Punk Week continues with a special installment of our In Five Films series, which aims to offer a crash course and entry point into even the most daunting filmographies. Keep checking back throughout the week for interviews, lists, editorials and videos — it’s all things punk, all the time.
Hollywood and rock music aren’t always a harmonious match; for every galvanizing concert film, heartfelt tribute, or electrifying biographical experiment, there are countless instances of one great twentieth-century art form sanitizing, misrepresenting, or otherwise screwing up another.
Punk music, with its rebellious spirit and lack of reverence for institutions, seems especially fraught as a subject and difficult to capture in mainstream filmmaking. It might be easier to come up with a list of five movies that are punk-rock in spirit without much involving the music itself.
But as punk crashed onto the music scene, got old, got co-opted, turned mainstream, curdled into “alternative,” and reinvented itself, some films have captured its energy and ethos without completely ignoring the “rock” part of punk rock. That includes seminal documentaries like the Decline of Western Civilization series from Penelope Spheeris.
Here, though, we’re focusing on five of the best fiction vehicles for punk cinema.