From the Back of the Room
Women of punk heard loud and clear
Amy Oden’s documentary “From the Back of the Room’’ is a serviceable collection of women in the punk movement talking about being women in the punk movement. It’s not a movie so much as 102 minutes of political testimonial presented as term-paper uplift. It’s long and redundant. But it’s enlightening, instructive, and sobering to hear women speak seriously in 2011 about the sexism, chauvinism, and lookism that still exists in punk and what they’re doing to combat it.
The movie begins as an earnest kind of video zine. You can take in the puns and vulgarity of such names as Whorehouse of Reps, Trophy Wife, B.R.E.A.S.T. Brigade, Witch Hunt, and Turbo Slut and parse the assorted memories and frustrations of being in the scene.
No, there isn’t enough music that isn’t also talked over, and the truth is that this is about five or six documentaries, some of them better than others. The most eye-opening sections are the humanizing ones - the ones on race and homosexuality (can you live a gay life and punk life?), on the hassles of physical appearance (the self-consciousness of looking punk, say), and on motherhood and how to play a show while pregnant. It’s mostly fascinating listening to members of a scene thinking aloud about how to demolish the pigeonholes in which they have been put.
The Coolidge Corner Theatre is showing “From the Back of the Room’’ at midnight tonight with a live performance by the New York band Troubled Sleep.