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With: D. Boon, Mike Watt, George Hurley, Jello Biafra, John Doe, Flea, Grant Hart, Richard Hell, Curt Kirkwood, David Markey, J. Mascis, Mike Mills, Thurston Moore, Henry Rollins
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Tim Irwin
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 91
Date: 02/25/2005

We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen (2005)

4 Stars (out of 4)

This Ain't No Picnic

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Tim Irwin's We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen, about the great 1980s punk band from San Pedro, California, was one of last year's finest documentaries, and one of the greatest rock movies I've ever seen. It even passed the test of a great rock movie: it inspired me to rush out and buy a CD, in this case the Minutemen's 1984 masterpiece, Double Nickels on the Dime, which has rarely left my CD player eversince. Celebrating the band's short, meteoric career, this passionate,energetic film features interviews with punk luminaries such as JelloBiafra, John Doe, Grant Hart, Flea, Richard Hell and Thurston Moore, andlots of great concert footage. More than that, however, the filmcaptures the genuine friendship and adoration between the band's geniusleader, D. Boon (who died in a car crash in 1985) and bassist Mike Watt.Watt's onscreen interviews are surprisingly heartfelt and elevate thisto a level way beyond the usual VH1 special.

DVD Details: Plexifilm's wonderful double-disc DVD set does justice to the film. It doesn't bother with the usual extra stuff (commentary tracks, making-of) and instead concentrates on more Minutemen, including extra interviews and lots and lots of concert footage (with more than 60 songs). The most surprising extra to me, however, was a 1985 "Acoustic Blowout" performance in Hollywood, in which the three band members (including drummer George Hurley) sit in a circle and strum out several of their best numbers. Like Nirvana's Unplugged in New York, the more intimate setting reveals a new power inside songs like "Corona" and "History Lesson, Part 2." The band also performs a cover of Credence Clearwater Revival's "Green River" that eclipses the original.

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