Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Ole Switcheroo - Volume 0000001

Jesus Christs, my mouth is on FIRE! As I type this gobbledy goop, I'm sipping a freshly made, good for you juice containing the luscious liquid of slaughtered beets, apples, tomato and lettuce, as well as an arseload of cayenne fucking pepper! You see, my soul mate Grimberly watched the doc “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” about the dude who changed his life for the better by juicing and immediately went out and bought us a top-of-the-line juicer so we could feel wondrous and potentially postpone our demise just a little bit longer. Instead of the suggested half teaspoon, this time ‘round I plunged a full tablespoon of the red devil shit into this bitch because, well, I wanted ta rollz hardcore. Now, I can’t feel my face, my poor tum tum hurts and my head feels like its just stepped into an Ulrich Seidel film. To your health!


El Yacht and I have officially started something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. No, I don't mean riding bikes naked through a park covered in peanut butter and screaming for the squirrels to “Come and get it!” I’m talking about the ole switcheroo. This involves selecting a specific movie for the other chump to watch that the chosen one has not seen. It can either be something you really want them to watch because you think they’d love it OR something you know they would absolutely hate and you’d like to torture them by forced viewing. Both parties must agree to watch the film in its entirety without fast forwarding. Then, at the end, you write a review with a synopsis of your thoughts. This is an awesome way to make someone finally check out something they’ve been meaning to see, or simply, a tremendous method to torment a friend. It can also work if you have an equal numbered chunk of pals. You can draw names and make it group effort. That is, if you internet nerds can manage to pull yourselves away from your frigging LARP fests.

To get things rolling, I chose the 1964 film The Naked Kiss for El Yacht. I truly dig the picture and figured he would too, but I also selected it to get a friend of ours to stop ridiculing him for having never seen a Sam Fuller film – someone who adores Fuller above all others. This particular guy is a walking noir encyclopedia who teaches on the subject and I plan on interviewing him for this very space in the future. El set me up with Lola Montes by Max Ophuls, a movie I have wanted to check out for a very long time. Here’s what we done went and thunk:

The Acid Kiss of Constance Towers.

American genre maverick Samuel Fuller has been on my radar for years, however, only recently did I finally 'seal the deal' and view his controversial masterpiece, The Naked Kiss. Released in 1963, the film is a pulpy, delirious slice of noir that completely retains its abilities to shock. I simply couldn't believe that what I was watching was forty-seven years old. Prostitution, pedophilia, and especially American hypocrisy are stingingly probed through an unerring, frenetic narrative and virtuoso editing.

I pride myself on possessing an extensive, if somewhat fractured knowledge of film history - specifically pertaining to badass women. All my life, I have worshipped the Fondas, the Charlottes, the Denueves; but only recently did I become aware of Constance Towers. At the eye of the storm is her monolithic performance as Kelly, the traveling champagne saleswoman whose checkered past is about to destroy a seemingly innocuous small town. Towers'portrayal of Kelly is deceptively complex, aptly bestowing her with attributes of deepest sympathy and hell-bent vengeance. Envision Charles Bronson as written by Margaret Laurence.

A twenty minute cross-section depicts Kelly as a resplendent Florence Nightingale conducting a choir of handicapped cherubs at the local hospital, and then as the wrath of moral decency, cooly marching into the local brothel to force-feed a lecherous madame the cash earned by a recently corrupted young girl. Memories of Johnny Guitar's fallen angels and spinster harpies are conjured, but Fuller one-ups Nicholas Ray by shrewdly combining them into one character; and Towers tackles it with aplomb.

As Kelly swiftly asserts her dual position amongst the townsfolk, she inevitably attracts male attention: first from the incognito sheriff, and secondly from the town-founder's surviving heir and eventual fiance, J.L. Grant (who bears more then a passing resemblance to Kenneth Anger). Kelly, of course, exposes Grant as a pedophile and kills him in a fit of shock and rage, explaining that he possessed the scent of a pervert - The Naked Kiss.

Needless to say, it's tough stuff that continues to resonate today, even if it's lead actress is all but forgotten. Whatever. There's a loyal contingent out there, adoring and convinced of Towers' astringent genius, waiting for her to receive the accolades she deserves.
-El Yacht

LOLA MONTES (1955) by Appaulled

This is a film that rises to the top section of many ‘Greatest Ever” lists so I eagerly anticipated my date night with Lola Montes. The movie was Max Ophuls first and last foray into the world of colour film (he died in ’57) and it was very quickly apparent to me why this picture is held in such high regard by so many. The look of this sucker kicked the feet out from under my lower jaw causing my tongue to dart helplessly around the carpet for a few minutes until I could get a grip and ram the slimy beast back into its filthy home. The cinematography and choreography were equally responsible for summoning this disgusting display. What didn’t just leave me winded, but choked me into submission, was the 3D-like depth of view featured in the opening scenes. Ophuls must have been both obsessive and a perfectionist to have managed to create such a show of visual art.

The many romances of cabaret dancer Lola Montes (as played by Martine Carol) are told in flashbacks and live action sequences performed by a kaleidoscopic circus. The ringleader (Peter Ustinov) sensationalizes the stories in the role of showman, the equivalent of a present day tabloid narrator. Montes and dozens of performers (including many a marvellous midget) act out the events.

As the stained sheet unfolds and we delve into Montes the woman, we only get so close. She appears strong yet fragile. Her many relationships and intimate encounters are brought to life for the eager paying attendants who revel in all the juicy, sordid details. With this comes a degree of sadness. Some of the acting can be overwrought and melodramatic but in the context of the film, this is really only a minor distraction. Lola Montes is a gorgeous Cinemascope dreamscape with breathtaking, lavish colour that is just so goddamn stunning. Criterion have made her available in a 2-disc edition and she knocked my holey socks clear off. Next up, The Earrings of Madame de…

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