I’ve watched some crap this week. The ‘Conan the Barbarian’ redux was far-from-entertaining and lacked the lead, script and score that gave the 1982 version such presence while ‘The Devil’s Double’ was neither trashy nor truthful enough to be of any point whatsoever. If you can’t make anything out of barbarians or psychotic dictator’s sons what kind of filmmaker are you? Still, I hope that the box office dirty bomb that ‘Conan…’ and ‘Fright Night’ activated wipes this relentless trend for remakes out.
Still, I was heartened to hear that the rumours of Rodney Dangerfield appearing in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Killing’ back in 1956 — the heist film that’s been homaged time and time again —- were actually true. I heard the bug-eyed king of the self-deprecating one-liner was an onlooker in an uncredited role, but I’d never been able to spot him. So I assumed it was apocryphal — after all, two of my heroes crossing paths is a significant thing that must have been too good to be true. Someone once told me that Antipodean folk-hero Alf Stewart from ‘Home & Away’ was in ‘Abba the Movie’ and it turned out to be bullshit. As a result, I approach these early sightings with the same skepticism we approach yokels claiming to have seen alien transport. That was until Criterion upped this excellent Chuck Stephens essay a couple of days ago, taking the reader through ‘The Killing’s cast — from the lead to supporting roles, the narrator, and including a still of Mr. Dangerfield in full onlooker mode, peering over a shoulder at a an impromptu bout of race track fisticuffs. This is easily my favourite uncredited cameo of all time since Robert Duvall sat on a swing in the 1978 ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.
On a similar subject, the New Yorker is talking up a spot of beef between another deified director and Mr. Sean Penn, with Sean claiming that the ‘Tree of Life’ script never made an accurate leap to the screen when Terrence Malick directed it, and reinforcing the popular consensus that the film is anaemic in the narrative department. I’ve got a lot of time for ‘Milk’ but I preferred the Penn that starred in awesome films like ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘At Close Range’ (with an excellent Walken turn too — I never realised how based on a true story it actually was). Having grown up gawping at the ‘Bad Boys’ VHS sleeve with a vivid illustration of Penn sat on another teenager and about to drive a shiv into his neck, this crappy US-poster makes this 1983 teen prison flick look like ‘Beat Street’ — what’s up with that covered lettering?
I’ve long tried to stop this blog straying too far into retro territory by implementing a retro offset section when I feel I’m a little too lost in rose-tinted Cazal territory. Simon Reynolds’s excellent new book ‘Retromania’ takes on that issue head on and explores our fetish for the past. He’s especially taken with the early to mid 1960s’ work of André Courrèges, who brought a defiant futurism to women’s fashion, and — according to Reynolds — represents one of the last stands against reverse thinking before the 1960s (thought by so many to be the progressive decade) began to look back. I love this LIFE profile of Courrèges from their May 21st, 1965 edition, entitled ‘The Lord of the Space Ladies’ (referencing the 1964 ‘Space Age’ collection) where he spits some superior soundbites, steeped in progression (“Le Corbusier is my only master. If I had the guts, I would leave it all today to become an architect”) and is pictured playing Basque pelota in some court sport whites. In stark contrast, his silver, intergalactic creations for the Munich Olympics were eccentric and amazing too.
It’s interesting that Supreme referenced Courrèges as early as 1995 in Suprème ads and logos (with the lettering frequently misunderstood as a Macy’s homage), possibly to represent their future-proofed vision, complimented by that box logo in contrast to the more garish skate and street wear of the time, treating their tight-knit team and employees like a Weber Calvin Klein shoot was something different. I’ve never known whether that B&W treatment was linked to the brief controversy over box stickers stuck to Calvin Klein ads that’s referenced on the much-faked and still-imitated Kate Moss t-shirt. Courrèges remains legendary.
As I age and lose touch, I’m clinging on, white-knuckled to some semblance of the new before I lapse into a permanent “everything’s shit” mode and the gradual Benjamin Button style reversal back to a happier ideal of years past that’s historically rewritten to make even the most mundane releases look definitive. That’s why I have to shout out Nick Bam —my advisor on all matters of waviness — for putting me onto Nakim’s ‘Swervin’ remix. I can’t stop listening to it and those visuals are some budget brilliance.
Shouts to team Leisure on the launch of their site, offering month-long online explorations of a chosen topic, seemingly in retort to the insubstantial canapès of Tumblr and the blank-eyed global spread of the low-attention epidemic. There’s plenty of content on the new site that’s relevant to my interests, dwelling on psychedelia until the 15th of September. This piece on Ricky Kasso (a longtime personal preoccupation — see also Anthony Jacques Broussard and James Vance) is fun.