Soundtrack Greater Than (Quite Fine) Film: “American Graffiti”

Here’s the usual blah blah blah about what is, yes, Lucas’s only “first-person” film. And I don’t disagree with the general assessment, but what’s left out is that the soundtrack album was huge: not only is it one of the most immaculate sequences of “oldies” ever made but it kicked off an enormous wave of interest in pre-Beatles rock and pop, which, to a degree unimaginable now, had vanished from the airwaves and popular culture in general by 1973. Sadly, there was a floating absurdity that pre-Brit-Invasion rock (not to mention pre-Motown R&B) was more or less dimestore tripe. The American Graffiti soundtrack was a major force in kicking that nonsense to the curb.

R.I.P.: Penny Marshall

“Laverne & Shirley” took place well after I had stopped watching regular TV series. And A League of Their Own is in my rankings, her second-best movie.

But her perfect work, and a landmark I think, is Big. It’s also my favorite Tom Hanks performance — he is in touch with how to feel and think like a child as, well, nobody his age could be and does an incredible job of portraying how a child in an adult body would pretend to be a grownup. The horrible gnarly matter of children and adult love and even (gulp) sex could have been screwed up so totally and seems to unfold the only way it could have worked. Josh’s interactions with best-buddy Billy are a marvel of tonal control as well as hoot after hoot jokes.

And, the first time we saw it, the ending made me cry and sense more vividly than I had in years how much I loved my Mother. No matter how warm and harmonious your childhood life is, every one of us wanted to ditch it with all our heart at some time. The final point of Big is: no, you don’t really want to throw it away, even if you could.

R.I.P.: Nicolas Roeg

I pretty much lost track after The Man Who Fell to Earth, but after all the decades some impressions remain as vivid as when they were new.

I saw Don’t Look Now at the old Crystal Theater in Missoula. I remember trembling with anxiety and never being so sorry I attended a movie alone. Thought the dum factual resolution of the plot was not nothing, but did not matter ultimately.

The version of Bowie in Man Who Fell was simply a superb addition to the ones he came up with himself, over and over. But I preferred the Mick Jagger in Performance to the one we have in this world. Bet I wouldn’t be as tired of him these days as I am of the human Mick.

Go-To Blaze (Foley)

For a long time, I argued that a prime paradox of Blaze Foley is that you both had to know him and not know him as a person. Except for individual songs, those who wrote tributes and assembled documentaries about him included bumps of sentimentality and drunken mumbling (even the Morlix tribute) (even the Duct Tape Messiah soundtrack). Maybe someday, somebody who never met him would assemble a perfect retrospective.

Now I’ve been persuaded that this new Blaze movie is a worthy wild thing and I intend to see it (though may have to be on the small screen). But if it’s your introduction, I have to insist that what you pick up first is Live at the Austin Outhouse (Lost Art, 1999) and next the Duct Tape soundtrack and if you still need more, try to get an advance listen to the movie score.

Is the selection of tunes on Austin Outhouse ideal? No, nope, no. But every track is outstanding, it stays alert and forms a beginning-middle-end program.

R.I.P.: Neil Simon

Shaped my TV-teen years as much as anyone.  Plus, Barefoot in the Park is one of the supreme on-screen chemistry couples. And Felix, in whatever incarnation, got me used to the idea of a lot less rough-edged male character than I had known. And, sure, funny to die for — but with that little burr of sadness buried down there. (I did not know the aptly-surreal incident where the audience member died laughing at the premier.)*

*Ok — this is down to allegedly now. But it was a event reported in the New Yorker back when they had serious fact checkers.

Half the Air Is Still and Half the Light Is Cool #1

Goblin, The Ultimate Collection (Pick Up Records)

The first disc is Goblin for the Dario Argento World and it is continuously weird and wondrous and flowing — the perfect Gothic Prog. You wonder if he told them what he wanted to hear and that shaped what came out. An enveloping atmosphere with distorted sounds and faces and moods that keeps you fascinated and a little scared.

Disc two, The Other Worlds of Goblin, which is part soundtracks and part not is way, way more uneven. Good chompy tracks (“Stunt Cars”), but clots of Europrog with bad rhythm section and even a few quite corny cuts. (Never think of doing anything “C&W” again, okay guys?)