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Worth A Look33.33%
Just Average: 4.76%
Pretty Crappy: 28.57%
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2 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Ramones: End of the Century
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by Carina Hoskisson

"Everything you ever hoped a punk documentary could be"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL :: Ever wondered why you’ve never seen Behind The Music with The Ramones? End of The Century, the comprehensive documentary on the seminal Punk band, is the good reason why. During the making of the documentary MTV, VH1 and other networks approached The Ramones, but were turned down by the band in favor of Michael Gramaglia’s hardscrabble approach. Somehow it wouldn't be right for a Ramones documentary to be polished or slick.

The film begins (predictably) in the blue-collar apartment buildings of 1960’s Queens. Joey Ramone was a quiet, weird, sick kid diagnosed with OCD. He used to hang around with the neighborhood kids and wish he were accepted by the in-crowd. Joey's friend Johnny had to make the choice between becoming a career criminal or using his unrelenting work ethic to make something of himself. In a move (isn’t it always?) to impress girls, Joey, Johnny, and their friends started a rock band. What’s the problem with starting a rock band? You usually need to know how to play your instruments. Unless, of course, you’re on the vanguard of a new movement that won’t require anyone to play instruments well for years to come.

A little piece of my heart went with this documentary. It needs a re-edit to cut a good 20-30 minutes out of the movie. But the stories are so interesting, you almost don’t mind spending 30 minutes watching vintage CBGBs footage. I couldn’t believe they had video of The Ramones first performance at CBGBs. The group can’t stop their set without throwing punches at each other. One wants to play Blitz Krieg Bop, the other something else. So they each play whatever song they wanted to play, screw the other guys. DeeDee is so high it’s a wonder he can stand at all. Tommy is so pissed off he’ll probably put his fist through a wall in a minute. Soon they'll be on the ride of their lives.

The title refers to the album that The Ramones cut in 1983 with famed “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector. When this documentary was made Phil hadn’t shot anyone, but after viewing what hell the group went through to make the record, I wouldn’t doubt his guilt. Joey, who always loved 60’s pop, wanted so badly to make this album with Spector. Joey viewed it as the legitimization of The Ramones. I guess he never realized how legitimate they had become.
The End of The Century was very nearly the end of The Ramones. Joey’s girlfriend (depending on the version of events you choose to believe) either left him or was stolen by Johnny. It didn’t help that Johnny married her. Joey was wounded so deeply it never healed. Johnny and Joey never really talked to each other again.

Year by year the documentary plods by, Ramones join the band and leave, they tour incessantly. The band is driven by Johnny's iron work ethic: even when Joey is sick they won’t stop touring.

End of The Century took more than four years to film. I don’t know if labor of love would even describe what the filmmaker’s went through. Directors Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia walked “a tightrope between waring factions of the band for upwards of about four years.”
Documentaries can hinge on their talking heads and in End of The Century each Ramone is given their two minutes. The documentarians filmed Johnny's story first and were waiting for Joey to get to a healthy point before filming him. Joey didn’t want to film until he looked better. Johnny's revelations are succinct and matter-of-fact. DeeDee’s interviews are scatterbrained and hysterical. There is even the Ramone who is now a hotel manager. Every section is marked by the kind of candor that comes from years of reflection, and the comfort of knowing your teammates and combatants.

In a sad turn of events, the fragile, sickly kid from Queens succumbed to his illnesses before he could tell his story. The movie is carefully cut with quotations from Joey and even phone interviews. The quiet interludes between frenetic performances and barely discernable footage remind the viewer in a not so subtle way of Joey’s absence.

End of The Century is everything you ever thought a Punk documentary could be. It’s loud, poorly photographed, gritty, probably edited on a laptop, and slowly burns itself out in a mish-mash of storytelling and fingerpointing. In short, End of The Century is the perfect punk documentary. I hope it gets distribution or at the very least a television premiere. End of the Century certainly deserves to be seen by a wide audience. Long live The Ramones.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6791&reviewer=44
originally posted: 03/18/03 00:39:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Slamdance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/30/07 David Pollastrini Great band with great songs 3 stars
5/29/06 Mikey Ramone Is it possible not to love these guys? 1, 2, 3, 4 ! ! ! 5 stars
9/28/04 Cecil Walker Ramones fan since i was 7. Crappy documentary but enjoyed seeing it, nonetheless. 4 stars
7/18/04 stuff totally rad dudes yeah ramones RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/18/04 Kate Brilliantly candid. A real insight, warts and all. 5 stars
7/20/03 Becky Riveting 5 stars
1/27/03 Mark Edwards yes, fucking awesome 5 stars
1/24/03 Julie Ryan Totally amazing! learned stuff I never knew- Johnny is scary and sincere - I was choked up 5 stars
1/24/03 volkie punk as fuck 5 stars
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Directed by
  Jim Fields
  Michael Gramaglia

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