Week of May 4, 2005

Punk-A-Muck. (Not Rated) Webster University's program of three feature-length documentaries and one 40-minute work on punk and proto-punk music includes two documentaries available for preview. In 1991: The Year Punk Broke, director Dave Markey assumes the audience knows and loves Sonic Youth as he follows the band (and Nirvana) on its 1991 European tour. Shot on Super8 and 16 mm, the film looks shabby and sloppy, which would be forgivable if some insight had accompanied the badly edited candid footage and performances. Unfortunately, it doesn't, with 1991 geared only toward those wanting to revisit the scene. By contrast, Instrument offers an analytical and entertaining documentary -- also shot on Super8 and 16 mm film, but looking and sounding worlds better than 1991. In collaboration with the band, director Jem Cohen captures the commitment and evolution of Fugazi over a decade, from its first show in September 1987. Stubbornly independent, Fugazi (a Vietnamese word meaning "all messed up") started its own label; kept ticket prices low; and played at anti-apartheid rallies, benefits for AIDS clinics and the homeless, and against Operation Desert Storm. In interviews woven between songs, Ian MacKaye is direct, even eloquent, about the motivation to keep undercutting expectations and to refuse to succumb to vacuous ritual. As MacKaye says, "We don't move people if we slip on an attitude like we slip on our clothes." It has to be genuine, and Fugazi is the real deal. 1991: The Year Punk Broke screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7; Instrument screens at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 8, in the Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University, 470 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Diane Carson) WFS
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