Y’all got cocaine eyes
I will never own a cellphone, I will never own a texting device. I hate the telephone, perhaps more than I hate cold weather or driving. I hate being telephoned and disturbed. I’m puzzled by people who call me and expect me to invent conversation on the spot. I have a friend I lend DVDs to, but he can’t watch a 90-minute film from beginning to end because he’s compelled to answer his cell every time it rings; it takes him months to watch one movie! The only reason I’d want to answer the phone is if someone’s giving me money. Otherwise, I’m really not interested. I believe Alexander Graham Bell should’ve been burned at the stake for witchcraft.
In several spots of Sherlock Holmes (2009), the new film in which the detective has been reinvented as an action hero, I couldn’t hear dialog. Not that I missed anything; this tripe has nothing to do with Conan Doyle… or Jeremy Brett or Basil Rathbone, for that matter. Truth be told, it’s not an isolated occurrence: ever since the 1950s, there have been films with dips in sound. It’s as if they perfected film sound recording in the late 40s and into the 50s, but when the cameras went on location, sound went out the window. Not all movies, you understand. Anyway, with Sherlock Holmes there must’ve been dozens (hundreds?) of people involved in the editing and sound recording. Didn’t anyone notice the glitches? Or were they staring down into their BlackBerries, thumb-typing?
Catching up with Irina Palm (2007), a modestly budgeted, intriguing bit of business starring Marianne Faithfull (whose thespic skills haven’t advanced all that much since 1968’s Naked Under Leather) and Jenny Agutter, I was confused after the guy who plays Marianne’s son tells her to take back the money. The dough was for his kid’s surgery. Yet the kid still gets the surgery, even though we’re led to believe the father didn’t take the money. I don’t recall a moment clarifying this. Now, Irina Palm wasn’t made on the same $cale as Sherlock Holmes, but I’d imagine there were at least twenty or thirty people involved in the editing and continuity. Didn’t anyone notice the omission, or were they all texting on their BlackBerries?
Which brings us to cocaine. We reached a point in the late 1970s when films began to show the influence of the drug: flamboyance, incoherence, vast sums of money put into oddball ventures which were often of interest only to their creators and their creators’ sycophants. Kenneth Anger wrote of this conundrum in his 1984 volume, Hollywood Babylon II:
“The difference between Dope Now, and Dope Then, in the Hollywood scene, is that it’s all gone democratic. I mean everyone — the go-fers, the gaffers, the special-effects makers, the guys developing the footage in the labs — is toking away like mad, and it all shows on the screen. Mistakes have happened. Stunts have gone wildly wrong. Stunt girls have been paralyzed. Helicopters have dropped deadweight out of the sky, beheading actors, and it wasn’t in the script, in spite of Hollywood’s current wallow in gore-splatter.
“O Coke, Where Is Thy Sting?”
(For the record, my one connection to Kenneth Anger is my old friendship with an ex-model named Italia, with whom I worked out in a gym. Back then, Italia worked out nearly every day. Anger was the godfather of her daughter, Alida, who was named after Alida Valli. The godmother was Candy Samples! The last time I saw Italia is when I welched on a bet, the payoff being me painting her guestroom — in the nude. Sorry, I just didn’t have the moxie for it, among other things.)
I don’t think cocaine is as big a problem today as it was in the early 1980s. But there seems to be a cocaine mentality permeating the zeitgeist, where distraction and lack of focus are paramount, where people are prone to adhere to knee-jerk (and uninformed) opinions, where we type with our thumbs because it takes too much effort to use all our fingers. Jimmy the bartender complained about accelerated lifestyles as far back as 1953 in the Marlon Brando movie The Wild One — “Nobody talks anymore! They all just grunt!” — which makes me think it’s always been like this. Only now with BlackBerries.
On the upside: there’s no need to even edit this copy. I’ll just post it as is! Who cares? It’ll all be forgotten in less than a minute!