Monday, March 17, 2014

The Punk Singer (IFC DVD) - Suck. My. Awesome. Documentary.

I feel guilty. Every so often I grow a big ol' conscience and realize that I seem to talk about female stars in terms of their hotness. I refer to star crushes, physical attributes, sexuality. Man, I must come across like a super sleezer. What gives? I mean, I listen to Bikini Kill right? I should be a better man. I really shouldn't love trash exploitation cinema nearly as much as I do, and I certainly should sexualize women in horror movies nearly as much as I do. So I feel guilty, and I bet it's all Kathleen Hanna's fault. I suppose that brings me straight to the subject of tonight's review of which I feel exceptionally good, The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna.

Synopsis from IFC:

Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill and dance-punk trio Le Tigre, rose to national attention in the 1990s as the reluctant but never shy voice of the riot grrrl movement. She became both one of the most famously outspoken feminist icons and a cultural lightning rod. While her critics wished she would just shut up, her fans hoped she never would. So when in 2005 Hanna stopped shouting, many wondered why. Through 20 years of archival footage and intimate interviews with Hanna and those who were part of the scene, including music legends Joan Jett and the Beastie Boys' Adam Horowitz (Hanna's husband), THE PUNK SINGER takes viewers on a fascinating tour of contemporary music and offers a never-before-seen view into the life of this fearless leader - "a woman who has been through hell and come out kicking, and the result is as much celebration as it is a documentary" (Tom Huddleston, Time Out London). The film, which premiered at the SXSW festival and went on to a successful theatrical run through IFC Films, also features Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and actress-writer Carrie Brownstein.

If you're a fan of Bikini Kill, The Julie Ruin or Le Tigre you won't need to read this review to know that you MUST pick up this documentary. It's filled with memories, and it's filled with the kind of energy that will spark up your middle aged, formerly moral self. Start pre-Bikini Kill and work right up to the most recent efforts by Kathleen Hanna to re-emerge after a debilitating battle with goddamn Lymes Disease. It's a life time of inspiration, struggle, heart break and most of all, triumph over some pretty evil social shit. Sure, the battle ain't over (I feel that I can exemplify that), but pioneers like Hanna and Kim Gordon (featured in the movie) helped to make great strides for independent thought in music and the conception of what it means to speak to a generation, what it means to be a feminist.

Best part about the documentary: Seeing what happened to Kathleen Hanna post-2005 musical shutdown. Worst part about the documentary: wish you could turn back time and help her get the proper diagnosis sooner. Second best part: Kathleen Hanna is a beautiful person, inside and out, and it's a pleasure to see how she's changed just as so many of us changed. We also used to go the Riot Grrrl shows and strike up the Girl Power fist. Hell, I played in a band that deemed itself Riot Grrrl for a short while and for me it's like relieving a piece of my own life. Those were some of the best performances of my life with some great friends. I miss covering Rebel Girl and Carnival and Suck My Left One.

If you want to see some great old concert footage, hear Hanna's manifesto from her mouth, from Kim Gordon's mouth, if you want to relive the 90's and remember how everyone made a difference for even a short while, this is a great documentary for you. It's well thought out. Complete. It touches all the sore spots and triumphant celebrations. There are plenty of familiar faces to meet up with along the way. Plenty of gossip and explanation. The good, the bad and the screaming underwear clad!

The disc comes with quite a few featurettes, deleted scenes and a trailer. Overall a nice package by IFC for fans of an era that could easily re-emerge.

You can order your copy now. The Punk Singer releases March 25th.

Rebel girl... you're still the queen of my world.... but don't beat me up for saying it (I'll stand in the back like a good boy). I'll try to talk less about boobies as penance. Oh the guilt. You guys know that despite some of my irreverent discussion of raw sexuality that I deeply respect women right? That this isn't all about tits and ass (95% not about tits and ass)?

-Doc Terror

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