Sunset Boulevard [1950)

This is the story of O.J. Simpson.

This is the story of Phil Spector.

Too much foreshadowing?

Scramble.  Scramble.

Scramble the meaning.

This is Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon come to life.

Fifteen years before anger published.

In France they have Angers.

And every George is a multiple.

Georges.

But what passion!

Yes, dear friends…

Sunset Boulevard is one of the strangest films ever made.

If you want to know from whence Mulholland Drive came, start here.

SUNSET BLVD.

Mulholland Dr.

If you’re really daft (and I am), you’ll think you’re watching that guy who played The Professor on Gilligan’s Island in one of the best films you’ve ever seen.

But there’s a big fucking difference between Russell Johnson and William Holden.

Or is there?

Just let the wind blow through the bellows of the pipe organ for a moment.

And imagine yourself in a dream so dark it could be a nightmare.

But it’s merely spooky.

The great art.

Has mystery.

What was director Billy Wilder groping for?

Never mind, for a second, the bursting cast.

Every extra a novel in themselves.

Just the story of Sunset Boulevard is enough to make a thinking person stagger into the intersection on the Rue Campagne-Première.

But there are so many intersections…

Mon ami.

It starts bad.

Like a second-rate Raymond Chandler ripoff.

But it compels you to stay with it.

A little underwater photography.

Novel.

The adjective.

So much hinges on Paramount Pictures.

The gate.

The arch.

And how criticism can thwart a career.

The straw that broke the needle in the camel’s eye.

It’s like something out of Breathless or Dr. No.

The precipitous turn.

Kicking up dust.

Before the boulevard was broken dreams and crack vials.

Syringes.

Just ordinary fascism.

Triumph over violins.

And we trace the line.

A shoulder.

A chin.

A palazzo.  A collection of post-Impressionists.

Because we want to know.

For nothing could be more mysterious.

Lost a husband to the Spanish flu.

Lost two more, too.

But one lives as a ghost.

And his monocle groove is strangely vacant.

Erich von Stroheim.

Unreal.

Whether in a Jean Renoir picture or here.

Whether behind the camera or acting in his own film.

In two places at once.

Like Schrodinger’s cat.

But nobody remembers Schrodinger’s chimpanzee.

And a little coffin.

And the steps Stroheim has to take to stand in a hole.

This is the story of Michael Jackson.

This is the story of Emmett Miller.

Not gone, but forgotten.

And it is the true way entertainment worked.

When mass media was born.

At a million miles an hour.

1900.

Or 1898.

Churning out pictures.

From the dream factory.

And wax cylinders.

And who cares about these young girls…we can always find more.

But Buster Keaton sits in for Miller.

Because there is nothing more sad than a sad clown.

The waxworks…

The rogues gallery.

It could have been Elektra.

But it had to be Richard Strauss.

1909.  1911.

Great silence on one coast.

And great noise on the other.

Direct from Europe.

This is the story of Thora Birch.

The greatest star who ever was.

And I am just a humble servant.

Max.

There will be Max.

Always a sadness over beauty.

When beauty is counted in but one way.

One dimension.

3-D clustered, but without 4 time.

But you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

And actors are all full of nothing.

Must empty out.

Each time.

To fully fill.

May the best shell win!

So that she stalks the shit outta him.

Like some Transylvanian octopus.

And Igor schleps his stuff in the middle of the night.

Like some dream from Dreyer’s Vampyr.

What the fuck?!?

Poor William Holden is living in the decline of the West.

The sagging tennis court.

The bowling alley in the basement we never see.

Because it would be like the Biltmore on hard times.

Truly grotesque.

Decay.  And decadence.

Taken separately.  Different connotations.

A piece of rotting fruit in the trash.

And champagne supernovas of drunken, naked excess.

But they are one and the same.

When rooted word-wise to rot.

Gloria Swanson is the hysterical car-wreck-of-an-actress here.

You can’t look away.

Bride of Frankenstein.  Hell, Frankenstein himself.  Sex changed.  Sexless.

More hideous internally than externally.

And more nuts than the peanut gallery of an old picture house.

But no locks.

Perhaps a lock of hair…

But no gas.

No blades.

No.

It’s quite a spooky thing to be trapped in such luxury.

Such trappings.

Camelhair.  Vicuña.

What the hell!

She’s paying, right???

Tails.

For godsake, man…Valentino danced the tango here!

But now the tarantula hums.

Manipulative receives new meaning.

An actress.  A star!  And that Roaring Twenties, gilded, cocksure, brassy optimism.

Unfazed by decades of disuse.

“She’s doin’ the ballet on/both of her wrists”

Goddamn…

If Echo & the Bunnymen were around in 1950…

William Holden has been sucked in.

To a vortex.

And it ain’t no fun.

No funny business.  No funnymen.

Plenty of echoes.

Of his past life.

Mingled with her omnipresent portraiture fecundating the stale mansion.

“He could die happily ever after”

Bob Dylan knew about the pillars.

And the pillory of fame.

And so C. B. DeMille was a natural choice.

To depict the heartbreak.

Of a washed up life.

Hate to break it to you, kid…

But the diva is in denial.

Yes, the bitch is back.

Take Elton and a whole gaggle of crocodiles…and the Isotta Fraschini with the leopard seats.

Several leopards died for your ass(es).

How’s the weather up there?

And so she rides a white swan because she’s born to boogie.

With the swagger of Bolan.

Norma Desmond.

Monomaniacal about beheading the past.

On a platter.

American montage shows the unwieldy devices–to make young again.

Strobo-oscillo-sonic skin tauteners.

Franju had a less frightening story sans yeux.

Face without eyes.

Ah! […]

But the eyes have it all!!!

The fire of once-great dominance.

Champagne.  Caviar.

The eeriness of Sunset Boulevard is that Gloria Swanson WAS once a great star (sort of).

And even more so, Erich von Stroheim WAS (REALLY FUCKING WAS) a great director!

And so Billy Wilder managed to tell their stories.

Only the names were changed to protect the guilty.

Devotion till the end.

Love for cinema.

Love for a woman.

A woman is a drum.

Where’s Duke Ellington when you need him???

Jealousy.

Jalousie.

Film noir.

Horizontal shafts of light.

But shadows all the more prominent.

This is our Rembrandt.

Our chiaroscuro.

How insensitive…

Norma with bitter, vindictive precision.

And then the curtain is pulled back on the waterworks.

And the fucking Pompidou explodes in hideous reds of dysfunction.

Yes.

Come and see where I live.

In a lonely place…

Maybe it’s better you don’t know me.

But he really wants to say, “Will you marry me?”

On this night.

What sadness.

We think such overwrought misery only exists in the movies.

But the intersections of real life sometimes make such tragedy possibly.

And we shouldn’t wish such on our worst enemies.

She can’t stand the shock.

But cinema is the ultimate beauty.

So fragile at the end…

We give thanks to see such a picture.

To see Stroheim one more time.

“Alright, boys…  Let’s rev up those cameras!”

To see the silent era stagger down the stairs one more time.

Like a wrought-iron flower.

With a green patina.

Nickelodeons penny on the dollar.

Kicked to the curb.

Save for Langlois.

She just needed one more shot at youth.

It was too much, too soon.

One last shot in the arm of that excitement!

That camaraderie of Hollywood.

Before it became a drag.

Her youth.

Memory is scary as hell.

-PD

Death Wish [1974)

The great American movie.  Paramount.  Gulf + Western.

It grips at your heart.

A Boeing 757 in reverse.  At last.

This inverted haiku serves to give epigrammatic notice.

“Above all, I didn’t want to take any more shit…not from anybody.”  –Iggy Pop

I credit Nick Tosches with turning me on to the album from whence the above lyrics come:  Avenue B.

It kinda sums it up.  Paul Kersey.  Not to be confused with Jerome Kersey (R.I.P.).

They say “vigilante”…  I don’t know.  Doesn’t seem quite right.  I mean, we all know about Bernhard Goetz.  Taxi Driver.

Michael Winner really nailed it as a director here.

But we must face those drones buzzing overhead.  “There’s something dishonorable about killing from a distance,” to paraphrase a line from Godard’s Le Petit Soldat.  Depends on the distance.  Depends on who drew first.

This is, after all, an urban Western.

“In 2010, FOX and the New York Daily News reported that months after the 9/11 attacks, a Pentagon employee invited al-Awlaki to a luncheon in the Secretary’s Office of General Counsel. The US Secretary of the Army had asked for a presentation from a moderate Muslim as part of an outreach effort to ease tensions with Muslim-Americans.”  –Wikipedia

This is, of course, in reference to U.S. agent Anwar al-Awlaki who was subsequently reported to have been wasted by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone in Yemen.  Another American assassinated in the same attack (both killed without due process, if at all) by the JSOC and CIA was Samir Khan.  That is vigilante justice, or (more likely) fake vigilante justice.  Sometimes “reality erupts within the spectacle” (to paraphrase Guy Debord from his masterpiece tome Society of the Spectacle).  Just like those Hellfire missiles erupted (exploded).

I call al-Awlaki an agent (or asset) because that is my analysis of the facts (what is known).  I may be wrong.  I am, however, far more certain about the affiliation of Osama bin Laden.   The story of his “death” (Operation Neptune Spear) is the stuff of straight-to-DVD schlock which makes Death Wish look like Citizen Kane.

Which brings me to my initial inverted haiku:  7-5-7.  Thanks to the wonderful efforts of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, I was easily able to find just what I was looking for in a jiffy.  To wit, the original Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were built to withstand (without collapsing) the impact of a Boeing 707 aircraft (each tower) traveling at 600 mph.

Taking into account the different variants of the 707 (especially the popular 707-320C), we are probably talking about (conservatively) a 315,000-pound aircraft (maximum takeoff weight) carrying 21,000 gallons of fuel (fully-loaded).

Compare that to the 767s which crashed into the WTC on 9/11/01.  Yes, 767s are bigger…perhaps 25% heavier, but with a similar fuel capacity (24,000 gallons).

Yet at the Pentagon, we encountered a phantom 757.  The damage was not consistent with a plane crash, but rather with a missile.  Thierry Meyssan makes this exceedingly clear in his book Pentagate (2002).  And then there was United 93…an actual 757…most likely shot down, but mysteriously being trailed by a jet from Warren Buffet’s company NetJets (owned by Berkshire Hathaway).  Meanwhile, Ann Tatlock (CEO of Fiduciary Trust Co. International) was at Buffett’s charity golf and tennis tournament at Offutt AFB:  the command center of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  Ms. Tatlock would normally have been in her office at the World Trade Center (!) right where flight 175 crashed into the south tower.  Even President Bush decided to drop by Offutt AFB later in the day rather than returning to D.C.  Buffett’s guest list might be quite a piece of evidence for reinvestigating 9/11.

And so…Paul Kersey…an architect (like Minoru Yamasaki, whose masterpiece was brought down by controlled demolition…that is to say, bombs, on 9/11)…living in New York City.  He’s robbed of his family by some punks (including a young Jeff Goldblum) who must have seen A Clockwork Orange (1971) a few too many times.

I’m not gonna give away the plot (if you don’t already know it).  There are some ingenious details and great acting (particularly Bronson and Vincent Gardenia).

We are left with the most frightening wink and smile ever committed to celluloid.  Bronson’s “Gotcha!” is the smirk of justice gaining ground.

-PD