R.I.P.: Richard Williams

Feature-length animation was dead and buried until Roger Rabbit revived it. I bought into the common wisdom that full-length animation was played out, but this ripper showed me I was howling wrong. I saw a single screening of The Thief and the Cobbler and found it fascinating and infuriating. The visuals were Williams’s masterpieces, but the story and the songs were a mess, through mis-editing or whatever. Not sure I buy the idea proper financing would have fixed the problems.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Babylon

Finally saw the QT movie. Will add notes to this over the course of the evening. But right away I have to say the surprise star was the red pit bull Sayuri — best use of a trained dog since the Lassie/Rin Tin Tin days (which is the idea, of course). I swear a few times I thought she obviously understood English. Another good profile.

All the positive stuff you’ve heard/read/wallowed in is close to on-target (I put it in the Top 3 QT, D the Top 2 — just after Pulp Fiction). My favorite graphic moment is the homage to the last James Dean poster image of him reclining in the car.

The other surprise score of the film for me is the aces incarnation of a Manson follower by Margaret Qualley. Yeah, she’s extra-crazy-and-mostly-nude and beyond liberated expressive. But she does a superb job of introducing the dark side (except I think the idea of exuberant female sexuality as a mark of a suspicious person is a bunch of shite).

Which leads us to the big failing for me. The “Dirty Harry killed Evil Hippies” aspect is there, but it’s handled with enough nuances that it doesn’t bother me as much as before I saw the flick. What does bug me is that the Mason women are depicted as evil witches in thrall to the Devil. Sure, some had clear psychopath personalities (Squeaky is the champ), but they were more like dope-addled deranged groupies. Plus, I think one of the assailants bailing on the enterprise is pret-ty convenient: three attackers are a lot more easy for one tuff guy to fend off than four.

Anyway, it is a must-see. And the reminders of all the murder and racist violence Boomers grew up seeing is, agonizingly, welcome.

PS: Complaints that this movie reduces to pulp seem crazy to me. All QT does is pulp. If it’s beyond-superlative pulp like this, yeah! I mean, where in his movies does he get outside the video store?


Addams Oddity

In the strangest coincidence of the summer, I was trying to clean up clutter in the basement when I ran across my stash of 1965-66 paperback collections (six altogether) of Addams Family cartoons by “Chas” Addams. Hadn’t looked at them in years and years and years. When they came out, coordinated with the surprise-hit TV show, I thought they were new, or at least kinda recent, not knowing they were from New Yorkers in the ’40s and hardback collections from the ’50s. I adored the TV show, but even as a 14-year-old, I found the cartoons dated and too mild — from an era when the bar for “weird” and “scary” was set awfully low. I must now add that the character Gomez has not aged well in the least. Plus, I was very confused that so many of the cartoons had nothing to do with the “Addams Family,” though they were being used to push the books. So I’m not exactly all wound up about this movie coming out in Oct. Do think pouring over the old paperbacks was an odd coincidence — worthy of a Chas Addams cartoon, maybe.