Local Wire

New York Dolls

While you're tackling Martin Scorsese's Dylan dissertation, take a break for a humbler rockumentary that's no less fascinating and a lot more fun. All Dolled Up, the distillation of 40 lost hours of primitive video that photographer Bob Gruen originally shot between '72 and '74, is a rare window into the trashy band that arguably invented punk, and certainly remains the greatest male band ever to wear women's clothing. Artfully edited to two hours, the piece shows five smart, funny kids -- not toughs, artistes, or junkies (not yet, anyway), as they've been variously portrayed -- playing raggedly beautiful music and living a rock 'n' roll dream. Bonus commentaries by Gruen and the two surviving Dolls make for powerful nostalgia, but it's the spectacle of nervous squares on the street, glaring at the band as if it's about to body-snatch them, that really adds context. The music explodes with charisma, and the performances are as messy as the sound quality. And that's perfectly apt for such a wildly human band -- as the song goes, 'Cos I'm a human, a riff raff human being . . .
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Andrew Marcus