Punk history is full of lurid misadventures, and Corbett Redford’s thorough documentary, “Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk,” collects many of those “you had to be there” stories for a lively — if lengthy — chronicle of the Northern California punk scene, beginning in the late 1970s.
Provoked by hellish suburbs and rural moonscapes outside San Francisco, a group of outsiders cobbled together loud, angry music that was also a reaction against the hippie generation before it. The movie follows this winding time line until its focus shifts to a famous hub, the 924 Gilman Street music collective in Berkeley, that nurtured bands like Green Day (an executive producer of the movie), Rancid, Operation Ivy, the Offspring and even the filmmaker Miranda July.
Redford, who wrote the movie with Anthony Marchitiello, shows enthusiasm for his subject but offers little context for newcomers to West Coast punk music. Interviewees remember names fondly but don’t illuminate why those people were crucial to the scene or what happened to them, leaving everyone behind but die-hard fans who are already in the know.
Via voice-over narration, the punk elder statesman Iggy Pop presides over the nearly 160-minute parade of musician cameos and archival footage, but his scraggly-voiced guidance returns only intermittently to connect the dots between the years. While zine-style animated sequences and VHS taped interviews enliven the pace, the documentary is burdened by too much minutiae. Not every scar earned at a concert deserves to be immortalized in a documentary.
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