Well, I just bought Hey, Ho, Let's Go: The Anthology, so I guess the documentary left its mark last night. Put simply, like Festival Express, this is a must see for 1) fans of the Ramones, 2) rock history buffs, 3) fans of rock music, period. There, that should cover most folks who have stumbled on to this review.
Unlike Festival Express, where the movie highlights were the performances, End has plenty of in-concert performances but is most interesting for the extensive and cross-cutting interviews with band members, managers, and people from other bands, most notably, the late Joe Strummer of Clash. Stepping out from those stock bowl haircuts and black uniforms, the Ramones get in End a portrait that celebrates their individuality, their determination and their warts (Joey's inability to forgive, Johnny's often martinet leadership, DeeDee's willingness to abuse his body in every way imaginable -- and I would guess some unimaginable). Along with the music, what comes through so strongly is their love for the group, if not for each other, and their work ethic -- in all their years they missed only one concert for band misbehavior and Johnny fired Marky over it.
You watch End of the Century wondering how someone as sensitive as Joey ever lived at all, expecting DeeDee to have his overdose on screen in the middle of an interview, respecting Johnny's vision, even if often disagreeing with his methods. And now they are all dead, making even more poignant that moment late in the movie when the off-screen interviewer asks, after Joey's death, Johnny if he felt something when Joey died. Pause. And Johnny says, yes, he felt something, he felt bad all the week of Joey's death, even after not calling him while he was dying, not speaking for nearly two decades. Why, probes the interviewer, why did you feel something? Another pause, and then Johnny says because he was a Ramone, because he loved the Ramones, the group, the music. Moving stuff, moving and entertaining movie.
P.S. Don't miss the swell moment when Debby Harry and Blondie are singing Heart of Glass in what looks like some bubble-machine disco set. Very weird.