Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

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  • Summary: Generally unheralded at the time, the early 1980s hardcore punk rock scene gave birth to much of the rock music and culture that followed. Hardcore was more than music -- it was a social movement created by Reagan-era misfit kids. The participants constituted a tribe unto themselves -- some finding a voiced, others an escape in the hard-edged music. Ans while some sought a better world, others were just angry and wanted to raise hell. American Hardcore traces this lost subculture, from its early roots in 1980 to its initial flameout in 1986. (Sony Pictures Classics) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Excellent documentary American Hardcore chronicles the short-lived but influential musical moment when a defiantly anti-commercial underground put a distinctive U.S. stamp on the hitherto Brit-driven punk movement.
  2. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    The story of American punk rock (1980–1986) isn't a lot easier to summarize than that of any other major war, but it's quite a bit funnier, as this belated documentary overview--based on Steven Blush's like-titled tome--proves in each of its 90 exuberantly irritable minutes.
  3. 75
    Messed up as it is, you can't tear your eyes away from this explosion of brutal sounds and images.
  4. A toned-down cinematic equivalent of the music: fast and loud, but not too loud. The movie scrambles to cover so much territory that there is room only for musical shards and slivers; few complete songs are heard, and no signature anthems stand out.
  5. 70
    Some of American Hardcore is amusing -- many of the aging punks Rachman and Blush track down have turned into highly ordinary middle-aged Americans -- and some is profoundly disturbing.
  6. 67
    Hardcore might have been confused and crude, but it was never guilty of being tepid, like this film.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Twenty-five years on, hardcore continues to be the soundtrack of choice for extreme, white-supremacist groups hoping to tap into teenage rage. With no one on hand to counter the argument, this may go down as hardcore's lasting legacy.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. caporegime
    Jun 10, 2009
    Perfectly explained and documented.
  2. GeorgeW.
    Mar 18, 2007
    Though it dragged in spots, this was a helluva documentary for my wife and myself as we lived the SF hardcore scene in the early eighties. I kept expecting to see myself or her thrashing about or hanging in the audience. If there had been more from SF, this may have happened. I could forgive the lack of SF coverage as the main protaginists, the DKs are now at each other's throats. All in all an important work that I always wondered if anyone would make. Expand
  3. JesseO.
    Nov 26, 2007
    One of the best films of the 80's true punk evolution really liked the interviews of some of those most resposible for it all.
  4. E.S.
    Dec 2, 2006
    Decent documentary, perhaps a little wanting at some points, but it did successfully tell the story of a musical movement with some interesting historical context. I'm mainly posting this in response to the TV Guide review, however: I can't believe how misguided the reviewer, Ken Fox, is when he refers to this music as having a racist legacy. As Ian MacKaye points out in his interview, that's not what he meant his songs to become, and it's terribly off-base considering the diverse nature of many of the bands, particularly Bad Brains, but quite a few others. The misogynist message of hardcore, particularly in relation to Black Flag, is brought up in the movie as well and not in a particularly positive light. It seems to me that Mr. Fox was in a different movie from the rest of us. Expand
  5. KeithM.
    Oct 16, 2007
    I cant believe how out of touch some of the big media reviewers are.. This was first wave hardcore after punk hit the US. This film just scratched the surface on what many people consider an important part of their lives today or yesteryear.. Its interesting how few judgments were made.. either about sexist & rapist remarkst. Things were just stated and that was it. For better or for worse its an after math of decline of western civilization part 1.. Just not quite as psychoanalytic (unfortunately). I for one would've liked some more explanation of why people were so overtly violent.. "We were just f* ups" seems to be lacking. And who said the skinhead thing had anything to do with racists? Theres more variety in race of skinheads than their are white power skins.. but thats a whole other movie. Expand
  6. Alana
    Aug 25, 2007
    I wasn't particularly blown away by this documentary, more specifically after the first 45 minutes I was relatively disappointed. It's been mentioned that the misogynist message of hardcore was brought up... just barely. Roessler actually accuses black flag for hating women and this is never investigated further.. As for the criticism regarding white supremacy, yeah there was a lot of mix up of white skin head supremacists in the punk scene.. but the documentary seemed to draw a very fine line between the skin heads and the punks. I just felt like it should have dug in to punk culture a lot more.. it was a very superficial film, although it did improve towards the end. Yeah you got the shit kicked out of you at bad brains show in the early eighties, what difference does it make if henry rollins tells us about it or some misfit kid who broke his arm in the pit. I was anticipating more. Expand
  7. RemiS.
    Nov 14, 2007
    Lacks focus. They don't even try to explain "hardcore" let alone "american hardcore". Movie should have been titled "My life in the 80s". You are presented a loose collection of a narrow recollection of a select few of the "punk" music scene of the early 80s. No analysis, no introspection- just anecdotes. Collapse

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