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‘Turn It Around’ the truly definitive story of East Bay punk

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Green Day, pictured playing Gilman in 1992, is one of many bands covered in “Turn It Around.” (Courtesy Murray Bowles)

Director Corbett Redford has supplied seemingly everything you’d ever want to know about the super-local punk scene in the new, Green Day-sanctioned documentary, “Turn It Around.”

Subtitled “The Story of East Bay Punk,” the film, which opens at the Rialto Elmwood in Berkeley Aug. 4 (it played in June in The City), is a jam-packed and loving tribute to the sort-of popular music and the self-described weirdos and misfits saved by it.

Clearly created by an insider (Redford, like Green Day, is an alum of Berkeley’s 924 Gilman Street, the movement’s most famous landmark), “Turn It Around” is a detailed retrospective great both for those who were part of the scene, yet also for those who want to learn about it.

While Iggy Pop narrates, and comments from members of Metallica and Guns N’ Roses are touted in the movie’s marketing, its real stars — the best talking heads ever — are the grown-up versions of those driven East Bay teens whose bands made punk what it was in the late 1980s-90s: Tim Armstrong, of Operation Ivy and Rancid; Robert Eggplant, zine writer and member of Blatz who hosted crazed shows in his yard; Larry Livermore, head of the punk label Lookout Records; and Kamala Parks, band booker extraordinaire, and drummer for Kamala & The Karnivores.

And that’s just a few out of dozens, which, in addition, include Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool (also seen as teens in vintage video).

The movie flows both chronologically, covering three decades — from punk’s inception with The Ramones (and local impresario Bill Graham’s distaste for the sound) to consideration of Green Day’s mainstream success — as well as geographically, with musings from punkers from Rodeo and El Sobrante as well as Albany (a 7-Eleven there was pivotal) and Berkeley.

The beginning of the alcohol-free, all-ages punk collective-venue Gilman — led by the late “dad-figure” Tim Yohannon, of the zine Maximum Rocknroll — and its ups and downs, are covered extensively, too.

Perhaps most fun are the reminiscences of members of all the groups, from Crimpshrine to Isocracy to Yeasty Girlz, as well as frequent animated sequences.

If there’s a flaw in “Turn It Around!,” it’s that it glosses over danger or serious consequences associated with the young punk rockers.

REVIEW
Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk
Three and a half stars
Starring: Green Day, Iggy Pop, Kamala Parks, Robert Eggplant, Tim Armstrong, Larry Livermore
Written by: Corbett Redford, Anthony Marchitiello
Directed by: Corbett Redford
Not rated
Running time: 2 hours, 28 minutes

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