I wanna be so dated
After almost three decades, it's finally time to give the Ramones their due in the form of a documentary called "End of the Century" that shows not only the band's key role in the development of rock but also the members' strong personalities.
By JASON GREY
I can count on one hand the number of documentaries about musicians released in the past year. With VH-1's "Behind The Music" series practically monopolizing the rockumentary genre, concert films and rock documentaries have been relegated to sixty-minute specials on television or the specialty section at the video store. But in pure punk-rock fashion, "End of the Century: The Story of The Ramones" breathes life into it.
You've heard of The Ramones. The legendary punk rock band that slammed audiences with melody using only three or four chords and no musical training. They are credited with solidifying the sound and ideals of punk rock. Every rock band formed after 1977 from The Cramps to Sum 41 have been influenced by The Ramones.
|END OF THE CENTURY: THE STORY OF THE RAMONES|
|Directed by: Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia.|
Featuring: Rodney Bingenheimer, Danny Fields, Deborah Harry, Legs McNeil, Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Marky Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Seymour Stein, Joe Strummer, Rob Zombie.
Cinematography: David Bowles, Jim Fields, John Gramaglia, Michael Gramaglia, Peter Hawkins.
Edited by: Jim Fields, John Gramaglia.
Related links: Official site
|Angelika Film Center
18 West Houston at Mercer St.|
"End of the Century" follows the 21-year career of this remarkable band. From their origin as four misfits from Forest Hills, Queens, to their induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you are a fan of The Ramones, then it should be required viewing. Fans will get a closer look at the band and hear how it was to be The Ramones straight from The Ramones themselves. Even if you are not a fan, the documentary is very thorough and entertaining and will give you insight into the band, the music industry and the history of the punk-rock scene and what The Ramones did to rock and roll music. Even if you don't like rock music, the movie is about a whole lot more.
The filmmakers Michael and John Gramaglia and Jim Fields, who were all friends of The Ramones, put the camera on the band and in a friendly fashion ask the band to describe their lives and discuss what it was like to be a touring band for 20-plus years. The band members' answers are what we see on screen and it is a delight. They are down-to-earth people being themselves and trying to tell how it was to be a punk band. Of course, not just any punk band, but The Ramones.
The "core members" of The Ramones Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy are complete characters. One is a romantic, the other a disaffected disciplinarian. There is a fun-loving drug addict and one that is very pragmatic. In the interviews they are individuals, but a whole new character is made when they come together as a band. Hearing their stories is as interesting and as dramatic as "Sid and Nancy," "Eddie and The Cruisers," "That Thing You Do" or any other narrative film about musicians.|
As "End of the Century" unfolds, the viewer is led to believe that The Ramones couldn't complete their dream of financial success in the music industry although they were a well-known and respected band. Pop-chart success was beyond the band's reach. Going against the grain of popular lollipop acts of the time like Donnie and Marie Osmond, they couldn't find a place for their pioneering music in the mainstream, the film argues.
And the film goes further, suggesting that the music industry even overlooked The Ramones for their British "offspring," The Clash and The Sex Pistols, who might not have tried to make it as bands if they hadn't picked up a Ramones album or gone to see them live during The Ramones' first British tour. "End of the Century" includes excellent footage of Joe Strummer (The Clash's singer/guitarist) recalling meeting The Ramones in England during the band's first tour. Of course, a year later The Clash had more success in the United States than The Ramones did.
The movie points out that even after The Ramones worked with the Phil Spector, a producer who had multiple hits in the 1950s and '60s, they still couldn't break into the pop charts. A great moment in the film is hearing members of The Ramones recall their time with Phil Spector in 1979. One is given a little more insight into Mr. Spector's life at the time and viewers can make their own connection into how it may relate to his current homicide investigation. It is gems like these that a viewer may not have been privy to before that End of the Century produces.
Other gems include the possible meaning behind the song "The KKK Took My Baby Away" or which band member was prostituting himself on 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue in the song 53rd and 3rd? Do you remember Dee Dee Ramone's brief stint in the world of rap music? Why did The Ramones go through so many drummers during their career? It all stems from each band member's life and their time with the band. You may know that the band didn't get along very well, but the movie gives you quite a bit more insight into why they didn't like each other. It lets the viewer see the band's cynicism and disillusionment and why they continued to perform. Take a closer look at that stone known as The Ramones and there is a lot of interesting stuff on the surface, but turn that rock over and there is a world of dirt, ants, centipedes, worms, and all sorts of fun stuff.
The Ramones deserve a big-screen release like "End of The Century," and the filmmakers let us know why by presenting the band's international influence with footage that goes from here to Brazil and includes live concert footage that makes you want to join in on the applause. The band is in a class of musical artists that surpasses their pop-chart status which is why they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and why this movie was made.
In a time when musicians are knighted by the queen of England, acknowledged by presidents of former Soviet republics, and have city streets named after them, you may want to take a closer look at to who these people are. "End of the Century: The Story of The Ramones" is a perfect opportunity to do so.
|AUGUST 21, 2004|
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