My March 2011 film column for Maximum Rock N Roll. Originally appeared in issue 334.
As the President of the Punk Rock Film Critics Association™, it is that time of the year when I release our list of best films of 2010 basically because everybody else is doing it. I hate to be excluded from list making. Elsewhere in this issue of Maximum Rock N Roll the shitworkers are listing their favorite records of 2010 so why not join in on the fun?
First I'd like to start off with a New Year's resolution for all documentary filmmakers. No more shots of interviewees driving cars. I am not sure when this became the go-to shot, but it needs to stop. I don't care if your subject is a car driver. Resist the urge.
Here is the list of the Punk Rock Film Critics Association™ best films of 2010.
Oil City Confidential
The documentary of Dr. Feelgood, a band that MRR coordinator Layla affectionately refers to as Dad Rock. Dr. Feelgood was a British pub rock band from Canvey Island. Director Julien Temple does a great job in setting the band up as the precursor to punk. Everyone from Joe Strummer to Princess Diana was a fan. Seeing the amazing footage of Dr. Feelgood playing live it is easy to see why. The film covers their humble beginnings as children playing in jug bands to tourists through their popular years to the band's demise. Temple slows Oil City Confidential down with too many referential old film clips. Fortunately the story of the band is compelling enough to get past these speed bumps.
Exit Through The Gift Shop
A film that is half a documentary on graffiti artists and half the story of the meteoric rise of failed documentarian, yet successful street artist Mr. Brainwash. Exit Through The Gift Shop shows amazing footage of street artists at work including the how-did-he-get-away-with-it Banksy installation of a blow up prisoner of war at Disneyland. While at the same time posing the question of whether all this art world interest in street artists is really just terribly misguided as Mr. Brainwash crashes on the LA art scene. As Banksy's former art dealer Steve Lazarides comments "I don't know who the joke is on, really. I don't even know if there is a joke."
La Peste Live Boston 1979
La Peste are one of my favorite bands despite having only released one 7" record during their time together. The release of this DVD is the closest I ever got to see them live. Eight songs shot on black & white video at the Paradise Lounge in Boston, MA. The sound appears to be synced from another show, but the match is so well done it is almost flawless. The crowd loves La Peste and is dancing crazily. I wish I was there, but I was way underage at the time.
La Brune et Moi
This DVD release celebrates the 30th anniversary of this French punk film. An attractive female punk wants to be a star and an infatuated business agrees to help her. The flimsy story is basically an excuse to showcase some French bands of the time. That is the reason to watch La Brune et Moi. Performances from The Dogs, Les Privˇs, The Questions, Edith Nylon, Astroflash, Marquis de Sade and Go-Go Pigalles. There is a wide range of musical styles represented. A fascinating glance at punk's past.
(The Complete) Metropolis
The amazing story of how two Argentine film lovers Paula Félix-Didier and Fernando Peña discovered an original 150 minute print (thought to be lost forever) of Fritz Lang's Metropolis in the archive of the Museo del Cine further enhances the beauty of this film. The reintegrated scenes come from a 16mm print so they stand out from the rest of the restored 35mm print. While this may be distracting for those seeing the film for the first time, it also allows the viewer to appreciate what was lost and regained through this discovery. Metropolis is the story of a brilliant inventor who causes a worker rebellion against the leader of Metropolis. Why? The oldest story in the book, the leader stole the inventor's girlfriend. Yet, it is the beauty of the drudgery of work and the rebellious chaos that make this film unforgettable. Now available on DVD.
Remembering Playland On The Beach
This is a short documentary of San Francisco amusement park Playland At The Beach which operated from 1923 to 1972. The film combines footage and photographs of the park with remembrances of people who worked at and enjoyed the park during its existence. Through this film the filmmakers provide an interesting glimpse into the history of San Francisco.
The Agony and The Ecstasy Of Phil Spector
Phil Spector is a hard guy to like, but the frankness and blunt conceit of his interview make The Agony and The Ecstasy Of Phil Spector a compelling watch. The interview was conducted between the two trials of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson. The first ended in a mistrial and the second convicted Spector of the murder. It is interspersed with footage of Spector's murder trial as well as music clips accompanied by the filmmaker's commentary on the music. Director Vikram Jayanti is obviously trying to make the case that Spector's personality not his guilt was the reason he was convicted. After watching the film I'd have to agree. It is worth watching for Spector's reasoning behind his famous hairdo alone.
Onward to 2011...As you know I am a supporter of every scene documenting itself. As the world gets smaller and more homogenized, I enjoy seeing our differences as well as our similarities. Bloodied But Unbowed tells the story of the early Vancouver punk scene. It focuses on DOA and the Subhumans as the hub of the scene, but also veers off into Pointed Sticks, Young Canadians, K-Tels, Active Dog and many of the other bands that contributed to the uniqueness of Vancouver's punk music. It is a great document of early punk.
Bloodied But Unbowed will be making its San Francisco debut on Friday, February 11 at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street. Be there.
Not film related, but still important. At 10am on Tuesday, January 18 the community radio station I volunteer at KUSF 90.3fm San Francisco was suddenly shutdown as the University of San Francisco announced it had sold the broadcast license. The deal happened behind closed doors without any involvement of the station's volunteer staff and two commercial stations will end up benefiting from the sale. KUSF needs the community's help to stop the sale. Please visit Save KUSF to learn more and give your support.
I am always looking for films to review. If you made one, send a copy to Carolyn Keddy, PO Box 460402, San Francisco, CA 94146-0402. If your film is playing in the San Francisco Bay Area, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will go see it.