A Fantastic Fear of Everything [2012)

I found this one difficult to watch.

Multiple attempts.

I’m still alive.

Lon-don.

Tell them I’ll call them back.

Hackney.

Hacked.

Hanoi.

Humbert Humbert.

This is a rather inventive film.

Insular.

Wrapped up in web mind.

Cobwebs.

Webby.

Super glues a knife to his hand!

For fuck’s sake!!!

That’s when it started to get good.

But God knows how long it took me to survive the punishing beginning.

Boredom.

My Beautiful Laundrette.

[sic]

Working Title Films.

Jackpot!

Bean, Lebowski, Ali G., Johnny English, Shaun, Fuzz, Paul, World’s End, Grimsby, Saoirse Scots…

These are my films.

The auteurs of comedy.

Bona fide.

The twins.

And the muse.

My journey through addiction.

Knowing you’re an addict.

And not a patient on medicine.

Step 1.

Can I recapture?

Which way?

What???

Scissorhand.

Shatterhand.

Forgot the soap.

An opera.

Slow-motion underwear.

Soiled with blood.

Dust.

Attic.

Beautiful curry.

Had burned off the hair on one side of his head.

Scrotum.

FaTE.

Very much like lovely bones.

Hatch.

Soft bulletin.

Swung open.

Brochure.

Kiss to remove my gag.

Little ‘Nam.

Indeed.

Martin Rev suicides the wrap arounds from Wal-Mart.

Blinking LEDs chasing across the brow.

Creepy as fuck!

But bathos.

Bathetic.

Maudlin.

Yet in the mold of Frank Giustra (suing Twitter for comments I and others made).

Free speech, mate.

Yes, you have a psychopathic vibe.

It is my human right to state so.

Fuck Canada!

Hackneyed serial killer.

Trite.

Headbutt dog and duck.

Scotch egg.

1001 nights…

The star here (besides our subject of study, Simon Pegg) is the beautiful Amara Karan.

Breathtaking!

Sri Lanka.

Bikini.

Atoll.

Darjeeling.

Investment banker (!):  M&As.

Get the fuck out!

Oxford,

not a terminal degree, but quite academic for iTunes fare.

Pegg’s least-purchased movie (it appears).

But really a fine job by Crispian Mills (Kula Shaker, wot?!?) and Chris Hopewell.

 

-PD

The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu [1980)

Again we come back.

Revitalized?

Perhaps.

Definitely living with chemistry.

Better living ahead?

Maybe.

But death followed for Peter Sellers.

This was his final film.

And so it is spooky (in a way).

It came out two weeks after his death.

I must admit.

I had a hard time watching this one at first.

On first view, it wasn’t that funny to me.

Indeed, it is a rather strange comedy.

But let’s get really strange.

The executive producer was Hugh Hefner.

Follow the white rabbit.

And now we shall come to QAnon in full force.

Is it real?

Is it bullshit?

Fred Manchu.

Call me Fred.

Who is QAnon?

They don’t mention much about rabbits anymore, do they?

And like me, they are fond of taking inordinately-long pauses between bursts of communication.

Transient random-noise bursts with announcements.

My brain is coming back.

Watch out, world!

Fred Manchu did laundry at Eton.

Eton blue or shelduck blue.

Sid Caesar or Cyd Charisse.

Caesar’s Palace or…

Down to brass tacks.

Tax?

This film is in parallel to (believe it or not) Live and Let Die.

Jane Seymour (Bond) and Helen Mirren (Sellers).

And Sellers in Casino Royale of 1967.

Not to be confused with the best Bond film made thus far:  Casino Royale of 2006.

Seymour (OBE)

born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg

Mirren (DBE)

born Helen Lydia Mironoff

Live and Let Die (1973) was really the breakout performance of young Seymour’s early career.

There is juxtaposition…because you might know Seymour best as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998).

Sultry “Solitaire” (Seymour) is hardly recognizable next to her twenty-year-senior “Dr. Quinn”.

But sex sells.

And it just goes to show that HARDLY ANYONE gets to start off classy.

Stay classy.

In our film, the promiscuous Alice Rage (Mirren) ironically (?) gets an undercover job as a double for the Queen of England.  She then falls for the black-fingernailed Fu Manchu and becomes the 166-year-old (?) villain’s wife.

For those who only know Mirren as The Queen (2006), it is worth revisiting her early years for a jolt of WTF.

Though Mirren had been working in film seven times as long as Seymour when she took this role of Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, it was still something of a feather in her cap (one might imagine).

And though we might suspect this was the depth of her crappy early roles, it wasn’t.

The previous year, Mirren had been in the infamous film Caligula (produced by Penthouse magazine).

[as noted earlier, our film was a Playboy Productions venture with Hugh Hefner acting as executive producer]

Further, Mirren played a prostitute in the contemporaneous Hussy of 1980.

If you only know Mirren from American Treasure:  Book of Secrets, I can imagine your shock.

BTW…don’t make the easily-forgivable mistake of confusing Mirren for Judi Dench (the “M” of the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig-era Bond films).

Which brings us back to Q.

Is QAnon legit?

Where is Q?

Why hasn’t Steve Pieczenik commented on Q?

Is Q a “flypaper coup” (to quote Wayne Madsen re: Turkey’s failed coup)?

Hard to say.

For me.

One thing is for sure:  Mirren and Dench both appeared in 1968’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Burt Kwouk makes a brief appearance early in our film…as he drops the MacGuffin (after drenching his burning sleeve with it).

Look to Stonehenge.

Moreover, Steve Franken (the butler from The Party) plays Sid Caesar’s FBI partner here.

Franken was disgraced Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s cousin.

Let’s see if Q has posted anything.

Nope.

Weird.

 

-PD

 

The Music Box [1932)

This is truly a masterpiece.

It transcends short film.

The piano…

¡Ay, carambas!

This film is all about work.

About having shitty jobs.

The things we do for money!

Stan and Ollie work their asses off.

For nothing, basically.

But it provides us with some much-needed levity.

And one need not be overly-erudite to see Sisyphus in all of this.

Very clearly.

Up the hill.

Over and over again.

Just as things seem ok.

The same disaster strikes again.

And you are back at square one.

Groundhog Day.

Hell.

…but funny!

[only funny if you’re not living it]

But this is comedy.

And so we thank God for Jerry Lewis…and Laurel and Hardy…and Charlie Chaplin.

And all the great comedians who have brought the working man (and woman) the laughter they so dearly needed.

There’s some great mise-en-scène and economy of means here from director James Parrott.

Everything revolves around the interminable stairs.

The steps.

Like Potemkin.

Steppes.

Central Asia.

Oh, Stan and Ollie…

They are at their idiotic best here.

Two gen-u-ine dumbasses 🙂

If I could only remember the name of that rock band that destroyed the piano…

 

-PD

Busy Bodies [1933)

Here’s where you can see a link to Jerry Lewis.

Julius Kelp knocking from beneath a horizontal door after a disaster.

Some great gags.

The record player in the car.

Good idea!

The window bit is great.

So awkward 🙂

But the paintbrush glued to the chin might be the highlight here!

Such hilarity!!!

These films really are good for the soul ❤

 

-PD

The Ladies Man [1961)

Here’s a nearly-perfect film.

Which didn’t do it for me at first.

Never had I seen Jerry Lewis be SO ANNOYING as he was in the start of this movie.

But I was wrong.

And so I gave it another chance.

All said, The Ladies Man ranks up there (for me) with The Nutty Professor and Cinderfella in the Lewis pantheon.

This is a real work of art.

This must be where Godard got the idea for the mise-en-scène of Tout va bien.

Doll house.

Two sound stages.

A huge production.

And so, in retrospect, I highly recommend this film.

You just have to adapt to Lewis’s singular style.

It can be a bit grating–a bit jarring from film to film.

But it is worth the work.

Jerry Lewis was a true comedic and artistic genius.

Give him a chance.

Go deeper into the films.

You won’t be sorry.

 

-PD

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World [1963)

Greed.

Not sure where to file this one.

It starts good, but it ends up a bit of a shambles.

Even so, it merits mention for several of the actors involved.

Milton Berle is pretty great.

His comedy is of another era.

It’s refreshing!

Buddy Hackett is pretty fantastic.

This crosseyed fat boy was a genuine talent.

And speaking of the rotund, Jonathan Winters is pretty awesome as the redneck furniture mover.

Jerry Lewis is on screen for about 5 seconds (really).

And Don Knotts has about one minute of contribution.

Spencer Tracy does a nice job.

His acting is a sort of “slow burn” here.

But like so many of these “cast of thousands” movies, the whole thing collapses (literally, in this case) under its own weight.

Stanley Kramer’s direction is good, but this hulking behemoth is mighty flawed.

There is not much mystery to this film.

Which is to say, there are no hidden levels to be revealed upon repeated viewings.

See it once and you’ll never want to bother with it again.

 

-PD

Hot Fuzz [2007)

Better than Paul in many ways, but also irritating.

Hot Fuzz is a great film ruined by a second half steeped in “comedy horror”.

While the gore isn’t as disturbing as that in American Psycho [a film which really relishes its own sick perversity], it’s still unnecessary.

In what kind of age and societies do we live where such trivialization of bloodshed is embraced as “funny”?

Perhaps it’s some social scourge that as popped up as a byproduct of the War “on” Terror.

Nevertheless, it is a filmmaking trend which is as trite as it is disgusting.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are plenty talented without such puerile Ed Gein fantasies.

 

-PD

The Brothers Grimsby [2016)

This one approaches masterpiece.

Spy spoof.

But falls off in the second half.

And yet, it is a real treat.

In the vein of Ali G.

Sacha Baron Cohen is the most important comedian working.

Aside from my other hero, Donald Trump.

There will never be another Peter Sellers.

Never another Andy Kaufman.

But we have Cohen and Trump.

As you were, lads.

 

-PD

The Blues Brothers [1980)

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.

HUGE progress.

Weeks ago (a month?) I cut my sleeping medicine in half (the dosage).

It was hard.

Really hard.

I was disoriented.

Headaches.

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.

Ugh…horrible.

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.

No prob.

I thought I had it beat.

Like nicotine.

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.

No.

Rather, a full stop.

It’s been three days.

And now I am totally off my sleeping meds.

The first night was really rough.

It sucked.

Anxious “sleep”.

Inability GOING to sleep.

But I stuck it out.

Each night has gotten better.

But the DAYS…

Ugh…

Aches, pains, headaches, stomach…trips to the restroom.

Bad stuff.

And that same disorientation.

It is a really strange feeling.

Very unsettling.

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.

Something comforting.

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 🙂

The blues.

Yeah.

I’ve had the blues.

Not depression, so much, but another kind of blues (lately).

Like climbing up a hill.

Like Sisyphus.

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.

I’m 40.

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.

Indeed.

Music.

I have been making it again.

Playing open mics.

Trying to get my drug-addled brain to MEMORIZE songs.

[ugh…]

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.

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.

Believe me.

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.

Life.

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 🙂

Tylenol, Advil…

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.

A movie.

On a mission from God.

Sinners.

Redeemed.

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.

Yes.

I have seen the light.

And I weep.  Jesus wept.

Too.

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.

Basically.

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.

Red-shag.

Very Charlottesville with the car and the cartoonish Nazis.

But I just wanna hear me some more John Lee Hooker.

Electrify.

My evenings.

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.

Exhilarating.  x2

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.

 

-PD

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby [2006)

This is a pretty damned perfect film.

Depending on where you’re coming from.

I set out for San Antone and I never felt so good.

“”

It might seem like a light watch (and in many ways it is), but Talladega Nights… captures something essential.

Will Ferrell distinguishes himself here as something of an auteur.

Sure, it’s really just an extended George W. Bush impersonation transposed onto the milieu of NASCAR, but there is quite a remarkable naïveté here from Ferrell.

It is kayfabe all the way to Alabama.

Ferrell never gives away the game.

Did Will Ferrell despise George W. Bush?

Did Will Ferrell secretly love George W. Bush?

Was Will Ferrell completely apolitical at this time?

It doesn’t matter.

What we see in his role as Ricky Bobby is pure.

There is something of Andy Kaufman in his performance.

Ferrell plays this role as if in a trance.

And this makes this film truly remarkable.

Sure, there are a ton of one-liners throughout.

The one-liners hook you in.

You see a bit on TV.  You hear a quote by the water cooler.

But when you finally sit down to view the whole film, you are greeted by a very complete work of art.

And, it must be said:  the brilliance of this film hinges as much on Sacha Baron Cohen as it does on Ferrell.

The two play off one-another.

Don’t be fooled:  Cohen’s turn as the Perrier-sponsored NASCAR driver Jean Girard is not a gratuitous cameo.

There is real drama here.

Real tension.

But most of all, it is one of those rare times when two comedic geniuses face off and create a sum greater than the parts.

Indeed, this may be Cohen’s best film role aside from the timeless Borat…

Cohen’s Girard comes off as a rather insipid, tongue-in-cheek Bond villain.

Think Hugo Drax.

Moonraker.

All caricature.

But it works.

Because Cohen mixes in an equal part Serge Gainsbourg.

For my money, there are few things funnier than seeing a NASCAR driver reading Camus’ L’Étranger WHILE DRIVING!!! 🙂

And there are so many of these moments.

Many of them are lowbrow.

Redneck.

But this film is classic.

This is truly a slice of Americana.

And, at the same time, it is a good story about overcoming anxiety.

Amy Adams plays a very important, mostly-understated role as Ricky Bobby’s assistant.

Her impassioned monologue in The Unfriendly Possum (before she climbs up on the table and makes out with Ferrell) is truly a bit of acting brilliance.

She channels something.

Can you buy that?

Can you just pay an actress to be that good??

No.

Not necessarily.

Adams adds a depth which this film dearly needed.

Cohen added a bizarre twist which perfectly seasoned the whole concoction.

But Ferrell is the big enchilada here.

Adam McKay did a nice job reeling this one in.

But he had a juggernaut in Ferrell.

Truly a special film.

It is a niche film.

But I live in that niche 🙂

 

-PD