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Friday, May 27, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

A punk valentine

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review ***

"We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen," a documentary with D. Boon, Mike Watt, George Hurley. Directed by Tim Irwin. 90 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains brief profanity). Northwest Film Forum, through June 9. Producer Keith Schieron will be present for introductions and Q&A sessions at the 7 and 9 p.m. showings today and Saturday.

The spirit of D. Boon looms as a benevolent presence over "We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen," a sad-happy documentary about the San Pedro, Calif.-based trio that redefined American punk rock in the early 1980s.

It's sad because singer/guitarist Boon died in a van accident in 1985, just as the Minutemen (including bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley) were at a peak, opening for R.E.M. and blazing trails with the brief, blistering songs that gave the band its name. It's happy, too, because the Minutemen were great, and director Tim Irwin and producer Keith Schieron pay tribute with a film that ensures the band's place in the punk hall of fame.

The title is Watt's creed for the band's no-frills music and lifestyle, and the film follows suit: It's a rough-edged tale of friendship, combining 20-year-old performance tapes (including a sublime acoustic set from public-access TV) with present-day reflections by Watt (still deeply affected by Boon's demise), Hurley and a host of punk luminaries including Henry Rollins (Black Flag), John Doe (X), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and many more.

Their abundant praise speaks for itself: The Minutemen were influential then and now, and "We Jam Econo" is a valentine to the band and D. Boon's memory. They're immortal now, and that's as it should be.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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