Film Review: Punk’s Not Dead

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sex-pistols-280x200.jpgThere are three confusing things about Susan Dynner‘s new fun-to-watch documentary Punk’s Not Dead: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Here’s why: Candid, funny, and insightful interview clips with the likes of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, and Johnny Ramone, are great, but why, when punk is thriving, keeping on, and having fun, start off a documentary called “Punk’s Not Dead” with three ’70s rockers, two of whom have passed away?

The middle of the film gives an accurate, entertaining, informed, and spot-on portrayal of the punk scenes that developed, thrived, hocked loogies on people, flipped people off, and destroyed amplifiers through the 80s, and then gained mainstream acceptance in the 90s.

Alas, the ending: A rushed montage/collage of young punk-ish bands from all over the world who, I’m guessing, submitted rough video clips of their bands playing, but don’t really get much screen time or real interviews.

Soooo, why is a film called “Punk’s Not Dead” centered on its expansion into mainstream blandness available for purchase at Hot Topic? I mean, it’s always interesting to hear folks like Fugazi’s Ian Mackaye talk about starting his own label, or the Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris make fun of suburban mall culture, but haven’t we seen that a few times before? Lord knows punk culture, as fascinating as it is, has hardly gone undocumented.

This film, as solid as it is, doesn’t get us inside today’s dive bars, Elks Lodges, and warehouses throughout the U.S. and abroad to feel, hear, and (whoa!) smell those fiery, new local music scenes.

Now there’s a documentary I’d love to see.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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