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CBGB follows the story of Hilly Kristal's New York club from its conceit as a venue for Country, Bluegrass and Blues (CBGB) to what it ultimately became: the birthplace of underground rock 'n roll and punk. When Kristal had difficulty booking country bands in his club on the Bowery he opened his doors to other kinds of rock music. Kristal had one demand of the acts he booked; they could only play original music. No top 40's, no covers. It was the credo he lived by, support the artist at whatever the cost. Hilly Kristal ironically became known as the godfather of punk giving a chance to such bands as Blondie, Television, Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Boys and The Police. Written by
Alan Rickman and Rupert Grint previously worked together in the Harry Potter films See more »
Several shots show the corner of Bleecker Street and the Bowery. The street signs have white letters on a green background. In the 1970s, Manhattan street signs had black letters on a yellow background. See more »
"This film is dedicated to... Hilly Kristal and all those who worked at and lived at CBGB. MAY THEY ROCK ON FOREVER! No animals were harmed during the making of this film... The cockroach guts were Fig Newtons. And we know that Iggy Pop never played at CBGB... Just deal with it." See more »
I saw this movie because I had written a screenplay about 6 years ago about The Dead Boys and CBGBs that circulated town and was never bought. I was curious - and a little suspicious - needless to say when this movie went into production. My fears were unfounded, almost nothing I wrote was in this sloppy, scotch-taped up plot less pile of scenes.
First off, you have endless possibilities for interesting stories. This was a seminal period in rock n roll history. But to make the "Hilly Kristal Story" is a ridiculous choice. He simply is not the hero of this scene or this movement. He was a passive bar owner who was in the right place at the right time. He waddles around the movie with no interest in anything other than making a buck. I met and interviewed Hilly - around 2006. He seemed like he barely cared and even admitted he was in the right place at the right time.
The Dead Boys are a totally interesting story and they are treated like a bunch of spoiled sh*theads. Every cameo rock star appearance is silly and embarrassing. Iggy Pop gets like one line? No lines for Dee Dee? Where was Johnny Thunders? Where was Seymour Stein and Sire Records? Why does Legs friggin McNeil use the word 'dude' constantly - remember we are in 1977? Lou Reed cameo was nauseating. Sloppy.
But here's what's really awful: It feels fake and made up from half-remembered anecdotes. The fact that Hilly's daughter - incidentally an EP on the film - plays a crucial part of the story also rubs me the wrong way. CBGB was about the music, not about some guy who ate Hostess cupcakes and paid the rent.
Plot: none. No climax, no resolution. No character development. Characters enter and leave and reenter and leave. The story opens on the so-called "inventors of punk" - um, no. They made a fan magazine and wrote an OK book on which the source material was based. They were witnesses, not inventors. And they served no point in the film except to irritate me with political rants every 30 minutes. By the way, that's 4 appearances, because this is a slow-moving 120 minute movie whose best scenes are between an incidental made-up cop character and the bar- owner. Nothing happens except the usual "you're on thin ice mister."
The sets are vaguely realistic, though the Agnostic Front stickers really made my hair curl. The cartoons were OK. This may sound like I'm jealous because this was somehow pushed through the system with a huge catalog of punk songs (most of the budget must have gone to Sting, BTW)
but I'm relieved that there is still a good movie or miniseries to be
made about this era. This just isn't it.
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