Cuban Fury [2014)

“You got no fear of the underdog/

That’s why you will not survive.”

Britt Daniel wrote that lyric.

And it’s the only song by his band Spoon which has even the most remote bit of soul in it.

Such a soulless band, Spoon…

The ultimate plastic hipsters.

A male supermodel and his gang of H&M monkeys behind him.

It would almost be artistic…in sort of an Andy Warhol/Factory sort of way.

Except there is no humor in it.

Spoon are dead serious.

The irony is (ATTN:  hipsters) there’s no irony here.

All that being said, Britt Daniel wrote one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.

And it’s the one I quoted above.

“The Underdog”

It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter that my path crossed Britt’s path.

It doesn’t matter that I was invited to audition for his band Spoon as a keyboard player.

It doesn’t matter that he probably saw me in an outfit that wasn’t quite svelte enough and promptly canceled my audition before it ever happened.

Because he underestimated the underdog.

And that’s why he will not survive.

Last I heard, Spoon (or at least their godhead, Britt) relocated to Portland.

I suppose Austin wasn’t hip enough anymore.

Either that, or his shitty personality had shit off everyone in Austin and he needed a new lot of cunts to shit on.

But I digress…

Because, as stated, Britt had a point.

Once.

In one song.

[whether he learned the lesson he sang about or not is a different story]

But it is very much germane to OUR story–to this fantastic film:

Cuban Fury.

You almost always see Nick Frost in tow behind his partner in comedy Simon Pegg.

But not this time.

And so here we start a new investigation.

The test was simple:  could Nick Frost carry a film by himself (without the great talents of Simon Pegg)?

And the answer is a resounding YES!

We start all Billy Elliott (that one thing upon which Admiral General Aladeen and his presumptive torturer could agree).

Ass kicked.

Sequins eaten.

A future star quits mid-stride.

What could have been…

Have you ever had such a moment in your life?

I have.

LIFE beat me up.

In the span of a couple of months.

And now, instead of laying down tracks on 2-inch tape, I’m making songs solely with an iPhone.

You can feel the excitement.

It had to have been at least 20 years for Bruce (Nick Frost).

He gave up his passion.

Thought he would never cross paths again with salsa dancing.

He had been on the precipice of the youth national title in Britain.

Then his life went humdrum.

Works an office job for a company specializing in lathes.

The most nondescript industry possible.

But he gets a new boss.

Rashida Jones.

She is excellent here.

She hits just the right notes in her performance.

She is Bruce’s new boss.

But, as fortune would have it, she (an American in Britain) loves salsa.

Bruce is gobsmacked.

Enough so to turn his life around.

To attempt to reel in the years.

Equally brilliant as the first two players I’ve mentioned (Frost and Jones) is Ian McShane.

You might remember him as the head of MI6 in The Brothers Grimsby.

But ironically, his role here (as Bruce’s former dance teacher) is far heavier.

Think Burgess Meredith with an occasional lisping Spanish one would expect to hear in Madrid.

And McShane injects some Keith Richards pirate couture for good measure.

This is a HARD man.

Drinking tequila the whole film.

And he’s a fucking dance teacher.

A TOUGH dance teacher.

He’s tough because he sees the potential in his student.

And he won’t let his student half-ass this endeavor.

Either you go “all in”, or you go home.

Passion.

El corazón.

This film is truly a joy to watch.

…to see Nick Frost regain what truly makes him happy.

To dance.

It’s the story of someone reclaiming themselves.

Rewinding life…just enough to relive ones happiest former version of being (and relocate oneself).

But here’s the other part.

The ladies.

Or lady, here.

They just see Nick as a fat schlub.

No way this guy could dance salsa, right?

Every day suffering insults from a particularly nasty coworker.

Let me illustrate.

For me, supporting President Trump brings me daily grief.

Every day I am made aware (by “liberals”) that they hate me.

I am treated badly.

In person.

At work.

Online.

Simply trying to start my romantic life over and date.

I am very upfront.

Listed front and center:  “I voted for Trump.”

Kind of like an, “Abandon hope, ye who enter”.

But more like:  Let the Buyer Beware.

I lay it all out there.

“I live with my parents.”

etc.

And I get some shitty shit.

Which is why, every once in awhile, I think God is looking out for me.

I think maybe that God sees what I go through.

I’m not mean.

I’m not rude.

I don’t proselytize in a political sense.

I try to show warmth to others.

I try to show God’s love with my actions.

And boy do I end up throwing my pearls before swine sometimes…

Often, perhaps.

Lots of swine.

And it gets me down.

But I thought today was gonna be better.

Since last night.

Things had been going really well for me.

And now, here at 4 in the morning, I find myself back in a similar spot.

But it’s ok.

Because God loves me.

And if a bunch of braindead bitches wanna ignore the underdog,

then we won’t be surprised why they didn’t find happiness.

So this is a love story.

Forbidden love.

Nick Frost is in love with his boss.

Because his boss is perfect…for him.

It’s FaTE.

God puts us in the position to win.

But true winning is not always capturing first place.

“You can’t always get what you want…

But if you try sometimes,

you might find,

you get what you need.”

Where have I heard that song these past four years?

Ah, yes.

She was never supposed to lose.

Hillary Clinton.

She underestimated the underdog.

That’s why she did not survive.

Before this goes totally off the rails.

Love is the greatest victory there is.

But love has to be reciprocated.

If you’re a superstar (and I know you are, my dear reader), then you deserve AT LEAST as much as you give.

When you give love, compliments, gifts, affection, etc.

If you find yourself always to be the giver…and never allowed to be the taker (because nothing is given to you), then you just might be in the wrong situation.

I know I was.

And, praise God, I am out of that for the time being.

Except for at least one catch.

The world, our world, is primarily composed of takers.

Ingrates.

People without manners.

Humans unfamiliar with common courtesy.

Unpracticed at recognizing fairness.

People who have very little conscience (if any whatsoever).

And they are either unaware that they are such assholes, or they are aware and they simply do not care.

So again, it’s just me on this computer here.

Sitting in the dark.

Typing.

But that’s ok.

Because in this movie, a fat guy gets a beautiful girl.

And he gets her because he’s good at something.

Do you feel me?

But we must be righteous too.

Let us not underestimate OUR personal underdogs.

Let us not defile the name of God by letting superficiality reign.

God will show us the way.

Let us do what is just.

I ask that all who read this may be helped.

That each of them may know that God loves them.

And I ask this in the name of the Son of God.

I ask this by the power that is in the name Jesus.

God works in mysterious ways.

Our loving God will not be mocked.

God will not lose in the end.

We are entrusted with great responsibility.

But we know who wins.

And we know that the ending is magnificent.

And we know that all are welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven.

God only asks that we have humility.

The humility to ask forgiveness.

And God does not demand perfection.

The coin which God accepts, for eternal life, is faith.

And God charges no interest on this coin.

It is given freely, yet it is the most valuable thing in the universe.

Praise be to His holy name.

Indictments = start.

 

-PD

Heavy [1995)

Holidays are hard for many people.

Perhaps we think of who we’ve lost.

But also there’s the pressure of the days themselves.

Christmas.  New Year’s Eve.

Even times like the 4th of July.

I didn’t set out to write a heartrending post, but I don’t always know what it is I’m about to watch.

In general, Heavy is not a sad film.

It’s a masterpiece of minimalism.

Every shot…every movement in this movie is lovingly made.

James Mangold created a world which corresponds to the understated expressions of silent films as much as it does to the desperation of everyday life.

I’m sure some people have very happy lives.

But what Mr. Mangold has given us is a look at extreme awkwardness.

Loneliness.

Do you ever feel awkward buying something?

I do.

Every time.

It’s the interaction with people.

It comes and it goes.

But for our protagonist Victor, it mostly comes and stays.

I can’t recall an actor (Pruitt Taylor Vince) getting so much depth out of so few words.

No film I’ve ever seen handles shyness quite like this one.

Victor is a cook at his mom’s little tavern.

It’s the kind of place you’d find in Woodstock.

Kingston.  Poughkeepsie.  West Saugerties.

Though the setting is never named, these are what came to my imagination.

Those places that inspired Mercury Rev to create their masterpiece Deserter’s Songs and, before them, The Band.

But whatever this fictional town, it is positively not cool.

It is in the middle of nowhere.

And so a feeling of desolation pervades this picture.

Victor cares for his mother (played brilliantly by the late Shelley Winters).

They live together…just the two of them.

There’s a little dog.

It’s a quiet life.

Sure, it’s sad.

But it’s life.

Life goes on.

Every day.

Open the tavern.

Pay the delivery man.

Cook the pizzas.

Clean up the broken beer mugs.

It just so happens that the place has a waitress/bartender.

And the actress playing this role indeed had experience.

Max’s Kansas City.

That’s right, Debbie Harry.

Debbie plays Delores.

She’s just as feisty as you’d expect.

She doesn’t put up with any shit.

And so the world goes on.

Day after day.

Status quo.

But one day, a ray of light enters lonely Victor’s world.

Liv Tyler.

You can imagine.

Liv was 18 when this film was made.

Which brings us back to Woodstock proper.

Liv Tyler was born Liv Rundgren.

As in Todd.

It’s a complicated story, but this future actress/model knew Todd Rundgren (producer of The Band’s Stage Fright which was recorded at the Woodstock Playhouse in 1970) as father until well into her life.

Todd, of course, was also a resident of the area.  This was back in the days of Albert Grossman’s Bearsville Records.

Which brings us to another fascinating little town:  Bearsville, New York.

But Liv was obviously the daughter of Steven Tyler (lead singer of Aerosmith).

Liv didn’t find this out till age eight.

Back to our movie…

Into lonely Victor’s life walks a new waitress whose real life genes were those of lippy Steven Tyler and Playboy Playmate Bebe Buell.

That’s no ordinary gene pool.

But this is no ordinary romantic comedy.

In fact, it’s not a romantic comedy.

It’s not funny.

It’s deep.

[He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother]

Because Victor is a portly fellow.

And this bothers him.

It’s something he tries to ignore, but living at home with mom…and being fat…and being shy…

It’s enough to give a guy a complex.

And this is not a rich family.

No psychiatrists here.

Just get up and go to work every day.

Cook breakfast for mom.

Feed the dog.

Go to the little grocery store.

Get some eggs and orange juice.

So I wasn’t sure what I was getting with this movie.

But I’m so glad I watched it.

I wouldn’t really call it an uplifting story, but that’s not the point.

It is cinéma vérité in the truest sense.

And the world needs these kinds of films.

There are no explosions.

Maybe there’s not even a happy ending.

I will leave that for you to discover.

But there are certainly very few cliches.

And so this picture spoke to me in a very deep way.

To reach out to anyone on the Internet who might be reading this.

This is a film about problems.

Not crippling problems which require literal crutches, but crippling all the same.

Pink Floyd summed it up as well as anyone when they sang about “quiet desperation”.

It may be “the English way”, but it’s not a uniquely British phenomenon.

I hate to talk about the “human condition”…because I fear I will sound like one of the putzes who pens the elevator pitches which adorn every film on Netflix [who writes those things?!?], but James Mangold did something very significant with this film.

Even the music is subtly artful.

We can thank Thurston Moore for that.

And so little harmonics and behind-the-bridge pings give depth to Victor’s struggles.

It’s quietness.

Standing by the staircase.

Staring up.

Is mom coming down?

Will the dog come eat his food?

There are heroes in this world.

And sometimes they are right under our noses.

Victor is one of those.

 

-PD