Cinematic Music with Pauly Deathwish
Season 1 Episode 3
Cinematic Music with Pauly Deathwish
Season 1 Episode 3
Recommended if you like Tom Waits and The Band
music from big pink
“Vita Nostra”–Ennio Morricone
“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'”–Journey
“You Got the Silver”–The Rolling Stones
“Chain Letter”–Todd Rundgren
“In the Air Tonight”–Phil Collins
“San Diego Serenade”–Tom Waits
“Tabula rasa: 2. Silentium: Senza moto”–Arvo Pärt
“River Deep – Mountain High”–Ike & Tina Turner
A silver mt. zion.
Arizona into the Rockies.
Music of wide open spaces.
Charles Mingus checks in.
Was QAnon bullshit?
WFMU seems to think so.
And all their hipster listeners.
Missing the Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
My Bloody Valentine.
Automatic for the people.
Rightly asking if this guy, Pauly Deathwish, is Borat.
Elvis working at the truck stop.
Into French philosophy at a Barnes & Noble.
The great philosophers.
Taking on Philip Glass.
Poor girl with grey teeth.
Addicted to Kardashians.
Smoking candy cigarettes.
Brutal, cold world.
No fall back.
Wanna lock me for blood pressure.
It ain’t no cakewalk.
Tech moves fast.
Better than nothing.
You have a printing press.
The Innocence Mission.
Porgy and Bess.
A thousand planes.
Two ambient instrumentals to start this album.
Setting an amber tone.
Time is a luxury.
And Miles comes in.
Like music from Big Pink.
Very much of the Deserter’s Songs type.
And Coltrane leaps in.
A little noodling.
And WHAT THE FUCK.
Now we are in Blue Hawaii.
On a jukebox in Nashville.
Sawdust on the floor.
Just spit that tabaccy anywheres.
It really is Elvis.
We’re in east Texas with George Jones.
Bona fide redneck interpolation.
“Daisies on Your Doorstep”.
And back to EXPANSIVE verb.
Phil Spector would have loved this.
The plandemic that killed Phil Spector.
Biggest celebrity to buy the farm.
Buy the farm?
Or sell the farm?
During this whole plandemic.
You have no publicity.
I block all reposts.
I wanna EARN it.
Dissolve into what?
More Mercury Rev homage.
Drums from “Desperado”.
Another lonely bloke ended by “Holes”.
Favorite song ever.
Back to regularly scheduled programming.
Knife in the Water.
John Cale droning away on the viola.
Definite Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci nod.
Again The Innocence Mission.
Neil Young big time.
Stooges meet Beach Boys meet Messiaen.
But the Bowie knife is orange.
Made in Germany.
Kanye West and Wayne Coyne drop in.
When you can sing, but you get raped by auto-tune.
Loosen that shit up.
Going all Arabic on me.
Clouds of sound on almost every track.
A very ambient album.
Peaches DJ Berlin.
Roger Waters again.
Straight into Bjork.
Does she umlaut?
Sounds of a Mac.
James Bond in Rio.
Spy guitar for reprise.
Rhythm of the saints.
Beethoven emperor concerto.
A masterful track.
NOW WE’RE TALKING.
Papa Trump back in the house.
For the apocalypse.
L.L. Cool J.
Jesus fucking Christ.
Vengeance is his.
Everyone given a chance.
A fair chance.
I hear a single.
Ramthun came through.
About fucking time.
There’s a riot goin’ on.
Tears of a motherfucking clown.
Having the French horns get groovy.
Sketches of Spain.
The Soft Bulletin.
Christ coming down from the clouds.
Like a ton of bricks.
Don’t call it a comeback.
Not all the way.
Rocket pans across stereo field.
AND ROSE AGAIN, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Jesus more space than NASA.
Really a masterpiece of sample placement.
This is like a fucking lost Roland Kirk album.
Concerto for Booty and Orchestra.
Can never spell.
No more spelling.
Adieu au langage.
Ties together album.
Last track coming on like Faust.
Built to Spill.
In memory of a bloke who bit it.
End of Night on Earth.
You will live forever, my friend.
I never knew you.
You aren’t forgotten.
Thought of you put in this track.
Yerself is steam.
Great album by Pauly Deathwish.
Way behind on Pauly Deathwish.
Right off with XTRMNTR.
Spirit of rock and roll.
His most popular track at this time.
Drugs flowing through the veins.
Overdose of light.
God is the ultimate drug.
Coming back from depression.
Girlfriend goes on a date with another bloke.
From London to Paris.
Vintage keys like French band Air.
Every touch from two tracks imbued with Radiohead experimentation.
Pink Floyd bass.
Here come the warm jets.
Camera clicking photos.
Levon and Robbie Robertson.
Rhythm of the saints.
This bloke has nothing to live for.
His girlfriend is a total fucking bitch.
Alone in the world.
Trying to overcome.
She don’t give a fuck.
Info op birthed.
Bloke has sophistication in attack.
Wars back started BLM.
Kept powder dry.
Amazing hip hop.
The Sea and Cake.
Stereolab as always.
Trump supporter smart.
Assessment of coup against Deep State.
The balls to review his own albums.
Dark side of the moon.
Of the wall.
Noel feeding back.
Liam blowing harp.
Ringo’s son on drums.
Don’t believe the truth.
How she lives now.
Nigel Godrich as always.
Big Star Third.
As important as the Velvets.
Big Star early albums.
Like The Byrds.
Phil Spector lives in the glockenspiel.
Lester Bangs lives here.
Many disappointed patriots.
Lamenting the shitty U.S. military.
While honoring the 13.
And Colonel Scheller.
A handful of gems in a culture of shit.
I love faggots as much as anyone.
David, Lou, Iggy.
God is the only hope.
So I prayed tonight.
Nobody loves me.
See you on the other side.
Rolling the dice.
So long, Charlie.
I’m guessing you got the vaccine.
Happy Hairy (?) Hardon Q.
QAnon Christian Slater.
The first of a long succession.
Anthemic melodies befitting Handel.
Matrix done right.
First song to mention Event 201?
“Follow the White Rabbit”.
Very Jefferson Airplane.
Power to the people.
Pro-Trump psych rock.
Be a rebel.
No vaccines, asshole!
Great snare work.
Verging on adrenochrome.
Hefner and Monroe.
Sexy dead bodies.
Pay to grind for eternity.
Absolute Flaming Lips.
Transmissions from the satellite heart.
What is God gonna do for America?
What is America gonna do for God?
Nation falling apart.
Hail to the creep.
Scorsese Glass Kundun soundtrack.
Carl Stalling project!
This is a SOPHISTICATED FUCKING RECORD.
AUSTRALIA, WAKE UP YOU CUNTS!!!
Give me ANZAC!!
Fucking awesome return to Bobby Gillespie.
Great fucking song!
“Australia, Here I Come!”
Even uses the comma correctly 🙂
Riot city blues.
Baby won’t ya?
Love and Rockets.
Bitch who dumped me.
By not giving a fuck.
By not participating.
By being a selfish cunt.
Q Team, come in!
How many years?
Second American Revolution.
There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
Second Pauly Deathwish song to mention Jean-Luc.
Who the fuck is this nigger?!?
She’s a fucking black hole.
I take it all back.
A pathetic bleeding vagina.
Money soothes all pains.
She’s a loser.
Jack Nitzsche all the way.
Rips your heart out.
I will die lonely.
Having given it all away.
Hear the typewriter click.
Are there two people?
QAnon stylometric analysis.
Obvious split in styles.
Gimme the rain, the rain, the rain, the glorious rain!!!!
I got close.
Freezing your tits off.
Seeing your breath.
We coming for the sexy bitches.
With stellar boob jobs.
Factory Records above all.
Baggy as fuck.
Gimme them saggy titties.
Real better than fake any day.
Ain’t returning my messages.
Would love that bitch like Cleopatra.
Suck her toes.
Conspiracy theory king and queen.
Blew it several times.
Because heartless bitch usurper.
Same birthday as Lester Bangs and Nostradamus.
Ends with Pocket Symphony.
Ya feel me?
Jesus and Mary Chain.
A dangerous confection.
Hit to Death in the Future Head.
Summer is here.
Vacuum cleaner solo.
Boys peel out.
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!
Inspiring fear and respect.
That Swiss-Maoist asshole is my hero.
In many ways.
But which Godard?
If I were to say “late Godard” (and that would be my natural, truthful answer), Monsieur Godard would likely point out the merits of his early films…just to annoy me.
If I spoke lovingly of Vivre sa vie, he would probably proclaim that it is shit.
Jean-Luc Godard is a very complex individual.
And I can wholeheartedly identify with that.
A walking civil war.
This film never makes reference to Cahiers du cinéma.
It doesn’t need to.
This film covers a period of time which Wikipedia classifies as Godard’s “revolutionary period”.
When did Godard stop writing for Cahiers?
He never stopped being a critic.
We know that.
And I see his point.
This is shit.
Because we want to invent new forms.
Breathless was like his “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.
Or his Bolero.
He couldn’t escape it.
Couldn’t lose it.
Must be nice.
But maybe not.
“Play the hits!”
Did politics ruin Jean-Luc Godard?
But it was necessary.
It was his process of growing up.
His process of attaining wisdom.
Trial and error.
But not the last word.
I don’t agree with Godard’s politics.
Perhaps at some point in my youth I did.
But not very much.
Because I never really understood them.
But I too am a revolutionary.
In these days.
After the 2020 election.
You may call me a reactionary.
I don’t care what you call me.
I think George Washington is cool.
I think the United States of America is worth saving.
And the American Revolution has recommenced.
Same goals as the founders had.
Love it or leave it.
Godard did not show up in 2010 to receive his honorary Academy Award.
Good for him.
Give me the old stuff.
Not this new crap.
Perhaps you see where me and Godard overlap?
Too rashes like a Venn diagram…with a particularly-irritated common ground.
The skin is red and peeling.
I scratch my arms.
I’m running out of real estate on my body for these nicotine patches.
You thought it was something more interesting?
Where does the former President of Peru come in?
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Godard’s first cousin.
I too had cousins.
Who are as far off as Peru.
But always close in my heart.
Kuczynski is 82.
Godard will be 90 in one week.
I will be 44 when the Electoral College meets.
Anna Karina died on my birthday last year.
She was 79.
But this film doesn’t deal with the wonderful Ms. Karina.
No, this film deals with another stunning beauty: Anne Wiazemsky.
Wiazemsky died three years ago.
The same year Redoubtable came out.
In the English-speaking world, we know it (ironically) as Godard Mon Amour.
Sounds more sophisticated to have the subtitled film with a more commercial FRENCH product label.
Redoubtable is too vague.
Godard Mon Amour sells itself.
[that’s what the advertising guys must have said]
Godard and Wiazemsky were married for 12 years.
Godard and Karina married for a mere 4.
I’ve never read Mauriac.
I have nothing against Catholics.
I adore Olivier Messiaen’s music.
So it bears mentioning that one of the smartest, most unique artists in the history of the world was a French Catholic [Messiaen].
Which is to say, believing in God does not make you boring.
I believe in God.
The same God.
The Christian God.
God who gave us Jesus.
God who gave us synesthesia.
Combat didn’t like La Chinoise.
De Gaulle withdrew from NATO.
Will Trump win?
De Gaulle supported sovereignty.
The European Union is the antithesis of what de Gaulle wanted.
De Gaulle criticized America’s war in Vietnam.
But that wasn’t enough for revolutionaries like Godard.
De Gaulle wanted Québec to be free from Canada.
If you’ve ever been to Québec, you might see why.
It is unlike the rest of Canada.
Except for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
But not really.
Île de Chêne?
Starring in a Maoist film directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
And then they married.
Godard was correct.
Au Hasard Balthazar is the antithesis of the Central Intelligence Agency.
But Godard never said that.
So Anne Wiazemsky wrote a book called Un An Après which was published in 2015.
She died two years later.
The same year her book was adapted for film as Redoubtable.
She died of breast cancer.
Less than a month after Redoubtable was released in France.
This film proves that Michel Hazanavicius is a very talented filmmaker.
It proves that he knows his Godard.
But it is flawed.
Aren’t all masterpieces?
Is Redoubtable a masterpiece?
In some ways, yes.
In some ways, no.
It is probably most similar to Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock.
Both of them are films of “exorbitant privilege”.
Which is to say, a little out of touch with their subject matter.
Was Pablo Picasso ever called an asshole?
Not if we take Jonathan Richman at his word.
Art contains deeper layers of meaning.
Unless you’re Warhol.
In which case, the meaning MAY be found closer to the surface.
Stravinsky liked this too.
Music has no meaning.
It is just tones.
Little dots on a page.
So we are told.
Jean-Luc Godard and Igor Stravinsky both embraced MANY different approaches to their craft over their long careers.
Because they loved their crafts.
They were addicted.
It was a compulsion.
And, for Godard, it remains so.
Godard married the girl who rejected Robert Bresson.
Do not underestimate the thrill of this.
The thrill of it all.
Bresson was a genius too.
But she was only 18 when Bresson made his advances.
Girls want to live.
Bresson was 65.
Numbers can lie.
Godard and Wiazemsky were only together as man and wife for three years.
Though they were married for 12.
Three years was enough, apparently.
The divorce appears to have been more a formality.
I spoke to Anne-Marie on the phone once.
In exceedingly-broken French.
She was saintly in her patience.
All I wished to convey, as I called Rolle (Switzerland) on my flip phone, was that Godard was my intellectual hero. [it is true] And that his LATE films mattered. That they mattered THE MOST. That he had created beauty. That he had plumbed the depths. I owed it to my master to deliver this message before I (or he) died (God forbid).
I was compelled.
Jean-Luc Godard is my favorite creator this side of heaven.
Even though I don’t agree with his politics.
Bob Dylan is neck-and-neck for this honor.
Dylan is, no doubt, my favorite musician to have ever lived.
Neck-and-neck with Roland Kirk (perhaps).
My favorite jazz artist.
My favorite instrumentalist.
It is never noted that Wiazemsky was in Les Gauloises bleues.
And Godard could be an asshole.
So can I.
So can Trump.
Trump is my ideological hero.
My political hero.
I DO agree with his political philosophy.
And yet, my favorite film director (auteur) remains Godard.
No one is even neck-and-neck with JLG for me.
Brakhage is a distant second.
Welles is formidable.
But they do not hit the mark like Jean-Luc.
Il seme dell’uomo.
Nothing suggestive there.
And then I gave Jacques Demy’s grandson piano lessons.
Or Agnès Varda’s grandson.
More like organ lessons.
You should use Belmondo again.
We see Coutard’s hair early.
Politics entered soon.
Le Petit soldat.
The perfection of Vivre sa vie.
The jaunty, carefree, playful anarchy of Breathless.
And a sadness tied to beauty.
Politics again with Les Carabiniers.
An attempt at commercialism with Contempt.
Equivalent to Nirvana’s In Utero album.
A thorough disdain for the Hollywood system.
And the “tradition of quality” in France.
But something deeper…and more bitter.
Bande à part more like Breathless.
A little like Vivre sa vie.
Down and out in Paris.
Life at the margin of society.
Hazanavicius first really gets going with Une Femme mariée.
Stacy Martin in the nude.
Grabbing the bedsheets.
Brace brace brace.
The resemblance to Charlotte Gainsbourg is striking.
A little Alphaville.
Someone who nibbles Godard’s neck.
The Samuel Fuller scene from Pierrot le fou turned into a fistfight.
Don’t insult me!
A bit of Macha Méril in the hair.
And a bit more of Chantal Goya.
Getting shouted down by a situationist during the May ’68 occupation of the Sorbonne. Lumped in with Coca-Cola.
Things go dark with insults.
On the blink.
Made in U.S.A.
Two or Three Things I Know About Her.
“You ruined my shot!”
Eating Chinese food.
A rather unfortunate outburst directed at a war hero.
And his wife.
These are the things we do.
When we’re young.
What is striking is the humor in Redoubtable.
The broken eyeglasses.
The slipping shoes.
And their replacement.
I must give credit to Louis Garrel.
He really does convey the mania and eccentricity of Godard.
While Stacy Martin is very good here, it is a shame that Hazanavicius chose to lovingly evoke every detail of Godard’s life…except Wiazemsky’s red hair.
Elections have consequences.
In disguise as what?
Wolves in sheep’s clothing?
Les Fleurs du mal.
The soul of a policeman.
Kids in cages.
But which kids?
U.S. news media only wants to talk about pictures of illegal-immigrant children “in cages” (separated from their families [or those who trafficked them, posing as their respective families]) at the border–photos which positively date to the Obama era.
U.S. news media is passionate to suppress and preemptively debunk children in cages that come up in relation to pizzagate, QAnon, etc..
Why is that?
Is it the wind, or the wail of children?
Ancient voices of children.
Lux aeterna lucent eis, Domine,
cum santis tuis in aeternum,
quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
This is about revenge.
Call me Satie.
Wishing to be Debussy.
My biggest blessing in life was not being hired by the CIA.
A sign of divine synchronicity.
Nice to meet you.
Beethoven had no attachments.
I got the message.
Check your inbox.
What did he know?
There are no accidents, James Bond.
I found a better employer.
I receive no money.
They don’t even know I work for them.
Most of them.
But they got to me first.
The flowers of evil.
How many times have I been rejected?
This is a divine matrix.
To unravel Satan.
Aquino checks up.
Don’t run like James Bond.
It’s so fucking sexy that you want to take down the New World Order.
Because they are not elected.
Yet they wield more power than elected governments.
One by one.
Own each agent.
Own each reporter.
Own each vote.
It’s a pleasure.
You’ve never heard of my agency.
It has no Wikipedia.
No structural chart.
Stieg Larsson was killed.
It goes higher than Sweden.
You thought you could destroy her spirit.
The pandemic was planned.
A science of a 1000 details.
What’s the least-creepy song we can destroy?
Musical warfare shall yet have its day.
It is a science requiring an immense knowledge of clever mechanics.
And each harmonical has a point of its own.
Up-to-and-including acoustical physics.
Not the blunt force of Skinny Puppy.
But a more insidious control of mind and emotions.
Which is as primal as Rorschach Crayolas.
Never interrupt your enemies…
I fucked up.
I’m fucked up.
I was very apprehensive.
Because I loved the original so much.
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.
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.
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 Low–era 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?”
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).
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.
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.