glitch [2021)

Cobra and phases.

Emptying a sampler.

Pierre Henry.

Schaeffer.

Always Flaming Lips.

A twist on bass.

Fridmann.

The church of Michael Ivins’ hair.

Jazz odyssey.

He wrote this.

Straight up.

Bold start to Pauly Deathwish’s 5th album.

Stretching out.

Space jazz.

Squiggle.

Sonic Youth.

Watch for upcoming single.

Cleared.

Glenn Branca.

Bitches brew.

Live eviL.

Mercury Rev.

Grassy.

Hit to death.

John McLaughlin.

Tribute to Jack Johnson.

Steve Gadd slow nerve action.

Hendrix.

Chuckin’.

Television.

Tom and Richard.

Hippies cool at CBGB.

Makeover.

Bowery toughened.

Are you experienced?

Paul Simon never sounded this tough.

Or desperate.

Always too cool.

But the lyrics give him a run.

Into Radiohead.

Another COVID album.

The best.

Pauly Deathwish.

Headlines.

Zeitgeist.

Epstein.

McAfee didn’t uninstall himself.

Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Lady Godiva.

A dentist chair in Florida.

Soros’s scumbag Rubin.

Forgot a fuck.

Not for kids.

Not safe for work.

F-bomb Ferguson.

Plastic Ono.

Primal.

John Paul Jones keys.

Real.

Frustration key of E.

The pitched song.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Remember this connection.

“Montreal Heartbreak”.

Pure perfection.

Repetition.

Bravery.

Transient random-noise.

Hal Blaine on Harvest.

Trying to make it pay.

Hotel to Tango.

Stopped in Oklahoma.

Back when concerts were played in Austins.

Tonight’s the night.

Neil in Ontario.

A Canadian pastiche.

Bowie low.

Cohen Quebec.

Visconti.

The cure.

Ivermectin.

Hydroxychloroquine.

Disintegration.

The only artist to review his own albums.

Because, you know, fuck it!

9/11 will come out.

Everything building to a head.

First Zeppelin album.

Black mountain side.

Jimmy’s eyes glowing magenta.

They tell me he’s evil.

Maybe.

But you gotta know the story of the blues.

I tried to sell my soul to the Devil.

But I am saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus protected me.

Satan wasn’t buying.

Down in the basement of the Gunter Hotel.

I tried to sell my soul for the world.

But God didn’t let it happen.

Thinking it was bad enough.

Only through Jesus am I saved.

The worst among sinners.

Trying to gain the whole world.

Willing to forfeit my soul.

God is good.

And I can out-produce Jimmy Page.

Because God is my guide.

I have a dirty mouth.

Mary Magdalene.

Go and sin no more.

We’re in a fucking war.

We gotta put Jesus first.

On the battlefield.

Out greatest stealth.

Delta blues.

Emerald Mound.

Barbecue.

Poor.

Rural.

I don’t know how to make copies.

And my black neighbors don’t know how to use the internet.

Joe Biden can get fucked.

But me, I like women with big tits.

Alex Jones quote.

I relate.

I don’t wanna be a part of this sick cult.

We need God on the battlefield.

Mercy is waiting even for Jimmy Page.

Turn from the evil ways.

Recognize King Jesus.

The sky is crying.

Hound dog.

Muddy.

Wolf.

Flange.

Phase.

Straight Thelonious.

With Coltrane.

Miles.

Pre-electric.

Second jazz tune.

Straight off blues.

The Monk solo.

Dissonant as a motherfucker.

MTHRFCKR.

Acciaccatura.

Who, me?

Carnival.

Honing in.

D.

Watery solo.

Buttholes.

Kuntz.

Is a joke?

Weird Al.

The Residents.

Don Cherry.

Malachi Thompson.

Soprano trombone.

Roland Kirk.

Reeded brass.

Klang.

Straight jazz.

Philly Jo.

Watch for first cover.

Unpredictable.

Mercury Rev.

John Peel.

Straight into a QAnon song.

Reggae.

Durham.

CodemonkeyZ.

Flynn, in fact, did not go to jail.

Spy dub.

Bob Marley gets all conspiratorial.

Haiti.

Obama gets arrested at his own birthday party.

Strzok blocked on Twitter.

Army Counterintelligence.

A bunch of cunts?

Not Seth Keshel.

The real deal.

Tony Shaffer.

Counterterrorism.

Will the FBI be shut down?

Department of Justice is the very heart of the Deep State.

Rosenstein is linchpin.

Bill Barr was miss.

Cymbals Eat Guitars.

Each given a chance.

Lou Reed.

Rollerskate Skinny.

Music like this hasn’t been made in 30 years.

Bowie would be proud.

The debris from the Nirvana signing.

The truly good bands.

Some Boo Radleys here.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

Beach Boys.

Good production.

Lee “Scratch”.

Black (Oak) Ark.

A disgusting record collection.

Mildew.

Lovingly preserved in filth.

Vinyl still good.

Cop shoot cop.

Strong statement against Antifa.

Dylan.

This guy is bold.

Deserter’s.

Amy Helm?

Rambo.

J. Spaceman.

Jack Fate.

Dylan tongue cheek.

Summer 2020.

BLM.

Only person to listen to this.

Pet Sounds.

Bellingham.

Fredonia.

SUNY.

Boces.

Wanker jazz.

Deep.

Boys peeling.

Give the anarchist a cigarette.

This is a fucked up record.

Calling David Lynch.

Gonna be hard for the Left to write off this guy.

Paradigm shift.

This dude troublemaker.

Name fits.

Trail of dead.

We know you, but do you know us?

Debord, eh?

Capitalism!

Soundgarden.

Chossudovsky.

Deep Pieczenik research.

9/11.

Space Force.

Satellites.

Leonardo.

NRO.

NGA.

And the beloved NSA.

More accurately: CYBERCOM.

Not yet split?

Nakasone double duty?

Architecture?

Who could bring down?

Two QAnon songs in a row.

Beatles.

White Album.

Magical Mystery.

Macca bass line.

Welcome to the revolution.

Sgt. Pepper.

Euros Childs.

Megan Childs.

Gorwel Owen.

Beautiful breakdown.

Bert Williams.

Good shit!

The jazz and blues build up into rock and roll.

Conspiracy songs.

Fort Meade on repeat.

780thC.

Army G2.

Cheyenne Mountain Alerts.

Air Force Cyber.

MARSOC.

Strobo.

Marquee Moon.

Big Pink.

Rhythm of the saints.

Tuatara.

Crime podcast.

Tettix Wave Accumulator?

The Supremes.

Berry Gordy trippin’ balls.

A Lisbeth Salander ballad.

Noomi Rapace.

FBI + CIA.

Both worthless.

But serves to delineate.

Interior and exterior.

Intel romance.

Smarter than Strzok and Page.

Richard Lloyd.

Too fucked up to catch Velvets.

I hear you.

It’s a bitch.

Rick Danko.

Thom Yorke knob twiddler.

Eno in Roxy.

Bogart.

The big sleep date.

Noir and chill.

Mulholland.

Breathless.

The harder they fall.

Shoot the piano player.

Doug Sahm.

We are here in San Antonio.

We are making the best of it.

Driving around.

Eating ZZ Top nachos.

Beer drinkers and hell raisers.

A real jalapeno.

Australia to steam like teapot.

Last song.

Spiritualized?

Joshua Tree.

Bono.

Epic.

Adam Clayton.

Comes with new iPhone.

An anthem like U2 ain’t written for a bit.

This is Dublin territory.

Sexy God believers.

Cigarette.

Irish whiskey.

A Guinness.

Cloves.

The wraparounds.

Luna.

My heroes.

Sterling Morrison.

And Jack Nitzsche.

But Bono can sing opera.

A good dude.

Needs to drop the carbon bullshit.

Global warming is giant fucking hoax.

Just like COVID.

The Edge knows.

Grow some balls.

Stop kissing the Pope’s ass.

This commie Pope is a fucker.

Jesuit dipshit.

Epic lift.

Pauly can play guitar!

Fucking hell!!!

Album builds up to last song.

Even last song builds up.

Fucking brilliant.

Glitch.

iTunes.

Spotify.

-PD

zenith [2021)

Jesus and Mary Chain.

Black tar.

Caramelized sugar.

A dangerous confection.

Hit to Death in the Future Head.

Summer is here.

I hear.

Vacuum cleaner solo.

Theremin.

Race cars.

Boys peel out.

High-speed boats.

And again with the UPC scan.

Breaking up on reentry.

Serious audio fuckery.

And from this right into kung fu.  Peter Sellers on Bowie’s Low.  Trance.  But really what we have here is excellent counterpoint.  Lunatic Harness.  Polyrhythms.  Album breaks down soon.  Fast.  Abruptly.  Mental block regarding Wuhan origin.  Harmonic outline you would never find in China.  Terry Riley.  A Rainbow in Curved Air.  Eno.  Visconti.  And the others involved.  A beauty that inspired Philip Glass.  This is what we have.  Low and heroes.  Symphonies.  Glass.  Riley.  Minimalism.  Album called zenith.  Track two already hits “Nadir”.  What’s the arc here?  Arc-en-ciel?  Arkansas?  Immediately pensive.  Very unnerving.  Pop rock track.  Into existential oblivion.  Abrupt modulation.  Uncomfortable.  Eccentric.  Was there a thought process behind this?  Commerce ruins everything.  Imperfect masterpieces.  The rules of the game.  Radiohead.  Joseph Arthur?  Sparklehorse.  The Magnetic Fields.  Gay baritone.  Sad sack confessional poetry in the world of Berryman’s Dream Songs.  Brian Jonestown Massacre.  The Verve.  Strung out in heaven.  J. Spaceman shooting up while praying.  Don’t knock it…  Drug addiction is real.  Mental problems are real.  Here we are.  2020 fucked us up.  And now we wait for the next shoe to drop.  Smashing Pumpkins.  “Silver Fuck”?  Into Sonny Rollins?  Epstein.  Gene Ammons.  Hard to tell it’s (not) real.  Which parts?  Yes.  No.  Fooling the ear with Dave Fridmann.  A totally schizophrenic record so far.  Here we go!  “Belgian Lace, Pale Black Mascara…”  This is more like it.  Rollerskate Skinny.  Martin Rev.  Lots of counterpoint here.  Fux me up.  Disney xylophones.  Internal rhyme-sanity.  Dylan puking up brilliance.  Always Roger Waters with the bass.  Always The Wall.  Pompeii.  Hail to the Thief.  Again and again.  Trying to break new ground.  And it does.  Yerself is Steam.  Album starts to make sense after five tracks.  1 & 5.  This is not bullshit.  I don’t know about the jazz.  I don’t know about the monotonous instrumentals.  Absolutely “Car Wash Hair”.  Suzanne Thorpe would be proud.  Seems to be talking about tits.  A good ride.  Drum machine chugging away.  Can still have a good groove.  Wild Acoustic Chamber Orchestra.  W.A.C.O.  Woodwinds and glockenspiel.  Boces.  What the fuck is this shit?  O.K. computer.  Sounds like some QAnon stuff.  I feel Carlos Santana coming on.  This is what Assange jams out to.  Lots of plays at Fort Meade.  Salsa.  James Brown.  Puerto Rican funk.  As AOC goes to jail.  Serious national security issues for lyrics.  Fictional charges?  Tracers everywhere.  This theory involves an actual conspiracy.  Criminal conspiracy outlined.  By players.  Event 201.  Short circuit.  Johnny 5 is alive.  Legalistic funk.  QAnon wet dream.  FISAgate.  “Spy Gate”.  Somebody send this to Sean Hannity.  Obamagate.  Where is John Durham?  Ryan Dark White knows the truth about Rosenstein.  How many coup attempts by the Left?  Back to Billy Corgan.  Ok, so we have an Alex Jones connection.  Early-’90s goodness.  Butch Vig.  Dream pop.  James Iha.  Bet this guy knows the real story about the Standard Hotel(s).  Great lyrics!  Must be some inside jokes here.  But HOLY FUCK!  He nailed the “Holes” trumpet solo.  Deserter’s Songs.  God damn it.  How did they do this?  The liner notes say Pauly Deathwish has also produced all four of these albums.  Kind of a Jimmy Page thing going on.  Great drum sound.  Yo La Tengo.  “Mayonnaise”.  Siamese Dream.  Benjamin Britten reference?  Slick!  So this guy basically had a music education on par with Jack Nitzsche.  And then went for scumbag rockroll like Phil Spector.  Gotta respect this weird marriage.  This fascination with grunge.  Dinge.  And the facility to clean it up like a chandelier.  Very fucking impressive.  No record label.  Kinda sounds like no funding.  No budget.  The Delgados.  Hate.  The Great Eastern.  More Spiritualized telephony.  The Wall.  Which is to say, Bob Erzin.  And as dark as Berlin.  Which is to say, Bob Ezrin.  Neil Young vibe.  Tonight’s the Night.  Some dark-ass shit.  Nick Kent, where y@t?  IV Thieves.  Coulda done this.  What if Chris “Frenchie” Smith had produced this?  This kid like a protege.  I hear the moniker (stage name) was bestowed by Frenchie Smith.  Strings good.  Eastern European orchestra.  Must have cost a small fortune.  Arcade Fire.  French cinema.  Romantic-era harmony.  But pierced.  Sophisticated.  Absolutely Floyd.  “In The Flesh”.  Last track on Harvest.  Words between the lines.  The promise of the ’60s went to shit in the ’70s.  Where’s QAnon?  Where’s Nakasone?  Where’s CYBERCOM?  Keith Alexander on Amazon board.  Velvet Underground feeding back.  Les Rallizes Denudes.  Primal Scream.  “Swastika Eyes”.  ADAT.  DAT machine.  Sampling.  Stereolab.  Back to another standout track.  “Chaconne”.  Will Smith in the summertime.  Some slick shit.  Messiaen.  Jonny Greenwood.  Lyrics world-class.  All those sand paintings.  Write and destroy.  Suicide girls.  Thom Yorke’s brain doesn’t have this facility.  He’s a great stylist.  Definitely an homage.  And to Godard.  Snow white and psycho.  Heavy shit for Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane to check out.  Not far from Faust IV.  So sweet.  John Paul Jones.  Ramble on.  Charlotte Gainsbourg.  Keren Ann.  Last track noisy as fuck.  Lo-fi.  Tom Waits.  Sticks together.  Some sad shit.  Music from Big Pink.  Mournful trombone(s).  John Simon.  “Bird on a Wire”.  They don’t make records like this anymore.  David Bowie not dead.  Great phrasing.  Sinatra.  Mark Linkous.  It’s a Wonderful Life.  Believable bass.  Upright citizen.  Bayou curious.  Noise floor drops out.  Some perverse humor here.  An “album”.  It is.  Ten songs.  Ten different directions.  Some tracks stick together.  Like a deck of cards shuffled.  Lots of variety.  Circus peanuts.  The orange ones.  Pure sugar.  Chewy.  Strange texture.  Lots of melancholy here.  What’s this bloke so sad about?  Tell Thurston Moore.  You gotta hear this shit.  Pauly Deathwish’s 4th album (this summer!).  Is this guy trying to set a Guinness record or something?  And he already has a 5th one out.  Christ!

-PD

Yang Tidak Dibicarakan Ketika Membicarakan Cinta [2013)

By the grace of God I bring you this film review tonight.

Last night I was not feeling well enough to write.

And so I am happy to give you my first review of an Indonesian film.

It is a wonderful piece of cinema and is available on Netflix in the U.S. currently as What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love.

I will just say this.

Any film which includes a character sneezing his glass eye out of his head is ok by me.

Which is to say, this is a pretty strange film.

But it is not strange in an uptight, contrived, David Lynch sort of way.

Perhaps it is the basic situation which makes this film quixotic.

The bulk of the “action” takes place at a “special” school (as it is called in the subtitles).

The beautiful young people at this school all struggle with visual impairment.

There is, however, one very important character who is sighted yet cannot hear.

[We will get to him in due time]

When I tried to watch this film last night, I was not feeling very well (as mentioned previously).

And so in my debilitating moments of bubbling, dull panic I was trying to first situate this film culturally.

There was some blurb about a Dutch film fund.

And the real bit of text at the head of the film which threw me off the scent:  a reference to the Busan film fund.

Knowing Busan, I figured, “Great!  I am watching a South Korean film.”

I felt somewhat comfortable marginally knowing the cinema tradition in which I had just entered.

But as I saw women and young girls in Muslim garb, I began to question.

Indeed, even on tonight’s complete viewing, it was only 3/4 of the way through the film that I realized I was watching an Indonesian production.

Call me stupid.

Fine.

But this is not a cinema (nor a language) with which I have any experience.

It was only when I saw Jakarta on the side of a bus that I felt fairly confident where the story had been set.

So yes, this is an Indonesian film in Indonesian (or dare I say Malay).

The scope and breadth of this language is not altogether clear to me, but it seems that Indonesian is a “register” (in linguistic terms) of Malay.

Being the dunce that I am, “register” seems an awful lot like “dialect”, but I’m sure most linguists would roundly dismiss this generalization.

Perhaps “jargon” is a better synonym for “register”.

In any case, Malay (of one type or another) is spoken by about 290 million people worldwide.

But we will stick to the term Indonesian (as per the language).

Our whole film is in that language (except for one line in Javanese).

Javanese, unlike Indonesian, is not a form of Malay.

It is quite distinct.

But on to the movie!

First we must pay our respects to the highly-talented director:  Mouly Surya.

Based on a cursory search, this would be Mr. Surya (Mouly being far more common as a male name).

Ah…but thank God for research!

Our director, in fact, is MS. Surya.

She is a 36-year-old native of Jakarta.

But really, male or female, this is an obvious work of cinematic art.

What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love isn’t perfect, but it’s frighteningly close.

Which isn’t to say it’s frightening.

It’s not.

But it’s a film which sneaks up on you.

Cineastes may be familiar with the term “slow cinema” which has been bandied about here and there especially in recent years.

There may be some of that here…like when the character Diana combs her hair exactly 100 times.

[I was sure she was going to stop at 88…that number being good luck in Southeast Asian cultures]

Indeed, we are with the character for a seemingly interminable session of hair-brushing at her “boudoir”.

However, that is one of the few times where the “slow cinema” idea has our film run astray temporarily.

Other uses of the technique (an extreme of Deleuze’s “time-image”?) are quite effective and evoke the loneliness of sightless life.

Granted, no two lives are the same.

But the Indonesia pictured in our film is not an economic wonderland.

Quite the opposite.

It is a rather humble school in which students have very basic accommodations.

And as is so often the case, economic struggles exacerbate and compound coexisting problems.

But don’t get me wrong:  it appears that the students portrayed actually have it very lucky in the context of their nation (all things considered).

Arguably the star of the film is Karina Salim.

Her situation is one of ballet lessons…and a doting mother.

That said, her roommate has a family which is struggling economically.

It is a strange juxtaposition.

But let’s focus on Ms. Salim.

Her acting is really fantastic.

Whether she is blind in real life, I know not.

But her portrayal of the character Diana is in the great tradition of pathos which touched on the works of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

The French adjective pathétique.

In English, we (if I may speak for us English speakers) tend to regard pathétique as descriptive of poetic pathos.

Deep expression.

And that is exactly what Karina Salim exhibits in her delicate acting throughout this film.

Her character, Diana, is right on the cusp of womanhood.

And in a very moving set of sequences, we see her quietly preparing her underwear for the week.

The moment of her first menstruation is a cause for secret celebration.

Indeed, she shares this ascent to adulthood with only her mother…on a joyous little phone call which we overhear.

Which brings us to culture.

We almost feel embarrassed knowing this intimate detail of character Diana’s life.

But American films are so much more explicit in so many ways.

Perhaps we are shocked because the reality of womanhood is rarely addressed in Hollywood movies.

And so we see that Hollywood still has taboos.

In this age in which anything goes, honest depiction of mundane-yet-visceral life realities (such as menstruation) are all but absent (save from a film like Carrie [1976]).

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this particular kind of honesty about femininity onscreen.

But what the hell do I know?  I’m a dude.

So let’s back to the film.

While Ayushita is very good as Diana’s roommate, it is really Nicholas Saputra who is the other star of this film.

His character is a deaf punk rocker.

[Let that one sink in for a second]

Every day he has a different shirt.

The Sex Pistols.  Led Zeppelin (?!?).  The Clash.  Joan Jett.

He definitely has the best hairstyle in the film.

[A strange zig-zag bleach job which I’ve never seen previously]

His character Edo is a social engineer par excellence.

Yes, there is some trickery in this film.

But it is not malicious.

Or if it begins as malicious, it is transformed into something quite beautiful.

[think Amélie]

But here’s where things get really strange.

There is really no decorous way of putting this, but there are a few characters in this film which pop up from time to time…AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE!

There is a rather tasteless meme going back generations that all Chinese people look the same to a Westerner.

[And, perhaps, all Brits (for instance) look the same to a Chinese person]

But, again, there are some characters in this film which seem to be playing out some subplot which escaped me completely.

Indeed, I have so rarely seen anything like it that I can only associate my confusion with that felt by so many in relation to the surreal Howard Hawks narrative in The Big Sleep.

Granted, in our film this is a very minor element.

But it is still disorienting.

Was there some series of edits which mangled this film?

Can I really not tell one Indonesian person from another?

I don’t know.

You’ll have to see it for yourself.

And explain to me exactly what is going on.

For instance, does the blind character Andhika somehow learn how to drive a Vespa around town?

And is he cheating on Diana?

Or is Diana cheating on herself?

Are there two Dianas?

Again, a few scenes completely lost me.

But they do not ruin the general continuity of this film.

If anything, they add a mercurial charm to the whole affair.

And so I wholeheartedly recommend this film which portrays a side of life on which many of us are completely uninformed.

Visual impairment.  Braille.  Hearing impairment.  The difficulty of asking a clerk at 7-Eleven, “what kind of cigarettes do girls buy” in sign language.

And there is beauty in this world.

The appreciation for just a glimmer of sight (however blurry).

And yet, the difficulty of EVERY SINGLE TASK.

Most of all, this is a love story.

Two love stories (at least).

[not counting the extraneous players which pop up here and there]

But it is a very, VERY unique love story.

For me, it is an incredibly moving film because of the acting of Karina Salim and also Anggun Priambodo (who plays Andhika).

So take an adventure to Jakarta.  Capital of Indonesia.  World’s fourth-most-populous country.

While Indonesia is approximately 87% Muslim, this film portrays a diversity of religious devotion.

Indeed, while one student prays, another listens to a radio play (as one would have heard in the days of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce on The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes [1939-1946]).

Indeed, this scene of overlap…with religion in the background (the praying student) and learning in the foreground (listening to a lesson?  or just a bit of entertainment for the girls who live at this school?) is one of the most fascinating from a visual and cultural perspective.

I cannot pretend to know what is going on in all of the footage.

And so an expert on education for the visually impaired in Indonesia would perhaps be able to elucidate some of the more esoteric aspects of this film.

In the meantime, enjoy!

-PD

Kingpin [1996)

The concept of the “family” movie has changed since The Sound of Music in 1965.

Wikipedia, that grand arbiter of officiality, does not primarily recognize “family” as a genre.

They opt for “children’s film”.

Nonetheless, the Wiki article lists “family film” as an alternative name for this nebulous genre.

In 1965, The Beatles were still releasing albums like Rubber Soul.

1966 saw these same alchemists get a bit edgier with Revolver.

By 1967, the whole world was tripping balls to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It’s important to document this sea change in pop culture by way of the personages pictured on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s:

-Aleister Crowley

-Lenny Bruce

-William S. Burroughs

-Karl Marx

-and many others.

Just these four personalities alone made for a shocking collection on the cover of what was sonically a hippy-dippy platter.

But maketh thou no mistake:  The Beatles were self-consciously out to SHOCK!

1971.

By then, The Beatles were no more.

1968 had come and gone (violently).  And The Beatles had reached their zenith (or nadir) of angst with songs like “Helter Skelter” (from “The White Album“).

There were no new Beatles albums in 1971.

Indeed, there was never again a “new” Beatles album

But 1971 gave us Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

And so, about four years late, Hollywood managed to weave the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper’s into a bona fide family classic.

It took a while longer before Hollywood had another idea with legs (other than just borrowing from the great minds in rock music).

Aliens!

It is worth noting that the three original Star Wars films (1977, 1980, and 1983) were interpolated in 1982 by a cute alien named E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Sure, there were classic superheroes (like Superman in 1978), but the next real wave was another coup of futuristic thinking.

Time machines.

The Back to the Future franchise raked in whopping revenue of nearly a billion dollars at the box office over the release years of 1985, 1989, and 1990.

But still, no major taboos had been broken in this fragile genre.

There was no auteur conversant in James Monaco’s theories on “exploding genres”.

Yet, two films from this same period stick out as family-proto (not proto-family).

1988:  Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  [ooh la la…stretching the genre like Jessica Rabbit stretched her red sequin gown]

-1989:  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [a real benchmark or signpost…perhaps not as racy a National Lampoon’s Vacation, but still edgy enough to elicit laughter during “the decline of the West” (as Oswald Spengler put it)]

Which almost brings us to the unlikely masterpiece that is Kingpin.

Randy Quaid had been counted on by the National Lampoon franchise for his peerless role of Cousin Eddie.

By 1996, he would become a priceless asset for the makers of Kingpin.

It is hard to chart how we went from The Sound of Music to Kingpin…even with the help of the inestimable Beatles.

If we are to really reach our goal (an explanation), we must follow the followers–the children of The Beatles.

-1970:  Syd Barrett was still bloody mad (and brilliant) on The Madcap Laughs [especially the song “No Good Trying”]

-The Mothers of Invention released albums titled Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh [pretty odd, edgy stuff]

-and international artists like Amon Düül II (from Germany) gave the world a whole new organic, electro-bombastic sound to attempt to decode

-1971:  The Krautrock invasion continued with CAN’s Tago Mago

-Tribal hippies Comus found the perfect sound with First Utterance

-1972:  Hawkwind released their cosmic, perpetual-motion masterpiece Doremi Fasol Latido

-1973:  Pink Floyd changed the cultural landscape with Dark Side of the Moon (perhaps presaging the space/aliens films which would preoccupy family film makers in the coming years)

-Brian Eno melted many minds with his masterpiece Here Come the Warm Jets (complete with the balding artist on the cover in drag)

But we missed something significant:

Led Zeppelin.

If the 1970s belonged to any one band, it was this one.

-their first two albums were released in 1969

-by the time of Led Zeppelin III (1970), they were competing against overt (though clownish) occultists like Black Sabbath [Jimmy Page of Zeppelin being a more covert, zealous admirer of Aleister Crowley]

Led Zeppelin IV was released in 1971

Houses of the Holy saw the light of day in 1973

Physical Graffiti dropped in 1975

But as Led Zeppelin began to peter out, another group picked up the slack and streamlined the music.  Their message was as tough as their humor was bawdy.

AC/DC slapped the world with High Voltage (1976), Let There Be Rock (1977), and other masterpieces which made for a loud world.

But music was just getting started in asserting its agenda for Hollywood.

Iggy Pop dropped two masterpieces in 1977.  One light and tough (Lust for Life), and the other a much darker affair (The Idiot).

But the real earthquake…the real force which rent the curtain in the temple was Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.

From this album in 1977, nothing was ever the same again.

And so the film under consideration, Kingpin, was born from many decades of broken taboos.

Some would call this “progressive” (and then proceed to solicit a donation).

Oswald Spengler might rightly have called it The Decline of the West.

But in the case of Kingpin, I can only call it funny.

I can’t pass judgement on film since 1965.

As to whether it is fit for families to view together.

But I can pass judgement on this film insofar as its most important merit.

It’s damned funny!

I was Munsoned by Cinema Paradiso.  Long ago.

I thought I had a chance.  But I was Amish.  I just didn’t know it yet.

But let’s first start by talking about the dirtbags who frame this film.

#1 is Woody Harrelson (though he starts as just a protégé).

Woody has had an interesting life.

When I was growing up in San Antonio, one of our family shows to watch after the 10 p.m. news was Cheers.  This gave us great comfort.  Great laughs.  And Woody played the character Woody Boyd.  One of the bright spots of a great television cast.

But Woody Harrelson’s dad was a hitman (in real life).  And he killed (in 1979) U.S. federal judge John H. Wood Jr. right here in my hometown:  San Antonio.

It was a drug hit.  Harrelson’s father hired for $250,000 to shoot and kill this judge outside of his home.  The drug dealer who hired Harrelson got 30 years.  Harrelson got life in jail.

Harrelson denied in court that he killed Judge Wood.  He claimed he just took credit for it so he could collect the money.

Well, all of this backstory fits quite nicely into the dirtbag saint Woody Harrelson plays in Kingpin.

#2 is Bill Murray.  Bill is an old hand (no pun intended).  Bill’s character teaches Woody a lot, but Bill’s a real bastard in this film.  Of course, this is a comedy.  So his ostentatious cruelty is worth a few snickers here and there.

At this point it is worth mentioning the twisted (gifted) minds which brought us this film: the Farrelly brothers.

Peter Farrelly (whose birthday is two day away) and his slightly-younger brother Bobby Farrelly.

You might know them from their work such as Dumb and Dumber and the Jonathan-Richman-chalked There’s Something About Mary.

[N.B.  Richman makes a great cameo in Kingpin.  We may not have Lou Reed anymore, but thank God for Jonathan!]

The action of our film shifts from Ocelot, Iowa (“Instead of a dentured ocelot on a leash…”) to hard-scrabble Scranton, Pennsylvania.

[home of “Creepy” Joe Biden]

Randy Quaid (#MAGA) is fantastic as an Amish rube with a promising set of bowling skills.

Somewhere along the way, the opportunistic Harrelson becomes Quaid’s manager.

I got great joy out of seeing this.

Because there are few more difficult things than managing “personalities”.

I’ve done it.

Now I have an advanced degree in management.

And still, I know…it’s hard!

But back to family films.

This IS a family film.

But it is also an example of what the family film has become.

In general, this picture would not be suitable for young children to view.

That’s just my opinion.

But perhaps it’s a subgenre of family film.

It’s something which parents with high-school-aged kids MIGHT be able to enjoy with their children.

But I leave that discretion up to the parents.

Because the Farrelly brothers like to SHOCK!

It’s funny.  They’re good at it.  It has a point.  But it might be too lewd for some families.

Speaking of which, it is a quite interesting device with which the Farrellys chose to frame their film:  the Amish.

It borders on surreal, but this bawdy comedy always has the temperate presence of the Amish throughout.

In a certain way, I think it does great honor to the Amish.

From an entertainment perspective, it’s genius.

But this is also a road movie.

And we know strange things happen on the road.

I was just so impressed by Woody Harrelson’s acting.  It’s effortless.  Flawless.

And I was equally impressed by Randy Quaid’s naïveté.  Truly an acting coup!

But the film gets REALLY interesting when Vanessa Angel hops on the bandwagon!!

Remember her from Spies Like Us, emerging from that snow-covered tent in her underwear?

Yeah, that’s her.

And it turns out that she’s a very good actress!

Ah, but thank God for condoms!!!

At the end, you will feel proud of your efforts.

To walk out the door everyday into a corrupt world.

We are all sinners.

But music saves us.

“Bad Reputation” by Freedy Johnston is a revelation.

And makes me wistfully recall my last days as a professional musician.

“I Want Candy” is such a tough beat!  The Strangeloves!!!

“I Saw the Light” by Todd Rundgren is magical music at a magical moment in this film.

“Showdown” by Electric Light Orchestra is the perfect tune to pit Murray against Harrelson.

But the real eyeopener was hearing “Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman.

Such a magical song!

Great movie.  Great acting.  Comes from a place of reality.

-PD

Slade in Flame [1975)

And now for something COMPLETELY different…

Yes, it was in a flat in Brixton that I first learned a hallowed reverence for the name Slade.  A legendary band.

It’s one of those quintessentially British phenomena.  Like HP Sauce, perhaps.

But on with the film…in the tradition of The Beatles and Elvis before them.

Director Richard Loncraine did a fine job of actually conveying both the anarchy and oppression of rockroll.  Plainly put, this movie is a ton of fun, but the message which comes with the thrills is somewhat harrowing.

Loncraine’s filmography as auteur doesn’t really read like a Cahiers-approved canon.  An illustrative title might be his Brimstone and Treacle from 1982.

At any rate, he certainly did a fantastic job leading Noddy Holder and the group into cinematic immortality.

There are some priceless contributions from actors such as Alan Lake (as Jack Daniels, rockstar).

Tom Conti is the perfect foil to the antics of Slade (in meta-character as Flame).

Noddy’s first real bit is fronting a band called The Undertakers.  Like Screaming Lord Sutch, he gets locked in his coffin (think Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) on stage…a sort-of archetype to be later expanded upon for the “pods” sequence of This Is Spinal Tap.

What makes this film fascinating is the balance it strikes between the beer-swilling rock life and the Covent Garden big money managers who bring scruffy rabble to the masses.

I can’t stress enough how bad-ass this group was.  The first performance they give in the film, in a shitty little club, is a revelation…absolutely devastating in an MC5 sort of way.  The songcraft is impeccable–like Zeppelin meets Beatles.

Seeing the rows of council flats…a few mere years before Johnny Rotten laid waste to the decrepit stupor of Britain…this is a poignant time capsule.

Not only do we see Noddy as the veritable rock god he is, we get every angle of the meteoric rise to fame which has lobbed bands across the heavens since those heady mid-70s days.

Enjoy.

-PD