In order to enjoy Between Resistance and Community: The Long Island DIY Punk Scene, certain concessions need to be made. Yeah, you get early live footage of Latterman and On the Might of Princes, but that means hearing some of their half-baked ideas about what punk means circa their teenage years. And if there's one thing kids are good at, it's ruining punk rock for everyone.
But more on that later. Resistance succeeds in documenting the thoughts and hopes of a youthful scene. At the risk of injecting myself too much into the review, it reminds me of the semi-defunct hardcore scene here in Lansdale, Pa. We had the same late-night diner conversations about DIY. We hosted shows anywhere and everywhere and tried to help out touring bands. Our breakout stars were the Wonder Years and CDC, for whatever that's worth. And just like in Resistance, our "scene" died for the same reasons: The ones with all the passion and know-how got older and moved to the city, and no one from the next generation really moved in to fill the gap left behind. It is on this level that Resistance hits hard: Set aside that it's about people who wound up in amazing bands like Latterman and Bridge and Tunnel, and this doc could be about any suburban punk rock oasis. That's pure nostalgic gold, but it also holds up a mirror to scene politics.
Just as in Lansdale, women are either put down or ignored altogether in Long Island, something the filmmakers try to rectify in the special features section but don't fully explore. Then again, maybe that's a story on to itself rather than a subplot. Somebody adapt Cinderella's Big Score for film, stat. There's also something hypocritical and naïve about watching kids with disposable incomes and indulgent parents rant about how we need to break free of capitalism, and the film's attempts to show how these supposed revolutionaries live DIY (kickball in parking lots! stealing electricity from corporate buildings and violating noise laws!) fail to present a sustainable model.
The kids overreach a bit, but they do some good, like when a few folks set up a food donation service. That's cool. Also, the shows look hella fun. Can you imagine hearing "For Someone So Easy Going, You Sure Wear Pants a Lot" like right after it was written? Resistance captures moments like that. It also boasts some solid tour footage, as Latterman, On the Might of Princes and the Insurgent encounter just about everything that can go wrong on the road (abusive cops, busted vans and medical bills).
Perhaps the documentary's biggest strength and weakness is that it captures its subject too accurately. The live footage is of a surprisingly good quality, but interviews about societal ills come off as oversimplified. That's what needs to be conceded, though. These are just kids. Their opinions can be very hard, even borderline fascist, like when On the Might of Princes takes shit for signing to an indie label. But they still formed a cohesive music scene, gave touring acts a place to stay and took every chance they had to fight for art. The results weren't perfect, but they're still commendable.
Also, Matt Canino has a normal haircut here. He cleans up nice.