Friday, August 24, 2007

Some Day I Shall Be Released

Junk Thief just got in from downtown for drinks and dinner with a friend and did a little DVD shopping before heading back home. He was in one of those, "let's see what I can nab for under $35 at Virgin." Try these three: Cleopatra Jones, Mulholland Drive (even though I've yet to watch my copy of Inland Empire) and The Day of the Locust. See a trend there? All set in L.A. All feature strong, quirky women. All feature a certain calamity and cultural clash in the land of sun and fun. Junk Thief actually loves a lot about L.A. He has long said that while San Francisco is the most pretentiously unpretentious city in the U.S. L.A. is the most unpretentiously pretentious city of the nation. It celebrates and does not apologize for its gloss and glitz, yet some of the brightest and most sensitive people I have known are from there.

San Francisco on the other hand...Oh don't get me started. I even get into trouble when I say I am going "downtown." Well, there really isn't such a place here. I usually mean that when I am going in the general vicinity of Union Square to Embarcadero. I got into the same problem when I called Midtown Manhattan the same.

Nabbing (yes, I actually paid for them) three DVDs got me to thinking about a comment from someone the other day who said "You can get anything on DVD now." Sorry, not true. While you can find the first couple of seasons of C.H.I.P.S. on multi-disc sets, there is still a number of things that border on criminal for their lack of release. I could give a long list, but here is my current top five.

5.) Cruising (1980) directed by William Friedkin. I sort of cringe putting this on the list. I may or may not buy it when it's released on September 18. Yes, it's hard to watch but in a train wreck kind of way. I actually saw it just before it was released when I was working for a movie theater circuit. I saw it in a screening room with a group of 20-25 straight men in gray suits, grunting and smirking and making snide remarks. It's often very bizarre yet still captures the vibe and scene of a very specific time in a way that those who were there say for all its wrongheadedness is often accurate at capturing a long lost era and many people on the screen who likely died within a few years after its release. The flick's not without its laughs, such as the scene of the cop/Honcho magazine model bitch slapping Pacino who seems to have gone into denial that he ever made the film.

4) Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) directed by Rainer W. Fassbinder. After a highly praised screening in New York this spring, this epic swan song of one of German's five greatest directors is supposedly being released by Criterion "this fall," but I have yet to see a release date. At five and a half hours, I can't imagine the price tag. Since many single disc Criterion's can fetch $36, I may need to take out a second mortgage for this one. But I can guarantee I will buy it.

3) Die 3groschenoper (1931) directed by G.W. Pabst. Okay, this one was likely to be my #1. Arguably the greatest pre-war German director (I put him far above Lang), the greatest piece of musical theater of the 20th century (Sorry, Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady don't come close) and Lotte Lenya all in the same screen is more than I can stand. It's a flawed adaptation of the Brecht-Weill stage version, missing many key songs, but still often brilliant. I actually have a VCR to VHS to DVD copy of a late 1980s WNET-TV broadcast that is of surprisingly decent quality (even featured in an episode of Junk Thief TV), but I've longed for the day when a nice print might be available. If there were justice, KINO might take a crack of it. Knowing it will never happen, I did a quick search, and effing mother of god!!! A Criterion release is coming September 18. Eight days before my birthday. Thanks for considering buying it for me, but I've already pre-ordered it. There is a God after all.

2) Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) directed by Richard Brooks. Okay, okay. This is almost up there with Cruising, but it too is a key product of its times. Keaton was brilliant in it. It was Richard Gere's first significant role. And Tuesday Weld was...well some say she should have played the lead. The soundtrack is pretty good too, certainly evoking the era, although already a bit dated (some going back to 1974) even when it was relased. I don't even have a VHS copy of it. Pity.

1) Play It As It Lays (1972) directed by Frank Perry. Alright. I have four words to say: WHERE. IS. THE. OUTRAGE. You can't find this on any format anywhere. It never airs anywhere. Tuesday Weld in the lead. Supporting work by Tammy Grimes and Anthony Perkins. Based on a book by Joan Didion. Never mind the lack of outrage about Iraq. Where is the outrage that we are denied this key important work of the late 20th century! I mean, you can get Mel Gibson in Tim, It's Pat, the Care Bear movies, but not this? Unite, take action, demand your rights. I refuse to leave this earth until I have a pristine print of this puppy to put in my highest definition, 70 foot wide, plasma, state of the art player. I just pray that it comes out before my eyesight and hearing give out.

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At 5:55 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

One of the creepiest things on film is the final scene in 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar'...
I've never looked at a stobe light in the same way since.

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Nor have I ever looked at a STROBE light in the same way!

At 6:05 AM, Blogger Two Write Hands said...

"Some Day I Shall Be Released" has an alternate title. "TWH Realizes She Hasn't Seen a Lot of Movies."

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Salty - I never liked strobe lights either. This flick made me resolve never to dance under one again or at least not have one next to the bed.

TWH - Keep writing, dear, not watching this crap. You're too smart to watch these.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Pod said...

have you ever seen 'thundercrack'?
so funny, and a bit rude
tis a crime that it hasn't been released either

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is disturbing but I like it because Ms. Keaton is a teacher of the Deaf. I saw it while I was working on my Master's Degree and I think she was supposed to work at the school I am currently working at, but I have to go back and watch it again.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Hmm, Gary. Be sure that you don't pick up some guy from the South with sexual orientation confusion issues. Believe me, having seen the movie, it won't end nicely.

Yes, it's a disturbing but sometimes profound movie. It was both a product and critique of its era. Cruising, on the other hand has far fewer redeeming values. Personally, I'll stick to my Criterion and MGM classics for now.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Joy said...

JT - I absolutely LOVE your new photo for your profile! Mucho coolness, baby!

At 8:24 PM, Blogger marxsny said...

When I first started reading this post and I noticed the inclusion of "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" my first thought was that I could leave a comment about Tuesday Weld, in one of the most incredible supporting actress performances ever but, alas, you beat me to it. I'm desperately trying to remember that line she had, about the dirty feet and his and her matching vibrators.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Joy - Thanks. It's not that often I manage to work the coolness gene. Lord knows I try!

Mark - No wonder a band would call itself the Real Tuesday Weld. There's also "Pretty Poison". Under appreciation of the many talents of Tuesday is really up there in the list of American crimes. I bet Bush and Cheney don't get her either.


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