Better than 75% of the shit out there.
Better than 75% of the shit out there.
Pretty good movie.
But then starts to lag.
But I at least made it through it.
So that means it’s pretty good, you know?
Ok, take off, you hosers!
This one just barely makes the cut as “’80s comedy”.
Narrowly avoids “Big Bush”.
But certainly “Notre Musique”.
The Blues Brothers is one of my childhood favorites.
And I was craving this film.
I tried to locate it on DVD (to no avail).
And so tonight I broke down and splurged on iTunes’ exorbitant à-la-carte business model.
I was willing to pay the premium.
Because I’m sick.
No way around it.
But let me update you as to my progress.
Weeks ago (a month?) I cut my sleeping medicine in half (the dosage).
It was hard.
I was disoriented.
But largely just slow as fuck.
I felt like I had a crayon lodged in my brain 🙂
Yes, my body and brain had gotten used to a certain dosage over the past 2 years.
Eventually I returned to some normalcy.
I got used to the new dose.
Half-as-much as previous.
It was time.
My graduate studies had long been over.
And my wonderful psychologist (whom I am so lucky to have) challenged me to break my addictions.
Understand, I didn’t conceive of my dependencies upon prescription drugs as “addictions”.
But I think it is helpful that my paradigm has shifted.
Yes, I was addicted to a sleeping medicine.
Because I took it every fucking night.
And eventually it called to me…to take it earlier than bedtime.
A few short weeks ago (two?) I made a psychologist-approved adjustment to the dosage of another of my medicines.
This one is for anxiety.
I reduced my dependence from three pills to two.
This was an achievement.
And a tribulation.
VERY FUCKING DIFFICULT.
Again I had that same confusion.
That same disoriented stupor.
Strangely, this detox was a little different.
The whiplash effect (“rebound anxiety”) hit me a full two weeks later.
There was a delayed effect.
The first days were headaches and stuff.
I thought I had it beat.
Rough, but possible.
So when the delayed effect hit, it really sucked.
But I got through it.
I trudged on.
I got back on the horse.
And now these past few days have brought a return to the sleeping medicine.
But not, you understand, a regression.
Rather, a full stop.
It’s been three days.
And now I am totally off my sleeping meds.
The first night was really rough.
Inability GOING to sleep.
But I stuck it out.
Each night has gotten better.
But the DAYS…
Aches, pains, headaches, stomach…trips to the restroom.
And that same disorientation.
It is a really strange feeling.
But it is an accomplishment.
And so tonight I made it through a movie.
I didn’t have the brain-power to review a film with subtitles.
No art films this time around.
But The Blues Brothers was just what I needed.
This really is a masterpiece of sorts.
John Landis turned in an excellent effort here.
The costars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were magnificent.
And the cameos just keep on coming 🙂
I’ve had the blues.
Not depression, so much, but another kind of blues (lately).
Like climbing up a hill.
When I get to the top (and get used to a new, lower dosage of medicines), my feet are pulled from under me again (as I start on a new challenge).
I am learning (slowly) to deal with my anxiety in natural ways (rather than with drugs).
Suffice it to say that this is VERY FUCKING HARD (for me).
In some respects, I am already back to an engagement with the world which I haven’t had in seven years.
Indeed, I have rolled my medicines back (under psychological supervision) to a level I last “mastered” seven years ago.
That is SOME FUCKING ACCOMPLISHMENT! 🙂
Just a few short months ago (this dog-day summer), I was in the pits of debilitating anxiety.
My cousin died of a heart attack on July 5th.
That sent me into a tailspin.
Not too long afterwards, I myself was on heart medicine.
My dear cousin perished at age 43.
It scared the fucking shit out of me.
So here we are 🙂
I hope to start a new job soon. (Yay!)
I am scared to death.
Scared I can’t handle it.
But I WANT to do it.
I WANT to handle it.
I WANT the challenge.
I had a great job interview the other day.
First time any company had bothered to listen to me in forever.
AND I WAS OFFERED A JOB! 🙂
I am just waiting on my background check to be completed.
As I have no criminal record (and no credit…neither good nor bad), I don’t see how a fair company could preclude my employment.
But life offers no promises.
I speak my mind.
A bit too freely, perhaps.
And I am not anonymous.
Sometimes I wish I were.
But I am flying out in the fucking wind.
I am not a secret.
My pen name is strictly that.
I am not hiding behind it.
It was my stage name.
I earned it.
I toured the world as Pauly Deathwish.
And so it seemed only natural that my film critic persona take the baton from my musician self.
I have been making it again.
Playing open mics.
Trying to get my drug-addled brain to MEMORIZE songs.
Was never my strong suit.
But I’ve gotten (more or less) a couple of tunes under my belt.
And being a middle-aged geezer, I don’t feel too bad showing up with a music stand and some extra lyrics for songs which I haven’t quite set to memory yet.
Music is what’s at issue here.
The Blues Brothers.
A beautiful film.
I have lived this film.
I have fucking lived these roads.
I’ve played just about every possible analogous shithole to Bob’s Country Bunker.
I have been in the disgruntled band 🙂
As close to chicken wire as imaginable…
Which drags me back to topic.
This is a really fucking good film.
And I am cursing like a sailor.
For my conservative, proper readers, I do apologize.
It is a defect in my personality.
I feel it necessary that I curse.
Otherwise, I don’t feel I am getting my point across.
Because what I am expressing is a very pithy matter.
The grunge and grit of life.
Every word is in lieu of weeping.
Experiences so pungent as to suck all fight out of a person.
That is what I have lived.
And it is that to which I bear witness.
I am not thinking real clearly, but I am thinking (and writing) a lot clearer than I was a month ago.
I am on the good drugs now 🙂
I have been fighting through multiple addictions.
Things which I didn’t see as addictions.
And life is coming back into focus.
And THAT IS TERRIFYING…
But also EXHILARATING!!!
But mostly terrifying 🙂
So here we are.
On a mission from God.
Walking with the Lord.
I ask, here, that God grant me mercy.
I’m just as fucked up as anyone.
But I ask for the grace of Jesus.
And I ask for strength to do the right things.
To help people.
To not be afraid.
I am living through the spiritual battle.
May God protect me.
I have seen the light.
And I weep. Jesus wept.
I’ve been through so much shit.
And I feel like maybe I am finally emerging from the “dead mall” of limbo.
Like Jake and Elwood crashing out of the JCPenney in 1980 🙂
I want to exist in that flophouse minute.
Buttered toast on a coat-hanger over a hotplate.
And a 78 rpm Decca blues record spins and the elevated lines churn by endlessly.
I want to live in that moment.
Brings us back to the Danish concept of hygge [coziness].
John Landis nails it in the scene where Jake is drinking Night Train wine and Elwood is making toast.
Very close to what Roberto Benigni would do 17 years later in the Schopenhauer scene of La vita è bella.
Those scenes from films…
Those scenes in which we want to live.
They never get old.
They never cease to comfort.
That somewhere in this fucked-up world is a little closet we can call home.
Barely big enough to open the door.
Just a bed.
But it’s our little space.
Carrie Fisher tries all manner of destruction in this film 🙂
Even a flame thrower!
But Jake and Elwood keep getting up.
Just some rubble.
Just keep dusting off those black suits.
“Maybe CIA”, says Aretha Franklin (like the key to Dylan’s Tarantula).
Keep climbing from ‘neath those bricks.
Gotta make it seem real.
Maybe use real bricks.
Better to be the first man up.
Let’s get this in one take.
Hit on the head too many times with a brick…
Because there are private pressings on vinyl of American acts that went no further than their local Holiday Inn.
It is almost a fabled purgatory.
Very Charlottesville with the car and the cartoonish Nazis.
But I just wanna hear me some more John Lee Hooker.
I got the blues.
Days of Delta slide…feathery as an aeolian harp.
And nights of thin, wild mercury.
Just like in the movies…
Get a record contract backstage.
You could wait your whole life.
Carrie Fisher goes full-automatic.
And most of this film takes place in the hellhole of Chicago (but nearly 40 years ago).
Hey…I’m not much for car chases, but this film does something real special with the device.
That’s where they have that Picasso, right?
And perhaps it will be notable that Spielberg is the Cook County Tax Assessor clerk?
We shall see.
This movie was very dear to me as a kid.
It’s one of those which came on TV all the time.
And it always pulled me in.
For me, nothing in this film beats the scene in which Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas huddle ’round a marijuana campfire in the fuselage of a crashed plane.
Taking strong belts of Jose Cuervo tequila.
Basically sitting in a giant bong 🙂
But the best part–the cutest part…is KT eating olives.
An old jar. To be sure.
But they last awhile.
And liquor kills all germs, right?
Who cares if the dead pilot took a few swigs long ago 🙂
It’s such a cozy scene.
Perhaps it’s what the Danish mean by hygge.
And it’s an ambiance I’ve only seen approached in Vertigo (Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart by the fireplace in his apartment…after he rescues her from the waters of San Francisco Bay) and, surprisingly, The Pink Panther (David Niven and Claudia Cardinale by the fireplace…Claudia on the tiger-skin rug).
But Romancing the Stone, unlike those two films, is a full-on romcom.
Sure, there’s action…to entice the leery men 🙂
But there’s no denying that this is a romantic comedy.
And so I’m glad to join the ranks of romcom lovers.
Glad to christen a new category on my site with this fine film.
Some of it hasn’t aged so well (like Alan Silvestri’s sequenced electro-samba soundtrack), but most of it has…so kudos to director Robert Zemeckis.
Zach Norman plays a gay villain in such a way that one cannot help thinking of John Podesta.
Danny DeVito, who plays Norman’s cousin, is definitely the funniest thing in this film.
Neither Turner nor Douglas are particularly funny, but they are graceful and charming (respectively).
I would even add that Michael Douglas encapsulates a sort of masculinity which has been on the wane since the 1980s in America…UNTIL DONALD TRUMP WON THE FUCKING PRESIDENCY!
It is trippy.
To watch this movie late at night.
To relive childhood memories.
And then to rouse oneself to one’s feet and think, “Is Donald Trump really the President? Is this not some kind of dream???” 🙂
I know for many it is a nightmare.
So I will just leave that train of thought there. For now.
Actually, there is a more serious villain in this film: Manuel Ojeda.
He is certainly a BAD HOMBRE 🙂
[sorry, can’t help it]
The bulk of the action takes place in Colombia.
It’s like William S. Burroughs, in search of yage, writing back to Allen Ginsberg.
Though the narrative becomes evermore-farfetched as it unfurls, it’s so much fun that we don’t much care 🙂
Buried treasure? Check.
Wrestling crocodiles? Check.
Mr. Dundee and The Goonies were from this same era 🙂
Alfonso Arau is here too…with his little “mule” 🙂
[I guess, on second thought, that is a drug-smuggling joke]
This was the performance which preceded Mr. Arau’s all-world turn as El Guapo in Three Amigos.
Yeah…the plot really gets ridiculous right after the waterfall 🙂
But this is a feel-good movie!
And we need this kind of stuff.
Sitting down to ENJOY a movie 🙂
What a concept!
Here is a troubling masterpiece.
Because as history unfolds, old modes of expression fall out of style.
They become crude.
And yet, this is a funny fucking film.
We encounter almost the same phenomenon with the priceless, all-world The Party of 1968.
If you like Peter Sellers as an Indian (“Do you speak Hindustani?”), then you are racist.
This is what we are told.
So, then, we are not allowed to laugh at Peter Sellers anymore.
However, notice the double-standard at work in the Pink Panther films.
No one ever says, “Clouseau is such a racist depiction of the French!”
It is because “the white man” has had the rug pulled from underneath him.
The French have everything…
The Louvre, great bread, Dijon, Bordeaux…[a nice meal coming together there, that!]
So therefore, the French should be dispossessed of their wealth in all its many manifestations.
And, sadly, that’s socialism.
Make everybody the same.
Take by force.
Doesn’t sound very civilized to me…
Rather, sounds fairly barbarian.
A shortcut on hard work.
But I’m really aiming to get under your thumb (er, skin) as regards “race”.
I put it in skeptical quotations because modern genetics has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the concept of “race” is ridiculous.
As Geoffrey Carr of The Economist puts it, “One group of 55 chimps in West Africa shows more genetic diversity than the whole of humanity.”
I usually don’t trust The Economist farther than I can throw it.
Because there are no bylines.
And it is a clearly globalist rag.
But Mr. Carr has a point.
To put words in his mouth…if there are no races, then there must be no racism.
I’m sure some other word will suffice.
I’ll get back to you once I wade through Euclid’s Elements.
But I hope my point is clear.
If races don’t exist (a notion the globalists are pushing very hard…for ulterior motives), then racism is an absurd concept.
But still, SOMETHING exists.
Perhaps it’s just a “rose” by another name.
Which brings us to this film.
Three Amigos. It’s racist, right?
I mean, the Mexicans in this film aren’t doctors and lawyers.
They don’t speak flawless English with no hint of accent.
And though they run a small gamut, there are indeed stereotypes at work.
But is it mean-spirited?
I would argue it is not.
Or else, the Pink Panther films should all be banned out of deference to the French.
Which is no less absurd than saying John Landis’ masterpiece under review is “racist”.
But let me bring a different slant (no pun intended) to this dialogue.
In my area, south Texas, a mixing of “races” is apparent.
There are white people. And a few black people. But mostly there are brown people.
And then there are gradations.
So-and-so is darker than what’s-his-name. And so on and so forth.
And we know that this darkness in skin pigmentation (for Mexican-Americans) comes largely from the Native Americans who populated what is today the U.S. and Mexico.
Before the Europeans arrived.
But here’s my personal two bits.
This film, Three Amigos, was cherished by me and all my school chums when we were growing up.
People with last names like Lopez, De Los Santos, etc.
We were all friends.
And though we may have fallen out of touch with one another, we all seemed to find enjoyment in Three Amigos.
Indeed, my Hispanic (Latino) friends apparently found the characterizations of Mexicans the funniest.
And, dare I say it, because (as the adage goes), “It’s–so–true!!!”
Whether any characterization of Mexicans in this film is or isn’t true…that’s immaterial.
I am not the ultimate judge.
But things have changed.
And it’s not just the Trump effect.
Over the years, people have become more and more “polite”.
That’s a good thing, right?
Well, I’m not so sure…
Because it’s not a genuine politeness.
It’s a politesse which is enforced topdown.
It’s not really a choice.
And, to make dead clear, it is our old nemesis: social engineering.
It is in this sense that social engineering is truly defined.
Any other definition (the activities of a pickpocket, a conman, a hacker) is insufficient and misleading.
Social engineering is, by-and-large, practiced at the highest levels of government, at policy institutions, and in commerce by Ivy League jerks (both male and female) who wish to mold society into a shape pleasing unto them.
And like those pernicious Fabians of old, they have no qualms about smashing the world to bits if such means lead to their desired end.
The Fabians, of course, never rush anything. Unless they panic. At which time they reveal themselves. To be the losers they are.
Yes, I am no fan of the Fabian socialists.
Because their whole programme is predicated on deception and secrecy.
And, as such, it should be thoroughly suspect whenever encountered.
But this is a comedy, right?
Yes! Amen!! Something we can agree on!!!
This grand apologia is to introduce one of my favorite films.
It is not “politically correct”, but then NOTHING was in 1986.
And with “correctness” we have lost our sense of humor.
We are too easily offended.
We need “safe spaces”.
Ok, ok…I promise I’m not about to get all Bill O’Reilly here.
Because I have railed AGAINST Fox News for many years.
And, dare I say it, the real heroes in the USA were those who took CHANCES…BIG FUCKING CHANCES…to preserve liberty.
Trump came to the party late.
And I came to Trump even later.
But the real heroes are people like Alex Jones.
Indeed, there is no one like him.
But with the “Joneses” came others like Steve Pieczenik.
And so the tables have turned against the globalists.
Thank God for BREXIT!
Thank God for Trump!
And may God bless Marine Le Pen!
Because the neoliberal nightmare in which we are now mired (including the neoconservative, never-ending wars) has set the globalist agenda back decades.
The European Union is falling apart.
And rightly so.
Because it was a bad idea in the first place.
France must get rid of the atrocious Loi Gayssot.
And other European countries must follow suit.
We must be allowed to TALK!
The Internet will not allow tyranny.
Every government which seeks to control will find itself obsolete.
And so call it whatever you want.
If you’re “free market”, then the Internet is the genius of capitalism.
If you’re fond of sharing (so am I), then the Internet is the redistributive genius of socialism.
And, finally, we have the monstrosity of China.
Clearly no longer a communist state.
Yet neither a capitalist free market.
The mutant which is China…that juggernaut has been smashing the world in terms of productivity.
But there is a limit.
Now the people want FREEDOM.
[or so we are told]
At any rate, the blowback of globalism will ensure that the Chinese people crave the OPPORTUNITY (at least) to behave like Westerners.
THAT much is human nature.
And so I am not against natural globalization.
In that respect, the Fabians are right.
If “gradualism” is taken to mean “let nature take its course”.
But I am and will forever remain AGAINST synthetic globalism.
Globalization vs. globalism.
Suffice to say, I am very much against FORCED globalization.
And perhaps Erdoğan is a manifestation of reaction.
“Reactionary”, as the socialists always say. The worst insult a leftie can level!
As such, I have nothing against Erdoğan, but he can’t hold on to power IN SPITE OF the people.
Same with Trump.
Trump barely squeaked out a victory.
Because the globalist machine is so strong in America.
But rural pride was stronger.
And the Electoral College defeated Hillary Clinton.
But Trump will have to produce.
He knows this.
The clock is ticking on his four years.
And he has had adversaries on all sides.
So it remains to be seen…whether he will make good on his campaign promises.
I am standing behind him.
I am supporting him.
But I am ready to call “bullshit” when the moment is ripe.
Hopefully that moment will never come.
Hopefully he will be a wonderful President.
Which brings us back to “race”.
It’s not meant to be “a symbol”, it’s meant to be a wall.
And we in America have long known that the story of 9/11 is seriously flawed…like Swiss cheese…it is not plausible.
I often shoot my mouth off (my defining characteristic), but I have done my research on 9/11.
It may be the most complex event ever.
But it certainly was not the work of 19 blokes with boxcutters.
And everywhere…we saw the stand-down.
Two parts to Roberta Wohlstetter’s pet theory.
9/11 was no more Islamic than Mickey Mouse.
And so many signs proved this case.
If it had been an attack actually emanating from outside the United States (as opposed to an inside, CIA job), then our southern border would have been secured toot sweet.
But such was not the case.
And those of us near the southern border had all the information we needed to put the final nail in the coffin.
That 9/11 was a self-inflicted attack.
[with help from Israeli Mossad and others]
It was a team effort of the globalists.
However, to paraphrase Guy Debord, “deceit deceived itself”.
9/11 was the day when the Ivy League lost.
Once and for all.
Never again will Yale be the same.
Never again will Harvard be guiltless (if they ever were [and they weren’t]).
Brave people spoke out.
Webster Tarpley (of Princeton).
Steve Pieczenik (of Cornell and Harvard).
But now our Ivy League President (Penn) has a chance to reverse the sustained-lie–the 8-year-nightmare of Barack Obama’s unreality.
The Democratic Party squandered its chance to see the neocons swing from the gallows.
It would have been the end of the Republican Party.
But the Democrats chose more deception.
You can’t kill a dead man (bin Laden).
The fraudulent War “on” Terror waged on…with many innocent patriots deceived unto death.
And now race…racism…is but one problem plaguing us.
So, my friends, I urge you to see Three Amigos.
Let yourself laugh.
And “think about it” (as Jerry Lee Lewis was wont to say).
But don’t think too hard.
Because hell too is part of the divine comedy.
I’m so happy to be bringing you an actual film review today.
Even though I’m under the weather.
Yes, the airborne molds here in San Antonio seem to have brought on a nasty head cold.
[And before that it was the mountain cedar pollen. It seems my city is among the five worst in the U.S. for allergens!]
But nothing does the health quite as much good as a larf 🙂
And I must say, categorically, that Caddyshack is a masterpiece.
I suspected as much, but I never truly analyzed every bit of dialogue.
And let me just start off by saying, the screenwriters responsible for this film deserve immense kudos.
First, Douglas Kenney.
If you go to the Caddyshack page on Wikipedia, you will notice that Mr. Kenney has no hypertext love for his name in the “informatics” box.
[Correction, Kenney’s name under the heading “Writers” is not hypertext-enabled, but his name is linkable elsewhere on the page.]
The story of Mr. Kenney is sad.
The strangest part is, HE DOES indeed have a Wikipedia page!
So why no link to the Caddyshack page?
My guess is that this film (and its stakeholders) probably want to distance themselves from the late- Mr. Kenney.
And that’s the saddest part.
You see, Douglas Kenney died almost exactly a month after Caddyshack was released.
Apparently Mr. Kenney was depressed about the bad reviews Caddyshack had gotten.
It’s a tragic story.
But we’re here to celebrate this wonderful film!
And there are two more writers to credit.
Harold Ramis, who passed away in 2014, is also credited with writing our timeless work.
And finally, Brian Doyle-Murray (who is thankfully still with us).
These three writers crafted a great story.
But most importantly, they should be revered for the fantastic banter which they concocted.
In its own way, the script for Caddyshack deserves a prominent place next to Ernest Lehman’s North by Northwest.
But to pull off great lines, you need great actors.
And Caddyshack is chockfull of masterful performances.
But first let’s take a look at the socioeconomic aspects of this story.
The action is completely set at a posh golf course in Nebraska: Bushwood Country Club.
While some of the allegorical caricatures are a bit crude (indeed, the whole film is gloriously crude), there is a nice message to this film.
Quite simply, it is the “haves” and the “have-nots”.
And the main, anarchist “have-nots” are the caddies.
Those lowly youngsters who schlep golf bags up and down green hills in lieu of golf carts.
The manager of the Caddy Shack (actually played by writer Brian Doyle-Murray) holds the specter of replacement over the young caddies’ heads.
Shape up, or you’ll be replaced by golf carts.
[Or something to that effect]
I can hear the same strains echoing from my local McDonald’s (though I never go there).
You want fifteen dollars an hour?
But these kids put up with a lot of shit.
And, though this film doesn’t get this in-depth, I feel for the youngsters who are out there working crappy jobs.
America is fucked up.
A cashier at a corner store shouldn’t be prevented from getting antibiotics for her infected tooth.
She shouldn’t have to miss work because we can’t figure out this problem.
I’m guessing she can’t afford the doctor’s visit.
Or the visit to a clinic.
But that’s pretty sad.
It’s like panhandling…
No one would dream of such an existence.
So we gotta be less cynical.
Yeah, panhandlers will try any trick in the book.
But in the final estimation, one must really feel sorry for anyone who has no better options than to spend their time begging (or, for that matter, hawking cigarettes for minimum wage at the Kwik-E-Mart).
But I digress…
The late- Ted Knight did a great job of playing the yuppie villain in this film.
You want to go to law school? And your parents can’t afford it?
Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too.
It’s a bloody-jawdropping line from our three screenwriters!
Ted Knight plays Judge Smails.
Yes, a real piece of work he is!
The “good-old-boys” network.
Even up in Nebraska.
Perhaps a jab at Warren Buffett?
We know, of course, that Mr. Buffett was having a very convenient charity golf tournament the morning of 9/11 at Offutt Air Force Base.
And Offutt is the central node of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
And George W. Bush eventually made his way to Offutt on 9/11 (after stopping over at the second most important nuke site, Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana).
And then there was the jet owned by Mr. Buffett that was conveniently in the air near Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
And Ms. Anne Tatlock who would have normally been in her office at Fiduciary Trust Company in the World Trade Center, but was playing golf with Warren Buffett.
Fiduciary Trust lost 87 employees on the morning of 9/11 when Flight 175 slammed into the WTC.
But Tatlock was in Omaha.
Too crazy to be true?
And who were the other invitees at Buffett’s event?
Let’s return to comedy, shall we? 🙂
Chevy Chase is fantastic as Ty Webb in our film.
He has no editing mechanism.
Here is a guy so effortlessly-rich that he just says whatever is on his mind.
Remind you of anyone?
And if that pointed-allusion to our PEOTUS isn’t pithy enough, we then have Rodney Dangerfield’s ostentatious character: a realtor!
Remember, in 1978 (two years before Caddyshack) the villain of Superman (Lex Luthor) was also a realtor.
It’s an interesting meme.
Indeed, the word “meme” was coined just two years before THAT (in Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene).
So perhaps it was just the Zeitgeist, but our writers had latched onto something with the realtor trope.
However, as stated, the villain of Caddyshack is the venal Judge Smails.
Rodney Dangerfield (who was magnificent in this film) is very much an anti-villain: the enemy of our enemy.
Dangerfield’s character Al Czervik may be nouveau riche, but he has many redeeming qualities.
To reel in one of my favorite memes, he puts the disruptive in “disruptive innovation” (thank you Clay Christensen).
I mean, really…you gotta hand it to a guy with Budweiser on tap in his golf bag 🙂
But perhaps the most important character is Carl (played to genius proportions by Bill Murray).
Carl is the slack-jawed “assistant [head?] greenskeeper” whose internal monologue is just audible enough to guide us through this film.
Every film critic should identify with Carl (except, of course, the “successful” ones).
Here’s a guy who basically lives in the toolshed.
I mean, the scene where Chevy Chase “plays through” is just classic!
Carl eventually does a little housekeeping with a leaf blower (presaging the eccentric roots of Beck Hansen [whose dust-choking start was still a ways off in 1980]).
But Carl really makes this film tick.
He is the Fanfare for the Common Man.
And there are Bronx cheers in place of the timpani!
[Did somebody sit on a duck?]
Sarah Holcomb probably doesn’t get much credit for her role in this film, but she should.
Ms. Holcomb was born on September 11, 1958.
This was her last film (according to Wikipedia).
While her Irish accent is a bit grating (because, I am guessing, it is merely a plot device), she is a joyful presence in this film.
Ah, but Cindy Morgan really steals the show as Lacey Underall.
And she’s not just a pretty face!
Her acting (and chemistry with Chevy Chase) is really remarkable.
Plus, she has the best line of the film:
“BULLFIGHTS ON ACID.”
God, I love that line…
Which takes us back to our writers.
These guys were really something!
But I haven’t even mentioned the auteur of our film.
It was, indeed, one of the three writers: Harold Ramis.
Sure, there are cheap stunts (actually, $8 mil. worth…in 1980!).
But they almost all work beautifully.
For instance, the Jaws spoof with the Baby Ruth in the swimming pool 🙂
I mean, God…what a concept!
And even little touches…like Ted Knight hacking through the bathroom door with a golf club instead of an axe (à la The Shining).
The Shining, incidentally, was released about two months before Caddyshack.
[Jaws hailed from 1975 and Jaws 2 had dropped in 1978.]
It’s hard to say to what extent Bill Murray and Chevy Chase improvised in this film.
The same goes for Rodney Dangerfield.
These were/are comedic geniuses.
So no doubt a good bit of credit for the final product goes to these three gentlemen.
But Harold Ramis pulled it all together.
And so, dear friends, if you haven’t seen this film, then you absolutely must.
It’s not Gone With the Wind, but it’s a very significant milestone in the development of cinema.
If you don’t believe John Hughes was a genius, see this film.
Because I didn’t believe.
Though Hughes made one of my favorite 1980s comedies (Planes, Trains and Automobiles), I didn’t really get it.
It being the John Hughes phenomenon.
While the cool kids had it figured out long ago, I was too contrarian to listen.
Now I get it.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is truly a special film, but Sixteen Candles is transcendent art.
What would André Bazin make of this film? Or Gilles Deleuze? Or Christian Metz?
Well, I care…
But what’s important is what YOU make of it.
And in this case, what I make of it.
But let’s get one thing straight: Molly Ringwald invented the archetype which Thora Birch and Kat Dennings would later appropriate in doubtless homage.
Which is to say, Molly Ringwald is otherworldly as an actress in this film.
It’s no wonder Jean-Luc Godard cast her in his wonderful, underrated, masterful version of King Lear (1987).
Quentin Tarantino famously claimed (à la Bob Dylan’s conflated biography circa-1962) that he was in King Lear, but Molly Ringwald was ACTUALLY in it.
But enough about QT and nix on the digressions.
So no, I am no Henri Langlois to claim that Sixteen Candles should be in MoMA’s permanent collection, but there is good reason to compare this film favorably to Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings of 1939.
But none of this shit really matters.
What matters is the part in Gedde Watanabe’s hair at the dinner table.
And even more so (big time)–> is the indescribable Anthony Michael Hall.
AT&T gets it. Which means the seemingly wonderful Milana Vayntrub ostensibly gets it.
But I’m not sure the understanding flows both ways.
Because America has changed.
We are much closer to the year 1984 (as opposed to Orwell’s 1984) here in late-2016 than to any other period of American experience.
Yeah, Michael Schoeffling could only come from the Reagan era.
But he’s a great guy. And a fine actor.
And Sixteen Candles teaches us a lot of stuff.
John Hughes, as a film philosopher, is precocious in his grasp of American society in the 1980s.
The outcast wins.
But the conservative wins too.
Really, everybody wins.
That’s what value-creation will do.
But let’s back to A.M. Hall. This bloke…
What a performance!
And the real chemistry in this film is between Ringwald and Hall.
In the auto body shop.
And so what do we get?
Romance. Misery. And tons of fucking jokes.
We must congratulate John Hughes as much for his writing as his direction.
The previous year he had written National Lampoon’s Vacation starring Chevy Chase.
Years later he’d write a stellar reboot for the series in Christmas Vacation (also starring Chase).
You want more movies Hughes wrote but didn’t direct? How about Home Alone? [check] Or Pretty in Pink (starring Ringwald)? [check]
But let’s get another thing straight: this was John Hughes’ fucking DIRECTORIAL DEBUT!!!
But none of this shit matters.
What matters is Molly Ringwald crying in the hallway.
What matters is Molly practicing her potential lines before reentering the dance.
Molly talking on the phone with the Squeeze poster on the wall.
Molly freaking out and taking flight over fight.
And immediate regret.
What films do this?
Perhaps in 1955 we would have looked at Rebel Without a Cause in a similar way.
And rightly so.
Sixteen Candles is its progeny of uncertain admixture.
Looking through the yearbook.
And seeing the one.
The one who burns in your heart.
In America, this is realism (couched in slapstick and screwball).
Molly Ringwald is the loser who wins.
And Anthony Michael Hall is the hopeless dweeb who also wins…by sheer force of will.
There are genuine moments of panic in this film (as soft as they might be) regarding missed communication. Telephone calls. House calls.
And it adds just the right touch of anxiety to keep this film catalyzed and moving along.
But what makes all this believable? The supporting cast.
John and Joan Cusack (especially Joan, whose life make’s Ringwald’s look like a bed of roses). And John’s future MIT roommate (it would seem) Darren Harris.
But there’s one of the crew which deserves a little extra credit…and that is music supervisor Jimmy Iovine.
The tunes are right. The attention to detail is solid.
Sound and image merge (as Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller had impressed upon Godard that they should) into sonimage (a word Godard would use for his production company Sonimage).
Even the cassette spitting unspooling tape onto the pizza turntable is perfect.
The cassette? Fear of Music by Talking Heads.
Yes, Brian Eno.
And yes, “Young Americans” as they leave the driveway on the way to the wedding before the famous “au-to-mo-bile” scene.
Even The Temple City Kazoo Orchestra doing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G minor…briefly. [which lets our minds drift to Chaplin’s The Great Dictator]
Everything is right sonically.
The band instruments on the school bus.
The Dragnet quotes.
The gongs for Long Duk Dong.
“Lenny” by SRV in the car. Half a car.
It’s so very sweet. And sotto voce. And real.
It’s a mix. It doesn’t intrude. You gotta unlock the passenger door to your heart to let this film in.
And a little Billy Idol as Anthony Michael Hall negotiates a Rolls Royce and a prom queen.
So rest in peace, John Hughes. And thank you for this film.
Et je vous salue, Molly! Merci for the film.
And thank you Anthony Michael Hall for capturing my youth and bottling it up.
Thank you Molly for capturing the one I loved and bottling up all the quirky, quixotic things which I cannot see anymore.
It is the immortality principle of film.
John, Molly, and Anthony…three geniuses of film.
I am profoundly grateful.
In this world, we look for goodness.
And we think back.
The name is not quite right.
But Robin Wright is perfect.
To conjure memories of wonder.
La fille aux cheveux de lin.
We are getting closer.
Fever dreams of distant possibilities.
And Secretary of Defense, William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
The kissing had to be cut out.
The censors, you understand.
And perhaps we have saved these kisses for the finish line.
As you wish. As you like it.
Have it your way. I love you.
But enter from offstage the Dread Pirate Pico de Gallo.
Lisping speech impediments abound.
Wallace Shawn in The Seventh Seal.
And the sartorial strap of André the Giant.
We are getting closer.
We learn that Saul Berenson is a very good actor.
Hound Dog Taylor didn’t need no bass.
Enter from orchestra pit Johnny Cash.
When you are tumbling in love…weightless…in an orchard of God’s making.
Abloom. In Stockholm.
Pretexts. False flags. It’s all here.
But Rob Reiner insists on cinema.
From the quicksand.
Don’t believe in yourself.
To his credit.
But this one goes to 50.
Off your life.
Two skinned appendages. Comes with the package.
Houellebecq quote. Creeley.
Could have sworn Mel Smith was Viv Savage (David Kaff).
Hyperlinks to Rare Bird (Charisma, Polydor).
Abandon all hope…in the hand of Dante.
The cries of the innocent.
Clouds of blood.
Slaying the witch.
On live television.
Strategic management from Stephen Hawking.
Weekend at Bernie’s.
The only good thing Billy Crystal ever did.
Daniel Craig in writer’s strike watching The Princess Bride.
Voilá Quantum of Solace.
Rachmaninov would live again…after the first symphony…in the Symphonic Dances…quoting himself…like John Fogerty…but just momentarily…to remember…conquering a state…percussing an albino…leaping from a cliff…holding up the memory of the dead…and thick glasses…on a young boy…this string quartet is for you.
“Feel sick and dirty/More dead than alive”
“I could sleep for a thousand years…Different colors made of tears”
I was friends with André. And he with me.
The holocaust cloak in Histoire(s) du cinéma.
“Look out honey ’cause I’m using technology”
Come too far.
Not limousine liberal.
“She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes”
Honor thy father and mother.
This movie is kinda like LSD.
Not that I would know.
But from what I hear…
If you come into it with fear and anxiety, it will be a grating, disorienting, annoying experience. Frightening.
But if you come into it at peace and relaxed, you might just have a wonderful time viewing this movie.
The first third of the film was tense for me.
Everything is tense for me.
Thank God for drugs.
And so the rest of the film was quite charming and (dare I say?) meaningful.
We probably all know the Pee-Wee story…how he got caught whacking off in an adult movie theater.
But everyone deserves a second chance.
Sure, a guy who wakes up in the morning wearing lipstick and rouge might be a little suspect to some, but this whole film is fantasy.
Back to psychedelics…
It’s only appropriate that my old computer has just come down with the trippiest virus I’ve ever seen.
But no matter.
We push on.
Five more days.
Yes, Pee-Wee is like Mr. Bean.
And when Pee-Wee dances, it presages Napoleon Dynamite’s talent show jaw-dropper by some years.
Paul Reubenfeld –> Paul Reubens –> Pee-Wee Herman
In Hollywood, you can be anyone you want to be.
That’s entertainment (as The Jam sang).
But we have to give a shout out to the adorable Elizabeth Daily who plays Dottie.
Madame Ruby only accepts cash…even on a rainy night.
But she also does income tax.
Sure, Pee-Wee looks a little too comfortable in his Audrey-Hepburn-meets-Laverne-&-Shirley frock, but that’s part of his oblivious joy.
Large Marge is, of course, unforgettable.
Diane Salinger is really great as Simone.
With that aching dream to get to France.
I know. This dream.
I lived it.
And how I’d so like to go back.
“Au revoir, Simone…”
Nothing like sitting on a tongue…watching the sun come up between some teeth.
But then we get my hometown.
And a lot of it!
Please don’t think we all speak like Jan Hooks 🙂
As an amnesiac, Pee-Wee can recall but one thing:
“Remember the Alamo!”
So let’s see…fainting after bike theft (Truffaut) followed by EMS and oxygen? Check.
Amnesia after being thrown from a bull? Check.
Hospitalization after riding a Harley through a wooden sign? Check.
I am remiss to mention that I forgot the appendectomy in Spies Like Us.
These signs that God is looking out for us.
A story which didn’t resonate during my youth.
But only after I’d fallen in love to Messiaen.
Only after I became Tropic of Cancer.
A duck in Milton Berle’s pants is enough to get Pee-Wee on set at Warner Brothers.
What ensues is truly a zany take on the car chase cliche.
Then Pee-Wee frees the animals at the zoo. XMAS
And with handfuls of snakes, faints again (trumping Truffaut) before first responders revive him.
Breaking the rules was a way to promotion in the 1980s.
And when it’s couched in playful imagination, it is charming indeed.
When it’s funny. A farce. Comedic.
Pee-Wee as bellhop is like Jason Schwartzman’s understudy in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Director Tim Burton deserves heaping credit for making this an actually timeless film. It is creative throughout.
It’s really a joy to see.
Just don’t take the brown acid.