Amoeblog

Richard Pryor’s Forgotten Masterpiece—Moving

Posted by Chuck, February 8, 2011 02:00pm | Post a Comment

Richard Pryor

I’ve always thought the best comedy ever conceived was Moving, starring Richard Pryor. Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration—“ever” goes back further than 1988. But, you know, without getting snagged up on the front end of eternity, I will add that Moving is also the most underrated comedy and could have been a cult classic on par with Dazed and Confused or Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space had the film come out on DVD sooner than 2006 as a sort of b-side throw-in with Greased Lightning. Twenty-one years after its theatrical release, it’s still excruciating, smart, subtle and funny. I think this way because of Dana Carvey’s schizoid character(s), and Randy Quaid's playing the ex-con Crawford brothers/neighbors, Edward and Perry and King Kong Bundy from Hummingbird Movers, and Morris Day . . . eh, I could go on. But mostly because of Pryor’s character Arlo Pear, whose life spirals out of control when he’s fired from his suburban job as a mass transit engineer in New Jersey and is forced to move to the more remote suburbs of Boise “fucking” Idaho.


Hilarity ensues. The best line is a throwaway, when the movers are idly driving around Boise with all of the earthly Pear’s belongings, and Pryor’s Arlo drives up beside them in his ruined Saab dressed like Rambo and tells them to pull over. “Hey, it’s that Arlo Pear man,” says the driver. “What? Ah man, forget about him,” says the other with complete disregard. This makes no sense on so many levels it will never get old.

The movie is made all the better because it’s so unheralded. The many people I’ve talked to who know it (at least half a dozen) either like it as much as me (which is compulsively), or at least like it very much (in which case I tell them to watch it again). Come on, there’s some real irony to the notoriously foul-mouthed Pryor having a “swear jar” for his family to pay into, a quarter for every slip. And you’d have no indication from watching movie the fiction-like qualities of Pryor’s real life.

Oscar’s Case of ADD—Why the Academy Awards Sort of Suck Now

Posted by Chuck, January 31, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment
oscars

I just watched Restrepo, the documentary film from Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington about soldiers in Afghanistan. It was an engrossing and remarkable film. It’s nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. It’s available on DVD.

I love film, all kinds, and I see a lot of movies in a year . . . but still, I probably won’t watch the Oscars. Why not? I sort of just don’t feel invited.

Look at this year’s Best Picture Nominees:

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

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When White Flags Won’t Do, Red Flags

Posted by Chuck, January 27, 2011 01:30pm | Post a Comment

 lady eagles

Excess leads to the palace of wisdom; how many recreational drug users have rolled out that William Blake quote to warm their hands after a little binge? I’ve known a few bunch. There’s justification for that last fat rail, if you squint good and hard with an open mind. “It’s not the high dude,” one can infer, “it’s that we’re road-tripping to the palace of fucking wisdom!” Anyway, excess also leads to West Jordan, Utah.

Did you hear about the high school girl’s basketball team in Utah, the West Ridge Academy Lady Eagles, that got thumped 108-3? That’s almost unfathomable on at least three levels—how does a team manage only three points in a 40-minute game? How does a team manage 108 points in a 40-minute game? And were the St. Joseph’s Crusaders—the squad that hung all those points on the home team like perfect Lady Machiavelli’s—essentially having what boils down to one of those John Lennon “lost weekends?” Were they snorting Lady Eagles through a straw and blaring the Scissor Sisters and basically having an orgy on the hardwood? It seems that way. There was a wild hair up somebody’s ass for sure. A 105-point thrashing ranks up there with out-of-hand frosh hazing rituals and Glenn Danzig’s old grave-robbing days. It’s just sort of piling on against feeble (or dead) things.

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Thank Heavens for Heathens—Aggronautix “Throbblehead” Toys

Posted by Chuck, January 25, 2011 03:01pm | Post a Comment

gg allin throbblehead

By the early-1990s, eating your own feces was as in as it was ever going to get in civilized circles. Why? Because of GG Allin. He put that dining option (a.k.a. in the insect world as coprophagia) on the menu. Today the practice is nearly unheard of but the fact that so many of us swerved off course and found extreme behavior sort of refreshing is because of The Murder Junkies’ Allin—who not only smeared himself in excrement, blood and other bodily emissions and ceremoniously flung it on his audiences, but was also convicted of rape in 1989 (it was mutual debasement, he contended) and inhaled drugs like a hundred Lizard Kings—either didn’t give a damn or gave too much of one. When he wasn’t befriending John Wayne Gacy or writing manifestoes he made music with about 900 underground punk bands, most of it barely listenable unless you enjoy being audibly pissed on. In other words: the music was synonymous with the man. It’s no wonder “Suck My Ass It Smells” remains a cult hit some 18 years after Allin’s death of a heroin overdose in 1993. GG Allin was an exercise in vicariism, particularly for the prudish at heart (which he made dagg allin in his glorymn sure was all of us).

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Show Me State of Mind—Winter's Bone

Posted by Chuck, January 21, 2011 01:29pm | Post a Comment

clinton lewinsky

Was it really almost 13 years ago that Bill Clinton came clean about all that randy behavior in the White House with Monica? Time flies in a land of dropped flies. I don’t remember what I was doing at the moment—as people are wont to do in times of cataclysm—but I’ll never forget the lesson: Politicians have libidos. I could have learned it a hundred different times (Gary Hart tried to inform me), but it’s the type of thing that doesn’t easily register. I remember thinking that it’s not all powdered wigs and sturgeon roe; there were stiffies going on under big official desks. Even still, it doesn’t seem all that possible.winter's bone

Anyway, this obviously got me to thinking about Winter’s Bone. The movie, not the Daniel Woodrell book. Pardon the Freudian pun, but the film is set in the Ozark Mountain range, which extends right through the heart of Arkansas, with the slick gray dourness of Clinton’s hair. The austerity of the setting and small budget no-nonsense comes off like an Oscar caught in the headlights (one assumes purposefully). The casting—aside from maybe Jennifer Lawrence, who is the unmade-up, unsmiling teen heroine of sorts—is realistic to the point of distraction. Many of the cast members just have that look of a dog’s chewed-up ear. Many of them aren’t actors at all, but real people in their real way of going about life in shotgun dwellings. There’s plenty of good fancy hatred in their eyes, too, the kind that comes from smalltown distrustfulness and aggravating proximity.

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