The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998)

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  •  (4 out of 5 stars)

The third film in Penelope Spheeris's Decline of Western Civilization trilogy covers homeless teens in Los Angeles living as gutter punks and doing what they can to survive. Set in the late 90s, almost 20 years after the great L.A. punk rock documentary The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), this film documents a group of gutter punks who face a more hostile world as they live on the streets or squat in abandoned buildings. In the early going you might wonder what is wrong with these teens, but the more you learn about their abusive upbringings the more you realize their decision to live on the streets together might be a better alternative or sometimes the only choice they had. Filmed in an era where pop-punk bands like Green Day and the Offspring had massively grown in popularity, Spheeris shows a smaller punk rock scene that was rooted in survival and more radical politics. While she interviews some of the older punk rockers who were in her first film, her main focus is on the homeless teenage kids and how they feel about living on the streets in Los Angeles. Part III is more depressing than the previous two films of the trilogy, although, for its honest depiction of the gutter punk rock lifestyle, it is just as vital.

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