CBGB Film Fest Recap: ‘Burning Down the House’ and ‘Bad Brains’
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Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB
After deciding to skip the CBGB movie (okay, we weren’t invited to the premiere), we decided that we’d rather go for the real story anyway. Burning Down the House, directed by Mandy Stein, focuses on the 2005 battle to save the legendary club.
The daughter of revered music industry vets Seymour and Linda Stein (Ramones manager, co-founder of Sire Records), Mandy Stein filmed CB’s owner Hilly Kristal (who opened the legendary club in 1973), along with devoted staff members and fans (including famous ones) who worked tirelessly to keep the club going. This more recent footage is intercut with archival clips of famous and infamous punk, hardcore, new wave and no wave bands, along with interviews with Deborah Harry, Clem Burke, Richard Hell, Henry Rollins, Steven Van Zandt, Joey Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Marky Ramone, Ice-T, Lenny Kaye, Jim Jarmusch, Sting, Cheetah Chrome, Fab Five Freddy and Sonic Youth.
A great trip down memory lane for those who were there, and a great musical education for those who weren’t (or who can’t recall, for various reasons).
The Bad Brains: A Band in DC
Also directed by Stein, the Bad Brains documentary tells the fascinating story of the African-American punk band from DC. The Bad Brains meld punk and reggae into an incomparable style which sounds like nothing else (perhaps in part because they play faster than anybody else around).
The story is told with rare archival footage, interviews and fun comic book style illustrations, which essentially reconstruct the group’s rich and complex history.
The band has been together for over 30 years, despite an at times challenging relationship with their mercurial and eccentric lead singer, H.R. The Bad Brains have influenced many bands including the Beastie Boys and Nirvana; however they continue to evade the success that so many believe they wholeheartedly deserve.