For anybody whose ever been a part of a real do it yourself scene, they will certainly find that this documentary captures that spirit of the underground.
This documentary seems to believe that punk rock ended in 1986.
While I am sure that there are punk rockers who might balk at some of American Hardcore's assertions (I know that I do), I will say that this documentary is great. It pays a lot of heed to bands like the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, and other groups who helped the punk scene take shape in the early to mid-1980s. It does it's best to cross the map of the punk/hardcore bands that existed during that period, and considering it's run time of 100 minutes it's pretty impressive that director Paul Rachman was able to be as comprehensive as he was during that period.
This film taps into what made young males and females get into this music. Quite simply, it examines punk rock at a time when it was dangerous. It shows how these people that society had written off as useless, ended up creating a network and a style of music that was quite unlike anything that had been seen before. It shows how these differing social and political views existed, and at the same time it also captures the spirit that all of these people brought to this scene before they knew that's what they were creating.
In short, it shows how this music was more than simply people playing in band. It shows how these simple songs were anything but simple. In the end, we see just how important this music would become.
Director Paul Rachman and writer Steven Blush give us an interesting account of the making of this movie, dealing with various subjects, and how this whole film came together. I loved hearing about how they took all the footage and ended up putting together this 100 minute movie. I would have liked to have known more about how everything got set up, but overall I felt like I was sitting with some friends hearing them talk about their film. If you have any desire to shoot a documentary about anything, you could do a lot worse than spending a couple of hours listening to these guys.
Photo Gallery - The Photos of Edward Colver
Deleted Scenes and Bonus Performances
These sections are separate on this DVD but they are similar so I decided to put them together. They feature extra interview footage as well as performances by the Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, VOID, MDC, and a few others. All of this is at a quality level that may or may not bother certain viewers. Some people will be surprised at just how raw these shows were, while others (like myself) revel in just how honest and unencumbered this footage and scene was. The Deleted Scenes, like I said, feature extra interview footage and things of that nature, but thankfully the filmmakers have put most of the good stuff in the actual film.
Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1. With a lot of the footage in this film captured on camcorders from the 1980s, I knew that on DVD this film would look better than it did in the theater. The DVD process has compressed all the images down, but given the VHS footage a much sharper and bumped up look. The talking head footage seems like it has been captured in the same style as the archival footage. By doing this, American Hardcore retains it's loose vibe without feeling unnecessarily slicked up.
English - Dolby Digital 5.0. English, Spanish and French subtitles. This movie sounded really good. When one considers all the audio sources, and the amount of different footage, captured in different places, with no thought to the idea that these things would eventually be broadcast, it is amazing that everything sounds as solid as it does. I think Sony was the perfect company to release this movie simply because of their commitment to new technologies, especially in the area of sound.
The iconic shot of some punk rocker stage diving into a crowd is the predominant picture on the front cover of this DVD. Below that are a few more images of some other bands. The back cover serves up a well written description (something that will help those who are unfamiliar with this music), some pictures, a Special Features listing, and system specs. This DVD looks about as legit as it gets. It isn't overly slicked up and it gets it's point across right when you first see it. Good work Sony's art department!
As I was watching this movie I was amazed at how in-depth Paul Rachman went with writer Steven Blush's American Hardcore thought that it was going to be like so many other punk documentary's that left me wanting. I was expecting to see old punkers deriding all the new school bands, and I also expected there to be obscure bands given an inordinate amount of misplaced screentime. That only happened here in parts, and I am sure that there were a lot of people who appreciated the bands I didn't and vice versa. Sure, there are aspects of this film that I feel the director could have gotten more involved in (the Misfits anyone?), however at the end of the day, I left this film (both when I saw it in the theater and on DVD) feeling the same connection that had drawn me into this scene in the first place.
In the end, American Hardcore is uneven only because you can never tell the whole story in two hours. Also, this film seems to believe that very little of importance emanated from Punk and Hardcore after 1986. Still, amidst all this, is a film that speaks to and for more people better than most films of it's ilk.