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‘The Rum Diary’: Johnny Depp’s love letter to Hunter Thompson
10.22.2011
02:47 am

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The Rum Diary is the product of hugely talented people. It’s based on a book by Hunter Thompson and stars one of Thompson’s biggest fans and acolytes Johnny Depp who also produced the film. In Bruce Robinson it has a director and screenwriter that is responsible for one of the best comedies of the past three decades, the hilariously bleak Withnail And I. This is the coolest trio since Cream broke up.

Pulling The Rum Diary out of development hell (for years studios tried to get the film off the ground) was obviously a labor of love for Depp and that may be why it doesn’t work as well as it might have. Depp’s love for Thompson could be the problem here. Love is blind… or at the very least nearsighted. Depp’s approach to Thompson is too cautious, too safe, too reverent. I think if Thompson were alive he would have instructed Depp to loosen up, too untighten his ass and go for it…gonzo-style.

The Rum Diary wants us to enter Thompson’s deliriously intoxicated world, but it’s just too damn tidy and slick for its own good. The squalor, mayhem and debauchery lacks any genuine sense of danger and the delirium is never delirious enough. And I’m definitely not buying into the film’s depiction of Thompson as some kind of romantic saint. Spinning Thompson into hero material might make for a crowd pleasing narrative but it stretches The Rum Diary into mythic places it doesn’t belong. By trying to do right by Thompson, Depp may have done him a disservice by turning one of pop culture’s biggest bad-asses into a Mr. Goody Two Shoes.

As frustrating as The Rum Diary is, there’s much to like in the film. Which is why it’s frustrating. Robinson’s direction is filled with brilliant moments - a menacing, sexually-charged scene inside a night club choreographed to scorching blues music, a visit to a hermaphrodite Voodoo priestess/priest who dispenses some powerful reptilian mojo, and a chase scene involving a decrepit Fiat, some high octane hootch and a bunch of pissed-off Puerto Ricans. Giovanni Ribisi is wonderfully deranged in a performance that channels Richard Grant from Withnail And I and there’s some brown acid weirdness that seems to have wandered in from Terry Gilliam’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas which, despite being recycled, is still good for a contact high.

The weakest part of the movie is supposed to be its dramatic core: a plot involving a bunch of greedy industrialists attempting an illegal land grab. But it is so undercooked and dull that the film walks away from it way before Thompson does. As a result, his character building moment, his crisis of conscience, lacks punch because most viewers won’t give a flying fuck about the whole damned thing. I suggest you forget about the particulars of the plot and just dig the atmosphere and the film’s all too rare leaps into the unknown.

When Bruce Robinson’s vision becomes disengaged from the story, dances outside the script and elbows the actors out of the way to let something organic and real in, The Rum Diary becomes as drunken as Rimbaud’s boat. My sense is that after Robinson started shooting the film with his cinematographer, the incredible Dariusz Wolski, he became increasingly engrossed with Puerto Rico’s shadow side and the mystery of the moment took over as the screenplay receded into the background.The movie finds itself in the interstices where life slips through and the audience is allowed to simply take it all in - the lysergical light, the sway of sun-sharpened silhouette, the fetid murk and tangle of tree vine, rotted root and gnarled limbs, the bristling feathers of a cockfight, the murderous intent tattooed on faces of people done wrong, the unraveling of symmetry and beautiful decay of streets and ancient buildings that stagger under the weight of forgotten crimes and deadly secrets. Within this sweetly malodorous topography lurk the kind of dark dreams that press in on a man. This is the kind of shit that writers pull inspiration from with the fervor of mad dogs digging for a hank of flesh and bone. This is where Hunter Thompson found his fucking muse. And Robinson may have as well. In these all too brief moments, The Rum Diary reminds me of Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus. It is at its most sublime when its characters become figures in a landscape that throbs and surges with a sexual heat and as they move into the foreground we see in their eyes bottomless desire. Had Depp lost himself as Robinson did he may have found the redemption that the film cries out for.

Should you see The Rum Diary? Absolutely. Just prepare yourself for an experience that could have used more of what Depp describes as Thompson’s “savagery.” Or some of whatever that Voodoo priestess was doling out. Ask Bruce Robinson exactly what that shit was. I bet he knows.

The Rum Diary opens in theaters on October 28.

 
Johnny Depp and Bruce Robinson at the Austin Film Festival screening of The Rum Diary. Film critic Elvis Mitchell is conducting the interview. October 21, 2011. This is absolutely lovely, as you will see. I think everyone in the Paramount Theater was drunk. Hunter would have loved it.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
1980s Sitcom Predicted Gaddafi’s Death?
10.21.2011
07:23 pm

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History
Television

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Buzzfeed have found this clip from the series Second Chance, which seemingly predicted the correct year of Colonel Gaddafi’s death.

Yep, it’s Friday.
 

 
Via Buzzfeed
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Captain Beefheart and The Tragic Band: Live in Paris 1974
10.21.2011
06:56 pm

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Television

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Captain Beefheart and The Tragic Band, recorded live H.E.C., HEC Jouy-en-Josas, Paris, France May 24, 1974

01. “Mirror Man”
02. “Upon The My-O-My”
03. “Full Moon, Hot Sun”
04. “Crazy Little Thing”
05. “Improvisation”
06. “Peaches”
07. “Who Will Be Next?” (Chester Burnett)
08. “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Yer Bond” (Traditional)

 

 

 
Bonus:

Captain Beefheart and The Tragic Band, recorded live at the Cowtown Ballroom, Kansas City, Missouri, April 22, 1974

“Tragic Live Band”

Captain Beefheart Don Van Vliet vocals, harmonica, saxophone, clarinet
Fuzzy Fuscaldo guitar
Ty Grimes drums
Del Simmons tenor saxophone, flute
Dean Smith guitar
Michael Smotherman keyboards
Paul Uhrig bass

01. “Mirror Man” (0:00)
02. “Upon The My-O-My” (7:31)
03. “Crazy Little Thing” (10:48)
04. “Full Moon, Hot Sun” (15:56)
05. “Sugar Bowl” (20:17)
06. “This Is The Day” (23:19)
07. “It’s Mighty Crazy aka Keep On Rubbing Lightnin’ Slim” (31:17)
08. “Be Your Dog” (36:14)
09. “Sweet Georgia Brown” (43:32)
10. “Abba Zaba” (47:18)
11. “Peaches” (50:46)
 

 
With thanks to bookheaven1000
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Flags and Fences: ‘Lost’ documentary on legendary band The Blue Nile
10.21.2011
05:14 pm

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In the 1980s every home in Glasgow had a copy of a Blue Nile album - either Walk Across the Rooftops, or Hats. Or so it seemed. Paul Buchanan (vocals, guitar), Robert Bell (bass), Paul Joseph Moore (keyboards), achieved a level of worship amongst their followers that it was almost religious.

Formed in 1981, The Blue Nile formed their own label, Peppermint Records, through which they and released their first single, “I Love This Life”. Though picked-up by RSO, it disappeared after that company was taken-over by Polygram. Undeterred, the trio kept writing and working on new material. When an engineer at the hi-fi firm Linn Electronics heard their music, he offered to finance the band to record a track - intended to showcase the quality of Linn’s hi-fi systems. The result so pleased Linn that an album Walk Across the Rooftops was recorded and released in 1984. It was a local hit, and cult everywhere else, but attracted allegiance from Rickie Lee Jones, Robbie Roberston and Annie Lennox.

It took 5 years for the follow-up Hats, but was well worth the wait, as it show-cased a 5-star album of adult love songs, which undoubtedly led to a population increase. Since then, it’s been slow and far between, with Peace at Last in 1996, and High in 2004.

In 1990, the film-maker Bernard Rudden made this documentary Flags and Fences, which followed The Blue Nile on their tour of America. It’s long been thought “lost”, but writer, adventurer and all-round-gentleman, Trevor Ward, located and forwarded this copy, which captures Blue Nile as they seemed on the cusp of world success.
 

 
With thanks to Trevor Ward
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Turntables in motion: Bicycle with record players as wheels
10.21.2011
02:31 pm

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Art
Design
Music

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Dutch designers Merel Slootheer, Pieter Frank de Jong and Liat Azulay have created a bike that plays music. Feats Per Minute (fiets is Dutch for bicycle) was designed using a basic $90 bike and with a few changes converted into a record player on wheels.

Simple alterations to the bike’s structure makes it easy to change records, and a few tweaks to the “crank of the bike and the chain” ensures records don’t skip. The record screws onto the bike frame with a small cap, and the needle is spring-loaded to keep it steady. To allow (or force?) pedestrians to hear your tunes as you zoom by, the designers installed a megaphone-style amplifier made out of plumbing materials.

In order for the records to sound as intended, you need to be a real steady peddler.
 

 
Via The Daily Swarm

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Amusing Burger King billboard hack
10.21.2011
02:05 pm

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(via BuzzFeed)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
NYC 1978-1985 by Michael Sean Edwards
10.21.2011
01:56 pm

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Treasure trove of photos taken (mostly) in the East Village, circa 1979 to 1985 by Michael Sean Edwards. Many of these photographs were taken within a few square blocks of where I lived until the early 90s. Leshko’s Coffee Shop, above, was on the corner of the block where I lived, on 7th Street and Ave. A. KIng Tut’s Wah Wah Hut was on the opposite corner and the Pyramid Club around the corner. I’ve eaten in Lesko’s more times than I would care to remember, although I’m sure remnants of my many hundreds of meals there live on in the arteries of my heart. When I finally started making real money, I promised myself that I would never eat there again, and I didn’t for about a decade. I did finally relent and meet Douglas Rushkoff for breakfast there one morning, although by then, it was Leshko’s in name only, having turned into a white plastic upscale hipster joint, with nary a trace of it’s former down-at-heel Ukrainian dinner chic or greasy menu.
 
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The Valencia Hotel, then a shithole renting $18 rooms to junkies and hookers,now a place that probably charges $450 a night. It was the kind of place where someone like Johnny Thunders would live until he’d get thrown out. A friend of mine who was foolish enough to stay there—and leave valuables in his room—was ripped off badly. Trash and Vaudeville is still there. I used to walk past this place every single day. St. Marks Baths, the infamous gay bathhouse, was a few doors away and had a powerful exhaust that smelled horrible blowing into the street.
 
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And these guys. New York City used to be FULL of these guys, “popeyes” as they were called, drunks so incorrigible that the gin drinkers’s eyes would pop out of their heads for a certain sort of look. Hence the name. In certain areas, there could be dozens of these fellows on every block letting it all hang out, so to speak. Times Square, 9th Ave., much of Lexington Ave, and especially on 14th Street and 3rd Ave., near the notorious Variety Photoplays grindhouse theater and The Dugout, the lowlife dive bar made famous in Taxi Driver—these were the places where the popeyes lived, but you never see guys like this in New York anymore. Not even on the Bowery.
 
Via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Andrew Logan: First look at ‘The British Guide To Showing Off’
10.21.2011
12:53 pm

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First look at the new documentary film, The British Guide to Showing Off, which celebrates Andrew Logan, artist, living legend and creator of the outrageous, anarchic and always spectacular Alternative Miss World Show.

The Alternative Miss World Show, is a pageant and fancy dress party for grown ups, launched back in 1972, it has involved the participation from the likes of Derek Jarman, Divine, Duggie Fields, Leigh Bowery, David Hockney, Richard O’Brien Zandra Rhodes, Molly Parkin, Angie Bowie and Grayson Perry over the years

“In The British Guide to Showing Off, director Jes Benstock takes us under Logan’s glittering wing to take a joyous look at this most quirky and exotic subculture event.

“Raucous, liberating and sexually charged, The British Guide to Showing Off speaks to the outsider in all of us. For anyone who has ever wanted to break out.”

The film goes on general release in the U.K. on November 11th, with special ‘Dress Up and Show Off’. Previews starting 6th November! See BritishGuideToShowingOff on Facebook for details or at the website here.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

O, You Pretty Thing: The Wonderful World of Andrew Logan


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Important Reminder: It’s the Rapture today!
10.21.2011
12:51 pm

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Belief

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Well, according to Harold Camping it is. And to think I almost forgot!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
New Rapture date predicted, just 11 days away!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Harry Smith: American Magus
10.21.2011
12:26 pm

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Heroes

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Artist, alchemical filmmaker, musical archeologist and avant garde shaman, Harry Smith’s obsessive interests made him an influential, yet not widely known, figure of 20th century Beat culture and beyond. If Smith was only responsible for preserving the folk and blues musical traditions of early America in his Anthology of American Folk Music set from 1952, we would have him to thank for providing a way forward for a young Bob Dylan and the whole of the 60s/70s folk scene.

But Smith was far more than that, he was a filmmaker of astonishing originality, making stop motion animations influenced by 19th advertising art and the elaborate Middle Ages alchemical paintings of Robert Fludd. When I first saw VHS dubs of Smith’s films in the 1980s, I was impressed of course, but as I later learned, in actual fact what I had seen was only a part of what Smith had intended. He made his films as magic lanterns, with several projectors running at once and spinning lamps complementing the central image. When I saw his restored masterpiece No. 18: Mahagonny at the Getty Center in Los Angeles a few years back, it struck me how difficult it must have been to sync up four projectors at once (and the musical accompaniment, a recording of Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny opera).

The restored version of Smith’s celluloid tetraptych was a marvel to behold, with all of the four images now perfectly in time to one another, and looking like a great psychedelic kaleidoscope of imagery taken around New York City, in particular the Chelsea Hotel and its bohemian denizens. Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and the Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin all make cameo appearances. Seen, digitally restored and as Smith had intended, it was simply breath taking.


Apparently Smith never met a drug he didn’t like and would take any pill, drink any drink, smoke any joint, or snort any powder offered him and he was not at all averse to huffing gasoline, it’s been said, when that’s all that was around. For long periods of time he lived off the kindness of others and borrowed lots of money he had no intention of ever repaying. Yet Smith himself was said to be generous to a fault. Strange anecdotes about Harry Smith abound, many of them collected in two books about him American Magus: Harry Smith (edited by Paola Igliori) and Think of the Self Speaking (edited by Rani Singh, who is Smith’s archivist). My favorite story about Smith is how, if he’d find a pair of glasses, try them on and could see out of them better than the ones he was wearing, he’d toss the old pair in the garbage. Smith also claimed that Aleister Crowley was his father. All in all, you could say he was a colorful guy.


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I am reminded of Harry Smith every day. I have one of the original Tree of Life prints that Smith made in the 1950s and gave as a gift to Allen Ginsberg. It’s still in the original brass frame that Ginsberg put it in. His handwriting is on the back in pencil along with a sticker from the Whitney. It’s in our dining room now.

In the last couple of years, New York-based artist M Henry Jones, who worked with Smith and continues to project Smith’s work as it was intended to be seen (click here for a short interview with Jones and some footage of one of his special Smith screenings. It’s really interesting to see, trust me) has put up a few fascinating videos of Smith being interviewed:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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