Review:  ‘Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All’ has genuine soul

A scene from "Filmage."

The exhilarating and curiously moving punk documentary “Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All” from directors Matt Riggle and Deedle Lacour is, at its throbbing heart, the band saga as creatively prolific identity crisis.

Since the late ‘70s, the revolving-door lineup of gung-ho musicians in the pioneering, highly caffeinated pop-punk band the Descendents — or the band’s other incarnation, All — has kept fans on their toes. Over the years, some of those fans even got to join the influential band that misfit drummer-leader-amateur fisherman Bill Stevenson molded into a perfectionist outlet for fiery, complex thrashers with a distinctly emotional bent.

“Filmage” unfurls the narrative through detail-rich anecdotes from members of the band tree, who speak with a mixture of wryness and awe about their contributions to a long haul in punk’s not-quite-limelight. Interviews with adoring contemporaries (Dave Grohl, Mike Watt) complement an archive of great video footage. And when the film relates a life-threatening turn for Stevenson, the reveal about the doctor who saves him is absolutely priceless, and somehow fitting.

Though the breathless tale and full-throttle tunes give “Filmage” plenty of rollicking energy, it’s the through-line of genuine soulfulness and tireless artistic commitment that sets it apart.



“Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All”

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.


Playing: At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.