That aside, I’ve been immersed in Indie documentaries about music. Punk and Grunge in particular. Then there are the ones about metal and other things unrelated to music.
This hip look at the Seattle music scene of the past decade treats the hype with bemused humor but treats the music with respect. Packed with witty interviews with band members, record execs, and Seattle music aficionados, much of the film places a welcome spotlight on the bands that didn’t become part of the national “grunge” phenomenon and scores of live clips and rare recordings show that “the Seattle Sound” didn’t begin with Nirvana or end with Soundgarden. You don’t have to be a fan to enjoy this ebullient rockumentary, and if you’re not careful, director Doug Pray’s infectious love of the music may even make you one. This video features performances by Blood Circus, Coffin Break, Crackerbash, Dead Moon, Fastbacks, Flop, Gas Huffer, The Gits, Hammerbox, Love Battery, The Melvins, The Mono Men, Mudhoney, Nirvana, The Posies, Seaweed, 7 Year Bitch, Some Velvet Sidewalk, Soundgarden, Supersuckers, Young Fresh Fellows, and Zipgun, and includes Nirvana’s first live performance of the grunge anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” –Sean Axmaker
This is a very good movie dealing with black identity in the world of hardcore punk. The movie is made up of testimonials from several black punks talking about subjects such as the relationship of traditional African culture to body modification in punk fashion, interracial dating, being a “safe black”, and having mostly white friends. What I like about the movie is the way it doesn’t distinguish between the experiences of black suburban high school kids and famous black punks such as D.H. Peligro (of DEAD KENNEDYS). The interviewees are all ages and from all over the country. The movie is edited in a way that emphasizes common thoughts and experiences (such as the importance of BAD BRAINS). They correct misconceptions that people may have about them and their background. Some of the punks do get a little more camera time, such as the zine author from California and the black nationalist singer of the band CIPHER. The more “in-depth” segments show some of the ways black punks set themselves apart and how central identity politics are in their projects.
This movie is NOT a collection of archival footage that aims to deliver a history of black punks. At the end of the movie, some of the interview subjects are asked to name as many punk bands with black members as they can. If you’d like a thorough directory of black involvement in punk rock, look up ROCTOBER magazine’s website for an extensive list.
This movie is a welcome addition to the recent crop of punk movies since it examines an area of the music scene which often goes undocumented. I look forward to seeing more movies from the director James Spooner. You do not have to like punk music (or be black) to enjoy this movie.
American Hardcore – The History of Punk Rock 1980 – 1986
The history of hardcore punk–the tougher, faster, and more politically minded stepchild of the ’70s punk movement that arose in the ’80s–is examined in exuberant detail in Paul Rachman’s documentary American Hardcore. Rachman’s cameras careen across the landscape of the U.S. to trace the movement’s beginnings in cities like Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York, and cherrypicks interviews with the musicians that helped shape its sound and impact, including Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn of Black Flag, H.R. (frontman for the highly influential, all-African American outfit Bad Brains), Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat (and now Fugazi), and many others. Hardcore’s violent reaction against the Reagan administration and the complacent mindset of middle-class America is also detailed in countless performance footage clips and poster-art reproductions, which do much to dismiss the popular opinion of hardcore as nothing more than mindless hooliganism. Some fans may find the omission of certain bands a considerable oversight (San Francisco’s lethally satirical Dead Kennedys are not mentioned only in passing), but for most punk devotees, American Hardcore will be vital and essential viewing. The DVD includes several deleted scenes and bonus performances, commentary by Rachman and writer Steven Blush (whose book of the same name provided the inspiration for the film), and a gallery of photos from photographer Edward Colver, who covered the hardcore scene in detail during its heyday. — Paul Gaita
Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot GRRRL
* KATHLEEN HANNA
* ALLISON WOLFE
* CORIN TUCKER
* SHARON CHESLOW
* MADIGAN SHIVE
* JULIE LARY
* RAMDASHA BIKCEEM
* NATALIE COX
* MARK ANDERSEN
* IAN MACKAYE
“don’t need you” is a documentary film that tells the story of the origins of Riot Grrrl in the American independent music scene of the 1990s, and how this feminist movement evolved into a revolutionary underground network of education and self-awareness through music, writing, activism, and women-friendly community. The film gives audiences a chance to meet key figures in the development of Riot Grrrl and see for themselves how these women have changed the history of music and feminism forever. The film features one-on-one interviews interspersed with rare, archival materials, including original Riot Grrrl fanzines, flyers, and photographs, as well as seldom seen footage from pioneering Riot Grrrl bands like Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, and Bratmobile.
The Decline of Western Civilization
Centered on the early ’80s punk movement, this remains the best of Penelope Spheeris’s three attempts to chronicle the musical and angst-ridden subculture of urban Los Angeles. The film’s style, like the music, is abrasive, frank, and packed with energy, as it moves swiftly from hilarious band and fan interviews to the loud, raucous shows inside seedy L.A. nightclubs. Despite its tongue-in-cheek title, Spheeris neither condemns, nor glamorizes, the movement, though she definitely has an eye for talent and thankfully plays favorites. Lesser acts like Alice Bag Band and Catholic Discipline are given minimal screen time (enough so we understand why they’ve been forgotten) in favor of bands that either possess off- stage charisma (Circle Jerks) or onstage potency (Fear’s finale, winding their audience up with insults, is punk in its purest form). And, then there are X and Germs lead singer, Darby Crash. These two subjects comprise the majority of the film, as Spheeris hangs around their houses, captures numerous performances, and presents the movement’s peak performers. While X does it mostly onstage–their mix of thrash and rockabilly are the most enjoyable of the live performances–Crash’s stage is everywhere. A walking disaster, the singer candidly details–with simultaneously self-mocking humor and sadness–his drug abuse, miserable life, and the places that no longer let him play. The fact that he died shortly after production stamps Spheeris’s brazen time capsule with a morbid, though appropriate, epitaph. –Dave McCoy
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II-The Metal Years
The 80’s LA metal scene. Where the winners rose to the top and the losers died in obscurity. This vid has it all for those who love the hair rock, brain dead, heavy metal 80’s.
1. Ozzy Osbourne interview in his kitchen as he’s attempting to make his own breakfast.
2. A drunken Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.) lounging in his pool slamming straight vodka and tries to conduct an interview while his obviously embarrassed mother looks on.
3. Odin. A band that was going to be the ‘next big thing’. Never heard of them? This video is the only place you’ll ever hear of them.
4. Lemmy Kilmister, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Steven Tyler, and Joe Perry inputting their own little snips and two cents randomly through out the film.
5. First hand knowledge of what it’s like to be in the band ‘London’.
6. AN early version of Megadeth and Dave’s unique insight.
7. All the bands like ‘Seduce’ who came to LA to make it big.
And of course the everyday slobs who had to voice their views on everything that is metal. SOme have a brain cell or two while most of them are straight up losers. Also who can forget the ‘de-metalizing institute’? A place where parents sent their rocker kids to ‘get out of metal’. …
Great look back at a great time for music.
This is about Eighties HEAVY METAL. .
This flick interviews up and coming glam bands who made their home in the L.A. scene. Also interviewed are some of the genre’s idols including Kiss, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Poison, Megadeth, Lemmy from Motorhead and of course, Ozzy.
Also, spotlighted performances from bands such as Faster Pussycat, Odin, London (Nikki Sixx’s old band), Seduce and Megadeth.
The movie’s range of topics include groupies, alcoholism, drugs, the glam image and why it attracted so many people from many walks of life.
The movie’s funniest (and saddest) segment includes filmmaker Penelope Spheeris’s attempt to interview a W.A.S.P. guitarist in his pool, drunk as a skunk and with his MOM sitting right there!
This was what I grew up on and I still prefer it to grunge or rap-metal. It was feel good music that was more interesting than the current crop of sullen/politcal rock groups that all seem to sound alike.
For those of you who looked down on this stuff, you might want to check out this documentary with open minds.(Remember those?)C’mon, you know you want to.
Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey
An anthropological study of Heavy Metal? Is this for real? Believe it man, it’s true, and it’s pretty darn good at that. Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey is a labor of love for director/ producer Sam Dunn; anthropologist, academia, metalhead. Like a good anthropologist Dunn has often wondered about cultures, societies, and the key elements that makes them thrive. Being a life-long headbanger, Sam Dunn decided to turn his academic skills onto himself to study and attempt to explain the often misunderstood culture that shaped his existence and millions of others around the world. Structured like a traditional anthropological journal, Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey is broken into sections such as “Origins,” “Roots,” “Environments,” “Culture,” “Sexuality,” “Religion,” and “Death.” Many topics are addressed such as identifying the first heavy metal band, what in the music defines the heavy metal sound, why heavy metal unites fans from around the world, why the music has been a target for so many watchdog groups, and who really popularized the heavy metal horn salute. For non-metalheads, the structured approach keeps the documentary on track and prevents it from getting cartoonish and too fan-based and self congratulatory. Metalheads that don’t care about film’s structure, will thoroughly enjoy the interviews of metal’s elite (including originators Tony Iommi, Alice Cooper, Dio, and Bruce Dickinson to modern day heroes Tom Morello, Rob Zombie and Lamb of God) the music, fan commentaries and the concert footage. So raise your horns up high, turn it up loud and check out the best Heavy Metal film ever made. Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey will not disappoint. –Rob Bracco
Global Metal is the second documentary by Sam Dunn, and serves as the perfect companion piece to his documentary about/love letter to heavy metal Metal – A Headbanger’s Journey. In Global Metal, Dunn travels the globe to take a closer look at metal outside of the traditional American and European settings. Along with members of metal bands in each country he visits, Dunn gets some perspective from members of Slayer, Metallica and Iron Maiden, among others.
Some of his destinations are obvious. He starts in Brazil, home of the massive Rock in Rio festivals, where he speaks to members of Sepultura and Angra. Japan is another obvious choice, as their love for metal has been rock solid for decades (hence all those elusive Japanese-only bonus tracks). In Japan he profiles Sigh and X-Japan, but sadly not Loudness or Anthem.
After that, Dunn’s travels lead him to some surprising countries. Who knew China and India had emerging metal scenes, or that there were enough metal fans in Arab countries to warrant a festival in Dubai? His stop in Israel, where he spoke to the singer of the brilliant Orphaned Land, was illuminating, especially when the topic of Slayer’s controversial “Angel of Death” came up. It’s unfortunate that the members of Slayer weren’t called upon to address this directly. I did, however, find it admirable that Dunn pressed the member of an Indonesian metal band (whose name escapes me) about the contradiction of wearing an anti-swastika patch while actively calling for the destruction of Israel.
The film closes in India, where the first-ever concert by a major metal band – Iron Maiden, no less – is finally taking place. Dunn attend the show with a huge crowd of eager fans, and taking the scene in you can’t help but agree with Dunn’s assertion that as metal fans we really are part of a larger global community, a brotherhood even, with something important in common.
I ended up enjoying Global Metal even more than I did Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, and would absolutely recommend it to any serious metal fan.
Dangerous Living – Coming Out in the Developing World
Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World, directed by John Scagliotti and produced by Dan Hunt and Janet Baus, is the first documentary to deeply explore the lives of gay and lesbian people in non-western cultures. Traveling to five different continents, we hear the heartbreaking and triumphant stories of gays and lesbians from Egypt, Honduras, Kenya, Thailand and elsewhere, where most occurrences of oppression receive no media coverage at all.
Dangerous Living is the winner of the Audience Award (Best Feature) in the Barcelona GLBT Int. Festival, Audience Award (Best Documentary) in the Hartford Alternatives Festival, and officially selected in the International Film Festival on Human Rights, Geneva. By sharing the personal stories coming out of developing nations, Dangerous Living sheds light on an emerging global movement striving to end discrimination and violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Dangerous Living is part of the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SERIES. Human Rights Watch, widely regarded as one of the most influential and important human rights organizations in the world, and First Run Features, which for 25 years has distributed films that confront human rights issues, recently formed a collaboration to bring awareness to films that shed light on human rights abuses throughout the world. Through its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Project, Human Rights Watch fights to end abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
For two years Marc Singer lived with the people who make their home in the tunnels beneath Penn Station in New York, creating an unflinching portrait of a part of society that is literally and figuratively beneath our notice.
“You’d be surprised what the human mind and body can adjust to,” says Tito, one of the tunnel dwellers. He and his neighbors are homeless, but the tunnels offer them a degree of safety that doesn’t exist on the streets above. In this strange place they manage to achieve a remarkable degree of domesticity, building shelters, keeping pets, and cooking meals.
Singer has an eye for telling images, such as Dee dragging a sofa along the train tracks like Sisyphus rolling his stone in Hell. With its grainy black-and-white photography and haunting soundtrack, this is a surprisingly beautiful film, but it is never sentimental, nor does it try to impose a false nobility on its subjects. Dark Days simply shows us a world that we never knew existed, and in this simplicity lies its power. –Simon Leake
JONATHAN MILLER’S BRIEF HISTORY OF DISBELIEF
In this first ever television history of disbelief, Jonathan Miller goes on a journey exploring the origins of his own lack of belief and uncovering the hidden story of atheism.
The series includes extracts from interviews with various academic luminaries including Arthur Miller, Richard Dawkins, Steve Weinberg, Colin McGinn, Denys Turner, Pascal Boyer and Daniel Dennett. The series also includes many quotations from the works of atheists, agnostics and deists, all read by Bernard Hill. The program features a percussion score by Evelyn Glennie, wherein the main themes are Paul Smadbeck’s “Rhythm Song” and Keiko Abe’s “Mi-Chi” (from Rhythm Song, 1990). Other tracks are “Shadow Behind the Iron Sun”, “The Council”, “First Contact”, “Warrior’s Chant” and “Wind Horse” (from Shadow Behind the Iron Sun, 1999).
The series consists of three 60-minute episodes:
* “Shadows of Doubt”
* “Noughts and Crosses”
* “The Final Hour”
A series of six supplementary programs was made from material that did not fit into the program; this was dubbed The Atheism Tapes.
Shadows of Doubt
BBC Two Monday 31 October 2005 7pm-8pm
Jonathan Miller visits the absent Twin Towers to consider the religious implications of 9/11 and meets Arthur Miller and the philosopher Colin McGinn. He searches for evidence of the first ‘unbelievers’ in Ancient Greece and examines some of the modern theories around why people have always tended to believe in mythology and magic.
Noughts and Crosses
BBC Two Monday 7 November 7pm-8pm
With the domination of Christianity from 500 AD, Jonathan Miller wonders how disbelief began to re-emerge in the 15th and 16th centuries. He discovers that division within the Church played a more powerful role than the scientific discoveries of the period. He also visits Paris, the home of the 18th century atheist, Baron D’Holbach, and shows how politically dangerous it was to undermine the religious faith of the masses.
The Final Hour
BBC Two Monday 14 November 7pm-8pm TBC
The history of disbelief continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a ‘thought disorder’. He also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century.
Kill Your Idols
Featuring: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth, Theoretical Girls, DNA, LIARS, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Gogol Bordello, flux information sciences, Lydia Lunch, Black Dice, Swans, A.R.E. Weapons, foetus and Glenn Branca.
Plot Outline: First-time filmmaker S.A. Crary shares a complex history of New York’s art-punk scene. This compelling documentary weaves together a timeline for an aggressive movement allowing the players to reflect in the moment. With interviews from such punk rock icons as Teenage Jesus & the Jerks bassist Jim Sclavunos, bandmate Lydia Lunch, DNA’s Arto Lindsay, Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth and others from the late ’70s/early ’80s art-punk explosion. Exclusive interviews with these originators and a new generation of practitioners — from the Grammy-nominated Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Black Dice to Liars to Gogol Bordello — reveals a consistent hunger for invention through subversion, motivations that come into cacophonous focus in the new and archival concert footage bridging the interviews. What also comes out is a depth of retrospection amongst the older generation that puts the younger generation’s musings in a context that will surprise even the most plugged-in of scenesters. By documenting art-punk in the same spirit as the movement itself has played out, Crary has created a compelling reference for a movement that defies them and managed to stay true to its spirit in the process.
Born In Flames
Set in America ten years after the Second American Revolution, Born In Flames is a comic fantasy of female rebellion. When Adelaide Norris, the founder of the Woman’s Army, is mysteriously killed, a seemingly impossible coalition of women- crossing all lines of race, class, and sexual preference- emerges to blow the System apart. In a series of thrilling and often humorous encounters between groups of women ranging from militant black lesbians to white punk feminist musicians, Born in Flames covers a wide range of radical feminist ideas.