The culminating masterpiece of the trilogy. Penelope Spheeris subtly moves the DECLINE series from puckish concert film, to angry screed against sexism and hedonism, to this – a film made by an older, wiser, more empathetic person who turns her eye and influence to a downtrodden, marginalized subculture of homeless youth. It's a vicious shame this humanistic masterpiece is the most under-seen of the trilogy.
Whereas the first 2 films were snapshots of a moment in youth culture/L.A. music scene, this one is mostly just about kids, teen alcoholism, and how they wound up in this circumstance. As always, Spheeris has a real knack for capturing youth in their essence, but in this film that essence is so bleak, and profoundly sad.
In contrast to the gleeful anarchy of the original this one....there's an almost unbearable weight of sadness and squalor. Broken children claiming to need nothing crying out for notice...and help? But welcome to the modern world...leave your hopes and dreams at the door. Where are they now? Festering in some squat? Another clog in the mechanism? Dead or wishing they were? Punk is dead. Long live Punk.
Heresy to say so, perhaps, but I think III is the best of the Decline docs. The music certainly takes a backseat to the culture and the lives of the squatters themselves, but that makes more a much more compelling experience. For me, I is hero worship. II is disgust. III is heartbreak.
This hit a little too close to home. Punk is stifled by people in it for the wrong reasons. A lot of gutter punks I know are in it for the drinking, and not the ethos. Some are genuine, as are some in this film. It would've been a more captivating viewing experience if it relied more on how bands that play to broke kids for a living. Still, excellent snapshot of punk.
A perfect but hopeless end to the trilogy, particularly because this one focuses more on the people than the bands. Punks remained as nihilistic and hedonistic as they were in the '80s (and continue to be so today), but again, this is a fascinating testament to a subculture that truly rejects what society has to offer.