The Decline of Western Civilization (2016)

See it in a theater.... where you can't get hurt.

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Though I both am neither a punk aficionado (I have seen X live in Detroit in 2008) nor an expert on Spheeris' films (I have seen and enjoyed both 'Wayne's World' and 'Little Rascals'), this was very satisfying. The energy and spirit of these rebellious youths really comes across well, and the clever assertion from one of the interviewees that punk is simply another form of folk and protest music, albeit with different instruments and at a faster speed, rings true. Though I'm not privy to the Los Angeles scene (I'm from Windsor, Ontario, for crying out loud), it appears to be quite an accurate depiction, although it doesn't seem to grab hold, perhaps, of the underground movement. Seeing this, I look forward to the latter two parts of the trilogy, and only wish over the years that Spheeris had expanded her sights, and made documentaries of other, vital, forms of music in L.A., such as folk, hip-hop, rap, jazz, classical, experimental, even soundtrack work for films, since Hollywood is right nearby, and as someone already part of the filmmaking scene, she would have had access to some of the greats of our time.

Spheeris Films Inc. by Penelope Spheeris.
Stars: Eugene Tatu, Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline.

Genres: Documentary, History, Music

Keywords: punk midnight movie subculture punk band woman director


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