Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

At two-and-a-half hours, it's considerably longer than the average punk song, but Corbett Redford's documentary is comprehensive.

Billie Joe Armstrong and Tim Armstrong of Operation Ivy (Credit: Ray Bowles)

It’s intellectually dishonest to accuse a proponent of an ethos of hypocrisy for not perfectly conforming to an outside critic’s conceptions about that ethos. (“So much for the tolerant left.”) So if it seems incongruous at first glance that Corbett Redford’s Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk takes 153 minutes to tell the story of a music scene famous for jamming econo, it’s also reasonable — because it’s a story that might go untold otherwise. (Besides, the notion that punk music is definitionally fast or brief has been false since Flipper’s 1982 Generic, if not Patti Smith’s 1975 Horses.)

Redford recounts the rise and plateau of 510 punk, with a focus on the famous venue 924 Gilman and the eventual mainstream success of Green Day, who have executive-producer credit. Though they naturally hated hippies, many punks loved LSD; both this and the presence of Iggy Pop as narrator tie Turn It Around into Jim Jarmusch’s recent acid-drenched punk documentary, The Stooges. Detroit native Pop had nothing to do with the local scene, making his expressing the picture’s summation even more appropriate: With all due respect to Bay Area exceptionalism, the scene wasn’t so special that it could never happen elsewhere. It could be happening anywhere, and what’s more, it should happen everywhere.

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk
Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission.

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