Frank Agnew, Jonathan Anastas, Phil Anselmo, George Anthony, Mark Arm and more
American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986
February 20, 2007 – Sony Pictures
Directed by: Paul Rachman
Over the years I have seen many, many “punk films.” The bulk of these flicks are throw-away. Cheap junk created to make a buck. Or if they’re not cheaply done, there is absolutely no way in which to relate to them. They just don’t seem to hit on a piece of the scene that I remember, that is until American Hardcore came out. Prior to this, I thought the best movie of the genre was The Filth and The Fury, but I think American Hardcore sneaks into first place.
Based on Steven Blush’s book American Hardcore: A Tribal History, Paul Rachman’s documentary chronicles the underground hardcore punk years from 1980 to 1986 (hence the title). Interviews and rare live footage from artists such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and SS Decontrol.
The history of hardcore –the tougher, faster, and more politically minded stepchild of the 1970’s punk movement that arose in the 1980’s is examined in detail in Rachman’s documentary. Rachman’s cameras careen across the United States to trace the movement’s beginnings in cities like Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York, and interview the musicians that helped shape its sound and impact, including Jack Grisham, Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn (in a surprise interview), H.R., Ian MacKaye, and many others.
Hardcore’s violent reaction to the Reagan administration and the mindset of middle-class America is also detailed in performance footage clips, and flyer reproductions, which do much to dismiss the popular opinion of hardcore as nothing more than mindless rebellion. Some fans may find the omission of certain bands a considerable oversight (The Misfits and the Dead Kennedy’s are only mentioned in passing), but for most devotees, American Hardcore will be vital and essential viewing.
The DVD contains deleted scenes, bonus performances, commentary by Rachman and writer Steven Blush, and a gallery of photos from photographer Edward Colver, who covered the hardcore scene in detail. These extras are a movie unto themselves. Great stuff, the clips of Lisa Fancher add a bit more legitimacy to the film.
If you don’t have it, go buy it.
Rating: ** * two out of three stars
Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb