Super Bowl LI [2017)

In what can only be described as an act of God.

force majeure

Almost one-to-one correspondence with U.S. election.

Two of the only celebrities to endorse Trump.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

It wasn’t a popular position.

Unenviable, really.

Like being 25 down.

When the biggest turnaround in 50 years had been 14.

Right?

Well, one thing’s for sure:  the first overtime.

In 51 years, the big game had never needed extra minutes.

Quite simply the best football game I’ve ever seen.

I almost didn’t watch it.

Sure, I liked the underdog Falcons.

But when a team is getting stomped, the tables turn.

Overdog becomes underdog.

Patriots got no shot, right?

It’s over.

Hillary’s our next President.

Might as well not even go to the polls.

But they started chipping.

You’re gonna have to score twice.

And convert two two-point conversions.

[a sentence which only makes sense in America]

It was a sweet victory.

Even with one of the worst companies on Earth (PepsiCo) sponsoring the halftime show.

[headed by the world’s worst CEO:  Indra Nooyi]

And even with Lady Gaga spirit cooking her “heil Hillary” butt off under the aegis of Pepsi.

And even with all the liberal, rubbish commercials.

And especially with the NFL commercial which took a shot at Tom Brady for being a sore loser.

Nice try, NFL.

But you just got owned by a winner.

Fucking hell…

Tom Brady.

So Mr. Brady and Mr. Belichick, thank you for sticking your necks out when you had nothing to gain.

You were pro-Trump.

When the world had their heads up their asses.

And tonight proved what heart and hard work do.

No panic.

Just steady determination.

You don’t win them all.

But you are never in a position to win if you don’t keep on fighting till the very end.

-PD

Twin Peaks “Wounds and Scars” [1991)

Things were improving.

Windom, the master of disguise.

Information supremacy.

Deep intelligence.

Billy Zane charming enough to make you sick.

But likable.

Because he’s an actor.

Accomplished.

More intriguing is Heather Graham.

Hotter than a nun’s habit.

Pete with many chessboards.

Infinitely likable.

We like the underdog here at paulydeathwish.com

And codes.

Radioactive.  Two peaks.

Piqued thrice.

The Cyclops of Redon.

Stalemate.

Historically.

 

-PD

The Gold Rush [1925)

Sometimes a lack of words is sadness.

Down at the dancehall.  “Auld Lang Syne”…

Old long since.

Long long ago.

“Long, Long, Long”

From Robert Burns to George Harrison.

“Standing in the Doorway”

You left me…

Bad as Me.  “New Year’s Eve”…

Yeah, someone noticed.

It’s not as entertaining as “the rolls”.

[lointain]

…wisps of music on the wind with lonely snow.

There are good people in the world.

I can attest to that.

Whether they’re joking or not.

There are little miracles.

Like “the little tramp”…

A light flickering here and there.

In Alaska.

“Caroline Says II”

It takes a long time to watch a movie like this.

It takes a lifetime.

In this fashion.

To see it once…as a kid…in high school…and swoon to the wallflower image.

And now 20 years later (at least).

This time we know “the rolls” are coming.  Buzz rolls.  Open rolls.  Double-stroke.  Scotch snaps.

“Auld Lang Syne”

It is the sentiment of Dean Wareham on that last Galaxie 500 album.

“Fourth of July”

I stayed at home…

Dog biscuit…

This Is Our Music//

like Ornette…

1960.

Ah…I’m skipping around.  Snow blind.

Lost in a flurry.  Of activity.  Or snow.

Mack Swain…Georgia Hale.

And Charlie “Charles” Chaplin.

I don’t remember what version I saw as a kid.

Today.  I learned of a new version.  New being 1942.

Voice-overs by Chaplin.  I resisted at first.

Yet, this may have been the version I saw as a kid.

I don’t remember.  Cinema was just a dream in my heart.

But now I know.

For all the outcasts and underdogs.

I was asserting my personhood.  Making my own choices.  Silent film.  What a rebellion!

And now I know.

The other side of the coin.

It takes a lifetime to watch this film.

In the dancehall.

Invisible.

Leaning on a rattan cane.

The weight.

The world is meant to squash your dreams.

Currently.

Everywhere.

Some dream of Denmark.  Sweden.  Switzerland.

But I don’t live there.

And I don’t live much at all unless I let out a love cry like Albert Ayler.

Up on “Zion Hill”…

It don’t mean a thing.

It could be called Composition No. 173 like Anthony Braxton.

It’s the only way you know you’re still alive.

The only way I know I’m still alive.

The genius of Charlie Chaplin.

We didn’t know such things could be expressed.

And we were fascinated to find that they had been expressed so well so long ago.

-PD

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo [1966)

This movie’s reputation does not precede it in one key sense.  Namely, this is a bizarre film.  Of all the far out stuff I watch it therefore takes something special for me to proclaim such.  Maybe, if we are well-informed, we expect weird when we sit down to view Holy Mountain.  With The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly we probably just expect another Spaghetti Western.

Not only does the film under review perhaps epitomize the genre, but it also sets itself apart with a story which must be seen to be truly appreciated.  I will, of course, try to avoid spoiling the drama by giving away too much.

It will suffice to discuss a few general points.  Why do I say this film is bizarre?  We can start with the title(s).  If we translate directly, we would get The Good, The Ugly, The Bad.  Not quite an arresting turn-of-phrase.  Therefore, we ponder the usual translation:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

There are several important concepts wrapped up in this title alone.  First, the direct translation and the “axiomatic” translation (respectively) transpose the word order.  If we were thoughtless, we would ignore this minor detail.  But since this film relies so heavily on a strange (subversion of?) moralizing, we cannot pass over even this aspect.

The literal translation would (literally) have us place “ugly” somewhere between good and bad (or good and evil if we are feeling particularly Nietzschean).

For those of us who root for the underdog (myself included), we might start off rooting for “ugly” (or “the ugly one”).

In the axiomatic translation, “ugly” is an afterthought (so to speak).  It is last in order.

I’m not sure if the Sermon on the Mount was in the back of the minds of the producers of the film (wow…), but we wonder whether the first will be last and the last will be first.

One thing is certain:  the greyscale of life is fully on display in this Technicolor teaching piece.  What is weird (bizarre) is the lesson being taught.  It is horribly (gloriously?) muddied.

The good is not good.  The ugly is also bad (above and beyond ugly).  The bad is, well, bad…

But if bad is only bad in relation to good (Hegel?), then the bad isn’t so bad…

In other words, it doesn’t take a whole hell of a lot to be good in this world.

And so…presented with this trio of characters, we are unsure who will “win”…indeed, has anyone really excelled in their typecast?

I should mention that, in my opinion, ugly is not so ugly.  All three of these mugs are a little rough around the edges.

In fact, the first face we see in the movie is the one we might assume to be Ugly.  He is not.  The real Ugly is merely not-traditionally-handsome (I suppose).  We should also consider the mannerist interpretation:  an ugly manner vs. a refined sensibility.  It could be argued that Bad (here) is much more refined (though he tortures Ugly…literally).  Ah, but NOT literally.  Rather, he has someone do it for him.  Now, isn’t that the height of refinement???

I will give away one thing.  Good is really Good at least once in this film.  A dying soldier…bleeding to death…and Good gives him his coat.  But not only that.  No.  Good gives him a few puffs on a cigar (which, as it turns out, helps him transition more peacefully to the next world).  It is the most touching moment of the film.  To be sure, this is not a Hallmark movie.  It’s a rough, win-at-all-costs affair.  A bit like real life.

And who is the real STAR of this film?  As fate would have it, the most interesting and entertaining character is Ugly (Eli Wallach).  Eastwood is great as always.  Lee Van Cleef is great.  But Wallach is beyond great!  He’s disgusting.  He’s hilarious.  He’s endearing.  He’s vicious.  He’s cruel.  He’s greedy.  He’s human.

Sergio Leone once again outdid himself.  Greed may have never been portrayed in all of its dizzying rush better than when Wallach goes sprinting with joy and anticipation in search of a grave (a long story…).  Morricone’s music is at least another order of magnitude better here than in his previous collaboration with Leone and Eastwood.

This is a damn good film.  Happy viewing!

-PD

Napoleon Dynamite [2004)

If this film makes you cry, then you have problems.  Welcome to my world.  Hopefully this will be the best thing I have ever written.

There are a couple of times.  Laugh out loud.  But those parts which pass by like strange quirks.  The space in between laughs.  That is the pathos of marginalia.

People.  Marginalized.  What the hell am I talking about?

There’s awkward and aw-kward.  It is the latter with which we are concerned.  A whole new level of pariah.

But also mundane.  And not to be forgotten…endearingly strange.

Preston, Idaho.  It’s real.  Really exists.

Napoleon and his brother Kip.  Lots of weird mustaches here.  But Napoleon is just the geeky gawky gangly guy growing up.

As Kip shows, some of us never grow up.  And Uncle Rico…whoa mama.  All regrets and what-ifs.

Grandmother was at the dunes and broke her coccyx.  Tailbone.

Riding the four-wheeler.

Grandma’s got a boyfriend.  Or a girlfriend.  Or something.

This is one time when some Wikipedia contributor has actually done a loving portrait of a film.

Perusing.

Rico is our campervan Beethoven.  A real jerk.  But not without his humorous (humerus?) moments.  Funny bone.

Fortunately LaFawnduh’s cousin is apparently Jamiroquai (they being a band and not a person).

Whoa…aw-kward.  Writing.

Jon Heder approaches the greatness of Peter Sellers in this film.  Heder is our lead…our anti-Bond (James).  Not cool.  Never was cool.  Painfully existing.

Tina Majorino brings an indispensable side ponytail grace to this story.  Such a beautiful girl.  A real person.  This film succeeds by employing a sort of Robert Bresson technique.  It also is the laughing equivalent of the Romanian New Wave.  To wit, Jared Hess made one of the most important American movies of recent decades.  Kudos to Fox Searchlight Pictures for giving this the distribution it deserved.  We know they later picked up Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Nice job Fox Searchlight!

And why do we cry?  Part of it is Efren Ramirez as Pedro.  Down here in San Antonio.  People living for their Spurs.  I know.  Me too.  Small victories seem so big.  El Presidente.  He builds her a cake.  The vacuous Summer.  No!!!  (little hearts beneath the exclamation points)

It’s hot.  Pedro doesn’t have air conditioning.  Napoleon’s top-loading VCR comes in handy after he scores a sweet Kid ‘n’ Play video at the thrift store.  Kip backs over the Tupperware in a failed Ginsu demonstration.  “Dang it!”

Pedro from Juarez.  In Idaho.  That’s like a Martian in Indiana or Iowa.  It’s real.  We all end up someplace.  For some reason.  And the cousins with the sweet low-rider.  The cousins with the hookups.  A short segment about banding together.  People with odds stacked against them helping other people with odds stacked against them.

A very humble project.

And someday Napoleon’s ligers will hang in the MoMA…and his portrait of Trisha (with the deftly-shaded upper lip) will fetch $100 million at Sotheby’s.

And LaFawnduh from Detroit.  Definitely AOL-era.  No cellphones in this movie.  Deb (Majorino) has to go to a payphone to tactfully reprimand Napoleon.  But it was all Rico’s fault.  Uncle Rico.  Hell, Napoleon even got a job moving chickens…for $1 an hour.  And they had big talons!  Just drink the raw eggs and mingle with the farmers.  The old people have good stories.  About Shoshone arrowheads in the creek bed.  White-bread sandwiches.  I don’t understand a word I just said.

It’s that I don’t have any skills.  Nunchuk skills.  Computer hacking skills.  Cage fighting skills.  Rex kwon do skills.

Oops.  Yeah, I dress like Peter Pan.  Forever the butt of a joke.

Napoleon runs like Forrest Gump…with Trisha’s corsage.  But it’s lonelier.  It’s stranger.  Like Peter Sellers doing Camus.  Chaplin and Sartre.  Les Temps modernes.

So when the antihero finally succeeds it elicits an honest firestorm of support.  Lots of people with nothing to live for. A little saint for the hallway.  A prayer has been answered.  They already tore down my high school.  Same name, different building.  I pass it everyday.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Some might say.  I know there’s a place for me somewhere.

It’s not all about tetherball.  It’s the determination.  A solitary game.  A clueless dork.  Thanks be to god.  THis movie.

-PD