Punk: Attitude

After airing as part of "Punk Month" on the Independent Film Channel, Don Letts' far-reaching documentary has found the perfect home on DVD. As an integral part of the early punk scene in the UK, Letts, who has crafted documentaries on the Clash and Bob Marley in the past, certainly has the credentials to speak on the creation and evolution of the movement known as punk. While it would be impossible to plot the entire evolution of a genre in one film, Letts does his best to cover all the material he can. His best work comes from exploring the pre-punk era, which led to the creation of the bands often credited with inventing the punk genre, giving ample screen time to members of New York Dolls and MC5, among others. The heavy focus given to the very early days of New York and L.A.'s scenes helps to shape the viewers understanding of exactly what mindset existed at the time, from both a musical and social perspective. As the film moves forward, it is sadly forced to be less detailed, limited by the sheer amount of content and information to be presented. As it stands, Letts does an excellent job trying to touch as many bases as possible. The extras featured here are what make the DVD even more appealing; taking advantage of all of the interview footage with such notables as Henry Rollins, Mick Jones, Thurston Moore, Legs McNeil and others, there are more than two hours worth of extras featured on this disc. Most are separate mini-docs that deal with a certain subject, composed entirely of interview footage. A "Where Are They Now?" feature deals with the current state of many of punks early pioneers, and a "Punk Family Tree" allows the user to click through the members of various bands to see the many connections of the 1970s and '80s scene. A film by Dick Rude on the L.A. punk scene is one of the highlights here, narrated by Keith Morris, and featuring some excellent sound bites from Minutemen bassist Mike Watt. (Koch)