Kamikaze 89 [1982)

Here is a strange case.

I thought I was watching a movie by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

The first I had ever seen.

But I was not.

And I still haven’t seen a Fassbinder movie per se.

This movie was directed by the late- Wolf Gremm.

Gremm might be most well-known for the 1980 film Fabian.

For that movie, Gremm adapted a work of Erich Kästner.

Kästner was always a bridesmaid and never a bride.

Nominated four times for the Nobel in literature, Kästner nevertheless was an important writer in that he used cinematic techniques in his literature.

Think about that for a second.

What might that mean?

Jump cuts, anyone?

‘Tis now that we pay homage to the great Jean-Paul Belmondo.

AND to my favorite drummer ever:  Charlie Watts.

Back to Kästner.

The Nazis burned his books.

These book burnings were instigated by (Psaki) Goebbels.

Kästner may not have really been a man of much integrity.

He wrote for UfA in 1942 under the pseudonym Berthold Bürger.

But you may know Kästner most for a Hollywood adaption of one of his children’s books:  The Parent Trap.

Made twice.

Which brings us to our film by Wolf Gremm.

It’s true:  Gremm and Fassbinder were close friends.

And I was tricked because Fassbinder is the all-consuming star of Gremm’s masterpiece Kamikaze 89 (alternately Kamikaze 1989).

Like a German version of Godard’s Alphaville.

Fassbinder is 100% Lemmy Caution.

But this whole thing needed a premise.

And that story was provide by Swedish author Per Wahlöö.

Before there was Stieg Larsson, there was Per Wahlöö.

Active between 1965 and 1975, and focusing on his character detective Martin Beck (a Stockholm policeman), Wahlöö collaborated with Maj Sjöwall on ten novels featuring Beck.

Like Erich Kästner, Wahlöö and Sjöwall were leftists.  

Communists.

Marxists.

Not unusual in Sweden.

You will find the same idealistic naïveté in the biographical details of Steig Larsson.

Gremm’s film did well as Fantasporto in Portugal.

And for good reason.

Because it is a fucking masterpiece!

The soundtrack is even by Tangerine Dream.

Edgar Froese.

Lester Bangs would have been proud.

Bangs died about three months after this film came out.

We see Brigitte Mira.

We see Nicole Heesters.

Someone briefly gets naked.

We might even see Fassbinder’s junk briefly.

I’ve gotta hand it to Xaver Schwarzenberger.

This film is stunning.

It pops!

Like a more punk version of Nicolas Roeg’s work on Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.

Schwarzenberger was (and is) perhaps the equivalent of Godard’s Raoul Coutard.

So what?

The world, in general, has not heard of Wolf Gremm.

So this film must be discussed in relation to Fassbinder.

Was Fassbinder as good a director as he was an actor?

I don’t know.

Was Fassbinder as good a director as Gremm?

I don’t know.

Did Fassbinder ever make a film as good as the masterpiece Kamikaze 89?

I don’t know.

Something else should be noted.

Fassbinder himself died two months after Kamikaze 89 was released.

Which is to say, a month before Lester Bangs.

Let’s talk about New German Cinema.

I have devoted plenty of time to my favorite (the Nouvelle Vague aka French New Wave).

But I do not recall ever having broached the topic of Neuer Deutscher Film.

I will say this.

I think Werner Herzog may be the most overrated filmmaker of all-time.

Right next to Tarantino.

I hate to fucking admit it, but Tarantino (whom I hate) has WAY more talent than Herzog.

But hey:  my favorite director ever is Godard.

We first join Fassbinder about 1974 with Ali:  Fear Eats the Soul.

Eight years later, Fassbinder would be dead.

At age 37.

From a cocaine/barbiturate overdose.

I have lived seven years longer than Fassbinder.

Fassbinder crammed his career into his 30s.

Bangs died of an (accidental?) overdose of an analgesic opioid (Darvon), Valium, and cough syrup.

Bangs was 33.

Someone else important died at that age.

Bangs had a great mustache.

Fassbinder had a weird beard.

A nasty, seven-day stubble.

But Fassbinder fucking had style!

1975 saw him come out with Fox and His Friends.

Fassbinder was married for two years.

He then divorced.

I feel that.

Ingrid Caven.

A beautiful lady.

They say.

Hanna Schygulla.

Godard’s Passion.

1982.

There’s a reason I like Fassbinder.

I think.

Because Fassbinder liked Godard.

The Merchant of Four Seasons.

This precedes my earlier introduction.

1971.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

1972.

Fassbinder was bisexual.

He bought Günther Kauffman, who appears in Kamikaze 89, four Lamborghinis over the period of one year.

“calculatedly provocative”, they called him.

A verbal kamikaze.

I feel that.

The Tenderness of Wolves.

1973.

As actor.

I have focused on films available in the United States.

On iTunes.

I am.

Pauly Deathwish.

Twenty years coming.

10/11.

-PD

 

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

Blondie’s New York [2014)

Man…

So much I could say about this one.

But it’s one of the few times where I can say, “I worked with that person.”

Clem Burke.

Probably wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire.

Now.

Because I’m a Trump supporter.

But he was the best drummer I was ever in the same room with.

And drumming was the longest “career” I ever had.

I’ve played drums since I was a kid.

All of them.

The set.

“Traps” 🙂

Orchestral snare drum.

Marimba.

The whole 4-mallet thing.

Jazz vibraphone.

But when I worked with Clem, I was a bass player.

That day.

That year.

For awhile.

It was the bass that took me to England.

To Scotland.

And to Spain.

And it was the bass that first took me to Los Angeles.

But this is about Blondie.

The band.

And what a band!

Based on my own experiences just mentioned, I can attest to the extremely high musicianship of Clem Burke.

And watching this relatively-short documentary (an hour) convinces me of just how special each of the band members were/are.

But perhaps my favorite part is seeing Mike Chapman work.

The record producer.

What a talent!

It was my dream to be a record producer.

Didn’t really work out 🙂

Tough business.

Maybe you fuck up.

Or maybe no one helps you.

Or maybe you get one chance.  And only one chance.

But that’s ok.

Because life goes on.

Marilyn Monroe aged.

Lou Reed sang about it on the Velvets’ “New Age”.

And Godard wrote about it.

The aging of Marilyn Monroe must have been a traumatic phenomenon for the first generation of movie goers.

The first generation with that color reality.

And with the television buttress.

And Marilyn…

Even Elton John, a homosexual man, was in love with Marilyn…in a sort of way.

“Candle in the Wind”

Which brings us to Debbie Harry.

The former cocktail waitress from Max’s Kansas City.

Chickpeas and lobster.

Park Avenue South.

And brings us to the album Parallel Lines.

This documentary is almost strictly about that album.

About Blondie’s breakthrough into the mainstream.

Yeah, they were punk…

Had the street cred.

But they transcended.

Mostly due to musicianship.

A bit like the Talking Heads.

The other bands were hopelessly arty.

Of this scene.

My favorite, Suicide.

[R.I.P. Alan Vega]

I met Alan once.

Changed my life.

But Suicide never really had a hit.

[Nooo…you don’t say?!?]

Yeah.

The name.

Whoa mama!

But that was punk.

And my whole mission is a bit of a punk mission.

Pauly Deathwish.

Uh huh.

Not a name I came up with.

But given to me.

I remember that day.

And the personages.

But my mission is also a bit like the mission of Greil Marcus.

And Lipstick Traces.

Now I’d just prefer to read Debord.

Or read Len Bracken on the Situationists.

But Greil tries (valiantly!) to pull it all together.

And I’m a bit like that kind of wanker.

Just hoping to SOUND like I know it all.

And someday have Harvard written on my spine.

But we’ve hardly discussed Blondie.

Or this excellent little film.

Which is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.

Again Kino Lorber’s marketing team (?) seems to be absent behind this release.

There’s no Wikipedia page.

And the iMDB page lists the title of this made-for-TV-affair as Blondie’s New York and the Making of Parallel Lines.

Ok, so it’s not Citizen Kane.

But it’s well worth watching!

Directed by Alan Ravenscroft.

He does a fine job here.

It really is a magical story.

Punk.

New York City.

CBGB-OMFUG.

The Fugs! 🙂

New York, a magical place.

Hell, even mayor Ed Koch is in this.

And he’s much easier to stomach than Bill Clinton.

I don’t care…liberal, conservative…whatever.

Just don’t be a dick!

And if you’re a dick, have the schtick down!!

Like Trump.

He has the schtick down.

He’s learned to lie.

In his many years.

“The babies, the beautiful babies…the innocent babies”…

There were no babies, my friends.

There was no chemical attack.

That footage was in the can for some time.

But it’s a white lie in the world of geopolitics.

It’s like telling your kids that Santa Claus delivered the presents.

There’s no way to explain, “I’ve gotta bomb Syria to make an impression on China.  And the bombing has to happen almost simultaneously with dinner…at Mar-a-Lago.”

And McMaster must be lying too.

That’s ok.

Just don’t make a habit of it.

Because then you’re CIA.

And that’s a dark road.

To get wrapped up in lies.

But the white lies are synthetic terror where nobody dies.

Even the Russian/Syrian body count.

Likely false.

Especially the “four kids” detail.

Pithy.

Icy.

The Democrats are really (I mean it, unfortunately) exceptionally dumb.

They only sense the general outline of the conspiracy.

Russia’s faux indignation.

But they don’t understand that their infantile foreign policy made such machinations necessary.

Blondie 🙂

And Quintilian.

See the documentary.

Forget about North Korea for a moment.

By all means, don’t watch inferior propaganda.

The Propaganda Game?

Great film.

Songs from the North?

Cinematic equivalent of toilet paper.

The Cinémathèque Française knew the value of propaganda films.

Henri Langlois.

Back when they were educating “the five” (Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol, Rivette, and Rohmer).

And Godard understood the importance of “good”, well-crafted, persuasive propaganda.

As Jacques Ellul wrote in 1962, “Ineffective propaganda is no propaganda.”

In other words, it has no business calling itself propaganda.

It’s less-than-worthless.

But kick back with some Machiavelli.

And The Art of the Deal.

And remember the unholy marriage of art and commerce that is and was Blondie.

-PD

تاکسی‎‎ [2015)

[JAFAR PANAHI’S TAXI (2015)]

This must be “Axis of Evil” week here at paulydeathwish.com 🙂

As I have stated recently to a friend.

George W. Bush was the worst President the United States has ever seen.

And Barack Obama was probably the second-worst.

So what does that make me?

Democrat?

Republican?

Libertarian?

Let’s get to that question (if you even care to know) by a circuitous route, shall we?

First, we must again praise the people of Iran.

It was long ago that I saw my first Iranian film.

Taste of Cherry.

طعم گيلاس…‎‎

[Ta’m-e gīlās…]

It was such a profound experience.

There I was.

In a movie theater in Austin.

And I couldn’t have given a shit about cinema.

But I was there.

For some reason.

God only knows why.

And I saw a movie which in many ways changed my life.

[but it took many years to sink in]

Even so, I came to regard the name of its director (Abbas Kiarostami) with a sort of awe.

Yet, I doubted.

[as we all well should]

And so I said to the cinema gods, “Let Kiarostami perform his miracle again…if he be so brilliant!”

And he did.

I was supposed to be watching Life, and Nothing More…

But I made a mistake.

Because my French is so bad.

[you know, Kiarostami died in Paris last year (may God rest his soul)]

I needed 1991, but I chose 1990.

And it was another miracle.

Close-Up.

I don’t know.

Is it…

کلوزآپ ?

Or…

نمای نزدیک ?

[“Klūzāp”?  Or “nemā-ye nazdīk”?]

Because the unfailing Google Translate (now the second-most popular “tr” search after “Trump” [as “translate”]) tells me that both terms mean “close-up”.

But who can translate Trump?

[ahhh…]

Perhaps only an Iranian?

Well, we would be in good hands if director Jafar Panahi was that man.

Why?

Because Mr. Panahi has made a film which is of the same rarefied air as the two Kiarostami films which I have referenced.

The work is called Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, and it is currently available on Netflix in the U.S.

No, it’s not a really trite game show.

No, it’s not some premise for an uncreative pornographer.

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi ( تاکسی) pushes the limits of barebones filmmaking in much the same way that the Palestinian masterpiece 5 Broken Cameras did.

[yes, I know the latter film was an Israeli coproduction…with an Israeli co-director…‎‎but the film was very much Palestinian in its inmost heart]

What our director Mr. Panahi adds to the method (budget cinematography) is an uncertainty of reality.

Frankly, I have never seen a film quite like Jafar Panahi’s Taxi.

Is it a documentary?  Is it staged?

One thing’s for sure.

If it’s staged, the injured man and his wailing wife deserve Oscars “toot sweet”!

Truly, it is panic-inducing…

Which is not true of this film in general.

No, dear eggshell friends (if you’re out there)…don’t be afraid.

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi will only take you on a “wondrous boat ride” (so to speak) for a brief, more-or-less manageable period of time.

The rest of the film is fascinating…engrossing…painfully and gloriously perplexing.

Yes, Mr. Panahi borrows Kiarostami’s favorite device:  filming from a moving vehicle.

But so what?!?

Panahi was an assistant director to Kiarostami.

And Abbas certainly wasn’t the first to film out of a car window.

But let’s examine for a moment…

Yes, the special part of this method is that the camera is turned INWARDS.

And so we feel we are seeing Homayoun Ershadi vacillate between life and death…all over again.

Or we feel we are seeing the calm, gracious mannerisms of Mohsen Makhmalbaf transposed from motorcycle to taxicab.

But what we are seeing most of all is a director stepping in front of the camera.

Like Truffaut.

And Chaplin before him.

Godard has done it to excellent effect as well.

And Jafar Panahi is like an empty reed of meditation as he navigates an unending stream of chaos which enters his faux-taxi.

But the most poignant moments are when Hana Saeidi reminds us of the childish joy of being an auto passenger…and when the lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh addresses us…we, the watchers of cinema.

Who will watch those watching the watchers?

It’s like Juvenal in a hall of mirrors.

But Ms. Sotoudeh breaks the fourth wall and takes us to a very special place.

Prison.

And so, again, frankly:  we don’t know how Jafar Panahi’s Taxi was ever made.

Isn’t Iran one of the most intolerant countries on Earth?

Just what is going on here??

All of this Shostakovich-ean rebellion is really breathtaking when under the microscope of close viewing.

But Jafar Panahi remains stone-faced.

Like Buster Keaton.

Yet, this is largely no comedy.

This is a big “fuck you” to the government of Iran.

And yet, it is the most subtle “fuck you” ever committed to film.

Only a genius can do such things.

DSCH

etc.

Yes, dear friends.  Mr. Panahi has been banned from making films.

And yet he made one.

And then another.

And then this one.

So we salute you, Mr. Panahi.

We appreciate such in America.

To illustrate:

<–fuck you, fuck you–>, and most of all…fuck you ^

That is freedom.

It is ugly.

Messy.

But it works.

And so as a Donald Trump supporter (yes, me), I say, “bring it on, you whiny, sub-literate protesters!”

Maybe they’re right.

But it’s their right.

To protest.

And so we mix and knead.

And we need the yeast of dissent to ever grow again.

Let’s bake some goddamned bread, people!

-PD

El Dorado [1966)

Funny thing about Westerns…

Sometimes you seen ’em, but you done FORGET you seen ’em.

And this one is that type of affair.

Except that it’s a masterpiece.

This here film takes multiple viewings to fully appreciate the craftsmanship at work.

Because back in those heady nouvelle vague days, it seems that the Cahiers crowd were known as the Hitchcocko-Hawksians.

I may be borrowing a term from Richard Brody’s book on Godard.

But he may have been borrowing it from elsewheres.

I don’t rightly know.

But El Dorado is certainly the spitting image of another film…by the same auteur.

Yes, Rio Bravo was the first incarnation.

1959.

It’s the one that gets all the praise.

But if my eyes and heart don’t deceive me, Robert Mitchum is a better actor than Dean Martin.

[as much as I love Dino]

And James Caan bests Ricky Nelson as well.

But it’s hard to replace Walter Brennan.

Damn near impossible.

That said, Arthur Hunnicutt is pretty darn fabulous in El Dorado.

But let’s get back to those Hitchcocko-Hawksians.

The first part is probably pretty self-explanatory.

These Cahiers du cinéma film critics revered Alfred Hitchcock.

Above all else.

Hell!

Before Truffaut did his book of interviews with Hitch (1967), Chabrol had written a monograph on the master (1957).

To be more exact, Chabrol cowrote the book with Rohmer.

Might as well say Rivette (“Rivette!”) just to round out les cinq.

Like the Mighty Handful (Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin), and one short of les six (Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, and Tailleferre), the Cahiers crew were the Hitchcocko-Hawksians.

But what of that second seme?

Indeed, it was Howard Hawks.

The director of our film.

And an auteur which Jean-Luc Godard has gone on about at length…in a profusion of praise.

But why are we even talking about these Westerns?

What do El Dorado and Rio Bravo have in common besides diagesis and director?

Ah yes:  John Wayne!

In El Dorado, our villain is Ed Asner.

Quite rich when considering that he was one of the very few to be a true hero in America after 9/11.

That’s right.

Ed Asner was on the front lines of getting the truth.

And we never got the truth.

Not from any official source.

But that’s ok.

Because we have gathered the general gist of the situation.

And so Ed Asner’s most important performance was what he did in real life.

To try and honor those 3000 souls who perished and were draped in a lie.

But we’re in Texas.

And Texas is a lonesome land.

Inhospitable.

And we aim here to mainly talk about the examples of the silver screen.

In Technicolor.

“details…deliberately left out” says Wikipedia…

Ah yes…something David Ray Griffin spotted with his razor-sharp mind.

“Omissions and distortions”, he called it.

That is the beauty of film.

It gets deep.

It burrows.

And it fuses to what we have experienced as visceral verities.

Charlene Holt was actually from Texas.

And she is every bit the female lead here.

Charming.  Strong.  Sexy.

I won’t go comparing her to Angie Dickinson, but let’s just say that Ms. Holt fit the bill.

To a T.

T for Texas.

And Ms. Holt passed on (God rest her soul) in Tennessee.

We get horses and streams.

Rifles and pistols.

And a lot of earthy talk.

As you can tell.

Gets under your skin.

Your tongue.

Burrows.

Say, was you ever bit by a dead bee?

[Oops, wrong funnyman.  And Hemingway.]

Pound born in Idaho.  And Papa H died there.

Because the pain was too much.

Gut shot.

You can’t turn your back in these parts.

Gotta waddle out backwards.

On yer horse.

In high heels.

And keep your peripheral sharp.

Cardsharp, not shark.

Tiburon country.

Anyone missing Angie Dickinson likely ogled Michele Carey for the better part of El Dorado.

Though the appearances were brief.

John Wayne turns the other cheek.

Smears blood on the cowhide.

Get outta here.

Tough guy gets back on his horse.

Always guns in the river.

But you gotta retrieve it.

Dr. Fix (Paul Fix) isn’t up to the procedure.

Doesn’t wanna bungle a good man.

Tells him take care uh that whens you get tuh proper chirurgien.

Christopher George looks spitting Willem Dafoe.

Ping!

But the real story is Diamond Joe.

Or so.

It seems under the bridge.

Natchez.  Matches.

Jarmusch maybe…

Always.

Revenge.

Gotta git your own justice.

Around these skillet lickers.

Like the freaks from Octopussy, knife to a gunfight.

Had to saw off a holstered piece at the Swede.

Following me?

If the top is a high hat, Mississippi’s is low.

I think Tom Petty adopted one.

Mine never fit quite right.

From crown to gun butt…soft wobble with every bump.

But enough phrenology.

Only love can break your heart.  Neil Young said that.

And I know all too well.

Stuck behind an 18-wheeler from Dallas.

And the rains set in.

And Górecki just makes you cry even more.

Feels like an addiction.

And sometimes you substitute one addiction for another.

Because you got an empty place there in your ribcage.

Friendship rides in least expected.

Crusty.

Professional killer don’t have no friends.

A liability.

Can’t get too connected.

Go soft./

Stayed in Mississippi a day too long.  Bob Dylan said that.

And I think maybe he meant Robert Johnson.

When the poison of whisky ain’t enough.  I said that.

Not enough holes in the world get a rise outta me at Royal Albert.

But I’m not too worried about it.

Just modulating grammar.

Because El Dorado is filled with sine qua non dialogue.

Seeming hapex legomenon with every breath.

Latin/Greek shift.

Cipher.

A lot of soap.

Running joke.

The others’ll come to me.

Maybe.

High low, do-si-do.

My uncle died with a stack of VHS Westerns on his TV set.

That smoking’ll kill you.

Two uncles.

But only one owned a square dance barn.

So that no matter how Cahiers I get, I’ll always be from Texas.

City boy.

Country heart.

Not even aware how much of a rube I really am.

It’s a concoction you gotta pinch the nose to force down.

A medicine resembling asphalt.

Alcohol, 4 days

No punctuation.

I’m just lucky to never have done more’n cowboy tobacco.

But Texas is lonesome.

Unless you’re riding with John Bell Hood.

In which case you’re shitting yourself with fear.

Itch on the back of your neck.

But learn to play a good bugle.

Close quarters combat.

Urban warfare.

In the Wild West.

Two walk forward, two reverse.

To slap a RICO charge on a greasy bastard.

Like the goddamned Great Gate of Kiev.

And back to the five.

A gamelan of adobe marksmanship.

Distraction.

Diversion.

Deputy was just the courage.  Pin on “I do”.

We think Pecos.

Information travels.

And to have a leg up.

[no pun]

Old wounds and creaky bones.

Been knocked down too many times.

Fallen off my horse.

[shift]

We don’t negotiate with terrorists.

But do we terrorize negotiators?

Turns out the whole thing was about water.

When it’s dry.

And you gotta wake up.

And you didn’t just win the Super Bowl.

Why you can’t take a giant leap in chess.

Giant steps.

Because your plan sucks.

Just showing up is pretty damned brave.

Every day.

Fight.

[And I didn’t even get to Edith Head and Nelson Riddle]

-PD

El Crítico [2013)

Fucking masterpiece.

A fucking masterpiece.

God damn…

It’s not often that a movie strikes me this way.

I had every reason not to even WATCH this film.

The premise was too perfect.

Too good to be true.

In English (and on Netflix in the U.S.), it is listed as The Film Critic.

But we pay our respects to international films even if the template of our website goes haywire in so doing.

El Crítico is an Argentine-Chilean coproduction.

Sounds like a wine, right?

Well, this beats any Malbec I’ve ever tasted.

I cannot say enough good things about this picture!

First things first-Hernán Guerschuny is a goddamned genius.

From the very start of this film we get the Godard whisper…that voiceover which started (si je me souviens bien) circa 1967 with 2 ou 3 Choses que je sais d’elle.

The majority (80%?) of El Crítico is in Spanish, but the remaining 20% (in French) makes all the difference.

We have an Argentine film critic, played masterfully by Rafael Spregelburd, who thinks in French.

We are thus privy to his internal monologue throughout the film.

For anyone who writes about motion pictures, El Crítico is indispensable.

Priceless.

Just right.

[not even a pinch of salt too much]

Dolores Fonzi is really good, but Señor Spregelburd is outstanding.

Spregelburd plays a Godard-obsessed film critic (are you seeing why I like this?) whose fumbling attempts at romance stem from his total immersion in cinema.

Guerschuny deftly interpolates scenes which are “meta-” in the same sense that Cinema Paradiso was essentially a film ABOUT film.

And I am a fan of this approach.

It worked perfectly for the greatest artistic creation in the history of mankind (Histoire(s) du cinéma) and it works exceptionally well for Guerschuny’s film [of which James Monaco and la Nouvelle vague I think would be proud].

Guerschuny, like his main character Tellez [Spregelburd], wants to explode the genre of romcom.

Yes, you heard me right:  romcom.

And it thus places El Crítico in the same tradition as Truffaut’s Tirez sur le pianiste and Godard’s Une Femme est une femme.

But something happens to our protagonist Tellez.

And something, I suspect, is in the heart (!) of director Guerschuny.

This is, in fact, a film about appreciating naïveté.

It is a postmodern idea.

And an idea dear to my heart.

It’s quite simple, really…

I can appreciate Arnold Schoenberg as much as AC/DC.

Abel Gance as much as Napoleon Dynamite.

The idea is that pretentious films (and film reviews) can become just as tiresome as trite, Entertainment Weekly boilerplate.

Does that magazine even still exist?

I don’t know.

It’s an honest question.

In fact, I wasn’t even sure I had the title correct.

It’s supermarket-checkout-lane film criticism.

But it’s not worthless.

Sometimes the most esteemed, erudite film critics become blind to the beauty around them.

They don’t give simple movies a chance.

On the other hand, there are a ton of crappy movies out there today.

But El Crítico is not one of them.

But let me tell you about the secret weapon of the film under consideration:

Telma Crisanti.

Without her, this movie fails.

Not miserably, but the façade falls apart.  And then the superstructure…

Ms. Crisanti plays Ágatha, the 16-year-old niece of our film critic Tellez.

It is she who plants the seed within Tellez’ mind that romantic comedies can be sublime.

But the salient point is this:  the masses are not dumb.

I will stand by Thomas Jefferson on this point till the bitter end.

And so The Film Critic speaks to young and old.  And middle-aged.

It is about miracles.

But it is real.

Simply put, this is the Sistine Chapel of romcoms.

Or, what Michelangelo would have done with the genre.

Simply stunning!

-PD

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure [1985)

This movie is kinda like LSD.

Not that I would know.

But from what I hear…

If you come into it with fear and anxiety, it will be a grating, disorienting, annoying experience.  Frightening.

But if you come into it at peace and relaxed, you might just have a wonderful time viewing this movie.

The first third of the film was tense for me.

Everything is tense for me.

Thank God for drugs.

And so the rest of the film was quite charming and (dare I say?) meaningful.

We probably all know the Pee-Wee story…how he got caught whacking off in an adult movie theater.

But everyone deserves a second chance.

Sure, a guy who wakes up in the morning wearing lipstick and rouge might be a little suspect to some, but this whole film is fantasy.

Back to psychedelics…

It’s only appropriate that my old computer has just come down with the trippiest virus I’ve ever seen.

But no matter.

We push on.

Five more days.

Yes, Pee-Wee is like Mr. Bean.

And when Pee-Wee dances, it presages Napoleon Dynamite’s talent show jaw-dropper by some years.

Paul Reubenfeld –> Paul Reubens –> Pee-Wee Herman

In Hollywood, you can be anyone you want to be.

That’s entertainment (as The Jam sang).

But we have to give a shout out to the adorable Elizabeth Daily who plays Dottie.

Madame Ruby only accepts cash…even on a rainy night.

But she also does income tax.

Sure, Pee-Wee looks a little too comfortable in his Audrey-Hepburn-meets-Laverne-&-Shirley frock, but that’s part of his oblivious joy.

Large Marge is, of course, unforgettable.

Diane Salinger is really great as Simone.

With that aching dream to get to France.

I know.  This dream.

I lived it.

And how I’d so like to go back.

“Au revoir, Simone…”

Nothing like sitting on a tongue…watching the sun come up between some teeth.

But then we get my hometown.

San Antonio.

And a lot of it!

Please don’t think we all speak like Jan Hooks 🙂

As an amnesiac, Pee-Wee can recall but one thing:

“Remember the Alamo!”

Yee-Haw!!!

So let’s see…fainting after bike theft (Truffaut) followed by EMS and oxygen?  Check.

Amnesia after being thrown from a bull?  Check.

Hospitalization after riding a Harley through a wooden sign?  Check.

I am remiss to mention that I forgot the appendectomy in Spies Like Us.

These signs that God is looking out for us.

And France.

A story which didn’t resonate during my youth.

But only after I’d fallen in love to Messiaen.

Only after I became Tropic of Cancer.

A duck in Milton Berle’s pants is enough to get Pee-Wee on set at Warner Brothers.

What ensues is truly a zany take on the car chase cliche.

Then Pee-Wee frees the animals at the zoo.  XMAS

And with handfuls of snakes, faints again (trumping Truffaut) before first responders revive him.

Breaking the rules was a way to promotion in the 1980s.

And when it’s couched in playful imagination, it is charming indeed.

When it’s funny.  A farce.  Comedic.

Pee-Wee as bellhop is like Jason Schwartzman’s understudy in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Director Tim Burton deserves heaping credit for making this an actually timeless film.  It is creative throughout.

It’s really a joy to see.

Just don’t take the brown acid.

-PD

Rocky [1976)

Here we have a great film.

From an actor with whom I was so lucky as to work on one occasion.

Sylvester Stallone.

It was an honor.

And yet, I didn’t really get it.

That this movie, Rocky, was so central to the American dream.

But it’s more than that.

It’s the backdrop of Philadelphia.

The streets.

The eggs.

The meat.

The iron gates you gotta kick open.

And the screenless door you gotta reach around.

It’s the machete stuck in the wall.

And the black leather jacket to hang over the handle.

The knife stabbed into the wall.

And the black fedora that hangs on it.

But most of all it is Talia Shire.

To offset the brutality of boxing.

A shy soul.

In kitty cat glasses.

It’s the pet store.

The failed jokes.

The parakeets like flying candy.

And Butkus the dog.

You know, I don’t hear so well…because I got punched too many times…taking my best shot at music.

And so I’m a bum…but I got into the arena for a good 15 years.

And those final four…when I was a contender.

When I met Sylvester Stallone.

I was standing next to greatness.

A great actor.  A great figure in film history.

We are taught to denigrate our American movies.

That they could never be as good as the French.

But the American films inspired the French.

It was Truffaut and company took Hitchcock from novelty to pantheon.

But it’s shy Talia.

Telling a story.  A real love.

Getting up in years.  And maybe she’s retarded.

Maybe he’s dumb.

But to him she’s the prettiest star.

And he perseveres.

However many rounds it takes.

Because fate has called him to one woman.

Why does he fight, she asks.

It’s a big obstacle.

For Rocky and Adrian to overcome the awkwardness of their collective insecurities.

For them to communicate.

But it’s such a beautiful story.

Pithy.  Gritty.

When Pauly throws the Thanksgiving turkey out into the alley.

It’s dysfunction.  Dysfunction everywhere.

Abusive meat packing desperation.

Always an ass pocket full of whiskey.

And just a favor to the loan shark.

I can break thumbs.

But you don’t wanna do that.

The protector.

In the world of crime, but not of the world of crime.

Poor, simple icebox.  Some cupcakes.

Never enough beer.  Anywhere.

And the genius of spectacle comes along.

Carl Weathers.  Like Clyde Drexler.

Reading The Wall Street Journal.

Like Trump…thinking big…and juxtaposing entities.

To speak to the sentimental.  Sentimental.

Because you don’t wanna be known as a whore.

It’s that reputation.  A hard lesson.

Big brother to a little sister.

You don’t wanna smoke.

Make yer teeth yellow.

Breath rotten.

But you gotta work.

To stay in this game.

Train.  Train.  Train.

And maybe you get one shot.

It all comes down to this.

Burgess Meredith like Rod Marinelli.

The wisdom of hard knock cracks.

But we like ice skating.

$10 for ten minutes.

A date.

A tip.

When you give life back to a prisoner of home.

When you give love to a lonely fighter.

Misunderstood.

Rough around the edges.

Desperation of poverty Pauly.

Makes us all a little crazy to be so trapped economically.

But God has called you to greatness.

And will you answer that call?

Can you imagine the career?

Is anything at all clear?

We only know tenacity.

Fighting till the very end.

Hospital and next day Pentagon basement.

Be an expert for your country.

So many skills needed for a nation to flourish.

Trust.

Go the distance is not just Field of Dreams (another great sporting film).

Going the distance.  Till the very end.  Tour of duty.

God, please get me back home.

We’re so close now.

You’ll have to cut me so I can see.

“When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez” and you only want to hear her say “I love you”.

And she you.

You made it.

You lost by decision.  But you proved it to yourself.

That you could go the full fifteen rounds with the best.

The best and brightest.

That you could be the shy, awkward bum to overcome.

Don’t say that.

You’re not a bum.

We want.  Need.  That positive reinforcement.

When the whole world tells us we’re losers.

You won by keeping going.  Every day.

 

-PD

 

Shadows [1959)

Cassavetes…

Cool, grains here.

Beatnik bongos get entrance.

Waiting for the man to grow up.

Black leather jacket on streetcorner.

And sunglasses.  Smoking a cigarette.

John Cassavetes was a true auteur.

Maybe he was no Dreyer.  No Renoir.

But at least the level of Truffaut.

That’s the outerspace transmission I’m getting.

You can buy Le Tigre.  Or Fugazi.

Or make the mistake of thinking his turn in Rosemary’s Baby was important.

Cassavetes the director.

That’s the guy we click our fingers applauding the film in homage to.

It’s a bit drug film.

The $20 bucks.  For what?

I was groovin’ on Ben Carruthers.

In the lonely crowd.

 

-PD

Francesco, giullare di Dio [1950)

As a humble servant I come to you.

Speaking of a film.

About the dear St. Francis of Asisi.  San Francesco.  François.

I remember you because of the dear composer Olivier Messiaen.

And his only opera.

As a humble servant I thank God for life.

Two people playing catch with a football.

Traffic jams.

Moments of reflection.

I thank you God for Hélène Grimaud’s new album.

It is raining and soaking us to the bone.

As I walk with Harry Partch.

Bitter music.

I am but a poor sinner.

This film which is impenetrable.

Drab drab.

We thank God for the birds which laugh.

And I thank God for Pope Francis.

Yes, it is only fitting.

That he has seen the striving of all world religions.

That he has seen their imperfections.

That he has voiced the message of peace.

That we are all praying to the same God.

Whether Trinity or plethora.

Allah.

Shiva and Vishnu.

And Mr. Buddha, who are you?

Is it a koan I present?

Perhaps.

We thank God for Aldo Fabrizi.

The humor of the birds.

Chirp a little softer so that I may finish the Lord’s Prayer.

And let us not neglect Christianity.

As we are embracing our brothers around the world.

Our sisters around the world.

Thank God for holy fools.

I

am only able to relate to the dirt.

The ground.  The soil.

As we make our way without sandals.

But no.

We might need a peg and awl to fix them.

It was The Carolina Tar Heels back in 19 and 28.

1928.

There is a leper with a cowbell.

It means stay back.

Look away.  I’m hideous.

We come humble to the table of the Lord.

Face down in a field of flowers.

Grappling with the beauty of it all.

And the Saints also have sadness.

Because it is a hard road.

To leave and be uprooted.

To see friends wade across to the other shore.

To Arezzo, perhaps.  Spoleto.  Pisa.

Disarming with his smile the ridiculous tyrant in his Picasso armor.

We do not understand.

Flat round.

We are but poor country people.  Poor city folk.  Provincial yahoos.

I will sit and enjoy the day…chewing on this leek.

All the actors forgotten.

Nonprofessionals.

Except Aldo Fabrizi.

And we have not thanked the auteur Roberto Rossellini.

Such a strange, simple piety which would so affect Truffaut and Godard.

To put oneself in the 12th…13th centuries.

And to lovingly portray the Franciscans.

Yes, it is good.

Joy now is good.  Thank you God from your humble servant.

Not worthy to carry your flowers.

Pick the flowers but don’t harm the branches.

 

-PD