The trailer for the upcoming biopic CBGB, based on the legendary NYC venue which became a musical landmark and showcased many first wave punk bands like The Ramones, Blondie, The Dead Boys, Television, and The Talking Heads, has been released online.
The movie stars Alan Rickman almost unrecognizable as the late bushy haired, paunchy club owner Hilly Kristal. Kristal, who started the club in the early 1970s first a Country, Bluegrass, and Blues establishment (hence the abbreviated of sorts moniker CBGB) and wound up taking on some of the disenfranchised bands and alienated youth of NYC and burgeoning states, showcasing them, in some cases even managing them, and unexpectedly created a revolution in noise that at peak level, became one of the most notorious, liberating, and stark white honest musical genres ever to rear its head in music history. The name affixed to this somewhat new genre of sound was punk.
Check out the trailer below.
The club, which closed in 2006 over a rent dispute, remains a sort of mythical place in New York City history, as it became at once not only a birthing ground for many bands who, if not successfully on a national or global scale (save for Blondie), became etched in the mind’s consciousness, but it also was a proving ground. Whether it was the best of the best of the genre passing through or the worst of the worst, there was something rather special about having been in a band and playing CBGB. For most bands, it would appear that it would have been more important for them to have played there for an audience than at the all-together different and full off puffed up pomp and circumstance Madison Square Garden, which, although it shared geographical space with CBGB as it was also in New York, it was light years away considering the acts who played there.
From the looks of the trailer for the soon to be released film, it tries to show the whole milieu of the era with period flavor and decent art design, but what surprisingly seems like a tongue-in-cheek affair regarding the script. Somewhat marketed for a teen crowd in a strange way, there seems to be a feeling that this film could be a light and bouncy affair, something that almost seemed unthinkable when one first heard of the project. While the flavor of the place looks good (dirty, grungy, almost uninhabitable, but oddly enough, it was those adjectives which contributed to its overall charm and appeal) the casting seems like a crapshoot, the roster of actors portraying key figures of the punk movement like Debbie Harry, Joey Ramone, Stiv Bators, and even Sting, seems to be of the Twilight variety, people like Rupert Grint, Ashley Greene, Malin Akerman, Justin Bartha, The Big Bang Theory’sJohnny Galecki and even the Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins, play the punky dress up, and the final verdict on if they were able to successfully transmit their characters on screen faithfully remains unknown until the film gets released on October 11th.
The sure bet seems to be the soundtrack, which is nice slice of punk songs during that era and pre-punk, the garage sounds which oozed its way into the pores which eventually acted as the springboard to the whole CBGB scope and vision. Songs like The MC5’s seminal “Kick Out The Jams,” The Velvet Underground’s “I Can’t Stand It,” the tell-it-like-it-is raunchily “Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth” by The Dead Boys, the oft-played but still punch packing “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges, and the song which sums up not only the whole movement, but the whole framework of living as youth in the late 1970s, Richard Hell’s dazzlingly moth caught in the flames “Blank Generation” round out the collection.
The CD and Double LP (including a limited edition pink pressed vinyl set) comes to stores on October 8th. Should be an interesting autumn to rediscover a genre that while now may have been in its autumn years for quite some time, remains vivid and fresh during those vital formative years almost 40 years ago. Whether the film does that vision and history justice remains to be seen.