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Keanu Reeves wants to blow your face off
09.20.2014
06:36 am

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Movies

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Keanu Reeves


 
When John Woo’s The Killer first hit American shores in 1990 its impact on hardcore film buffs was a bullet to the head. His influence on filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez is undeniable. Woo didn’t invent the “bullet ballet.” He admittedly took huge inspiration from Sam Peckinpah’s stylized death throes and slo-mo action sequences, but the Hong Kong director added a shitload of his own firepower and over-the-top choreography into the mix than film buffs had ever seen before. Woo absorbed and re-imagined the tropes of American westerns and gangster flicks and shipped them back to the States much in the same way the Brits took American rock and roll and revived it via The Beatles and The Stones.

Woo, like Sergio Leone, didn’t romanticize violence as much as poeticize it, transforming action films consciously into art from his own distinct perspective. He also injected the gangster genre with operatic soulfulness and a kind of cosmic existentialism. The results are thrilling, bloody, gorgeous and riddled with lead. Woo’s love of American musicals also gave his films a physical grace and energy that serves well the kinetics of violence. But unfortunately his influence became so pervasive and his style so re-cycled that film goers became jaded again. Tarantino did justice to his sources but most of those who followed in his tracks were hacks. After the umpteenth knock-off of Pulp Fiction in the form execrable turds like Boondock Saints and 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag, the thrill was gone. Even Woo couldn’t find a new angle.

In the past decade, the bullet ballets have been replaced by the slow shuffle of the living dead or the languor of the undead. While the zombies and vampires have taken over our TV screens, the fastest guns in the East have run out of lead. A few directors still occasionally deliver the goods – Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park and the venerable Johnny To – but the great wave of Hong Kong action movies has crested and film buffs in search of a next wave looked to be stone cold out of luck…or maybe not. With the arrival of John Wick we may have something to get excited about again.

John Wick may be the best Hong Kong-style gangster movie to be produced since Chow Yun Fat went hardboiled on our ass. Keanu Reeves is one bad motherfucker in the role of hitman/assassin John Wick. Little Buddha has gone ballistic. Ted’s newest adventure involves delivering 84 kills in 96 minutes…most of them direct shots to the face.
 

 
John Wick succeeds on just about every level. It looks great, has an amazing cast and not a single ounce of fat on its lean, mean celluloid body. If last night’s Fantastic Fest audience is any indication, this is the film that could reignite Reeves career big time and may very well kickstart a very cool movie franchise. A contemporary noir spin on Lone Wolf and Cub with Wick on an endless journey to clean up his ever-expanding bad karma. 

First-time directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch have taken a comic book approach to what is B-movie material and created an extraordinarily violent feel-good movie full of giddy energy, laugh-out-loud outrageousness and a glossy 90s vibe. In the center of it all is the silent but deadly Reeves, a Zen killer in Gucci suits who drives a fuel-injected ‘69 Mustang in Manhattan (!), has a soft spot for puppy dogs and a predilection for blowing people’s faces off.

But Reeves does a lot more than just sling guns. He’s a fighter and he’s amazingly agile in tightly choreographed scenes that obviously require actual martial art skills. Many of the fight sequences are filmed in long shots and Reeves is clearly doing his own stunt work. There’s no close-in quick editing to create the illusion the actor has fighting skills. And in what the directors humorously describes as “gunfu,” Reeves handles blue steel with the precision of a Benihana grill master.

As I watched John Wick, I thought of Reeves evolution from surfer dude/FBI agent Johnny Utah in Point Break to something closer to the relentless killing machine Lee Marvin played in Point Blank. It’s a transition that suits him. Reeves is no longer the cute and cuddly goofball with the I.Q. of a ham sandwich. In middle-age, he’s developed the cool, brooding intensity of a classic existential action hero. He may not be as brutal as Marvin, more like Clint Eastwood in the Leone films, but you still don’t want to fuck with him. This is an actor that used to be easy to make fun of. His apparent cluelessness invited it. But as John Wick, Reeves is someone you really don’t want to make fun of. Really. He just might blow your face off.

In addition to Reeves, John Wick has some stellar performances by Ian McShane, Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe and David Patrick Kelly. Marilyn Manson and Tyler Bates supply the soundtrack with an appropriately 90s retro feel. And it’s very cool to see a movie that takes place in New York City actually shot in New York City.

John Wick opens in the USA on October 24. I have a feeling it will be among my 10 favorite films of the year. It may not be great art, but it’s great entertainment and the kind of movie that I would have loved to have seen in a 42nd street grindhouse with a packed audience of people screaming at the screen: “Oh shit! Oh my fucking god. That motherfucker just blew the dude’s face off!!!”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Spy-Fidelity: Dean Martin and the sexy ladies of the ‘Matt Helm’ films
09.19.2014
04:09 pm

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Movies

Tags:
Dean Martin
Lalo Schifrin
Matt Helm
Ann-Margret


 
When I was a little boy, I used to love the Matt Helm films. Of all the sub-Bond spy movie imitators of the Sixties, I liked the Matt Helm series the most. They were flashy, colorful, cartoony and quite frankly, they were simple enough for a bright five-year old to more or less understand them. That’s how old I would have been when I discovered them. I thought Dean Martin was an actor who played Matt Helm, agent of I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter Espionage), first, and a singer second. “He sings, too?” was kinda where my kid’s brain took it, it was even more confusing for me when “Matt” would listen to Dino’s records in the films.
 

 
The Matt Helm movies were fairly frequent “Movie of the Week” fare on network television in the early Seventies. I’d watch them each time they aired. I even read some of Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm novels which you could always find at garage sales for a dime. They were much more serious than the Matt Helm films’ decidedly light-hearted approach. There were a LOT of them, here are some of the titles:

The Removers
The Shadowers
The Ravagers
The Devastators
The Betrayers
The Menacers
The Interlopers
The Poisoners
The Intriguers
The Intimidators
The Terminators
The Retaliators
The Terrorizers
The Revengers
The Annihilators
The Infiltrators
The Detonators
The Vanishers
The Demolishers
The Frighteners
The Threateners
The Damagers

There’s been a rumor for some time that Steven Spielberg wants to revive the series. I kinda hope that doesn’t happen. What’s the point after Austin Powers?
 

 
Dean Martin, as he pretty much did in nearly all of his movies, played a fictionalized version of himself—see Billy Wilder’s jaw-dropping Kiss Me, Stupid for the best (and most lurid) example— but in this case he was a jovial charming rogue of an alcoholic playboy super spy and not a jovial, charming rogue of an alcoholic playboy cowboy or a nightclub singer or airplane pilot, etc, etc. He was Dean Martin in James Bond drag, basically. And it worked. The Matt Helm films were some of the top grossing motion pictures of the Sixties. Even if they do seem dated, politically incorrect and sexist, they were really popular in their day.
 

 
The ladies of the Matt Helm films were truly impressive, let’s not forget about them. Some of the finest grade-A Sixties pulchritude to be found on the planet—Ann-Margret, Stella Stevens, the ultimate MILF Cyd Charisse (who was a very va va va voomish 45-year old when she made The Silencers), Sharon Tate, Tina Louise, Elke Sommer (how I adored her!) and Nancy Kwan (ditto!)—were all on the, uh, Dean’s list. You could certainly make the case that the Helm films rivaled the Bond films as eye candy for the male members of the audience. The ladies had Dino…
 

 
These pages are scanned in from Matt Helm promotional calendars from 1968 and 1969.
 

 

Tina Louise
 

Sharon Tate
 

Elke Sommer
 

Jann Watson
 

Alena Johaston
 

Penny Brahms
 

Marilyn Tindall

It’s interesting to note that although the Matt Helm series obviously grew out of a desire to copy the success of the Bond films with a home-grown Hollywood version (producer Irving Allen had fumbled the ball on Bond, having insulted Ian Fleming about his books potential as television projects), the James Bond franchise took on a decidedly Matt Helm-esque flavor during the Roger Moore years.

To get Dean Martin to star as Matt Helm, Allen was obliged to make him a partner in the film franchise. Martin ended up making more on The Silencers than Sean Connery made for playing James Bond in Thunderball. Soon after hearing of this, Connery renegotiated his deal.
 

Japanese Murderer’s Row poster

Below, Murderer’s Row with Ann-Margret and Karl Malden. Dig the FAB opening credits with a typically great score by spy-fi maestro, Lalo Schifrin.
 

 
Here’s a trailer for the film that is typical of the whimsical attitude of the Matt Helm films. Clearly the man don’t give a fuck!

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The time I met Dean Martin…’: A True Story

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Cycle Slut’ Barbra Streisand gets naughty in BDSM photoshoot, 1970
09.19.2014
08:25 am

Topics:
Movies
Sex

Tags:
Barbara Streisand


 
Holy hell! I had no idea Babs had it in her! Barbra Streisand looks absolutely crazy-hot here in a series of photos from a photoshoot she did for the 1970 film The Owl and the Pussycat. I mean, just look at her!

In the film, Streisand plays the role of “a somewhat uneducated actress, model and part-time prostitute.” Her character’s name is Doris. There’s a scene in the The Owl and the Pussycat where Doris’ love interest, Felix—played by George Segal—walks past an adult movie theater and is shocked to see that Doris is starring in a “porn” called Cycle Sluts. (I added the YouTube video at the very bottom of the post so you can see what I’m talking about. It’s very short.) In the brief scene you see Felix’s mortified face staring at the posters for Cycle Sluts which features Doris and a few pals in somewhat “naughty” BDSM-type poses.

Annnnnd, that’s where these photos came from. They were basically shot for a prop in a brief scene. It was driving me nuts. My husband suggested that they might’ve been from a Playboy magazine spread promoting the film, but no, in actual fact, they were props.

In other news, La Streisand is about to become the only person to score a number one album for six consecutive decades with the release of her upcoming album, Partners which is expected to top the Billboard 200.

PS - It took me forever to find these images on the Internet. They weren’t that easy to locate. I actually found a few on a fetish thread for dudes who like dominatrixes with big noses. That’s a specific fetish. A new one on me!


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘The Pharmacy’: A Nick Cave-themed show with Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos & ‘20,000 Days on Earth’


 
Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

It’s a Nick Cave-themed episode this time with Bad Seeds drummer Jim Sclavunos and 20,000 Days on Earth directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

Sclavunos has played with The Cramps, Sonic Youth, and Lydia Lunch and he learned studio production from Big Star’s Alex Chilton. He’s also got a great story about Lux Interior meeting Iggy Pop.

Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard discuss the making of 20,000 days on Earth and working behind-the-scenes with Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue.


 
Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.

Setlist:

Intro
Depth Charge Ethel - Grinderman
Soupy - Maggie Thrett
Intro 1/ El-Die-Bie! - Rx / Dave Pike Set
Jim Sclavunos Part One
Loose - The Stooges
Taking Too Long - The Wipers
Shadazz - Suicide
Intro 2 / Cavern -  Rx / Liquid Liquid
Jim Sclavunos Part Two
Diddy Wah Diddy - 8-Eyed Spy
I Can’t Stand Myself - James Chance and the Contortions
Sunshine of Your Love - Spanky Wilson
Intro 3 / Jesus - Rx / The Gospel Surfers
20,000 Days on Earth - Iain and Jane Part One
A Dead Song - The Birthday Party
Neat Neat Neat - The Damned
My Tulpa (Rx Edit)  - Magazine
Intro 4 / The Noose - Rx / The Executioners
20,000 Days on Earth - Iain and Jane Part Two
The Witness Song (Excerpt) - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Jim Sclavunos Conclusion
Miniskirt Blues - The Cramps feat . Iggy Pop
Black Train - The Gun Club
Nobody’s City - Jeffrey Lee Pierce Project / Iggy Pop with Nick Cave (feat. Thurston Moore)
Intro 5 / GreyHound - Rx / The Nightmares
Buddy - Snapper
Damaged - Primal Scream
Outro

 
You can download the show in its entirety here.
 
Below, behind-the-scenes of 20,000 Days on Earth:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Watch Martin Scorsese’s bloody 1967 anti-Vietnam War short, ‘The Big Shave’
09.18.2014
05:17 am

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Movies

Tags:
Martin Scorsese


 
Prepare yourself for a little bit of gore, but make sure you don’t miss this one. Clocking in at under six minutes long, Martin Scorsese’s 1967 experimental short, The Big Shave is an amazing little film. Set to the sentimental jazz notes of Bunny Berigan’s 1937 rendition of “I Can’t Get Started” (a Ziegfeld Follies number with Gershwin lyrics), a young man enters the bathroom for a shave, only to nonchalantly gouge at his skin with progressively violent strokes of the razor. The resulting imagery is hypnotic.

Scorsese wrote the piece in the depths of a depression when he had difficulty shaving himself, and while it’s a simple enough concept, it was written as a fairly explicit political statement. Alternately titled Viet ‘67, the film was produced as a metaphorical protest against the Vietnam War—part of a weeklong production, “The Angry Arts Against the War.” 

The subversive metaphor and captivating depiction of self-mutilation won The Big Shave Le Prix de L’Age d’Or at the 1968 Festival of Experimental Cinema in Belgium.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Toke N’ Tusk: Kevin Smith’s new horror comedy aimed at stoners
09.17.2014
03:08 pm

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
cannabis
medical marijuana
Kevin Smith


 
Kevin Smith is a productive stoner. He learned the trait from Seth Rogen, and it is most evident if you have ever listened to his weekly smodcast where you can often hear the pull of a joint mixed in with endless ideas and frequent laughter. On one such episode, Smodcast #259 “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Smith created—from what turned out to be a fabricated British rental listing—the entire plot and premise for his daring new film Tusk, out in theaters September 19th.

Billed as a “transformational tale” where a man is involuntarily changed into a Walrus, Tusk gets about as far out of the normal as possible for a marketable motion picture. And the marketing department took that wildness as inspiration when developing their plan for Tusk, creating a side-project called Toke N’ Tusk which includes the first-ever marijuana tie-in for a movie. Two strains of “Tusk-inspired” weed, “Mr. Tusk” and “White Walrus,” are being packaged and sold in contrasting canisters at Buds & Roses in Los Angeles, California through September 26th. The idea for this promotion being that sometimes seeing a film through a different lens can produce dramatic results.
 

 
Starring Justin Long as Wallace Bryton, a rising star in the podcast world who heads off on his own to Canada to interview an overnight YouTube sensation, Tusk begins as a bright and comedic movie. In the opening minutes you’re momentarily convinced into thinking that you are watching a classic Kevin Smith film. The laughter is brief however, and the tale quickly turns dark after unforeseen circumstances require Bryton to change his plans, salvaging his journey to the Great White North by following a promising lead deep into the heart of Manitoba. It is there inside a grand house tucked away in the woods, that the audience is introduced to the curious and uncomfortable world of Howard Howe, brilliantly played by Michael Parks.

Over the course of an evening and a long cup of tea, Bryton is regaled with stories from this old seasoned traveler, who he learns he had lived alone on an island for three years with only a walrus who saved his life to keep him company. Affectionately referred to as “Mr. Tusk,” this walrus had quite an impact on Howe, and he yearns to be reunited with his old friend. Eventually Bryton passes out due to a heavy drugging from Howard Howe, and upon finally waking up becomes a clueless hostage in misery. This moment is when real story begins. With an awesome surprise performance by Johnny Depp as Inspector Guy LaPointe, and generous support by the striking Genesis Rodriguez and grown-up Haley Joel Osment, Tusk crosses the line between horror and comedy again and again. Similar to the effects of a very strong strain of pot that one perceived as weak, Tusk leaves its viewer unsure as to whether they should lean back and laugh or just sit slightly forward in shock, uncomfortable in their seat. This up-down trajectory is what makes Kevin Smith’s return to film outstanding. It’s totally unexpected.

Tusk is in theaters this Friday, September 19th
 

Posted by Sponsored Post | Discussion
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Sweet dreams: Horror movie pillows
09.17.2014
07:47 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
pillows
horror movies


 
The good people at Horror Decor have a line of printed pillows that are absolutely fabulous. The square ones come in small and large and cost $14 and $20, respectively; not all pillows come in both sizes. The rectangular ones cost $16.

They have many other pillows not shown here, including Jaws, Dead Alive, The Amityville Horror, and many more.

I love that they went the extra mile and made a pillow for The Stuff, which is a movie I haven’t thought about in twenty years.

They have a lot of other great horror knickknacks, like candles, placemats, pot holders, and the like, so be sure to click around.
 

The Thing
 

Night of the Living Dead
 

They Live
 

The Exorcist
 

Beetlejuice
 

The Shining
 

Hostel
 

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
 

Nosferatu
 

The Stuff
 

Poltergeist
 
Below, the trailer for Larry Cohen’s monster frozen yoghurt indie horror comedy, The Stuff:

via Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Own Peter Fonda’s chopper from ‘Easy Rider’


What the hell is wrong with FREEDOM, man, that’s what it’s all about!

The US flag-festooned motorcycle Peter Fonda rode as “Captain America” in the landmark 1969 film Easy Rider is going up for auction next month. Via seattlepi.com:

The customized Captain America chopper Peter Fonda rode in “Easy Rider” has come to symbolize the counterculture of the 1960s. Now it’s for sale.

The auction house Profiles in History told The Associated Press that it estimates the Harley-Davidson will bring $1 million to $1.2 million at its Oct. 18 sale being held online and at its galleries in Calabasas, California.

The seller is Michael Eisenberg, a California businessman who once co-owned a Los Angeles motorcycle-themed restaurant with Fonda and “Easy Rider” co-star Dennis Hopper. Eisenberg bought it last year from Dan Haggerty, perhaps best known for his roles in the “Grizzly Adams” TV show and movies, who was in charge of keeping the custom-designed bike humming during the 1969 movie’s filming.

Four motorcycles were created for the movie, but only one is known to have survived. It was used in the climactic crash scene in which Fonda is thrown off the bike.

After the film was finished, Hopper told Haggerty to keep it. Haggerty rode it often, an experience he likened to “going out with Marilyn Monroe.” Parting with it was like having a “child finally getting married and moving away and starting a new life on their own.”

 

 
The film, of course, remains a must-see even today, as its themes of seeking fulfillment outside the system, the death of idealism, and the paradoxes of freedom resonate well beyond the social context of the late ‘60s, and its soundtrack is packed with classic songs.

Now its central symbol can be a trinket for some extravagantly overpaid fund manager dickweed with seven figures to burn on an adolescent fantasy. AMERICA FUCK YEAH!
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
The Electric Cinema Acid Test: the trippiest movies ever made
A slightly bombed Dennis Hopper bemoans the fate of his feature ‘The Last Movie’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Kenneth Anger: Film as Magical Ritual’: Jaw-dropping German TV doc from 1970
09.16.2014
03:06 pm

Topics:
Movies
Occult
Television

Tags:
Kenneth Anger


 

“Magick is action. Mysticism is a withdrawal from action”

If you’re a Kenneth Anger fan, be prepared to be seriously blown away by this astonishing German television documentary from 1970 that shows the master at work on Lucifer Rising. It’s fun to ponder, as you watch, what the average German must have thought about this film, which doesn’t flinch from presenting some of the most outrageous ideas and imagery ever to be broadcast to an entire (unsuspecting) nation. It’s magnificently freaky stuff.

Not only would this have been the first look the world would get of Anger’s magnum opus (which he is seen shooting Méliès-style in a tiny space) there are substantial excerpts from Fireworks, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Rabbit’s Moon, Puce Moment, and Invocation of My Demon Brother, which showed hash smoking (and cocks!) on TV. It’s impossible to imagine something like this ever getting on television in America 44 years ago, but I don’t think the BBC would have touched something this insane at the time, either.

As filmmaker Reinhold E. Thiel admits in his voiceover, it was Anger directing himself that they got on film. As he states, Anger really wasn’t that into allowing them to film him in the first place, but when he did relent it was on his terms. Anger’s interview segments were shot as he sat behind a makeshift altar, lit in magenta and inside of the magical “war gods” circle seen at the end of the film.
 

 
Of special note is we see Anger flipping through his “Puce Women” sketchbook (he’s an excellent illustrator) of his unmade tribute to the female archetypes of Hollywood’s golden era and the architecture of movie star homes (This notebook was on display at the Anger exhibit at MOCA in Los Angeles). Anger is also seen here shooting scenes with his Lucifer, Leslie Huggins (both interior shots in Anger’s makeshift studio and among the stones at Avebury) and with the adept in the war gods circle. Oddly, we can hear what the adept is saying (“Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”) whereas in the final film he just seems to be muttering something mysterious when Lucifer appears.

Anger discusses his Aleister Crowley-inspired theories of art: How he views his camera like a wand and how he casts his films, preferring to consider his actors, not human beings but as elemental spirits. In fact, he reveals that he goes so far as to use astrology when making these choices.

This is as direct an explanation of Anger’s cinemagical modus operandi as I have ever heard him articulate anywhere. It’s a must see for anyone interested in his work and showcases the Magus of cinema at the very height of his artistic powers. Fascinating.
 

 
Thank you Spencer Kansa, author of Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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20,000 Days On Earth: The agony and ecstasy of Nick Cave


 
20,000 Days On Earth combines documentary footage with scripted scenes to chronicle 24 hours in the fascinating life of modern renaissance man Nick Cave. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard and co-written by Cave, the film has great energy and Cave comes off as one would suspect: mysterious, devious and hugely charismatic. What might come as a surprise to some viewers is Cave’s self-deprecating humor and the deeply spiritual yearning that pulses in the heart of his art. Cave is a man who utilizes the forces of his creativity, particularly rock and roll, as a means to connect to human energy and to transcend it.

At a recent concert in Austin, I saw a side of Cave I hadn’t seen before, a certain humility and need that manifested in an almost vampiric hunger for flesh to flesh contact with his audience. He literally bared his heart before his audience, asking them to place their hands upon his naked chest. The fire and brimstone preacher was displaying a supplicant’s self-immolation at the feet of his worshipers. The tables had turned, the wax was dripping up the candle. This aching need to be part of the world at large, to expand beyond the ordinary while maintaining his teeth in the tissue of the meat upon which he thrives results in a tension between the sacred and profane. 20,000 Days On Earth makes clear that the balance between dark and light is stabilizing in Cave’s life and the fearless provocateur is taking on some of the mellowness of a wise elder. The film is a lovely meditation on the risks and epiphanies involved when an artist puts himself as far out as they can go while still keeping time in the dance of life.

Here’s some recollections of Nick Cave and The Birthday Party’s first appearances in New York City. I think I got most of the details right.

When The Birthday Party first came to New York City in late September/early October of 1981 they were booked into several venues. The first was a shitty disco on Union Square called The Underground. I have no idea who was responsible for the booking but it was like hiring Aleister Crowley to do stand-up at a Catskills Hotel. The band plowed though three songs (“Big-Jesus-Trash-Can,” “Zoo-Music Girl,” “King Ink”) in front of a confused and hostile audience who were there to dance to a deejay spinning records by Donna Summer and The Village People. During “King Ink”, Nick leaped into the crowd and wrapped his microphone’s cord around a woman’s neck. The club owners immediately pulled the plug and the show ended.

Next night at The Ritz, Nick smashed his head into the snare drum, drew blood, and a panicked Ritz management killed the power to the stage. Big mistake. Those of us who gave a shit about such things, felt this confirmed that unless you were a major label act The Ritz was not an artist-friendly venue. The following night’s Birthday Party booking at The Ritz was cancelled.

Other NYC gigs included two at Chase Park, a former bank (I think) with a lousy stage set-up and bad sound. The first night at Chase Park was cancelled when only one person showed up. The band’s second booking at the club was not much better than the first. The band played to an audience of a couple of dozen adventurous souls, including Lydia Lunch. The vibe was nasty and the band seemed like they couldn’t wait to get the fuck outta there.

At this point, you had to wonder who was booking The Birthday Party into these godforsaken nightclubs when CBGB and Max’s (on its last legs) were just around the corner? In the case of The Underground, it was Rudolf Pieper and Jim Fouratt expanding their reach beyond their legendary venue Danceteria. One night a week they booked The Underground with a New Romantic theme. But alas, The Birthday Party was to Duran Duran and Modern English what moonshine is to mimosas.

It wasn’t until their performance at The Peppermint Lounge on Oct. 4 (a Sunday night) that The Birthday Party played an entire set in a venue that was suited to their music. Yet even the Pep didn’t seem to know who the fuck Nick and the his posse were (check the ad below).But despite a small crowd, the band were explosive and I was there to experience it. The power, intensity, humor and theatricality of The Birthday Party was simply jaw-dropping and forever made me an admirer of the group, particularly the young Mr. Cave. While the entire band were extraordinary (I was particularly fond of bass player Tracy Pew, R.I.P.) it was Cave that shone brightest (or perhaps darkest) - brilliant, possessed, a madman out on the edge not looking back. Even in ‘81 at the young age of 24, Nick was drawing down some serious voodoo, scraping the shit of the marvelous off the bottom of his shiny black shoes.
 

What’s up with the question marks?

Later, after the show, Cave sat alone at the bar slouched over a drink. I joined him and we talked. He looked younger than his years, was soft-spoken, welcoming, and unassuming. We spoke about writers we liked - Rimbaud, Burroughs, Bukowski - the usual suspects. For the short time we chatted, I felt that this was a man that I could grow to like a lot. And I have. Like all great artists I love, Cave has kind of entered my DNA. He’s one of those rare creative people who continues to surprise and amaze me, who challenges me and compels me to dig deeper into that dark rich soil where art grows, where visions sprout and and bears seeds - both good and Bad. Long live Nick Cave.

20,000 Days On Earth works as a cinematic diary that flows in and out of dream. Late-night scenes of Cave driving around his home of Brighton have the cold, doomy clarity of a J.G Ballard literary riff echoing off the concrete urban desolation of a Wim Wenders’ film. But the chill is broken by whimsical flights of magic realism like when Cave visits collaborator Warren Ellis in Ellis’s Hobbit-like cottage overlooking the white cliffs of Dover. And the sudden, almost ghost-like, appearances of Kylie Minogue, Ray Winstone, and Blixa Bargeld. The movie gracefully bends time and memory into something like a living moment where all points come back to Cave’s sensing himself in the ever-present everythingness of now. Does it matter what is real or not? This is not a strict memoir. It is the person coming into being through his own creation.

Nick Cave has done something quite remarkable in the this day and age of rock bands that disappear as quickly as ice on a hotplate or those that have lingered far too long only to embarrass themselves in their utter irrelevance - he has stayed interesting. Through all of his permutations, experiments and chance-taking, Cave has, like the title of his song, pushed the sky away, not allowing even the heavens to bear down on him.

20,000 days on Earth? Who cares about time when the moment is so filled with wonder? Who cares about linear abstractions when every non-existent nano-second is laced with memory and desire? Cave has not mistaken the face of the clock for fact. He sees it for what it is. A circle. It’s not real, it’s a reel. Like film. Like your eye. Like that circular mark on your neck: that blood-red spot, that memory of a mouth, of love, of death.

20,000 Days On Earth begins its theatrical run this month. Click here for showtimes.

Cave discussing his new film:
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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