Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bleak Beauty

Note: click on highlighted words for the expansive experience.
The first mainstream American film to fire bullet holes through the fabled myth of Giuliani's 'cleaned-up, crime-less New York' (spanning '95 to 9/11), Scott Frank's A Walk Among the Tombstones is also a bona fide spellbinder.

Neeson is Scudder is The City - tall, gaunt, scarred but still dignified, lumbering forward amongst taller, oft-dilapidated buildings (the titular tombstones), many of which will soon fall.

Indeed, the picture's pre-millennium-set policier-cum-noir-cum-horror-film surface is scale compared to broader insinuations of a world populace in perpetual peril from the most unspeakable evil (in the form of 'random' violence).

Like the seminal, subversive homegrown films of the Vietnam era (Night of the Living Dead, Last House On the Left), it starkly suggests we are never safe, anywhere, at any time, gentrification or no.

Here hope lies in a refugee's stolen moments of grace - the sound of rain on the rooftop of an empty library at night, a decent diner meal, an AA fellowship meeting, a purposeful case solved.

Or a good movie.

Surveying the sickness.

 Little Red Riding Hood.

 Watery graveyard, mirroring one of our endless female victim's'. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nights are too long for a single man...

Desperate, dogged and undistilled, Giorgio Moroder and Joe Esposito's 1983 Solitary Men sounds like Trussardi Uomo, cigarette smoke, sweat-stained Armani linens, lambent, candy-color fluorescents, cocaine and cunt - it's hedonistic electro-noir, an audiophile's neon speedball; a relentless, uncontrived, underrated, underheard, seminal masterpiece released in the same twelve-month period Moroder scored DePalma's Scarface, Schrader's Cat People and Lyne's Flashdance (*), and collaborated with Nina Hagen on the spunky fluke Fearless (in whose liner notes the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are credited as 'Inspiration')

Title track's an anthem, a pleading, private lamentation delivered with Southern Baptist zeal - both Esposito and synth testifying; Joe confessing regret and longing, synth responding in judgement like a hellfire preacher. So deceptively, persistently intense it would be stressful if it weren't so lush.

It also contains the best of Moroder's career-spanning covers of The Moody Blues' Nights in White Satin and the operatic, swoon-inducing Lady, Lady (shared on the original Flashdance LP release).

A meditation on the hurricane underbelly of a selfish sophisticate's semi-saved soul, Don Draper would've loved it - though he would never have admitted so.

 * Arranger/keyboardist Sylvester Levay and composer/drummer Keith Forsey would go on to score Stallone's Cobra and Hughes' The Breakfast Club, respectively, whilst bassist/guitarist Richie Zito is the auteur behind your favorite 80s hair band hits. 

Never sleep by myself / Cuz nights are too long / For a single man / 
No connections, no ties / Hello and goodbye / That's the way I am / 
I can't satisfy your dream / Don't you hang your heart on me / 
I love you hard, I love you long / Leave before you know I've gone...  

The evening heat / On the city street / The light a shade of sleazy blue /
Sick and tired of thinking / Did some serious drinking / Rang numbers that I thought I knew /
A silky white blouse / Full of promise to rouse / The motor that controls my soul / 
Laced with private perfume / She made me an offer / An offer too good to refuse (just couldn't refuse)...

For further historical and badass cred.