Monks—The Transatlantic Feedback

Protopunk band the Monks formed in the mid-’60s, when its five members were American GIs stationed in Germany. While their contemporaries were growing hair over their eyes and wearing impossibly cool suits, the Monks crowned their heads with bald spots and dressed in black, sometimes even donning cassocks. Shockingly, teenage girls failed to chase them through the streets. Even more surprising, their austere image was crafted by Germans—two aspiring Svengalis who viewed the quintet as a kind of Conceptual art project.
This documentary examines the group’s brief existence and longer legacy, mostly through interviews with the musicians and some footage from back in the day. The Monks played loud and sloppy, a minimalist mess of blurred instruments and excitable chants that earned them a distinction as one of many “first punk bands.” (A more pressing question might be, who is the last punk band?) While Monks captures some of the group’s thrill, its reliance on talking heads and standard rock-documentary narrative renders this bizarre group pedestrian. More problematically, the filmmakers failed to persuade the Monks’ enigmatic managers to participate—“a good manager belongs in the background,” one contended—and their absence hangs a question mark over the proceedings. After all, what is a Monk without his maker?

Release details

Rated: NR
Release date: Friday October 31 2008
Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Dietmar Post, Lucía Palacios
1 person listening