Barbershop Punk

Written by  //  November 10, 2010  //  Starz Film Fest  //  No comments

Donnybrook reviewed films playing the Starz Denver Film Festival this week on a 100 star system. Why? Because our opinion counts 20 times more than most peoples’. Today we reviewed the new documentary on the uber-important topic of freedom of information in the digital age.

Barbershop Punk: 88.25 Stars

Barbershop Punk is a documentary about freedom of information in the digital age. It examines the story of Robb Topolksi, a mild-mannered father, software engineer, and barbershop quartet fan, who notices Comcast restricting his old timey-music downloads. Simply wanting to share his love of old-timey tunes, he inadvertently begins a much larger debate on the restrictions internet providers place on the flow of information that ends up involving the government, large telecom companies, and the FCC, and lovers of freedom alike. This documentary takes what might seems to be a smaller issue and exposes the slippery slope where individual companies we are allowed to decide what travels across their wires.  Activists, punk rockers, Christians, Pro-Choicers, old ladies, and mild-mannered barbershop quartet fans alike come together to protect our first amendment rights.

Includes commentary from the legendary Ian MacKaye of Discord Records, Henry Rollins, Damien Kulash of OK Go, Janeane Garofalo, and a myriad of activists and journalists.

Fritz says: Ian MacKaye knows punk, and everyman barbershop-quartet-tenor Robb Topolski knows evil when he sees it. We can all agree the Internet is great, and we’d all love for it to line our pockets with gold, but do you know who really wants that? Internet providers. And this film really clears up some confusing future of the Internet questions. The movie was fun while the topic of the movie was a little more than scary.

Antoine says: Very insightful content on how cable internet providers control our activities on the web and exposure to content they don’t agree with. How the filmmakers decided to structure the film was a little sloppy. The ties with “punk” seemed a like an afterthought to connect Robb Topolski’s story with the great interviews of Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins, and while the segments detailing Robb’s hometown and his miraculous recovery from cancer had heart, they weren’t necessary to the film. Still, good variety of interviews and need-to-know info for all Internet-ers make this a must see.

Father Guido says: This doc really pumped me up after watching it. I loved the information it meant to convey, but on further reflection, a lot of the context (ie. the “punk” portion) seemed a bit contrived. However, I’ll still give a high rating due to the importance of Robb Topolski uncovered regarding Comcast’s policies.

Angora says: I’m just floored how they took me from not really caring much to being absolutely terrified for our future. That’s a good documentary! I’m torn on the whole “punk rock” aspect of it. It is a little contrived (yes we get the irony – Robb is a lovable nerd but also this revolutionary figure); but if it weren’t a theme I might have tuned out before the opening credits rolled. It makes it more fun. And this issue really does tie into music a lot, hence the punk theme. A must-see for bloggers, musicians, and probably everyone except your Grandma who still can’t figure out email..


Thursday, November 11, 7:15 PM @ Starz FilmCenter

Friday, November 12, 9:30 PM @ Starz FilmCenter


About the Author

Angora Holly Polo

Angora Holly Polo is the Czar of Donnybrook Manor, moderator of leisure, purveyor of intrigue. You may email her offerings of gold at

View all posts by

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

comm comm comm