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American Hardcore [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Amazon.com: 58 reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
American Hardcore - The Special Features Make This Product 28 April 2008
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
American Hardcore is not a definitive history of hardcore music or punk rock. It's a documentary about a connected group of hardcore music scenes in cities across the USA. The documentary isn't only about the music but more about the culture of hardcore and the world inside and outside of the scene.

While there are some shortcomings to American Hardcore, all of them fade away once you start making your way through the special features. I will list both positives and negatives as I see them. But overall I still feel this movie is an important historical work.

To me, I think the filmmakers chose select musicians based largely upon a subjective definition of "hardcore" as a smaller part of the punk scene. As such, it is true that some groups were excluded. Yet it should be noted that there are other movies on the much larger punk scene. Legal issues surrounding certain groups also played a part in some of them being excluded. I think the criticism about the missing or lightly covered bands, while valid, has been over-emphasized.

When you watch this movie from start to finish as a sociological documentary on the hard-core culture, you will come away with a very good feel for the many different and diverse sub-cultures within the scene. That in and of itself is a great accomplishment.

One of the things we learn is the role of gay and minority musicians within the scene. This helps to eliminate the misconceptions about who made this music and who it was against. Another thing is also clear from the groups profiled in this movie: musicianship ranged from really poor to exceptional, and at the very top of that hierarchy was Bad Brains. The larger question of who was the "best" group is left untouched, which has created some backlash from hardcore purists who were expecting their favorites to be highlighted.

The Cons

The documentary itself could have been better edited. The film is made up of clips of different former hardcore scene members discussing aspects of the music and the times. There seem to be way too many cuts from one person to the next, and they often move too quickly. While they have their names repeatedly captioned, I found myself having to pause and rewind to catch a lot of the names.

The whole Reagan theme really seemed over-played to me. The political aspects of hardcore definitely come through as important. Yet it seems to be so much more than that. I believe that hardcore would have rebelled against whoever was in power.

One thing I have not seen mentioned was the very light treatment of hardcore music within neo-nazi and other extremist groups. It is mentioned, but a true historical context would have included the other side of the coin regarding how people of color and other groups were treated and perceived by many hardcore fans.

The Special Features

If I had to rate the documentary alone, it might have been a lower rating. Going through the special features turned out to be the treasure trove I had been looking for. These special features add 3 stars on their own, and if I could I would have given this 10 stars.

Of course there is a standard writer and director commentary feature that lets aspiring film students and other history junkies get some background on the movie.

There are also 6 included recordings of historic live performances, including:
1. MDC - "Corporate Deathburger"
2. Bad Brains - "Big Takeover"
3. SSD - "Boiling Point"
4. Void - "My Rules"
5. YDI - "Enemy For Life"
6. Jerry's Kids - "I Don't Belong"

Several other more recent performances were included from premier parties for American Hardcore, one from DOA and one from Circle Jerks.

And there is also a very nice feature about the photography of Ed Colver which is used in the movie. The fact that these pictures were taken with a low end camera and lenses is even more amazing and totally consistent with the scene and the way this music was made.

Even the included previews were awesome, many of them about movies I've already seen and several about other music related features that I'm definitely going to see now. Sony Pictures Classics has been doing really great work bringing specialty music movies to the market.

The real gems in these features are the deleted scenes. This footage alone could have been used to make another movie, and most of it was good enough that it could have been included in the movie. There is over 1 HOUR of this stuff! Truly amazing, and thank you to the filmmakers for including this here. All movie companies should take note and start doing this. These extra clips have tremendous historical value for anybody who needs to research this topic in the future.

Conclusion

Would it have been nice to have an entire history of all of punk rock including all of the better known bands? Yes, but that's not what this is. After watching this I was left with a much greater respect for Sony Pictures Classics for making this at all. It is very difficult to invest the time and money to acquire, produce, market and distribute a movie like this.

Those who were not hardcore fans perhaps may have more to learn from watching this. Not all hard-core fans will be pleased with the documentary, but all should appreciate this DVD version much more if they watch all the extras that are included.

If you love learning about music you have a lot to gain from watching this.

Enjoy!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Rejoice 17 Feb 2007
By nikita88 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
rejoice, oh, hardcore enthusiasts, here is as close as you will get to a definitive hardcore history as you are likely to find. i watched as paul and steve compiled this pup, and while i don't always agree with the focus (personally, being form the west coast i thought it was a bit boston centered) i recognize that the people that worked on this film- particulary paul and steve- have a true love for the music they documented, and a true respect- unbiased- for the subjects in the film. i was partuicularly impressed with vic bondi and ian mackay's points of view, as well as keith morris, paul mahern, and joey keithly's- and harley's descriptor of the 'big takeover' was so right on that i will never hear that song again without seeing his face in my mind's point of reference. the footage of hr chatting away while a quincinera takes place in the background- totally priceless- and the footage of bands like the zero boys and negative approach..... not to be missed. definitely worth your while; you will not find a more comprehensive overview of the american punk (hardcore) scene out there...... and, yes, i was there the whole time, and yes, it hits the nail on the head.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Hardcore: Being part of the club 25 Mar 2008
By Mel Zorro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I am not a fan of Hardcore music, but this documentary sure makes me wish I was part of the club.
The general message is: the peak of Hardcore was a moment in time where suburban kids created a musical movement that can never be duplicated.
What's great to see is the camaraderie that existed between the bands and the underground nature of their followings.
The great juxtaposition is the violence of the music, up against the endearing feelings it created between the people involved.
The then and now look at the hardcore scene as presented through various interviews with different musicians is masterfully done.
Even if you don't like the music, give this one a watch.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Revisionist but worthwhile 28 Jun 2009
By Mustafa Mofo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This documentary does a laudable job surveying the impressive landscape of 'harcore' punk rock from the late '70s to the mid '80s. It contains some rare and exciting live clips and interviews--some contemporary, most present-day, that in themselves make the documentary worth watching. The narration takes viewers from scene to scene, coast to coast, showing how different bands influenced one another and the how the overall scene exploded against the backdrop of the ultraconservative Reagan era. While many important acts (the Dead Kennedys, JFA, Reagan Youth) are omitted, the filmmakers nevertheless do an excellent job of 'coverage;' that is, they acknowledge the breath of the scene and demonstrate its varied articulations on a regional basis, which is undoubtedly the movie's overall strength. The early footage of Poison Idea, Gang Green, and Bad Brains, for me (and I suspect many people from the era) made the film invaluably entertaining.
While the film does an excellent job discussing the origins and florescence of the hardcore scene, the interpretation of hardcore's demise suffers from a revisionist subtext that simply misrepresents the issue. Specifically, the authors downplay the role of moronic, violent, Nazi skinheads, whose fascist agenda--which largely attempted to define how punks ought to think and act--killed the 'anything goes' punk rock culture. They instead attribute punk rock's demise to the short attention span of fans and, when pressed to address the issue of violence, reference Circle One and other LA 'gangs.' Bringing attention to these largely Hispanic crews, in my opinion, is an awfully smug attempt to justify the neo-fascist skinhead violence of the era, which is barely mentioned. It's also likely, and unfortunate, that younger viewers will follow this misleading interpretation.
To be fair, I don't believe revisionism was intended by the filmmakers. Rather, I think they simply remember things the way they present them here. In this sense, the film is a study in itself at just how difficult it is to document the largely indefinable phenomenon of punk rock. It occurred to me when watching that these bands all inadvertently contributed to punk rock's demise precisely by attempting to do what the video does: that is, to define it (thus, the phrase 'hardcore' punk rock as opposed to the traditional description). The effort to make punk rock into a standardized sound and scene invited the morons and thus killed the freethinking spirit of the original scene.
Despite its revisionism, this film goes a long way toward capturing the energy and excitement of the hardcore scene. Anyone interested in punk rock should see this. Nevertheless, if you want to learn about punk rock, no book or film will ever replace the (not so) simple act of doing. Go start your own band.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Dr. Nostalgia, please pick up the white courtesy phone. 11 May 2007
By Robert Beveridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
American Hardcore (Paul Rachman, 2006)

Ever since I heard Steven Blush was adapting his book for the screen, I held my breath in the hopes that someone, somewhere, would get the brilliant idea to try and get the members of Husker Du together in a room somewhere, and then film the resulting chaos. Unfortunately, this did not occur (and the members of Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, and other bands with fabled acrimony involved with their break-ups are interviewed separately), but American Hardcore is still a pretty fun movie if you were there. And maybe even if you weren't, though some younger music fans are likely to take offense at the (dead accurate) assertions of some of the interviewees here that we haven't seen a real punk band since about the last Tuesday of never.

And, honestly, that's the problem. Not with the movie, or the book upon which it is based; they're great. Rachman (Four Dogs Playing Poker) combines present-day interviews with archive footage of performances and takes the Errol Morris approach (stay out of the picture and let the subjects ramble on as they please). It's a great trip down memory lane for those of us who were there. But those who weren't? Why will they care? Short answer: except for that rare kid (and I'd assume they get rarer with each passing year) who stumbles upon a Dead Kennedys or Black Flag tape for the first time and is transported the way we were... they won't.

Music, it seems to me, is the most difficult of documentary subjects to make a film about which anyone not involved with the genre is going to care. Be honest: if you're not a jazz fan, did you watch Ken Burns' epic? Did anyone who wasn't a metalhead or a TV preacher watch The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, Part II? Of course not. I think American Hardcore will have a similarly vertical audience, though if you're a youngster who's always wondered what's missing from the current crop of "punk" bands, you'll find your answer here as well. Just be prepared, the people interviewed here are just as elitist and annoying about the subject as I am. *** ½
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