Free Movies By Mail
Penelope Spheeris is doing something awesome. She’s giving away free copies of her film “Decline of the Western Civilization Part III” on her website. And all you have to do to get one is mail her a self-addressed stamped envelope and agree not to bootleg it. That’s it. A few days later the film will magically appear in your mailbox. How’s that for punk rock?
The only bummer about the whole deal is that the film isn’t very good. Considering how great the first two films in the series are, the third film is a major letdown. Whereas the charm of the first two editions lay in the interviews with the musicians and fans who populated the punk (Part I) and metal (Part II) landscapes, the third film (which focuses again on Los Angeles), isn’t about music as much as a group of homeless alcoholic teens who spare for change and seem overwhelmed by the sadness of their situations.
In some way its almost unfair to criticize the film for not being about music, since it really isn’t. Only it seems to want to be. The film is structured in the same manner as the previous two, including an opening scene which cuts between a handful of bands on stage informing the audience they are consenting to be filmed. It also features performances from Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and the Resistance — though we can’t help but wonder if it might have been a better film had the locale moved to Northern California (or Seattle) and been populated by bands on Lookout!, Fat or Alternative Tentacles instead.
Though the film was never widely-released, it did screen at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Freedom of Expression Award. But screen it for yourself, it’s free after all. Spheeris is currently working on a DVD version of all three films, as they’ve never been released on that format, but if you’ve never seen them (shame on you!), you can see clips from Part I on YouTube, and all of Part II on Google.