The 20 best punk movies

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What we do is secret (2007)

Director: Roger Grossman

Penelope Spheeris appears three times on this list: here it is not as a director but as a historical character, played by an actress, and she is seen approaching Darby Crash to appear in his documentary. In the case of the Germenes singer, the unreal trumps the real icon as she is captured in To reject: Shane West is more handsome and more magnetic than Crash. The same goes for Rick Gonzalez as guitarist Pat Smear and Bijou Phillips as bassist Lorna Doom: it’s an embellished version of an ugly story, but that makes it watchable.

A chronic anglophile, Crash emulated Bowie, then Vicious, and finally, absurdly, Adam Ant. Here, Crash presents himself as Nietzsche’s reading of “Jim Morrison for our generation,” a visionary poet who martyred himself. The film’s other intellectual and ideologue is Brendan Mullen, the promoter behind Los Angeles punk haven The Masque, whose rants about “medieval filth therapy for teens” are delivered with a thick Scottish accent and, with a witty twist. , subtitles are given. All goes well until the foiled ending: Lacking the narrative necessity that led Ian Curtis and Sid Vicious to their doom, Crash’s fatal overdose feels like posturing taken too far rather than rock martyrdom.

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suburbs (1984)

Director: Penelope Spheeris

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Suburban nothingness was one of punk’s favorite targets. It is that spiritual emptiness, coupled with dysfunctional domestic situations, that separately drives runaways Sheila and Evan into the wild, where they find refuge in a punk commune. The kids live a parody of suburban family life: they listlessly watch TV for hours on end, grill food stolen from normies’ garage freezers. Calling themselves the Rejected, they mark their flesh with the stigmata of their alienation, a rigid and literally searing TR. suburbs it’s full of memorable scenes: Flea inserting the entire top half of her pet rat into her mouth, the kids stealing grass from some idiot’s lawn to make a cozy rug. But children don’t seem much more enlightened or inspiring than the normal world they feed off of. Spheeris deliberately includes some nasty sexism and a scene where punks make fun of a handicapped shopkeeper. “Everyone knows that families don’t work,” the Rejects tell a cop who asks why they don’t want to do something with their lives. “This is the best house we’ve ever had.” That’s not saying much.

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The blank generation (1976)

Director: Amos Poe and Ivan Král

A collaboration between Patti Smith Group guitarist Ivan Král and Amos Poe, a leading figure in No Wave Cinema, The blank generation it is a rough-looking dispatch from the subcultural front. The hazy approach and high-contrast black-and-white film exaggerate Tom Verlaine’s lunar thinness and make Tina Weymouth look like the ghost of Jean Seberg. The sound quality is variable and deliberately out of sync with the performances, partly because the audio comes from demo recordings of the bands rather than the concerts being actually filmed, and partly because Poe was a fan of the band’s directors. French New Wave as Godard. and the disruptive alienation effects they used. The talking heads are in it, but there are no talking heads to provide explanation and context. But in its opaque, literally wordless form, the film is a wonderful document, capturing soon-to-be (Blondie, Ramones) and soon-forgotten (Tuff Darts, the Shirts) stars with equanimity.

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