PUNK: ATTITUDE (Don Letts) Rating: NNNN
CALYPSO AT DIRTY JIM'S (Pascale Obolo) Rating: NNNN
If you're looking to broaden your musical understanding, you'll thank yourself for hitting up Punk: Attitude or Calypso At Dirty Jim's this weekend. The documentaries are enthralling studies of two genres that have more in common than you might think.
Punk: Attitude is a solid primer that puts the music in context. It focuses on classic punk, but talking heads - including important punk rockers, the best of whom is Henry Rollins of Black Flag discuss the genre's origins (Chuck Berry) and unfortunate corporate-puppet result (Blink 182).
Too bad Rollins didn't narrate the whole film - his punchy observations on punk make hysterical sound bites.
In addition to explaining the music's fashion and social impact, Punk: Attitude provides particularly good coverage of the 80s New York underground, and because Letts has roots in the British punk scene, viewers are in trustworthy hands when it comes to that scene, too.
The second film features bouncy, tropical music with steel drums instead of distorted guitars, but in a way calypso is the punk rock of Trinidad and Tobago.
Original Trinidadian singers, living legends like the Mighty Sparrow and Calypso Rose, whose mellifluous speaking tones alone prove the island's musicality, explain how the music dealt with oppression.
Exploring the line between old and new calypso, the informative film bursts at the seams with warmth, vitality and musical performances, some traditional, some freestyled off the dome. (Kuumba, Harbourfront Centre, Punk: Attitude, February 4; Calypso At Dirty Jim's, February 5)