Monday, January 10, 2005

A filmic weekend: Review 1

A bumper weekend of films at the cinema and on DVD. Firstly, Cloud and I went for an almost private screening of End of the Century: the Story of the Ramones. I say private as there was us two, plus two other guys, plus two individual guys, and one guy who dodged in for the last 10 mins, obviously from a different film. (Did you spot there how I lowered the testosterone count?)

There's a really neat review of the film on the IMDB site by Jack Christal-Gattanella which is rather cool, but I guess it's worth adding my own twopenneth (Two Pennies Worth; minor contribution; US equivalent "two cents worth").

Whether you come to this as a documentary fan, a music fan, or a Ramones fan - and we counted as all threee - the film is a real joy to watch. It captures the history of a band, and the cultural moment they were formed from, and does a fine job of showcasing their funtastic tunes in a truly adorable fashion. At one point the band is shown beseiged by a stadium's worth of Brazilian fans (this is when the group was, as always still condemned to playing grotty clubs of 200 in the USA). All you can hear in the background as the car attempts to steamroller its way through the hoards is the sound of the crowd chanting "Hey ho, let's go" from the irrepressible 2mins12secs pop song that is Blitzkrieg Bop.

(Cue cute link to demonstrating the song's significance, despite not charting: number 92 on the Rolling Stone top 500 greatest songs of all time)
In less than three minutes, this song threw down the blueprint for punk rock. It's all here on the opening track of the Ramones' debut: the buzz-saw chords, which Johnny played on his fifty-dollar Mosrite guitar; the snotty words, courtesy of drummer Tommy (with bassist Dee Dee adding the brilliant line "Shoot 'em in the back now"); and the hairball-in-the-throat vocals, sung by Joey in a faux-British accent. Recorded on the cheap at New York's Radio City Music Hall, of all places, "Blitzkrieg Bop" never made the charts; instead, it almost single-handedly created a world beyond the charts.
Of almost equal adorability is how the film gives a nice overview of the characters in the band which can be easily synopsed as:
Joey - damaged, affable frontman: "how did he survive?"
Johnny - Republican asshole (he may have tightly organised their cashflow but he comes over as utterly arrogant)
Dee Dee - savvy but a smackhead
Tommy - important, under-appreciated, still left standing
Assorted Ramones: none as important as these but interestingly the only survivors are all former drummers.

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