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Good Good Things

Looks like I, along with about a hundred people, got to witness something last Thursday that people all over the world are clamoring for: seeing Filmage, the documentary on the Descendents/All.

I do what I can to spotlight local filmmakers with my connection to the Observer, but I wasn't expecting thousands of Facebook "Like"s and dozens of tweets about my brief Q&A with the filmmakers. I don't write for stats, but I'm well aware of them when a story goes live.

Coming out of the screening at the Texas Theatre -- which I can safely put on the same level as the original Alamo Drafthouse in Austin -- I couldn't stop gushing about the film. As in, this is a documentary that should be seen all over the world. And I'd love to see the film again.

The story of the Descendents (and its off-shoot All) is not something that could fit in a documentary like, say, American Hardcore or Hype! The Descendents might have been on one of the coolest punk rock labels in the '80s, but they were too melodic to be considered angry. All might have put out a record on a major label in the '90s, but they were not one of the casualties of the post-Nirvana/Green Day boom. The band is a story to itself, and I'm really happy a documentary on them exists. And it's a pretty definitive one at that, given the people interviewed for it.

The film looks beautiful, features a ton of great songs, and moves at a pretty even pace. Yet when the pace slows to a crawl (I won't say where or why), the film becomes much more than a retelling of a band's history. This part adds tremendous emotional depth that you rarely see in these kinds of films, especially about fast punk rock bands.

As I walked out of the theater and into the lobby, I talked with a number of people. One of the first things I said was, "I want to go home and pull out Milo Goes to College, Somery, and the All compilation on Owned and Operated." I've listened to the Descendents and All for many years, but it had been a while since I listened any of those. A great documentary on a band can make me want to listen to them again, and Filmage did just that.

I can't stress enough how good this is. While the filmmakers need to get music licensing taken care of, I hope they can commercially release this version as is. Whatever hurdles they need to get over, I believe it will be worth it in the long run.


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