"1991: The Year Punk Broke" is a raggedy, amateurish documentary chronicling the adventures of Sonic Youth, an equally raggedy, amateurish band that accompanied Nirvana on European tour in 1991. I have a feeling if it were any better it would be a lot worse.
What the film gets is the gritty, scruffy quality of life at the far reaches of professional music culture. It may not be pretty, but it sure as hell is real.
The prime figure in this panoply is one Thurston Moore, an archetypal angry young man who fronts for the band with a kind of seething anger and glib facetiousness that David Markey's camera reads perfectly. What's Moore rebelling against? Whattaya got?
He wants to trash the record companies for being -- uh, record companies; he wants to trash the Bush administration for being -- uh, the Bush administration; he wants to trash the KGB for trying to overthrow Gorbachev! He rants, he raves and the camera gets it all. This is amusing if you're under 19 and tiresome otherwise.
The movie is part of the Charles' Rock 'n' Roll Weekend; it plays today. Tomorrow it's "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," which does for the '80s what "The Year Punk Broke" does for the '90s: that is, record, listen and chronicle, without comment.
'1991: The Year Punk Broke'
Directed by David Markey