A few weeks back, regarding Jacques Demy’s Model Shop, I wrote about my fascination with the great European directors crossing the Atlantic to reign in and make sense of ‘60s America. Resigning himself to merely making a film called Made In U.S.A., Jean-Luc Godard resisted the impulse. Michelangelo Antonioni, most spectacularly with Zabriskie Point, did not.
As hatched by a team of writers that included Sam Shepard, and wife of Bernardo Bertolucci, Clare Peploe, the plot of Zabriskie Point wasn’t terribly complex. Rebel Angelenos (my favorite kind!) Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette (who go, in the film, by their real names), hook up in the desert, have sex in the sand, then separate to meet their own explosive ends.
More complex, though, was the anger and confusion the film provoked at the time. Typically gorgeous cinematography aside, cineasts looking for a worthy philosophical successor to Blow-Up were left disappointed by Zabriskie’s relatively unnuanced take on capitalism. Hollywood watchers were appalled that Antonioni squandered so much time and money ($7 million in 1970 dollars) on something that, despite it’s notorious “desert orgy” sequence, managed to rake in barely a million hippie-box-office dollars.
Fortunately, 5 years later, Antonioni secured cinematic redemption with The Passenger. Daria Halprin acted in only a handful of films, but went on to become, briefly, Mrs. Dennis Hopper. After her marriage to Hopper fizzled, Halprin developed an interest in art therapy, and now, with her mother, runs Marin County’s Tampala Institute.
The future was far less kind to Mark Frechette. You can read the Rolling Stone article about his “sorry life and death” here, but the shorthand goes like this:
He was the apparent victim of a bizarre accident in a recreation room at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk, where Frechette had been serving a six- to 15-year sentence for his participation in a 1973 Boston bank robbery.
Frechette’s body was discovered by a fellow inmate early on the morning of September 27th pinned beneath a 150-pound set of weights, the bar resting on his throat. An autopsy revealed he had died of asphyxiation and the official explanation is that the weights slipped from his hands while he was trying to bench press them, killing him instantly.
What the above leaves out, though, is that prior to his incarceration, Frechette was living in a commune run by American cult leader Mel Lyman. The entirety of Frechette’s Zabriskie earnings were tithed to Lyman’s “Family,” and it’s presumed that whatever money Frechette hoped to abscond with post-robbery would have wound up there as well.
Before all this, though, back when television talk show guests could still indulge in a cigarette, Halprin and Frechette found themselves—along with Mel Brooks and Rex Reed—on The Dick Cavett Show.
As you can watch below, Cavett had yet to see Zabriskie Point—and Frechette makes him pay for it. In defending Lyman, Frechette also goes on to argue the fine line between “commune,” and “community.”
Trailer for Zabriskie Point: Where A Boy And A Girl Meet And Touch And Blow Their Minds!
From the band’s website:
A feature length documentary film telling the story of blur is due for cinema release on January 19th. “No Distance Left to Run” is directed by 32 (Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace) and is a Pulse Films Production.
Filmed throughout the band’s 2009 rehearsals and acclaimed summer tour, No Distance Left To Run finds all four members of blur together for the first time in nine years. With previously unseen archive material alongside new interviews and reportage, the film recounts the highs and lows of a very British band from the late 80’s return to their headline at Glastonbury and Hyde Park, The result is a musing on Englishness and identity and a portrait of friendship and resolution.
(via Nerdcore )
Here’s what the organizers have to say:
International in scope, “Ultra Fabulous, Beyond Drag: Part Deux” is a a celebration of gender identification—featuring androgynes, the transgendered, drag queens and tranimals… Going way beyond the boas, glitter and whip-smart sass, it aims to showcase a new filmic genre ?
My earlier detour to Tosh Berman’s site tipped me off to the forthcoming Serge Gainsbourg bio-pic. Forthcoming in France, anyway—I’m not exactly sure when Serge Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life will see its American release. Judging from the following NSFW-ish trailer, though, the casting seems pretty spot-on, and forget it’s all in French: much like Serge’s music, it doesn’t need much in the way of translation.
Another fantastic find, courtesy EggCityRadio, Gerald Busby‘s scary-as-shit, flute-heavy soundtrack to Robert Altman‘s 3 Women. Along with The Long Goodbye and McCabe & Mrs. Miller, 3 Women definitely makes my “classic” Altman shortlist. That’s not to say, of course, I don’t love MASH, or Nashville, or even Short Cuts, but I think those larger, “tapestry” films play far more to the head than they do the heart.
What’s 3 Women all about? Well, imagine Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance played out in Palm Springs with James Fox and Mick Jagger swapped out for Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall. If it unfurls like a dream, that’s probably because Altman dreamed the movie first, turned it into a screenplay, then proceeded to shoot something he was still himself just sorting out. But, hey, maybe that’s how you made masterpieces back in the ‘70s? The trailer for 3 Women follows below:
Bonus I: 3 Women Part I
Bonus II: The Life & Times of Gerald Busby
I caught up over the weekend with first time writer-director Ronald Bronstein‘s almost unbearably bleak Frownland, and still can’t seem to shake it. Bronstein describes his ‘09 film (whose title comes from the Captain Beefheart song) as “a rotten egg lobbed with spazmo aim at the spotless surface of the silver screen,” but even that fails to do justice, I think, to its no-mercy depiction of Keith Sontag’s (actor Dore Mann) spiral downward into “burbling troll-dom.”
And as hard as this might be to imagine, I think far more light creeps into the black-and-white world of David Lynch‘s Eraserhead than the colored, albeit grainy, one of Frownland. In fact, compared to the almost terminally lonely Sontag, Lynch’s social misfit Henry Spencer comes off with all the charm and poise of Rex Harrison’s Henry Higgins.
No one is particularly likable, here. In fact, the entire cast is loathsome. But. BUT…the performances are across-the-board astonishing. As The New Yorker’s Richard Brody writes, “If there?
George Lucas could hardly have been luckier when he secured the talents of the mighty Walter Murch for his first feature film, THX 1138. Renown for both his sound design and editing chops, Murch’s resume reads as long as it is Coppola-impressive: Godfather I and II, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation. In that last film in particular, Murch’s wizardry conjures up a sonic landscape that’s as dense and bewildering as Gene Hackman’s San Francisco.
Murch co-authored with Lucas THX 1138, and engineered its complex, way ahead of its time sound design. You can now hear it for yourself over at Egg City Radio, who’ve assembled a great compilation of THX 1138 audio highlights. Here’s what AllMovie says about the ‘71 film:
In a 1984-esque white-washed future underground dystopia where sexuality is banned, all humans sport shaved heads and the same shapeless outfits as they go about their work in a mandated state of sedation, listening to exhortations to ?
Meet the Cheech & Chong action figures as seen in their film Up In Smoke. Entertainment Earth is selling these awesome guys for $27.99 a set which includes “smokin” clothing and “appropriate” accessories.