As an East Coast punk, watching this when it came out was like a video letter from the friend in the LA scene I didn't have. LA had a reputation for being tough and chaotic, and the film certainly captures that. It also shows how diverse the bands were. Some people in this movie come across as just as ignorant as folks in the second one - I'm sure which community you belong to will shape how you respond to them.
An observational approach at life in a punk band during the 1980s. I like how we, the audience, are given a slice of life of each of a few bands and get to see them doing their thing raw and unaltered. Very interesting and appealing to see this counter-culture come to life in such a real way...
Glad I got to see this film, and glad I wasn't at the live performances. It's awesome that Spheeris let the cameras roll without a lot of quick cuts; a technique coming up just around the corner from this movie with MTV. It's scary and dirty, but the energy is magnificent.
Have to admit I sneered at West Coast punk back in the day preferring NY and UK but over the last few years have really begun to appreciate some of this in particular X, Black Flag and Fear. The raw energy, the spitting anger at a fucked world and a desperate existence...this stuff retains its power 35+ years later. PUNK LIVES! Indeed.
I was in Detroit for the punk scene in the late 1970s and can remember the pure rush of adrenaline that came with the spirit of punk rebellion. The movie captures that well but also exposes the sordid underbelly -- kids with tattooed swastikas, thugs beating on others at shows, the racism and the homophobic attacks. Spheeris's seminal film documents the entire scene, warts of all, of a movement that still resonates.
Great doc. Def gives you a real sense of what punks were like. Unfortunately, they seem to be a bunch of dumb pseudo-intellectual elitist junkies. I always wondered why Minor Threat was the only punk band I ever really got into. After hearing the morons comprising the Germs and X wax poetic, I understand why. Looking back, punk is like the lowest of the low, musically. Fantastic music doc though. Solid 4 stars
Don't go into this expecting "nice people" and a coherent narrative: the doc is about punk. It's a look at the LA scene, capturing nihilism and creative joy. The crowd scenes at the live performances are particularly informative: you can see the diversity of punk's audiences. The band interviews don't answer the question "what is punk?," but that's the point. Watching this doc is a gateway into the late punk scene.