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
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 »
Apparently, I'm practically the only reviewer that wasn't there or personally knew Hilly himself. I grew up in a smaller-ish mid-western town and was introduced to punk by a girl from high school in the late 70's, and became aware of CBGB in the mid 80's. CBGB was always a mecca I wanted to visit but never got the chance to, so I leaped at watching this movie.
First off... It' important to remember this is the fictionalize account of the legendary New York city punk club CBGB and Hilly Kristal, and not a documentary. I went into watching this with the expectations there would be many factual errors. I noticed some items like band stickers on the walls from the wrong decade, but it's a Hollywood movie... not a documentary. I think the end credits says it best where it says "And we know that Iggy Pop never played at CBGB... Just deal with it.".
This location was so instrumental to music that I doubt a 3 hour movie could have done it justice. They had to pack a lot of story into a short amount of time so no one watching this movie should do so expecting a historically accurate movie. I enjoyed how they interweaved Punk magazine into the story. I felt it helped keep an upbeat, lighthearted message about Hilly and CGBG and kept the plot moving.
Now it's a double edged sword here with my criticism. The plot got pretty thin in the middle of the movie as the director tried to give the viewer a idea of the energy that was going on with the bands playing there, and some of the insanity I'm sure went on there on a regular basis. While the plot got non-existence, it was still enjoyable to imagine being there and seeing bands like the Ramones, Blonde, Patti Smithe playing.
Even though I thought there were points where the plot got lost, and the acting was somewhat awkward and forced at points, I still thought it was well done. My one big complaint is the ending was sort of sudden and anticlimactic.
Overall I really enjoyed the movie personally... but I didn't have high expectations on what it was going to be either. I guess if you're a punk purist or were actually there, then someone might be disappointed in the movie.
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