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Growing up in Wisconsin in the 1990s, I was not personally a part of the New York Hardcore scene. Some of the bigger names trickled down my direction -- H2O, Sick of It All and Orange 9MM, for example. The more localized hardcore bands -- No Redeeming Social Value and the like -- were absent from my friends' music collections. We knew there was more, but we didn't know what. The lines between punk, hardcore and the emerging genre of pop-punk were blurring and remain blurred to this day. What "NYHC" does is take me and those of my generation back to the 1990s (1991-1995) and reveal to us the world we knew existed but couldn't quite reach.
There isn't much need for me to heap praise on this documentary. When it was first released, the film won several awards. I don't suppose anyone could deny the vision of this film and how well it all came together. The violence, contrasted with the call for unity, is intact. The path of some bands (towards embracing the Hare Krishna lifestyle) and others (accepting drugs) that split are elucidated -- we can see the opposite sides of the same coin. And, what I found most amazing, we learn of the reality behind the lifestyle. Some of the youth lived pampered suburban lives on Long Island. But just as often there were horror stories -- one band member recounts those he knew who died of AIDS, an epidemic that had reached its bloom by this point.
Certainly, if you were not or are not a fan of the hardcore music you may find the film less interesting. You'll ask, "why should I expose myself to such noise?" and you may be right to avoid the movie. But I think you'd be wrong. Everyone can benefit from this film -- it's not just a story about music, but a story about diversity and a slice of life from America. These aren't just the kids of New York, but the kids of Wisconsin and everywhere else.
And while the documentary is solid enough by itself, the DVD package is a special treat for fans. There are plenty of bonus features -- most notably a ten-year review or "where are they now" featurette. Did the band members remain "hardcore" or did they grow up and enter mainstream America? Are the Hare Krishnas still chanting? I won't reveal the answers, but this is a video you'll really need to see to get the full story. (And don't ignore the other bonuses.) In short, I am highly recommending this disc for all audiences. I had my doubts about the timeliness of a documentary focusing on the 1990s (not exactly as iconic a decade as the 1960s, for example) but all doubts were washed away. The youth of America is constantly changing, but there's a current that runs through all generations. Catch it here in "NYHC".
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