Penelope Spheeris‘s feature debut as a writer-director-producer was this insiders’ look at the punk music scene in L.A., mixing raw concert footage with interviews of band members, managers, fans, club owners, and others. A former “punk” herself, Spheeris effectively elicits their no-holds-barred thoughts on life, music, drugs, pet tarantulas, haircuts, dead gardeners, and… Well, you get the point. How interesting you find all of this will ultimately depend upon how intrigued you are either by subcultures in general, and/or with the punk movement, which we quickly learn is grounded in nihilism, anger, violence, and bigotry — all on ample display here. According to this documentary, punk fans and musicians seem to live for the moment when they can enter into a club and begin thrashing their emotions on their sleeve, harming others (and themselves) along the way as applicable. While Decline… is worth a look as an erstwhile cult favorite (and for the cultural footage it provides), it’s not must-see for all film fanatics — though I do recommend it for one-time viewing. —Filmfanatic.org
Penelope Spheeris (born December 2, 1945) is an American director, producer and screenwriter. She is best known as a documentary film director whose works include the trilogy titled The Decline of Western Civilization. She has also directed feature films, including Wayne’s World, her highest grossing film.
Spheeris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Greek immigrant father who owned the Magic Empire Shows circus carnival and was a side-show strong man. Her mother was a ticket taker for a traveling circus side show. Spheeris is the sister of singer Jimmie Spheeris and the first cousin of musician Chris Spheeris, and the Greek-French director Costa Gavras, who she says makes her consider that there is something to the genetic aspects to the job description Spheeris spent her first seven years traveling around the American South and American Midwest with her father’s carnival. She majored in film and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater… read more