Monday, November 17, 2014

Gerry Hannah's new record, Uwe Boll's Rampage II, plus Crime Fest at the Vancity Theatre

Won't have much to say for a bit, but it's surely a sign of the end of the world that Gerry Hannah has joined Facebook. He also has a new blogpost and a bandcamp page, where you can hear streamed versions of the songs on his new solo album. I love some of these songs, which I know from his Songs from Underground cassette, and I'm eager to hear the new ones, but I don't want my first listen to it to be online...  Don't let that stop you, though, if you don't know these songs or don't know for sure yet that you want this album. It's not punk rock at all, by the way, but mostly a moody folk music; most people know only "Living With the Lies," because it survived, mastered from the original prison tape, on the Terminal City Ricochet soundtrack, but there's also the Codeine cover of "Sure Looks That Way," which - lookee - someone has put the orignal of on Youtube, too. We gather the new recordings are much improved.
In other news, Uwe Boll's Rampage II: Capitol Punishment is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now. It's a pretty gleefully irresponsible movie (and features no images whatsoever, box art aside, of our "hero" shooting up the US Capitol, by the by). It is the umpteenth Boll film that centres on a shooting spree, and one of various attempts on his part to make a angrily political exploitation film, but fans of the first Rampage will not be disappointed. The progressive politics and overt misanthropy are a bit of an odd fit, but the directness of Boll's anger is welcome, and there are some fun rants from superb BC actor Brendan Fletcher, as Boll's violent avenger of political ills. Mind you, it's hard to buy complaints about the decadence of the rich and powerful as mouthed by a man on a gleeful mass murder spree, since random killing just isn't an appealing answer to the problems of the world. And Boll really missed an opportunity when he cast himself in his own movie: he needed to be shot down like a dog by his antihero, but he probably realized some people in the audience would cheer. Instead, his appearance in his own film serves merely to allow him to watch his hero on video and have him say, "I totally agree with this guy," which, believe it or not, Uwe, we already knew.
Incidentally, it was weirdly touching to see Boll pay homage to the now-closed bingoplex in the centre of Maple Ridge, the surprise appearance of which, in the first film, totally dominated my past writing on it. It's just around the corner from where I live, and was closed down a year or so ago when the nice new big casino got opened across town. Boll's armoured gunman looks sadly in the window at one point and mourns its demise ("no bingo?")... If I'd know they were shooting that day I would have hung around and gawked. Someone should seriously do a "best of Boll" festival at a theatre in Vancouver. Even his naysayers must admit, he's kept a lot of Vancouverites employed!
In other news, I'm excited to catch whatever I can at the upcoming Crime Fest at the Vancity Theatre. They're playing what is bar-none my favourite Tarantino, which was Jackie Brown; I have always thought that the (relative) failure of this (relatively) mature, rich film to find a mass audience at the time set Tarantino off, when he finally got over it, on a trajectory of pandering, and that if the film had succeeded we would have gotten a very different kind of filmmaker: one whose movies I would still get excited about. Watching it again has become kind of bittersweet for me, a cause to contemplate lost opportunities, films that Tarantino never made that could have been so great (like, what if he'd been inspired to adapt other classic American crime writers, and his films since Jackie Brown had included an adaptation of a Parker novel, or writers like David Goodis, Jim Thompson, George V. Higgins, Charles Willeford, or James M. Cain? What if he'd teamed up with James Ellroy to bring American Tabloid to the screen? Instead we've had to settle for re-boiled riffs on and reimaginings of movies that already exist, like Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained, none of which rate very highly with me at all. Jackie Brown was Quentin Tarantino's last great film; sadly, this will likely remain the case).
If the other films in the fest live up to the bar set by Jackie Brown (and by the other vintage selection, Polanski's Chinatown), we're in for a treat. Mystery Road sounds distressingly relevant to our city's recent history. I have mixed feelings about James Franco, but I definitely do want to catch his adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, my favourite McCarthy novel, and certainly his funniest, despite its very dark content (it concerns a dispossessed hillbilly necrophiliac; its idea of humour is having a peripheral character name his daughter out of a medical textbook, picking words for their sound - like Urethra. It's the funniest bit in McCarthy since Harrogate took to fuckin' those melons). I've seen Cold in July on some ten-best-of-2014 lists, and I liked Jim Mickie's earlier film, the apocalyptic vampire movie Stakeland, well enough. And I'm a big enough fan of Dexter that I'd be curious to see what I assume is Michael C. Hall's cinematic breakout, and can enjoy Sam Shepard in almost anything, so I'll go see that. Salvo, the Italian hitman thriller, also sounds compelling. I'm not the biggest Sam Fuller fan - his cinema, even when it is full of ideas and new images, like the male bathhouse in 40 Guns, say, is often just a little too anarchic and startling for my tastes - but I might make time for his daughter's documentary about him, he's an important enough figure in the annals of low-budget American filmmaking (and thanks to Wim Wenders' occasional casting of him in movies, I got to really love Fuller's face; he and Nick Ray both pop up in The American Friend). Hell, if I can make time, I'll go see every one of these movies, they all sound interesting.
By the way, horror fans note that I have heard nothing but great things about the Australian supernatural thriller The Babadook, also upcoming, but I have not yet seen it. Nothing much else is going on for me right now - just work and life, keeping me busy. I would rather see some movies, over the next while, than write about them.

No comments: