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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
"End of the Century" is a great rocumentary that's lots of fun to watch. Speaking of watches, I never looked at mine once during the entire 110 minute runtime. I regret now that I missed the Ramones on their many stops in L.A., I had always thought of them as cartoonish and eternal, some day I'd go and see them play (but they broke up before I had that chance). At least I can see them in this great rock documentary! This movie has it all, from footage in their early days to the very end, where the band is weary of the road and each other and just don't care anymore. It's fascinating to watch their story, how they start out as innovators, and end up as fossilized cartoon characters who always looked and dressed exactly the same as they did on their first album.
The Ramones' influence on rock 'n' roll and punk rock cannot be underestimated. A case could be made that Johnny Ramone is the most influential living guitar player (he is alive at the time I write this, though I know he has been battling cancer). The interviews with Johnny Ramone are great, I got the impression that the band would have fallen apart years before it did if he hadn't been in it to make it work. The movie also shows many insightful interviews with other band members and various managers and hangers-on. The impression I got was that The Ramones were a unplanned phenomenon that invented punk as we know it, even though they never achieved commercial success in the US (at least on the level they thought they deserved). This is one of the few documentaries that I've seen on the big screen that was big-screen worthy, especially the concert footage. A stunning movie about one of the greatest bands ever (think about that!).
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