(In which we lose our cool.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 13, 2011 10:58am | Post a Comment

My idea of a romantic comedy!

Last night I had the pleasure of introducing the boyfriend to the 1971 film Harold & Maude. How he managed to make it to age thirtysomething without ever seeing it sooner shows an utter lack of regard from his friends and family, and we can only praise Allah that I showed up in his life.

Oddly enough, we seem devoted to cinema circa ’71 this week, as the films featured in our fetching living room all hail from that year. Before Harold & Maude was The Andromeda Strain, a movie which may well be the most boring sci-fi thriller ever to be shot, but was so beautiful we couldn’t stop looking. Oh, so boring! Imagine the longest, highest budget, fantastically designed instructional video ever, or if Stanley Kubrick had decided to make 2001: A Space Odyssey without all that pesky meaning.

Before that was Ciao! Manhattan, the enigmatic art film that accidentally became a biographical piece on tragic, subculture superstar, Edie Sedgwick. I hesitate to comment further on this particular work, because it presently consumes me in my career and I’m sure I’ll be devoting an entire blog to it someday soon. But if you’re a fan of all-things-touching Warhol’s Factory, the film is a must-see. Or if you just want to see a lot of full frontal nudity from a former Vogue model who’d recently gotten a boob job, there’s that.

Harold & Maude features the music of Cat Stevens almost exclusively, exceptions being classical music’s greatest hits. (Blue Danube anyone? No? Well I’m just gonna throw it away then, because I’ll never use it…) As I was watching, I was struck how the themes in the movie and the music used is so unflinchingly sincere in promoting ideas of peace and love and prioritizing the (romanticized) elements of childhood, making it a film firmly ensconced in its time, when such sentiments showed strength and were, in their own way, a call to arms. Nowadays, the belief that love and peace can conquer the world sound indulgent, simplistic, and more appropriate for an Old Navy advertising campaign than a valid social movement.

Ever since Kurt Cobain pulled the trigger, popular culture, like a child with post-traumatic stress disorder, has been consumed by apathy and irony (with an emphasis on the latter). In genres like rock and hip-hop, a cool distance has been the pose to pose; expression of vulnerable feelings are left mostly to the mainest-of-streams, like Top 40 Country and rom/coms starring [insert movie star with thick, tousled, bed head here]. It makes a film like the 2005 feature debut of Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know, seem startling and sometimes scary, because it actually explores and exposes that quivering, sweet and humiliating thing we call our feelings without a comfortable distance. (As a side note, this movie makes a hum-dinger entry in charades if you play by the strict, 'no props' rule.)

None of this is what I came here to talk about, mind you. It’s just something that’s been on my mind, and since you’re not saying anything, I feel pressured to fill the silence with all this. Really, do you think you could stop reading your goddamn computer for just a few minutes and be present with me?

Apparently not.

I come with a humble if-you-like-that-try-this list. For fans of Cat Stevens looking for more lovely melodies and heartfelt sentiment. You know, the stuff we now enjoy secretly on Pandora and keep far away from our physical music collection, lest we’re outted to our peers as sometimes feeling soft.

Get out your handkerchiefs!





2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick
Cat Stevens
Me and You and Everyone We Know, directed by Miranda July
Phil Ochs
Plus much, much, so much more available at any one of our three retail outlets.




Relevant Tags

Colin Blunstone (4), Pandora (2), Miranda July (2), Movies (56), Film (186), 1970's (33), Cat Stevens (4), Edie Sedgwick (2), Andy Warhol (13), Vogue (2), Nudity (3), Kurt Cobain (17), Carly Simon (3), Veronique Sanson (1), Phil Ochs (3)