Find us on facebook

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"End of the Century", punk, miseries & The Ramones

End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones

Almost two days after, I'm still shocked by this rockumentary. Honestly, it is hard to see a band so exposed, even more considering half of the band and core members (Joey and Dee Dee Ramone) died during the making of the film. But there's no hagiography here. On the contrary, what it shows, is a raw, very unpleasant picture of a mythical, very influential band.

"End of the Century" is a twisted story, helped by the an excellent work from directors Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia, tracing the punk-rockers evolution with a mix between priceless archive footage and insight interviews with the band members and more occasional opinions of their contemporaries (Blondie, Joe Strummer) and later in time, fan musicians (John Frusciante, Rob Zombie, Kirk Hammett, to name a few). That could work for a very interesting yet conventional music documentary. But this film is much more. Precisely, what confirms is that The Ramones were not a conventional band at all.

"End of the Century" charts the course of The Ramones career. And it doesn't take a lot of time for the viewer to see the members of the band were very young kids when they formed The Ramones... and they never grew up. We start on the early '70s in the uncool Queens, moving quickly to the rise of the New York City music scene. They seem to be leading that rise, and that success is just around the corner, but here's the first clash. For a band of unpretentious bad musicians (as they openly admit), with a strong punk ethic, the lack of chart success deeply frustrates them. There are two poisoned remarks from Johnny Ramone, one against Blondie, the other on The Clash first album that reflects the inner pain. Their triumphs in South-America and London (where punk, that they arguably invented, collapsed the music scene) only make their return to the States harder.

As records go and cult status is solidly built but never reaching the desired commercial breakthrough, the problems arise. "End of the Century" doesn't hide them a bit. While the issue with legendary producer Phil Spector is bound to make you laugh (a great tale of rock's wild times) the internal conflicts are gripping, painful yet at the same time absorbing to watch. The personal interviews reveals each Ramone as a very complex character, and one wonders how it was possible the band did not explode much earlier. Ideological and personal confrontations, drug abuse, roles and powers within the band... One wonders why they decided to keep going for so long with so much s**t on them. How the hell they could maintain the interest on playing together while they hated each other so much? It's puzzling to me to wonder how Joey and Johnny (scary person) could get along for so long. Did it become a daily work, or a (obviously dysfunctional) family? Secondary/temporary members of the band like Tommy, Marky or C.J only add more pain to the whole picture. The Ramones, as a band were obviously greater than the very flawed (in some case disastrous) individuals. As the end of the documentary approaches (there's an obvious unbalance on the amount of film length the latter years of the band have, one of the few complaints I have on the film) even when the deserved world recognition finally arrives (Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame induction) there's a unavoidable feeling of sadness. Did they, at least, enjoyed their careers? I doubt it.

Any fan of the band must see "End of the Century". Any music fan too. And any cinema lover, interested in human stories, with their conflicts and contradictions, should know they have an unmissable film to watch here.

SCORE: 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment