Kill Your Idols

Film
I LOVE THE '80S Lydia Lunch looks back at a decade of dissonance.
I LOVE THE ’80S Lydia Lunch looks back at a decade of dissonance.

Time Out says

Punkumentaries, whether full-fledged films or just chapters in the rock histories on the PBS/VH1 circuit, have finally worked themselves into the inevitable three-chord rut. How many times can you watch the same Stooges and Sex Pistols footage before burnout sets in? Postpunk, however, remains fertile ground, which is why the performances in this chronicle of New York’s no-wave movement come off like revelations. Watching an early Suicide set or Arto Lindsay assault both his guitar and the audience’s eardrums during a DNA show, you feel as if you’ve stumbled across a parallel universe. Iggy and the brothers Ramone are reduced to dates and photo stills; according to this account, it was Teenage Jesus and the Jerks who really brought back rock & roll’s rebellious, fuck-you spirit.

S.A. Crary’s doc starts out on the back-story tip, corralling downtown stalwarts like Lydia Lunch and Glenn Branca to testify to the purity of it all. But when the director tries to connect yesterday’s parties to Brooklyn’s noise-rock revival of 2002, the film runs into road bumps. Cutting from grayhairs moaning about youngsters not getting it to today’s whippersnappers bitching about the exact same thing can be chalked up to purposeful dissonance; saying Sonic Youth is the missing link, then never explaining why, is simply a rookie’s mistake. Following the closing of the later scene’s epicenter, Brownies, and the breakup of several featured contemporary bands, Kill Your Idols effectively becomes a two-part memorial. That it has no beat and you can’t dance to it works in its favor only half of the time. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.) — David Fear

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