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END OF THE CENTURY: THE RAMONES STORY

SYNOPSIS:
Formed in 1974 by a group of social misfits living in Forest Hills, New York, The Ramones carried the torch for American punk rock until their final concert in 1996 and were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002. Despite only occasional flirtations with chart success, the band's pivotal position in the Punk/New Wave movement and their appeal to outcasts and the disenfranchised made them one of the most enduring and influential of all American rock acts.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
If any band was proof of the punk ethic that musical virtuosity need have nothing to do with success, it was The Ramones. Apart from a brief dalliance with the excesses of genius/madman record producer Phil Spector, The Ramones pumped out a basic diet of primal three-chord rock and roll for two decades. One of the most appealing themes running through this rock-doc is the admission by all concerned that The Ramones were never great musicians and never needed to be. What they had was a ferocious stage presence and a "freaks can win" attitude that won them the kind of loyal following akin to that enjoyed by heavy metal behemoths like Metallica. Made in the nick of time - Joey Ramone had already died and Dee Dee and Johnny have died since this was released - End Of The Century carries the same fast and rough feeling that characterised the band's music. Opening with their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002, it presents an entertaining and insightful collection of archival material and interviews charting the band's twenty-year existence.

Fulfilling the charter we now expect after docos like Some Kind Of Monster, the band's story is related warts'n all. Much of the running time is taken up by the tensions between Johnny and Joey (over a woman, in true rock style) and the rigid code of musical ethics that made some band members fit into the Ramones "family" while others remained forever on the outside. One of the great paradoxes of Punk rock was/has always been the strict dress, attitude and musical rules enforced by many exponents who were drawn to the form by the ideals of freedom and non-conformity.

Here it's the right wing Johnny Ramone who emerges as the most fascinating character. His Ramones family manifesto and "god bless George Bush and god bless America" statement at the Hall of Fame ceremony have a quasi-religious zeal that at once seems at odds with the band's outsider stance and at the same time explains their longevity and refusal to budge from a limited musical repertoire. Joey's painful shyness, Dee-Dee's heroin-wasted ramblings and the original drummer (and long-time producer) Tommy's articulate assessment of the group's story make End Of The Century a must for fans of the band and a valuable history lesson for anyone even vaguely interested in the topic.

The archival material is priceless, with rare live footage of fellow New Wavers Television, Blondie and Talking Heads and old stagers The Stooges guaranteed to give aficionados goose bumps. What's remarkable about listening to the Ramones music now is how catchy much of it is. Like other punk bands whose music has survived - the Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks come immediately to mind - The Ramones crafted some glorious pop songs ("Sheena Is A Punk Rocker", "I Wanna Be Well", "Rockaway Beach", "I Wanna Be Sedated") in between same-sounding chainsaw guitar attacks.

It's these tuneful tributes to girl groups of the 60s and doo-woppers of the 50s that guarantee the lasting legacy of The Ramones. To find out why kids will still be listening to the music and wearing the T-shirts for years to come, End Of The Century provides the illuminating answers. Gabba Gabba Hey!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

END OF THE CENTURY: THE RAMONES STORY (M)
(US)

CAST: Documentary with The Ramones, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone, Marky Ramone, Christopher Ward

PRODUCER: Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia

DIRECTOR: Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia

SCRIPT: Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Bowles, Jim Fields, John Gramaglia, Michael Gramaglia, Peter Hawkins

EDITOR: Jim Fields, John Gramaglia

MUSIC: Not credited

PRODUCTION DESIGN: N/a

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Level 4 Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth: January 13, 2005 (advance screenings Jan 7 - 9); Other states to follow







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