April 14th, 2004


Lock Them in the Shithouse

It looks like Mr Handy might be heading over the UK in June. According to a recent email, he's been out in Hollywood hawking his creative ass. Arse. I'm sure a man walking around with an ass in LA might find it hard to get past gate security, no matter how good it might be at action painting, hula dancing or whatever the West Coast zeitgeist might be fixed upon at the moment. No, I'm delivering it for Val Kilmer. Who knows, post-Passion, there might be a spate of Biblical filmmaking that requires the ready availability of large quantities of ass, but I wouldn't put it past some current directors to swap them for fur-covered Segways. We'll do the rest in CGI. I'm sure it wasn't like this is David Selznick's day. Was anything?

Handy wrote that the visit had given him some insight into how an inspired idea gets reamed and watered down to the point of uselessness. I tried to watch a film yesterday with this in mind, namely Sign of the Killer. I'd seen a preview on some other DVD and it looked fairly bad, but given that the shop was still in a post-Easter state of emptiness I thought I'd give it a go. I could just about imagine a good film being made out of it, but it would have required a new cast, crew, script and, most tellingly, a different story.

In the film, Samuel Jackson plays a former Julliard piano student who goes mad and ends up homeless in some fake cave in a NY park. He finds a body, investigates the murder, discovers the killer and, in the process redeems both himself and the relationship with his family. I can't be bothered to go into the many problems with this story, but having the family move out into the cave with him at the end of the film would have been a nice touch. Jackson's character is apparently some non-specific schizoid type and prone to delusions, chiefly about a character/entity called Stuyvesant who inhabits the upper floors of the Chrysler building and broadcasts a secret TV channel to the city, in addition to emitting various coloured Y and Z rays to keep people in their place. Although Jackson is able to discuss the work of Scriabin, he doesn't seem able to come up with better terms than Y and Z for these rays...this film is brought to you by the letters...not to mention that the inside of Jackson's mind is some Gaudi-derived room with people in terracotta moth outfits playing brass instruments. That makes it sound much better than it is. Straight to video in this country.

Of course, the classic paranoiac depiction of invisible conspiring forces is fundamentally so much more believable than anything else in the film, but they fail to capitalise on this. You can see that someone may have made a change in the story to emphasise the redemptive aspect of caring for family. Curious also that a character obsessed with the power of skyline seems to have no part of his world view informed by the prominent lack of a World Trade Centre. Either the story was changed, or, no one though of making the story better. No, resuscitating this film would take too much effort. As it was they pitched it for the usual buttons of audience satisfaction and the film unsurprisingly bombed. Here's how I would have played it...hang on, I really can't be bothered to invest the effort. Sorry.

Later on I watched Party Monster, which I enjoyed but found sort of disturbing. Mostly because it made Macaulay Culkin seem sexually desirable. Obviously I need to get out more. The film was made and directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato who in a previous career were in a band called the (Fabulous) Pop Tarts. I've got a few records by them somewhere. They didn't make much sense outside the NY scene of the time, but I quite liked them. The Godfather met them years ago on a visit to the US. He'd been looking up an old friend called Dave Kendall. Cue parenthetical paragraphs...

Hahahaha. Dave was expelled from school and ended up presenting an MTV show called 120 Minutes, which was about the only US show featuring alternative music at the time. You can see what Dave has been up to on his website, aside from losing his Cockney accent that is. I guess we've all done that. Nice hair Dave. Anyway good to see you. I was drafted by Dave into seminal (as people wrote back in those days) post-punk act People Who Know Sarah Bowyer Quite Intimately as a bass guitarist. I can still remember some of his songs:

I walking through a sewer
It's called Leighton Park
The zombies whine in cliches
The obsession's being cool
The boys and girls are sexed up
And they giggle at each other
Attack and Destroy
Attack and Destroy

Played to a monotonous sub-PiL bass riff and Dave singing and doing his Keith Levene guitar bit over the top. Our first gig was supposed to have been at the Sixth Form disco, but a Ziggy-haired cunt by the name of...no, can't remember, he was a jazz funker, which sounds a bit like a insult, it should be...he had the right of refusal and we were pulled at the last minute. On the Saturday, Dave constructed some extreme vodka fuelled hostage situation and it ended with him threatening various lives and being tackled to the ground as he broke for freedom. Not before, if memory serves me correctly, getting the deputy headmaster to fall into an old cow ditch. It was the best gig I ever played and in some ways the best band. The latent content of the material was pretty much contained in those events. I think I met him once after that. I've just sent him an email. Not sure I'll send him the album though. Although I probably should. Many memories (or just the same one repeatedly) of spending break time loitering around his study and playing noisy music very loudly.

And there's nothing on the other side of the parenthesis.