I wonder if anyone has ever seen this film, The Beatles Meet Star Trek, which opened November 5th, 1976 at the Uniondale Mini Cinema in Uniondale, N.Y. From what l can gather, over at Temple of Schlock, this was either a mix of Star Trek bloopers and Beatles’ performances; or a cartoon fest of clips from the Trekkies and Fab Four’s separate animated series. Whichever, it would be good to find out if anyone has seen The Beatles Meet Star Trek, whether it was any good? and was it the first pop cultural mash-up?
Bonus: fan made slash clips of Beatles and Star Trek, after the jump…
With Alan McGee it’s difficult not to be inspired to go out and do something great, something daring, like he did with Creation Records and Poptones and all the bands whose music defines the past 3 decades. His infectious energy glows and inspires, it fills you with his rich enthusiasms for life.
Just now McGee seems to be everywhere: he is making a film called Kubricks with the artist Dean Cavanagh; he’s writing his memoirs; he’s curating a music festival in Japan for 2013; he’s working on an art exhibition with musician Alex Lowe of Gun Club Cemetery; he’s thinking about returning to making records because most of today’s music is “awful”; and he’s also studying Aleister Crowley and Magick.
‘For the last 5 years, I have been studying Crowley / Osman Spare and the Chaos Magickians. I got into Crowley because everybody told me not to go there so, of course, I did and ended up at Chaos Magick.
‘I 100% love Aleister Crowley. The Book of the Law is my Bible. I love him. Anybody that is still demonised by the media seventy years later had to be on it and he was. He was the ultimate libertarian.
‘I believe in the power of will. If I want something to happen it does. It always has and that was before I read Pete J Carroll. I really wanted Creation Records to become massive and to get the biggest band in the world and I did.
‘I wanted to become rich and I did, which sounds crass but I come from Glasgow we had fuck all, so having money interested me and still does.
‘If I really want something it comes to me. That was before I learned you can do it with technique, we all can read the right books and be very accurate in what I want to achieve.
This might sound like arrogance, but it’s not. It’s just said in a matter-of-fact way, without any sense of ego.
‘I am almost a hermit in Wales, then I go and DJ or give a talk or work with Takashi, my Japanese friend on Tokyo Rocks and I become the old Alan/Rock ‘n’ Roll Alan, which I also enjoy.’
Most recently he bought a church.
‘I bought this chapel in Wales, as all the pubs and churches are for sale, so I bought it for 33K, has its own graveyard, it’s pretty posh, so that should be fun. I live on a ley line in Hay-on-Wye, everything that happens here is charged. The chapel is more for doing stuff that local people can interact with long term. I know Primal Scream want to do playbacks there etc. so, it’s going to be fun.’
Last month he was producing his first feature film Kubricks, written and directed by Dean Cavanagh, starring Joanna Pickering, Matt Berry, Gavin Bain, Anton Newcombe and, of course, McGee.
Dean and Alan became friends around 2008, after working on the hit on-line comedy series Svengali, which has now been made into a movie.
‘We formed Escalier 39 as a film company to shoot some DIY films. We talk a lot on the phone and have a lot of the same political and spiritual views on things so the film company seemed obvious to us. It’s an experiment really, to see if we can make films together.’
He pauses when asked what his role is in Kubricks.
‘Good question. Maybe as agent provacateur.’
Kubricks was shot over an ‘exhausting’ 5 days and is currently being edited. It’s tag-line is ‘Everything Is Synchronicity…Even Chaos!’ and is a new map to the world Kenneth Anger once filmed (‘I love Kenneth Anger…he’s an amazing dude’) of Magick and Art. Though McGee puts it more bluntly:
‘I could say meta-physics, but the truth is we don’t really know, which is why we did it.’
Kubricks will released next year, which brings us to McGee’s next project, his return to music after his “retirement” five years ago, which led him to believe he had given muisc up completely. But the cancer of mediocrity spread by Simon Cowell and the piss-poor quality of current chart music has led McGee to rethink things, especially after an offer to organize music festivals in Japan.
‘Recently I have been helping curate stadium festivals in Tokyo for 2013, and I am enjoying it. So maybe I am moving back towards music. I don’t know, to be honest.
‘I do like films and books more than working with music but I find music easy to do, I sort of understand the music process and always have done.
‘I think music is awful at this point and it’s deliberate. Music is such a strong thing, with the message and the vibration and they want it now to be shit so it loses its impact on people. They are great bands around but they just are basically marginalised till they give in.’
Next up, is an exhibition with Alex Lowe, and another film with Cavanagh set in the recently acquired church..
‘Dean is already writing a script about the chapel, but to be honest we both have too many ideas.’
I probably owe Terry Gilliam money. I nicked his book Animations of Mortality when I was a kid as I wanted to improve my skills at drawing cartoons. Gilliam’s work was a big influence, (along with Ronald Searle and Ralph Steadman), and I spent hours perusing the pages of my pilfered goods, learning how to create art from a Master
What joy, therefore, to find Mr Gilliam’s daughter Holly has started a blog uncovering her father’s brilliant work, uploading discoveries on an almost daily basis.
Since October last year, Holly has undertaken this mammoth task of organizing her father’s archive:
....all his work from pre-Python days, as a cartoonist, photojournalist & assistnat editor for Help! magazine, through all his original artwork and cut-outs for Python animation, posters, logos and generally everything Python, to his storyboards, designs and sketches for his feature films and other non-film related projects (including his opera of “Faust” and that infamous Nike commercial). Why!? Because I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by my father’s amazing work all my life and I think it should be seen by everyone so I am organising the archive so it can eventually be put in a book and an exhibition.
Holly is to be commended for this fabulous undertaking and I’m more than delighted she is sharing her father’s spectacular art works, and am now certainly willing to cough up the five quid owing on the book.
I’d like to wish Mick Jagger a happy 69th birthday by sharing one of the most electrifying rock ‘n’ roll moments in cinema: the “Memo From Turner” scene in Donald Cammell’s mindbending masterpiece Performance.
A moment of Hollywood cool. Steve McQueen had already made 2 episodes of Alfred Hitccock Presents, and was about to start filming The Magnificent Seven, when he visited Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh on the set of Hitchcock’s Psycho. I wonder what they were talking about?
Experimental film maker Gerard Courant has taken Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless and sped up it (or compressed it as he prefers to call it) into a four minute movie.
The French title of Godard’s debut film is À bout de souffle which translates to English as “out of breath.” Courant’s compression is most likely a play on the title.
What I find interesting about the compression is the way it brings Godard’s style and the American noir films he was inspired by to the foreground. The nervous energy of the film, the pans and tracking shots, cigarettes smoked, automobiles in motion, zooms, jump-cuts, and close-ups, all create an angular yet fluid motion that seems driven by forces of destiny - the movie is tumbling into a dark void of betrayal and its opposite - yin and yanging to the beat beat beat of a heart in the throes of atrial tachycardia. No time to catch your breath - you’re breathless.
Fucking with Godard’s masterpiece is very Godardian.
If, as Godard claims, “cinema is truth at 24 frames per second” what is cinema at 524 frames per second?
I can’t exactly remember the first time I saw or became aware of Chesty Morgan. Which is odd, especially since she is best known for her strange assortment of bad wigs and a 73-inch, all natural bust line. It’s like she has always been a part of my life. Like one stoic, large breasted angel, whose face vacillates between confused and languid in Doris Wishman’s surrealistic exploitation film, Deadly Weapons.
Lest there is any question about what type of titular weaponry we are talking about here, the first 30 seconds will immediately set you straight. After a few seconds of some groovy, 60’s rock, a loud drone type noise emerges and then suddenly there’s Chesty, or Zsa Zsa, as she is billed in the film, with her arms outstretched like a menacing breasty crane. The rock soundtrack comes back and then we are treated to Chesty Morgan admiring and vaguely fondling her breasts in a series of modern type, circular mirrors. The psychedelic fun house effect, while maybe not the most sexy thing in the world, is great and fitting. (After all, Deadly Weapons is a keen example of a sexploitation carnival ride, so grab a ticket, strap on your lap-belt and enjoy!)
Chesty stars as Crystal, a successful advertising executive who loves chunky shoes, pantyhose and her jocular, hairy chested lover, Larry (Richard Towers). While the affection is very much shared, Larry’s tied up with some very shady, underworld types, often flanked by Tony (the great Harry Reems) and a balding gent with an eye patch (Mitchell Fredericks) that goes by the name Captain Hook. They pull a hit on one well-connected man, with a powerful little black book. Larry finds it first and slips it into his jacket, in effect pulling a silent double cross on his partners. As you can imagine, his plan does not flesh out well and once he is found out to be a fink, they ice him.
Crystal, through some bad cosmic lattice timing, ends up hearing the whole thing over the phone. But not without overhearing such key details like the fact that Hook is fleeing to Vegas and has a weakness for burlesque dancers. This is good to know, but before our uber-cleavagey heroine can commence on her plan for revenge, we get treated to a long, strange, dream-like sequence including one stupendous shot of Crystal’s tear streaked breasts super-imposed over a blue pool. It’s absurd in its wonderment and wonderful in its total ridiculousness.
Up next, she’s off to Vegas and tries to get a job at one of the more unseemly burlesque houses. The sleazy manager, a man that undoubtedly reeks of stale cigars and Hai Karate, has no interest in the persistent gal in the strangely frumpy top. That is until she unleashes her fleshy pulchritude, resulting in both his eyes bugging out to a comical Tex Avery type sound effect. Of course, she gets the job. Crystal’s a hit immediately but has her striptease career cut short as quickly as it began, when she gets fired for rebuffing the sexual advances of her slimy boss. He does at least let her finish her shift. Feeling hopeless in her ability to catch Captain Hook, she starts to dance regardless and guess who shows up for the girly show?
Captain Hook is instantly smitten and takes her back to his room, only to get roofied and then smothered to death by her pendulous bosom of doom. Of course, not before unwittingly giving her information on the whereabouts of Tony. Will Crystal be able to fully avenge the death of her lover or will she become the victim of the ultimate double cross?
Deadly Weapons is one strange film, which was par for the course of the late, great Doris Wishman, the same woman behind Nude on the Moon and Bad Girls Go To Hell. On one hand, it is a completely, dyed-in-the-wool piece of cinematic ridiculousness. The rapt obsession with Chesty’s breasts permeates almost every frame of the film, but with the effect being less sexual and more surreal. Part of this is due to the somnambulist-esque performance of Chesty herself. She ranges at times between looking confused and tired but then peppers it with these odd attempts to make a sexy, licking-her-lips face. The bizarre fashion choices only add to this, whether it is the awkward silver wigs, secretary-type pantyhose or the occasionally frumpy blouses. Of course, she does don some legitimately burlesque type clothing for her act and in half of the film, she lounges around in a frilly pink number, but the whole thing feels more like some bosom-mad fever dream than anything else.
The crime elements add some pulp-style fun with the underrated Harry Reems being especially good as the murder-happy mook Tony. There’s an interesting and surprisingly bleak twist at the end, all adding up to one colorful cinematic oddity. Even better is that the company that has blessed us with this film, Something Weird Video, has recently released a triple feature on Blu-Ray that has Deadly Weapons, its sister film Double Agent ‘73 (which involves a camera being implanted into her breasts, all in the name of super-secret spy work) and the non-Chesty film, The Immoral Three. So if you love a little hi-def with your exploitation, then you will be as happy as a breast-obsessed lamb. Even if you think this is an awful film, you cannot deny the beautiful strangeness that is Deadly Weapons.
Gerard Courant’s Cinematon is a 175 hour long film comprised of 2,627 portraits (cinematons), each made from exactly one reel of three minute and 25 second 8mm silent film. They were shot between 1978 and 2012. Courant’s subjects vary from his close personal friends to artists in various fields, including actors, painters, film makers, as well as public figures known and not-so well-known.
Among the many directors that Courant has filmed are Samuel Fuller, Terry Gilliam, Jean-Luc Godard and Wim Wenders, to name just a few.
I’ve chosen a handful of my favorites to share with you. They can seen after the jump. Approximately 900 cinematons can be viewed here.
The entire collection of cinematons has been screened only twice and as a whole is the longest film ever made. I love many of these little vignettes because they’re so naked and at times you do feel as if you’re peering into the soul of the people on film. The natural lighting and silence contributes to their purity.
Of the cinematons I’ve seen, #264 is among the ones that delighted me the most, for obvious reasons. The subject is Galaxie Barbouth, the daughter of French actor Joel Barbouth, and she’s absoulutely wonderful. I believe this is Courant’s favorite.
Samuel Fuller, Sandrine Bonnaire, Derek Jarman, Terry Gilliam and Julie Delpy after the jump…
Clearly a labor of love by a fan who adores Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Greek director Nicholas Triandafyllidis’ I Put A Spell On Me manages to transcend the sort of cinematic mash note that directors who are too in awe of their subject tend to create. This documentary is the kind of testament Hawkins deserves - a solid and well-rounded film that features insightful interviews and great live performance footage. It’s unbelievable that no one thought of telling Hawkin’s tale before 1999, the year Triandafyllidis began filming his movie.
Documenting Hawkins’ tour of Greece, Triandafyllidis manages to capture Hawkins in full force and it’s hard to fathom that only four months after this concert footage was shot Hawkins would die of a heart attack in Paris at the age of 70.
Over the years the song “I Put A Spell On You” has sold over 18 million copies. But Hawkins never received any money for the tune because of the kind of dirty dealing that we’re all too familiar with when it came to record companies and how they treated Black artists. Arguably one of the most influential and pioneering figures in rock ‘n’ roll, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins never got his due. This documentary is a small step in the right direction in bringing attention to a legend. Too bad he wasn’t around to see it.
Jim Jarmusch, Bo Diddley and Eric Burdon add their invaluable perspective to the film.