Punk: Attitude and The Social Network - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
12Jan/110

Punk: Attitude and The Social Network

Tomorrow I will be reviewing Alpha and Omega, and Piranha 3D (which, sadly, will now be missing that crucial third dimension on my television screen).

ANDREW LIKEI'll only speak briefly on The Social Network.  Ryan and I covered our thoughts on the film pretty thoroughly with this podcast and it has been praised in just about every critical/media outlet in every English speaking country across the globe.  I'll reiterate that as far as smart entertainment goes, it did not get better in 2010 than The Social Network.  It details one man's intellectual obsession against a backdrop of shifting social hierarchies and the way that networking sites like Facebook, not to speak of the technology itself, have forever changed how we interact and build relationships with one another.

It's flawlessly acted by Jessie Eisenberg and is a walloping return to form for David Fincher after the disappointing Benjamin Button.  Aaron Sorkin's scripts, known for being a bit too rapid fire, found a home in the character of Mark Zuckerberg since his lack of social etiquette and genius intellect are the perfect place for his relentlessly worded prose.  The supporting cast, especially Andrew Garfield, are all superb and the score by Trent Reznor is amazing.

Please, do yourself a favor and check it out if you haven't.  It's far more than "the Facebook movie".

ANDREW LIKEPunk music inspires some of the most violent debates out of any other kind of music that I've had exposure to.  It seems like a lot of folks can come to an understanding on what other divisions of rock 'n roll mean, but if you compare The Sex Pistols and Blink-182 in the same sentence then you better be ready to defend yourself.  Part of what's so amazing about Punk: Attitude is it's willingness to demystify the various dimensions of punk head on and treat equally anyone that just wanted to rebel against the norms.

Punk: Attitude (released 2005 on the IFC and only now getting a DVD) does it's damndest to try and trace the roots of punk.  This is a pretty ambitious undertaking given how many people have differing opinions on what, exactly, punk is.  At the very least, everyone can agree that it is some kind of rebellion from what is considered the norm.  Starting with the rebellious rock stars of the 50's (Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis) director Don Lett's tries to show how their attitude, if not music, affected future bands like The Dead Kennedy's, Television and The Clash.

The myriad of speakers each bring something interesting to the discussion and remind me that I really need to listen to more music.

At his disposal are a seemingly never ending parade of clips from performances by those bands and many others, as well as a number of willing interview participants.  The speakers are an eclectic bunch starting from the obvious  (musicians Henry Rollins, Tommy Ramone), to people I didn't lump with punk (composer and No-wave pioneer Glenn Branca), to the seemingly random (director Jim Jarmusch).  Despite the varied speakers, they all contribute meaningfully and, more importantly, with some interest to the central topic of punk attitude.

I found the end result incredibly fascinating.  The film doesn't move at the pace of a Ramones song, but with the deliberate pace of a good story using a great assembled production of clips and commentary.  All of this is anchored by so many songs and performances that it can seem, at times, like the film may fly off the rails and lose track by showing too many songs at once.  But things are kept nice and orderly so that you never forget who you're listening to, why, and what importance they had in shaping the ideas of punk.

Part of what makes all this fascinating is Lett's willingness to let the various musicians ideas of what it is to be "punk" collide with one another.  In the earliest days of punk the groups had trouble coming to a consensus of what they thought about the hippies.  Some thought that they were a groovy bunch that deserved to be part of the American landscape.  Others found them to be useless deadbeats that needed to be whipped into shape or told to get out of the way of the more "forward thinking" bands.

The performance clips are well used and give us an excellent idea of what each little movement meant for punk fans.

forThis attitude is echoes throughout the film as each new wave of bands rebels against the old and tries to form their own image.  Henry Rollins has the most amusing way of putting each generation in perspective when, speaking of his own, he says "Suddenly companies like Sony start stroking the bellies of all these bands.  Then you've got old fogies like me who come in and say, 'Back in my day we would have blown that up.' "

Rollins, much like the film, takes punk absolutely seriously while still finding some time to poke at their own ideals.  Other intriguing issues are brought up, such as what happens when punk bands (known for playing fast and sloppy) start getting better by pure virtue of playing a lot (my opinion, they become experimentally magnificent).  Or the strange class and race dynamic of punk, and the strange level of unacknowledged homo-eroticism that goes on in some circles.

On and on the film continues plunging away at these ideas, all while presenting some really kick ass tunes.  Punk: Attitude is a damn good documentary about a subject that is a bit tough to pinpoint - and the best thing I can say about it is that it was difficult not to get out my guitar and play along as some of the bands were doing their thing.  There was plenty of time for that after the film.

The Social Network (2010)
Directed by David Fincher.
Written by Aaron Sorkin.
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake.

Punk: Attitude (2005)
Directed by Don Lett.

Posted by Andrew

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