The Decline of Western Civilization III
(Penelope Spheeris, 1997, 86 min)
In the third entry in Spheeris’s vital trilogy, the very title of the series takes on a dark literalism: while the “decline” of the first film was largely a reclamation of that word as an ironic and earnest challenge to the status quo, the third film finds Los Angeles punks and punk culture in a deeply nihilistic emotional rubble. The ragged idealism of 1979-80 has devolved as the culture attracted even more desperately disenfranchised youths who found their only family and community in the mid-’90s gutter punk scene. Spheeris’s probing camera, both tender and confrontational, digs deep into what might otherwise remain an impenetrable subculture and reveals a defiant, damaged humanity, albeit one that often feels rootless and apathetic. The degree to which the kids trust and connect with her is truly remarkable, and the end result is a sad, powerful work of rare intensity and honesty. -Mark Toscano
Filmmaker in Attendance, 35mm
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Friday, March 28 9:15pm
A very rare screening of the third film in Spheeris’s Decline trilogy. This 1998 documentary focuses on the “gutterpunk” lifestyle of homeless teenagers in Los Angeles.