IFC Presents: Punk Attitude

DVD Reviews | Sep 4th, 2005

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Starring Ramones, Pistols, NY Dolls, Clash, Pretenders, Buzzcocks, Jello Biafra, The Damned, Henry Rollins, Bad Brains, The Pretenders, Sonic Youth, the dudes from Punk Magazine, Jim Jarmusch
Written By:
Directed By: Don Letts
Studio: Capital Entertainment
Buy on Amazon.com link

I love music documentaries! Music is so interesting and you can make a million movies about it. I especially love music documentaries on music that I actually like, such as genres like punk or reggae, or certain bands or musicians. There needs to be a good film about ska! This documentary focuses on punk and the attitude, which pretty much is what punk is to me. It’s an attitude, and not some stupid fashion trend like it is now. Yes, it was impactful back then but now it just seems like a waste of time to still dress like that. Now the scene just seems like a clothing competition; who has the messiest, shaggiest hair and the most tattoos. And the stage is the cat walk, because the punk bands “shake their little tush on the cat walk” haha. But the documentary covers a lot of things in an hour and half but skims over some of the best bands in the punk movement & some other important details.

The documentary goes all the way back to Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and says they were at times, punk rock. Punk is rebellion and that’s how they were…To an extent. I’ve been saying for years that you don’t have to play punk rock to be punk rock. I always say Public Enemy & KRS One are punk. They talk about the punk predecessors a lot like the NY Dolls and The Stooges, which I’m not a fan of. I’ll tell you one thing, Iggy Pop is one scary-looking individual! It seems the documentary focused too much on the NY Dolls and no-wave bands more than actual punk bands. People interviewed pretty much say the punk movement died in 1979, which it might have in some countries or states but I believe it was still going strong when disco and other crap emerged from it. Just because punk wasn’t in the news or media, doesn’t mean it was dead. There also seemed like little attention was given to The Ramones and more attention to the UK scene & bands like Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks, and The Damned. There’s so many different aspects to punk that you can focus on, that one sub genre or band is going to get skimmed over. But it just felt like the Ramones and all the punk bands in the 80’s were just talked about in one minute.

Letts actually got Jello Biafra to be interviewed, why not focus on the Dead Kennedys and other 80’s bands? It just seemed like most people interviewed weren’t really in the punk scene. Yeah there was people interviewed from the Clash, Damned, Buzzcocks, Agnostic Front but it just seemed the majority of them were people associated with punk afterwards or all the genres that were developed during & after the punk movement. People talked about the straight edge movement for a second, talked about girl punk bands like the Slits, reggae influenced punk bands, talked about how punk was just getting nasty. But they also talk about bands like the Clash, questioning authority and telling people what are they going to do about it. It’s one thing to just scream about, it’s another to do something about it. They covered a lot of areas just missed some things. I was glad to see Bad Brains & Minor Threat get mentioned but if you blinked, their segment was over. 80’s punk was fantastic and I think a pinnacle part of the history and it just got the shaft in this documentary. I know it’s about the attitude of punk and how it effected different type of bands, but I would have liked to see more focus on actual punk music.

I think you could make a whole series about punk rock and all the different genres because I think it’s one of the most interesting genres of music out there. Something VH1 perhaps could do or Letts can make more than 1 movie? Then maybe so many bands wouldn’t get the shaft and they wouldn’t focus on crap like the Beastie Boys or Nirvana. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nirvana but I wouldn’t really put them on a punk documentary. But I guess the whole point to the film was the punk attitude and those bands did have it, I suppose. Even though I can’t fucking stand the Beastie Boys! That’s when the documentary was starting to lose focus for me, when Nirvana & Sonic Youth were brought up, and then ending with Sum 41 and Blink 182??? Instead of ending with shit about Blink, why not talk about REAL punk bands that are still working hard today and actually playing the fucking music? And not being paraded on lunch boxes and showing people the true signs of what a sellout is! You know what I’m saying Blink 182? Ugh, some things still piss me off about them and other bands, but like what Henry Rollins said, most punk fans are the most narrow minded people in music because we don’t like when bands actually want to play music. Yeah we are narrow minded when it comes to listening to your shitty solo act perhaps. Some things that Rollins says I agree with or laugh at, but sometimes the guy’s just a fucking douchebag. Yeah he’s so cool, he walks around with no shoes on. Tough!

The best part of the documentary is seeing the footage of bands playing, and the interviews. Some of these bands I actually haven’t listened and want to check out like the Damned, or even Black Flag. Maybe I’ll give Henry Rollins a chance or maybe I’ll just listen to Black Flag when Keith Morris was in the band haha. After the documentary, I felt like breaking out all my punk CDs that I haven’t listened to in awhile. It also makes me want to just drop everything I’m doing and start a band. But I’m 27, and can’t very well do much in a band besides sing crappy anyway. Though I do like to annoy people, so maybe I should be in a band haha. I always wanted to start a steel drum punk band or folk punk band. Maybe a band that just isn’t set to one genre of music and plays everything.

But anyway, One of the last things in the documentary that put a smile to my face was saying how the Internet is really punk too. How anyone can put out a CD now with computers and put up their middle finger to record labels and other big corporations. Anyone can start up a website, magazine, start a band, record label plus there’s the whole file sharing and music downloading that helps bands get their music out there. I really don’t want to get on a rant about downloading, which I’ll just save for an article down the road. I like the mentioning of starting a website is punk because that’s why I started this one to begin. Be my own boss, help & support the music scene, and do whatever the fuck I want.

Ok, so this DVD review of the documentary Punk: Attitude turned into one big rant about the punk & music scene haha. As far as the documentary goes, it was done really well and it was entertaining and informative. I only got the movie to review so I don’t know what is on the second disc with extras. I’m assuming it’s extended interviews and other things that I had complaints about. The documentary just skimmed over too many important things about the scene & movement. It also loses it focus towards the end but I’m hoping Letts makes more documentaries about punk rock and digs deeper and covers more areas next time, if there is a next time.

Where Are They Now?
Punk Family Tree
Featurettes on fanzines, fashion women in punk, the LA punk scene and UK record companies.



French, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: Stuff about the the UK scene, The Clash, minor threat, agnostic front
Rating: NR
Running Time: 0 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: