|THE PILL BOX|
A CATALOG OF CULTURE & BARBARITY
slightly disgracefully i have never seen "the harder they come" -- but i DID go and see the musical of ditto at stratford east earlier in the year, and was very struck by the audience -- largely black, largely middle-aged and "dressed up"*, a very comfortable vibe to be in the audience of (lots of singalongs and invocations to get up out of seats and dance) -- it was a nice show but there was maybe a big disjunction between what this audience felt about actual reaf life gangsterism NOW -- in london let alone kingston -- and the story they were happily involving themselves in
*ie not necessarily well-off at all but making the most of being seen to be out at a special-occasion sit-down show
i'm not really sure where i'm going with this except to wonder abt the caribbean vector for some "gangsta" attitudes (and complexities) into rap?
second tangent -- which my post above got me thinking about -- did you watch the darcus howe doc abt his strained relationship with his son? ("son of mine")
the son is called AMIRI and wants to be a gangsta rapper (we saw him in a rap comp on the show and he appears to be RUBBISH -- but his disapproving dad was in the audience) -- the "bonding" scene was the two of them fishing in longshot on the estate of the posh lady Howe got to know and like while making White Tribes
anyway discussing it w.carmody last week made me want to see a BRILLIANT DOCUMENTARY which wd be written and directed by you and k-punk and wd be about DARCUS and AMIRI, and how his dreams and drives impacted on his children; crosscut into BRYAN FERRY and OTIS* and ditto...
*named for, well, GUESS!
de palmer's film making has always resembled a cocaine high to me, they always seem to start off all confident and cool and then they just degenerate into a load of crap. Scarface is perhaps the exception, because it's ALL cocaine high
Following on from the tangents Mark touches agin above, I heard a HRRIBLE neologism on the News yesterday. A "spokesman for the black community" (altho it was actually a middle aged woman) was being quizzed following the latest GUN outrage in Brixton. I always feel obscurely irked when people use the phrase "gun CULTURE" (altho I can just about see the necessity for it). But this woman used the phrase "gun enabled crime" - which, c'mon, puh-leeeze! This seems to be taking 'kid glovism' to bizarre, near masochistic levels
(Altho I can imagine other uses ... such as "lie enabled war" for instance.)
In the 1980s, the Regan administration had some kind of Caribbean Initiave fund, in which favoured islands received billions in aid. But not without strings, obviously. In Jamaica's case, receipt of the ka-zillons was dependent on a clause which said they had to clean up, nay, ERADICATE the GANJA trade, at its very roots. And lo, it was done. And then - entriely a mere co incidence I'm sure - the very next moment the island is flooded with crack cocaine (and the psychoapthic turf violence that went with it, made more pathological and Byzantine by the already existing POLITICAL gang spats.)
Re: Mark's suggestion of a K-Punk/Pill Box co-production ... I can see it, I really can.
And what I see (and I'm entirely serious here) is a programme that lies somewhere between the politically rigorous docu-drama of Straub/Huillet and the revealing irreality of SIRK's Written On The Wind and Imitation of Life. Not so much Black Orpheus as BLACK OEDIPUS. (As it happens, circa 2004 I made a whole intended-for-Pill Box folder full of Notes & Speculations about this very same potential subject: the whole perceied 'problem' (child discourse) of "absent" Black fatherhood, the anxiety of with held or deferred influence, etc., and how it related to gangsta/pimp Rap.
(The insertion of Ferry into the equation could be the stroke of genius tho.)
Plus, am I wrong, or isnt the time ever so right for a good over view doc on FRANTZ FANON?
(I *did* see the original Howe doc of which you speak, Mark, BTW; plus, around the same time there was another 'reality' doc in which a young black teen from N19 - fatherless, flailing, failing, skipping school, flipping over into fade-out low-level criminality, etc: the 'full catastrophe' - was plucked up and transferred for a few months to a high level public school in the middle of luxurious Lady Jane Felsham style grounds; the sort of place Labour ministers (and Bryan Ferry) send their sons to, i.o.w.
Upshot: within weeks same black 'problem' boy is captain of rugby team, House Captain, winner of certificate for advanced work in Algebra and Latin, etc ... (And I'm not exaggerating here, really.)
Upshot, coda: returned to the Tottenham streets ... our boy clutches defeat from the healing hands of victory and slips back into peer group nihilism and inanity and 'You gotta stand by yr posse - its all you got in the GHETTO' and 'If i cant be a rapper I dont wanna be anything' type egregious flip-flop discourse...
It's hard to know what to class this sort of programme as - or know what its ultimate (or even *provisional*) 'value' might be. If it's "reality television" then the only reality on show is an entirely TV-centric and TV-logical one ...
To elide subjects ever so slightly, this is one of the reasons I'm so pissed off at FILM 4. AT a time when there are SO many 'geo political' subjects of urgency and fascination in our world (Europe; post USSR Russia; Islam; post-HipHop black 'identity'; the woes of 'multi cult'; the trials of Africa; the implosion of South America, etc etc, ad infinitum), what are we given to consider? The career trajectories of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Wall to wall Hollywooden banality.
That CHANNEL 4's film arm should descend to being, essentially, no more than a PR arm for the fudgiest, most un ambitious and parochial American cinema - when it could act as radar and sieve for News From Elsewhere (at least SOME of the time) ... it's a tragic lost opportunity, it really is.
Especially when their 'here's your SOP now shut up' idea of "radical documentary" is the sappy self-promotion and un-rigorous conspiracy mythologizing of MICHAEL MOORE...
picking up on *** i just saw the new jackie chan -- "new police story" (out since 2004 in hong kong) -- which exactly tackles the new breed of gunmen treating office space as videogame virtual space!
(well, "tackles" -- it is after all a jackie chan movie, i love jackie but he is not straub/huillet! -- but even so there is AWESOME weird movement below the surface inc.DAD ISSUES GALORE!! not since QUEEN OF THE DAMNED have i just got out of a screening so buzzed up to er counter the flow)
steppign back and being a bit more general, i think there are two strands here:
i. there's a line of (i think) raoul vaneigem's in ref.the society of the spectacle, abt gulliver, tied down the lilliputians, his eye desperately casting round for any tiny fissure or flaw that he can use to claw and lever himself out bondage -- and sirk and reality TV and chan are all (to me) presenting, at least for a while, as just these* -- i.e. they are undeniably "within" the spectacle, but the spectacle is (by hegelian definition) NOT total, and contains its own opposite and itws own escape routes
ii) one of the key breach-points we've reached is the question of those who have lived their entire lives in the eye of the spectacle AS A MATTER OF DEEP POLITICS (ie the story of figures like darcus, who i would utterly hesitate to call sell-outs in the present-day context, are why i don't really believe in the project of TOTAL opposition to the WHOLE system as a politics -- i think intransigence is an escapist anti-politics really)
ii after all also encompasses lenin and che and (for a while) john lydon and bob geldof and paris h. -- so it is a dynamic arena even as empty gladiator symbolism (but the story of someone like howe shows how unavoidably it cuts across the spectacle/real life duality)
(there's a derridean thing isn't there, in the politix of friendship, abt "secret spaces" or some such -- i think that is pertinent here)
blimey this is confused and unclear
re Scarface: Philip Brophy has a short text on the film in his 100 Modern Soundtracks (but you probably know this), discussing the import of Moroder´s music on the theme of the film, that is, disco as a mechanization of a blunt, garish libido, much in line with the coke/latino/class-politics of the flm.
Also check out
for a laugh. Kinda reminds me of Deadwood, the incesaant foulmouth of it. Have a good day!
Scarface's great coup was depicting the EXTREME MILITARISATION of organised crime. I suppose the Sopranos obliquely comments on the 'old' mafia's inability to keep up with this now.
Stone was always a dreadful screenwriter. 'Year of the Dragon' and 'Midnight Express' being the first in a long line of confused anti-estab/power-loving, facist/liberal, rabidly racist/affectionately orientalist ramblings.
Depalma's operatic style and design and the cartoon poses of the actors make it great.
A former girlfiend once commented "what's the big deal? It's a bunch of white guys pretending to be hispanic with silly voices". It's an obvious homage to Warner Bros. classics - not just crime dramas but also their cartoons (even when I first saw it I kept thinking of Speedy Gonzales - or Bugs Bunny impersonating Edward G. Robinson etc., or Chuck Jones' opera parodies). The movement, the speeches, the violence - 40's cartoons and 50s 'Mad' magazine all the way.
I'm sure Stone's script was aiming for a 'big message' (Pfeiffer's line: "can't you see what we've become?" - uhh, but they were already empty scumbags dummy). However Depalma kept the absurdity at high pitch without ever letting up.
The parodic tone is perfect for a business that already seemed like an exaggerated gangster parody, selling a drug that leads to its sellers and users getting very 2-D.
Hiphop's whole will-to-power seems to be working towards 2-D anyway (logos, movies etc.) - a lot of the poses and lyrics seem like an undead list of cultural flotsam (eg. look at Outkast's latest schtick)...
Does Pillbox do special requests? How about a reappraisal of Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers"? My Deleuze-reading chums over at AICN report this is a particular favourite of Alexandro Jodorowsky:-http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30398
In the 1980s, when I still went to the cinema, and Paul Verhoeven still lived in Holland, I remember seeing something *incredibly* arty of his at the Screen on the Hill - i seem to remember a gay-man-but-he-fucks-women, and lots of drinking, and some kind of heavily allegorical crucifixion. Thats the kind of thing I'd like to see pop up late night on Film 4...
I think that would be "Spetters" (not seen it myself). "Starship Troopers" hides Nostradamus-like prescience beneath its "massive acid loogies" (http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=4014):- Iraqnid warriors..."amazing" effects & mindless gore...Doogie Howser in a Gestapo uniform. Verhoeven is a seer I tell you, a seer!
No - I did see Spetters (which is deliquent kids, I think, isnt it), but the one I'm thinking of was called The Fourth Man (I just looked it up)Post a Comment