The hardcore punk scene of the early-to-mid-'80s is recounted through anecdotes from members of Bad Brains, Black Flag and more as they remember sleeping under sinks, performing in abandoned gas stations and other perks of being in a band.
Big question: Can this music-driven flick capture the punk mentality and make you want to bash your head against the wall--in a good way?
Skip it: It seems the eccentric, passionate personalities of the musicians haven't changed a bit, but "American Hardcore" should give us more than just talking heads reliving their glory days. A better doc about punk music would contextualize the genre in the industry and interview kids who cried "No!" when their parents told them to turn down that racket.
Catch it: If you hate your boss and you think Journey sucks. Consider yourself at least part punk.
Bottom line: All the stories told are great, perhaps most strongly for those of us who prefer not to get jacked in the face at a concert and would rather live vicariously through the artists' memories. But "American Hardcore" is so limited in scope that it undermines the relevance of the period, refusing to explore punk's effect on the culture or look into how these tough musicians turned out.
Bonus: Try to convince your company to change its name to this, a song by the delightfully named Millions of Dead Cops: "Corporate Deathburger."
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed, photographed and edited by Paul Rachman; written by Steven Blush (based on his book); music supervised by Anthony Countey; produced by Rachman and Blush. A Sony Pictures Classics release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:40. MPAA rating: R (pervasive language including sex and drug references).
Features interviews with and music by Adolescents, Bad Brains, Black Flag, DYS, Gang Green, Greg Ginn, Rev. Hank Pierce, Paul "H.R." Hudson, Jerry's Kids, Minor Threat, Moby, Henry Rollins, SS Decontrol, Mike Watt and Jerry Williams.