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2014 09 17 So many movies are filled with the vilest things, so how come we often love them so much?
I just watched In the Electric Mist, with Tommy Lee Jones: hooray, I love it, love him, and so do you. I’ve said that before, that’s not why I write: something ravished me I wasn’t prepared for: didn’t duck: the language, the dialogue, the dialect (New Orleans) see so … right! juste! exact!
But what do I know? I’ve never been near New Orleans. Now I wanna ponder what about it, what macroinformation set of things struck me in my imagination as so authentic?
Another thing: I’ve just recently started to go nuts over Levon Helm as a character actor. I’ve known him, his music, The Band, since the 1960s, but without being a fan. No, no: it was his role in Shooter that so impressed me, then a half dozen other character rolls since then: Confederate General John Bell Hood just now. Amazing: the guy’s got to have his tongue so far into his cheek he can taste Arkansas from Woodstock, but straight-faced is awesome.
On that subject, I’m also way over-due to commend Ned Beatty as a perfect fit for some characters, for some priceless characters: not many people, not many actors, would be willing to humiliate themselves in the guise of their character: playing total schmucks, totally unself-aware. Here he’s a combination of perversions we don’t know the extent of till toward the end. (I know: he looks like Tom Wolfe being Tom Wilfe!) How many losers have ever been more pathetic than Ned’s horny lawyer in Nashville, begging the would be star to instruct him what she most wants, practically kneeling on his tongue, or the schmuck crook in Superman, the oaf Otis, precisely out of fashion with his wrong socks, wrong pants length … Well I was knocked out by his evil senator in Shooter: and this pervert racist pimp murderer white slave pander is marvelous in Electric Mist. He’s marvelously grotesque as he gropes the girl in hot pants here.
There’s a bunch of marvels: Beatty, the racist murderer, asks Jones, a witness to his guilt, to admit that “we” are not the same people in 2009 that we were in 1969: Tommy Lee says “I think we are.
Vile Things Saturation
The other night I started watching a DVD of The Rose: Bette Midler recalling Janis Joplin. Rose complains that nobody wants to fuck her. In public, loud, she says to somebody, “Eat me!” A second later some stranger instructs to to sit on his face …
That’s not the world I grew up in. That’s not the world my mother, my sister grew up in. In this movie I’m reminded of Birdman: on a rooftop in Times Square the infinitely adorable Emma Stone shouts to some stranger to, “Eat Me!” The stranger says, “Jump down on my face” …
The Rose seemed to be trying to be as vulgar, as gutter, as could be; but Birdman seems to be trying to be great art, or at least pretentious as hell. The other month I watched an old tape of the Monty Python people: they were singing, “Sit on my face, and tell me that you love me …”
I by a let of coincidences saw Monty Python the first time it was aired in the US, my buddy was just back from England where it was the rage. And its secular blasphemy, it’s jocular attitude toward mortality and civilized life, were clear: and laudable. But I sure don’t remember no Sit on my face song.
Now: sucking quim was important to me then, and to my wife, and to my friend, and his wife … But we blocked the words: we did it, but didn’t say it. So what’s with movies now? What’s with dragging out old footage of censored Brit comedy? without explaining its censorship history?
I know one thing, no matter what we do, no matter what we say, we should cast Ned Beatty (and John Cleese) to say it, to play it.
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