Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Mike Watt, Cris Kirkwood, Curt Kirkwood, Paul Roessler, Hellin Roessler, Jeff McDonald, Steve McDonald
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Dave Travis
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 57
Date: 03/19/2013
IMDB

A History Lesson Part I: Punk Rock in Los Angeles in 1984 (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Our Band Could Be Your Life

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the early 1980s, filmmaker and musician Dave Travis began making videos of the live shows he attended in Los Angeles. This new DVD release combines vintage concert footage of the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, Redd Kross and Twisted Roots (a local band that didn't record much, but whose members were part of other, more famous bands), as well as new interviews with the surviving members of those bands.

A History Lesson Part I: Punk Rock in Los Angeles in 1984 -- named after a classic Minutemen song -- is very much a punk rock effort. The concert footage looks and sounds atrocious, and unless you already know the bands and songs, you'll be lost. But if you do, then this is an opportunity to see some of the greatest bands in history (I'm thinking specifically of the Minutemen and the Meat Puppets) in their ferocious prime.

The new interviews contain some great stories, especially from Mike Watt, the bassist for the Minutemen. Sometimes Travis films his interviewees head-on and other times, he places them in front of some odd digital backgrounds, for a kind of psychedelic effect.

Overall, the video seems a little slight, but that's part of its charm; it seems more like a homemade video, passed on by a friend, rather than something produced for PBS. For more Minutemen, definitely see the essential documentary We Jam Econo (2005); the Meat Puppets can be seen in Meat Puppets: Alive in the Nineties as well as their legendary guest spot in Nirvana: Unplugged in New York, but this is the best way to see them at their most dangerous. Red Kross fans might also want to see the low-budget wonder Lovedolls Superstar (1986), upon which Travis worked as an editor and soundman.

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