punk itself, of creepy shit like white supremacy, homophobia, and genuinely antisocial and violent behavior (as opposed to the cool kind) that to the movie's credit isn't brushed under the rug but isn't quite the subject of serious exploration either. Contrast that with the often straight-ahead mockery of Part II and you have quite a study in how subtle differences in presentation can make a huge difference in material. It's also a study in how much shittier music apparently got in less than ten years.
punk is horrible and punks are horrible
"Personally, I've been through one too many youth movements."
As always with concert films, mileage will vary depending on one's connection to the music on display. As someone who, when tasked with writing an 8th grade history report on any era of human existence, chose this very scene, the hardcore punk scene in Southern California at the dawn of the 1980s, this is catnip to me.
As Mike Watt wrote and D. Boon sang as part of the greatest punk band of all time, "We learned punk rock in Hollywood, drove up from Pedro. We were fucking corndogs. We'd go drink and pogo." That is this movie.
It's been years since I've seen this and it's interesting to see which…
The first part of Penelope Spheeris' trilogy of documentaries about L.A.'s alternative music/lifestyle scene has a near mythical reputation - perhaps largely as a result of its rarity - the only copy I've ever seen is a DVD-R taken off a Japanese laserdisc! The Decline Of Western Civilization is very much a celluloid time capsule, capturing as it does a short period between the 1970s and 80s and concentrating on a handful of Los Angeles punk bands, some on the verge of fame within the scene (an early incarnation of a pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag, and another Flag vocalist Keith Morris with Circle Jerks), others more established (seminal L.A. bands X and Fear), and a few destined for obscurity (art…
My band is thinking of doing a bunch of Germs covers, since everyone in the band is so untalented and inebriated that it's inevitable that we'll sound better than the original.
The F-bombing, scab scratching, belly howling punks of L.A. are now on blu-ray. What a world!
At the start of the movie, a collection of LA club owners (old white guys) are asked "what is punk"? We are given a very pedestrian, very watered down, very Webster's Dictionary definition of what punk means to them.
The true definition comes from the artists and those who identify with them. It's frequently difficult for them to put into words where all the rage and the anger comes from.
Penelope puts full trust in her subjects. You can tell she is completely entranced with this lifestyle without any cynicism at all. It's not so much an expose of the punk genre but an introduction into a brand new movement. Spheeris had the innate ability to understand that this was less of a fad and more an important movement in the history of music and a cultural milestone in our lifetime.
Punks scare me :(
The first film in Penelope Spheeris' documentary trilogy centers on the Los Angeles hardcore punk scene circa 1979-80 and features interviews and live performances by Black Flag, X, Fear, the Germs, Catholic Discipline and the Circle Jerks.
I've seen the second film in the "Decline" series, "The Metal Years," a bunch of times over the years but never saw the original till today. Comparing the two, it seems like music styles aside, the punk scene of '80 wasn't all that different from the hair-metal scene in '87 - both were populated by a lot of obnoxious, substance-addled morons who really didn't have a lot to say.
I wanna homemade tattoo from John Doe. Also, Billy Zoom is the coolest person ever.
What is punk?
This is just a perfect documentary.
The film's aesthetic is similar to the music—gritty, raw, and electric. Clichéd aspects such as drug use, sex, and violence are introduced and we quickly realize the film is less time capsule and more time machine.
very entertaining document of the LA punk scene
highlights include Darby Crash & Germs section
songs from X
interviews with the guy from Catholic Discipline
really great visual compositions from Steve Conant who's only other credit is lensing great 80s LA Porn Doc "Fallen Angels"
High-rated movies with very few views. Suggestions are welcome.