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{Thursday}

 
A DEBATABLE REAL

Very good & interesting & involving reel-around-the-monolith debate about the REAL and Big Brother {big B other? as Lacan almost certainly never said} and Warhol {almost certainly an unconscious reverse contraction of HOL-ographic WAR} ... over and between k-punk and Church of Me ... and which renders me TRES guilty for not having sorted out my own BB ruff-note speculations about that show as a Mirror Stage; which I WILL do, in the next few days {if I don't waste too much time watching ... actually, I know it's the perennial cliche, as quoted on k-punk, but I DO find this latest lot boring, and I just HAVEN'T been tuning in and anytime I do, something about those scout uniforms just puts me RIGHT off not to mention something about Federico's smug face makes me phantasise he is the replicant and I am the blade runner d'y'ken...? The fucking cheek even having the same name as Fellini and Lorca - I mean then you might have something to look smug about little boy ...)


A FEW RANDOM THOUGHTS & TANGENTS

Interesting to scan all the references in this e-bate:

· written: Baudrillard, Zizek
· music: Cabs, Iggy, et al
· cine: Marker, Matrix, Blade Runner

- and then realise the one thing conspicuous by its total absence = ... the visual arts.
OK - Warhol is key, but it's Warhol as theorist and/or cineaste and/or conceptualist (manager of the Real/reel/repeat). I would say that it's sad but HEALTHY that the supposedly so shocking way-ahead once-radical world of Art (and Brit Art in particular) means virtually NOWT to most of us as a vital reference in such discussions . . . or would someone wish to disagree?

I myself am just SO allergic to art spaces/galleries, espeially big retrospectives like the WARHOL one at Tate Modern last year [was it last year?]. I was dragged along to it one afternoon, and left fairly pronto, perplexed, depressed, my head done in. (Aren't big retro shows like this just so mentally & physically ennervating?) It was so odd to see the Observer-reading classes en masse WITH THEIR CHILDREN, the children screaming and laffing and playing with the Warhol Balloons, while Blow Job was unfolding on this itsy bitsy tasteful little monitor ... Warhol ticked off of the list for that month, anything residually radical lost in the fairground BUY MNEMONIC TRINKETS NOW atmosphere ... which Warhol himself would have approved of and loved, no doubt.


Re: Simon's Uberhip Index

Annette Peacock? X-Dreams? I'm The One? "Don't Be Cruel"? Oh my yes.

But what really set off a mnemonic trigger in my head was the mention of Sheila E.

In the Eighties I owned - then lost - then bought again - then lost again - this one Prince-produced Sheila E. elpee, which if I recall only had two great tracks on, but boy what tracks, one in particular, if I remember accurately it took up most of Side 2, it was this looong, slick, tuff, shiny hypno-funk odyssey, Prince & Sheila maybe sharing uncanny (treated?) vox, and a lyric about the moon shining down on our bodies in the back of our limo-zeen... I think. LOVED that track.
{Sudden memory flash: Was the track called s/thing like: "A Love Bizarre"?

And in re my remarks the other day about Roxy Music not sounding dated, whereas a lot of 21st Century electronica/etc already sounds dated to these ears ...
I listened to ALL of The Idiot the other day and WOW but it still sounds fantastic, sui generis, utterly, a tru dreamwerk ... more IP on IP soon {I hope, I promise, really ...}

The other night, after mentioning the epochal Manny Farber & Patricia Patterson critique of Taxi Driver, I scoured my shelves for the issue of FILM COMMENT it was reproduced in [a special SCORSESE issue, 1998].
And also in there is just THE MOST BRILLIANT (even by his brilliant standards) David Thomson critique of Raging Bull:

"THE DIRECTOR AS RAGING BULL / why can't a woman be more like a photograph?"

Absolutely paradigm-busting stuff! Beautiful, acute, sly, wicked, on the money, and also pretty pertinent to some of all our current queries about Real vs..., not to mention a long overdue and necessary corrective to current worshipful non-criticism of certain ex-Brat directors ...

{A few months ago on C4 News, I saw the weirdest piece on Thomson, tied in with the publication of the latest Biographical Dictionary. Phillip French and Barry Norman both were really SNEERY about Thomson - who had, it seemed, in their rheumy eyes, committed two grave sins. And I am not exaggerating here: I made notes at the time, I was so flabbergasted!
ONE: Thomson writes too well [!!!?];
TWO: he had the temerity, the ego, the {skill? brains? wits? plain common sense?} to actually criticise Scorsese and Altman; who - and I am not making this up - B. Norman said flat-out SHOULDNT be CRITICISED, and that was that.
I would never do it, he said. Well, we know, Barry, we know. And just LOOK where you aren't now, with your ass-licky, PR-one-removed, uncritical film show . . .

But anyway {rant over!}, as far as I know this Raging Bull essay isn't available anywhere else - I'm amazed, frankly, having re-read it, that Thomson didn't put it in BENEATH MULHOLLAND [which, even tho I worship the paper D.T. writes on, I thought that compilation had a couple of below-par pieces in ...]

It's one of those pieces that is so good and so right - when I (slowly) read it the other night I had to keep putting it down, and pausing for thought and sighs & headshakes of admiration ... and if I weren't already perpetually teetering on the edge of the ravine of ever present dull ache that is RSI as it is, I would type in the full 8,000 words or whatever its wordcount is . . . especially as, having just read it again, it is of such a structural thematic poetic piece (it's not just 'about' Raging Bull, but about Scorsese's work as a whole, and the so-called Movie Brats, and a wider perception/apprehension about how women are treated by all their cameras), that it really doesn't admit to too much tinkery quotation-taking.

But here's a taster or two . . .:

"In every instance, the sexual anxiety is sheltered by the old Godard axiom that blood in a movie is only red*. They are saying that the women in pictures are only photographs of women, so what the hell. This is a medium about watching, not realizing; about appearance, not relationship. It may be a measure of art that a director can speak coldly of "pieces of film" as if they had no reference to life or humanity. That is the gospel of Hitchcock as passed down to Brian De Palma**. But isn't it time for a tradition of criticism that repudiated this defense it it can offer nothing more than the spectacular heartlessness of Dressed To Kill?
[...] The ultimate frivolty of De Palma's work comes from being unable to believe in anything beyond photographic reality.
[...]
"I don't think Scorsese knows very much about boxing ... But he knows less about women, which is what makes the film so artistically negative. And he is determined to understand nothing about himself, no matter that he can find no other subject.
[...]
Raging Bull is out of control, and it expects us to read that wildness as a sign of integrity. This is an art in which incoherence, hurry and impact must desperaely believe in the impossibility of anything else. It's as if the film kept asking, "What can you do except film a beast?" and would not wait for an answer. In the end, it has no meaning beyond the reiteration of the title: it is a chant, and that's why all the exaggerated ring sounds (ropes, bells, flashlights) are the real music of the film, backing up the jabbing of the title and the thunder of its pulse: Raging Bull.
[...]

* this is also, wouldn't you just know (!), the excuse TARANTINO regularly proffered during his record-breaking globe-encircling talk-'em-up gab fests for his first two movies.

** DE PALMA: I mean, like: HUH? (I was always utterly fazed and mystified by Pauline Kael's hymns to him.) Body Double was on TV a couple weeks ago and I was like, is this just one of the WORST FILMS EVER by a supposedly major-league director or WHAT? (But then, you could say that about so much that De Palma has inflicted on us; I do have a personal soft spot for SCARFACE, I have to say - kind of like the movie equivalent of one of Simon's good-bad-taste Pop options - but I certainly wouldn't try to justify it to anyone who thinks it's nought but reprehensible trash.)

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Now playing:

· Outkast: "Elevators"
· Colleen: "everyone alive wants answers"
· Steely Dan: "Only A Fool Would Say That" {A message cha-cha}*
· Felt: "Don't Die On My Doorstep" {thanks, c_c: very mid-period Dylan!}
· Lotte Lenya: "Surabaya Johnny"**
· Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow {esp. Side One and esp. "She Has Funny Cars" and the boo-ti-ful "Comin' Back To Me"}
· Led Zeppelin: {various}
· Parliament: "Deep" {"You can tune a piano / But you can't tuna fish. DEEP!"}

* How many years did it take me to work out a) that Can't Buy A Thrill is taken from a mid-period Dylan song; and b) what all those brown stains on the cover are. Euh, as Liza Simpson is wont to say.

** More Dylan trivia: the cover of this LP: Lotte Lenya in Happy End [CBS 1964] - can be glimpsed in the background litter of the previously noted PAWtastic sleeve of Bringing It All Back Home [CBS 1965]

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posted by Ian 6/05/2003 02:47:00 PM

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