Herald rating: * * * * 

This overview of the Ramones' wayward career, End of the Century, is a disillusioning affair as we witness a great band frustrated by internal tensions and the usual effect of drugs and ego.

The Ramones appear as dysfunctional on an individual and group level, yet they made exceptional music.

Out of New York's Queens, they were an oddball collection: Johnny was violent, angry, conservative and a disciplinarian (he put them in the uniform); gangly Joey was an intelligent, creative misfit hampered by an obsessive-compulsive disorder. And let's not go into the rest of them.

Their cartoon image was useful. When someone quit, Johnny would just bring in another guy in black leather jacket and torn jeans. Who cared? It was the sound that mattered.

They were organised, "like the military", says Debbie Harry.

Although offering a good look at their long career, and conceding the in-fighting and frustration of never getting the great album which made them world-beaters, a cloud hangs over End of the Century. Joey died before they were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, crazy Dee Dee died of a drug overdose shortly after the doco was finished, and more recently Johnny lost his battle with cancer.

If End of the Century is unflattering, it is also a wonderful insight into a group which succeeded against the odds. Unfortunately most of them aren't around now to know how much they were loved and respected. 

CAST: The Ramones, Debbie Harry
DIRECTORS: Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields
RATING: M (offensive language)
RUNNING TIME: 97 mins
SCREENING AT: Rialto