Blue Velvet

Not rated yet!
Director
David Lynch
Runtime
2 h 00 min
Release Date
1 August 1986
Genres
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Overview
The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child.
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  • Blue Velvet: The Lost Footage
    1,580 words The Criterion Collection’s new Blu-ray of Blue Velvet contains 53 minutes of lost footage. Does this footage in any way alter my reading of the film’s psychological and political meaning? The short answer is no, but read on. Blue Velvet was released as a two-hour film, but originally it was about two hours […]
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • “Now it’s dark . . .” Blue Velvet
    4,969 words Jeffrey: I’m seeing something that was always hidden. I’m involved in a mystery. And it’s all secret. Sandy: You like mysteries that much? Jeffrey: Yeah. You’re a mystery. I like you. Very much. Blue Velvet (1986) is the quintessential David Lynch film, filled with quirky humor and shocking violence. It features one of […]
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Ten Favorite Films
    Vertigomovie_restoration

    [1]1,520 words

    Author’s Note:

    The following text is a scrap rescued from obscurity and buffed up a bit. In 2002, a reader of VNN suggested that the site’s movie reviewers post their “Ten Best” lists. I found it impossible to settle on just ten best films. So I decided to produce a “Favorites” list instead. I came up with more than thirty movies. These are films I like to re-watch and show to my friends. I think the list includes some of the best films ever made, but it also contains some that are pretty far from the best. So here are ten movies that are near the top of my favorites list.

    1. Network [2] (directed by Sidney Lumet, starring William Holden, Peter Finch, and Faye Dunaway)

    This is the best movie ever made. The story is wonderful, the script brilliant, the acting stunning, the satire cutting and hilarious, and the message serious and profound. Network shows how capitalism works in the realm of culture, how the culture industry works to debase public standards and corrupt public morals.

    The only real flaw of the movie is that it hides the role of Jews in the television industry and the general corruption of culture. The big villain is a blonde from the Midwest named Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) who somehow manages to corrupt, manipulate, and exploit the old-timers from the New York media (none of whom are portrayed as explicitly Jewish). The other villain, Mr. Jensen (Ned Beatty), also has a Scandinavian name. A former salesman from Oklahoma, Mr. Jensen has built a vast business conglomerate which has purchased the TV network of the title and wishes it to spread the Kojèvian gospel of the universal homogeneous consumer society.

    But it turns out that the network is not solely controlled by sinister Scandinavians. Some Semitic foreigners also want to buy in, so Howard Beale, the mad prophet of the airwaves, alerts America to the danger of the world’s most powerful tool of propaganda and brainwashing falling into the hands of . . . Saudi Arabians.

    These mounting absurdities should come as no surprise, though, given that the script was written by Marxist Jew Paddy Chayevsky.

    But greed alone—and therefore Marxism alone—is not enough to explain the behavior of the media. One can be a gentleman and a patriot and still make money. No, one must also add such elements as alienation from and hostility toward the dominant culture, boundless cynicism, and crazed, hate-filled ethnocentrism to the mix to explain the modern media. In short, one has to add Jews (and their spiritual kinsmen and collaborators).

    Favorite scenes: Howard Beale’s “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” speech; Mr. Jensen’s chilling “End of History”/”New World Order” speech; Mrs. Schumacher’s tirade to her cheating husband (four minutes of screen time that won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress); and any scene featuring the afro-headed, fried chicken slurping, gun firing, money-grubbing, bad-ass Commie Negroes Lorraine Hobbes and The Great Ahmed Khan.

    When is White America going to say, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”?

    2. Vertigo [3] (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak)

    This is the other best movie ever made, and in terms of sheer beauty, it is far superior to Network. The story of Vertigo is a tragedy worthy of Euripides. The film is visually stunning, emotionally wrenching, and beautifully acted, with magnificent music by Bernard Herrmann [4]. Vertigo is so effective that I have to let a couple of years pass between viewings. One minor pleasure is that Vertigo is set in my favorite American city, San Francisco, and environs, and gives a glimpse of what a paradise urban life was in America before racial integration and non-white immigration.

    3. Pulp Fiction [5] (directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring John Travolta, Bruce Willis, and Samuel L. Jackson)

    Yes, I like Pulp Fiction. Why? Because the post-modern, consumerist world is a sewer. Pulp Fiction is a cool, funny tour of that sewer. But it has a serious side. It shows us the qualities of character that either raise us out of the sewer or drag us further down into it. The movie is filled with situations demanding moral decisions. The characters who are ruled by their appetites (John Travolta’s Vincent Vega and Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace) make very different decisions and have very different fates than the characters who are willing to risk comfort, security, money, and even life itself in order to do what they think is right (Bruce Willis’s Butch and Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield).

    Don’t be put off by the Negro characters and the race-mixing. No portrait of the sewer would be complete without them. My favorite scene is when the black gangster Marsellus Wallace offers Butch the same deal that modern bourgeois society offers us all: abandon our pride, abandon our principles and we can have money, comfort, security. Your soul is a small price to pay for all that, isn’t it America? Most Americans seem to agree.

    [See my extensive review-essay on Pulp Fiction here [6].]

    4. Blue Velvet [7] (directed by David Lynch, starring Kyle McLaughlin, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, and Laura Dern)

    This is more than a movie, it is a myth: It is a coming of age tale, an initiation tale, a descent into the underworld and resurrection tale. Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle McLaughlin) discovers evil in society and the potential for evil in his own soul. He also discovers the artifices that we create to keep evil in check. And finds the strength in himself to do battle against it.

    Lynch is not arguing that the idyllic White America of Lumbertown is somehow a fraud because it has an evil underbelly. That is the common Leftist misunderstanding of the movie. Lynch thinks that evil is not a product of a particular social system that can be abolished by social reform. Evil is metaphysical and will always be with us, and social conventions and artifices like those of Lumbertown are justified by keeping evil in check.

    I have seen this movie 25 times, and I still find Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth absolutely terrifying. His performance is so compelling that he has been playing Frank Booth characters ever since!

    5. Ran [8] (directed by Akira Kurosawa)

    King Lear set in feudal Japan, Ran is pure poetry, one of the most beautiful movies ever made with exquisite music by Toru Takemitsu [9]. A lesson in Hobbesian political realism: authority without the ability to enforce it by violence is worthless; sovereignty is one and cannot be divided without lapsing into civil war.

    6. The Birds [10] (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starting ‘Tippi’ Hedren and Rod Taylor)

    Another Hitchcock masterpiece set in San Francisco and points nearby, I read this movie as an anti-feminist allegory by the most extreme misogynist in film history. Melanie Daniels (played by the exquisite ‘Tippi’ Hedren) uses her wealth and social status to violate the laws of nature. She is independent, mischievous, and sexually aggressive in pursuing lawyer Mitch Brenner (played by the extremely masculine Rod Taylor). The forces of nature, in the form of the birds, punish her for her independence, and every attempt at self-assertion is struck down, until by the end of the movie she is reduced to a state of battered, shocked, almost comatose dependence on Mitch.

    7. Sunset Boulevard [11] (directed by Billy Wilder, starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden, and Erich von Stroheim)

    Dark comedy or tragic satire about Hollywood and the corrupting power of fame and money, this movie features an extraordinary performance by washed-up silent movie star Gloria Swanson as washed-up silent movie star Norma Desmond.

    8. The Bridge on the River Kwai [12] (directed by David Lean, starting Alec Guinness and William Holden)

    This is a tragedy that Sophocles could have written. It is David Lean’s best film: the directing, script, acting, and music are all superb. Fans of Evola’s The Metaphysics of Sex will appreciate seeing his contrast between the higher, Uranian and lower, Tellurian types of masculinity exemplified by Alec Guinness and William Holden respectively. There is also a splendid score [13] by Malcolm Arnold.

    9. The Talented Mr. Ripley [14](directed by Anthony Minghella, starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cate Blanchett)

    I love this movie, and not just because I love its Italian settings. In spite of his being “a gay serial killer,” I found Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley a deeply believable, sympathetic, and moving character. Not only does Ripley have education and taste, he actually has a conscience, which is more than can be said for his first two victims. It is only because Ripley has genuinely good qualities that the movie turns tragic in the end as his powers of deception fail him, he thinks he is trapped, and he does not have the courage to come clean.

    10. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [15] (directed by Peter Jackson, starring Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, and Ian McKellen): See my review here [16], and my reviews of the subsequent movies here [17] and here [18]. The second movie in the trilogy, The Two Towers, turned out to be my favorite of the three.

    VNN, June 20, 2002

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 170 Greg Johnson & John MorganThe Films of David Lynch, Part 1

    [1]63:54 / 88 words

    Part 1 of 2

    To listen in a player, click here [2].

    To download the mp3, right-click here [2] and choose “save target or link as.”

    To subscribe to our podcasts, click here [3] for iTunes and here [4] for RSS.

    Greg Johnson and John Morgan discuss the films of David Lynch. Topics include:

    • Lynch as conservative
    • Lynch and Flannery O’Connor
    • Lynch and the grotesque
    • Lynch and the supernatural
    • Lynch and the police
    • Eraserhead
    • The Elephant Man
    • Dune
    • Frank Herbert’s Dune books and their philosophy
    • Blue Velvet
    • Lynch and sex
    • Lynch and gnosticism
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Mulholland Drive
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]1,709 words

    David Lynch is the greatest director working today, one of the greatest of all time. Mulholland Drive is his latest film. It is one of his best. Those who took their grandmothers to see Lynch’s last film The Straight Story should not take them to Mulholland Drive, which most closely resembles Lynch’s Lost Highway. Like Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive is filled with sex, violence, decadence, and dark humor. Both films have almost unintelligible plots. Both are set in Los Angeles. Both films are magnets for perforated misfits who think that Lynch is celebrating their own decadence and snickering along with them at wholesome, traditional White American values. In fact, however, Mulholland Drive, like all of Lynch’s movies, is a categorical indictment of the decadence of modern American society by a man who truly believes in traditional White American values.

    David Lynch would love to live in Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet‘s Lumberton. He would love to live in the world of Leave it to Beaver and My Three Sons. In Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and above all The Straight Story, he celebrates the independence, resourcefulness, and Eagle-Scout virtues of ordinary, sincere, straight-arrow Americans. But he knows that their world is constantly threatened by evil forces. These evil forces work through the channels of culture and politics, but they are not merely cultural and political. They are spiritual.

    Lynch is a modern day Manichean; a mystic who believes in the reality of the demonic, of evil forces that first enter and then dominate our souls through our vices, follies, and blind spots. These demonic forces are personified in different ways in different films: as The Man in the Planet in Eraserhead, which is the ultimate gnostic anti-sex film; as Killer Bob in Twin Peaks; as The Mystery Man in Lost Highway–and as The Cowboy in Mulholland Drive. Lynch even has developed a visual code to indicate the presence of these forces: smoke; flickering electricity; movie theater drapes, especially red ones (the Veil of Maya); freakish and deformed people; time that moves backwards or in loops; and all the machinery of Plato’s Cave–the stage, the screen, the movie studio, Los Angeles itself–that stands between us and the truth, that keeps us in bondage to illusion.

    So Lynch is a kind of religious conservative. But is he racially aware? I would venture to say: Yes. First, throughout his films, Lynch has cast very few Jews and non-Whites. Second, most of the non-Whites he has cast are criminals, lowlifes, and buffoons, e.g., Bob Ray Lemon, Reggie and the Mexican sisters Juana and Perdita in Wild at Heart and the two negroes working in the hardware store in Blue Velvet. The only exceptions that come to mind are in Twin Peaks: Deputy Hawk, an American Indian, and Albert Rosenfeld, a sneering, arrogant, urban Jew who turns out to be a good guy under it all. It should be noted, however, that Lynch was not in complete creative control of the Twin Peaks series.

    Mulholland Drive provides the strongest evidence of Lynch’s racial awareness. But first, something about the plot of the film. Mulholland Drive falls into two parts. The first part is a mystery story and satire of Hollywood that is engaging, suspenseful, and extremely funny. Then the story turns darker. A woman’s rotting corpse is found in her apartment. Then comes a lesbian seduction. Then a journey to a mysterious club called “Silencio” where performers mime to pre-recorded tracks. We are moved by a beautiful Mexican love song sung by Rebekah del Rio. (it is actually a translation of a Roy Orbison song.) We are encompassed by the illusion. We forget that it is an illusion. Then the illusion is shattered when the singer falls dead on the stage but the song plays on. A blue box is discovered. When it is opened, the second half of the movie commences. The second half is dark and tragic. It is told through a series of flashbacks. It culminates in madness and suicide. I am not giving anything away by saying that, as I read it, the first part of the movie is the dream of a dying madwoman and the second part explains what drove her to madness and death.

    The most remarkable feature of this movie is its entirely negative, and entirely accurate, portrayal of Hollywood Jews. We see a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed woman, starry-eyed and grinning with joy as she arrives in Los Angeles. Her name is Betty, played by Naomi Watts. Betty has come to Hollywood to be an actress. She is a classic Lynch heroine: an earnest, wholesome, small-town girl from Deep River Ontario. She speaks in the G-rated cliches of old Hollywood. Later we discover that she became interested in acting after winning a jitterbug contest. She is next to an elderly, white-haired woman named Irene. They have met and struck up a friendship on the plane. Irene seems to be from the same wholesome mold. She and her elderly male travelling companion bid Betty goodbye and good luck. Then we see Irene and her friend in the back of a limousine, their faces insanely distorted with cynical, sniggering leers. The man has stereotypically Jewish features. (The actor’s name is Dan Birnbaum.) They are apparently enjoying a good laugh at the expense of this naive, corn-fed shiksa. Later they return as demonic apparitions.

    Another Jew, Dan (played by Patrick Fischler), meets a well-dressed gentile, Herb, at a Winky’s restaurant. The gentile is apparently a psychotherapist. The Jew is his patient. This is no surprise. Jews had to invent psychoanalysis because they practically invented neurosis, what with their “high investment” parenting strategies and the hatred and fear of non-Jews they instill practically in the womb. This Jew is certainly neurotic, but he may have a touch of divine madness. He describes two dreams he has had, both of them set in the restaurant. In the dream, he sees through the walls. Behind them is a face that utterly terrifies him. The two men go behind the restaurant. The Jew sees the face (played by Bonnie or Ronnie Aarons) and faints dead away. The psychotherapist does not see it, but we will see this face again. It is the face of a supernatural embodiment of evil. It is the face of a devil, maybe the devil. It is he who is ultimately behind all the walls in this movie, pulling the strings in Hollywood, drawing people to their doom.

    The central Jewish character in this movie is Adam Kesher, a hot-shot young director played by Justin Theroux. We met Kesher on a bad day. He is being pressured by two mysterious Italians, the Castiglione brothers (played by Dan Hedaya and composer Angelo Badalamenti) to cast a particular girl in his film. He refuses. The mysterious wire-puller Mr. Roque orders Kesher’s movie shut down. Mr. Roque is played by Michael J. Anderson, the dancing midget from Twin Peaks. Even the drape-lined set is similar, although more luxurious, as if the Little Man from Far Away has received a promotion in the hierarchy of Hell. (Roque does not dance because he is an a wheelchair.) Kesher then finds his blonde shiksa in bed with a beefy, tattooed Aryan working man played by Billy Ray Cyrus, who drives him out of his house. (The side of Cyrus’s pickup truck reads “Gene Clean.”) Kesher hides out in a sleazy hotel, but “they” — the wire-pullers — somehow find him. His credit cards are cancelled and his bank accounts emptied. Finally, he is told to meet with someone known only as “the cowboy.” Kesher is filled with just the sort of cynical, sarcastic contempt for cowboys that one would expect. The cowboy’s appearance is accompanied by flickering electricity, announcing his supernatural origin. He is an enforcer in Hell’s hierarchy. He looks and talks and dresses like an overgrown child in a cowboy suit that is slightly too large for him. Kesher can barely contain his arrogance. He is smug, supercilious, smirking, ironic. In the cowboy’s words, he’s a smart Alec. But this corn-fed goy manages to scare and humble him nonetheless. He chooses the girl. Later in the film, we see him at a party celebrating his engagement to another beautiful shiksa, this one a brunette. His conceit, affectedness, and irreverant frivolity are boundless. We also see from whom he gets it. His mother, played by Ann Miller, is a nasty, gnarled, snobbish old biddy with too much jewelry and too little taste.

    There are other, minor Jewish characters in the film. One pair appears in a wonderfully satirical audition scene. Jimmy Katz, played by Chad Everett, looks like a dashing older WASP, while Martha Johnson (played by Kate Forster) looks stereotypically Jewish. A comment on name and nose changes, perhaps? The slightly bitchy, slightly dykey woman in Apartment 12 also looks quite Jewish, and the actress’s name turns out to be Johanna Stein.

    There are only two negroes in the film, and they are there strictly for laughs. They are backup singers in a 1950s set piece directed by Adam Kesher. Not only are the negroes’ faces comical (one looks like a drag queen), but their very presence is risible, because integrated music groups are not plausible for the period. But this is the Jew Adam Kesher’s film, not David Lynch’s, and in the Hollywood of today’s Jews there are negroes everywhere. I watched the film in theatres twice, and both audiences saw and laughed at the joke.

    I cannot say anything more about this film without giving away the plot. Suffice it to say that Mulholland Drive is a beautiful, funny, shocking, mysterious film about how people like us are destroyed by the Hollywood illusion machine, a machine run by the devil but staffed by people like Adam Kesher.

    Lynch strips away the Veil of Maya and tells us to be silent. Yes. Be silent. Think about what you have seen. As I pondered this deeply disturbing, uncanny film, my perplexity slowly turned to understanding, my understanding to anger, my anger to the desire to fight. Frankly, I do not know how to fight the devil. Perhaps we’ll figure that out someday. But there are enough Adam Keshers to keep us busy in the meantime.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • To Live & Die in L.A.
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    1,205 words

    [1]James O’Meara’s article on “Essential Films . . . & Others [2]” was inspired by my “Ten Favorite Films [3],” but it inspired me in turn to reflect on my own list of essential films, essential defined by Coleridge as “that to which with the greatest pleasure the reader returns.” For many of my favorite films are not works to which I return with pleasure. Vertigo and Blue Velvet, for instance, are too emotionally harrowing to just pop in on a rainy afternoon. So this spurred me to reflect on the movies I watch, again and again, simply for pleasure: if I am under the weather, too tired to work, or just want to savor my solitude. 

    It is a very different list, heavy on sci-fi, spectacle, spycraft, and silliness: The Empire Strikes Back, The Two Towers, The Fifth Element, Flash Gordon, Hudson Hawk, Goldfinger, Octopussy, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Blade Runner, and To Live and Die in L.A.

    To Live and Die in L.A. [4] is my equivalent to James’ Manhunter [5], an ’80s time-capsule with a captivating visual style, excellent period music (Wang Chung [6]), and real—though often overlooked—substance. I became an adult in the 1980s, so it is natural for me to feel a certain amount of nostalgia for the music, movies, styles, and politics of the era. I know Reagan was not really a good President, but he would have made a great king: the embodiment of everything wholesome in American culture. Even with all I know, the sound of his voice in the film still comforts me, and it has nothing to do with the paroxysms he induces in the Left (although those are fun too).

    To Live and Die in L.A. was released in 1985. It stars William Petersen and Willem Dafoe as well as Dean Stockwell and John Turturro. It is the only movie that I actually like by Jewish director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection). The movie is filled with striking images—Willem Dafoe burning a painting, the shadows of palm trees on a plaza in late afternoon, a money-printing montage, a presidential motorcade, all captured in a fluid, dynamic visual style. Although at the time, some critics compared the aesthetic to Miami Vice, in truth the movie focuses on the least glamorous parts of Los Angeles: docks, rail yards, freeways, refineries, junk yards, the “river,” dive bars, etc., but manages to aestheticize them with bravura directing and camera work.

    The core of the film is a character study in corruption. The main antagonists are a Secret Service agent named Richie Chance (Petersen) and a counterfeiter named Rick Masters (Dafoe). Although they are on opposite sides of the law, they have a lot in common: they are cold-blooded and have nerves of steel. Men like this actually have low resting pulse rates. This makes them cool in tense situations, but it also leads them to seek out tense situations to stimulate themselves, lest they sink into the torpor of inaction. They are restless, always getting into things. They are prone to take risks, cut corners, and cross lines. If they lack conscience, they can easily become criminals—or they become cops or soldiers and then commit crimes.

    The cold-bloodedness of Chance and Masters is highlighted by their associates, who lack nerve. A couple of them even possesses a bit of conscience. Masters’ contrast is his “mule” Cody played by John Turturro, a twitchy fellow who suffers from an ulcer and whose bravado comes off as brittle and false. When Cody is arrested, Masters realizes that he lacks the strength to do jail time. He will turn against him. Thus he has to be killed.

    We first meet Chance in the pre-credit sequence, when he coolly deals with a suicide bomber who is trying to kill President Reagan. I first saw To Live and Die in L.A. at a midnight movie in a college town, early in 1986, shortly after the terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports. When the terrorist, who vows to “bomb myself on you and all the enemies of Islam,” is foiled and explodes as he falls from a building, the audience burst into applause. Chance’s partner, Jimmy Hart, who is a few days from retirement, is far more shaken up than Chance. “I’m too old for this, Richie,” he pants. The next time we see Richie, he is base jumping from a bridge.

    [7]

    William Petersen

    Chance’s other contrasts are his informant Ruth and his new partner John Vukovich. Ruth is tormented by anxiety and conscience. She fears the criminals she informs on and thinks the stars are “God’s eyes” watching her (a notion that Chance, who lacks conscience, casually dismisses). In one scene, where Chance is high on adrenaline and Ruth is melting down from anxiety, she shrieks “What’s the matter with you?” (It’s that low resting pulse.) Like Ruth, Vukovich lacks nerve and has a conscience, but in the course of the movie, Chance corrupts him, until he is framing suspects and stealing to catch Masters. In the end, Vukovich even dresses like Chance. But he will never be a Chance, because both danger and morality stir him too deeply. To Chance, that just makes him a “pussy.”

    When I first saw this film, Chance and Masters seemed very grown up and manly. (Both Dafoe and Petersen were about 30 at the time.) Both characters are capable of violence and daring, but in retrospect, they seem more like lost boys than grown men. The only really mature, centered, manly character is the older agent, Jimmy Hart.

    Interestingly, Chance’s manner around Hart is boyish, submissive, and slightly effeminate. Petersen has a well-developed, masculine body, but his combination of tight faded jeans plus dark shirts and jackets accentuates his hips, giving him a womanish aspect. His curly hair is tinged with gray, but his face is unlined and heart-shaped, which adds to the unsettling aspect of androgyny and eternal boyhood.

    Dafoe’s Masters is more manly than Chance because he is more ruthless, more in control, more of a mastermind. (The names Chance and Masters are not exactly subtle.) Perhaps to set Masters’ ruthlessness in relief, he is portrayed as an artist, with well-developed tastes and a somewhat fruity wardrobe. He has a hot girlfriend, a modern dancer who is much taller than him. But Friedkin has Masters whine womanishly about working with rubber gloves on and even treats us to a fake “gay kiss.” (Masters actually begins kissing a male body double, then Friedkin cuts to him kissing his girlfriend.) Thus Masters is a strange combination of decadent aesthete and ruthless criminal, the Gabriele D’Annunzio of crime.

    I enjoy To Live and Die in L.A. I return to it again and again. I highly recommend it. But I would never be comfortable calling it a great film. Yet it is highly entertaining, with images and characters and music that will stay with you. The main cast is white. Blacks are portrayed as no-account criminals and braggarts. The there is no offensive anti-white propaganda. Even the fact that everyone smokes (filthy habit) gives the movie a pre-PC feel. Every time I watch it, the present day seems more “dated,” and the ’80s look better and better.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Sick Noir for the Holiday
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    It was never really wonderful.

    1,319 words

    A few years back—let us say, forty—some TV boffins decided there was a perfect and archetypal Christmas film that must be broadcast every Yuletide season. And that film was the disturbing and surreal It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart. A downer-fable about failure and suicide, it flopped resoundingly with critics and public alike when it came out in 1946. Director Frank Capra himself counted it among his least favorite efforts. Personally I’ve never met anyone who really likes the movie. 

    Yet year after year, the programming executives continue to ladle this brimstone and treacle down our gullets. It’s good for us, I suppose is the idea.

    What gives here? I think the basic problem with the film is that it is always presented to us as a wholesome, uplifting, “family” movie when really it is nothing of the sort. It’s a Wonderful Life is basically a noirfantasy that has a Christmas tree at the end. It’s the story of a man whose life has gone belly up. But before he jumps off a bridge, he gets to visit an alternative world that is even more dystopic than his own real life has been. The bleak moral here seems to be, Things could always be worse!

    Looked at as classic film noir, the movie begins to make some sense. Sad-sack George Bailey (Stewart) is trapped in a small town from which he can never escape. It’s a generic, claustrophobic Hollywood-ersatz small-town, bearing some resemblance to the Santa Rosa where widow-murdering Joseph Cotten hides out in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). The female characters are played by the sultry, young Donna Reed, eventually to find stardom as a barely disguised prostitute in From Here to Eternity; and eternal floozy Gloria Grahame, whose character will get her face scarred with hot coffee in The Big Heat (both 1953).

    [2]When Stewart is led through his nightmarish alternative-reality, it all takes place in Nighttown, with a premise and setting only slightly more fantastical than Richard Widmark’s scheme to promote Greco-Roman wrestling in the nighttime London of 1950’s Night and the City. (In that film, coincidentally, Widmark does end his life while falling off a bridge.)

    Now really, there’s nothing wrong with a nice noir film for the Christmas season. I just wish the TV folks would see It’s a Wonderful Life as the dark Forties drama it really is, and stop pushing it every year as a wholesome and uplifting “family movie.”

    And for your noirish enjoyment, here are some other dark treats that bear (re)watching, with a couple of Christmas toddies inside you.

    L.A. Confidential

    [3]

    “Do you have a valediction, boyo?”

    This came out at the end of 1997, so you may want to call it neo-noir or homage-noir, but it’s true noir nonetheless. And opens with a Christmas party—in a police station!

    Based loosely on a lurid, sprawling novel by James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential’s plot outdoes Raymond Chandler in dense incomprehensibility. The two rival cops (Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce) actually halt their fistfight 2/3rds of the way through so they can explain to the audience what the hell is going on.

    Meanwhile there’s racism, kinky sex, and gore galore!

    Best scenes: 1) bisexual Jewish D.A. Ron Rifkin is hung out his window by Russell Crowe until he confesses to his crimes; 2) suave detective Kevin Spacey gets offered a cup of tea at his police chief’s home, and instead receives a bullet to the heart. You know his famous last words: “Rollo Tommasi.”

    The Boy with Green Hair

    [4]Surely one of the strangest “social dramas” of the postwar era, this 1948 offering was one of the last films produced by Dore Schary at RKO before he moved on to head up MGM. (After MGM, Schary spent many years as national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.)

    The script shoots off endless barbs about the sin of “prejudice.” They all misfire because—well, just look at the title! Is this a kiddy comedy? Audiences must have thought so initially, then they stayed away in droves.

    The film opens with a serious Robert Ryan interrogating a bald kid—Dean Stockwell, many decades before Blue Velvet. This clues us in that the movie’s not only going to be grimly noir, but prefigure David Lynch as well.

    Little bald Stockwell has just endured two awful blows: first he discovers he’s an orphan (his parents supposedly got killed while rescuing “war orphans” in Europe), and then he wakes up with green hair! 

    It’s never explained why or how his hair turned green. Instead we get a fantasy scene in which a poster of war-orphan children comes to life.

    Stockwell is told that his green hair is actually a badge of honor. The green color will remind people that there should be no more war—or war orphans! (Wut?)

    The story is set in the same generic (California) small town we’ve seen so many times, full of gossipy busybodies who tell their kids to stay away from the Stockwell kid, ’cause this green-hair disease “might be catching.” Eventually the crazed, bigoted provincials chase him into a barbershop where his mop is buzzed and the barber anoints his scalp with after-shave.

    Nothing Christmassy here at all, except for the hair, and a forcibly jolly Pat O’Brien who plays an ex-vaudevillian singing waiter with whom Green-Haired Boy lives . . . again, for reasons that are never made clear.

    A few years after this film, director Joseph Losey got chased out of Hollywood for being a Commie. He made some charmingly weird films in England (The Servant, 1963) but nothing ever as weird as this.

    Double Indemnity

    [5]

    “I loved her like a rabbit loves a rattlesnake.”

    Here is the ur-classic noir, from 1944, with a script by Raymond Chandler (and director Billy Wilder, who sat with him every day for months, so Chandler would be sober and clear-headed enough to finish it). Chandler couldn’t do an intelligible plot to save his life, but the dialogue here will live forever.

    Insurance salesman Fred MacMurray schemes with ex-nurse Barbara Stanwyck to kill her husband. A perfect crime, until they realize they must kill each other to save themselves. Set in the 1930s, with good 1940s Los Angeles streetscapes and grocery stores. No Christmas decorations, but it rains so much we must be in a SoCal winter.

    Based on the crime thriller by James M. Cain, using the same insurance-scam device Cain had also used in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Future TV dad MacMurray plays the lousiest heel he would ever play—at least until he showed up in Wilder’s 1960 The Apartment.

    Best scene: MacMurray’s boss Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) counts off the many types and sub-variants of suicide:

    “Why they’ve got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poison, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by *types* of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth; suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places…”

    Mildred Pierce

    [6]

    “I’d do anything for Veda.”

    Superficially this 1945 warhorse is the tale of a self-made woman (Joan Crawford) who works her way up from housewife to restaurant tycoon. But it’s really about the heartbreak of raising a selfish, ungrateful kid (Ann Blyth) you can never say no to.

    No, this isn’t a family picture at all. The male leads are stock characters played to a fare-thee-well by Zachary Scott (skinny, swishy, exploitative gigolo) and Jack Carson (aggressive, broad-beamed bully-boy).

    Another adaptation of a James M. Cain novel, with Cain’s wilder flights of fancy made cheap and nasty for the silver screen. Example: when spoiled-girl Ann Blyth character runs away, she becomes a roadhouse chantoosie instead of making her operatic debut in the Hollywood Bowl (as in the book).

    Source: http://www.buzzfash.com/ [7]

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  • “Hotter than Georgia asphalt” David Lynch’s Wild at Heart
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    4,326 words Wild at Heart is not David Lynch’s best movie, but it is my favorite. I would argue, for instance, that Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, and The Straight Story are all better films. But for some reason they do not call me back year after year like Wild at Heart. Wild at Heart […]
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • David Lynch’s Dune
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    5,561 words David Lynch’s third feature film is his 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic Dune. Herbert’s Dune is widely hailed as a masterpiece, while Lynch’s Dune has a much more mixed reputation, tending toward the negative. When I first saw Lynch’s Dune, I was deeply disappointed. Herbert’s novel had left a powerful […]
    ...
    (Review Source)

The Unz Review Staff7
Unz Review



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Blue Velvet: The Lost Footage, by Trevor Lynch
    This article began as a reply to a comment by Alex on my essay on Blue Velvet at The Unz Review. Alex asked for my take on the 53 minutes of lost footage included in the Criterion Collection’s new BluRay of Blue Velvet. Does this footage in any way alter my reading of the film’s...
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    (Review Source)
  • "Now It's Dark...", by Trevor Lynch
    Blue Velvet (1986) is the quintessential David Lynch film, filled with quirky humor and shocking violence. It features one of the most terrifying villains in all of film: Frank Booth, brilliantly portrayed by Dennis Hopper. Blue Velvet is a “mystery” story. Sometimes it is described as neo noir. But it is more than just a...
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    (Review Source)
  • David Lynch's "Inland Empire"
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The popular surrealist director David Lynch (“Elephant Man,” “Blue Velvet,” “Twin Peaks,” “Mulholland Drive”) is back with “Inland Empire,” a film noir nightmare in which Laura Dern is “a woman in trouble.” The basic structure of the film is promising, resembling the setup for a complicated Tom Stoppard play. Dern plays a classy Hollywood actress married to a jealous Polish millionaire. She lands a big role in a Southern Gothic film about adulterous lovers and the husband who will kill them if he finds out. Her leading man is a Colin Farrell-type star notorious for sleeping with all his leading ladies, especially the married ones. Not surprisingly, you soon can’t tell whether the love scenes depict the characters in the film-within-a-film, or whether the stars are rehearsing a little too realistically in their spare time. Considerately, Lynch has characters clue the audience in on what will happen, such as a sinister Polish hag who visits Dern in her LA mansion and tells her that her upcoming romance film is actually about murder, or maybe she just forgot, but who can remember, she asks, what comes before what, whether it’s today, yesterday, or tomorrow? The director (Jeremy Irons) reveals that the new movie is actually a remake of a Polish movie, based on a Polish Gypsy folktale, about adulterous lovers that was begun in the 1930s but never finished because the two stars were murdered, presumably by a jealous husband. And there’s suppose to be a Gypsy curse on the whole proceedings. Then, Dern somehow becomes, like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse 5, unstuck in time (or maybe she’s just crazy) and is soon encountering scenes both from the unfinished Polish movie and from the private lives of the doomed Polish actors. So far, so good. A half hour into the film, my hopes were high. But then … the story never develops any momentum. And it just goes on and on and on forever and a day. You know the last ten minutes of “2001,” where the astronaut keeps walking into strange rooms, staring in puzzlement at different versions of himself? Well, multiply that by 18 and you’ll grasp what this three-hour disaster is like: Laura Dern walking into scores of rooms and staring in horror at what she sees. But there isn’t much that’s all that horrible to look at, so the film doesn’t even offer the amusements of a horror film. The soundtrack consists of endless minor key chords and thump-thump heartbeat-like percussion, which is pretty creepy for awhile, but gets old eventually. Lynch himself seems to get bored with this, and keeps introducing characters that don’t fit into his already overstuffed four-level structure. Dern re-emerges as a foul-mouthed skank who apparently lives in Pomona, in the “Inland Empire” east of LA, and is married to a man from Poland (which was an inland country, except for the controversial Danzig corridor, when the original movie was made between the wars — see how the Pomona-Poland Inland Empire theme all fits together!), who runs off to join a Baltic circus because he’s good with animals. And then there are scenes from a Polish sitcom starring a stiffly dressed bourgeois family with the heads of rabbits, which I guess is tied into the recurrent theme of being good with animals, which also pops up in the ten minute monologue by a Chinese homeless lady sitting on the star-engraved sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd., who talks at vast length about her friend in Pomona who is retiring from turning tricks to stay home with her pet monkey. This isn’t as random as it sounds because every damn thing in the movie is foretold earlier. For example, in Dern’s second incarnation, as the whore, she delivers a long monologue to a Hollywood private eye (who looks kind of like, rather improbably for a shamus, Matthew Yglesias) in which, in the course of talking about some guy she once knew, she mentions that he had a one-legged sister. About an hour later, as I was walking out early, about 170 minutes into this ordeal, up on the screen — well, what do you know! — there’s suddenly a one-legged woman. To be honest, I’m often a big admirer of films constructed in this manner. I imagine that if I sat through “Inland Empire” again, I could explain why, say, “Repo Man” is art while “Inland Empire” is an obsessive-compulsive nightmare / snoozeathon, but no way in hell am I going to subject myself to it another time. Like Peter Jackson’s interminable “King Kong,” what’s being debuted in the theatres is the three-hour Director’s Cut. Hopefully, someday there will be a two-hour Editor’s Cut of “Inland Empire.” ]]>
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  • David Lynch's Wild at Heart, by Trevor Lynch
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Wild at Heart is not David Lynch’s best movie, but it is my favorite. I would argue, for instance, that Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, and The Straight Story are all better films. But for some reason they do not call me back year after year like Wild at Heart. Wild at Heart was released...
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • David Lynch's Wild at Heart , by Trevor Lynch - The Unz Review
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    You are defending the film review (and sexuality) of a man who literally wants to ship Jews off to thier own ethnostate and bar them from White countries. I find this very odd as you are usually ultra fast to police the comment section here and jump down peoples throats who express even mild critiques of Jews. I was just pointing out the ...

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  • Mulholland Drive, by Trevor Lynch - The Unz Review
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    You are defending the film review (and sexuality) of a man who literally wants to ship Jews off to thier own ethnostate and bar them from White countries. I don't …

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • David Lynch's Dune, by Trevor Lynch
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    David Lynch’s third feature film is his 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic Dune. Herbert’s Dune is widely hailed as a masterpiece, while Lynch’s Dune has a much more mixed reputation, tending toward the negative. When I first saw Lynch’s Dune, I was deeply disappointed. Herbert’s novel had left a powerful and vivid...
    ...
    (Review Source)

Soiled Sinema15
Soiled Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻🔻


  • Blue Velvet
    I go back and forth on what is my favorite David Lynch film. It wasn’t hard for me to realize, however, that Eraserhead and Blue Velvet a...
    ...
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  • Mike's Murder
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)



    With the vogue Me Too movement—an insufferably gynocentric witchhunt fueled by female narcissism that at least, quite thankfully, resulted in the destruction of singularly grotesque zio-pig Harvey Weinstein—the general public was exposed to the obvious fact that many of the bigwigs and movers-and-shakers in Hollywood are sick sexual predators (though, only Larry David had the balls to note, on SNL of all places, that most of these ‘white’ men are actually Jewish). Rather disappointingly, only a couple queers, including Kevin Spacey, were exposed as predatory perverts. Of course, Hollywood has a history of homo harassment, as the casting couch apparently has just as many male victims as female ones and the predators are not always out-of-the-closet poofters like Judaic degenerate Bryan Singer. For example, as noted in Rainer Chlodwig von K.'s rather worthwhile tome Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies (2018), in 2012 a masseur sued John Travolta for $2 million after claiming that a $200-per-hour massage session concluded in a rather curious fashion with the Hollywood star stripping naked, rubbing the man's leg and then touching his cock. Notably, as a totally hilarious and equally incriminating segment of the suit reads, “Defendant began screaming at Plaintiff, telling Plaintiff how selfish he was; that Defendant got to where he is now due to sexual favors he had performed when he was in his WELCOME BACK, KOTTER days; and that Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity [i.e., expect sex in return for favors]. Defendant then went on to say how he had done things in his past that would make most people throw up.” Naturally, it should be no surprise to anyone that is not mentally feeble that “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men,” but apparently Tinseltown even has had a couple alleged gay goy predators, including Hollywood auteur James Bridges, who notably directed Travolta in a couple films, including the hit Urban Cowboy (1980) and the big turd Perfect (1985). 


     Apparently, Bridges hosted infamous sodomite sex parties which were stocked with underage boys and attended by big household names in the entertainment industry, or so it was revealed after The New York Police Department and District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation in 1975 dubbed ‘Operation Together’ which looked into the mafia control of gay bars and underage boy sex rings (incidentally, the central S&M gay bar depicted in Cruising (1980) was mob-owned, or so William Friedkin revealed in his memoir Friedkin Connection: A Memoir (2013)). As exposed by The Mafia and The Gays writer Phillip Crawford Jr.— a retired attorney from the New York bar and “whistle blower”—in an article at his blog Friends of Ours, “The retired officer with whom I spoke stated that that while working on Operation Together he spent a lot of time undercover as a gay clone in the city's bars and did substantial surveillance including out on Long Island and Fire Island. In the course of his investigation the NYPD officer advised me that he learned about sex parties with underage boys that allegedly were being hosted at a place on the Island by Hollywood film director and writer James Bridges. Bridges had been nominated for an Oscar for THE PAPER CHASE which was released in 1973, and later directed THE CHINA SYNDROME for which he also received an Oscar nomination, URBAN COWBOY and BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY. He died at the age of 57 in 1993 from kidney failure after a cancer diagnosis according to his family. The officer staked out Bridge's place, and the attendees were obviously underage boys and household names in the entertainment industry to whom he referred as ‘the child fuckers.’ James Bridges was not the only name with which I was provided by the retired officer.”  Not surprisingly, Bridges was never actually charged, let alone convicted, for his alleged cocksucker crimes, but at least one of his films hints at such behavior.



     Notably, although some of his films feature homoerotic imagery and gay subtexts, Bridges did not really contribute much to the history of queer cinema as he spent virtually his entire life in the closet, or as written in Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video (1994), “An unusual inclusion in this listing of gay and lesbian directors, James Bridges’ (1935-93) filmography does not offer much evidence of queerness. As a matter of fact, with the exception of employing several gay stars in his films and the character of Mike in MIKE’S MURDER (who, despite the film’s title, was only a peripheral figure), there are no gay themes or characters, major or minor, in his films […] Interestingly, Bridges’ gayness was not publicly known until the publication of his obituary.” Indeed, while his vaguely semi-autobiographical film September 30, 1955 (1977) features a teen that strangely cares more about James Dean than having any sort of sexual contact with his bitchy girlfriend and Urban Cowboy includes its fair share of homoerotic imagery (namely, Travolta in cowboy garb and Scott Glenn sporting an ultra-faggy mesh shirt), Mike’s Murder (1984)—a rather seedy yet quite sui generis and tastefully directed piece of largely forgotten cult cinema—is the only Bridges film that seems to take delight into dipping into the cocaine-and-cock-fueled swamp of depravity of the gay underground and associated chic degenerate criminal scenes. By no means a masterpiece and probably 20 minutes too long, the film is exactly the sort of film that you might expect from a relatively powerful gay Hollywood filmmaker-cum-producer that wanted to create his own cryptically confessional auteur piece, albeit featuring a popular female lead so as to provide enough plausible deniability in regard to the filmmaker’s sexual orientation. Personally, I was not surprised to learn after watching the film that Bridges was involved in some seriously sick scenes, as the flick is unlike many others of the largely artificial Reaganite 1980s in terms of its authenticity in regard to depicting the radically repellent realm of coke-addled Dorian love debauchery.  A decided downer that never offers the the aid of comic relief from its fairly consistent paranoiac intensity, Mike's Murder is also a reminder the war on drugs is a sick and pathetic joke and many dumb queer addicts are paying the price while rich old horny queens are picking up the tab.


     As far as I am concerned, male bisexuality is mostly a myth propagated by self-loathing gays that have not fully made the plunge into pure and unadulterated puffery, decidedly debased gay-for-pay masochists, and sociopaths (who, lacking real emotional connections to other people, are known to be sexually flexible). In Mike’s Murder, the female heroine discovers the seemingly unthinkable in that the man she loves—a handsome and athletic fellow of the romantic and sexually potent sort—has not only fucked men, but he pimped himself out to a bitchy middle-aged negro queen. Indeed, the film tells the dejecting story of a likeable yet seemingly clueless chick with a girlish crush that discovers the rather repugnant hidden homo life of the man she thought she loved after he dies under quite brutal circumstances. While it is hard to know where exactly Bridges was coming from, the film sometimes feels like a mockery of women or, more specifically, a woman in love, as the hapless heroine suffers the great indignity of enduring the cold hard reality of her beau being not much more than a male bimbo boy toy for fags and dope fiends. Indeed, whereas Ken Russell’s masterful adaptation D. H. Lawrence Women in Love (1969) respectfully depicts the need of certain men to have the love of another man despite already having the love of a woman, Bridges’ film depicts a sexually nihilistic world where sex is not much more than a commodity and heterosexual love seems like an unhip anachronistic joke. But then again, Mike’s Murder is arguably best interpreted as an example of gay jealousy in regard to heterosexual love, which becomes most obvious in a scene where a bitchy black queen proudly expresses to the heroine his pangs of lovelorn cynicism for the dead man that both individuals love. 

    Not exactly a hit when it was first released and barely a cult item today, Mike’s Murder is a film that I first discovered while reading an article about independent actress Kate Lyn Sheil of all places. Indeed, after making the mistake of sampling a couple Joe Swanberg films and related lame mumblecore crap, I discovered Sheil and felt she was cute in a sort of autistic introverted hipster bitch fashion, so I looked her up on the internet and discovered an article where Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice remarks in regard to the actress, “But thanks to friendships she made in 2005 during a brief stint working at Mondo Kim’s, that late, lamented cathedral of cinephilia on St. Marks Place, her interest in performing was revived. Employees at the rental redoubt ranked among the city’s most movie-mad, as Sheil did (and still does, pulling out her phone, not impolitely, during our conversation to fact-check herself on the name of the director of MIKE’S MURDER, a little-known Debra Winger vehicle from 1984).” At the time I read the article, I had just watched Costa-Gavras’ uneven yet nonetheless entertaining anti-white nationalist melodrama Betrayed (1988) and realized I rather liked Debra Winger—a brunette Jewess with a certain delectable girl-next-door beauty—despite her ethnic handicap, so naturally I was enticed to see another film with her, especially after I read a somewhat enigmatic film synopsis on Bridge's flick that left me reasonably intrigued.  After all, my favorite 1980s films are decidedly dark works like Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (1981), David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), and Tim Hunter's River's Edge (1986), so naturally I am always looking out for similarly bleak material. Rather unfortunately, Mike’s Murder has yet to be released on Blu-ray and can only be bought as part of Warner Archive Collection’s rather disappointing barebones DVD-R series, which is certainly fitting for a idiosyncratic fag flick that would probably be regarded as being ‘homophobic’ by many of today's overly pampered and brainwashed contemporary gays. 


     Mike’s Murder begins in a rather deceptively traditionally romantic fashion with a montage involving various seamless dissolves of heroine Betty Parrish (Debra Winger) being delicately manhandled on a public tennis court by her bohunk beau Mike Chuhutsky (Mark Keyloun) and then lovingly penetrated in her bedroom by him. After watching the opening, one might assume that Betty is married to a man that she is deeply in love with, but the reality is that they only had a brief yet passionate fling as Mike is an aimless wanderer with the attention-span of a gnat who has been spending a lot of his free time running away from rivals as a petty drug dealer.  To his minor credit, Mike sells drugs to merely support his coke habit and pay off old drug debts. In fact, the only reason Mike briefly reenters Betty’s life after disappearing for six months is that he is in hiding and does not want to be caught by drug dealers that he pissed off as a result of making the reckless mistake of dealing on their home turf. Indeed, the two are only reunited as a result of happenstance when Betty hears Mike call her name while she is driving down the road.  Needless to say, Betty wastes no time in picking Mike up and the two immediately catch up in a manner that you would expect from two lovers that have not seen each other in a longtime. While flirting with Betty, Mike has no qualms about making rather forward remarks like, “I’d like to get you naked again. It’s been a longtime. What, like . . . six months at least?,” but he also expresses great fear and paranoia about being stalked. Hopelessly smitten like an innocent teenager girl with a hopeless crush, Betty naturally completely embraces Mike and his proposed reigniting of their hot and heavy romance, but it never really happens as the titular male bimbo is about as reliable as an LSD-addled schizophrenic street bum. Instead of achieving her assumed dream of beginning a long-term relationship with Mike, Betty is sucked into a sort of lovesick hell involving a dead lover, bitchy queens, violently paranoid dope fiends, arrogant quasi-punk art fags, and shadowy negroid hit men. 


     Not exactly a scholar or even someone with an average IQ, Mike unwittingly accepts a death sentence when he mindlessly goes along with his insufferably spastic and seemingly sociopathic friend Pete (Darrell Larson) after he decides to steal a sizable amount of cocaine from the wealthy suppliers that provide them with drugs to sell. Needless to say, the theft leaves both Mike and Pete marked men and the former is brutally murdered in his small apartment after being surprised by negro enforcers the very same night that he mindlessly snags the dope. While Betty simply assumes that Mike once again stood her up like he had done to her so many times before when he falls to meet her that night as the two planned, the truth is much uglier and horrifying, or so the heroine learns the next day after getting a random phone call from an eccentric yet annoyingly passive gay middle-aged photographer named Sam Morris (Robert Crosson). Although she does not know him, Sam informs Betty that their mutual ‘friend’ Mike has been brutally murdered and then invites her to his apartment. After being somewhat shocked that Sam’s apartment is completely covered with large posters of Mike, Betty discovers that her dead beau has a dubious connection to a rich and successful gay negro record produced named Philip Green (played by real-life gay negro Paul Winfield), so she decides to visit him to see if she can find out more about the mysterious murder. Rather unfortunately, Betty is in for a rather rude awakening as she discovers the uniquely undignified fact that Mike was once the personal white fuck toy of made spade Prince Philip, who even has a live-in white slave named Randy (William Ostrander). In between being entertained by Randy with coke-snorting and his insufferably gay tryout video for Chippendales, Betty scans old Polaroid photos of Mike as she waits to speak with Philip in what ultimately provides to be an extremely awkward couple minutes. An almost gleefully bitchy old queen that lives the rich hedonistic homo dream, Philip seems initially annoyed with Betty, but it is clearly because he is jealous of her and the real romantic connection she had with Mike.  Indeed, Mike might have fucked old men, but he preferred relatively fresh pussy.


     Naturally, Betty becomes somewhat upset when Philip tells her in regard to Mike’s murder, “You want to know everything? Well… You don’t. Believe me, you don’t. This wasn’t an enforcement killing. I mean, they were making a statement.”  While Betty seems to find it somehow curious that Philip was the one that was responsible for identifying Mike's corpse at the morgue, it certainly makes more sense to her when she discovers that her lover used to share a bed with the surly sod sambo.  Arguably more upsetting is everything else that Philip tells Betty about Mike, including about their gay interracial romance, or as he explains with a certain degree of slightly hidden lovesick melancholy, “It was, however, a very brief physical relationship. It was born on a hot Ohio day. Lot of drugs, Jack Daniels. It was not, as they say, his true bent, as you well know. Well, whatever it was, it was certainly worth a First Class ticket to sunny California. He lived with me in this house just as long as he wanted. Then, what about two years ago, he met you. He liked you. He certainly talked about you enough.” Although she clearly does not want to hear it, Philip also explains how his love affair began with Mike after he randomly picked him up while he was hitchhiking across country. As hinted by Philip’s words, “He had all kinds of stories that he used on different people. He was always preparing a face for the faces he met,” one also gets the impression that Mike was a happy-go-lucky sociopath of sorts, though he was a relatively benign one compared to his best friend Pete.  At the very least, Mike was completely and irrevocably morally retarded.  To Mike's credit, he openly acknowledged that Betty was “too good” for him, hence one of the reasons why he never attempted to pursue a serious relationship with her.  Of course, by never getting serious with Betty, Mike unwittingly protected her from very potentially being murdered too.


     While Betty is desperately running around town and attempting to find out everything she can about Mike and his untimely demise, her dead boy toy’s friend Pete—a socially corrosive criminal and all-around degenerate—is lurking in alleys and hiding in friends’ apartments as he tries in vain to evade the same negro enforcers that killed his pal. Hated by Philip (who he once called a “nigger” as revealed in a home movie that Randy plays for Betty) and undoubtedly an exceedingly erratic human parasite of the pathetically socially predatory sort, Pete eventually makes his way to Betty’s house in the hope she will provide him with sanctuary from the shadowy spade brigade, but he makes the mistake of more or less holding her hostage in her own home and treating her in a most absurdly aggressive fashion. High on the very same cocaine that resulted in him signing his own death warrant and positively petrified to the bone, Pete the prick clearly strikes fear in Betty, who attempts to do her best to not frighten or provoke the dangerously paranoid and unhinged proto-tweaker. Although he claims that he only needs a “friend,” Pete does not seem all that concerned about the fact that he completely scares the shit out of Betty. Also, like the stereotypical sociopath, little Petey has a terrible persecution complex and claims that the coke theft that got his best friend killed was nothing more than a simple “mistake,” or as he hysterically states in his pathetic defense, “There was so much. We took so little. I just wanted my share. Do you know how much they have? How well they live? Do you know how much I have? How I live? […] You think it’s all my fault. He knew what happened. He was a part of it. He took his share. I have him his share.” Of course, like Mike, Pete ultimately has to pay the price for his indiscretions. Indeed, luckily for Betty, a couple nameless and faceless negroes—the same gentlemen that killed Mike—show up at the heroine’s house, grab Pete, and take him away in a van before he can do anything too drastic to her (among other things, Pete begins threatening Betty with a knife). In the end, the negro enforcers dump Pete’s bound corpse, which includes a plastic bag wrapped around his head, at a remote construction site. As for Betty, she is featured in the final scene bittersweetly reminiscing about Mike after receiving photographs of her and him that were shipped to her by Sam. Needless to say, Mike must have been an absolutely otherworldly good fuck for a mild-mannered banker teller like Betty to go to homo hell and back in a rather desperate attempt to solve the puzzle of his grisly demise.  In the end, Betty ultimately pays a high prize for rough trade and she does not seem to regret a second of it, even though she now probably suffers from posttraumatic stress and will probably have a hard to maintaining romantic relationships in the future.



     Although just speculation, I think it is safe to say that Mike’s Murder is a sort of masochistic gay fantasy disguised as a sort of dark romantic mystery, even if it is based on a true story. To support my conclusion, I sought out reviews of the film and was quite delighted to find a somewhat recent one from colored contrarian Armond White, who is undoubtedly both the most hated and well known negro film critic working today. Despite being both gay and probably the only (in)famous negro American film critic, White is actually hated by Jews and white liberals due to his trashing of overrated race hustler garbage like black Brit Steve McQueen‘s superficial sell-out flick 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Jordan Peele’s big brown (pseudo)horror turd Get Out (2017). A rare American film critic that vocally values humanism over nihilism and does not subscribe to phony mainstream leftist narratives, White writes review for both the William F. Buckley Jr.-founded rag National Review (NR) and the cocksucker kultur mag Out, so naturally his review of Mike’s Murder—a film that would certainly be decried as being homophobic nowadays by the more hysterical members of the LGBT ghetto—is something quite exceptional. Indeed, in his January 2, 2018 review for Out entitled MIKE’S MURDER: Revisiting the Complex, Erotic Tale of an '80s Hollywood Hustler, White somewhat predictably demonstrates his affinity for the film’s gay negro record producer, arguing, “Bridges then shifts his attention to one of the deepest gay male characters in Hollywood history: Phillip, a wealthy, middle-aged music producer, tells Betty how he became Mike’s sugar daddy. Phillip steals the movie. Played by late gay actor Paul Winfield, best known for his Oscar-nominated role as the sharecropper father in Sounder, he displays a subtle passion. This career risk and personal revelation by Winfield and Bridges was historic. Beneath his elegant kaftan, the older gentleman who procures trim young men reveals a gay man’s fully recognizable inner life. Phillip is half-ashamed of the vulnerability indicated by his relationship with Mike (intimately remembered as ‘Michael’) when recalling their mutual exploitation. He asks Betty, ‘Were you in love with him? So was I. In the beginning, I was just desperately in love…It was not, as they say, ‘his true bent,’ as you well know.’”  Of course, despite only being briefly in the film, Philip is a strong and imperative character because he seems to be a sort of negrified stand-in for director Bridges.  Also, one cannot forget the unintentionally absurd image of Paul Winfield strutting around in a large hippie-like robe like he some sort of all-powerful and all-knowing aristocrat in Sodom.



     While the film is largely forgotten and not really regarded as much more than a strange and subversive artifact of 1980s (semi)mainstream gay cinema, Pauline Kael, whose second book Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1968) incidentally played a crucial role in inspiring Armond White to become a film critic, actually wrote a short yet favorable review of Mike’s Murder and especially Debra Winger’s performance in The New Yorker. Although I am someone that has always appreciated auteurs over actors, I can certainly agree with Kael words in her June 30, 1986 review where she argues in regard to the lead actress, “Winger has thick, long, loose hair and a deep, sensual beauty in this movie. Bridges wrote the role for her after directing her in URBAN COWBOY, and you feel the heroine’s expanding awareness in Winger’s scenes with Keyloun and her scenes with Winfield. It’s a performance that suggests what Antonioni seemed to be trying to get from Jeanne Moreau in LA NOTTE, only it really works with Winger—maybe because there’s nothing sullen or closed about her. We feel the play of the girl’s intelligence, and her openness and curiosity are part of her earthiness, her sanity. There’s a marvelous sequence in which Mike calls her after an interval of three months and wants her to come to him right that minute. She says, ‘How about tomorrow night?’ He says, ‘You know I can’t plan that far in advance,’ and gets her to talk to him while he masturbates. He says he loves her voice, and though we don’t see him, we hear a callow sweetness in his tone; he wants to give her satisfaction, too. He talks hot, and she’s sort of amused, and goes along with it. I don’t know of anyone besides Winger who could play a scene like this so simply.” Undoubtedly a rare screen Jewess that takes a rather refined and sophisticated approach to feminine sensuality, sensitivity, nurturance, and compassion as opposed to stereotypically wallowing in the neurotic, obnoxious, arrogant, and/or the ethnically bitchy, Winger certainly deserves credit for much of the film’s emotion potency and pathos, even if Bridges was clearly more interested in hustler hunks and heartsick queens. Undoubtedly, Winger's range as an actress becomes rather clear when one compares her role in Bridge's film to her completely unrecognizable performance in drag in Alan Rudolph's somewhat underrated rom-com-fantasy Made in Heaven (1987). 


     Rather curiously but not all that surprisingly considering his sexual bent, Bridges gets the most radically retarded character in Mike’s Murder—aspiring Chippendales dancer-cum-gigolo Randy—to act as his sort of socio-political mouthpiece. Indeed, in a somewhat preachy scene, the character states in between literally snorting lines of cocaine to Betty, “Well, they outta legalize everything in this country. That’s what Philip says. Take it out of the hands of the criminals. You know…prostitution, drugs […] But I guess there’s so much money to be made. Philip has this theory, see, that, uh, the moral majority—whether they know it or not—is being funded by the mafia so that they can keep everything [that is] sinful illegal so that they can clean-up. Big business, you know. Thirty million Americans snort cocaine.” Of course, as someone that apparently hosted Hollywood homo orgies, it is not hard to see why Bridges supported the legalization of drugs and prostitution as he personally witnessed the totally senseless demise of people like Mike and his friends in real-life. After all, it is no coincidence that Randy complains during the same scene, “It’s been a weird weak. I’ve known two people personally that got murdered this week. They were both drug related,” just as it is probably no coincidence that Bridges got Mark Keyloun to play the titular character as the actor previously played alongside a then-unknown Kevin Bacon as a gay-for-pay hustler in Paul Morrissey’s similarly underrated Forty Deuce (1982). 



     Not unlike Morrissey, Bridges was an auteur that was first and foremost a filmmaker and not a ‘fag filmmaker’ that emphasized a subversive socio-sexual agenda over an artistic one. In fact, the great irony of a marginal film like Mike’s Murder is that it would have never been made had Bridges not received a great commercial success with his Travolta vehicle Urban Cowboy (1980). Rather unfortunately, the current cut of Mike’s Murder that exists is not the film that Bridges originally intended as the studio Warner Brothers hated the director’s original cut and refused to release it until the director made some drastic changes in regard to multiple aspects of the film. For example, the film apparently originally had a narrative structure comparable to Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (2002) in that events were depicted in a chronologically backward fashion. Arguably most infuriatingly of all, the eponymous murder scene was also cut from the film, or as star Mark Keyloun revealed in a 2015 interview featured at TVStoreOnline Blog, “And what happened to MIKE'S MURDER, basically, is that when it came time to test-screen the film, the studio put it in front of an audience in some some upscale Northern California county. Because of the blood and sex—the film didn't receive a favorable review. I think, that Bridges and the producers ran scared. They went back into the editing room and cut out all of the good stuff. They cut out all the stuff that made the film great. They re-oriented the film, from a point-of-view that sanitized the whole thing. The irony of that—Pacino's SCARFACE (1983) had just come out. There's a scene in there with Pacino and some guys cutting up a person in a bathtub with a chainsaw. The producers and Bridges cut out my character's murder—where he was cut-up with a knife in a apartment with blood flying all over. They cut out the butchery, and the sex. There was a bunch more sex in the film that was cut out, and how do you a sell a film without the violence and the sex? (laughing).” As far what the murder scene was like, Keyloun also explained in the same interview, “Mike was stabbed in the chest. It was very graphic. There was cow blood being spewed all over the walls. Mike was stabbed and his throat is cut. He got stabbed multiple times and blood was spraying all over. That was the most-effective part of the sequence. They filmed me flailing around on the floor in slow-motion with blood squirting out of my chest.” Rather sadly, aside from the murder scene being excised, a number of sex scenes were also cut, including Keyloun pounding Winger’s puss doggy-style.  Somewhat ironically, the film would probably be better known today had Bridges not followed the studio's demands and cut out all of the murder, mayhem, and mammary glands.


     Also, less interestingly, the original musical score by English musician Joe Jackson was replaced with a score by English composer John Barry. Of course, both of these musicians seem rather banal when one considers that the film features an unintentionally humorous cameo from ‘Spazz Attack’ (real name Craig Allen Rothwell ), who was featured in David Bowie's Glass Spiders tour of 1988, appeared as a ‘demon alien’ in Tony Basil’s “Space Girls” music video, and is probably best known for his relationship with DEVO (aside from appearing in a couple of their music videos, he portrayed their iconic quasi-mascot ‘Booji Boy’ during one of their tours). Notably, during his brief appearance in the film, Spazz Attack states, “Art has always been an expression of the backs of people’s minds—what they conceive life to actually be.” Of course, Mike’s Murder is, if nothing else, an expression of Bridge’s mind and the unsentimental way he conceived life to actually be. In that sense, aside from September 30, 1955, most of Bridge’s other films seem like well constructed hack work by comparison. After all, while his hits like The Paper Chase and Urban Cowboy are technically more immaculate in terms of their pacing and overall construction, they lack the authenticity and sincerity of Mike’s Murder (though one must admit that most of these films have certain ‘queer’ sensibilities). As a filmmaker, Bridges can be seen as a sort of gay Robert Redford as purveyor of middlebrow (melo)drama that is meant to tickle the painfully average intellects of the largely culturally retarded American bourgeoisie.  Naturally, what makes Mike's Murder standout is that it transcends simple bourgeois bullshit and tells the sort of sickly sordid story that borders on hybristophilia. Additionally, the film features the sort of emotive hustler worship that is typical of early Gus Van Sant films like Mala Noche (1985) and especially My Own Private Idaho (1991).


     In terms of films featuring the heterosexual horrors of a woman having to cope with the great shock of fact that her beau is also a cocksucker, the subgenre has very few entries and includes films as diverse as John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Jacques Scandelari’s Monique (1978) aka Flashing Lights, Arthur Hiller’s Making Love (1982), and Cyril Collard’s Les Nuits Fauves (1992) aka Savage Nights, among various other examples. Undoubtedly, what makes Mike’s Murder different from all these films is that it takes a more satisfying slow-burning approach to revealing the revelation that the heroine’s lover was a prick-peddler (of course, the fact that a middle-aged negro was in love with him makes this reveal all the more awkward and disturbing). Interestingly, not unlike Fassbinder’s cryptically autobiographical Sapphic melodrama The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Mike’s Murder is based on a true story where the genders of the characters were changed, or as actor Dan Shor explained in an interview, “MIKE'S MURDER was based on a real guy that [director] Jim Bridges knew. The film was an investigation into the gay community of Los Angeles of that time. Debra Winger was really playing a guy in the film, and Mike, Mark Keyloun, was essentially playing a male hooker […] You got the sense that my character was unsuccessful with everyone, compared to the character of Mike—who was like the Brigitte Bardot of the film.”  Indeed, there is no doubt that Bridges' camera worships Keyloun the same way that Roger Vadim's did in iconic Bardot vehicles like ...And God Created Woman (1956).



     In fact, the facts revolving around the real Mike are eerily similar to the film as revealed by Bridge’s longtime lover and the film’s associate producer Jack Larson, who explained in an interview, “Mark was a terrific, eager, and dedicated young man. I think he may have been from Baltimore originally. Paul Winfield, years prior, had met Mark while he was in Baltimore shooting a film. They met, and Mark expressed an interest in working in films to Paul, but not as an actor. Both Jim [Bridges] and I knew Paul well, because he had been around town for many years, he had done a play that I had written, and also a play that Jim had written prior to the shooting of MIKE'S MURDER. So both Jim and I knew him fairly well, and through Paul, we both got to know Mark Bernalack. Paul had brought Mark out to Los Angeles from Baltimore, and he moved into Paul's house. Mark was extraordinarily handsome, and indeed, he did start to get jobs on films as a crew member after he came out here. He stayed with Paul for a while, and after he had enough money to get on his feet, he moved out of Paul's house and took an apartment in Brentwood—where Jim and I lived. It was in the heart of Brentwood near Sunset and Barrington. There was a tennis court around there, and when Jim and I would drive down Barrington we would often see Mark teaching tennis at those particular courts. In fact, those courts on Barrington are the same courts that we used to shoot the scenes with Mark [Keyloun] and Debra [Winger] in MIKE'S MURDER. Mark was a great tennis player. He was an ace. And he was obviously a locale Lothario to all the single girls in that area. And he would often have a bandana around his head while he was playing. He was very gallant looking […] Mark had been savagely murdered at his apartment in Brentwood. It was all over the papers and on the television. It was a horror. Everyone that knew Mark, liked him. We were all stunned. The newspapers said that he was a drug dealer. He wasn't. I mean, Mark didn't ever have enough money at one time to buy himself a car. He wasn't a drug dealer, but there were two guys, who were African-Americans, who I guess, were drug dealers—they confronted him at his apartment and Mark was murdered. Jim was very haunted by it. It was because of how Mark was called a drug dealer in the newspapers. That was very sad to him. The papers portrayed Mark's murder as if it was a good thing because he was a drug dealer.”  Certainly, one must salute Bridges for his racial realism in terms of staying true to the historical facts and depicting the killers as young negroes, which probably would not happen nowadays due to Hollywood's commitment to propping up so-called minorities, especially blacks.  Although gay, Mike's Murder is certainly not plagued by political correctness, especially when it comes to gay characters.  Indeed, from a middle-aged gay alcoholic photographer named Sam that creepily secretly takes photos of the young man he lusts after to the glaring white slave dynamic that seems to be the most defining trait of wealthy negro Philip's personal life, Bridges' film paints a particularly pathetic portrait of homo Hollywood.


     Of course, more than a murder mystery, the film carries the simple yet important message that if you hang around shit long enough, you start to smell, hence the brutal demise of Mike and the precarious situation that his dubious personal relationships put his lover Betty in. In short, heterosexual Mike has his life completely destroyed as a result of entering the cocaine-driven cocksucking realm. Notably, Bridges' film is not the only movie of the 1980s that depicts such a scenario as Marek Kanievska's uneven Bret Easton Ellis adaptation Less Than Zero (1987) stars Robert Downey Jr. as a self-destructive cokehead that eventually betrays his heterosexuality and begins giving and receiving head from fags as a means to fund his ultimately fatal drug addiction. Ironically, director Bridges' degenerate lifestyle and dubious personal relationships resulted in what is the greatest and most intriguing film of his filmmaking career, thus making it all the more tragic that the film only exists today in a butchered cut that both associate producer Larson (who apparently owns a copy of the director's cut) and star Winger agree is inferior to the original director's cut.  Needless to say, the Criterion Collection needs to get in contact with Larson so that we can finally see the release of cinema history's greatest bisexual murder mystery as it was originally intended to be.

    A very, very long time ago in 1939, the American revolutionary Francis Parker Yockey wrote while still in college, “Appalling numbers of youth have been led into a cynical ultra-sophisticated attitude which regards drinking as a badge of social aptitude, which makes a fetish of sport and professes eroticism as a way of life. A perverted and insane pictorial art, lewd exhibitionistic dancing and jungle music form the spiritual norm of this sector of America's youth.”  Of course, even Yockey could not have predicted a titular character as stupidly tragic as the titular character of Mike's Murder.  Undoubtedly, what makes the film so intriguing is that has a sort of paradoxical morality that seems to both embrace and decry the sort of hyper hedonistic homosexuality lifestyle it depicts, but I guess one not expect anything less from the auteur piece of a closeted gay man.  Either way, the titular character and his friends are certainly plagued with an all the more apocalyptically degenerate version of the nihilistic social attitude that Yockey warned of.



    -Ty E
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Liebestraum
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)



    For me, one of the greatest perennial cinematic tragedies is a film that almost achieves true greatness, but somehow falls short in one way or another. Indeed, whether it be the extremely poor choice of sexual encounters in a Radley Metzger fuck flick (e.g. the boner-breaking pegging climax in The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976)) or the phony emasculating feminism injected into Dutch auteur Martin Koolhoven’s apocalyptic western Brimstone (2016), cinema history is littered with begrudgingly admirable art that is oftentimes simultaneously intriguing and infuriating, which is certainly the way I would describe much of the oeuvre of mick-blooded English auteur Mike Figgis (Internal Affairs, Cold Creek Manor). While I have in some way or another enjoyed most of films that I have seen by Figgis, including a small chamber piece like his Strindberg adaptation Miss Julie (1999), every single one of them seems to suffer from some sort of glaring defect that makes me wonder whether or not the auteur was more suited for his original career as a musician. For example, Leaving Las Vegas (1995)—the somewhat overrated cinematic work that the auteur is best known for—is by no means a bad film yet it is oftentimes extremely unintentionally humorous in its depiction of a Nicholas Cage as a hyper histrionic suicidal dipsomaniac, which makes me assume that Figgis is, to some degree, emotionally tone deaf.

    Undoubtedly, my favorite Figgis flick is Liebestraum (1991), yet it also follows the Figgisian trend of being innately flawed and, in turn, sometimes annoying. Although a pure auteurist work in terms of being written, directed, and even scored by Figgis, the film also feels frustratingly derivative to some extent, as if the director was attempting to beat David Lynch at his own absurdist game by making his own more intellectual yet similarly esoteric equivalent to Blue Velvet (1986) in terms of presenting a semi-surreal psychosexual depiction of a degenerate white bread small town. Indeed, in terms of its handsome and well-dressed but semi-autistic protagonist, eccentric and oftentimes downright weirdo characters, sex-fueled mystery and intrigue, and unflattering depiction of the dark underbelly of a small American town, Figgis’ flick is the sort of cinematic work that you would expect from a talented artist that was hopelessly naïve enough to believe that anyone aside from David Lynch was capable of being truly Lynchian. Still, Liebestraum—a film that naturally borrows its name from the Franz Liszt piano piece of the same name (somewhat unfortunately, the film features a degenerate jazz cover of the song by American negro jazz alto saxophonist Earl Bostic)—is dripping with enough flavorsome idiosyncrasy and oneiric intrigue to appeal to the more discerning cinephile. Marinated in hermetic misogyny, omnious laconic mumblings, and tastefully lurid eros, Figgis’ esoteric erotic-mystery-thriller is a celluloid puzzle fueled by warm fresh pussy juice that manages to reward any filmgoer that does not like things completely spelled out for them.

    While I can understand why people are critical of the film, I truly do not understand how  Liebestraum was so ruthlessly savaged by most professional film critics when it was initially released, especially when it was made during a time that was not exactly great for movies.  For example, while his semitic frenemy Siskel had mostly favorable things to say about it, Roger Ebert clearly demonstrated he did not understand Figgis and his intent with the film when he wrote, “Figgis, who shows once again that he is a visual master, is guilty of a screenplay that is all twists and no substance,” as the flick was clearly made with a special emphasis put on style and atmospheric over narrative construction. In fact, it seems that not many critics understood or appreciated the film though in Rough Guide to Film: An A-Z of Directors and Their Movies (2007) the film is somewhat given its due with the brief line,“Tolling dangerously between memory, dream and a baleful present, this modern film noir caught something of the regret that permeates the best examples of the genre.”  Quite unlike classic film noir, the protagonist is not some cynical hard ass, but a hopeless romantic that is looking for love and manages to find it with a girl that can hardly be described as a femme fatale.  Indeed, the two leads seem like the only decent people left in the world, thus underscoring the importance and singularity of their love in a world full of prostitutes and property developers.



     Not exactly a study in intense method acting, Liebestraum is set in a vaguely oneiric and hesitatingly orgasmic world of somewhat ominous mystery and intrigue where the characters, especially the moody and broody male protagonist, seem to wander through life like somnambulists in some sort of absurdist purgatory where love is god's only reward.  In that sense, the film owes much to the silent acting of German Expressionism.  Indeed, male protagonist Nick Kaminsky (Kevin Anderson of Charlotte's Web (2006) fame in probably the greatest performance of his career)—a hunky yet somewhat pedomorphic and seemingly perennially sullen architecture professor—seems to be plagued with a serious case of Saudade, though for who and/or what does not seem apparent to him or the viewer, at least at first, though it feels as if some unseen force is pulling him in the direction of what might fill his internal void. In fact, Nick's essence somewhat brings to mind the P.G. Wodehouse quote, “A melancholy-looking man, he had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life's gas-pipe with a lighted candle,” so it should be no surprise that he is oftentimes both literally and figuratively in the dark. An adopted bastard that comes to a small Illinois town to be with his biological mother, who he has never actually known, during her last dying games, Nick is ultimately forced to confront a secret dark family history that will lead him to incest, albeit of a somewhat bittersweet sort. A film noir-ish gothic romance about sex, murder, and death that plays around with Nietzsche’s idea of the ‘eternal return’ in its preternatural depiction of cross-generation romantic betrayal and forbidden love, Liebestraum manages to straddle a surprisingly healthy medium between nightmare and erotic fantasy. Speaking of Nietzsche, the film also brings to mind his wonderful words, “Woman was God's second mistake,” though man does not fair much better in the film.  Indeed, judging simply by the flick, I would assume that Figgis is some sort of misanthrope as virtually all of the characters are loathsome aside from the socially awkward protagonist and his love interest.


     Whether plagued by transgenerational epigenetic inheritance or a curse, the film's hapless hero Nick and his unhappily married love interest find themselves more or less unwittingly reenacting the same exact behavior as the ill-fated parents that they never knew. By the end of the film, the viewer discovers that sometimes good sex can result in an intergenerational curse that involves the grand delight of forbidden love. Still, despite the film’s dark themes and somewhat ominous overall tone, Figgis sees the film as having an overall positive message, or as he once explained in an interview featured in the Faber and Faber screenplay, “I think LIEBERSTRAUM is important for me, in that it’s a growing up script in the sense that only by the two of them getting together do they give themselves the potential to carry on and go somewhere else – not keep returning to the house, not keep returning to that mother/father situation.” Indeed, in the erotic esoteric filmic realm of Figgis, unholy extramarital excursions can have positive life-changing outcomes, yet that is not how I initially interpreted the end, even though I rather enjoyed it. While the film concludes with a literal climax of the exceedingly erotically-charged sort, the ending somehow feels about as happy and complete as that of Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997). In that sense, the film is a curious artistic failure where Figgis seems to have done something that is arguably superior to his intent by bringing the ominous to the orgasmic in a somewhat grotesque climatic collage that combines sex and death in an inexplicably bittersweet fashion where the past literally takes its last gasp in the form of the protagonist’s mother while said protagonist passionately blows his load in his new lover-cum-sister.



     Not surprisingly considering the director, the average lemming filmgoer will probably learn more about the storyline of Liebestraum from watching the trailer than by watching the entire film. For starters, the film depicts two different extramarital affairs that take place thirty year apart, though the second affair could not have happened without the first. As depicted at the very beginning of the film, the first affair ended with the two lovers being gunned down in cold blood by a jealous unseen lover that is not revealed until towards the end of the flick. Not unlike the viewer, as the film progresses, protagonist Nick Kaminsky will eventually discover that his father, who he never knew, was one of the young lovers killed that night yet that does not stop him from putting himself in the same exact sort of situation that got his papa killed. Although now bearing the aesthetically displeasing polack surname of his adoptive parents, Nick is assumedly of Swedish racial stock as his mother is named Lillian Anderssen (Kim Novak in a rather unflattering but strangely fitting role) and he will eventually learn that his ill-fated padre carried the surname ‘Munnsen.’ At the beginning of the film, a rather dejected-looking Nick arrives to the glaringly symbolically named town of Elderstown via train so that he can provide comfort to the mother he never knew while she succumbs to cancer in a local hospital that is staffed by ‘grotesquely beauteous’ nurses that moonlight as prostitutes (or so one discovers in an imperative bar/brothel scene that was cut from some versions of the film). When Nick first visits his morbidly sick progenitor, she is completely unconscious and almost resembles a cadaver, but he will eventually discover on subsequent visits that she is a hateful guilt-ridden bitch that suffers from a sort of all-consuming spiritual (love)sickness that has been fermenting for thirty years.  While Nick will make a notable attempt to love his mother, he soon discovers that most of his emotional energy will be dispensed on a delectable dame that decided to symbolically chop all her hair off and get a dyke cut after her hotshot real estate developer husband cheated on her.



     In what ultimately proves to be a strangely auspicious insistence of happenstance that takes place near the beginning of the film, Nick bumps into an old college friend named Paul Kessler (Bill Pullman in a fitting role as a somewhat unlikable cuck)—an arrogant real estate developer—while the former is preparing demolition on a beautiful gothic “cast-iron” building that he was was admiring. Since Nick more or less saves his life by pushing him out of the way just in the nick of time after some debris falls off the roof of the building in what is ultimately an odd bit of foreshadowing, Paul is naturally quite happy to see his old buddy who now has a career teaching “architectural post-doctoral, pre-sexual-type thing” in upstate NY.  As Paul somewhat jealously explains to Nick, his wife Jane (Pamela Gidley) read and apparently even liked some of his pretentious, or as he awkwardly explains, “I read your books. Well, I didn’t read them, exactly, but I bought them. My wife read them. She really enjoyed them, she said. But then, you can never believe a woman.” Indeed, before they even physically meet, Nick and Jane are revealed to have a connection which is much deeper than the two or anyone else would have ever guessed. Naturally, despite the protagonist’s friendship with Paul, Nick and Jane will become lovers, but such forbidden love is a family tradition, or so the viewer eventually learns.  As for being unable to trust women, Paul is certainly right, or so he eventually learns in a rather brutal way.



     Not unlike Blue Velvet, Liebestraum is set in a degenerate quiet town where the center of the apple pie seems to be somewhat rancid, though in Figgis’ flick it seems that the most upstanding members of society also happen to be the most flagrantly degenerate as if their is a direct correlation between social prestige and perversity. Indeed, upon attending one of his pal Paul’s famous local parties, Nick discovers that his mother’s respected physician Dr. Parker (Thomas Kopache) is a sort of pathetic pervert that does not seem all that bothered that he is cuckolded by his slutty blonde wife Mary (Catherine Hicks of 7th Heaven fame in an unintentionally hilariously sinful role). At the same party, Nick also first meets Jane, who immediately says to him upon meeting him, “I recognize you. From the photograph in that book. Yeah. You’re Nick.” Notably, Nick also presents Jane with a bouquet of red roses that look just like ones that he previously gave to his mother while first visiting her in the hospital. While Nick apologizes for the roses being a “little sad,” Jane demonstrates her sort of (unconscious) symbolic interest in him by remarking, “I can fix sad roses.” In fact, Jane will ultimately fix Nick, at least romantically and sexually speaking, but not before a couple awkward encounters, including an incident at the party where she unwittingly begins to get dressed while the protagonist is curiously lurking around her room. 



     In what ultimately proves to be a very highly potentially deleterious yet nonetheless insightful incident that really reveals some of the underlying vulnerabilities of the protagonist, Nick somewhat foolishly decides to accept a ride home from Paul's party from an extremely drunk and belligerent cop named Sherriff Peter Ricker (Graham Beckel), who drives like a gleefully self-destructive sociopath and who makes the protagonist all the more uncomfortable by aggressively baiting him with rather rude questions like: “Do you like pussy?” Clearly troubled by the boorish cracked cop questioning his sexuality, Nick emotionally yells that he does love “pussy,” but he is not the sort of uncultivated mensch that is fond of just any old flowery cleft of flesh.  Although cut from the American MGM dvd release of the film (luckily, the scene is at least included as a special feature), in an imperative 7+-minute scene that really underscores the central themes and aesthetic tone of the film, Sheriff Peter reveals that he is not only a corrupt cop but that he also moonlights as a pimp by bringing him to a local seedy bar that doubles as a brothel. In this inordinately intense scene, an almost insufferably bitchy yet nonetheless beauteous prostitute named Cindy rather assertively attempts to tempt Nick with various pussy-peddlers, including a slut named Michelle that’s “reputation is built around her mouth. It’s big. It’s perfect” and a “bad girl” named Barbara that apparently takes brutal corporal punishment like a champ.  In between advertising the carnal merchandise, Cindy bitches out a blind prostitute named Annie for “depressing the fuck out of everyone” by playing Beethoven's ‘Moonlight Sonata.’  When Cindy asks Nick “Do you like to eat?” and he gives a less than impassioned reponse “yes,” she proceeds to stick her finger in Barbara’s meat curtain and then applies the fresh gash gravy on said finger onto the protagonist’s lips like it is lip gloss. While Nick shyly licks the cunt juice off his lips in a gingerly fashion, it is clear that he is intimidated by these dames and that he is probably only interested in Jane who has a similarly cerebral and introverted personality.  Indeed, naturally as someone that was abandoned as a baby by his biological mother, Nick clearly has problems with women so it is only natural that he ultimately falls for a similarly wounded soul. Clearly a hopeless romantic as demonstrated by his way with red roses, Nick's raison d'etre seems to be true love and with Jane he will inevitably find it, thus curing his romantic Sehnsucht.  Notably, Nick is haunted in his dreams by an aggressive little girl with red hair that seems to taunt the child version of himself.  At the very end of the film as the credits role, the same little girl is playing Liszt's titular ‘Liebestraum’ on piano in what is a fitting conclusion to this true cinematic love dream.



     Under the pretense of collaborating together on an article on the cast-iron building that is being demolished, Nick and Jane begin spending much of their time together and it is immediately obvious that their is an almost otherworldly chemistry between the two. Since her hubby Paul previously cheated on her, Jane has all the reason(s) she needs to cheat on him, but it is ultimately her love-at-first-sight feelings for Nick that cause her to cave and embrace the forbidden romance, though she is somewhat reluctant at first. Notably, before leaving for a trip to Seattle, Paul gets pathetically drunk and warns Nick not to fuck his wife by grabbing him in a less than friendly fashion and stating with a certain piss drunk passive-aggressive elegance, “This cast-iron building—you can come and go as you please, just don’t come in Jane.” Of course, Nick does eventually cum inside Jane and Paul even bears witness to the aftermath of their hot and heavy romance, which fittingly reaches its climax in the ruins of the cast-iron building. Before then, Nick must learn about his curious genetic inheritance and how sex and death have haunted his family before he was even born. Upon discovering that the cast-iron has been hated for a long time due to a scandalous murder-suicide incident that brought great shame to the area, Nick is naturally somewhat perturbed to discover that his father was one of the people killed in the incident. Indeed, supposedly Nick father’s father, Mr. Munnsen, was porking the hot blonde wife of his boss Barnard Ralston III. While it was assumed that Ralston shot Munnsen and his wife, who survived but suffered brain damage, before turning the gun on himself, it is eventually revealed via flashback that Nick’s mother shot them all while she was pregnant with him.  Seeming to die from a cancer that was sown in lovesick hatred and jealous, Nick's terminally ill mother is the seeming (barely) living antithesis of his romantic ideal. Although only really hinted at, it is also revealed that Jane is actually the sort of ungodly bastard love child of Nick’s father and Mrs. Ralston, thus making her and the protagonist biological half-siblings. Unbeknownst to Jane, who was adopted, she is also the bastard half-sibling of the surviving Ralston heir Barnard Ralston IV (Zach Grenier), who is also the one that ordered the cast-iron to be demolished. Notably, Barnard IV is a creepy little turd that creeps out Nick out so much while he is lurking among vintage mannequins inside the cast-iron that the protagonist manages to accidentally smash his head into a wall and get knocked out just from the sheer sight of the little fellow.  Indeed, seeming like the bastard progeny of Peter Lorre and a deformed gargoyle, Barnard IV virtually haunts both Nick and Jane, which is no surprise considering their accursed heritage.



     A sort of metaphysical melodrama where virtually every single character seems to be guided by some dubious foreboding fate, Liebestraum is undoubtedly most successful when it is at its most confidently ambiguous. For example, while waiting for Nick at the hospital where his mother is on her death bed, Jane attempts to help an elderly wheelchair-bound woman and gets the shock of a lifetime when she looks at the woman’s face and discovers that she is not only a braindead cripple with a large scar on her forehead where she was shot three decades before, but that she has the same exact eyes as her. While Jane has never seen this old woman in her entire life, it is obvious that she immediately realizes that this barely living creature is actually her biological mother. Needless to say, when Jane runs into Nick’s mother’s hospital room, the odious old bat freaks out and screams in an excruciatingly shrill fashion, “Oh, I’ve seen you. I’ve seen you with your legs spread!,” as she thinks that she is the same Ralston that she shot in the head 30 years before during a moment of lethally lovelorn rage and jealously. In fact, Nick’s mother Lillian is still haunted by her dead husband’s extramarital excursion and acts if it just happened yesterday, as she complains to her son in regard to the moment that she realized her spouse was cheating on her, “I began to kiss the fingers, one by one, and I could smell cunt on them.” Notably, Nick’s mother also later smells his hands and complains, “I can smell her on you,” as if she has mistaken her for her dead husband. Naturally, it is only fitting that Lillian dies at the same exact time that Nick and Jane are making love inside the cast-iron building. While Lillian dies and the building is assumedly subsequently demolished, Nick and Jane have built a hot and steamy romance, albeit of the unwittingly incestuous sort.  While Jane's husband arrives at the cast-iron with a loaded weapon and discovers that his wife and Nick have just made love, he simply sheds a tear instead of killing them.  Indeed, unlike Nick's murderously jealous mommy, Paul seems to mournfully accept the gravity of the situation as if he understands the authenticity of their love, thus bringing an end to the sick cycle of sex-and-death that has haunted the town.

    As to the importance of the climatic sex-death scene, auteur Figgis himself stated, “The link between sex and death is a very strong and fascinating one to explore.  When people close to us die, the sexual urge becomes very strong as an affirmation of being alive.  In LIEBESTRAUM, the character Nick finds himself in a situation where he is visiting his mother, a mother he's never met before, a mother who is obsessed with sexual guilt and jealousy for her husband/son.  So, he finds himself in a situation where he's presented with the chance to be promiscuous: he doesn't really know why, but it's a fascinating world to be drawn into.  So, what I tried to do in the film is not to play it in a particularly sexual way, but to try and charge the atmosphere.”



     While Liebestraum technically has a happy ending of otherworldly orgasmic proportions, it somehow seems more bitter than sweet, unless you have no qualms about incestuous or extramarital affairs, but then again, as auteur Figgis once stated in regarded to the film, “There is also the fatalistic aspect of sex. People are fated to get together and it’s not necessarily to do with a kind of 1960s idea of sex being good, clean fun. The cleaner and more wholesome you make sex, the less interesting it becomes. It also demeans it as the strongest and most basic instinct we have, and separates it into a containable compartment – which American film has done.” Indeed, in many ways, Figgis’ film is like an anti-Brief Encounter (1945) as a cinematic work were the protagonist arrives via train and does not bother repressing his sexuality like the poor little lady of the David Lean flick but instead exercises his demons and delicately defiles a dame that he seems like he was practically born to love.  Personally, I find it practically impossible to relate to any sort of romance flick, but Liebestraum practically had me wishing I had some singularly beauteous unknown bastard half-sister that I could fuck.

    Apparently, certain pansy American viewers found the original uncut version of the film to be so perverse that Figgis was actually convinced to excise the infamous whorehouse scene, or as the auteur stated himself, “The scene in the whore-house, as scripted – although it functions, in a sense, like a one-act play and can be lifted, as it has been, completely out of the film – had an enormously important role to play psychologically, for the leading character, with the smell of women, the taste of women, and the establishing of his character in terms of how he behaved in the situation – was not at all like something out of TOM JONES. In other words, it was not a rollicking yarn where a ‘real man’ would go in and roger those prostitutes and come out and say: I managed to fuck then of them, how did you do? Nick was very submissive and intimidated by these strong women, who also confronted him with the flip-side of the coin of how men would like women to behave, which is as demure rape victims. No, these were women who came forward and said: What would you like? They were very aggressive. And I thought it set a tone in the film which was sort of outrageous, from which the character then had to live through the rest of the film, and go through a sort of romance, and deal with his mother, and ultimately come to terms with an image which had already occurred in that scene. But at the preview the audience were horrified by the scene. They were so offended and uncomfortable, and made so hostile by having to watch this scene, that it was impossible to watch the rest of the film. It turned into a completely circus, with people shouting and leaving. There was this incredible aggression coming from the audience.”




     While Figgis made the rather absurd and virtually anti-artistic decision to cut out an imperative and highly unforgettable scene from Liebestraum, he was curiously way less tolerant of the idea of artistic compromise when it came to incorporating a quasi-pornographic interracial Adam and Eve scenario in his later experimental feature The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999). Indeed, As Figgis stated himself in regard to his own personal cuckkampf, “At one point it almost got as far as pre-production in L.A. It was a ‘sure thing.’ They ‘loved it.’ We had lunch to celebrate and during the dessert the producers brought up a small point, something small they wished to change, something they were sure would not trouble me at all because it was so damn trivial. I was intrigued by what this tiny detail could be. They wanted Adam to be white and Eve to be black. What it boiled down to was the head of distribution was a white South African and he felt that the world was not ready to see a white woman being rogered by a black man. The script was more radical than the film turned out to be. Over coffee I refused to change the script and they regretfully said that the issue was a deal breaker and that was the end of that. The success of LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1955) is what [finally] made it possible to raise the money for THE LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE. They money was raised by pre-selling the film all over the world.” In short, for his cinematic dream project, Figgis—a mick-blooded Englishman that spent his early childhood living in Nairobi, Kenya—was unable to back down on his mission of cultural cuckoldry in the form of a film-destroying anti-fascist Adam and Eve miscegenation scenario that is sure to sicken any white man that has not already been spiritually castrated. In fact, Figgis even had his then-girlfriend Saffron Burrows—a fairly beauteous yet seemingly bat-shit-crazy chick that now lives as a carpet-muncher that is married to another woman—portray Eve and thus had the majorly masochistic and emasculating opportunity of directing his lover having sex with a pitch black sambo (incidentally, the sambo question is not exactly well endowed and seems like a burnt little rodent when in the company of the pale porcelain yet simultaneously fiery fire-crotched beauty of Burrows). 




     Were it not for its rather repugnant interracial Adam and Eve sequences and various other examples of ethno-masochism and preposterous pretentiousness, The Loss of Sexual Innocence might have been Figgis’ magnum opus, but I personally believe that both Liebestraum and his debut feature Stormy Monday (1988) are superior. An audaciously anti-American jazz-driven neo-noir starring Sting and an unbelievably young and fresh Sean Bean, Figgis’ first feature is certainly underrated and a great example of his prowess as a multi-media artist (on top of directing and penning the film, he also created the soundtrack), but Liebestraum is indubitably a more intricate, aesthetically potent, and unforgettable work. In fact, I recently had a sort of Figgis marathon and I can only come to the conclusion that the auteur has only gotten shockingly worse and worse as the decades have passed, as if he has gotten superlatively lazy and increasingly committed himself to approaching filmmaking as something akin to jazz improvisation. A huge proponent of using digital video as opposed to film, Figgis has spent the greater portion of the last two decades directing mostly worthless trash that can, at best, be described as bloody messy DV abortions. For example, I found his pseudo-Dogme 95 experiment in sapless self-indulgence Hotel (2001)—a badly botched piece of megalomanical meta(pseudo)cinema—to be so painful in terms of its sheer aesthetic insipidity and overall general incoherence that I could not even bring myself to finish watching it. On the other hand, Figgis’ most famous and successful film, Leaving Las Vegas, is by no means a masterpiece and certainly far too generic and just plain phony when compared to his greatest films like Stormy Monday, Liebestraum, and The Loss of Sexual Innocence.  In terms of his mainstream hack work like the Henry Bean penned Internal Affairs (1990) and The Browning Version (1994) remake, they are still far more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing than Figgis' recent digital video twaddle.

     Sadly, I simply cannot see Figgis ever directing a film that can be described as an unmitigated masterpiece. For me, Liebestraum is ultimately a sort of arthouse equivalent to junk food, as a fun and highly re-watchable cinematic work that demonstrates that failed art is not necessarily bad art and that artistic pretense is not always painful and/or fremdschämen-inducing. Notably, when the film was originally released, it was oftentimes (unfavorably) compared to the superficially similarly themed Dead Again (1991) directed by Kenneth Branagh, which is somewhat unfortunate since it is like comparing Luis Buñuel to Mel Brooks. In other words, Figgis’ flick is the work of an aesthetically-inclined artist and Branagh’s film is the product of a talented yet tone deaf artisan that lacks the innate poetic flair that is typical of Figgis’ more accomplished cinematic works. Indeed, there is no doubt that Figgis is a talented artist, yet his own innate degeneracy seems to have prevented him from evolving into a great artiste that is capable of creating great works in the same league as a Bergman, Antonioni, Lynch or even a Cronenberg. Of course, Figgis in unequivocally a true auteur with his own original vision, as most of his films, especially the pre-digital ones, seem to inhabit the same fucked (and idiosyncratically sexually-charged) Figgisian universe.  In other words, in terms of British filmmakers, Figgis is more of an artist than a Christopher Nolan or a Tom Hooper, but of course art does not sell as the uniquely underrated filmmaking career of Philip Ridley (The Reflecting Skin, The Passion of Darkly Noon) surely demonstrates.




     While Liebestraum received a number of negative reviews when it was originally release, it is also, somewhat ironically, one of, if not Figgis’ most personal film, or as the auteur explained himself in an interview when asked by Walter Donohue, “I think it is. There are things in LIEBESTRAUM that when I came to write certain scenes I thought: Oh no, I can’t really put that in. It’s a little bit too – not only personal – but a little bit too intimate. It was quite a barrier to cross to actually write the film. But then, having written the film, it’s fine. There’s no problem about it any more. The interesting thing about filmmaking is that you do work these things out. And only by making these things as films, do you move on from them and, in a sense, become richer. You look at other people’s work, like Bergman. He’s worked through all kinds of strange emotional statement that he’s put on film and then gone on to something else.” Rather unfortunately, Figgis is no Bergman, but he does go slightly further than the Swedish cinematic sage in terms of sensual subversion, albeit in a curious cunt cream fashion. Judging by the glaring cultural cuckoldry in The Loss of Sexual Innocence and the preternatural passivity of the protagonist of Liebestraum, it seems that Figgis is the emasculated auteur par excellence.  Still, one must give the filmmaker credit for his honesty in terms of exposing said emasculation.  One also must give him credit for clearly both loving and exploiting film the conventions of film noir.  After all, as Nietzsche once wrote, “The good men of every age are those who go to the roots of the old thoughts and bear fruit with them, the agriculturalists of the spirit.  But every soil becomes finally exhausted, and the ploughshare of evil must always come once more.”  Unfortunately, it seems that Figgis' own soil has succumb to hardscrabble.  As to the central message one takes from a romance as raw and raunchy yet perversely passionate and authentically darkly romantic as Liebestraum, Nietzsche certainly had it right when he wrote, “That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.”



    -Ty E
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Cutter's Way
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)



    I have to confess that, nowadays, there are very few films that I can truly relate to in terms of sheer nihilism, pessimism, and cynicism, especially in regard to the Reaganite 1980s when Spielberg was king and the promotion of collective fantastic infantilization was the name of the game among the neo-Vaudevillian shysters, hucksters, and culture-distorters in Tinseltown. Don’t get me wrong, the 1980s produced some great dark films including David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and Tim Hunter’s River's Edge (1986), but I think Ivan Passer’s Cutter's Way (1981) aka Cutter and Bone—a film based on the 1976 novel of the latter name by Newton Thornburg—is the only cinematic work of its era that goes all the way in terms of pure and adulterated cultural pessimism in regard to the state of the United States and its increasingly disenfranchised white working-class majority. Of course, the film has more in common with the aesthetically and culturally subversive films of the American New Wave of the late-1960s and 1970s than most films of its era. Indeed, as Charles Taylor explained in his rather readable yet hopelessly boomer-esque book Opening Wednesday at a Theater Or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American '70s (2017), “WINTER KILLS also calls up the closing days of a decade that has proven to be the richest period in American moviemaking. There were still remarkable movies being made, and wonderful poplar movies that were yet to come, like E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. But, more and more, daring and gusty pictures went unseen. Two years later Jeff Bridges would star in another of them, Ivan Passer’s CUTTER’S WAY, and would see it, like WINTER KILLS, yanked from theaters after a week (in this case because United Artists was still reeling from the disaster of HEAVEN’S GATE—which Bridges also appeared in—the previous month.)

     In terms of its cynical conspiracy theme, Passer’s film certainly has much in common with a number of great 1970s flicks ranging from Francis Ford Coppola’s Antonioni-esque The Conversation (1974) to Arthur Penn’s decidedly dark post-Watergate neo-noir Night Moves (1975) to John Schlesinger’s post-shoah Judaic thriller Marathon Man (1976), yet it manages to transcends all of these films in terms of both aesthetic and metaphysical prowess. Like a distillation of the darkest and most nihilistic elements of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) and Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo (1980) and featuring a miserable ménage à trios that really demystifies such socially sick romantic arrangements as reflected in such absurd bourgeois cinematic depictions ranging from François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim (1962) to Oliver Stone’s Savages (2012), Cutter's Way is indubitably one of the oh-so rare idiosyncratic neo-noir flicks that manages to rival the great classic film noir masterpieces like Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950) and Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951) in terms of depicting the worst of the worst of the particular American zeitgeist that they represent.




     While he would eventually degenerate into a for-hire hack that would helm forgettable TV movies, Czech auteur Passer originally received international critical acclaim for his association with the Czech New Wave and directing Intimní osvětlení (1965) aka Intimate Lighting and co-penning the classic early Miloš Forman flicks Lásky jedné plavovlásky (1965) aka Loves of a Blonde and Hoří, má panenko (1967) aka The Firemen's Ball. After defecting to the West with the aid of sleazy guido producer Carlo Ponti following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Passer made his way to the United States and made his American debut with the rather gritty and nihilistic ghetto black-comedy Born to Win (1971) aka Addict aka Scraping Bottom starring alpha-Jew George Segal as a superlatively sleazy Hebraic junky and hobo that lives to lie, cheat, and steal so that he can get his next big fix in between attempting evade the cops and other dangerous gutter-dwelling scum. Based on a story by Hebraic playwright David Scott Milton—a consciously kosher writer that also penned mundane screenplays for fellow chosenites like Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Pollack, and Irvin Kershner—the film is notable for featuring one of the most shameless and morally bankrupt Jewish characters since the Third Reich era films of Veit Harlan. In short, the ironically titled film, which features a fairly early young Robert De Niro in a small role, is like a Jewish and more cynical equivalent to Paul Morrissey’s Trash (1970) in terms of depiction of the virtual purgatorial lifestyle of an east coast dope fiend. While Passer indubitably has an uneven and inconsistent oeuvre, Born to Win is undoubtedly part of the same cinematic lineage as Cutter’s Way as a film that seems to take savagely sardonic delight in ruthlessly murdering what is left of the great myth that is the American dream. Notably, Passer rightly regards both of these films as his greatest achievements as a filmmaker, or as he described in a 2016 interview with Film Comment, “I don’t have a favorite. I like BORN TO WIN, but I think its blend of European and American sensibilities disoriented many critics at the time. It’s now considered one of my best films. Maybe CUTTER’S WAY, which is perhaps my most American film. It is a damaging account of a nation that has lost its final illusions in the Vietnam War and of a society eaten away by corruption.”



    In some ways, to describe Cutter’s Way as anti-American would be a gross understatement but, at the same time, it is also, despite its Slavic director, shamelessly American, at least in terms of depicting everything that is uniquely ugly about the considerably bastardized nation. Indeed, H.L. Mencken might as well have been writing a sort of philosophical synopsis for the film when he wrote in his essay The Libido for the Ugly (1926), “Here is something that the psychologists have so far neglected: the love of ugliness for its own sake, the lust to make the world intolerable. Its habitat is the United States. Out of the melting pot emerges a race which hates beauty as it hates truth.” A film that only contains pulchritude in its potent putridity and understatedly morbid melancholia, the film depicts a metaphysically sick, culturally and racially deracinated, and morosely materialistic coastal microcosm where the technically physical beautiful are downright ugly due to their attitudes and personalities and where every sunny beach is despoiled due to its loathsome inhabitants. A sad and pathetic yet undeniably darkly humorous film depicting a failed dime store gigolo and his unhinged crippled Vietnam War veteran pal playing virtual Russian Roulette with their own lives by trying to prove that a powerful local cutthroat capitalist was responsible for the brutal rape and murder of a local teenage cheerleader, Cutter’s Way is a true antihero’s tale where true justice seems all but totally obsolete, as the society it depicts is so innately and irrevocably corrupt that there is no hope for the common man to prevail, at least in any big or meaningful way. As for love and romance, they are nothing but a distant memory as the characters are too sick and internally wounded, drunk, and impenetrable to act on their own conflicted emotions. As the end of the film ultimately demonstrates, only death and revenge can provide these pathetic lost souls with any real sense of personal catharsis. A sort of West Coast buddy flick equivalent to Taxi Driver (1976), albeit with protagonists that are slightly more sane and sympathetic, the film will almost unequivocally be regarded as a masterpiece by any serious cinephile that is willing to see American for what it really is; a cultural and spiritual void that is beyond redemption. In fact, despite their glaring flaws, the characters are almost too sympathetic as they force the viewer to confront their own most shameful and unflattering flaws, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses; or at least their own personal capacity for said flaws, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses. After watching the film, one should certainly reconsider Arthur Schopenhauer’s words, “The most effective consolation in every misfortune and every affliction is to observe others who are more unfortunate than we: and everyone can do this. But what does that say for the condition of the whole?



    While Cutter’s Way is certainly, to some extent, an allegory for the disillusionment many Americans felt as a result of the Vietnam War, assassination of JFK, and failure of the so-called Civil Rights movement, among other things, it transcends these themes and acts as a sort of exercise in Sehnsucht, angst, and a specifically American 20th-century form of Mal du siècle. Depicting a rather pathetic situation were two best friends love the same perennially doped up dipsomaniac dame, who also seems to love both of them yet is similarly hopeless in expressing said love, the film ultimately presents an unapologetically forlorn world where love is not enough to establish permanent solid interpersonal bonds and perpetual misery seems more desirable to happiness because the latter only seems like a sick joke due to its scarcity and lack of longevity. While Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges) is a rootless wanderer that cannot commit to anything aside from lacklusterly boning old blonde bourgeois bitches for a couple shekels (not unlike Joe Buck of Midnight Cowboy (1969), he is also somewhat bashful when it comes to asking for payment for his sensual services), his best friend Alex Cutter (John Heard)—a sardonically disgruntled Vietnam War veteran that is missing a couple limps and sports of an eye patch that fittingly makes him look like a pirate-cum-biker—has more or less declared total war against the entire world as a man that is plagued with fuchsteufelswild. Although Cutter is married to her, Bone clearly loves the female protagonist Maureen ‘Mo’ Cutter (Lisa Eichhorn) and the three live together like one supremely fucked unhappy (anti)family where nil children naturally are roaming around (after all, degenerates tend not to reproduce, or so once wrote early Zionist leader Max Nordau in his infamous text Entartung (1892) aka Degeneration). While both Cutter and Mo seem to be longing for death to some degree, Bone is just too damn passive, cowardly, and infuriately indecisive to embrace something of such patent permanence, so it is only fitting that both of the former die in the end while the latter finally gains some degree of testicular fortitude. As Cutter complains in regard to attempting to get Bone involved in something important, “It’s like trying to seduce a eunuch.”

    While they all seem to be alcoholics to some degree, Cutter is a belligerent drunk and his wife Mo seems to be slowly but surely drinking herself into death in between taking bong hits. Undoubtedly, in some alternate reality where they both were not so screwed up, Bone and Mo seem like they could make the perfect loving couple. Of course, Mo is a supremely bitter bitch as demonstrated by her welcoming remark to Bone, “ …you’re home awfully early, aren’t you? Couldn’t you find a matron with a taste for gutter squalor?” In fact, Mo has no problem rubbing it into Bone’s face that she is married to his best friend Cutter as demonstrated by her gleefully savage remark, “Really must be tough playing second fiddle to a one-eyed cripple.” Indeed, while Cutter might be a cripple that seems to suffer from a perpetual state of fahne, he’s certainly got more swag and machismo than his best pal, who at least partly owes his lack of masculine prowess to the fact that he went to college instead of the Vietnam War. On the other hand, had Cutter not been physically and emotionally crippled in the war, it would not be hard to imagine him as the ultimate pussy-magnet alpha-male, but instead he is a self-destructively bitter and resentful quasi-suicidal renegade that lives life in the most miserable and misanthropic, albeit charismatic, fashion imaginable.  As pathetic as they are all, the trio needs each other, so naturally things begin to fall apart when one of them dies.



    Although more focused on character development, mood, and atmosphere, Cutter’s Way centers around Cutter and Bone’s somewhat misguided yet nonetheless respectable mission to expose a local capitalist hotshot named J. J. Cord (Stephen Elliott) for the brutal rape and murder of a beauteous blonde high school cheerleader; or, more accurately, the film focuses on the eponymous antihero's attempt to get his pathologically passive male prostitute pal involved in the exposing of said local capitalist hotshot.  The trouble starts when Bone is arrested after he unwittingly witnesses the dumping of the teenage girl’s corpse into a back alley dumpster during a nasty rainy night. While Bone—a man that epitomizes the antithesis to Nietzsche’s concept of the Will to Power—initially wants nothing to do with the murder mystery, Cutter and the dead girl’s older sister Valerian Duran (Ann Dusenberry) make it their mission to get involved and force the hapless man hooker to tag along. Indeed, as is fitting for a film set in a nihilistic post-Vietnam War America, the friends develop a degree of obsession and paranoia that rivals some of the most single-minded investigations into the JFK assassination conspiracy. Despite seeing Cord at a local parade and being initially completely convinced that he is the same killer that he saw before, Bone later tries to reject or contradict any of Cutter’s arguments as to why the tycoon is their man. In fact, they even find a newspaper article where Cord more or less sadistically brags about his sinister deeds, stating in a creepily cryptic fashion, “I like to pickup hitchhikers. Especially young ones. I like their input.” Of course, as demonstrated by the fact that semen is found in the dead girl’s mouth, Cord is actually the one that likes giving input.



    When the group conspires to create a “pretend blackmail plan” to see if Cord will reveal his guilt by actually paying the money, Mo, who wants nothing to do with the entire charade, ruthlessly rebukes the group for even considering getting involved in such potentially dangerous criminal activity. Indeed, aside from sarcastically telling Valerie to, “get fucked, sweetie,” Mo gets so exceedingly enraged with her hubby Cutter that she even mocks him for being a cripple, stating with the sort of rage that one can only expect from an agitated female lover, “You’re not some saint avenging the sins of the earth, you know, Alex. And if you are, what am I doing here? Oh, I know. I’m like your [missing] leg. Your leg! Sending messages to your brain and there’s nothing there anymore.” Needless to say, Bone is not too happy when his ladylove is smacked by Cutter due to her rather rude verbal indiscretions. Rather ironically, it is ultimately Mo that is the first victim of the group’s dubious detective work, as she dies in a rather horrific fashion after someone burns their house down. To make matters more morosely emotional, Mo cheats on Cutter and sleeps with Bone the very same night she is killed. In fact, while having sex, Mo even breaks down crying and says to Bone “I love you,” but the pathetic gigolo ultimately lets her down in the end. While Mo makes a rather emotional plea for Bone to stay the night with her and he obliges, he later secretly slips outside and abandons her not long after she falls asleep, thus unwittingly saving his own life in the process.  Of course, as someone that is as hopelessly miserable as Mo, it almost seems fitting that she dies, especially during an emotional night where she actually reveals her loving tender side but is ultimately betrayed by the very same weak man that she lovingly confides in.  Naturally, Cutter is enraged when Bone admits that he had sex with Mo by meekly confessing in a half-hearted fashion, “That night I left . . . She was pretty depressed, you know, things got kind of heavy.” Not surprisingly, Mo’s horrendous death makes Cutter and even Bone all the more determined to bring Cord to justice. Unfortunately, two perennial fuck-ups make for a poor match against a seemingly all-powerful tycoon that seems to practically own all of Santa Barbara, but luckily Cutter is on a suicide mission and thus willing to go all the way lest he fail the memory of his beloved self-described “wifey.”




    During their intense investigation, Cutter and Bone discover that Cord has a long history of murdering people and getting away with it. For example, the father of Cutter’s friend-cum-boss George Swanson (Arthur Rosenberg) was apparently killed by Cord a number of decades before over a business deal. As a means to both covertly control and keep tabs on George, Cord paid for his college education and set him up as the boss of a boat shop, which Bone also incidentally works at. Despite the fact that George is totally petrified of his tycoon boss, Cutter goes ahead and steals an invitation for a big party at Cord’s house so that he and Bone can sneak in and confront the supposed killer. True to his pathetically passive nature, Bone attempts to talk Cutter out of even going to the party, stating, “Alex, what’s this gonna prove? It’s not like it’s gonna change anything. It’s not gonna bring her back. It’s not gonna take away our guilt. It’s not gonna make you whole again, you know that. Nothing’s ever gonna do that,” but the hardcore headcase vet merely responds by suggestively placing a pistol in his suit jacket and saying “I, uh… I gotta go, I go.” Needless to say, not unlike the antihero of Sam Peckinpah’s final masterpiece Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), Cutter is on a suicide mission of sorts as he has lost his beloved and has nothing left to lose. Assumedly out of a sense of obligation to both his best friend and dead lover, Bone reluctantly decides to join Cutter at the party, which proves to be a true shit show. Indeed, not long after joining the party, Bone is captured and beat up by Cord’s bodyguards while Cutter rides around the large property on a stolen horse like a deranged bloodlusting berserker high on mushrooms.

     Upon meeting and talking with Cord, Bone encounters a seemingly reasonable man who states he is willing to discuss with Cutter the supposed “fantasy” that he has created in his head, stating, “I understand he’s a veteran. Well, I’ve been in the war. I know what it does to some men. I’m willing to talk to your friend if you think it will do any good. Do you think it will do any good?” Not long after, Cutter fittingly crashes the horse he is riding through Cord’s office window and receives a fatal wound via a broken piece of glass in the process. While holding Cutter as he is dying in his arms, Bone stares at Cord and states with a certain visceral intensity, “It was you,” to which the tycoon shockingly and quite mockingly replies with a certain sickly self-assured arrogance, “What if it was?,” and then proceeds to put on the same sunglasses that he wore the night the Duran girl was murdered. In a symbolic act where the two broken ‘half-men’ become one full whole as men in their dual vengeance against the man that killed the woman they both loved, Bone wraps his hand around Cutter’s hand and pulls the trigger of the gun that his lifeless metacarpus is caressing in what is ultimately a fittingly ambiguous ending.




    While Cutter’s Way concludes on a somewhat ambiguous note with Bone shooting Cord, auter Passer shot a sort of epilogue for the film that he never used, or as he explained in a July 15, 1981 interview featured in The Soho News with Jonathan Rosenbaum when asked if it was possible that the protagonist could get away with killing the rich tycoon, “Actually, I shot what happens after that. He walks out of this huge mansion, and it’s just before sunset; and he goes faster and faster and finally begins to run through the trees. And there’s a scene on his sailboat, which he lives on. he’s sailing out of the harbor, and he hears a laugh that sounds like Cutter’s laugh. He stops and looks at where it came from, and he sees there are a few sailors on a small cutter. And one of them looks like Cutter; he’s drinking a beer. And he laughs again. At that moment, Bone almost hits the coast and the Coast Guard; he almost brushes against this huge boat. But he avoids the accident, and soon gets on the open sea, and sails away. They very much wanted this ending, but it took away something. You know, this film is about pulling a trigger — what it takes — and we felt, the writer, producer, and I, that this would be just a tag that would dissipate the emotional impact of that last shot, and so we pleaded with them, and they finally agreed.” While I find this potential ending intriguing, I am glad that Passer went the more arthouse route and left the film the way it is. After all, if I have any serious complaints about Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, it is that I think it should have concluded right after Travis Bickle’s bloody shootout and not with the somewhat absurd revelation that the deranged antihero has been hailed as a local hero.




    While it could certainly be argued that the film has elements that can interpreted as everything from a quasi-Marxist critique of the evils of capitalist oligarchs to a pessimistic Buchanian Paleoconservative portrait of the social, cultural, and racial decline of the United States in an age where both sides of the pseudo-dichotomous American political system support globalization and disfranchisement of white lumpenproles, there is no doubt that Cutter’s Way would never be made in Hollywood today simply because of its many moments of darkly humorous (and simply delightful) racial insensitivity. For example, early on in the film in his very first scene, Cutter pisses off a group of negroes at a bar after loudly stating in regard to a colored friend, “And last but certainly least, is Rastus, the court nigger.” Instead of cucking out and denying he said the word, Cutter takes things a little further and remarks to the group of angry negroes that are surrounding him, “What? Do I detect some tension? Oh. Come now, gentlemen. It’s a simple matter of semantics. What are we white, well-intentioned liberals supposed to call you cats these days, huh? Blacks? Coloreds? Negroes? Darkies?,” thereupon eloquently mocking the legacy of so-called civil rights movement, racial equality, and white liberal ethno-masochistic do-gooder bullshit in the process. Of course, it would not be a proper California film without Cutter making some rather scathing remarks in regard to so-called Hispanics and their American injun brothers. Indeed, while enjoying the sights and sounds of a multicultural Mission of Santa Barbara parade, Cutter declares during a moment of great exuberance with unrivaled dipsomaniacal eloquence, “Look, our glorious past, the Mission of Santa Barbara. Happy padres, happy Indians. The blessings of the white man. Wiped out in less than 200 years by disease and forced labor. You can still get one to clean up your kitchen or you know, park your car. They died with Christ’s blessing. Happy corpses, each and every one.” A natural comedian that knows how to correlate miscegenation with bestiality without even literally saying it, Cutter attempts to squash his wife’s worries by telling her when she asks him what he has been doing all night, “Minding my own business. Doing a little research. Oh, and I conducted a modest sociological experiment. Picked up several hitchhikers. Yeah. An Afro-American homosexual and two mestizas with a domesticated simian. Black cat and the two mez chicks weren’t bad, but don’t ever orgy with a pet monkey. The little fuckers bite.” As his rather hilarious remarks and domestic violence against crazy women demonstrates, Cutter is, for better or worse, unequivocally the Jim Goad of disgruntled Vietnam War veterans.




    Maybe it is the physical appearance of the characters, but to me Cutter’s Way acts as a sort of unhinged cinematic requiem-cum-Ragnarök to American working-class whites—the real people that built America—that had their lives destroyed as a result of the largely Judaic and bourgeois counterculture movement, which introduced this forsaken (and clearly unwitting) generation to hard drugs, pacifism, miscegenation, negrophilia, and other garbage that the same sort of kosher culture-distorters peddled in the Weimar Republic. Indeed, when I see the characters of the film, I am reminded of my mother’s hippie junky brother who had his skull crushed in a car wreck and the various uncles my ex-girlfriend had that either committed suicide or overdosed on heroin.  Probably for different reasons than he intended them, the film bleeds Austrian mischling Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s words, “The weariness of long-forgotten peoples hangs heavy on my eyelids.” Of course, it is only fitting that Cutter’s Way was an abject commercial failure as it was created in the same Hollywood that got wealthy romanticizing hippie hedonism with films like Easy Rider (1969), which is a deceptively culturally corrosive cinematic work that probably inspired more unintentional drug overdoses and hick-hating than any other. While the villain of the film is obviously supposed to be some sort of stereotypical rich WASP villain—a group that was already in steady decline at the time that was being rapidly replaced by members of the chosen tribe—I think it would be more historically accurate to seem him as a sort of Bert Schneider figure or, at the very least, one of the Sackler brothers of Purdue Pharma infamy. As Emil Cioran once wrote in his classic text A Short History of Decay (1949), “A nation dies when it no longer has the strength to invent new gods, new myths, new absurdities; its idols blur and vanish; it seeks them elsewhere, and feels alone before unknown monsters. This too is decadence. But if one of these monsters prevails, another world sets itself in motion, crude, dim, intolerant, until it exhausts its god and emancipates itself from him; for man is free—and sterile—only in the interval when the gods die; slave—and creative—only in the interval when, as tyrants, they flourish.” Undoubtedly, the Christian god is dead in the world of Cutter’s Way but an “unknown monster’ certainly seems to be a hidden ominous force that encourages a sort of collective nihilism where love is an impossibility, passivity a virtue, sex and drug addiction the driving force in life, and procreation a sin. Needless to say, it is no coincidence that when people like the eponymous protagonist of Passer’s film were losing limbs and their minds in the Vietnam War, the Bert Schneiders of the world were calling these drafted soldiers “baby killers” while sitting back and smoking weed, banging shiksa sluts, aiding and abetting Black Panther Party killers like Huey P. Newton, and producing commie agitprop trash like Hearts and Minds (1974).


    Notably, Cutter’s Way is infamous for being the victim of internal politics at United Artists, which just suffered the virtual studio-sinking blockbuster bomb of Michael Cimino’s epic in auteur egotism Heaven's Gate (1980) also starring Jeff Bridges (in fact, somewhat ironically, the studio apparently finally agreed to fund the film after Bridges got on board because they liked him due to his dailies from Cimino’s film). Although championed by various prominent film reviewers, UA spent virtual nil on advertising and promotion for the film, though, as a result of various positive reviews, the studio eventually decided to re-release it in 1981 under its United Artists Classics division and enter it into various film festivals under a new name (indeed, Cutter and Bone was later changed to the current title). Not unsurprisingly, auteur Passer, who seems to regard it as his greatest film, was left exceedingly embittered by the entire ordeal and stated in an article entitled ‘Passer's Way’ featured in the July/August 1981 edition of Film Comment magazine, “You can assassinate movies as you can assassinate people. I think UA murdered the film. Or at least they tried to murder it.” Featuring deceptively warm and intoxicating cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth (Altered States, Blade Runner) and a characteristically idiosyncratically resplendent score by deranged musical genius Jack Nitzsche (Cruising, Starman), Cutter’s Way is probably the most criminally underrated project for every single artist involved in it, not least of all actors John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn. Of course, to quote the titular antihero of the film, “Great art demands a great audience, you know what I mean?,” hence the film's failure in the early 1980s when Star Wars twaddle and mindless Spielbergian fantasy was vogue.

    While Cutter's Way is a positively and patently pessimistic flick set in a world where heroes are non-existent and virtually everything about life seems worthless, it does have one very important message in regard to the need to take a stand in life despite it seemingly pointless and futile.  Indeed, as Oswald Spengler once wrote in his classic short text Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life (1932), “We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.”  Indeed, the eponymous antihero of Cutter's Way might have been a deranged drunkard and aggressively nihilistic shithead, but he at least died with something resembling honor, which is something that cannot be said of most people from the dreaded baby boomer generation. In short, forget emotionally counterfeit bourgeois bullshit like Hebraic hack Lawrence ‘Star Wars’ Kasdan's The Big Chill (1983), Cutter's Way is the ultimate ‘feel-bad’ boomer film as it does the seemingly impossible by redeeming the boomers, at least the forgotten white working-class ones. 



    -Ty E
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Naked Tango
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)



    While Paul Schrader is, at least to some extent, a failed filmmaker in the sense that very few of his films have been monetarily successful and, more importantly, he oftentimes fails when it comes to translating his screenplays into fully realized films (indeed, it is no coincidence that he is best known for his screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver), his older and lesser known brother Leonard, who only managed to direct a single feature during his somewhat sad life, is indubitably an artistic failure that was never able to reach anywhere near his full artistic potential.  Although surely no masterpiece, Leonard's sole feature Naked Tango (1990) is undoubtedly a intriguing film worthy of reexamination and a cinematic work that reveals that the auteur had the potential to be just as subversive and innovative of a filmmaker as his much better known younger brother. Probably best remembered among cinephiles and film historians for penning the Academy Award nominated screenplay for the poof prison flick Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) directed by Argentine-born Brazilian Jew Héctor Babenco and based on a novel by Argentine novelist Manuel Puig (whose work played a crucial influence on Naked Tango), Leonard—a draft-dodger that spent most of his life living and working in Japan after fleeing there in a successful attempt to avoid the Vietnam War—is undoubtedly a depressing example of misspent intellect and artistic talent.

    To anyone that is familiar with the somewhat sleazy but highly entertaining book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (1998) by Peter Biskind, it is easy to understand why the elder Schrader, who died under dubious circumstances in 2006, is all but forgotten yet his younger brother Paul has managed to direct a new film every year or two ever since his debut feature Blue Collar (1978) about forty years ago. Indeed, as Paul, who managed to snag the sole credit for their first Hollywood collaboration—the screenplay for Sydney Pollack's somewhat uneven The Yakuza (1974)—confessed in the book, “I had always treated Leonard badly. Taking sole screenwriting credit on THE YAKUZA wasn’t very nice. Treating him as an employee wasn’t very nice. Throughout all that, he had one thing that I didn’t have, which was Japan. And then came MISHIMA, and I stole Japan from him.” Apparently, The Yakuza credit and Japan were not the only things that Paul stole from his brother, or as Biskind somewhat questionably argued, “Ironically, his best film as a director was his first, BLUE COLLAR, which he more or less disavowed. Says Leonard, ‘My brother finds BLUE COLLAR embarrassing. One reason is, he hadn’t yet developed his polish-jewel CAT PEOPLE style. The other is, he didn’t write it.’ Meaning, of course, that Leonard wrote it.” Of course, the brothers, who both spent their younger years fetishizing the virtues of suicide and even had a number of paternal uncles and cousins commit suicide, have a number of things in common, namely their obsession with sex and death and especially a seemingly seamless combination of the two.  Notably, nearly a decade before directing his first feature, Schrader acted as co-director of the unintentionally entertaining and unquestionably exploitative leftist agitprop doc The Killing of America (1982) co-directed by Sheldon Renan. More or less a glorified snuff film featuring various pieces of classic true crime stock-footage, the somewhat deluded documentary now seems like a sick piece of leftist moral posturing when compare to the director's uniquely unhinged sadomasochistic melodrama Naked Tango. Like many of his brother’s cinematic works, Leonard’s film wallows in sex and death, but also dance, which is ultimately depicted as the height of orgasmic embrace and an activity that is driven largely by sheer sexual magnetism. 




     Featuring suicide, rape, murder, prostitution, homosexuality, Jewish organized crime, flapper fetishism, abattoirs, oedipal gangsters, and a delightfully dichotomous combination of high and low kultur that manages to combine the Symbolist paintings of Teutonic maestro Frank von Stuck with the gritty film noir sleaze of Howard Hawks' pre-Code guido gangster classic Scarface (1932), Naked Tango is undoubtedly an ambitious failure of sorts, but it is also a preternaturally engulfing failure and arguably one of the most elegant ‘bad movies’ ever made. An unintentional experiment in high-camp excess that attempts to juggle elements of film noir and classic melodrama and pays homage to both the short career of Latin heartthrob Rudolph Valentino and and the surreal sadomasochism of late era Luis Buñuel (indeed, Fernando Rey does not star in the film as a cuckolded judge for no reason), Schrader’s film certainly deserves comparisons to a number of subversive arthouse ‘mad love’ themed films, including Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (1974), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s swansong Querelle (1982), and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990). In terms of its mongrelized cultural pedigree and dubious execution, the film also has much in common with the similarly flawed yet nonetheless underrated Orphic Belgian-Dutch-French co-production Mascara (1987) directed by Patrick Conrad and starring Charlotte Rampling and Michael Sarrazin. Undoubtedly, like Mascara, Naked Tango is what Manny Farber would have described as ‘termite art’ as a cinematic work that, for better or worse, attempts to exterminate pre-existing boundaries, exhibits undeniable artistic audaciousness, and wallows in economy of expression, among other things. In terms of being a somewhat arthouse-ish psychosexual thriller set in a culturally confused Buenos Aires, Argentina that makes various overt cinephiliac references to classic Hollywood movies, Schrader’s film also has some somewhat superficial similarities with the homoerotic Argentine-British film Apartment Zero (1988) starring Colin Firth and Hart Bochner. Despite its somewhat glaring artsy fartsy qualities, Schrader’s flick might be best summed up as a carefully culturally marinated combination of G. W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929), Dirty Dancing (1987), and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (1984), albeit sans any sort of tangible commercial appeal. 



     Aside from an extremely rare out-of-print VHS, Naked Tango has, somewhat curiously, never been released in the United States in any other home media format. Although just speculation, I can only assume that the film was at least partially buried by its mainstream Hollywood distributor due to its less than flattering depiction of Jews and Jewish history. Indeed, the film is based on the real-life Jewish organized group Zwi Migdal and their international trafficking of young Jewesses from the shtetls of Eastern Europe for sexual slavery during a relatively long period that began in the 1860s and did not end until 1939 after an ex-prostitute named Raquel Liberman started a campaign that ultimately led to their downfall. Somewhat shockingly, the film does not feature a single redeemable Judaic character and instead is full of grotesque Jewish caricatures, namely a cowardly and craven young pimp with an obscene Oedipus complex and his similarly malevolent money-grubbing madam mommy. Incidentally, the film was produced by Jewish producer David Weisman—a protégé of Otto Preminger—who previously produced Paul Morrissey less than philo-semitic mafia satire Spike of Bensonhurst (1988). Notably, Schrader and Weisman previously had a quite monetarily and critically fruitful collaboration with Kiss of the Spider Woman, which seems to be a little bit too polished when compared to the visceral elegance of Naked Tango. Of course, Schrader only acted as a screenwriter on the previous film, but it seems that Weisman somehow expected the first-time-auteur to recapture the same success, albeit with a less than semitically sensitive twist. Naturally, a film about Jewish sex slavery would not be complete without a voluptuous seductive Jewess like Mathilda May of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce (1985) fame and her supple Khazar milkers (while I typically find Jewesses to be innately grotesque, May is a half-breed and it seems her Swedish genes have done her well in both the titty and derriere department).

    It should also be noted that various mainstream film critics criticized Naked Tango when it was released due to its less than philo-semitic approach to depicting history.  For exampled, assumed chosenite Ralph Novak complained in his September 16, 1991 review for People magazine that, “Great emphasis is placed on Morales’s Jewishness, for no clear reason.”  Of course, Novak is either being willingly ignorant and/or he did not do his homework, as the film is based on a well-known real-life kosher crime syndicate.  Additionally, the Jewish pimp played by Esai Morales hardly seems like a Jewish caricature in terms of physical appearance and certainly does not resemble a cunning gremlin like infamous real-life mobster Meyer Lansky.  In short, Naked Tango is probably too aesthetically flattering when it comes to depicting Judaic pimps and gangsters.  It seems that film specialists and academics are also unaware that it exists, as it does not get a single reference in Russell Campbell's book Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema (2006), which has been marketed as being the definitive text on the representation of female prostitution in cinema history. Incidentally, the book, which covers everything from New German Cinema to retro Swedish pornography, does dedicate a number of pages to Taxi Driver, which of course Schrader's brother Paul is famous for penning.



     Admittedly, while I don’t know shit about any form of dancing or ballet, I do have a certain inexplicable fondness for a number of idiosyncratic dance and ballet flicks, including (but certainly not limited to), Max Reichmann’s experimental Das Blumenwunder (1926) aka Miracle of Flowers, Swiss auteur Daniel Schmid’s debut feature Heute nacht oder nie (1972) aka Tonight or Never, Ingmar Bergman's somewhat obscure avant-garde short De fördömda kvinnornas dans (1976) aka The Condemned Women Dance, the sod serial killer oriented Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men (1989) and other Physical Theatre Company DV8 production related films, Rosa von Praunheim’s bizarre neo-Expressionist Anita Berber biopic Anita: Tänze des Lasters (1987) aka Anita: Dances of Vice, and even total senseless trash like Lucio Fulci’s dance-giallo Murder Rock (1984) aka Slashdance and mercurial guido auteur Peter Del Monte’s abortive arthouse neo-fairytale Etoile (1988) aka Ballet starring a rather young and nubile Jennifer Connelly. Indeed, I also regard the ‘danse macabre’ scene in Belgian master auteur André Delvaux’s Un soir, un train (1968) aka One Night... A Train as being among one of the most startlingly haunting scenes in cinema history. While I personally find tango music to be rather aesthetically disagreeable, it is an innate and imperative ingredient in what is ultimately a mostly delectable, yet sometimes bittersweet, cinematic cuisine that manages to combine an eclectic collection of ingredients, including Jewish gangsters, cabaret, proto-fascist aesthetics, Expressionism, Franz von Stuck, Rudolph Valentino worship, flapper sluts, and the perils of elegant excess, among other things. An erotic arthouse flick disguised as a trashy quasi-musical with a somewhat hermetic period setting, Naked Tango is arguably a grand artistic failure but it also indubitably the dead serious expression of a sick failed artist’s wounded soul, thereupon making it a quite apt first (and last) feature for Schrader.   Indeed, while Schrader may have only been able to direct one feature film during his life, he at least has never directed anything as hopelessly embarrassing as the incoherent shabbos goy tier shoah shit show Adam Resurrected (2008) or the totally worthless Nicholas Cage vehicle The Dying of the Light (2014) like his younger brother.  Additionally, Mathilda May makes for a much more appealing prostitute than Richard Gere in Schrader's somewhat uneven Bressonian crime-romance American Gigolo (1980).



     While the film’s young and beauteous heroine Stephanie (Mathilda May) might be quite easy on the eyes, it is somewhat hard to sympathize with her plight as she is, quite simply, a spoiled little bitch that dares to wallow in self-pity because she made the obvious mistake of marrying an old fart simply because he was a rich and respected judge. Indeed, Stephanie socially cuckolds her husband Juez Torres (Fernando Rey)—a man that seems to genuinely care for his wife despite having nothing in common with her—at the beginning of the film while they are vacationing on a cruise by dancing with a handsome young waiter, who initially mistakes her spouse for her father. While her husband purports to be a legendary tango dancer and she herself loves to tango, Stephanie is clearly disgusted at the thought of any sort of physical contact with Juez; be it sexual or otherwise. When Juez dares to berate her for her rather obnoxious quasi-slutty public behavior by declaring, “Stop making a scene. You’re acting worse than a whore,” she throws a rather childish fit, storms out of the dance hall and then heads to the deck of a ship where she is somewhat shocked to witness a beautiful nubile young girl stripping off all of her clothes and then committing suicide by jumping overboard. Clearly not the sort of person to miss the opportunity to exploit a good tragedy, Stephanie immediately decides to fake her own death and trades places with the mysterious dead girl by stealing her clothes and then leaving her own items at the scene of the glorious suicidal plunge. Upon discovering the dead girl’s journal, Stephanie discovers that the deceased was a a Jewish mail-order bride from Poland and that she is traveling to Buenos Aires to wed a kosher chap. Unfortunately for Stephanie, her mysterious husband-to-be is actually a sly pimp and gangster named Zico Borenstein (Esai Morales) that runs a stylish whorehouse with his obscenely overbearing and equally morally bankrupt mother (Cipe Lincovsky).  In short, Stephanie unwittingly goes from riches-to-rags, though she ultimately also goes from being a dishonest whore that married for money to becoming an honest enslaved pussy-peddler that does not even get to keep the money that her she actually earned via whoredom.



     Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, Zico—a fairly young man whose counterfeit suaveness is only rivaled by his well hidden cowardice—acts like quite the prim and pristine gentleman and even provides Stephanie with a very expensive diamond ring. Although he intends to turn her into a servile sex slave that makes him cash with her gash, Zico also talks up the local neighborhood, even bragging in regard to his corrupt little ghetto, “You’re going to be very happy here. It’s so much better than the old country. We are very proud of our Jewish community. Before we go back, I’ll introduce you to our kosher butcher, the grocer, the banker, the doctor . . . everyone with money. I mean, everyone important. You’ll be surprised at how fast they make you feel at home.”  Notably, Stephanie makes no attempt to pretend she is Jewish and Zico does not seem to suspect that she is a duplicitous shiksa that has her own dubious agenda, thus somewhat ironically making them the perfect couple as far as deceptive behavior and morally bankruptcy are concerned. Also, somewhat ironically, it is ultimately a man that initially displays nil interest in fucking her that makes her feel the most comfortable in her own pearly pale skin. Of course, as woman that married an old fart that she has no physical or emotional chemistry with, Stephanie certainly sees it as beneath her to peddler her pussy at the behest of a kosher nostra gangster for a mere couple of shekels that she will not even be able to keep herself. Luckily, Stephanie will at least finally meet a mensch that eventually falls head over heels in love with her in his own preternatural yet highly flattering fashion, thus naturally reaffirming her regret in regard to getting stuck in a loveless marriage. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Naked Tango—a film where two somewhat unhinged weirdos with sadomasochistic tendencies discover the ecstatic highs and crushing lows of visceral mad love—does not have a happy ending, at least not in the conventional sense.  In short, the (anti)heroine discovers that raw passion always has a hefty price, even when you're a busty little bitch that could have virtually any man you want.



     When Stephanie first meets her great love ‘Cholo’ (Vincent D'Onofrio)—a pathologically cryptic yet hyper hip tango maestro that is high on his own idiosyncratic brand of swag—she is wielding two knives and is fully prepared to defend herself, as she has just stabbed her (pseudo)husband Zico and a grotesquely obese jeweler named Bertoni (played by famous Yiddish actor Zero Mostel’s fairly unknown son Josh Mostel). Indeed, on their wedding night, Zico attempted to consummate the marriage by forcing a completely unwitting Stephanie to smoke the lard ass jeweler’s seemingly ungodly awful choad. Of course, Stephanie, who had no idea that her husband was a pernicious pimp, naturally resisted and thus was forced to stab both Zico and Bertoni in the process. Proving to be the only man that can control Stephanie, Cholo literally grabs her by the pussy and the lifts her up in the air, though he is in for somewhat of a shock when he immediately develops a completely electric erotic attraction while she is attempting to stab him, as if he can immediately sense, like an ancient vampire, a fellow unhinged tango fanatic. Although practically worshiped by virtually every single woman (and even some men) in the area, Cholo loathes sex and seems to see tango dancing as a substitute that is much purer and authentic than actual coitus. Indeed, as a flaming fag hairdresser named Gastón (Patricio Bisso) states in regard to Cholo’s preternatural proclivities, “We’d all give our long lost cherries to sleep with him but he sleeps with horses. He’s never given any girl a second look.”  With Stephanie, Cholo gives her a whole lot more than a second look and he ultimately pays the greatest price for it.

    While Zico attempts to coerce Cholo into killing Stephanie since she is a witness-cum-perpetrator in the murder of the mafia-connected jeweler Bertoni and thus can get them in trouble with a ruthless outfit of Italian gangsters known as the ‘Black Hand,’ he cannot break his almost immediately self-destructive obsession with her and instead immediately proceeds to focus on transforming her into a sort of designer whore of his dreams. Indeed, after forcing her to get a dark black Louise Brooks-esque flapper hairdo and to take the exotic whore name ‘Alba,’ Cholo—a suave and romantic yet seemingly sociopathic sicko that commits violence and murder with a certain unrivaled finesse that is comparable to his tango moves—cannot stop his rather deleterious obsession with making love with Stephanie via tango. On top of refusing to shove his almost mythical member in her clearly warm and ready snatch, Cholo also curiously forces Stephanie to wear a blindfold while they dance. In fact, Cholo is such an obsessive lunatic that he also has his own personal three-person tango band that he also forces to wear blindfolds, as if these almost phantom-like elderly musicians, who act as a sort of Greek chorus for the film, are too lowly and aesthetically handicapped to appreciate his perversely penetrating phantasmagoric dance moves. 




     As a result of her role in the death of mob-connected lardo jeweler Bertoni, Stephanie’s life is threatened by both yid pimp Zico and the Black Hand mobsters, so it is a good thing that Cholo becomes absolutely infatuated with her.  Indeed, while best buds with Zico and an associate of sorts with the goombah gangsters of the Black Hand, Cholo does not have to think twice about going to war with both just to defend Stephanie. In fact, after saving her from some somewhat intellectually disadvantaged guido gangsters, Cholo declares to Stephanie, who he has personally rechristened ‘Alba,’ in an almost sinisterly sensual fashion, “I’m sorry. This won’t happen again. Don’t worry, Alba. I’d never let anyone else kill you.” Instead of killing Stephanie, Cholo forces her to do the tango blindfolded sans clothing. While Stephanie is also a tango fanatic of sorts, she much rather have Cholo’s cock and practically begs him for it repeatedly but, unfortunately for her, he sees sex as sickening.  A somewhat paradoxical chap that radiates a certain alluring degree of machismo and androgyny, Cholo is clearly the man of Stephanie's dreams, at least as far as sheer sex appeal is concerned.

    When Stephanie cries to Choko while lying naked in pimp Zico’s bed, “I don’t know what sex with you is,” he replies, “Yes, you do. All sex is the same. It just leaves you more sad. The beauty you’re born with does not count. The only thing that counts is the beauty you make.”  If Cholo was an intellectual, one can certainly imagine him saying something in the vein of Georges Bataille like, “Nudity is only death, and the most tender kisses have the after-taste of the rat.”  Incidentally, Stephanie's eventual premature death while involve her nudity.  As Stephanie learns, real beauty to Cholo is doing the tango in a blood-drenched abattoir while sticking a dagger under your lover’s throat. Of course, Stephanie never gives up on attempting to coerce Cholo into jumping her bones, which he eventually does after murdering some pathetic wop gangster. Needless to say, Cholo does not shy away from pounding Stephanie’s puss while her buxom bare ass is sitting on broken glass. In short, the fact that Jewish and guido gangsters are trying to kill them only adds more passion to Stephanie and Cholo’s quite literally lethally lurid love affair. Unfortunately, being a woman, Stephanie still has strong survival instincts and an insatiable thirst for material things, so she eventually betrays Cholo and goes back to her wealthy judge husband, but not before burning a building down and quite selfishly risking the lives of many innocent people in the process, thus underscoring her sense of quasi-sociopathic greed and self-worship. Naturally, Cholo refuses to let Stephanie go and she cannot deny her undying love for the twisted tango maestro, so it is not long before they are reunited.  Needless to say, the lovers are doomed.



     In the spirit of classic European ‘impossible love’ myths like Tristan and Iseult and Orpheus and Eurydice and film reworkings of such perennial stories like the Jean Cocteau-penned Vichy era classic L'Éternel retour (1943) aka The Eternal Return directed Jean Delannoy, Naked Tango naturally concludes in a tragically romantic fashion with the leads being completely destroyed because of their quite impossible forbidden love. Indeed, when Stephanie decides to once again betray her husband and choose Cholo over him, he finally loses his patience and opts to killer her in what can only be described as a crime of cuck passion. Of course, when the judge shoots Stephanie, Cholo immediately retaliates and does so by suavely and quite effortlessly throwing a knife through the old fart's swarthy decrepit Latin neck. In the end, the judge’s henchman—corrupt local Prussian-esque cops that shoot first and ask questions later—unleash a storm of bullets on Cholo and Stephanie as they quite literally take their last dance together. As a symbolic act of both true love and heroic defiance, Cholo uses his last couple moments alive to raise Stephanie lifeless body in the air as if he is trying to vain to send her off to heaven while his feet are just beginning to feel the warmth of the pits of hell.  As individuals that were clearly not built for marriage or kids that indubitably reached the zenith of their love for another, Stephanie and Cholo could not have left this world together in a more appropriate fashion.  Luckily, Cholo manages to execute Zico as revenge for his betrayal shortly before his own death.  Quite symbolically considering the neurotic maternal spirit of Ashkenazi Jewry, Zico's mother seems to be the only one that survives the blood bath and now she can keep all of the whorehouse money for herself instead of splitting it with her pimp son.



     As history certainly demonstrates from Samson’s harlot of Gaza to Heidi ‘Hollywood Madam’ Fleiss, Jews and prostitution go together like peas and carrots, yet Naked Tango is probably the only film that dares to take a fearless and less than politically incorrect approach to the subject. Notably, in her book Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany (1995), Maria Tatar noted in regard to the literary tradition of Jews and prostitution, “Jews came to be linked not only with the perpetrators of sexual murder, but with the victims as well. Like the prostitute, the Jew is seen to represent a serious threat to the moral, fiscal, and sexual economy of the social body. As Sander Gilman has pointed out, both prostitutes and Jews have been liked by what is seen to be a sexualized relation to capital—they have ‘but one interest, the conversion of sex into money or money into sex.’ Unable to find value in transcendent spiritual matters, their interests remain fixed on the material and financial. More important, prostitutes and Jews, because of their spiritual corruption, are considered carriers of sexually transmitted diseases, a view clearly articulated in Hitler’s MEIN KAMPF.” Ironically and somewhat cynically, the protagonists of the film, especially female lead Stephanie, are ultimately destroyed as a result of abandoning material consumption for visceral true love. Interestingly, the leads are ultimately victims of greed and treachery of a Jewish pimp in a film that, quite unintentionally, lends authority to Uncle Adolf's words, “Particularly with regard to syphilis, the attitude of those who guide the nation and the state can only be described as total capitulation […] The cause lies primarily in the prostitution of love […] This Jewification of the spiritual life and mammonization of the mating instinct will sooner or later destroy all of our descendants.” Of course, the protagonists die before they can even produce descendants despite their eventual abandoning of both literal and spiritual prostitution.  Indeed, were it not such a debauched film, Schrader's debut feature could be mistaken as an homage to the classic high-camp melodramas of National Socialist auteur Veit Harlan.  Naturally, the fact that it was directed by a lifelong leftist and draft-dodger that previously directed liberal anti-American agitprop makes Naked Tango seem like an all the more inexplicable cinematic work, so it is really no big surprise that has been tragically consigned to the celluloid dustbin of history.



    While Naked Tango certainly seems a little bit culturally mongrelized due to its glaring international cast and mostly pleasantly preternatural period setting that oftentimes more resembles Weimar Berlin than Buenos Aires in terms of aesthetic spirit, the film is indubitably deeply rooted in both cultural and social history and reflects Schrader's sagely understanding of art, cinema, and literature as indicated by the film's use aesthetic influences ranging from Manuel Puig to German Expressionism. Indeed, aside from being inspired by the real-life Jewish sex slavery outfit Zwi Migdal, the film follows in the tradition of certain forgotten Jewish art, or as explained at the Jewish Virtual Library, “Yiddish literature of the early 20th century contains a number of powerful portrayals of the social and personal costs of widespread prostitution including Sholem Asch’s GOD OF VENGEANCE and Perets Hirschbein’s MIRIAM. A 1908 performance of the latter in Buenos Aires led to a bloody public riot.” Of course, the almost gothic-like Jewish ghetto setting seems to be largely window dressing for Schrader’s eclectic aesthetic obsessions. After all, I doubt many Hebraic whorehouses have stained glass windows modeled after some of Franz von Stuck’s greatest paintings, including Die Sünde (1893) aka The Sin and Sphinx (1904).  Somewhat ironically considering the film's degenerate Jewish setting, von Stuck was apparently apparently Adolf Hitler's favorite painter.  Notably, when Aryan Christ Jung wrote in his book Symbols of Transformation (1956) in regard to von Stuck's paintings, “The mixture of anxiety and lust is perfectly expressed in the sultry atmosphere of these pictures,” he certainly could have also been describing Schrader's film.

    In a January 07, 1990 interview with John M. Wilson at the Los Angeles Times in regard to the production of the film, Schrader demonstrated he was personally obsessed with romance, arguing, “For me, the essence of romance, for all its high-octane fuel, is for romance to burn itself out. In the ashes of romance can grow a more mature, a different kind of love. The more chance you have to take romance all the way to the end, the more chance you have to be ready for the next phase. Most of us only have the courage to take it halfway.” Of course, the lovers in the film go all the way in terms of their love and pay the ultimate price for it, but as Schrader stated in the same interview, “Most romances keep the element of death hidden under the table. I wanted to put it square in the middle of the table.”



    It seems that Schrader, who apparently liked the emotional of security of knowing that he was always sleeping with a loaded weapon under his pillow and thus could kill himself at any time, was a somewhat tragic self-destructive individual who was a slave of the Todestrieb. While putting together Naked Tango in the editing room, Schrader even expressed a certain irrational excitement in regard to the artistic uncertainty of his film, stating, “This is why I love it—every choice, every step, every moment is crucial. I love to be in that position, where I can win or lose, because it means that what I'm doing counts.”  Judging simply by his statement, it makes one wonder whether or not Schrader was attempting to sabotage his own career by making a film about rather unsavory Jewish pimps and gangsters while working in the hyper Hebraic realm of Hollywood. Of course, despite his brother Paul ultimately directing the film, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)—a somewhat experimental biopic of the great Japanese novelist and neo-fascist Yukio Mishima—was ultimately Schrader's brainchild and an expression of his own romantic and self-destructive tendencies.  Knowing this, I can only assume that Leonard was the more subversive and intelligent of the two brothers, but sadly it seems he was an underachiever that was too antisocial and just plain mentally ill to establish a filmmaking career that was extensive as his own little bro.  It seems that Schrader was also somewhat lazy, as he spent the majority of his life as ‘script doctor’ which, to quote the failed auteur, allowed him to obtain, “big money for a short amount of work.”  Unfortunately, Naked Tango was ultimately such a huge failure that it is all but totally unknown in Schrader’s own homeland and currently unavailable in any home media format, though it seems to have developed some minor success in Europe and Argentina.

    Still, I doubt that Schrader would have ever been capable of developing any sort of big mainstream success.  Indeed, as a strange introverted intellectual that seemed to suffer posttraumatic success as a result of strict and totally movie-less Dutch Calvinist upbringing, the failed auteur probably did not relate to most people.  Additionally, I am not surprised that the man that directed Naked Tango also once candidly confessed, “I would be sitting alone in some room at three o'clock in the morning with a loaded gun, thinking about blowing my brains out.  It was not, ‘I'm having a bad day, I wanted to kill myself’; no, the desire, the need, felt as real as a fucking table. I want to do this, and I never want to do this. I'm three seconds away from it, and I'm three million years away from it. I felt the fever of two things inside me fighting. I was breaking out in a sweat, my temperature was going up from the intensity of it. Sometimes I would just stare at the wall, trying to quiet the heat down, but sometimes the heat kept building, and that's when I was looking for the gun. Triggered by something physical, like I couldn't sleep. I found out that if I stuck the barrel in my mouth, like some infant's pacifier, I could fall asleep. It worked for two or three weeks, and all of a sudden, it didn't work. I'd been sucking on an empty gun. I knew if I loaded the sonofabitch, I was gonna sleep tonight.” While Schrader was apparently not a fag since he was married to a Jap chick, somehow it seems fitting that his real-life, as demonstrated by the above quote, sometimes resembled a scene out of Jean Genet's sole film Un chant d'amour (1950) aka A Song of Love.



    -Ty E
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • This World, Then the Fireworks
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)



    As far as neo-noir is considered, you probably cannot get more gorgeously grotesque and, in turn, debasingly aesthetically indelible than Michael Oblowitz’s fairly unknown Jim Thompson adaptation This World, Then the Fireworks (1997) starring virtual walking-and-talking-human-genitals Billy Zane, Gina Gershon, and Sheryl Lee. In fact, I have no qualms about confessing that I believe that it is easily the greatest Thompson adaptation ever made and I say that as someone that is a fan of both Bertrand Tavernier’s Coup de Torchon (1981) and James Foley’s After Dark, My Sweet (1990). Both a hyper histrionic homage and misanthropically deconstructive mutation of classic film noir, the film takes a surprisingly refreshingly heavy-handed approach to depicting fraternal twin incest, la mort d'amour and accidental necrophilia, matricide, Mexican back-alley abortions, opium addiction, prostitution, posttraumatic stress, and a variety of other mostly salacious subjects that auteur Oblowitz—a South African Jew that was once loosely associated with the largely artistically bankrupt No Wave Cinema scene—clearly loves wallowing in. In short, the film is an innately immoral cinematic work directed by an innately immoral filmmaker who, not surprisingly, worked as a cinematographer on a number of Rosa von Praunheim films, including aberrosexual agitprop like Army of Lovers or Revolt of the Perverts (1979) and fiercely retarded feminist drivel like Rote Liebe (1982) aka Red Love. While I can only assume Oblowitz is heterosexual, he must have learned a thing or two from the corrosive kraut queen as his Thompson adaption features more than one fat naked dude and a preteen boy getting the shit beat out of him while wearing nothing but tighty whities.

    While depriving the viewer of full bush, the film does thankfully features some nicely styled nudes of Gershon and Lee, though one gets the sense that the auteur sees sex as being about as special as a bonafide bowel movement. Indeed, instead of presenting coitus as something intimate or possibly even spiritual, Oblowitz depicts it as a sort of base demonic energy that can be used as either a weapon or form of currency, though it has very little true intrinsic value otherwise. In fact, in the film—a dark noir romance featuring an incest-fueled bizarre love triangle—sex is depicted as the true root of all evil, especially as far as the forsaken male protagonist and his similarly vulgarly tragic twin sister are concerned. Undoubtedly, if there is anything else that rivals carnality in terms of sheer weaponized nefariousness in the film, it is family, as familial matters are the direct source of the main characters’ untamable malevolence and crippling metaphysical and psycho-emotional maladies. As the son of a purported holocaust survivor, Oblowitz—an auteur that is obsessed with style and form but seems a little handicapped as far as deep human emotions are concerned—indubitably takes a curious approach to interfamilial trauma, but I digress. 




     Apparently, the genesis for the film dates all the way back to 1982 after Oblowitz first read a bootlegged Xeroxed copy of Jim Thompson’s pulp classic The Killer Inside Me (1952) and became completely obsessed with directing a cinematic adaptation of the novel. After failing to acquire the rights to the novel and a couple failed attempts at adapting other Thompson novels, Oblowitz thankfully finally settled on the author's posthumously released short story This World, Then the Fireworks, though he would get fellow Judaic Larry Gross—a fairly unknown writer that is probably best remembered in the Hollywood realm for doing last minute (and oftentimes uncredited) polishes and rewrites of high-profile scripts, most notably Walter Hill’s fairly successful buddy cop flick 48 Hrs. (1982)—to pen the project. Not surprisingly, both Oblowitz and Gross reveal in featurettes on the 2017 Kino Lorber blu-ray release of the film that they regard it as among their greatest artistic accomplishments. While Oblowitz originally gained notoriety for his gritty No Wave flicks Minus Zero (1979) and King Blank (1983)—the latter of which had the honor of playing on a double bill as a midnight movie with David Lynch’s masterful debut feature Eraserhead—he subsequently artistically degenerated into a for-hire music video hack and is probably best known nowadays for directing such rather unrefined direct-to-video Steven Seagal action-schlock as Out for a Kill (2003) and The Foreigner (2003), among other similarly embarrassing efforts. In short, there is no question that This World, Then the Fireworks is Oblowitz’s crowning achievement as a filmmaker, though only a malevolently morally bankrupt man could sire such a gleefully unhinged, intoxicatingly nihilistic, and lunatically libertine magnum opus.  Of course, it goes without saying that the film has one of the coolest and misleadingly poetic titles in cinema history, hence my initial (admittedly largely superficial) interest in seeing it.  Luckily, the film lives up to its preternaturally poesy title.




     While Oblowitz shares next to nil similarities with Robert Bresson, I think he would appreciate the French master auteur's cinematic aphorism, “Master precision. Be a precision instrument myself.” Indeed, This World, Then the Fireworks is by no means an immaculate film yet nearly every single scene feels perfectly constructed with the fanatical meticulousness of an OCD-addled locksmith, thus underscoring the director’s obsession with extensive storyboarding and longtime experience as a music video director that was obligated to construct very precise and calculated tableaux. For better or worse, many of the scenes manage to leave an indelible mark on the viewer; whether it be a cockeyed low-angle shot of a bloody yet beauteous post-abortion corpse lying on a dirty metal slab in some Mexican hellhole or a big gob of blood splattering across the smiling face of a seemingly innocent 4-year-old child. In fact, the lack of empathy or any other emotion in these scenes leads me to conclude that Oblowitz is either an unabashed sociopath or at a Tarantino-esque level of emotional retardation, but luckily the film somehow manages to be both darkly humorous and even somewhat romantic.  In short, it is anything but banal. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that the film was a romantic-comedy for killer couples like Bonnie and Clyde and Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco, but of course that is one of the things that makes it so strangely intriguing, if not largely psychologically and emotionally deleterious. Personally, as a somewhat antisocial individual that has always been in relationships with relatively asocial chicks, I am always a sucker for a certain sort of mad love and This World, Then the Fireworks certainly delivers in that regard, even though I am not into incest or brutal coldblooded murder, among other things. To put it simply, Oblowitz’s flick is the sort of cinematic work Georges Bataille might have directed had he been a psychotic redblooded stud instead of a wimpy degenerate intellectual. On the other hand, I would not exactly call the murderous male antihero featured in the film an alpha-male, as he is a mentally cracked chap that is practically led around by the scent of the cunt of the twin sister that he loves, at least until he falls under the spell of another scenty snatch, albeit of the non-sibling sort. 




     Notably, in his classic philosophical novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, Teutonic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche—a fellow that was not exactly that successful when it came to the so-called fairer sex—wrote, “Man is for woman a means; the purpose is always the child, But what is woman for man? The true man wants two different things: danger and diversion. He therefore wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything. Man must be trained for war, and woman for the relaxation of the warrior; all else is folly. Two sweet fruits – these the warrior does not like. He therefore likes women – even the sweetest woman is bitter.” While woman is indubitably “the most dangerous plaything” in This World, Then the Fireworks, the male antihero is certainly no warrior, at least not in any conventional sense.  Additionally, the two main female characters, who are beyond bitter, are only interested in the monetary and material and hardly the maternal, as they unequivocally embody the ‘prostitute archetype,’ at least in the Weiningerian sense. In fact, the male antihero played by Billy Zane is too much of an emotionally erratic pretty boy ponce to even compare to the lean and mean hardboiled stoicism of a great film noir star like Humphrey Bogart. Additionally, the film features two very different femme fatales, including a fiery Mediterranean-like literal whore of the sensually unhinged sort and a cryptically killer lady-cop of the naggy Nordic ice queen variety.  In fact, it could be argued that these lethal ladies are symbolic dichotomous reflections of the quasi-schizophrenic antihero's considerably conflicted personality.  Undoubtedly, Oblowitz’s loves these fatally frisky femme fatales as much as he loathes the white picket fence morals and wholesome WASP cultural supremacy that defined the 1950s, but one should not expect anything less from a man that directs holocaust-themed vampire flicks like The Breed (2001) that feature the nasty (and uniquely improbable) novelty of a negro-chink miscegenation (if that wasn't distasteful enough, the film also features a literal Judaic vampire that accuses the same negro of being a ‘racist’ because he is immune to his Hebraic bloodsucking charms).

    Indeed, This World, Then the Fireworks is not so much a ‘neo-noir’ as a sociopathically sardonic tribute to the fact that film noir did the most, at least cinematically speaking, to demystify the American dream and piss on the white Christian majority population that greatly valued said dream. Undoubtedly, Oblowitz’s film is as nostalgically American as anthrax-laced (kosher) apple pie. In short, Oblowitz’s film does for 1950s America what Harmony Korine’s directorial debut Gummo (1997) did for poor contemporary crackers in terms of its aesthetically Talmudic approach to tearing at the moral fabric of the white American goyim until there is nothing but a single weak thread. 




     As shamelessly incestuous siblings that have practically been attached at the genitals since birth and seem to sometimes share the same mind in terms of their particularly perverse thoughts and carnal (and killer) desires, Marty Lakewood (Billy Zane) and his sister Carol (Gina Gershon) are virtual ‘psychosexual Siamese twins.’ Aside from sharing the same rotten white trash womb, the fraternal twins were also victims of the same traumatic childhood event that occurred on their fourth birthday in July 4th 1926, which involved their mindless mother abruptly aborting their b-day party to drag them over to a house across the street just in time to witness their completely naked fat fuck father, who was rudely interrupted while fucking his mistress, blowing out the brains of the angry armed fellow that he had just so brazenly cuckolded, or as Marty nostalgically narrates in regard to the impact of the event on his life, “It was funny. It was funnier than Charlie Chaplin or Krazy Kat. The man on the floor didn’t have hardly any head at all. And dad and the women – they were naked. Dad went to the electric chair and the women committed suicide. Mom was scarred for life but . . . they were naked and it was funny. It was so funny, I remember. I remember that night well.”

     A sort of bargain bin nihilist philosopher that might have read Mencken but never Nietzsche and who absolutely loves living dangerously as a perversely invasive yellow journalist, Marty lives by the personal Weltanschauung, “Nothing really happens for a reason, it just happens,” as if it was the only logical conclusion that he could come to after witnessing his papa commit coldblooded post-coital murder when he was just a wee lad. While it is now 1956 and three decades have passed since his deadly daddy destroyed the psychological and emotional integrity of his entire family, Marty, his sister Carol, and mother Mrs. Lakewood (Rue McClanahan of The Golden Girls fame) have clearly never recovered and have instead degenerated into psychological grotesque human monsters with great sex appeal. Needless to say, when Marty moves back in with his beloved sis and mental mommy after being forced to flee Chicago, old wounds are opened up and old incestuous desires are acted upon, though a bizarre love triangle eventually threatens the sanctity of the extra special brother-sister relationship. 




     Despite always loving one another, the twins made a rather revealing childhood pact to both marry unlovable losers, or as Marty narrates, “Carol and I did what we said we were going to do back when we were kids. We chose to marry someone that no one else wanted. Someone scorned and shamed and cast aside.” Indeed, while Carol married some rich abusive loser that later dropped dead and resulted in her less than prestigious career as a lowly street hooker, Marty married and even sired a son with a big bloated 400-pound beastess that, in terms of sheer physically attractiveness, is not even worthy of lapping up his rancid excrement. Not surprisingly, when Marty is forced to flee Chicago after his junky pal ‘Joe’ (Richard Edson)—a doped up ex-journalist that provides the dirt on dirty cops in exchange for morphine—is killed by a group of corrupt cops and he becomes the next target due to the incriminating info he has on local law enforcement, he does not think twice about completely abandoning his wife and similarly obscenely overweight son. Of course, considering his rather ambivalent attitude cops and undying love his twin sister, Marty probably never suspected that moving to California to be with his family would eventually lead to himself falling in love with a cop, albeit one with a rather wicked blonde cunt. As Marty proudly narrates in regard to his homecoming, “It did not matter being broke. Carol and I were together again. After three long years—the longest we had been separated. Nothing else seemed to matter.” Rather unfortunately, Carol—a beauteous yet irreparably broken babe that makes her living as a pussy-peddler that seems to specialize in using her womb to suck up the semen of violent rape-obsessed sailors—is somewhat of an emotional wreck. Of course, the same can be certainly said of fairly deranged Marty’s drug-addled mother, who cannot live with the fact that her darling children are lifelong lovers. Rather unfortunately but not surprisingly, Marty will be the only one that is still alive at the end of the film, as Carol and their mother seem to be too ill-equipped to confront past traumas and move on with their lives. As for Marty, he gets involved with some somewhat sinister stuff, but he also discovers a true love—or something resembling it—that does not share the same tainted blood. 




     Not long after moving back home with his sister and mother, Marty manages to snag a position at the biggest newspaper in town and becomes such a good journalist that he compels his co-employees to live in constant fear and even succumb to alcoholism due to not being able to compete with his inordinate diligence and singular workaholic ethos. Although devilishly clever and a rather ruthless employee, Marty is also plagued with a certain vehement irrationalism that inspires him to quit his job after he has virtually risen to the top of the ladder of the local daily rag. Indeed, Marty might be a virtual moron when it comes to morals, but he lacks the sort of sociopathic careerism that defined the reporter played by Kirk Douglas in Billy Wilder’s desert noir Ace in the Hole (1951) aka The Big Carnival. Indeed, when his prick boss—a cynical scumbag that seems to be able to develop a hard-on at the mere thought of debasing his employees—dares to offer him a nice new position after firing a co-worker, Marty becomes completely deranged and both physically and verbally assaults his considerably shocked employer because he is paranoid that the man has figured out his wants and motivations, which makes perfect sense when one considers that he is a mensch that carries around the deep dark secret that he is in love with his own twin sister and has dedicated virtually his entire life to serving and protecting her. In fact, the film features a childhood flashback scene where a preteen Marty brutally beats a couple young boys with a large stick that dare to attempt to gang-rape his sister in a bittersweet scenario that concludes with an inordinately tender shot of the incestuous twins holding one another during the twilight of the blue hour. As Marty candidly states in regard to his relationship with Carol, “We felt each other’s feelings. We thought each other’s thoughts. We didn’t care what anyone thought of us and that was unforgivable. For that, we had to be punished.”  Somewhat ironically, it is only when Marty begins to love someone else just as much as his sister that he is truly punished for his carnal crimes.




     In what ultimately proves to be almost too conveniently auspicious of circumstances, Marty almost immediately spots the wanton woman that, for better or worse, will completely change his life shortly after quitting his job. Indeed, upon first seeing delectable dame Lois Archer (Sheryl Lee)—a busty blonde bombshell of the law that is as socially awkward as she is sexy—Marty gets a little bit too excited and quite literally manhandles her in broad daylight right outside of a semi-busy public courthouse. While initially awkwardly defensive to the point where she acts like she is going to arrest him, it soon becomes rather apparent that lusty Lois is desperate to jump Marty’s bones and that she is quite smitten with the proudly aberrant antihero's Lothario-like brand of lunacy. While Marty asks her rather sleazy personal questions like, “Are you blonde all over or just where it shows?,” Lois soon comes to the conclusion that she wants to engage in a little bip-bam-thank-you-ma’am with him and rather firmly demands, “I want you to come home with me right now.” Notably, not only does Marty go to Lois’ house and engage in heated carnal session with her, but he also soon becomes obsessed with her and her humble abode, which is a scenic beachfront property. While Marty seems to genuinely like Lois, he also immediately begins plotting to swindle her out of her beach house, which is worth a whopping $30,000 (keep in mind, this is the 1950s) and is unfortunately co-owned by her estranged soldier brother. Indeed, as he soon tells his sister, Marty hopes to kill Lois’ brother and own the house within a mere month. Rather unfortunately, Marty might be a sick sociopath of sorts, but he also soon finds himself falling in love with luscious Lois, who seems to almost immediately dominate him in the bedroom as demonstrated by the fact that she is almost always laying on top of him during their intimate post-coital discussions in a manner that makes it seem like she just finished ravishing his rectum him with a sizable strap-on dildo. Undoubtedly, Lois’ sexual dominance is ultimately a form of fetishistic foreshadowing. 



     As demonstrated by the fact that he gleefully murders a grotesquely morbidly obese ‘private dick’ named Jake Krutz (William Hootkins) that dares to keep tabs on his sister, Marty can certainly be described as a sadistic sociopath yet he, like so many of his psychologically defective kind, is so damn undeniably likeable. Of course, Marty wears a rather handsome mask of sanity that hides a scared little boy that more or less regresses to an infantile state anytime his hyper hysterical mommy says mean things to him. In fact, he does not even try to deny it when his sister says to him, “I know you like to play the big old rough, tough guy, but deep down you’re just a sentimental slob.” When Marty suffers a mental meltdown after his mother accuses him and his sister of engaging in incest and then states hateful things to them like, “You both should have been strangled at birth,” Carol opts to kill her by personally feeding her an intentional overdose of her favorite bedtime drug in a twisted scene of morbidly ironic matricide where a grown daughter feeds her borderline elderly mother in a mock maternal fashion.

    While Marty is an unrepentant murderer and debauched degenerate of the quite consciously remorseless sort, his sister Carol, who seems to be largely driven by a certain fierce feral-like instinct, is even more ruthless as a decidedly deranged dame that nonchalantly brags about fatally poisoning men, though her cuntlet seems to be her most killer weapon as demonstrated by the fact that manages to unwittingly fuck a man to death. Indeed, when Carol becomes so electrically aroused upon remembering the tragic event from her 4th birthday, she causes an insurance salesman named Barnett Gibons (Larry Clarks) to become a victim of ‘dying in the saddle’ as she violently rides his cock whilst in a seemingly demonic state. Somewhat surprisingly, Carol, who is not one to cry about dead johns, acts as if she is completely traumatized as a result of committing unintentional necrophilia, but that does not stop her bro from crudely quipping, “I’ve got to hand it to you, dear. You’re probably the first hooker in recorded history to induce seizures and cerebral hemorrhage.” Clearly emotionally troubled, Carol acts as if she is on the path of orgasmic self-obliteration. Luckily, Marty now has Lois to take Carol’s place. 



     While Marty still intends to rob Lois and her brother of their cute little beach house, he cannot seem to stop himself from falling hopelessly in love with his self-described “copulating cop.”  Needless to say, sister-fucker Marty also expresses guilt and confusion at his love for Lois, as if he cannot even bear the thought of emotionally devote himself to any other woman aside from his twin.  Aside from incessantly fucking her, Marty also enjoys engaging in non-sexual recreational activities with Lois like shooting framed family photos on the beach.  In fact, the rather senseless shooting of the photos foreshadows the end of both Marty and Lois' little families.  Eventually, Marty even finds himself unable to confront Lois about selling the house because he is “afraid of spoiling that sweet wildness” of their hot and heavy romance, thus hinting that the antihero might not have the spirit of a psychotic gigolo after all. Of course, like every single woman that seems to be too good to be true, Lois eventually becomes rather bitchy and attempts to emotionally manipulate Marty by strategically stating to him, “I only love you. I love you more than anyone else in the whole world and I want to hear the exact same thing back from you.” Not surprisingly, when Marty fails to give Lois her desired response, she becomes exceedingly enraged and accuses him of engaging in incest, screaming at him in regard to Carol, “I think you’re fucking her! I think you’re fucking that little tramp!” Naturally, Marty finds the seemingly phony drama queen to be fairly insufferable and he soon finds himself emotionally and physically abusing Lois, though she seems to enjoy it.  Although clearly somewhat masochistic, Lois, like most masochists, is clearly the one that is in control of the relationship. Of course, as an ice cold femme fatale with a nice warm pussy, Lois has ulterior motives and is ultimately playing Marty like a pawn. Indeed, unbeknownst to Marty, Lois’ so-called brother is really her estranged husband and she actually wants the antihero to murder him. Meanwhile, a local cop named Detective Harris (Seymour Cassel)—a rather ruthless asshole that knows a scumbag when he sees one—brings Marty to the local police station for questioning and informs him that he is looking for Carol as he believes that she is responsible for the death of both the private detective Jake Krutz and insurance salesman Barnett Gibons.

    Somewhat ironically, most of Marty’s problems are solved after Carol dies under grisly circumstances as a result of a botched morphine-fueled back-alley abortion in Mexico. Not surprisingly, Marty, who seems to be still slightly grieving over the death of his mother, does not take the quite unexpected news of Carol's death too well. Indeed, when the Mexican abortionist, who acts rather remorseful, calls him on the phone to inform him of his sister's death, Marty is initially in denial and proceeds to scream in regard to Carol's corpse, “Throw it in the ocean. Throw in a garbage dump. Throw it in an alley so the little dogs can piss on it.” When Lois tries to comfort him about his sister's death, mad Marty gives her a swift punch to her pretty little face and then screams with the visceral rage of a dozen AIDS-ridden queens, “Don’t EVER feel sorry for me. Ever! Ever!” In the end, Marty’s seems to soon get over Carol's death and his big criminal plans also workout, as he kills Lois’ ‘brother’ and gets her to sell the beach house.  As it turns out, Lois more or less had the same exact plan as Marty in regard to cashing in on the beach house and the two ultimately revealed to have used each other.  Of course, the great irony is that Marty was an unwitting pawn and that Lois used him to execute the murder so that she could liquidate her unwanted husband and sell the house. Now a completely emasculated ‘kept man,’ Marty is symbolically told to “move over” in a rather bitchy fashion at the very end of the film as the two get in a car and leave town for good to start a new life together. Indeed, now relegated to the passenger seat, Marty is no longer in control of his entire life. On top of everything else, Marty is met with disdain when he warmly tells Lois “I love you,” but at least he no longer seems perennially trapped in the same grotesque figurative womb as his belated twin sister and thus can quite worrying about the possibility of siring an inbred demon seed.  In that sense, it is only fitting that sister Carol dropped dead while in the middle of receiving a third world grade abortion.



     While This World, Then the Fireworks—a cinematic where, at least thematically speaking, madness is the method—is not exactly a ‘message movie’ and it has very little to offer in regard to the stereotypical Hollywood-esque realm of the ostensibly morally redeeming, it does provide male viewers with an insight or two in regard to the mystique of the so-called fairer sex. Indeed, the film’s antihero Marty learns the hard way that, no matter how angelically beauteous and seemingly passive and faithful a woman may seem, women are innately manipulative subspecies and a woman will always reveal her true ugly self and ulterior motive(s) over time when she finally achieves what she secretly wants. As innately fucked up as it is, antihero Marty’s twin sister Carol was the only person that selflessly and organically loved him for who he actually was while his platinum blonde cop girlfriend Lois—a vamp tramp with a venomous vag and crooked badge that makes Rita Hayworth’s character in Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai (1947) seem rather sweet and sensitive by comparison—is a chillingly cold cunt that will probably have him killed one day under dubious circumstances. In fact, despite spending a good portion of the film sweaty and unclad, actress Sheryl Lee does such an excellent job portraying a cunning cunt and all around loathsomely insufferable bitch that even the most die hard of Twin Peaks fans might find themselves losing empathy for her famous TV character Laura Palmer after watching Oblowitz’s film (on the other hand, no heterosexual men wouldn’t want to sexually ravage this busty blonde bitch).

    Of course, despite being a violent killer with a propensity for completely pointless gleeful sadism, Marty—an oftentimes hysterical and irrational pen-pusher that is prettier than most women—does not exactly embody any sort of great masculine ideal. Undoubtedly, when I think of mad mensch Marty and his covertly feminine attributes, I cannot help but be reminded of the great self-loathing Viennese Hebrew Otto Weininger’s wise words, “The meaning of women is to be meaningless. She represents negation, the opposite pole from the Godhead, the other possibility of humanity. And so nothing is so despicable as a man become female, and such a person will be regarded as the supreme criminal even by himself. And so also is to be explained the deepest fear of man; the fear of the woman, which is the fear of unconsciousness, the alluring abyss of annihilation.” Indeed, Marty is hardly your typical film noir (anti)hero, but instead the sort of violently emotionally erratic and wickedly narcissistic virtual male gigolo that could easily be the son of some sociopathic femme fatale that waited too long to get an abortion. Despite his fiercely fatal flaws, Marty is certainly portrayed in a more positive light than the film’s authority figures, thus underscoring semitic auteur Oblowitz and fellow chosenite Gross’ deep-seated hatred for authority, or, more specifically and importantly, WASP American pie authority.  Needless to say, I do not think it is a stretch to assume that Oblowitz sees swarthy Marty as a sort of crypto-Jew (of course, one also cannot forget that the character's sister Carol is played by seductive Jewess Gina Gershon).




     As the uniquely uneven oeuvre of suicidal (anti)auteur Tony Scott (and, to a lesser extent, his brother Ridley) demonstrates, starting a filmmaking career as a music video director can be an aesthetically deleterious thing as it can cause a filmmaker to become more obsessed with style, form, and especially editing than narrative constructive, among other things, yet Oblowitz’s pre-Hollywood background certainly seems to have been to his benefit for at least his magnum opus. Indeed, This World, Then the Fireworks certainly echoes the dark fragmented mind of its demented dipsomaniac source writer Jim Thompson, as it is a gleefully nihilistic film that could have only been spawned from the mind of an individual (or individuals) that has surrendered their morality and self-esteem to the figurative hell of addiction. Notably, in the featurette The Straight Dope (2017), Oblowitz happily describes previous affinity for cocaine and how it fueled his filmmaking.  In the same short doc, Oblowitz also makes the somewhat lofty claim that pulp auteur Samuel Fuller’s widow Christa Lang, who was personal friends with the The Killer Inside Me writer, once confided to him that Thompson regarded his film as the best of the cinematic adaptations of his stories (notably, Oblowitz is not the first chosenite to adapt the pulp writer's work, as Kubrick's The Killing (1956), which Thompson co-penned, and Jewess Maggie Greenwald's The Kill-Off (1990) both predate Oblowitz's film). According to Robert Polito in his biography Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson (1995), Mr. Fuller was so obsessed with adapting Thompson’s novel The Getaway that he once half-jokingly stated that he would be fully willing to use the novel as the shooting script (unfortunately for Fuller, it was Sam Peckinpah that ultimately adapted the novel, though it is, rather unfortunately, much tamer than its source material). Speaking of Fuller, even his darkest and grittiest films seem like works of cerebral optimism compared to Oblowitz’s semi-oneiric odyssey in white picket fence obscenity. Indeed, while Fuller was obsessed with crime and criminals, Oblowitz’s film is virtual criminality in cinematic form as a feverishly fucked flick that demonstrates a certain innate and strangely organic lawless spirit as if it was directed by a serial killer that wanted to boast about all the crimes he committed but was too morally bankrupt and narcissistically unaware to see how unflattering of a portrait that he painted of himself. In short, it is no surprise that This World, Then the Fireworks was directed by a man that was so obsessed with intimate ‘first-person serial killer narrative’ structure of The Killer Inside Me that he waited about 15 years just to have the opportunity to adapt one of Thompson’s novels. 



     As a thematically dark and grim film that has about as much organic pathos and pangs as an erratically shot homemovie of a pink poodle vomiting, This World, Then the Fireworks is certainly from the Norman Mailer School of aesthetically autistic neo-noir filmmaking. Indeed, aside from Mailer’s swansong Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987), the only other ‘neo-noir’ film that I can really compare it to in terms of sheer moral bankruptcy, vulgar dark humor, counterfeit pseudo-Lynchian posturing, spasmodic storytelling, and Southern Gothic influence (although set in California, Oblowitz’s film was actually shot in North Carolina) is Dennis Hopper’s clearly flawed but somewhat underrated Don Johnson vehicle The Hot Spot (1990). Surely, what all of these films have in common aside from being deeply flawed yet equally enthralling is that they seem to have all been helmed by genuine sickos and sociopaths, though one can certainly argue that Hopper’s moral retardation and offbeat megalomania was the natural result of decades of alcohol and drug consumption and wild orgies (notably, The Hot Spot features a surprisingly tasteful rear-view pussyshot of a very young and nubile Jennifer Connelly in a sensitive Sapphic flashback scene). As for Oblowitz and Mailer (the latter of whom once made a rather violent attempt at murdering his second wife, Hispanic painter Adele Morales, by stabbing her with a pen-knife and was subsequently deemed “both homicidal and suicidal” by a judge after an involuntary stay in a mental institution), I think it is safe to say that their films are the product of unfiltered narcissistic pathology in sexually steamy yet sardonic anti-shiksa cinematic form.

    Despite all the endless Hebraic Hollywood films that attempt to portray whites, especially poor white lumpenproles, as being inbred hicks, incest is indubitably a perennial Judaic obsession.  Indeed, from Freud (who popularized pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo about Oedipal mommy-fucking) to Einstein (who married his maternal first cousin/paternal second cousin Elsa Löwenthal) to the eponymous family of Andrew Jarecki's dubiously sympathetic Capturing the Friedmans (2003) to Oblowitz, incest is undoubtedly an obsession, if not practiced behavior, among many prominent Jews throughout history. Collectively speaking, Ashkenazim are among the most inbred people in the entire world and carry a number of distinct genetic and mental disorders, but I think that Oblowitz's obsession with incest probably has more to do with the (meta)political than the sexual. As Georges Bataille noted in his work Erotism: Death and Sensuality, Hebraic frog anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss argued that the banning of incest by society is, “ . . . the primary step thanks to which, through which, and especially in which, the transition from Nature to Culture is made.”  Needless to say, This World, Then the Fireworks is an assault against culture, namely white America culture, hence the importance of hot and steamy incest.  Notably, Olbowitz's Judaic ethnocentricism becomes rather obvious in interviews, including one where he remarked that when comparing working with goyish South African novelist J.M. Coetzee and Hebraic laywer turned novelist Thane Rosenbaum, “It was the difference between dealing with an Afrikaner and a New York Jew." It is also somewhat curious that a man that would take a rather a gleeful approach to cinematically depicting the horrific childhood trauma of 4-year-old twins witnessing their naked father blowing out another man's brains with a shotgun in This World, Then the Fireworks to state that his own father's personal shoah stories were responsible for leaving, “a tattoo from the Holocaust engraved on my heart.”  To Oblowitz's credit, his vampire flick The Breed, which was actually shot in real WWII era Jewish ghettos, does not exactly take a respectful approach to paying tribute to the holocaust. In a sense, Oblowitz's film is a sort of anti-Blue Velvet as antihero Marty Lakewood is like a younger version of archetypal Lynchian villain Frank Booth.  Of course, whereas Booth epitomizes pure and innate evil, Marty is depicted by Oblowitz—a kosher culture-distorter with a clear hatred for the small suburbans town of Lynch's youth—as an audacious antidote to the cultural sterility and sexual repression of 1950s American suburbia.  Judging simply by his unequivocal magnum opus, I can only come to the conclusion that Oblowitz sees fraternal twin incest as being highly preferable to the typical WASP nuclear family, but I digress.

    For all its decided degeneracy and seemingly anti-Europid meanderings, I think I could accept the prospect of endearing This World, Then the Fireworks for eternity were I to be so irrevocably forsaken as to fall out of favor with god and his Jewish bastard son and be cast into hell.  While I am not a merry murder of the incestuous sort that delights in giving my twin sister bubble bathes like antihero Marty, I can certainly relate to the antihero's grotesque outlaw romanticism and lack of empathy for the greater part of humanity, not to mention his self-destructive affinity for bat-shit-crazy (and beach-friendly) blondes and fiercely frisky Mediterranean bitches.  As a sort of unconventional aesthete that prefers my pulchritude to have a sort of dark yet passionate perversity, I also appreciate the film for being the virtual cinematic equivalent to a debauched dream prom date with Karla Homolka that concludes with an orgy with the more attractive of the Manson Family sluts.  In that sense, This World, Then the Fireworks—a film that basks in the recklessly hedonistic—is an evil erotic fantasy set somewhere between heaven and hell.  Undoubtedly, the spirit of the film can probably be summed up by Judaic Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey's somewhat reasonable words, “There is a beast in man that should be exercised, not exorcised."



    -Ty E
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  • Sweet Angel Mine
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    It is not often that one watches a film that carries an aura that feels like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) meets the TV-series No...
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    (Review Source)
  • Night Tide
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Many decades before fully developing the exquisite mental illness that would later contribute to the uncanny and iconic performances he ga...
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    (Review Source)
  • White Star
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    According to mainstream cultural critic/film historian Peter Biskind in his classic Hollywood Babylon-esque book Easy Riders, Ragi...
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    (Review Source)
  • Bloodbath (1979) (The Sky Is Falling)
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    During his less than personally flattering, if not 'legendary' and artistically fruitful “tormented maniac” period during the 1970...
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  • Wise Blood
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
     It must be a sick joke of sorts for a serious actor to be best known as the voice of a killer doll, but such is the ca...
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VJ Morton1
Right Wing Film Geek



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • The end of an era
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    The end of an era

    It’s the film criticism equivalent of Tiger Woods hypothetically retiring next week or of the death of Ronald Reagan. Roger Ebert is walking away from the show that made him certainly the most-famous and arguably the most-influential film critic ever.

    In its various incarnations, from PBS to syndication, from “Sneak Previews” to “At the Movies” to “Siskel and Ebert,” his show was the show that put film criticism into the popular consciousness and made stars of him and Gene Siskel, to the point they were commenting on the Olympics, appearing on Carson and Arsenio, and speaking to Harvard Law School and Playboy magazine (one of only three issues I ever purchased). His reflected glory was even enough to make a star of Richard Roeper, who also is leaving the show, and the breakdown of whose negotiations with Disney apparently created the occasion for Ebert’s official leave-taking. People who have seen him since his jaw surgery had told me they doubted Ebert would ever appear on TV again, because of what the surgery had to do to his voice and his face. This statement though seems to imply Ebert may be back on TV:

    The trademark still belongs to me and Marlene Iglitzen, Gene’s widow, and the thumbs will return.

    I’m not sure that’s the best idea, as it might be the equivalent, not of Tiger retiring next week, but one of Muhammad Ali’s comebacks. I wrote my eulogy of Ebert’s career a couple of years ago, and what I said then still stands up, I think. His taking leave of the show is not the death, but the funeral. I was a religious viewer of Siskel & Ebert and then a semi-religious viewer of Ebert & Butt-head too. I’ve only watched a few of the Roeper & Guest shows, from beginning to end, since Ebert had to take leave from the show because of his cancer. So it’s hard for me to have a very different reaction than that of Patrick Goldstein in the LA Times:

    As much as I admire Ebert, once Siskel was gone–he died in 1999–the show lost momentum. The magic was gone. …

    Television is a performance medium. Criticism is about words and ideas, which is why it belongs on the page, be it in a newspaper or on a computer screen. As a fan of Ebert, I’m delighted to see him abandoning TV and putting all his energy into writing again. It’s where he belongs. He recently launched a blog, called Roger Ebert’s Journal, which has been an absolute delight to read …

    Still, I wouldn’t write that second paragraph as strong as Goldstein did. I do think he underestimates how strong the show was. As I wrote a couple of years ago (link above):

    It’s tempting to forget now, with Mister Roper on the other side of the aisle, just how good Siskel & Ebert TV show was in the 80s. For us, Siskel & Ebert were doing something other than hyping the latest blockbusters and running Top 10 grossing lists, like Entertainment Tonight. It was the only word you could get at the time that there were the important Indie and foreign films to look out for if they eventually came to your town. And the two actually had something to say about film history and the classics. Again the comparisons with the clone shows — involving Jeffrey Lyons and Michael Medved, or Rex Reed, Bill Harris and Dixie Whatley — make the point about how much more substantial Siskel and Ebert’s show was. The other mentioned critics are all justly forgotten (except for Medved, who’s carved out a career as a political commentator).

    All you have to do is look at the segments now, which are widely available on YouTube (and which I just wasted hours watching again). Here is their segment on ROGER & ME (which I saw before declaring it 1989’s best film in one of the first reviews I ever wrote, for the college paper):

    Here is their dispute on BLUE VELVET (which I didn’t see at the time):

    Here is their battle over FULL METAL JACKET (which I did see at the time):

    And you know … just looking at these segments is somewhat sad. Even now, it doesn’t matter whether they were right to love ROGER & ME or who I thought was right about FULL METAL JACKET or BLUE VELVET (though they were; and it was Gene on the first and Roger on the second). These are seriously descriptive and substantive discussions (constrained by time and the limits of impromptu oral argument). Gene and Roger went into the details of the films and allowed a clip to go on for as long as 20 seconds and more, making Siskel & Ebert worth watching for the sheer intellectual sport and to help gauge and mold your own reaction.

    There is no show on TV like that now, not even Ebert & Roeper in its last couple of years; no show that I can imagine lighting a fire under a young cinephile. And I certainly don’t expect Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons to do it. But hope is obligatory in criticism, and in life in general too.

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    Thumbs up, RogIn "clueless liberal critics"

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    July 24, 2008 - Posted by | Roger Ebert

    3 Comments »

    1. So is there a chance that Roger and Me review will be made available?

      Comment by Mark Adams | July 24, 2008 | Reply

    2. It definitely doesn’t exist in electronic form (it was written in Feb. 1990). I **MAY** have a hard copy buried in old college-resume files … I’ll see if I can dig it out, but I’d have to retype it.

      I did write a piece on Moore for some friends’ Webzine, 24fps, after watching ROGER & ME in 2002, for the first time since 1990.

      Comment by vjmorton | July 24, 2008 | Reply

    3. Actually the 24fps article was more what I was looking for: your take on More, his politics, and why you like the first film so much and not the others

      Comment by Mark Adams | July 26, 2008 | Reply


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Ica Reviews1
Aryan Skynet



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  • Is John McTiernan’s Nomads an Allegory about the Jews?
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)


    John McTiernan, director of Hollywood blockbusters Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), and The Hunt for Red October (1990), began his movie career rather more humbly with the flawed and eccentric but nonetheless entertaining debut Nomads (1986). Notable as McTiernan’s only credit as a screenwriter, Nomads was eviscerated by the critics when first released, and still has only a 13% green splat at Rotten Tomatoes. “Was there any sense in it?” asks leading lady Lesley-Anne Down in an interview included on the Nomads Blu-ray. “I don’t think there was very much sense in it at all for anybody.” Is Down correct in dismissing the film as a shallowly offbeat curio – and were the critics who panned the movie motivated only by an objective assessment of its merits?

    Nomads stars Pierce Brosnan as a French anthropologist, Jean Charles Pommier, who in the opening sequence dies in the care of Down’s character, Dr. Eileen Flax, in a Los

    Angeles hospital. He appears in a beaten, bloodied, and seemingly insane state, and his enigmatic last words initiate what will be a strange paranormal ordeal for Flax, who over the course of the film will both investigate and experience what befell Pommier, with most of the story told in flashback. The anthropologist and his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli) had only recently moved to the U.S. and purchased a house that, as it turns out, has a horrible history attached to it. Soon after moving in, the Pommiers discover Mansonesque graffiti on the garage door and more graffiti inside: “Gutman’s a Hero”. The home, they learn, was the site of a horrific child murder, and a band of elusive antisocial misfits who live out of a van have adopted the house as a holy site.

    Pommier, being an anthropologist, follows the titular “nomads” around Los Angeles with the intention of documenting and studying them in order to gain a better idea of the threat he faces and to understand “what kind of people could think of a murder as some sort of shrine.” He determines that none of them have employment and watches them from a distance as they laze at the beach, party, and generally terrorize people. The nomads become aware of Pommier’s surveillance after he witnesses them murder a man and put the body in a dumpster. After first being pursued by them and escaping, Pommier again works his way into proximity with the group – at which point they seem to accept his presence and stage an impromptu photo shoot, with one of them, Mary, played by Mary Woronov, doing an exotic dance. When Pommier develops the film, however, he finds that none of the nomads appear in the exposures, which invites a comparison with vampires – although the nomads, who have no problem frolicking in the daylight, are clearly not vampires at least as conventionally depicted.

    These quasi-vampires – vampire lore comprising a traditional understanding of the eternal Jew – are nomads, or what Pommier, drawing on Eskimo legends, describes as an ur...

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Jay Dyer3
Esoteric Hollywood



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  • Inside David Lynch: An Esoteric...
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)


    By: Jay Dyer “‘I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper.’ – David Lynch If you’ve ever sensed the flimsy,...

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  • Inside David Lynch: An Esoteric...
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)


    By: Jay Dyer “‘I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper.’ – David Lynch If you’ve ever sensed the flimsy,...

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  • Radiohead, 9-11 and the Esoteric...
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    By: Jennifer Sodini and Jay Dyer After a period of silence, Radiohead has reappeared with a new single after a curious marketing pitch, removing their social media profiles from public...

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The American Conservative Staff2
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Twin Peaks Reconsidered
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Every year, North Bend, Wash., a 6,500-strong town located 30 miles outside of Seattle, adds about 300 people to its population for three days. Though it seems an odd burden for a town that few have heard of and with little attraction outside of natural splendor, it is accepted with an air that is almost colonial. The visitors come to commemorate a remarkable event. In 1989, director David Lynch, with cast and crew in tow, descended upon North Bend and neighboring Snoqualmie to film the pilot episode of Twin Peaks. Though production thereafter relied on a California-based studio, Lynch made icons of area locations, including the grand Snoqualmie Falls (as seen from the Great Northern Hotel), the lumber mill, the Double R diner (now called Twede’s), and the endless expanse of Douglas firs. This pilgrimage, held since 1992, attracts fans from around the world. They participate in costume contests, film screenings, bus tours, meetings, panels with cast members (a healthy majority of whom have appeared at least once), and trivia. One fan, 16-year-old Spencer Collantes of San Francisco, has been banned from the trivia contest for simply knowing too much about the show. “I’ve seen Twin Peaks more than 30 times,” he tells i-D magazine. “I’ve won the contest for the past three years.” The Twin Peaks pilot episode aired in April 1990 on ABC to 34.6 million viewers. It ended 29 episodes later in June of 1991 with less than a third of that audience. Its demise was slow and undignified, subject to months of preemptions, hiatuses, schedule shuffling, and general indifference. A show of so fleeting a lifespan and so relentless an obsession is not an easy one to explain, even if its kind is recognizable enough today. It is ostensibly about the murder of Laura Palmer, a troubled homecoming queen in a small town, and about Dale Cooper, an FBI agent of ice-pick-sharp intuition and permanent reserves of positivity, who is tasked with solving the crime. There is also a woman who literally carries a log everywhere she goes, a parallel world, a demonic spirit who wears nothing but denim, a fish in a percolator, and lots of coffee and baked goods. It is a mystery, but also a soap opera, a teen melodrama, and a surrealist fairytale. Twin Peaks lived, died, and was reborn by those alsos. They helped sink the show while entrenching the cult around it. At times it may seem as if those who talk about Twin Peaks are not always talking about the same thing. It was a quirky primetime thriller and remains a pop-culture phenomenon; but it was also a proto-prestige drama, a cautionary tale of creative excess, a visual puzzle as yet unsolved, and one of the greatest television shows ever created. Now the cult followers of Twin Peaks will get a chance to watch a new 18-episode season of Twin Peaks, premiering May 21 on Showtime. It has been made with the direct participation of Lynch and his Twin Peaks collaborator, the seasoned TV writer Mark Frost, who have brought to the new project 36 original cast members (with some notable omissions, however, for reasons that include mortality) and double the number of newcomers. Promotion has been limited to coy seconds-long spots, including one with David Lynch dressed as one of his characters, the hearing-impaired FBI agent Gordon Cole, eating a doughnut, while Angelo Badalamenti’s eerie and romantic theme music plays. It’s difficult to know what to make of this remake effort, though it seems just a bit precarious given how out of control the show can get and the inherent risk of disappointing the show’s lingering loyal fan base. It calls to mind the words of Ted Williams after he took on managerial duties at the Washington Senators and friends suggested he was still young enough to be a player-manager. “You don’t mess with the mystique,” said Ted. Is Lynch messing with the mystique? Perhaps. David Foster Wallace once said he preferred Twin Peaks’ second season to its first because of “the fascinating spectacle of watching a narrative structure disintegrate.” David Lynch loves to talk. He will talk at length about seemingly anything that strikes his fancy, and charm his listeners to pieces in the process. Some years ago, he did a semi-regular video series in which he reported on the weather—that is, he sat in his Los Angeles workshop and described how it looked outside in a voice that had not aged in spirit or cadence. He largely eschews profanity and speaks of everything with a kind of youthful revelation. But this enthusiasm does not often extend to his work, which he talks about in effusive generalities that read either as necromantic visions or straight confessions. Sometimes both. “I had always wanted to sneak into a girl’s room to watch her at night and that … I would see something that would be a clue to a murder mystery,” he recalled describing the genesis of his 1986 hit movie, Blue Velvet. “I went home and somehow I pictured someone finding an ear in a field.” Lynch is a dreamboat for nascent filmmakers thanks to his ability to turn raw ideas into sensational visions. This is evinced in his very first film, Six Figures Getting Sick, a commissioned 50-second stop-motion piece from 1967 that shows six sculpted heads spewing liquid. Lynch, who came to film from painting, is not a verbal artist. He prefers to dictate scripts, and strings together his images using stilted dialogue that isn’t far removed from an Ed Wood film. His images can be striking. Blue Velvet divines both the beautiful and the grisly with its Rockwellian roses and its Buñuelian ear. But television as a verbal medium did not attract Lynch. The actual idea that David Lynch could subject himself to commercial breaks and Standards and Practices came from the outside. The prime culprit seems to be then-CAA agent Tony Krantz, who match-made him with his other client, Frost, and told them to take it to the ratings-starved ABC. “We didn’t really have something that we were completely settled on,” Frost later recalled of the 1988 pitch meeting. “[W]e told them about this strange town in the Northwest, and a murder that happens. And I remember David said something about ‘And there’s the wind in the trees,’ and he moved his hands a certain way.” A pilot script was ordered. Twin Peaks could never really overcome its pilot episode. It is a beast unto itself. Every time I watch it I try to put myself in the mindset of those who originally tuned in in 1990, and every time it is impossible. Having put Miami Vice’s hyper-contemporary urban “zen pulp” to rest, audiences were thrown into the ’90s by a rustic postmodern clash of casual absurdism, bleak violence, and a fixation with the 1950s. And not many involved in its making thought it would go anywhere. “I had the sense of freedom making that pilot,” Lynch said, describing the “euphoria” of “this probably isn’t going to go anywhere, let’s really do it.” Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks’ Dale Cooper, concurred: “We figured it would be just a one-off and no one in their right mind would ever consider making this a series.” But the low expectations backfired. “Will Laura’s murderer ever be found? Will he or she turn out to be, as one rumor has it, an extraterrestrial?” John O’Connor wrote in a New York Times review of the pilot. “It really doesn’t matter. Keep your eye on those details and enjoy this unique television trip.” One has to feel bad to some degree for Sheryl Lee, portrayer of Laura Palmer and her brunette cousin Maddie Ferguson, whose main career highlights consist of being murdered or playing dead on this show. She spent a whole workday, and then some, being fake-brutalized up and down the Palmer living room by three different people to make up a grueling four-minute reveal of Laura’s and Maddie’s killer(s). This is to say nothing of the hours she spent lying on a rocky shore in the middle of winter, “wrapped in plastic,” for the pilot episode’s iconic opening scene. But it’s true that these occurrences seem somewhat beside the point compared to the elaborate world Lynch and Frost brought to life that was at once alien and familiar. “Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip the fronts off houses, you’d find swine? The world’s a hell.” Joseph Cotten’s screed to his niece in Hitchcock’s suburban thriller Shadow of a Doubt is often seen as a direct precursor to the Lynchian worldview. Though dried of obscenities, it presages the bitter brutality Dennis Hopper brought to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet four decades later. And this is not lost on Lynch: “There are too many possibilities for something to go wrong—so you could always worry about that. And there’s many things that are hidden and seeming like many, many secrets; and you don’t know for sure whether you are being just paranoid or if there really are some secrets.” But Cotten’s swine are better contrasted against Laura Dern’s robins, from a scene often overshadowed by Blue Velvet’s improbably menacing suburban underbelly: I had a dream. In fact, it was the night I met you. In the dream there was our world and the world was dark because there weren’t any robins. And the robins represented love. And for the longest time there was just this darkness. And all of a sudden thousands of robins were set free, and they flew down and brought this blinding light of love. And it seemed like that love would be the only thing that would make any difference. And it did. So I guess it means there is trouble till the robins come. This homily, appropriately filmed just outside a church, is difficult to watch without some ironic remove. But it also serves as a window for a hopefulness that Hitchcock was less willing to fathom. In fact, looked at another way, Blue Velvet, on a moral level, has more in common with its 1986 theatrical contemporary, the Sylvester Stallone tough-on-crime vehicle Cobra, than with anything produced by Hitchcock. In this regard, Twin Peaks is both an extension of and improvement on that moral framework. Though David Lynch’s work has been pored over by possibly every manner of film critic in Christendom, one of the most astute observations of Lynch comes from conservative intellectual Joseph Sobran. Surveying Lynch’s work for National Review in 1990, Sobran wrote that Lynch, far from being a “left-wing avant-garde muckraker of the national soul,” is far more nuanced. “Good and evil are clearly—even violently—distinguished, but, otherwise, the normal and the abnormal keep close company, even within the same character.” Twin Peaks, moreover, “shows that Lynch can give his intuition subtler expression when he doesn’t make use of shocking extremes.” “And then, once you’re exposed to fearful things,” Lynch said, “you begin to worry that the peaceful, happy life could vanish or be threatened.” To ascribe a brand of politics to David Lynch would be wrong. Though he’s said to have admired Ronald Reagan, he has supported the Natural Law Party—of the Yogic-flying, transcendental-meditation variety, not the Straussian variety—going so far as to make a campaign commercial for physicist John Hagelin, the party’s 2000 presidential nominee. All the same, denying that there is a broader social vision within his work is not so easy, particularly with regard to place and its effect on his characters. His 1977 debut feature film Eraserhead is remembered as a horrific paean to parental anxiety but is just as ably viewed as a hate letter to cities. Inspired by his time living in Philadelphia, Lynch reduces the urban landscape to a depopulated wasteland of noise, smog, concrete, isolation, and shadows. “In my mind it was a world between a factory and a factory neighborhood,” Lynch said of the film. “A little, unknown, twisted, almost silent lost spot where little details and little torments existed. And people were struggling in darkness. … I always say it’s my Philadelphia Story. It just doesn’t have Jimmy Stewart in it!” Twin Peaks, by contrast, has echoes of the Missoula, Mont., of Lynch’s youth—or at least his attitude about it in hindsight. “My childhood was elegant homes, tree-lined streets, the milkman, building backyard forts, droning airplanes, blue skies, picket fences, green grass, cherry trees. Middle America as it’s supposed to be.” Of course he is ever quick to note the sap that bleeds from the tree, and the ants beneath the grass, but Twin Peaks is not given enough credit for the complexity of the contrast. The stark divide between corruption and innocence, robin and insect, and Madonna and whore in Blue Velvet is dissolved with a kind of Lynchian humanism. Though Twin Peaks is something of an island in a sea of trees, and dislodged in time (as if it exists in a parallel universe where the Cold War didn’t end and Sub Pop Records didn’t exist), it is no monoculture. It upends the usual rule of Lynchiana that the most menacing characters are the most memorable; and not merely because the demonic “BOB” was portrayed by a set carpenter who was accidentally shot in a mirror’s reflection in the pilot. The serial structure allowed Lynchian idiosyncrasies to deepen into logical traits, pulling someone like Catherine Coulson’s “Log Lady,” who lives in an actual house, was once married, and carries useful knowledge about the town and its lore, from non sequitur to flesh and blood human. It has also paved the way for Lynch’s best female characters, who have tended to serve mostly as ciphers for a protagonist’s desires and revulsion. Here they have their own wisdom, charms, and vulnerabilities. Sherilyn Fenn’s Audrey Horne (and later Laura Palmer), for instance, has the complexity and impulses of a James Dean character while James Marshall’s motorcycle-riding throwback James Hurley has the allure and sensitivity of an ingénue. Twin Peaks is an ideal world of uncommon, even impossible, vibrancy. The weird not only seem to out-populate the normal, but the normal (with one important exception) are just that. The oddity of the town exists in spite of rather than in accordance with the spiritual forces of “the Black Lodge” that converge in its forests. The evil, whether represented by “BOB,” the miscreant locals, or pretty much anyone from Canada, requires defense. David Lynch famously turned down an offer to direct Return of the Jedi, though the look and manner of Dale Cooper and his FBI cohorts bear a strong resemblance to George Lucas’s clairvoyant arbiters of universal moral order. At the heart of Twin Peaks is a fantasy, but one that’s grander than its fantastic elements. For anyone who grew up in Union County, N.J., the 1,945-acre Watchung Reservation bore a significant ominousness. Though strewn with park areas and beautiful streams and foliage, getting to certain towns required driving on unlit serpentine roads cutting through its dense swath of forestry. It was not uncommon to hear that it was haunted, or that it was a breeding ground for cult ritual or Klan meetings. My high school’s senior class supposedly had a Halloween tradition of nabbing freshmen and stranding them in the middle of it, perhaps in the Deserted Village, which is exactly how it sounds. It rings terribly juvenile, to be sure, but it is rooted in reality. In 1972, the body of 16-year-old Jeannette DePalma of Springfield was discovered after going missing for six weeks. A local dog had found one of her arms and brought it to its owner. The rest of her had been found in a Reservation quarry, called the Devil’s Teeth by locals, surrounded by makeshift crosses and other “occult objects.” The death was ruled as suspicious and caused a sensation, with local newspapers openly speculating motives of witchcraft and Satanic worship. “Do Pupils Pray to Devil?” read one headline. But 45 years later, “Who killed Jeannette DePalma?” still goes unanswered amid a fog of ever more salacious rumors and accusations of police cover-up and negligence. One could travel to any part of the United States and discover similar stories. There is an abundance of Twin Peaks, in other words, where tragedy and gossip ascend into ignominious legend. What was most unbelievable, and therefore most entrancing, about the series was not its violence or its demons but the resilient hope Lynch and Frost stood up against them. Though by no means the most optimistic show ever produced it was among the least cynical. A basic good was assumed of everyone until proven otherwise. Its justice system, with a trailer-traveling judge who held court in the local bar, is unquestionably lax. Its authorities, both local and federal, are incorruptible. “While I will admit to a certain cynicism,” says Miguel Ferrer’s sardonic and pugnacious FBI forensics investigator Albert Rosenfeld: the fact is that I am a naysayer and hatchetman in the fight against violence. I pride myself in taking a punch and I’ll gladly take another because I choose to live my life in the company of Gandhi and King. My concerns are global. I reject absolutely revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method … is love. I love you Sheriff Truman. Since the show’s original cancellation, showrunners have tried doggedly to ape the Twin Peaks atmosphere. Shows like The X-Files, Lost, True Detective, Bates Motel, and most recently (and bizarrely) the Archie comics reboot Riverdale, which features Twin Peaks star Mädchen Amick, have tried to resurrect the show’s signature weirdness and dark Americana for new audiences. Yet the weirdness, such as in Lost, was often unfathomable, while the darkness, as with True Detective, was impenetrable. If one wanted to find these in more recognizable proportion, while also not being totally beholden to the show’s legacy, one would need to look away from television—say, to Charles Burns’s graphic novel Black Hole, which is as much about the tribulations of Seattle-area teens in the midst of maturity as it is about the mutations they sexually transmit to one another. Or perhaps one could check in on the new Showtime Twin Peaks starting in May. Twin Peaks was a show that no one thought he needed when it first aired, and it is still a show that no one really needs now. At the same time, a return to Twin Peaks is not at all gratuitous. Twin Peaks, after all, never technically went away. I’m not speaking of the cosplay parties or the Reddit threads, but of the place. As with any town, Twin Peaks will have had to weather the passage of time. It will have decayed and aged. It will have been razed and paved over. It will have been healed of some of its past traumas just as it will have acquired new ones. It may misremember its legends—or its spirits—and allow them to reemerge half-recognized and more terrifying. We may assume this because Twin Peaks is everywhere. At least we know that the coffee will be hot. Chris R. Morgan writes from New Jersey. ]]>
    ...
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  • Twin Peaks and the Rise of 'Peak TV'
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    It’s an irony of our times that in today’s era of new-as-the-Internet technologies like Netflix, Amazon, Redbox, ITunes, and OnDemand, when it comes to TV, everything old is new again. This year’s Television Critics Association has announced that NBC will be reviving Will & Grace for an 8-episode “event” next year, while ABC resurrects a Roseanne revival. Syndicated classics of the1970s early-evening, like To Tell the Truth, Match Game, and Gong Show will fill the lazy, crazy days of summer on ABC’s Game Night. Fox’s two signature dramas, 24 and The X-Files, had already been brought back for limited-series “events”, and until it was made redundant by 81-year-old Larry Hagman’s death from a heart attack in late 2012, TNT reached back to the last days of disco and the go-go ‘80s with a Dallas revival, starring originals Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, and Hagman. Other shows like Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, and Wonder Woman were rebooted with just as significant differences from their dated originals.      But no other TV show to come back from its watery grave could generate the kind of passionate fanboy excitement that Showtime’s long-awaited revival of David Lynch’s signature TV experiment Twin Peaks (which premiered this Sunday, May 21) could have. From the moment ABC’s publicity department asked the immortal question, “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” in the early spring of 1990, until the show sputtered out to its inconclusive and dissatisfying end barely a year later, Twin Peaks became an obsession of literary-type and “emo” Gen-X tweens and teens, and their arthouse-cinema fan parents. There had been other TV shows that consciously—and credibly—imitated the style and feel of feature films before. High-class (in their day) detective dramas like Mannix and (the original) Hawaii Five-0 certainly bore more than a passing resemblance in both style and substance to early New Hollywood films like Bullitt, The French Connection, and Dirty Harry. Perry Mason and Dragnet both owed plenty to late ‘40s and ‘50s film noir, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better 1970s-era equivalent of Chandler, Hammett, MacDonald, and Bogart than Jim Garner’s signature Rockford Files. The best episodes of “adult westerns” like Gunsmoke and Bonanza were often almost indistinguishable from their big-screen brothers. As different as they were in style and audience, Peaks’ most obvious predecessor came five and a half years before its premiere, when NBC knocked it out of the park with a pair of what programming chief Brandon Tartikoff called “MTV Cops”, as the distinctively cinematic and stylish Miami Vice (helmed by longtime feature director Michael Mann) raced to the rescue in 1984, ending just nine months before Peaks’ premiere. But if Twin Peaks was not the first show to be thought of and executed in feature film terms, or by an A-list feature film director, it was definitely the first TV series to have a specifically indie film feel. Earlier hits like Star Trek, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Defenders, and Hill Street Blues had redefined what you could talk about on television.  Twin Peaks exploded the storytelling style and the very aesthetic boundaries of primetime. It refused to operate in a proven genre: it could very loosely have been described as a mystery (who killed Laura Palmer?) or a nighttime soap opera (with its continuing multiple storylines and focus on a wide cast of characters)—but those comparisons only showed how different it was. Its characters were more often constructs of past Hollywood clichés, with late ‘80s/early ‘90s teenagers dressing and acting like Bettie Page pinups or “Fonzie”/James Dean leather-jacket rebels from what would’ve been their parents’ youth. The prices on the wall at the Twin Peaks diner, which served the “best damn coffee” and cherry pie in TV history, were last seen in real life when President Nixon retired from office. Its lead characters were a slicked-back young FBI agent (whose style of dress was likewise arrested from about 1965), and a tall oak tree of a sheriff with the memorable name of Harry S. Truman. And they were the normal ones! Who can forget the demon BOB, or the psychic Log Lady, or the S&M-overtoned Orientalist villainess, or other such truly crazy characters? Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter and United States of Tara creator Diablo Cody, who was a middle-schooler when Twin Peaks premiered, told PBS’s “America in Primetime” series in 2011 that Twin Peaks stills set the standard in virtually all the writers’ rooms of prestige TV series on both broadcast and cable. Yet if that’s the case, it’s very interesting (and revealing) how few TV shows to emerge in Peaks’ wake truly tried to recapture that show’s dreamlike, ethereal, otherworldly style and feel.   That isn’t to say TV didn’t try. Within two years of Peaks’ premiere, CBS launched Northern Exposure and Picket Fences, two series set in small towns with lots of self-consciously quirky characters and kinky secrets. But while they were generally class acts, Northern Exposure was played for inoffensive character-driven dramedy, and Picket Fences was anchored by lovable, relatable characters like an elderly, universally respected judge (the great Ray Walston), a seventyish shyster with a heart of gold (the equally great Fyvush Finkel), and a middle-class family headed by reliable stalwarts Kathy Baker and Tom Skerritt. The TV dramas that launched in the 1990s and early 2000s, like Law & Order, ER, CSI, NYPD Blue, Ally McBeal, The Practice, 24, The Wire, The West Wing, and The Sopranos all represented huge leaps forward in challenging subject matter, three-dimensional characters, and cinematic style—but almost all were simply designer versions of proven “genre” shows like crime/legal dramas, hospital shows, and Scorsese-style mafia movies. By far, the two recent series that most closely owe their existences to Twin Peaks are A&E’s recently-concluded retcon of the Psycho film franchise, Bates Motel, and the Duffer Brothers’ wonderfully addictive small-town science fiction look at Stranger Things. (Among more mainstream fare, F/X’s American Horror Story and CBS’s summer perennial Under the Dome would be the closest matches.)   The two truly successful TV shows that premiered in immediate wake of Peaks which came the closest to equaling their parent—in both style and quality—were Fox’s 1993-2002 supernatural-tinged mystery The X-Files, and the WB’s (now known as the CW) first true breakout, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ran from March of 1997 to the spring of 2003. No accident that Fox in 1993 and The WB in 1997 had barely just begun, and both networks would have been satisfied with ratings that would have been unacceptable on the Big Three of CBS, NBC, and ABC. While both of those shows eventually grew into true ratings hits, it was the “buzz” that Fox and the WB were initially hoping for.     As such, Twin Peaks prefigured the precise moment when TV would start migrating from a mass-appeal medium, whose mandate was to “broadcast” to the largest audience possible, to a niche, specialty medium that would begin “narrowcasting” to ever more specific and discrete audience segments. Twin Peaks didn’t begin the trend, but it accelerated it exponentially. While the Internet and 24-hour news as we now know them barely existed in Peaks’ era of 1989-91, the term “buzzworthy” might as well have been invented for the show. Every magazine and tabloid, all the Entertainment Tonight and Current Affair style TV shows were running top stories. This had happened to shows before—Dynasty, Dallas, Charlie’s Angels, M*A*S*H, All in the Family—but in those cases, the shows actually were watched by an overwhelming majority of TV viewers. This time, the show in question was certainly popular enough to survive its first abortive 8-week season, but even at its best, it was not a top ten hit. However, it was an obsession among discerning film and TV critics with the biggest platforms. Like it’s considerably more mainstream ABC sister Thirtysomething, it wasn’t that everybody watched Twin Peaks—it was that the right people were watching it. After the passing of the Golden Age live TV dramas and the truly classic early comedies (Your Show of Shows, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy)  it became something of an upper-middle-class status symbol to claim that one “never watched” television—the “boob tube”—except maybe for PBS, the news, and sports events. There were a few shows that it was respectable to claim watching—a Star Trek here, a M*A*S*H or All in the Family or Mary Tyler Moore Show there, a Columbo movie or Roots-style “event” miniseries every now and then.   But less than a decade after Peaks reached its peak, the tables were turned. Now it was rare for a yuppie exec or college academic to not know what was going on in The West Wing or at Tony Soprano’s table. There were no pseudo-intellectual brownie points to be gained by saying you “never watched” Seinfeld, Homicide, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Will & Grace, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, or Friends. Quite the opposite, in fact. More and more, TV began migrating in two directions—exploitation reality shows of the lowest class (Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, Anna Nicole, Jersey Shore, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer) on one hand— and challenging, transgressive, antihero-driven dramas like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder plus top-drawer period pieces like Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey on the other.   As befitting a show from an indie-film icon, it’s also more impossible to separate the made-for-TV Twin Peaks from its big screen siblings than probably any other TV series in history. (And not surprisingly, after its two-season cancellation, Lynch released a feature film that was both prequel-and-sequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.) Peaks popped at the same time the phrase “independent film” was being culturally redefined from the cheapo slasher, Blaxploitation, vampire, and chop-socky karate movies (with their lineups of one-dimensional beach blanket bimbos, women in prison, biker gangs, and shrieking victims) that previously connoted the term. Less than four years before Peaks’ premiere, David Lynch truly broke through to the national consciousness with his genre and gender-bending, ethereally twisted slice (and we do mean slice) of suburban perversion, 1986’s Blue Velvet, starring Peaks’ central star, Kyle MacLachlan. New black filmmakers like Robert Townsend, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and Spike Lee were likewise beginning to self-publish their striking stories of the streets. Arthouse cinephiles like Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes, and Gus Van Sant were unwinding their stories of alienated gay Gen-Xers, quirky bros that talked a lot but never really explained themselves, and existentialist yuppies having sex, lies, and videotape. Roughly concurrent with and immediately after Twin Peaks run was what is universally recognized as the Golden Age of “Indie Film” (roughly 1989 to ’96), which defined the very term of art as we use it today: Do the Right Thing, Boyz in the Hood, Clerks, Spanking the Monkey, Clean/Shaven, Gas Food Lodging, River of Grass, What Happened Was, Trainspotting, Bottle Rocket. Almost all of them helped inspire (or were inspired by) Peaks, and the boundaries it pushed past the breaking point. In closing, perhaps no other non-miniseries, regularly scheduled show in TV history which ran for as few episodes or for as short a time as Twin Peaks would have as much of an influence on American pop culture. And none would remain as strongly in the popular consciousness more than 25 years after its end. Even Star Trek had three years and nearly 90 episodes (plus a successful feature-film franchise and countless “next generation” sequel series, not to mention cartoons and comic books).   Only time will tell whether David Lynch and Showtime will be able to recapture the magic of the original—much less update and expand upon it. Because for a show like Twin Peaks, it isn’t so much the destination that counts. It’s the ride. Telly Davidson is the author of a new book on the politics and pop culture of the ’90s,  Culture War.  He has written on culture for FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player, and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series Pioneers of Television.   ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Mark Steyn1
Fox News



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Nights of Cabiria
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    A quarter-century ago - October 31st 1993 - Federico Fellini died from complications of a heart attack he suffered a day after celebrating his fiftieth wedding anniversary. His memorial service at Cinecittà in Rome a few weeks later was attended by
    ...
    (Review Source)

PJ Media Staff2
PJ Media



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The 3 Most Poisonous Movie Clichés of the 60s and 70s
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Ed Driscoll and I had fun last week with my brainwave about the preposterously-named Adam Smith's freakish drive-by harassment of a (preternaturally Zen) Chick-Fil-A employee.I was struck by the incident's similarity to the famous "diner" scene in Five Easy Pieces (1970), right down to the "chicken": var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Five Easy Pieces Diner Scene', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Ed quoted a film critic who held up that scene "as the point where American movies began to celebrate gratuitous anger."Anyone who's watched other drivers careen out of the parking lot after the latest Fast & Furious movie has to admit that films affect our behavior; that cinematic ideas and attitudes trickle into the cultural water table, and sometimes pollute it.To take one trivial instance: I've written before about the influence all those 1970s "Satanic children" flicks had on my decision not to have kids.Three other movie tropes from that era impacted audiences in ways that continue today.(Language and content warning:) var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Eddie Murphy is RAW while describing Italians and Rocky explicit HD', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/8/15/the-3-most-poisonous-movie-cliches-of-the-60s-and-70s/ previous Page 1 of 4 next   ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Tim Markatos1
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • A College Education in 50 Films
    (”Blue Velvet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Everyone knows me by now as the resident movie expert, so it will come as a surprise to many of you to learn that just four years ago I was a total film philistine. Were it not for the devious Mr. Alan, Sophomore Honors English and Creative Writing teacher, who forcibly transferred me into his second-semester film class to work on a short screenplay I had written for a final, Tim's love affair with cinema would have remained unconsummated to this day.  In my second week at Georgetown, after the dust from New Student Orientation and the start of classes had settled, I decided to start taking advantage of our library's vast DVD reserves to start catching up on all the movies Mr. Alan and others had been insisting I see. I simultaneously started keeping a journal of every film I watched from that day out, and before long I was in the grips of mankind's primal cataloguing urge, searching out films both near and far, old and new to fill my lazy hours. My Georgetown education happened in a number of places, the classroom being only one of them. In honor of the 300 or so films I devoured throughout my collegiate years, I've picked out 50 pivotal films that will forever define my time here. Some of these movies are good, others atrocious; quality is not the primary criterion for selection so much as capacity for creating fond memories. I deliberately limited myself to movies I watched during the academic calendar year, so while vacation hits like Margaret, Mysteries of Lisbon, Rosetta, and Laurence Anyways (to name a few) made their own indelible marks on my impressionable psyche, this is not the space to speak of those. Part of what makes a moviegoing experience memorable for me is the company I share it with; as you'll see with most of these selections, it's the people you freak out with while leaving the theater who make the endeavor worthwhile.
    ...
    (Review Source)

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