Henry Rollins

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West of Memphis Review


Excellent

Corruption, self-interest and rampant bigotry are so clearly portrayed in this riveting documentary that if it doesn't make you angry, maybe there's something wrong with you. As filmmaker Amy Berg explores a shocking case from Arkansas, the intractability of the American legal system is highlighted with a lucid and engaging account of the facts. And it's such a skilfully shot and edited film that it leaves us in no doubt about the truth.

At the centre is a multiple murder in May 1993, which the police claimed was the result of a satanic ritual. So they arrested three goth teens whose counter-culture lifestyle made them seem like the logical suspects. After the trial, Echols was sentenced to death, while Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences.  But observers noticed a string of anomalies in the case: the three 8-year-old victims were not acually killed in an occultic way, and there was plenty of proof that the three teen convicts were innocent. For nearly 20 years the cause of the "West Memphis Three" was taken up by lawyers and celebrities around the world. But the Arkansas court has refused to examine new DNA evidence and would only let the three now-men out of prison if they acknowledged their guilt.

Filmmaker Berg has a huge archive of material at her disposal, including footage from the original police investigation, press coverage, video of the trials and extensive interviews with everyone involved. Assembled together this gives us a remarkable big picture of the chain of events, not only letting us see that these three convicted murderers are innocent but hinting at who the real killer might be. The fact that the court still won't hear the facts is so mind-boggling that we begin to worry if the system in West Memphis is capable of justice at all. Especially when police and prosecutors so obviously twist the evidence away from the facts.

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8th annual Johnny Ramone tribute at Hollywood forever cemetery

Henry Rollins - Henry Rollins and Tommy Ramone Sunday 19th August 2012 8th annual Johnny Ramone tribute at Hollywood forever cemetery

8th annual Johnny Ramone tribute at Hollywood forever cemetery

Henry Rollins - Henry Rollins and Linda Ramone Sunday 19th August 2012 8th annual Johnny Ramone tribute at Hollywood forever cemetery

Henry Rollins - The Juicy Middle (Interview)


Henry Rollins - Shrink Wrapped Bands (Interview)


Henry Rollins - Apocalypse Now (Interview)


leaving the BBC Radio 2 studios

Henry Rollins Friday 15th January 2010 leaving the BBC Radio 2 studios London, England

American Hardcore Review


Good
If punk took years to get its deserved kudos from the establishment -- though now enshrined as a marketable commodity, it was long shunned by shibboleths like MTV and Rolling Stone -- there's little telling how long hardcore will take to get even a fraction of the same recognition. The fact that a relatively small number of people reading this will even know the difference is just one sign of how far the long-moribund sub-genre has to go before even approaching mainstream recognition. In the meantime, Paul Rachman's encyclopedic and exhausting American Hardcore will serve as a decent chronicle of hardcore's sharp short years festering in the American underground.

Though punk was a reaction to the safe, staid, cash-register mentality of the '70s arena-sized music scene, it found itself all too quickly co-opted into the industry. Groups like the Sex Pistols disintegrated, The Clash morphed into an adventurous roots-rock, pseudo-ska outfit that started playing radio-friendly hits in arena gigs of their own, and The Ramones, well, they just stayed doing what they always did, never more or less popular than when they started. When the 1980s dawned, music seemed just as escapist as ever, only now many of the outfits were New Wave, punk's bastard offspring, retaining some of the adventurous musicality and edgy fashion sense but little if any of the antiestablishment anger. With a clenched-fist conservative like Reagan in charge, and a mainstream culture just as lobotomized as that of the previous decade, American punks realized there wasn't going to be another Clash coming around, and if they wanted more music of its raging ilk, they'd have to create it on their own. Enter hardcore.

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We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen Review


Excellent
The Minutemen, a trio from San Pedro, California, may not have been the best or most influential group to emerge from America's punk scene in the '80s. But no band worked harder to press the point that punk was a system of beliefs, not just a sound. While most hardcore bands at the time knocked out repetitive, machine-gun beats, drummer George Hurley played splattery, jazz-influenced rhythms; Mike Watt played bass like he'd wandered off George Clinton's Mothership; and guitarist-singer D. Boon rattled off tangled, politicized lyrics that scanned more like Beat poetry than anti-Reagan screeds. When Boon died in a van accident shortly before Christmas 1985, at the age of 27, it was like the scene severed a tendon -- a flexibility that once was there was permanently gone.

Tim Irwin's smart, funny, and affecting documentary about the band makes no great claims about the Minutemen's genius -- in fact, he leaves ample room for numerous scenesters at the time who scratched their heads at the group's look and sound. Instead he concentrates on the close friendship between Boon and Watt, childhood friends who put together a punk band not so much because they loved the Ramones or the Clash but because they loved the idea of creating their own culture out of whole cloth. They were comically naïve at first, thinking that basic stuff like tuning wasn't essential; some guitarists liked their strings "loose," they figured, while others preferred them "tight." But soon enough they'd invented a spiky, insistent sound that packed a surprising amount of movement into very brief tunes with provocative titles like "Little Man With a Gun in His Hand," "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs," and "Jesus and Tequila." (Most listeners figured they were called the Minutemen because their songs often clocked in at under 60 seconds, though Watt debunks that notion in the film.)

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Feast Review


Good
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Project Greenlight, a reality program designed to give first-time film makers an unprecedented shot at their dream, won a few battles but ultimately lost its war.

Over the course of three seasons, Greenlight made mountains out of molehill-sized production problems for the benefit of its drama-craving audience. The program also took joy in vilifying bullish producer Chris Moore, a headstrong professional whose chief crime was trying to keep unfocused amateur film makers on track. Not surprisingly, the weekly episodes ended up being more entertaining than the theatrically released films.

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The Alibi Review


Grim
Distraction is one of Hollywood's greatest assets. People are easily distracted by damn near anything, and in movies it becomes crucial. Story doesn't quite make sense? Make an explosion or a tidal wave. Character development not going so well? Throw a love story in and a sex scene for good measure. If you make things complicated enough, the audience really has nowhere to go and just takes things as they come, allowing for some absolutely implausible things to happen. For Kurt Matilla and Matt Checkowski's The Alibi, distraction is the name of the game, but it's all in the name of fun.Steve Coogan, in what seems destined to be only his first Hollywood film, plays Ray Elliott, a man who has built a business around making it safe for people to cheat on their spouses. Through contacts and an outlandishly complex phone and computer system, Elliott has set up alibis for literally hundreds of people who need a quick romp in the sack. While handling his favorite client, Bob (a cheeky James Brolin), Ray decides to hire Lola (Rebecca Romijn) as his new assistant and is asked to handle one last personal case for Bob: an alibi for his son Wendell. As Wendell is getting his freak on in the clear, he accidentally kills the girl he's with and Ray is forced to cover it up, something he vows never to do. Soon enough, the girl's boyfriend (John Leguizamo), a cop (Debi Mazar), and a Mormon assassin (Sam Elliott) are all after Ray and he has to mislead all of them to make sure he can quit and run away with Lola, who has indeed fallen for him even though they only have a handful of scenes together (a largely undisputed problem with many romantic subplots).With a runtime just a tad shy of 90 minutes, The Alibi can't handle all these characters, even if it all just comes back to Ray. Talented actors like Leguizamo, Selma Blair, and the great Elliott play their parts well but are given no room to dig into the roles. In fact, the structure of the film introduces each of these characters as a threat then moves straight into how they get duped by Ray. Writer Noah Hawley seems so interested in the quirkiness and silliness of his characters that he doesn't take time to really bring them to life and make them work their mojo on the film.What keeps the film from being a disaster is Coogan, who gives Ray so much wise-ass, dry-as-a-martini charm that we are simply enamored with laughter every time he comes on screen. Although he seems more at home with indie masterpieces like 24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Coogan has an odd way of keeping us interested in things when Matilla, Checkowski, and cinematographer Enrique Chediak are just fine playing things safe and harmless. In the end, the problem comes down to conflict: there is none. The minute danger is introduced to Ray or the storyline, it becomes clear that Ray can handle it and that there really is no threat at all. Therefore, none of the characters stick, because we know they're all just small-timers compared to Ray. But as far as distraction goes, Coogan has got the whole game wired.

Scenes of the Crime Review


Weak
Tip for those of you who want to make a gangster thriller flick: Don't set it largely in a van parked outside a dingy deli. Not really the glamor scene you're looking for, even if you do have perennial actor's actor Jeff Bridges trapped in back. While this cat and mouse game is woefully lacking in grandeur and carries few surprises in its plot, it's got a few goodish performances and soliloquys that make the two hours something better than truly awful.

My Generation Review


Good
Barbara Kopple manages to damn culture and the counterculture, making enemies of the whole world, with her lambasting of the Woodstock phenomenon in My Generation. Through the music festival's three incarnations so far (1969, 1994, and 1999), the highs and lows of the events are tracked. Of course, the way Kopple shows it (and I'm with her -- I'd never go to one of these things), it's mostly lows. If she isn't showing the riots, arsons, lootings, and overdoses of the crowd, she's railing against the corporate greed underlying the festival ($135 to $150 for tickets? A $7 slushee? After Pepsi shells out $5 million for sponsorship rights?) -- all under the guise of documentarian neutrality. Kopple's opinion may shine through in color, but that doesn't make it wrong. At two hours, My Generation is way too long (do we really need that much Limp Bizkit footage?), but it's still an eye-opening look into the corporate politics of the youth culture.
Henry Rollins

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