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One Nine Nine Four - Film Review

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by Jesse Boyd (subscribe)
Jesse is a freelance writer, journalist and occasional artist from Perth, Western Australia. He enjoys movies, video games and punk rock. You can see the inner-workings of his mind unfold on his blog
Published March 1st 2013
Black coat; White shoes; Black hat; Cadillac - Yeah


Punk rock has had its fair share of dedicated documentaries. A lot of them very informative. The problem though, is that all the documentaries available are relating to the genesis of punk in the seventies or its evolution into hardcore in the eighties. No one seems to fully focus on or pay real attention to the huge explosion of punk and its sudden rise to world-wide popularity in the nineties. One Nine Nine Four is the highly anticipated documentary detailing just that, and it's everything you could ask for.

One Nine Nine Four has been a long time coming. After struggling in development with interviews for a few years and a failed Kickstarter pledge, the film was actually completed in 2009, but Aussie director Jai Al-attas had trouble acquiring licenses for the music used and eventually released it in its entirety for free on YouTube in early 2012. It was taken down shortly after and has been floating around public video websites ever since.

It's been worth the wait though, as One Nine Nine Four delivers on all fronts. Suitably narrated by skateboarding superstar Tony Hawk, there's a lot of big names in the punk scene being interviewed here Greg Graffin and Brett Gurrewitz from Bad Religion, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus from Blink-182, Fat Mike from NOFX among other band members from punk giants of the era (Green Day, The Offspring etc.) and independent DIY record labels that promoted the bands such as Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph. Everyone here including the filmmaker knows there stuff, and it's all incredibly insightful, and carries an appropriately independent feel giving off a very punk rock vibe.

An aptly titled documentary, One Nine Nine Four details the rebirth of punk rock in the last few years of the eighties as a grimy, accessible underground movement and how it was brought to the surface as a world-wide phenomenon in, and around 1994. The film details the key factors that brought the movement to the mainstream such as surfing and skating videos with accompanying punk soundtracks that provided a worldwide outlet for the genre, and the unexpected popularity of grunge bands such as Nirvana, that allowed more raw, abrasive bands such as The Offspring and Rancid to receive radio-play.

One Nine Nine Four is one of the most insightful music documentaries I've seen. There's a lot of knowledge and detail conveyed here, and it's never too much information at once. It's a nice revelation of how the whole punk scene exploded in the nineties that no other film has explored before. With a great selection of music that perfectly captures the sound of the era, heaps of huge names in the scene providing personal insight and a bunch of great early live performances from some of the biggest bands in the world today, One Nine Nine Four should be on every punk fan's must-watch list.
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Why? Because it's a fascinating look at the growth and explosion of a completely underground scene
When: When you're in the mood for skanking to Rancid
Where: Your DVD player
Cost: Free
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