8 ½ (sort of): Flickhead’s year-end list
Gaelan Connell in Bandslam
I don’t ‘get’ Rob Marshall — why photograph dancers from above the waist? why obscure choreography with flash cutting? — but Kate Hudson’s number from Nine sends my turban a’twirl. “Style is the new content,” indeed.
James Olson and Catherina von Schell
Moon Zero Two
Advertised as ‘the first moon Western,’ this atypical Hammer production from 1969 actually plays more like a George Raft picture of the forties; or a Carry On movie directed by Stanley Kubrick. Between the threadbare ‘futuristic’ styles, a soundtrack of cocktail jazz, and an utterly routine scenario that vainly reaches for 2001’s mysterioso, one can only believe director Roy Ward Baker was transmitting subversive messages to sleeper cells on Mars. The oddball cast includes Catherina von Schell (from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: “Please, will no one tell me what a baronet is?”), Adrienne Corri (the lady with the big penis in A Clockwork Orange) and the high, wide forehead of James Olson. Thanks to Puppooska for sending this to me.
Angelina Jolie x 2
My admiration (obsession?) for Angie is well known — I had the cojones to call Wanted my favorite film of 2009 — and as I stand in line to see every new picture of hers on opening day, it’s hit me that she’s my all-time favorite movie star. I can’t think of anyone else, past or present, I’d so willingly rush to see in anything no matter how dire. (Although Angie’s script selections since becoming a superstar have been generally sound.) Salt plays infinitely better on Blu-ray than it did in the theatre, a testament to Philip Noyce’s and DP Robert Elswit’s command of the small screen. I just need to limit my viewings to avoid burnout. The Tourist was everything I’d hoped it would be: a fashion show, with my beloved finely coutured, coiffed and bejeweled with impeccable taste. Being something of an old skool chauvinist, I can’t help but think that if more women paid the kind of attention to their physique and wardrobe as Angie does here, the economy would bounce back, skies would be sunny and the dawn of world peace would lay before us.
Goliath and the Sins of Babylon
An Italian ‘peplum’ epic from 1963 directed by Michele Lupo, whose Fistful of Knuckles (1965) also sounds like a must-see. Glistening bodybuilders, vaudeville comedy relief, a generally incoherent plot and eye-poppingly gauche, Goliath and the Sins of Babylon had me reflecting back to my days in San Francisco in the late 1970s, observing the leather bars in the era of Al Pacino’s Cruising, and thinking what a cash cow this could’ve been at the Castro Theatre at midnight. Also on the DVD, the equally distressing Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960) with dubbed Rod Taylor amid more flexing paisans.
“Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)”
When you get as old and decrepit as I, the sight of five energetic young dollbabes confusing a music video with an aerobics class can do nothing but prompt a Grinch-like smile curling the sides of my wretchedly wrinkled mug. (According to my better half, I’m a dead ringer for the cartoon character below.) I have no interest in or knowledge of The Pussycat Dolls other than this vid, which has surely cost me more brain cells than I’d care to admit. The dude in the suit is the legendary A.R. Rahman, collecting grocery money lip syncing. (Memo to Kimberly Wyatt: my wife says it's alright for us to date. No really, she does.)
Danièle Gaubert and Nino Castelnuovo
Where have you been all my life? Dripping with atmosphere, Radley Metzger’s 1969 spin on the Dumas tale was once an X-rated ‘happening’ for a woefully extinct demographic, the couples market that made hits of I Am Curious (Yellow), Elvira Madigan, Carmen Baby and Last Tango in Paris, suburban marrieds who secretly pined for wife-swapping and group sex after plying their houseguests with fondue and Gallo wine. Nino Castelnuovo falls for the image of Danièle Gaubert, and we know that because Metzger’s shot their sex scenes off of mirrors… unless there’s something of what Welles called ‘dollar book Freud’ in all the reflective technique. Speaking of Welles, there’s even a sex scene filmed off of a succession of mirrors, ala Lady from Shanghai, resting comfortably on Piero Piccioni’s infectious Euro-lounge score — which, by the way, I would love on CD if anyone can burn me a copy.
Vanessa (Sa5m) Hudgens, Gaelan Connell and Aly Michalka
The boxoffice figures at IMDb report that this 2009 release was made for $20 million, but took in a paltry $5 million in the U.S. At Amazon it’s available on DVD, but not Blu-ray. Why the apathy? Bandslam addresses teen angst, the separation of children from parental influence, adolescent passion for pop and rock music, and the awkwardness of high school relationships, intelligently with an airy sense of humor. It avoids excess and never becomes mean-spirited. (Perhaps that’s why the masses rejected it.) I think the cast — Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Lisa Kudrow and the appropriately vexed Gaelan Connell — are genuinely excellent, and I’m seriously thinking of changing my name to Flick5ead once I teach my cats how to ‘high five.’
Can’t Stop the Music
Shaken and stirred by Christian Divine’s post on Technicolor Dreams, I finally checked out this beige 1980 pean to roller disco, men in tight short-shorts, big hair, and the Village People, all under the direction of actress Nancy Walker who, once upon a time, played Rosie the Waitress in TV commercials. The once-in-a-lifetime cast includes Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine (still looking like she’s on Tralfamadore), Bruce Jenner (!), and the fag hag triumvirate of Altovise Davis, Tammy Grimes and Barbara Rush; while the Village People flex their skills, thespic and otherwise, in a gymnasium scene rivaling the one in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for queer bravado.