This is part of an irregular series wherein pretend I haven’t thought of anything new to write about by writing about the last documentary I watched and tenuously trying to link it to a current pop culture phenomenon to give is a semblance of relevance. But there is a little more to my fandom of 1982’s ‘The Killing of America’ than that. Firstly, if the lurid warning above doesn’t set alarm bells off, and you’re of a sensitive/normal disposition, don’t watch this documentary — that’s as close to a NSFW warning as you’ll get from me. I’ve long been fascinated with the mondo strain of extreme documented cinema, but I’m repelled by the frequent violence against animals in them (Victor Schonfeld’s ‘The Animals Film’ is a much better use of that kind of footage) in the infamous ‘Faces of Death’ and earlier Antonio Climati/Mario Morra productions like ‘Ultime Grida Dalla Savana.’ While the genre is often without merit, I still think that the “cargo cult” scene at the end of 1962’s ‘Mondo Cane’ (partly soundtracked by Riz Ortolani, whose work was on the ‘Drive’ soundtrack) is an affecting piece of footage. Laugh it up, but I’d sooner worship that crude plane reproduction than the stuff you’re deifying on your Pinterest boards.
As a child, I was obsessed by the idea of ‘Faces of Death’ — at school, a fellow pupil claimed to have seen it, and described a scene where an ill-fated parachutist drops into a crocodile enclosure at a zoo. It’s worth noting that with maturity, I have less inclination to view this strain of exploitation, but I would love to see that scene. It turns out that my classmate was just a liar. The majority of ‘Faces of Death’s human atrocity is hoax footage, and even the memorable “death” of Pit Dernitz, the tourist eaten by lions on exiting his vehicle was fake, albeit a fake convincing enough to move Gerhard Richter into immortalising the incident in 1990’s ‘Tourist (with 2 Lions)’ painting. These were the days when incidents like a death on a Noel Edmonds show were discussed among peers, but never televised, and the cult of amateur footage had yet to grow into something bigger and murkier.
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It’s a good time to be a David Lynch fan, but even if recent works have been a little too calculatedly oddball, who’s testing ‘Blue Velvet’? The film stays unsurpassed and Lynch’s declaration earlier in the year that some footage had been unearthed for the Blu-ray was no lie — there’s 51:42 of extra material plus a new documentary too. Most deleted scenes should stay buried, but in Lynch’s world and with the predictable struggles with a major studio, it’s clear that footage will be worthy. We’re not talking piss-poor CGI Jabba the Hutt’s here — we’re talking more Pabst Blue Ribbon loving psychopath Frank “You receive a love letter from me and you’re fucked forever” Booth, including a scene where he gets crazy with a pair of flaming tits in the background. As the best advert for a remastered release ever, that scene hit the internet on Friday ahead of next week’s release for the 25th anniversary edition. The option to have the scenes randomly branched into the original film to make it triply unsettling is sadly absent, so they’re only available as a supplement. Still, that Christmas present list is really starting to come together.
I’m continually jocking Criterion for their pick of releases and artwork, the impending release of the jazzy, bone crunching , smartly suited and downright odd ‘Tokyo Drifter’ captures those curiously coloured muzzle flashes and rhythmic feel perfectly. The move from black and white to colour in ‘Tokyo Drifter’ wasn’t for the budgetary reasons that Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If’ switched between the two — apparently it was to capture Tokyo’s feel before and after the 1964 Olympics. On that note, was there ever a more cocaine-friendly, goon motivation Olympic theme tune than Paul Engemann and Giorgio Moroder’s Los Angeles 1984 theme tune, ‘Reach Out’? It sounds like the sequel to the duo’s ‘Push It To The Limit’ (the 12” extended version with the extra guitar is amazing) and was big in Germany. Now he fronts a brand that makes healthy chocolate. Sadly, he hasn’t re-recorded a version of ‘Push It To The Limit’ about cocoa solids rather than coca leaf extracts.
Speaking of coke and movie myths, it’s well worth spending some time on this UK-based temple of all things Cannon. As a child, Golan-Globus productions both delighted and disappointed me, but the lack of Dolby in favour of Ultra-Stereo was a frequent annoyance. This site even manages to play on that budget saving point of difference, but it’s the trivia here with regards to films never made (this other Cannon site mentions an unfilmed ‘Breakin 3’) like a crappy ‘Spider Man’ film from 1986, but also the mysterious ‘Investigation’ — a Paul Schrader script from 1987 that was set to be directed by Andrei Konchalovsky who directed a rare Cannon exercise in quality with the classic ‘Runaway Train’ and starring Al Pacino before a switch to Christopher Walken. Variety magazine even ran an ad with a mooted Cannes 1988 premiere. Thanks to HunterTarantino on the CHUD forums for uploading the ad. He also upped the Variety ad for the John Travolta and Rebecca De Mornay cop flick ‘Crack’ that never got made — another Golan-Globus production. ‘Crack’ was set to be directed by Stan Dragoti who nearly ended up in a German jail on a cocaine possession charge in 1979, with Travolta as a by the books cop and De Mornay as a “street savvy detective” going undercover to smash a cocaine racket. Dragotti promised, “more verisimilitude than ‘Lethal Weapon’…” but no film ever appeared. That film reeks of 1987 Hollywood thriller. HunterTarantino also upped the Variety promo for a never produced John Milius film called ‘Horseman of the Khyber’ for Carolco. I’ve seen that the poster art sold recently on eBay, but I’m struggling to find any other information about that project.
So when you’ve got that coke money, what do you spend it on? Vehicles and lavish fittings. The recent VH1’Planet Rock’ documentary on crack and the hip-hop generation was an interesting watch for that archive footage. A little Q&A with the directors recently appeared on YouTube, but it was the few minutes on the spending habits of New York hustlers at Harlem’s Dapper Dan’s (Azie would’ve almost certainly shopped there) and Alpo’s custom Gucci tire cover. There’s shots there of a jeep that’s MCM’d out inside and outside, but I only recently discovered, via MCM’s own blog, that there were official MCM motor vehicles, including a jeep with an interior festooned with the expensive leather. They also upped some old lookbook shots, including a couple living the good life, with the male partner rocking a duck booted look that’s part country gentleman and part baller. I believe this fellow got out at the right time and never got high on his own supply. There’s merit in both tricked-out vehicles.
I’m feeling Y’OH’s new site a great deal. Like those Dapper Dan days, at its best, streetwear should be about aspiration and nods to unattainable luxury — think Stussy with the linked ‘C’s or Duffer channeling Gucci and Hermes. There’s no point trying to be Supreme, because it’s already here and firing on all cylinders, while the Oxford shirt is better bought from those who specialise in that garment. I’d like to support more British brands on here, but for the most part, our homegrown streetwear simply seems too safe to the point where it’s regressive.
Shouts to Palace, Origin London, British Remains, Trapstar (their marketing savvy is no joke — those snapbacks travel far) and Y’OH. Y’OH is by far the most ambitious of the bunch by offering product that doesn’t seek marl grey anonymity, with African prints on the Kanja and Jumoke shirts that offer either a boxy fit or extra length, bold bomber jackets and even manage to make the parka look interesting despite the onset of 40/60 fatigue. Even the t-shirt (Y-Shirt) offerings are deeply unorthodox, making other cut and sew merchants look beige by comparison. Eighty percent of what Y’OH create commands attention and challenges the wearer, but since streetwear became pallid, passive and weedy, something needed to give. Branding can make or break a garment and Y’OH’s patch logo is very strong indeed, with a touch of tribalism, mountaineering and the self-assured ®.
Now you’re at the limit, what do you do? If you’re Waka Flocka Flame, you break out the ramen and put on the kettle, living up to that ‘One Squad’ line, “I’ma forever stay hood millionaire eating ramen noodles…” Where some rappers are keen to talk it up in the spirit of those late ‘80s high rollers, this Monopoly kingpin doesn’t do the Rick Ross lobster bisque for breakfast diet. Salutes to Waka for upping this tattooed fistful of Maruchan chicken ramen onto Lockerz. Ramen is a very hip-hop foodstuff with a disposable, anti-vitamin feel to match the download and delete wave of average mixtapes that dropped last week.
Another blog post from February 2009.
“I hope this card finds you all well as if does me.I hope no one has died. Don’t worry about me….”
I love ‘Taxi Driver’. All of it. Martin Scorcese’s psychotic cuckolded husband. Peter Boyle (RIP) talking philosophical mumbo-jumbo. The kung-fu defensive stance at the campaign office. Cheese and apple pie. Kris Kristofferson LPs. The lurid greeting card.