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CBGB (Blu-ray Review)

15 Jan, 2014 By: John Latchem

Box Office $0.04 million
$20.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some sexual content, drug use, and a scene of violence.
Stars Alan Rickman, Malin Åkerman, Freddy Rodriguez, Stana Katic, Richard de Klerk, Rupert Grint, Justin Bartha, Joel David Moore, Johnny Galecki, Donal Logue, Ashley Greene, Taylor Hawkins, Mickey Sumner, Estelle Harris.

The independent film CBGB is a tribute to the punk music scene at the eponymous New York City club, which closed in 2006.

It relates how Hilly Kristal (Alan Rickman) followed up a series of failed attempts to run bars in the 1970s by trying to open a bluegrass club, which quickly became the center of the underground punk rock scene. Hilly’s general cluelessness and lackadaisical attitude set up some amusing (and disgusting) early scenes at the new CBGB, a place so unhygienic that Hilly’s dog is allowed to crap on the floor without anyone really caring.

Soon enough, the place becomes a haven for up-and-coming musicians, providing a good excuse to cast recognizable actors to play some of the famous acts who started out at CBGB, such as Malin Åkerman as Debbie Harry, Joel David Moore as Joey Ramone, and Justin Bartha and Rupert Grint as Stiv Bators and Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Men.

The club manages to stay afloat thanks to the business acumen of Hilly’s daughter, Lisa (Ashley Greene), while Hilly takes up managing The Dead Men on a disastrous record tour.

The film will mostly appeal to the hardcore enthusiasts of the punk genre and the acts portrayed, for which the significance of what is being presented will be readily apparent. This audience will most appreciate the rapid editing and graphics that make transitions look like Punk Magazine panels. Anyone else might find the piece to be a loud, obnoxious portrayal of a grimy musical subculture.

The Blu-ray includes two minor deleted scenes, three minutes of outtakes, and a filmmaker commentary that serves as the disc’s only insight into re-creating the world of CBGB.

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