25 Greatest Punk Rock Movies of All Time - Rolling Stone
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25 Greatest Punk Rock Movies of All Time

From U.K.-to-L.A. scene rockumentaries to riot-grrl portraits and the Ramones’ fictional alma mater, our favorite portrayals of punk on screen

Punk started as a sonic flipped bird to the Rock Inc. industry who many said had become bloated beyond repair — and like its Elvis/Beatles/Stones ancestors, punk's scenes and subcultures would ended up leaving its mark on the movies. From seminal concert movies to rockumentaries, the underground shock cinema that found fertile ground in its DIY aesthetics to the mainstream movies that smelled an exploitable trend, we're counting down the 25 best punk-rock films of all time. 1-2-3-4!

1

‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ (1981)

Black Flag, X, the Germs, Fear, Circle Jerks — Penelope Spheeris' look at the Los Angeles scene is a virtual roll call of the MVPs who'd help turn the region into a hardcore/punk Mecca. (Missing in action is the Minutemen, who'd thankfully get their own stem-to-stern study, We Jam Econo, in 2005.) The performance footage alone makes this worthy of study by musicologists and historians. There are too many great scenes to mention: Chuck Dukowski's Colt 45-induced giggling, Fear baiting their audience (then getting into a massive fistfight), Darby Crash bonding with a tarantula and bantering about injuries, the what-me-worry vibe of the candid li'l punker interviews. But what makes this doc invaluable, however, is the way the movie's you-are-there portrait drops you right into moment of maximum combustion, as volatile performers and violent crowds feed off each other in a nihilistic free-for-all. People talk about how dangerous, disruptive, damaged, often damaging and, for many, defining American punk was in the early Reagan era. Watch this, and you'll know why. DF

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