Having just savoured Guy Ritchie’s film Rocknrolla made me deliberate on what films I’ve enjoyed these last three decades. I’m not a good movie goer in the flesh: I watched Cabaret 23 times; in the end the guy in front of me turned round to watch me recite every word of the script simultaneously with the actors. I can only apologise to those thwarted by my noisy enthusiasm.
Besides the music content, it was obviously the gay content that drew me. In the 1980’s I had not seen Rocky Horror Show on stage, even though it was playing live in Surry Hills while the musical Hair was on at the Cross. Once it became a Friday night, dress up film version ritual, it became part of my library, tho, I should have been one of its goth followers, doing the time warp again; perhaps its perversity was recognizable as a hippy’s optimism gone wrong.
Thereafter, the common motif was of space exploration: 2001. A friend boasted of having taken acid to watch Alien, not my level of brutality, a type of “mind has mountains/ exploration that I was never very good at. Close Encounters, Starman & Blade Runner were interesting; I preferred the latter 2. Starman was wide eyed cosmic fulfillment, while Blade Runner had the compacted script that appealed. Fountainhead, Repo Man, Valley Girl, Xanadu expanded the repertoire, Repo Man especially, for its unexpected twists & quirks of plot, & Zen-like philosophy, “repo man always intense”.
Wiki reviews has contributed the vocabulary I was looking for: these are all CULT movies. They go back tho, to Casablanca for a movie where every next line is a quotable quote; another with the quirkiest script is My Man Godfrey, directed by Gregory La Cava. Its attraction for me, beyond the speeded up script, was the social consciousness. Bell Book & Candle had a unique allure, mostly to the melody that accompanied the appearances of Pye Wacket. What was only subliminally noticeable was a painting of the cat, in that jumping dance that cats do.
Equally subliminal in the movie Being There was the graffiti on a street wall when Chauncey Gardiner is ejected from his home: : “America ain’t shit cause the white man gotta god complex”. Who thinks up this wisdom, and why aren’t they directing inter-stellar traffic?
Trust Me was an idiosyncratic movie about the art industry in LA, with Adam Ant as the newcomer Brit art dealer; it struck a chord since at that time a popular German expressionist painter was exhibiting paintings of upside down figures.
I’m asking myself tho, why I can’t include a movie by Pier Paolo Pasolini? Decameron, Gospel according to Matthew? Perhaps, Pasolini’s drive to combine social realism with its historical antecedants simply creates a fertile mush; by comparison Fellini is superficial but intoxicatingly spellbinding. Despite the above, Pasolini’s Teorema is a wonderful de-construction of an Italian upper-middle class family, how spectacularly they all go wrong at the hands of Terence Stamp, who retrospectively appears below in a magnificent Aussie film (an Abba turd).
Having again watched Rocknrolla, I commiserate with Guy Ritchie’s conundrum: how to write a script that is catchy but can be absorbed in one sitting. Perhaps there is in the movie something that supports the importance for me of materiality: it has to deliver a concept, but you, the audience have to be left wanting more. And the material world of the movie is one of concepts and dynamics as much as simple scene setting. At this level, Ritchie’s work was a masterpiece; in Oscar Wilde’s words, the good ended happily etc. Meanwhile, LOVED Mumbles’ question about “was it a slow dance?” at the gay club. How did I miss that throw away line at my first AND second viewings? The film is all throw away lines; it runs at THC speed, where you mumble but can’t really care what reaction your comments attract.
The voice over by the young rock singer delivers great meaning in the penultimate scene, when you realize how much he has seen as the gangsta’s son. Superbly well written; hope it was a commercial success.
My Man Godfrey
Bell Book & Candle
Rocky Horror Show
The Seventh Seal
Nine to Five
The Lost Boys
My Beautiful Laundrette
Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Shakespeare in Love
Housos v. Authority
It’s a ladder of threads that indicate my visual directions.