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American Hardcore

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Paul Rachman's documentary on the hardcore punk scene is old-home week if you logged time in 1980-84 at some shit job, whined with your pals about Ronald Ray-Gun and lived for that heady release in the mosh pits of various dives (L.A., Frisco and D.C. represented hardest, but the faithful were stretched nationwide). Catch up with members of such influential acts as the Bad Brains, Black Flag, Flipper and Minor Threat, and check out lots of grainy footage from back-in-the-day concerts. While the band members rightly cite how the scene grew out of youth disaffected by Reaganomics, lame rock and pop music, and a distrust of authority, the film would benefit from explicitly providing this context. Also left largely unexplored, the intense male adolescent aspect of the scene that made it an uncomfortable place for women (even as bands screamed about being disenfranchised) and opened the door to a good deal of violence (including emerging skinhead scenes). Like every other musical genre, hardcore trudges on. But like Woodstock, ideally you really had to be there. (AH)

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