Forget the Acting, Songs Tell CBGB's Cinematic Story

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CBGB, the movie about the iconic club, opens in theaters in a week; but, in an exclusive arrangement with DirecTV Cinema, it's been playing on demand for the last month. So, I rented the movie because it's cheaper to pay 11 bucks and drink PBR at home than take the family to the theater and pay 11 bucks for a tub of popcorn.

How punk rock of me.

Anyway, someone who is qualified to critique the movie on its cinematic merits may come along and do just that in weeks to come, so I won't delve deep into whose performance is award-winning (none) or if the screenplay is especially good (not really). Instead, I'll just say if you love music, especially the kind that came from this hallowed establishment, you should at least rent CBGB on video.

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There are some things about the film that are off-putting, to say the least. Let's get that stuff out of the way. First, the story is told, from beginning to end, with a comic-book motif. Periodically, the live action will be framed like comics, complete with words like BANG! or thought bubbles replacing dialogue. Although this was very annoying, I did laugh when a thought bubble was attributed to a large rodent who remarked on the state of the Bowery alleyway behind the bar.

And, if you aren't a fan of the music, there's not enough climactic action to keep your interest. The crux of the conflict is that CBGB's late, legendary owner, Hilly Kristal (played by Alan Rickman), was a pretty bad money manager.

If a boring movie presented in a grating format doesn't interest you, you may not have read this far into this faux-review anyhow. If you're still with me, it's because of the music, which is the one of the two main reasons to watch.

I don't know much about biopics, but I know moviegoers won't watch them if filmmakers cast the wrong person to play a real person. A lot of punk rockers, young and old, are going to despise the movie solely because of a few A-listers in the cast. It's not that big a deal.


Review continues on the next page.

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