Vol. 2, Issue #2 Feb. 16th - March 1st, 2007

DVD Review:
American Hardcore (Sony)
By: Wilhelm Murg

Based on screenwriter Steven Blush’s book of the same name, “American Hardcore” is a joyous celebration of the DIY school of music from 1979 to 1986. Like a Xeroxed fanzine come to life, the film traces the history of the bands that had very little training, but a lot of heart... and speed... and VOLUME!

As great of a job as the filmmakers do with the material they cover, there are holes in their story; Tulsa’s N.O.T.A., for example, are noted on a map of bands across America, but are not mentioned anywhere else in the film and there is hardly any mention of major bands like The Misfits or The Dead Kennedys. The film focuses heavily on Black Flag and Bad Brains, which is ironic, as both of them had MTV play and commercial success – unlike everyone else. Black Flag’s breakup and Bad Brains going Rastafarian are used to portray the “end” of the movement, but the film fails to mention the huge post-hardcore scene that included everyone from G.G. Allin to The Melvins, who connected the dots from hardcore to grunge.

The film does a great job of explaining how the movement came about as a reaction to the seventies and the first term of President Reagan, how it was sustained through national networking, and how violence at the shows drove a lot of people away and sealed its fate. It does romanticize the krusty punk scene in New York City, which is both insulting and dangerous. If being a welfare hobo were a part of being punk, the majority of us would have never even approached it; a lot of punks had a strong work ethic, and others took Malcolm McLaren’s “cash from chaos” philosophy all the way to the bank – Henry Rollins doesn’t look like he’s missing any meals these days.

The most engaging aspect is to hear these performers talk about the passion of creating art for art’s sake; these guys didn’t have air-conditioned buses, record deals, or money for cocaine. Regardless of their often-dire situations in the past, they can all join together now and raise a glass in Valhalla; yesterday’s warriors are today’s legends.

Despite the holes, “American Hardcore” is very entertaining; especially in its use of rare film and video clips of the bands performing. While there are no complete performances in the film, some will be included as bonus features on the DVD (available on the 20th of this month), along with the director’s and writer’s commentary.

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©2007 NONCO Media, L.L.C.