Sunday, January 27, 2013
Gritty, grotesque, and just plain mean, this whacked out revenge flick is sick and savage, as we find a gang of bruisers hassle, deal, steal, drink, rob, beat, fuck, and drug their way through their High School years on the sleazoid boulevard, taking and grabbing whatever they want. Their main focus becomes a group of equally raunchy- less criminal, hot mamas out for kicks and cocks, led with a bitch's nerve by Linda Blair- foul mouthed, feisty, and overprotective of her deaf sister. When the hard punks decide to gang rape the deaf girl, it sets in motion one of the single most outlandish, vulgar, ridiculous revenge motifs a fan of exploitation could dream for. The dark, permissive violence is a whiz bang thrill ride brimming with ugly dialogue- evil, crass, and amazingly humorous. Nobody in this movie likes each other much, everyone talks shit to each other- even the adults have no time for these nihilistic predators (the principle, played with exaggerated menace by the always awesome John Vernon, proclaims "Why don't you get your faggot asses out of here before I feed them to the cops!") The fun had here is of a cathartic nature, a way to see the bad side of things in such a way as to feel the disgust and displeasure of every wrong move these scumbags make- igniting a furor within the viewer that allows for the ultimate payback pleasure.
Friday, January 18, 2013
The movie you are about to witness tonight is a grand, vulgar, grotesque little comedy brought to you by the Director who made the now legendary Rock N Roll High School, Mr. Alan Arkush. It has all of the same attributes- gross out comedy, great music, colorful fun, and a villain hell bent on destroying true rock n roll music. In this case the enemy is a corporate devil named Colin Beverly, who wants to blow up one of the finest concert halls- The Saturn Theater- and replace it with a high priced, arena cum entertainment multi-plex. The Saturn Theater's owner, Max, refuses to sell out to the almighty dollar, stating "I put on shows at the Saturn so kids can see the stage, afford the tickets, and hear the music- so screw stadiums!" Greedy industrialist Beverly retorts "This building is coming down and 88 stories are going up- So fuck you, and fuck rock n' roll!" This sets the scene, and off we go into a wild, wacky, wonderful night of new wave, punk, and hard rocking New Year's Eve fun, as romances flourish, drugs are taken, and the battle for salt of the earth, soulful entertainment versus crass commercialism rages onward. The movie is top heavy with rock stars- John Densmore, Lee Ving, Lou Reed- playing some parody of themselves, or other rock n roll stereotypes. Malcom McDowell does one of the single greatest Mick Jagger parodies you may ever see, the general vibe pure definition of what makes a great rock n roll experience- community, adventure, curiosity, and a willingness to have fun, enjoy the moment, and meet those who share this desire. Stadium shows represent the most commercialized, conformist wing of the entertainment business- they exist to maximize profit and diminish the living, breathing, feeling closeness of a theater- or club, show. Which is something entirely different, an institution that thankfully will never go away- no matter what money is on offer.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's new brutal shoes, make for an intriguing walk through 1850's Southern plantation life. Having not been a great fan of his previous, well adored film Inglorious Basterds, this surprised and excited me. I had an issue or two, however- namely Tarantino needs to stop using pop music in these things- the movie doesn't need it and it's a distraction. Second, the end revenge bit is slightly redundant (let us not be naive, all Taratino films resolve in this manor)- it should have figured in the last bit amending to the first shoot em' up where Django surrenders, avoiding the needless demonstration of Samuel Jackson's Stephen as the ultimate power whip on the plantation- we got that in the first scene in which he was introduced, clucking about the place as if he were the main man all down the line. Leonardo Di Caprio does some of his best work here- a cruel, mean, vicious man. The issues brought up about slavery, how this film addresses such, may be an empty suit. This is just a really good action flick, like all of his pictures. A great action director creates an environment that hyper activates the suspense- drawing you into the tension of the moment, and Tarantino does this very well here. Using the slave trade as back drop, a near master stroke in creating that vile place in which we cannot wait to get out of- like Nazi Germany, or a warehouse with a dead cop. The movie gets to say some things about slavery, demonstrating a gross, inhuman violence, used for both purposes of revulsion and cranking up the tension. While everybody was crowing about the importance of the story, they forgot to plainly understand that within a truly great action film- The Running Man, Terminator, French Connection- you have always been given a compelling, nasty gutter to swim through in order to make the catharsis work more for your brain than complete bloody nothing. I nearly agree with Spike Lee that this may just be a Slave Auction Spaghetti Western, but that would be missing out on a thrill ride of a film that says no less about racism than Do The Right Thing did- except Tarantino chooses to pick at the past in an effort to show the horrors of chattel slavery, and the revenge fantasy that plays out. As a grand statement on the slave trade itself it would be a failure in total, due to it's reduction of scope, depth, and complete perspective of the thing itself- it's almost too big a moral enterprise to have your cake and eat it too. While Spike Lee used humor and neighborhood characters eating at each other on the hottest day of the year to create his tension, Tarantino does what he knows best- how to kill the bad guys with an honest to goodness, righteous reasoning that is immune to objection of motive.