Tuesday, December 18, 2012
One of the great, small film noir exploitations of the 1940s, this is a story of a man whose situation goes from bad to worse, all in the pursuit of love and success. Neither glamorous or pretty, this gritty, wicked little film follows a head over heels pianist in love with a singer, both determined to move to Hollywood, pursuing their dreams of a better life, a better career, a better way of being- to get married and play in the big leagues- to make it, to show the world their talent and all it holds. The dame makes the first move out to California, chasing the glory and the gold, as the piano player continues plying his trade in the east coast dive where they both began. Once the piano player gets the idea that he'll hitch hike after his girl- by hook or crook, broke or smoke- the plot is hatched and the trouble begins. Snappy, street issue dialogue, hot and nasty dames, dreams of a world more than either know. In Detour you get the guts and glow of the money chase, the affectionate punch you get when your heart goes boom and you are just trying to make it all work for yourself. Sometimes on the road to getting there, the most unexpected situations present themselves in the most haunting ways.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
The movie today is a film that details a place and time I have some first hand knowledge of- NW street kids in 1984. I was neither homeless nor unloved by family, but I spent so much time hanging out in downtown Portland around this time I got to know many characters similar to the ones featured within this documentary. At 14 your relationship with your parents can be tenuous if they fail to understand how it is you are developing, and you seek support and community elsewhere to salve those emotional wounds. Being very much outside what society and the system dictated I should be, I spent as much time as I could hanging around other kids my age with a similar emotional situation- shoplifting, smoking weed, dancing in the streets, hanging out at shows, trying to make sense of what the adult world wanted. These kids had a much tougher road to travel that I- they were mostly running from abusive homes, or kicked out, or were unwanted. I had some traits I bonded with- I was adopted, I had a tumultuous upbringing- a child of divorce, an outsider who lacked the ability to understand the kids at school. When I discovered the downtown hang around lifestyle, it clicked, and made sense to me in oh so many ways. But soon after I found my focus (music and writing)- and left the idle time wasting behind, happy I found place and purpose amongst what was once chaos and disorder. STREETWISE details many of the kids who had a harder time escaping, who have not found that focus. Some survived, some did not, some went onto better things. It is a privilege for us to be able to glimpse the real world as it happened in films such as this- before reality television manipulated such things into a commercial endeavor for profit and gain. "You gonna be downtown, you gonna be cool, you better learn the ways of the streets if you're gonna be doin' the shit that you're doin'."
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Today's movie is a documentary that means quite a lot to me. It is a beautiful, touching, exciting, sad, wicked little film about poor kids not born into the more privileged lifestyle they covet and imitate. When it originally appeared I was living in Portland, Oregon and went to see it in the theater at Cinema 21 and it nearly blew the back of my head out. I was literally jolted into excitement by the dance, the dress, the desperation. It allowed me to reinforce my inner self, to value my uniqueness, to hold yourself accountable for your own system. I did not want to be like these fabulous children- I just wanted to a fabulous child. It was at a point when I was formulating the next phase of my existence, the real me that I was too repressed to become yet. And then I hit the streets of Chicago and let it all come out- at first going in for the typical mainstream cop out of fashion and follow, which lasted about 8 months until I unleashed the rock n roll motherfucker I truly am to this day- finally, one of the legendary children. Gay or straight, left or right, up or down, this film will give you a greater sense of the world and how others live and do, and how as much as you think you have the answers, whatever your background- there is an undeniable desire we all have to find our place in this mess of a universe that puts pressure against us every waking minute. So shake the dice and steal the rice, baby- this one is for you!
Monday, December 10, 2012
Tonight's film is a superb, taut psychological thriller - this is one of the finest exploitations on the brainwash tactics of cults- how they lure kids with the promise of a better family than the one they are born into. This movie is an explosion of shouting, crying, and desperation. Michael O' Keefe plays an aspiring Olympic gymnast who is lure into "Homeland"- a working commune- by a hot chick (played by Karen Allen), where he is then brainwashed into believing his previous existence was nothing more than "death in life," and is forced to burn his clothes and forget his past and feed the needs of the commune, which is run by a Jim Jones type psycho- dressed in all white, played with brilliant, subtle aggression by Peter Fonda. James Woods shows up as a bounty hunter who is hired to kidnap the kid and deprogram him. Woods sort of steals the show- his character is so unlikeable and nasty and foul mouthed. Brian Dennehy and Elizabeth Ashley play the parents in their best over the top, worrisome tone. This is one of those great little human dramas that is high strung, action packed, and hard boiled in it's effort to grab some truth through entertainment.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Tonight's movie concerns an ex-con, played by Dustin Hoffman, who enters back into society after serving time in prison, only to arrive in a world full of more hassles on the outside than he can possibly handle. Based on a book written by real life ex-con Edward Bunker, this movie is an excellent expose of underworld criminals who crave the action and release and easy money that robbing and thieving provide. Made in 1978, when the world still had a gritty, seedy, decadent look to it, this movie captures a place and time as far from us as the roaring 20s. Hoffman's nervous, tense performance keeps you interested in the petty mind twist of a life long criminal hell bent on going straight but not having the full understanding how to get there. A sweet artifact and a well played, well made portrait of a man desperate for much more than the hell he got himself into.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
This is the first of several movies I will be posting to this blog as I find them. These are films of note that I believe have a huge entertainment value many big budget blow up blowouts do not. These are direct, human stories full of the realities of the time period they were created in. OVER THE EDGE is absolutely one of my all time favorite films, a movie notable for introducing a young, unknown Matt Dillon- elevating him to teen heart throb soon after. I have had a hard on for this movie since I first saw it when I was 13, when the world looked a little bit closer to this all around. It reflected how me and my friends acted and saw the world at the time, how we then spent our teenage lives living out this juvenile macho fantasy. In some ways we were worse, in others not so much. The world has obviously moved onward, as this sort of teen angst has given way to deeper wounds- sex scandals, mass shootings, gang banging, internet bullying, bath salts, AIDS, video games- so this film seems more an overblown adventure from a time gone by, though I still have yet to hear about anything happening as incendiary as this film's climax at a real world high school as of yet. And what, pray tell, happens in the end?? Just watch this teenage wasteland classic and see some hot kids, great 1970s hard rock, and how the punks dealt with the world back in the 20th century. It may just blow your mind!!!