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The roots a radical.
Spikeopath9 May 2010
Punk: Attitude is a documentary directed by Don Letts. An important figure in the punk explosion in England circa 1976, Letts has always held the subject of punk rock close to his heart. Here he explores the "punk" revolution, its roots and its impact on modern rock music. The cast features the likes of David Johansen, Thurston Moore, Tommy Ramone, Chrissie Hynde, Henry Rollins, Captain Sensible, Jim Jarmusch, Mick Jones, Jello Biafra, Howard Devoto and Glen Matlock. To name but a few!

As the title suggests, this is about the attitude that is essential to the make up of the punk rock genre. This is not a film that is telling you lies about its time-lines or an attempt to ensure the viewers know how important punk was in the pantheon of music. It's refreshingly honest, in fact what is the most striking thing about Letts' movie is that this is no stroll down a rose tinted glassy memory lane. For sure there's warmth in recollections from many of the big shakers, while some of the old footage clips of the bands are sure to stir strong emotions in fans, but nobody is trying to hide the genre limitations of punk. Letts threads it nicely as a triple bill of birth, death and revival. Starting out with an attitude nod of acknowledgement to Jerry Lee Lewis and other more daring 50s & 60s acts, the film starts gaining its worth with some well spent time in the company of The New York Dolls, Velvet Undeground, MC5 and of course Iggy Pop & his Stooges. The influence of such luminaries of course comes as no surprise to any old punker such as I, but for new parties interested in punk this serves as an essential piece of film.

Into the mid 70s where of course things got serious and both America and England witnessed what in all essence was "thee" punk rock explosion. Again the principals don't hold back, telling it as it was and even debunking some myths. There's even some resentment in there, but Letts is canny enough to not let this become another boorish America Vs England who started punk section of his film. He also widens the scope to involve many artists who never get a look in when the topic is covered on the page or on the screen. Rest assured this is not a Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned and Ramones retread overkill, time is rightly afforded to Poly Styrene (X Ray Spex), Howard Devoto & Pete Shelley (The Buzzcocks), Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie & The Banshees) & Ari Up (The Slits). Important movers with important and interesting things to say. And so it proves as the story arc moves forward to post 70s punk; New Wave/ No Wave, Hardcore et al, all given thought and time with the likes of Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), who not only link the narrative, but expand it further too.

Obviously in a film such as this it's inevitable that not every genre fan will be happy. For every ten bands featured, there is another twenty bands who many will believe should have been put in for acknowledgement and opinion. As is the case for some of the offshoots of punk such as the Oi! movement or the British second and third waves that encompassed street and speed punk. In truth the 80s does get a little passed over due to the time afforded the 70s, but that's forgivable surely since that was the prominent time and the time when music got a kick up the backside. Besides which, to cover everything appertaining to punk we would need a film of Lord Of The Rings Trilogy type excess! 8/10
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Never a better survey of punk
John-44413 June 2005
Letts tops himself, and I didn't think that was possible after his excellent documentary on The Clash. This is the finest broad survey of punk ever. It suggests that punk is an attitude at the heart of rock, which existed before there was a "punk rock" per se. As soon as "punk rock" appears, you have little scenesters making necessities of virtues, imposing orthodoxies that undermine the freedom that the music longed for or expressed. Tons of interviews with the pantheon of punk royalty, but it is often the forgotten geniuses who never made significant commercial indentation that have the most to offer. Punk also has the virtue of many short & tight tunes, so there is less excerpting of musical performances than one sees in 99% of music documentaries. Is there a soundtrack available?
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Local Hero12 July 2005
I am always dismayed to see the conceptions many people have of punk rock, so I was elated to find a film that finally hits the nail on the head: Don Letts' "Punk: Attitude." I think I have seen every punk documentary out there, but this is the first film that, in my opinion, finally gets it right. If you want a good, solid overview of the history of punk, and, more importantly, if you want to understand the true essence of punk at its best, this is the film to watch. As the film's title suggests, punk rock was and is always a socio-political attitude, first and foremost. Safety pins, haircuts, instrumentation, tempo: these are not the criteria of true punk. Attitude -- political, social, artistic -- is what matters.

Perhaps a mention of the L.A. band X was merited, but once one begins to quibble...
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80s punk given the shaft in Punk: Attitude
jburke6918 July 2005
The one major problem I had with this film was that, while it did a more than adequate job of covering the already well-documented early days of punk (the Velvets,MC5, Stooges the CBGBs scene), in covering punk of the 80s, it completely dropped the ball. It fails to detail the very localized American post-punk movement of the 80s that actually set the stage for bands like Nirvana, the grunge movement and the "alternative" music of the 90s. No mention of Husker Du, The Minutemen, X, the Pixies or The Replacements? What's up with that?!! Yes, I liked Sonic Youth in the 80s. But to canonize a band who stopped mattering over ten years ago yet still inflicts their painfully uninspired noodling today and not even mention the aforementioned bands that really did have a profound impact on punk (and who knew when to quit) is criminal.

And then to close it up with Sum 41 and those other corporate punk forgeries?!I wanted to puke at that point. God, if they really wanted to use a current example of today's punk, couldn't they have used a more credible band like The Hives? The 80s was such a great time for punk and underground rock, but you sure wouldn't know it from this documentary.
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There or wish you were...MUST SEE!
vinylpvc28 April 2005
I just got back from the Tribeca Film Festival screening of Punk: Attitude and I was blown away! Don Letts (infamous DJ at The Roxy, member of Big Audio Dynamite, renaissance man extraordinaire) did a fabulous job at presenting a cohesive and highly entertaining piece of nostalgia. I'm homesick for a place that no longer exists! Moreover, he was successful at providing a fantastic source for generations of rebels to come.

The current-day interviews were surprisingly intelligent and insightful, cut together with historic footage that flowed really well. (Sorry, I was there, back in the day, I'm surprised that so many of us are still alive!) The audience reaction must have been rewarding for him as well. I'm very glad that I got one of the coveted seats at this screening, and I'm glad that Mr. Letts went to all the trouble to bring us Punk: Attitude.

It's not about a period of time, actually, it's an attitude.

See it, rent it, buy it!
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10 Missing Years?
alitiger14 September 2005
This was mostly an outstanding movie. However, maybe it's my more limited Washington exposure, but some bands seemed to be missing. It all but skipped from the East Coast to Nirvana - by the way, we here in Seattle were the only ones not calling that movement 'grunge' (and somewhat resenting the name). Over those 10 "empty" years, some great and influential bands emerged - I was surprised that there was no mention whatsoever of Bad Religion, Pennywise. There are also many ska/punk mixes that, in my opinion, should absolutely have made the list, certainly before the likes of pomposity-driven Limp Bizkit. I would like feedback.
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Could have been better
sibarella-13 November 2005
Loved the movie, but as far as accuracy is concerned, there is plenty of that missing. First of all, Max's and CBGB's were not the only clubs in NY. There was also 82, plus tons of others and also lots and lots of after hours places. Then the name for Punk Magazine, where did you really get that from? Did you guys forget about your summer listening over and over to the Dictators. I know I read it somewhere that the name came out of the lyrics from one of their songs. And the concept of going back to the 3 minute song. I think the New York Dolls took credit for that one, but I am sure it doesn't belong to them. And there are so many that were unmentioned. Some gone, and some still with us. And some who are mentioned but given nowhere near the credit they deserved. Like the Dictators, though they never made it, they were THE major influence on the Ramons. Just listen to the music. I was there, I lived it. Some of your facts from the early 70's seem to be more what sounds good, then what really happened.
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Nostalgic Film, Which is a Totally Un-Punk Thing
wall179 July 2005
I have no doubt that future cultural historians and music cognoscenti will appreciate this competent and fairly broad-sweeping history of the original punk "movement" of the 1970s. But I have to say, as a forty-something who was "there" at the end of the 1970s, there's something unnerving and vaguely depressing to seeing a bunch of fifty- and sixty- somethings waxing nostalgically about their great good old days. I mean, my god, weren't we making fun of the hippies for growing up and going mainstream back in the day? There's nothing more unpunkrock in some ways than a documentary film about punk.

Come to think of it, I think punk may be safely said to have died the instant they started filming it, and Letts' own 'The Punk Rock Movie" was the original culprit. Taking the DIY attitude and transforming it into the mindscreen of the cinema, with all its implications for mass consumption, is a way not so much of preserving the original punk spirit as diluting it.

This is to say, that if anybody has a right to make a film about the scene way-back-when, it's the old-school Letts. (Although it was a bit awkward when he manages to let some of his interviewees refer to him in the third person.) As a documentary, it's a standard mix of stand-up interviews and old stills and footage from the period, which tells the "story" with the reflective blinkers of thirty years of hindsight. So I can't fault this as a movie qua movie.

Whoever takes credit for originating the phrase, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture", they had it right. I had a hard time finishing watching this movie not because it was a poor telling of the tale -- far from it, my memories coincide with it exactly -- but because it seemed like a far better use of my time to dust off the vinyl of my collection and just listen to the music. Or maybe, even better, go out and find some new music by the current generation of snot-nosed rebels, which will prevent me from wallowing in nostalgia and kick my rear into gear. There's something about the genre of the film documentary that seems to add layers of dust to music and music culture, or sprays them with a preservative that may keep them for future generations but which seems stale as a living thing.

The one moment I loved above all in the flick was the appearance of the now-middle-aged and delicious Poly Styrene, who manages to come off as honest and fresh as she did in X-Ray Spex. But in general the shock of seeing virtually all the (surviving) great bands of the era in paunchy, balding, reflective -- dare I say, mature? -- late middle age made me wince. In about 2015, there'll be a similar documentary about old-school rap, followed ten years later by nostalgic flashbacks about techno and ecstasy...and so on.
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Starts off great but trivializes current bands
mouseclicker339 July 2005
Obviously making a documentary on the history and progression of punk rock is very difficult- many people debate where it started, how it started, who started it, etc, etc. Punk: Attitude manages to crystallize, utilizing and excellent array of interviews with figures who were actually part of the scene, all the different strains of punk into one solid, cohesive unit and gives a very accurate and insightful look into just what punk is and what it means.

The documentary starts off with the menagerie of punk influences, from the Stooges and the Velvet Underground to MC5 and the New York Dolls, covering not just the bands and artists who musically influenced what would become punk but the people that set the punk aesthetic. They pay due respect to a whole host of seminal punk bands, starting in the New York scene and shifting to the British scene, all the while analyzing how the music was changing and what it was saying. It then gracefully moves into American hardcore punk with bands like Black Flag, Agnostic Front, and the Dead Kennedys, also paying respect to such hugely influential bands as Minor Threat and Bad Brains. It all starts to fall apart, though, when they mention Nirvana pulling together bits and pieces of the last decade of punk rock and creating a product that the public could stomach. From there they give passing mentions to Green Day, Blink 182, Sum 41, and Rancid, acting as if that's all there is to the current punk scene. The documentary completely fails to recognize bands like Bad Religion, the Descendents, the Circle Jerks (although they interview its singer about different topics), NOFX, Operation Ivy, the Offspring, and all of recent punk bands gaining popularity. Modern punk is not just Green Day and Blink 182, and is arguably far more diverse and fully formed than ever before. It was disappointing to see the documentary turn a cold shoulder to the current crop of punk bands when it handled punk's history up until then so well.

Overall, though, the point of the documentary is to look at the impact society had on punk and conversely the impact punk had on society, and in this respect, it excels. It looks at countless facets of life this abrasive form of music has affected and really opens your eyes to the truth that punk rock is so much more than just a bunch of kids screaming. Highly recommended despite its shoddy coverage of punk's current phase.
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Well done Don Letts
adamblake7719 October 2005
I watched this last night and was thoroughly hooked from the first moment to almost the very end. As someone old enough to remember walking down Portobello Road in the summer of 1976 and thinking "something really weird is going on", it was a marvellous exercise in nostalgia for ME, but I was wondering what a young person would make of it all. I think they would find it interesting but I don't know if they would necessarily understand just how revolutionary the whole thing was. It would have been good to have included some short clips of contemporary mainstream acts such as Abba, Yes, Fleetwood Mac etc just to provide some reference points for what Punk was rebelling against. As the man who virtually single-handedly introduced reggae to the punk scene, Letts is admirably modest about his own contribution but in a way it would have been more accurate if he had allowed his many interviewees to sing his praises a little more. I thought Chrissie Hynde was the most insightful (as usual) and the women in general gave more interesting interviews than the men. One aspect of Punk was that it was almost completely un-sexist and this was thoroughly recalled and explained. The more unsavoury aspects of Punk: the neo-fascism, the glorification of hard drugs, the violence - these were rather glossed over, I felt. The despicable inhumanity of the hardcore scene in the US in the early 80s was hardly mentioned, nor were the psychotic antics and subsequent suicide of G G Allin. Neither were the abominable Oi bands mentioned, with their extreme right-wing Nazi leanings. Although I can understand Lett's not wanting to give them any publicity, any history of Punk that fails to acknowledge the extremely dark places that some of it led to is incomplete. Although the film suffers from the usual shortcomings of music documentaries - ie. the vintage clips are too short and the interview clips are too long - as an attempt to celebrate the positive aspects of Punk it is completely successful. Too bad Johnny Rotten and Iggy Pop obviously refused to take part, or Lou Reed for that matter. Never mind. This is a very worthwhile film and anyone who is interested in the Punk phenomenon will find it fascinating.
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Not as punk as you'd expect but who cares.......that's punk attitude.
mcshortfilm14 November 2005
When you see a documentary film with the word "Punk" in the title, you really can't have high expectations. It's tempting to watch but you know you are going to miss a lot when a film tries to strip down a huge movement and make it so concise. Granted, the film is about attitude as it states in the title but somewhere along the film, it feels as though the point gets a bit lost. We know early on that being punk was about being different and being able to express yourself without any current influence. There is only one documentary I know of that makes this point clear and that is the Sex Pistols documentary film "PIST". "Punk: Attitude" seems to focus chronologically on the New York scene, The British scene and then the L.A. scene which is fine but the problem is that we only see the punk artists that fit the status quo (which is totally contradictory of what punk was all about.)

What the film should have done was emphasize more closely the importance of being different and how that idea transcended new directions and movements in the world of punk. The film suggests that punk seemed to die in the 1980's as far as the mainstream was concerned but this is absolutely false. It is also a bad direction from the point of being different which had nothing to do with catching on to the mainstream. As one of the interviewees said, "you only need 5% to really get people to think in a new way". But as far as popularity is concerned, there were a good number of punk musicians that were visible at least within the margins of the mainstream during the 1980's. There was Devo, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Fishbone, the Pogues, Dinosaur Jr., The Cure, The Butthole Surfers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Waits and Jonathan Richman among countless others. (Yes, Jonathan Richman, former Modern Lover who influenced the Sex Pistols with his infamous song "Road Runner".) (I'm sure there are plenty of people who would challenge me on some of these artists as being labeled punk but punk is really only a paradime of many styles of music like hardcore, new wave, no wave, grunge and my favorite "alternative".)

Despite the overemphasis of punk on the mainstream culture, the film does include some artists that are probably not so well known to the average punk fan. Bands like "Suicide" and "Slit" were a delightful surprise. But as far as bigger bands were concerned, why was X never mentioned or the Descendents or the Minutemen? Or Fugazi or Husker Du? I guess the film would just have to be a bit longer. I didn't really appreciate the bands that were mentioned in the end like Rancid and Limp Bizkit. That really gave a blow to the authenticity of punk. However, I was happy to hear the interviews with Legs McNeil author of "Please Kill Me" and Bob Gruen as well as Mary Harron, former Punk magazine writer and current independent filmmaker (I Shot Andy Warhol) as well as filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. These guys helped us to see the world of punk in a bigger light that has more to do with just the music. Its the ability to change ideas and keep things new and different in a postmodern world.
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This film is EXCELLENT and a must see
clt_nems9 January 2007
If you want to understand the original nature of "punk" from the people who were there and who know their own motivation, and not what is now simply a label, you must watch this film. It intentionally stops when the 1st wave of punk stopped, and explains how the next movement was able to begin (the root of Grunge is in the 1st wave of punk). The 2nd wave is also not included, but that wave is captured in a different film titled "American Hardcore" from 2006. Both are must sees, and must own on DVD. Punk: Attitude is the single most accurate and compelling film regarding punk ever made. For anyone who enjoys The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Pretenders, Siousxie & the Banshees, Adam Ant, or enjoys listening to Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore, you need to watch this film.
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I give it an 8
toddfries6 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Fantastic film , especially for the kids who think punk began and ended with Green Day.

Yea the film left out HUGE chunks of the Punk 'scene' (movement ? movements are for hippies , thank you for much)

While the 70's were well covered , and rightly so , yea the 80's were left out in the cold , there were a ton of American and English bands that made a difference , not to mention bands from Europe and also no mention of Australia's best - The Saints.. IMO one of the best of the "77" punk bands. Lots of worthy bands were not mentioned , X - The Avengers - FEAR - Negative Approach (the catalyst of true hard core music)- Jerry's Kids , I could go on and on. Honestly though how could one possibly add in all bands unless it became a mini series of DVD's , otherwise there are just too many bands to mention and show in 1.5 hours. What about the Misfits , one of Englands best and far more controversial than the Pistols / SHAM 69 ? How about Stiff Little Fingers or Vice Squad. hehehe

Overall... A good film that gives a general idea of what Punk is/was , I am glad that they did not try to kiss too much ass to the hippies but I wish they would have pointed out how truly commercial "punk" became. Punk rock was never meant to be on MTV.
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Where did the Punk movement come from & where did it go to?
martinpercival-130 December 2006
Sometimes it does feel like punk never happened but, peel back the surface in a great many areas, especially in much literature and many films, and talk to some people in their teens and 20s and the true influences are still certainly there, albeit maybe a little beneath the surface.

If the question "where did the Punk movement come from & where did it go to?" has ever run through your brain then Don Lett's film "Punk Attitude", together with Jon Savage's book "Englands Dreaming", are the best places (so far) to start looking to answer this. They also both help explore the ways the movement influenced many peoples lives, and not only the musicians involved, especially in regards to getting them involved - to be players and not just spectators, also clearly demonstrating that it's still relevant to the FUTURE.

"Punk Attitude" makes it very clear that punk didn't all start with the Ramones in the US and the Sex Pistols & Clash in the UK and that punk = an attitude, not a hair cut or a style of clothing - just in case people might think otherwise! Although all three bands were hugely influential when they formed in the mid 70s, and still are very much so now nearly 30 years later, they didn't come from out of nowhere and had their own host of influences back to Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and on through the British Invasion groups like the Who, Kinks and Small Faces. These groups in turn influenced the Standells, Sonics and Count Five and then on through the Velvet Underground, Doors, Stooges, MC5 plus the New York Dolls. Letts explores this cross pollination and influencing process very well in "Punk Attitude", without turning it into a boring navel gazing university thesis style analysis that would have been totally inappropriate for such subject matter.

So what makes him qualified to do this? Don Letts is one of the very best placed people to make a documentary of this type. A very early player on the UK Punk scene, and prior to this even as a rag trade rival to Malcolm McLaren and Viv Westwood, he went on to dj at London's Roxy Club in 1977 and manage the Slits. At the time he was not a musician. Punks impact upon him was to make him realise he could be a film maker. He subsequently filmed many of the key bands of the era on Super 8 for what became "Don Lett's Punk Rock Movie" featuring the Banshees, Clash, Heartbreakers, Sex Pistols, X Ray Spex and the Slits. Some of this material, plus much previously unreleased live footage and recently shot interviews, surfaces in "Punk Attitude".

Letts covers the UK 76/77 era scene very well in the film (he was THERE after all!) as well as the New York scene. LA possibly gets a little unfairly overlooked, with no mention of X being a surprising omission. John Lydon is also intriguingly omitted, especially as Letts and he were and are good friends, but it's not as if Mr Lydon hasn't had his say previously. Syl Sylvain, Arthur Kane and David Johansen from the New York Dolls also help paint the pre 1976 New York picture, with Johansen mentioning how terrible he thought the Ramones were when he first saw them! Letts also uses interviews with people who were part of the various scenes but who were not musicians, most notably fellow film maker Jim Jarmusch whose contribution adds a great deal to conjuring up the sights, sounds and smells of the late 70s, early 80s New York scene as Punk evolved into No Wave and later Hard Core.

Of the musicians the Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto interviews help highlight very effectively that Punk wasn't just a London and New York phenomenon, as does Chrissie Hynde, Wayne Kramer covering Detroit and Henry Rollins enthusiastically covering the early 80s musical evolution of Black Flag on through to Nirvana and the birth of grunge in the early 90s. So who's not included who arguably could/should have been? Patti Smith and Iggy Pop were both touring and unavailable when Letts was filming and no Lou Reed? Well, he was just being Lou Reed! ;-) Look out for the UK limited edition 2 x DVD version with a host of excellent extra features including a very entertaining interview with Dave Goodman, the Sex Pistols live sound engineer and first studio producer, who sadly died in February 2005 thus making this one of his last interviews. The limited edition DVD also includes a facsimile of 2 copies of the early UK fanzine "Sniffin Glue".

All in all this is VERY highly recommended viewing! Why only 8 stars out of 10? Probably only because Letts would have been the best person to explore the UK 1977 reggae/punk crossover and it's not covered here in any depth......but maybe he's holding that back for another day. If you want only the music then don't buy this - it's a documentary on the whole scene. One day maybe Lett's "Punk Rock Movie" will make it to DVD......and THEN you will be able to get much of the music too!
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Jello surfaces, Dick Dale surfs
steveswonk23 February 2006
I thought Punk: Attitude was a very good retrospective including many bands that I had on my speakers throughout 1976-1985. Dick Dale started a lot of this with his work, but that may be too obscure for most to notice. However, I agree, excluding Nina Hagen, that beyond Black Flag the ball was dropped, i.e. Husker Du, and Pixies. I also submit that Neil Young, that ball busting hearse driver, deserved some mention in this film for his world with Crazy Horse.

All together, the end of the show with it's tribute to Joe Strummer, made up for the above mentioned tailing off. Having seen Jello Biafra in Richmond, Virginia, about ninety in the crowd, 1982, that deadpan "Reagan sneer", I still think that other than old Jagger himself, there is the best performer in rock and roll. You can visit one of his Dead Kennedys shows in the film. Faith no more, filth no less, a worthy 90 minutes of music.
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Superb documentary history.
FrSallyBowles22 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Let's not argue about what is and isn't punk, it's very unpunk.

This is a superb documentary that deserves to sit beside Jon Savage's book England's Dreaming as thorough punk rock history, well researched and presented. The study of the interplay between NY and London illuminates much of why things happened as they did even if it does tend to prejudice NY punk over the more politically charged London punk.

This doco should have appeal to anyone interested in social and cultural history. For the enthusiasts, an amazing array of talking heads bring their own take on those years and the archival footage used is an absolute treasure.

Punk remains an important moment in history that is still little understood and subject to very many prejudices. This documentary is an important foundation stone in understanding where punk came from, why it seemed to go so badly off the rails and how much a little chaos effected the world we inhabit today.

SPOILER: Siouxsie Sioux looks more gorgeous than ever. ;-]
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Interesting documentary but US-biased.
the_real_tapir21 February 2006
This is most certainly an interesting documentary and one that I'd recommend seeing, but I cannot help but have the feeling that it is somewhat US-centric, even if many of punk's pivotal points are not.

Starting with the origins of punk in the late 1960s and 1970s, it covers the origins of the 'movement' (for want of a better term) in the United States, focussing on the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, the New York Dolls and MC5. The important people of the era (well, some of them) were found and given an opportunity to express their views.

However, all too quickly it moves through what defined punk (rightly or wrongly) - the UK scene. No, it was not where punk began, and no, it was not the be-all and end-all of punk, but to cover the ongoing influence of the UK in a relatively short space of time before moving onto the US hardcore and post-punk of late 1980s Seattle is to do a great disservice to the importance of the British punk scene. Aside from the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Buzzocks, Sioxsie and the Banshees, and the Slits (and even these are at times somewhat rapidly covered - how about the UK Subs or the Not Sensibles, to name two), the UK scene was somewhat glossed over in favour of the US hardcore scene. As interesting as this is, and relevant in a greater history of punk, barely mentioning the 'Anarchy in the UK' tour, or the influences of reggae on the music is hard to overlook. Indeed, without some background knowledge, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that the Clash and the Sex Pistols were really only minor players in shaping the direction of not only punk rock, but music generally.

Ultimately, as interesting as the documentary is, I cannot help but think of the Clash's song from their 1st album, "I'm so bored with the USA". However, having said all of this, somewhat ironically, the real importance of the UK is recognized almost underhandedly (and unwittingly, I suspect), with the Clash's "Car Jamming" opening and closing the documentary, not to mention the dedication of the program to Joe Strummer.

In many ways, the multi-part series "Get Up Stand Up" - even though punk is but a small section of it - does a much better job of portraying the importance of punk in a more balanced manner - and especially in covering non-US punk (it even gets into the German and French scenes).
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A great Documentary!!!
Techno-Destructo18 September 2005
A great Documentary!!! Very informative. I only wish Devo, Wire, and The Minutemen were more represented. I'm very pleased with this film. Damn, they have finally done a great job documenting punk rock! 10 stars! Thank you Don Letts! This is a two-disc DVD that features over 17 extras including a 30 minute LA punk scene featurette produced exclusively for the US DVD. Other extras include, Where are they Now and Punk Family Tree, California Screamin' "Behind the Masque" article, Henry Rollins interview, Dave Goodman feature, Fanzines, Fashion, Women in Punk, Record Companies, The Attitude/Spirit of Punk, The Influences/Origins of Punk, Punk on Culture and the Arts, UK versus US, Punk Evolution, The Gigs/Performance and The Punk Sound.
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This should have been called Punk:Attitude, the 1970s because I know nothing about punk rock after that so I'll just fake it with some crappy "punk" bands
jmehrdad29 January 2007
I give this 2 stars because what started out as such a great commentary on punk rock fell apart so horribly at the end. It pretty much nullified the whole film.

This documentary should have just stopped after the 1970s. The filmmaker does such a great job of telling the story of punk and the bands that formed it. Unfortunately, he completely glosses over and leaves out some truly influential punk in the 80s and 90s. Instead puts in pop rock garbage like Sum 41 & Limp Bizkit. Which, I'm sorry, have no business even being mentioned. It's almost like the filmmaker obviously came out of the 70s era knowing anything and everything about the punk scene and then lost touch with what happened next. All he could do was look up some popular bands that are considered "punk" by pop culture and stick them in there. The 80s and 90s just fell apart in this film and if he couldn't give proper detail or at least accurate detail, to these decades, like he did with the 70s, he just should have stopped while he was ahead.

I was so angry after wasting 2 hours of my life watching this film.
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F*** great!
slh230 May 2005
loved it. loved it. loved it. really great accurate doc. punk is a state of mind....

depressing to see how many dead people are in this film...but that's punk rock... one big gripe--more ramones. much more ramones. but hey, i can always watch the ramones raw DVD.

and i would have very much liked to have scenes on--

billy idol generation x the smiths, the cure, etc. joy division and a certain beloved indie 103.1 dj to actually speak in the movie vs. one tiny scene to open and close the film...

but that's just my own happy little punk rock taste.
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It's good but it's a quite uneven documentary
apocalypse_ciao25 August 2006
I have nothing really bad to say about the first hour of it. It's actually helpful if you want to know the history of "early" punk ie The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, The MC5, and The Count Five. I loved The Damned footage of them playing New Rose. The Clash and The Sex Pistols seem to get all the attention though when the UK punk scene is discussed. No mention of Wire or Joy Division.

But I have to agree with another person who observed how they left out a crucial chunk of hugely influential post-punk 80's American groups: The Minutemen, Husker Du, The Replacements, and The Pixies and set the stage for pretty much every band afterwards. No mention of Devo either.

The film also makes the West Coast punk scene seem like it died in 1982 or something. Nothing against Black Flag, Germs, X, Circle Jerks, or Dead Kennedys but it gets old mentioning these groups, it really does. It would've been nice to see Fishbone mentioned and how punk splintered into a ska phase throughout the 80's and beyond, particularly on the West Coast.

And Henry Rollins does his usual "ambiguous" put down of the West Coast punk scene: "How can you have sun, fun, hot chicks, and punk rock?" Well Mr. Rollins, was Black Flag an East Coast punk band? Big fat no, they're from the West Coast, which is a band he joined by the way.

I also observed there was also no coverage or even mention of the Riot Girl scene in Olympia, WA and D.C. of the early 90's ie Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney. They paved the way for bands like Le Tigre, The Gossip, and The Capricorns who are really responsible for the disco-punk explosion that groups are now reaping the rewards from like VHS or Beta, The Rapture, and Bloc Party.

The majority of the Riot Girl bands have outspoken leftist politics and are lesbian and to me that's more relevant than some old geezers reminiscing about a bye gone era and sticking their middle fingers at the camera and saying f*** you.

And then to end it with footage of Limp Bizkit, Green Day, and Sum 41 is an insult to fans because those bands don't represent how punk evolved but how punk got commodified. Overall, I got the feeling that the filmmaker's opinion on just who is punk, and what is punk is rather one-dimensional and subject to his own "punk" aesthetics.
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This review is punk. (reccomend it)
Spuzzlightyear16 October 2005
Yeaaaars ago, at the Vancouver International Film Festival, I saw a movie there called 'Hype!' which was all about the rise and fall of grunge music. It was loud, it was informative, and it was great, it was my favorite movie that year in the film festival. For some odd reason, I'm always interested in music docs (except maybe classical and Jazz (though that's sometimes not true)), and I've been searching for some time for a movie like Hype! ('The Filth and The Fury" was, to me, disappointing), and this year at the VIFF, there was a movie called Punk Attitude which looked great, had all the icons, from Henry Rollins to Chrissy Hyde, so how could I go wrong? Punk Attitude essentially follows Hyped's narrative path, following the history of Punk from it's early years (the filmmakers contend, and I agree, that Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry were 50's punk) in the US, the British Invasion (namely The Sex Pistols) and then back into the U.S. Much of this stuff I didn't know, as I really don't follow punk that much, so all of this was really new to me, and nearly all of it was fascinating. Was really interested in the history of the New York Dolls and the Stooges, bands I'd had heard about, but that's about it. (Watch for a hideous looking David Johansen in this by the way). Rollins is great as usual, with plenty to say. Actually, everyone in this doc seems quite passionate about Punk's place in history. Funny how in the present, Punk is now represented by such artists as Green Day and Blink-182, artists that don't appear in the film at all. Wonder if this in part with the studio labels now taking Punk into the radio mainstream and of course with it, copyrights, copyrights, copyrights. Good thing Rollins is still there to cause noise. So, is this better then 'hyped'? You know, the one big problem I have with this, is that I wish 'Punk Attitude was on film, rather then on video. On video, it seems to take back it's rawness and it's urgentness. If it was on film, it would be, well, punk.
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My Memories Rendered Worthless
richard-108013 March 2006
There's an old time-travel conundrum that goes "What would happen if a time-machine allowed you to go back and kill your own grandfather?" Keep this in mind while I make a small digression.

I was a teenager in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I lived in Brisbane, and while I was only ever on the very periphery of the music scene, it seemed that something fairly special was happening. This is something I lived through, albeit mostly vicariously (I was, and still am, painfully shy), but about which I have some fond and vivid memories of what might loosely be called the punk and post-punk scene.

I've recently seen the film "Punk: Attitude", and I'm now convinced that Punk Never Happened. Somehow the director has invented the hypothetical time-machine, and gone back, and replaced what happened with something witless, vapid, inert and, above all, crushingly unspecial.

I feel that a part of me has been erased and replaced with corporate switchboard hold music.
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Same Bad Job
DYLARAMMA15 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Let's spend five minutes with the dictators and only show them playing "search and destroy" and later one up that History of RocknRoll Punk Episode by by skipping the first four years of Black Flag so we can look at a long haired Henry Rollins as we switch back to Minor Threat and immediately wind up turning down interviews with Rolling Stone with Fugasi. Then we can do that same mistake jumping strait to Nirvana...all of a sudden Limp Biscuit was on the screen...That's when I had to change the channel...thinking back now they spent five minutes talking about how every one in England hung out in Don Letts bedroom...it get's a four only for the live footage of Velvet Underground.
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Where are my grrrls?
hwithrow-129 December 2007
Other reviewers have already shown that in no way is this a "comprehensive rockumentary" about punk; I suppose almost anyone watching this film will be disappointed that some of her/his beloved bands are totally left out, and I am no exception. My personal lament is that the Riot Grrrl movement of the early nineties is completely ignored, despite the important role it played in Second Wave feminism, and in transforming punk from an often violent and misogynist movement into a tool for female empowerment. I was also disappointed by the terribly cliché ending; all the aging remnants of our favorite sixties and seventies punk bands complaining about how the scene has been distorted and bastardized by a bunch of awful commercial sell-outs like Blink-182 and Limp Bizkit (after spending an hour and a half congratulating themselves and their peers for their past awesomeness of course). It is clear that these people have either completely dismissed all the incredible groups and activities that have gone on in the last twenty-five years, or for some reason they became totally disconnected from the punk scene after their own prominence dwindled.

It is almost inevitable that a movie about the origins of punk rock be dominated by white males; while there is a bit of an effort to include a few female artists and critics as well as a couple people of color, I was dissatisfied by the lack of attention paid to their role in the movement and the racism and sexism that many groups and followers frequently displayed. The overall flavor of the film is to talk about how awesome punk is, and show some really marvelous clips from history-making shows at CBGB, etc., but I believe true fans would prefer a more complicated look at the history. This film would have benefited from admitting to its narrow scope (really just the scene in the sixties and seventies) and a more nuanced look at what punk was, is, and ought to be.
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