Who’s Minding the Store? [1963)

Here’s a great movie.

And a great chance to take stock.

To assess.

Work.

And money.

I got engaged.

Recently.

Yay me!

It’s a very big thing.

I’ve never been engaged before.

But today I’m scared.

Because I’m poor.

Money fluctuates.

And I worry I won’t be able to provide for my love the way I would want.

Kinda like Jerry Lewis in this film.

A schmuck.

Hard-working, but still entry-level.

That’s me.

Whaddle-it-be, man?

And yet, I’m rich in love.

I love.

And my love loves me.

This I know.

And so.

I will take that knowledge forth.

My love doesn’t love me for my money.

Because I haven’t got much.

But what if I had less?

And what if what if???

Money troubles.

Many bad things happen in money troubles.

But I am just over-excited.

I tip too much.

I go a little overboard.

If I could only write like Mozart…

But I do.

In my own way.

These strains you haven’t heard in a long while.

Because they have been buried.

We have to suffer.

And so I suffer now in this moment.

Fear.

Oh, the ignominy!

Of picking up trash.

Of licking the boots of bourgeoisie.

Those who fancy themselves to be above their position.

Like me.

Fair enough.

To kiss ass.

With a master’s degree.

Obviously I’m in the wrong line of work.

But I press on.

Dumb, but steady.

Trying to be honest.

Trying to make an honest living.

Learning hard lessons.

If someone would abandon me for over-loving, then to hell with them.

YOLO.

YOLT.

JOLT.

That thunderbolt looms large.

I am flawed.

Pressed on all sides.

Said Saint Paul.

Like the Star Wars trash compactor.

So I make this a prayer.

Knowing my love believes in God.

I pray to you, Lord, that you will give me a chance.

That you will help me with my mistakes.

That you will not make others suffer because of my ignorance.

I pray, Lord, that you will put opportunities before me.

And that you will help me to be a better person.

I am not used to all of this.

Can I pull it back and win?

It is to God that I pray.

Beg, knowing I am blessed.

Blessed simply by the same grace which is available to every man and woman.

All creations of God.

I ask God help with my health.

My peace of mind.

Please help with my striving to be healthy.

Please give me strength and grace to overcome the obstacles now before me.

And I ask you, Lord, to give me guidance in my career.

In work.

How to spend my time.

Where to spend it.

And how to spend my money.

How to save it.

Give me wisdom, dear Lord.

I have nerves.

But I am an artist.

And God is my parachute.

Do not tempt the Lord your God.

Who helps those who help themselves.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Jesus.

God’s got this.

 

-PD

Cinderfella [1960)

Here is a masterpiece.

I was wrong to dismiss it so suddenly.

On first viewing.

The fairy godfather and the schmaltzy song by the pool I couldn’t stomach.

But I tried again.

Because the juicer is so good!

AND THE KITCHEN DANCE (!)

So it’s true.

Jerry Lewis made AT LEAST TWO perfect films.

This one and The Nutty Professor.

And it gives me hope with which to plumb the depths of his full oeuvre.

The little mattress on the big set of springs.

The one cheap sheet hiding this dismal arrangement.

AND THE DINNER!

Holy crap!!

That is my life!!!

Forever catering to the whims of dickheads.

Forever going back and forth…for sugar cubes.

And to pour the wine.

And to light a cigarette.

[but mainly to sugar caffeinated beverages]

Out of breath…

Jerry Lewis.

Overworked.

Mucho trabajo, poco dinero.

Pablito!

This film celebrates us nerds!!!

Revenge.

Sure…

But really it’s a much sweeter, more pure vindication.

Nothing nasty about it.

Jerry combing his hair in the toaster’s reflection.

And a little touch-up in the reflection of the Rolls’s front grill.

And that haircut!

Buzz cut.

Except for the little shock of normality above the forehead.

Anna Maria Alberghetti is fantastic as Princess Charming!

So light.

So airy.

So sweet.

But it all goes back to the kitchen dance.

Post- puffs on a ciggy.

Dropped in the sink.

To mimic the entire Basie band.

Rahsaan would have been proud.

To feel it.

The touch notes on the piano.

The little Basie accents.

So lazy.

So classy.

And the air drums.

Brushes.

Buh-da-loop da loop.

Buh-ruh-rump!!!

And that sax, man!

Bari!!!

Blowin’ out the cheeks like Dizzy ( )

Duck walking.

Chuck Berry kicks.

A whole sax section in one mouth.

Fucking genius!

In truth, there are a lot of plot parallels between Cinderfella and The Nutty Professor.

We almost sense Buddy Love in the staircase scene.

But Jerry comes out verbally bumbling.

And humble.

AND HE DANCES LIKE JULIUS KELP IN THE PROM WHITE SUIT!!!

Manic, man…

Bloody jaw-dropping.

 

-PD

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [2005)

I was very apprehensive.

Because I loved the original so much.

1971.

Trying to remake one of the best films ever.

An unenviable task.

But Tim Burton was bringing it all back home.

1964.  Roald Dahl.

But let’s take a step further back.

Camp X.  Ontario.

“Established” December 6, 1941.

Yes.  You read that right.

The day before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was established by the “real” James Bond:  a Canadian by the name of William Stephenson.

His codename?  Intrepid.

He oversaw British intelligence, MI6, for the entire Western hemisphere during WWII.

(!)

Roald Dahl, the author of the children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was one of the men trained at Camp X (today known as Intrepid Park).

So it should go without saying that we are not dealing with just any children’s author.

And herein lies the secret of Tim Burton’s success.

He reimagined.

I fully expected full-on ball-tripping excess in homage to Mel Stuart’s “wondrous boat ride” of 1971, but Burton managed to restrain himself.

Indeed, the psychedelia of this film (and weirdness in general) is evident throughout almost every part of the film…EXCEPT THERE.

And so I must hesitantly call 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a masterpiece.

Against all odds.

It’s only fitting that the lead child actor who plays Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) was born on Valentine’s Day.

Yes Virginia, perhaps some things are fated.

Highmore is fantastic in a role created by Peter Ostrum.

And though we miss Diana Sowle and her priceless rendition of “Cheer Up, Charlie”, Helena Bonham Carter is quite magnificent in her limited scenes as the cabbage-cutting Mrs. Bucket.

But Tim Burton updates our story considerably to make it more relatable to the Harry Potter generation (and the service-industry pipe dream known as the “third industrial revolution”…for the “adults” in the crowd).

Yes, we needs must only revisit Eliyahu Goldratt’s “business novel” The Goal to remember the shortsighted “local efficiencies” which factory robots can produce.

By the way:  there’s a father Bucket.  And he runs into a patch of robot trouble.

Updated.

But Tim Burton does not stop there.  Whereas the original film focused tentatively on child  spies (remember the purloined Everlasting Gobstopper?), the film under review seems to situate itself amidst the full-scale industrial espionage (and, in particular, intellectual property theft) which the United States attributes to China.

But let us pay our respects here.

David Kelly was fantastic as Grandpa Joe.  Truly a wonderful performance!  And we are sad to have lost his talents in 2012.

Reading from back to front:

-our Augustus Gloop is somewhat forgettable (save for his Lowera Bowie hair tint)

-AnnaSophia Robb is appropriately snotty as the overachieving brat Violet Beauregarde  [How did Tarantino not hire this girl for his next refried kung-fu film?!?]

-Julia Winter (who strangely has no Wikipedia page) is really special as the mouthy tart Veruca Salt

-and Jordan Fry plays Mike Teevee (though they might as well have gone with “Hacker” Mike Xbox or some such first-person shooter sobriquet).

And that leaves us with the big dog himself:  Johnny Depp.

Stepping into some very big shoes.

Gene Wilder.  Taken from us just months ago.  A truly magical being.

And so Depp and Burton needed a strategy.

And it appears it was something like, “Ok, let’s make him weirder.  Like, lots weirder.  Remember those sunglasses Keith Richards wore on Between the Buttons?  And the hair like Brian Jones.  Prim.  Proper.  Rocker.  Ok, ok…but we want the Salinger recluse thing with some Prince or Michael Jackson oddity.  Purple velvet.  Ok, yes…we’re getting somewhere.”

Most striking, however, is Depp’s accent.  Very Ned Flanders…but possessed by the thoughts of Salvador Dalí.

But the Burton touch shows through.  That macabre glee.

A little cannibalism joke here.  “Which half of your child would you prefer?”

Oddities.

Though tempered by quick-tongued childlike wonder, Depp is still a rather darker Wonka than Wilder’s fatherly archetype.

Yes, Depp could fit fairly well into Kraftwerk (especially germane had Augustus from Düsseldorf won the grand prize).

Johnny and his purple latex gloves.

Not a touchy-feely Wonka.

Doesn’t even bother to learn the kids names.  [there’s only five]

Totally off his rocker.

Makes Gene Wilder’s Wonka seem like Mister Rogers in comparison.

But this is mostly secondary to the success of this film.

Tim Burton evidently didn’t feel making a true family film was beneath him.

And so, perhaps with a bit of inspiration from Wes Anderson, he made an immensely touching picture here.

Charlie Bucket is the kid we need in the world.

The chosen one.

The needle in the haystack.

And it is Wonka’s quest to find such a unique child.

Charlie almost gives up the ticket (sells it) to help his desperately poor family, but one of his four bedridden grandparents must have read Hunter S. Thompson at some point.  And so Charlie is convinced to “buy the ticket, take the ride” so to speak.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Enter Deep Roy (Mohinder Purba) as ALL (and I mean all) of the Oompa-Loompas.

It is in the short (!) song sequences where Burton’s debt to David Lynch emerges.

Kind of like Danny Elfman’s debt to Tom Waits.

Comes and goes.

Burton, being the mischievous connoisseur of all things dark, manages to make Veruca’s exit an homage to Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren (albeit with squirrels).

Very inventive!

Sure, there’s some crap CGI in this film (not to be confused with the even more insidious Clinton Global Initiative), but it is generally restrained.

At a few points, it gets off the rails and threatens to damage an otherwise fine film.

But I tell you this…there are plot twists here which for someone who has merely seen the first film (like myself) truly baffle and surprise.

And they are touching.

So it is with no reservations that I call this a family film.

Sure, some of the jokes are a bit obtuse.

But the framing story (the Bucket family’s existence) is indescribably magical.

It is then, only fitting, that Christopher Lee be the one to welcome the prodigal oddball Depp.

Which is to say, this film has a sort of false ending…which is inexplicable…and genius.

It is at that moment where the film finds its soul.

Family.

Love.

Humility.

Sacrifice.

Happily, Burton gives us a fairy tale ending in which the young mind can work with the eccentric master…and the eccentric master can once again know what home is like.

Home.

Wow…

-PD

Trump vs. Clinton, October 9 [2016)

The United States continues to hold its breath.

And while doing so, it is worth revisiting the second Presidential debate of less than a month ago.

The “moderators” were the woeful Martha Raddatz and the downright evil (remember James Tracy!) Anderson Cooper.

These two jokers made fools of themselves.

But let’s assess this “town hall” shootout.

When Cooper said, “…the night really belongs to the people in this room…,” what he really meant was himself, Raddatz, and Hillary Clinton.

Screw everybody else.

And that attitude has come back to bite the mass media in the butt…big time!

Clinton says, “…I can promise you I will work with every American. I want to be the president for all Americans regardless of your political beliefs, what you look like, your religion.”

That must be the “public” position.  As we have seen from WikiLeaks, her “private” opinion (or at least that of her “staffers”) is one of complete contempt.

Young people are “fucking dumb”.

Latinos are “needy”.

Trump supporters are “deplorable”.

Black people are “super predators”.

But PUBLICLY, she says “stronger together.”

Blah-frickity-blah blah blah.

Nothing this lady says is the truth.

And (to cinema) she is A HORRIBLE ACTOR!

That’s what convinced me.

I have watched enough people on film to get a feeling about when someone is lying.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, Hillary Clinton says is disingenuous.

Transparently so!

“I want us to heal our country and bring it together.”

She also wants to (and did) have Democratic Party operatives start violence (as provocateurs) at a Trump rally in Chicago (as per Project Veritas proof).

It’s not likely that that was an isolated incident.

Trump kicks off the truth.

“We have to bring back respect to law enforcement.”

Amen!

But also, “…fixing and making our inner cities better.”

It takes money.  Yes.  And jobs.  Companies hire.  If they can hire.

Clinton’s plan is the globalist plan.  Ship jobs overseas and wait for new, better “service” jobs to magically appear.  It’s a pipedream.  Actually, it’s a scam.  THE scam.  Clinton’s program could be called Make America Poor Again.  She might have a law degree (likely gotten only so she could personally BREAK the law more efficiently), but she doesn’t know shit about business.  All she knows is “currying favor”.  Her immense wealth was not earned.  There was no hard work.  She most accurately represents a never-ending cycle of nepotism.  Not so with Trump.

But Anderson Cooper wanted to get right to slamming Trump.  And so Mr. Cooper, fully “in the tank” for Clinton, pressed:  “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

Hey Anderson!  Do you understood that you almost single-handedly caused Dr. James Tracy to lose his job?  Do you understand it was mostly because you shirked your duty as a journalist to investigate the Sandy Hook hoax?  Do you understand that?  Do you understand that your criminal deception of the American people (under the aegis of gun control) was psychological terrorism?  Do you understand that, when it comes out you were fully aware it was a hoax, your career will be over?  Do you understand that?

They say Trump doesn’t apologize.  Personally, I’ve never heard Hillary Clinton give an apology about Benghazi.  Her “apology” was, “…what difference does it make?”  Now remember, that was concerning her culpability in the DEATHS of four Americans in Libya.  But you want an apology from Trump?  You get one (and an honest one):

“Yes, I am very embarrassed by it and I hate it…”

That’s about his sexual bragging which was caught on tape.  Nobody died.  But he owned up.  He was “embarrassed by it” and showed genuine remorse for his own lapse in judgment.  About something that happened 11 YEARS AGO!

But Anderson Cooper presses…and presses…and presses.

And that’s why Americans hate the press.

Because they don’t “press” on the important things.

Like Sandy Hook.  Or 9/11.  They just press buttons…and they have their buttons pressed (these “journalists”)…because they are part of the corrupt system which runs the United States.

They are shitty, soulless propagandists.

Trump:  “we have to build up the wealth of our nation”.

Whether the Adam Smith reference was purposeful or not, this is a real businessperson.  Unlike Clinton, he didn’t just go to cocktail parties and solicit donations.  He wasn’t selling access, he was selling real estate.  Big fucking difference!

Hillary has been getting rich as a “civil servant”.

And now her dream was so close in her sights.  The ultimate seat of power.  The US Presidency.  I really believe, however, that she sought the office merely for personal reasons.  A power trip?  Yes.  But a very sinister one.  She just wanted to be back in the Oval Office cackling about how she had tricked the American people with her “stronger together” bullshit.

Clinton claims, “…he has also targeted immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs, Muslims and so many others.”

Did she really say that?!?  Because we have the PROOF that her campaign HATES EVERYBODY…including those demographic groups in that sentence!!!

But Clinton just can’t leave well-enough alone.  Like the parrot she is, she twitters out the tired, haggard, liberal eyewash:  “…America already is great…”.

Oh really?  Well, fine!  Why don’t you just step down then, “Madame” Secretary (and go back to whatever brothel you came from)?  Yes.  Indeed.  Why run at all???  If America is already great…  Fine.  Yes.  Obama has done a great job.  So you would just lend us that counterintuitively-grating NPR steadiness for another four years–that calm, soothing nonsense, but transformed into “leadership”.  Great.  Sounds wonderful.

“…we are great because we are good.”  Sure…  Wait!  Did Hillary Clinton just try to occupy the moral high ground?  On live, national television???  Good God, what a hypocrite!

At this point it’s appropriate to quote Mr. Trump at length…as he absolutely TORPEDOES Secretary Clinton:

“It’s just words, folks. It’s just words. These words, I have been hearing for many years. I heard them when they were running for the Senate in New York where Hillary was going to bring back jobs to upstate New York and she failed. I’ve heard them where Hillary is constantly talking about the inner cities of our country which are a disaster education-wise, job-wise, safety-wise, in every way possible. I’m going to help the African-Americans, I’m going to help the Latinos, hispanics. I am going to help the inner cities. She has done a terrible job for the African-Americans. She wants their vote and she does nothing.”

This.  This is what Americans have been waiting for.  Someone with a spine to call out, on national television, the fakery of the ruling political establishment.  It was a beautiful thing to hear.

The crap-journalist Raddatz says, “I want to get to audience questions,” but then she presses…presses…brings the narrative back to the lame, inconsequential Trump tape.  Which is to say, she didn’t want to get to questions at all!

Raddatz:  “This tape is generating intense interest. In just 48 hours it has become the single most talked about story of the entire 2016 election on Facebook with millions and millions of people discussing it on the social network.”

At this point, a third (and real) moderator would have told Raddatz to shut the hell up.  But it was one-on-three.  Trump against the world!  Or rather, Trump against the political establishment…and FOR the world!  Clinton wants a no-fly zone over Syria.  Like the one she imposed over Libya.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has accurately said, “That would mean war…with Russia.”  AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HILLARY AND HER CABAL WANT!  They are fucking maniacs!  No way should she or any of them EVER get anywhere NEAR the White House again!!!

Trump strikes back:  “If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words and his was action.”

Little debate about that.

Further:  “His words, what he has done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that has been so abusive to women.”

Yes, folks…that’s the Clintons.  Trump would get into the specifics…about how Hillary got a rapist off.  Madame Secretary defended a client (as a lawyer), the rapist, and then later laughed about it.  THAT is the lady taking the moral high ground.  Appalling…

Raddatz: “Please hold the applause.”

Yes, little lapdog Raddatz had to calm the crowd…BECAUSE THEY WERE APPLAUDING TRUMP!

Hillary’s strategy was not working.  All those opposition research dollars, and Trump was defeating it with moxie…and honesty.  I’m sorry.  I messed up.  But the lady across from me is a conniving scoundrel and she has NO leg on which to stand!

Hillary SAYS that she abides by that paragon of virtue Michelle Obama’s words, “When they go low, you go high.,” but the truth is more like, “When they go low, we go lower.”

The transcript indicates there was “[Applause]” at this point, but it was either so weak or Martha Raddatz was so biased as to not make the same little preachy intercession she had made moments earlier.

But I will leave you with the deathblow which occurred not long afterwards.

Clinton:  “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

Trump:  “Because you would be in jail.”

Goddamn, that’s beautiful!

 

-PD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playtime [1967)

This took a lot of watching.  Rewatching.

Last night…so tired.

Watched half.  Then rewind.  Dozed off.  Watch same half again.

First time I saw this (years ago) was on the big screen.

It really makes a difference.

That janitor at the beginning.  His strange pause and crouch.  His peering left and right.  His broom and dustpan.

Very little sweeping.  Just clanking.

Yes.  Sounds.  Sounds.  Sounds.  (Zounds!)

The vinyl chairs which return to their shape after you sit and dent.  The strange sound.  The strange quality.

“Quality”

Tradition of quality.

It might lead you to ask:  what was Jacques Tati trying to say with this film?

Answering that is no easy task.

Sure, this seems like a simple, lightweight film.  In some ways it is.

It’s enjoyable.  It’s lighthearted.  And yet…

There is more than a smidgen of Modern Times here.  And Tati, with his pipe…  More than a pipe-full of Sartre.  Sartre with his publication Les Temps modernes.  Even Sartre apparently thought highly enough of Chaplin to work under an homage headline.

And so, Tati…lost in the supermarket.  Lost in the buildings from 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle.  Same year.  1967.  Paris.  In the banlieues.

And very few words.

As I said.

A movie of sounds.

Yes.

But images.

Reflections.

Illusions.

It appears.

Optical.

Illusion.

And its reflection.

Double.

Mirror image.

Flipped.

Paris.

It appears that the buttons have been switched.  Very nice, WordPress.  Now I am “publishing” every time I intend to merely “save” (and vice versa).

That is the theme of the film.

Thingamajigs.

No no no.  Take your time.  Uh uh uh…hold on.  [click click click click]  Ok, now rise.

We wait for the entire hallway to be traversed in an absurd observation of ritual.

And from above…the cubicles.

One needs must occupy higher ground to see the big picture.  All of these busy bees become lost in the fray.

Afraid.

True.

And so it is not farfetched to guess that Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards were influenced in their masterpiece The Party (1968) by Tati’s Playtime (1967).

But with Tati there is even more.  An industrial ballet.  The poise of the service industry (and its opposite).  [Both]

A constant counterpoint like a comic Górecki.

Perhaps I have been hitting the wrong button all along.

Have I been saying these things out loud?

Yes, we wonder.

Technology.

We grew up in a different time.

The chairs were different.

The doors were different.

And since we are quiet and meek we spend an eternity in the antechamber.  In the darkened hallway.

How do we get out?

Yes, Paris…even then, perhaps?  A drugstore?  Yes.  Too depressing for anyone to look each other in the eyes.

The hum.  The constant hum.  Like Alphaville.  Like Oskar Sala’s Trautonium.  The Birds.  Bernard Herrmann as musical consultant.  But those noises.  Mixtur.

And several waiters will salt the troutonium…and grind pepper…and spread the sauce…and the couple has moved.

The main course has stayed behind.

Heated.  Reheated.  Set on fire.  Jubilee.

Turbot.

And lobster boy just cares about his hair.

Nerval.  Hugo Ball.

But that humming…like Metal Machine Music way ahead of time.  But creepier.  Like Raymond Scott’s music for babies crossed with Erik Satie’s musique d’ameublement.

Waiting waiting.  That’s a theme.  And all the illustrious portraits of CEOs past.

Is it a job interview?

And that’s Orly?  It seems more like a hospital.  Little hummingbird nuns and swaddled kids.

But we shall always live in Barbara Dennek’s dimples.  It sounds weird to say.

But it is luck.  Bad luck.  And then good luck.

And random error.  Entropy.

Chaos.

Can anyone here play the piano?

Yes.  Yes I can!

And some half-rate Edith Piaf gets up to sing her long-forgotten hit.

Except no one has forgotten it.  Once a hit, always a hit.

More or less.

The new religion.

The hum of neon.

All the desserts look sickly.  Even to the “chef.”  Must hide his mystère.  An apple with some sputtery whip?  An upside-down coffee mug?

Mmmm…

William S. Burroughs would doubtless have approved.  The man in the gray flannel suit (book).  But taken to theatrical limits.  Choreography of male primping.  Like Cary Grant on hallucinogens.  A surreal ritual.

Ritual.

This is sociology.

Anthropology.

Paris.  The modern man.

See him in his natural habitat.

See her shop.  See her sell.

See him work.  See him drink.

If you travel, you will see the tourist side.

On a trip.

With a group.

Activities planned.

Like a cruise.

And God forbid you become separated from the group.

Yes.

That is our little romance.

And Tati is meek enough to barely suggest to suggest (x2).

That M. Hulot might find love.

It would be a random day.

He would get pulled this way and that.

And winding up in some crazy, unplanned situation he would become sweet on dimples.

See him in his fishbowl.

Before there was Mr. Bean, there was Monsieur Hulot.

Before there was Forrest Gump.

Tell me…where are the “fancy goods”?  Perhaps silk.  Hermès.

Always caught at the turnstiles of life…

-PD