FFF 2019 – Review: DESOLATION CENTER Is A Bit Too Dry

FIRST IMPRESSION

Desolation Center is mostly pretty good, but it suffers from some overly slow moments that weigh down the narrative rhythm.
Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

Desolation Center is a new music documentary film directed by Stuart Swezey. The movie tells the story of Desolation Center, a group of people who got together in the 80’s to put on a series of punk rock performances in unusual locations. It is touring the festival circuit including a stop at the 2019 Florida Film Festival.

The story of the film is actually quite interesting since Desolation Center is effectively the first music festival and Coachella and other festivals are rising in popularity in the modern era. The director of the movie is actually one of the main people involved in the story, and as such, it has a personal touch to it that really helps it connect more easily.

Part of what makes the film so captivating is its ability to connect the events taking place in the movie to the context in which they are surrounded. Swezey connects the issue of police crackdown on the punk scene to the formation of Desolation Center to the formation of modern music festivals that are still around today. One wouldn’t normally associate Coachella with excessive force used by police, but this film makes that interesting point.

Since Swezey is both the director and one of the main players in the movie, he was able to get plenty of other people to talk about their stories involving the events. The film does a great job of bringing together a wide variety of voices, from the musicians involved to general concert-goers who attended Desolation Center events. The movie doesn’t develop any interviewee individually, instead showing them as a community of people who came together to do this amazing thing.

desolation center day

The film’s pacing is mostly strong. There are a few moments that drag, but a majority of the movie is entertaining because of how crazy the story is. Something like this would never be able to happen today, and the fact that they were able to pull it off back then is still insane. Some of the interviews tell some parts of the story that are so unusual that they are funny, like one involving a performance artist blowing up pieces of metal. “If we cut someone in half, we were going to stop the show… obviously…” they said.

On a technical level, the film was rather impressive. Filmmaking equipment wasn’t as widely accessible back then as it is today (nowadays most of us hold a viable movie camera in our pockets all the time), so Swezey had to find as many sources as he could from images, audio recordings, and the rare video recordings to tell the story, and it works quite well. There is enough variety in the presentation to keep the audience’s attention.

Of course, you can’t forget the music in the film. Since Desolation Center was a music event, the movie about it obviously features a ton of music. If you are vehemently opposed to punk music, well, why are you reading this review anyway, and you probably shouldn’t see the film, because it isn’t made for you. However, if you are a fan of punk, especially if you are a diehard fan, you will see some recognizable faces and hear some great tunes.

Overall, Desolation Center was a mostly strong documentary. Although there were a few slow spots, the movie is relatively entertaining and does a great job of constructing the story from different sources and across time.

Desolation Center played at the 2019 Florida Film Festival.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

I Am Greta – Clip • A Hulu Original

Change begins at home. #IAmGreta is now streaming. ABOUT I AM GRETA The story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is told through compelling, never-before-seen footage in this intimate documentary from Swedish director Nathan Grossman. Starting with her one-person school strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament, Grossman follows Greta—a shy student with Asperger’s—in…

Thanksgiving Movie Deep Cut Trivia | Prime Video

The first cut isn’t the deepest with this list of Thanksgiving bangers, but do you know ~ all there is to know ~ about these Turkey Day deep cuts? Marathon these underrated movies and then test your memory by digging into this video trivia game. » Watch The Turkey Bowl on Prime Video: https://bit.ly/TheTurkeyBowlPV »…

The Undoing: Grace Can’t Find Jonathan | HBO Replays

Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) thought her husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant) was at a conference, but no one seems to know exactly where he is... and he left his phone in their bedroom. #HBOReplays brings you the must-rewatch scenes from your favorite shows, specials, and more. #HBO #TheUndoing Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 Grace and…

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult | Official Trailer | STARZ

For the first time ever, NXIVM survivor, India Oxenberg is ready to share her story. Watch all episodes of Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult on the STARZ App. #SeducedSTARZ http://starz.tv/WatchSeducedYT You can watch Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult internationally on STARZPLAY in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Canada, Brazil, and LATAM. Subscribe to the…

His Dark Materials: In The Weeks Ahead (Season 2) | HBO

See what awaits in the weeks ahead. #NewWorldsAwait #HBO #HisDarkMaterials Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 His Dark Materials stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, the first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary…

Techie Moments From Upload: TikTok Compilation | Prime Video

This kinda stuff can only happen in the cloud. Upload is full of freaky techie moments and we brought them to TikTok! Which one makes you...kinda wish you'd been uploaded? Comment below! Watch Upload now, only on Prime Video. » Watch Upload on Prime Video: https://amzn.to/2VA5yoT » SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoSubscribe About Upload: From Greg Daniels (The…

Texas 6 | Made in Strawn | Full Episode

TEXAS 6 is an eight-episode docuseries that takes place in Strawn, Texas and follows the Greyhounds, a high school six-man football team under the direction of Coach Dewaine Lee, as they attempt a three-peat for the 6-Man Football State Championship. While football remains the spine of Strawn, TEXAS 6 ultimately depicts the spirit of a…

‘Fallen’ Ep. 7 Clip | The Spanish Princess Part 2 | STARZ

Long live the King… Watch the shocking new episode of #TheSpanishPrincess Part 2 now on the #STARZ App. Get your free trial of the STARZ app: http://starz.tv/WatchSTARZYT Subscribe to the STARZ YouTube Channel for more of The Spanish Princess: http://bit.ly/1kalhP0 Like STARZ on Facebook: http://starz.tv/STARZFacebookYT Follow STARZ on Twitter: http://starz.tv/STARZTwitterYT Follow STARZ on Instagram: http://starz.tv/STARZInstagramYT…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here