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In 1974, the New York City music scene was shocked into consciousness by the violently new and raw sound of a band of misfits from Queens, called The Ramones. Playing in a seedy Bowery bar to a small group of fellow struggling musicians, the band struck a chord of disharmony that rocked the foundation of the mid-'70s music scene. This quartet of unlikely rock stars traveled across the country and around the world connecting with the disenfranchised everywhere, while sparking a movement that would resonate with two generations of outcasts across the globe. Although the band never reached the top of the Billboard charts, it managed to endure by maintaining a rigorous touring schedule for 22 years. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
At the least, for Ramones fans, it's more informative and entertaining than 'We're Outta Here!'
There are two groups of people that will go see this film, and I can recommend the film to both groups on different reasons, though one group will more than likely out-weight the other. For the punk-rock or hard rock fan, The Ramones mean a lot even before walking into the theater. In their arena they have, at last perhaps, elevated to the level of The Beatles for their style of music- they gave hope and aspirations for millions of kids all across the world who felt down in the dumps in their life, or maybe just wanted to learn how to play rock and roll without having to flip through a Led Zeppelin notebook. And unlike England's punk scene (and other facets of the NY punk scene of the 70's), as the film shows, they never restricted themselves to writing songs about politics and hardcore societal issues (though they did sometimes). A lot of their best songs were love songs (some of them ironic "I don't wanna walk around with you", some kinda sweet "I wanna be your boyfriend"), and wrote enough pop tunes for three bands. They were real, they were raw, and for the fan of the Ramones who may know a lot about them or may be more or less just a casual observer with one or two CD's, the revelations and tales about Joey, Johnny, Dee-Dee, Tommy, Marky, CJ, etc., it's life. Often very funny, as well as sad, weird, shocking, and enlightening in a way. Certainly as much of an enthralling document of rock and roll as well as the psychology.
Then for the other audience, the ones who know of the Ramones strictly from their songs being played on car commercials or in the ballpark ("Blitzkrieg Bop" and "I wanna Be Sedated" have become hits like those The Beatles and The Stones had for their time). For the non-fans, the kind that just 'walk in' from off the streets of Manhattan or LA or wherever you see it (if you're seeing it in it's theatrical run) and just want to see a compelling and involving documentary, the film still delivers the goods. The filmmakers Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia assemble their interview footage and concert footage in a fascinating, grunge style, with the digital look corresponding with the subject matter as being about the "under-ground" of the times. The music selections, much like clips of speeches in a political documentary, inform the fan or non-fan on what they were like musically, and feature some of their finest live and non-live tracks ("Judy is a Punk", "Teenage Lobotomy", "Loudmouth", "Mama's Boy", "California Sun"). Now, if you go into the theater and you already don't like the Ramones, it's hard to tell if you'll be turned on to them after two hours in the dark. But one thing is for sure, is that End of the Century bravely captures a rock and roll story without pulling punches, and like The Filth and the Fury, it gets its sprawling story across in a limited time. (strong) A
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