Review – Filmage: The Story of Descendents/ALL

Original FILMAGE artwork by Chris Shary

Original FILMAGE artwork by Chris Shary

Review by By Dustin Griffin - 5/5 Dragons 
From October 2014 Vandala Magazine  READ MORE ARTICLES

The introduction to some of my favorite punk bands, some of punk rock’s most iconic bands, have been compilation albums. Albums like Ramones Mania and Bad Religion’s All Ages. In 1991 the box set The Clash on Broadway was released. I couldn’t get my hands on a copy, but I got one from my local library and never gave back, until a few years later, but it changed my life. That same year, venerated punk rock label SST released Somery, a 28 song Descendents compilation album. Again, I was only 7 years old at the time and didn’t actually hear the album for another ten years, when the bass player of a band I was in recommended it to me with the words, “you gotta hear these guys, their singer Milo is insane.” I bought the cd at a Music World (RIP) and went a little insane myself.

Thirteen years later and I still have that Cd. It’s scratched all to hell and skips as many songs as it doesn’t, but I still listen to it on a regular basis.

When Matt Riggle and Deedle LaCour first started making rumblings about a Descendents movie they were working on in 2010, it immediately became the most anticipated musical documentary of my entire life. With the band’s on again off again schedule, massive gaps between albums and the sizeable amount of time since they were last active (when Cool To Be You was released), a documentary about the band was just what I, and the world, needed to be reminded of the band’s influence and invention.

And that’s what Filmage does best. Reminds us that this band is one of the best ever to wave the punk rock flag.

With interviews ranging from the likes of Dave Grohl and Mark Hoppus, to Fat Mike, who’s always been very vocal about his love of the band, and a host of his label’s bands, Filmage includes a wide swath of rockers paying their respects and showing their admiration.

The doc also goes deep into the band’s history. Interviews with every living member, anecdotes and reminiscences ranging from the silly (Bill is a big farter) to the nearly tragic (Bill almost dies twice in a short period of time from serious medical conditions) to the triumphant (Bill almost dies twice in a short period of time from serious medical conditions and lives to tell the tale).

It’s not all about Bill, but he is an easy focal point.
There’s also a treasure trove of live footage stretching as far back as one of Milo’s first shows, all the way up to their grand reentrance at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and the touring warpath they’ve been on since.

Finally, and I’m sorry this is an after note, but this band seems destined to be an after note wherever the Descendents are mentioned, the documentary gives a fine history of ALL. The band, as Bill Stevenson so acutely points out, that has always been guilty of not being the Descendents.

Filmage is a hugely important film for Descendents fans. But like End of the Century and Westway To The World, it is also a hugely important film for the history of punk rock. You can’t not mention the Descendents when you mention punk rock, particularly the punk rock of the 80’s. Now, you can’t not mention Filmage when you mention the all time great punk rockumentaries. This is one of the best movies of the year.


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