Sunday, April 17, 2005

Movie Review: End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones

Some details about the individual members of the Ramones have emerged with their passing in recent years, but End of the Century made me realize just how little I knew about them. I was familiar with the basic story: four degenerates from Queens formed a band. Their distinctive aesthetic of three chords and three-minute songs defined punk and has been hugely influential, notably for other artists that have gone on to greater popularity, but the Ramones themselves never had the big commercial breakthrough for which they hoped. The movie not only chronicles this story in much greater detail but also lets their personalities emerge. The guys are complex and not always very pleasant, and the movie doesn't shy away from this. There are plenty of revelations as well as lots of music and concert footage that cements their well-earned reputation.

The DVD includes extra footage, such as Marky explaining how their style of playing required so much stamina that it was more difficult than more florid rock and the mostly-forgotten Richie Ramone reminiscing about Johnny's dismissing his suggestion of using a minor chord.

The hardest part of watching it was realizing how many people in it are already dead. Joey had already succumbed to cancer before the film was made, although he was in plenty of the archival footage. Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone and Joe Strummer were interviewed for the movie, and all were gone before the movie's release last year.

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