hell yes, we eat a lot

Blind Eye Sees AllIn an odd moment I broke out Blind Eye Sees All, which I had been planning on watching for months but somehow hadn’t gotten around to. I owned this on vhs back in the day and this was the first time I’d seen it otherwise (and the first time in probably 15 years since I’ve seen it at all)… Quality-wise it may as well been on vhs still, as it remains red-washed, amateur concert footage, though at least it won’t get worse. Anyway, What am I talking about?

This is the classic Butthole Surfers concert video, comprised primarily of footage from two 1985 Detroit concerts (they actually change between shows back and forth during each song, which is a bit odd and would be unnoticeable if it weren’t for the clothes changing). It is around their classic era for touring, though it predates by a few years my ever had seeing them and does not include either of the famed sights of the nude and painted dancer or the backdrop films. But, it does have: Paul Leary as the core of the band, Gibby (obnoxious as always), and Teresa and King Coffey the dynamic drumming duo, who are about the most entertaining aspect of the film to watch; I find their side-by-side, stand-up, unison drumming to be somewhat entrancing, and of course it provides the backbone and gives a great deal of power and draw to the music. But then, this stuff is filled with power and draw.

 

Blind Eye Sees All

 

The dozen or so snippets from their “bedroom interview” are about as obnoxious and “pretentiously drugged up” as you might expect from them, though it can be somewhat entertaining and I liked some of the dialogue with the interviewer. But in the moments when you get the feeling that someone is trying to think of something nutty to say you start to feel like maybe they could have avoided putting any of this interview in here. But at least you get a sense of what it might be like to hang around with them, for what that’s worth.

 

Blind Eye Sees All

 

The meat of this though is the live footage. The energy and controlled chaos and the brilliant songs, but also the terrible mess and obnoxious subculture artiness brings to mind the terrible false dichotomy of “how have I listened to these guys for so long?” and “how could I not listen to these guys constantly!”. But alas that is where we live when presented with music that is this brilliant.

 

Blind Eye Sees All

 

All sorts of classics are here, especially seeming as this was right about when I started listening to them: The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harveys Grave, BBQ Pope, Cherub, Lady Sniff, Mexican Caravan… Winners all around. Though it does end on a lower note with a dull musical bit that goes on well too long. It is highly worth absorbing the antics, sounds and attitude of these guys. They created many unique musical tangents and this stuff never gets old.

 

Blind Eye Sees All

 

The special features are rather light and they include a concert video from 1991 of Mexican Caravan that I had high hopes for, but it not only sounds terrible, it looks even worse than the main feature. If only they would have included the fabulous Homestyle BBQ video instead (featuring a blistering rendition of Fast), with the wondrous stage show that I am familiar with, as it dates from 1988 which was the year that I first saw them (I actually turned 21 at that concert, the best birthday ever… Until my 40th!)



the endless fortnight

As one might imagine, even though I haven’t been watching too many movies of late, my lack of attention to the penguindevil has led to having a backlog of movies. Which, of course, means multiple instances of brevity, so here’s a start.

 

Willie NelsonI went and saw, at a theater no less, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Celebration. Now I don’t know what you’re thinking, in fact I don’t know what I was thinking (okay, a friend asked me to go, and I figured, what the hell). So what is it? Well, it is a bare-bones documentary of a concert 30 years ago where Willie Nelson and a cadre of guest stars get drunker all night long on stage and spend the evening talking, playing music and all of that in front of a big mob of long-haired Texan country folk. The fun is mainly in watching the musicians interact, but there are some entertaining musical bits too. Willie doesn’t seem to be the focus, instead Leon Russell spends pretty much the whole night wandering around the stage with his shirt open and a beer in his hand… He is the centerpiece of this treasure of mid-era (as in, between the great classics of olde and the great crap of new) of country music. Musically, I would say that Waylon Jennings is the most prominent person there, which seems sensible as he is Waylon Jennings, but mind you, I’ve really never heard any music by any of these people before so what the hell do I know. The other artists come and go as a repeating, revolving door of musicians. And really, that sums it up. If you want to watch a bunch of long haired country stars of the 70’s get drunk and put on a little musical festival on stage, then this is for you! The high point is unquestionably the performance of Doug Kershaw. Sure, a mild mannered name, but the guy is some crazy fiddlin’ blend of (the crazy world of) Arthur Brown and Pete Townsend. He put on what is, bar none, the craziest and most incredible musical performance I’ve ever seen. I swear the guy was going to explode right on stage!

 

Doug Kershaw

 

High TensionAnd in my new series of weekly beer & movie socials, we actually got around to watching a movie on one of them. We watched High Tension (I’ll give up on the Haute this time). Sadly, I don’t feel I have much to say about it. Which would seem justified as this is the third time that I’ve watched it since I started this blog. But looking back to the two previous mentions of it, I didn’t say much about it then either. Well, what to say? If you actually haven’t seen it yet, then it is a great looking, tense, action and gore filled French slasher film. The brief paragraph I gave it in i possess a stellar convertor… still pretty much sums up my feelings about it.



got my gun and i’ve been drinkin’

Dope Guns and Fucking up Your Video DeckOh, where to begin? I found this disc cheap and used (score!) a while back and never got around to touching it until recently. What a blast from the past. In the early 90’s, Amphetamine Reptile was the greatest record label of them all, a half dozen or so of their bands were the meat of my musical meals (Cows, Melvins, God Bullies, Cosmic Psychos, Helmet… And more!). So coming across this DVD, Dope Guns and Fucking up your Video Deck, was a glorious holy grail of time travel back to the youthful days of my mid 20’s!

Totaling 45 videos, divided up in to 4 sections; Vol 1 (1990), Vol 2 (1992), Vol 3 (1994) and Bonus Vids (1994-1997), with terribly annoying interludes between each video (featuring someone who I assume is Tom Hazelmeyer pretending to be a CEO whose corporation just bought AMREP and this is all a promotional tape). Anyway, all of that junk is “must-ff-part” material. But the videos are great! Sure there are some minor dissapointments… Terrible production qualities (they get better as the time goes by), not all the AMREP bands were great… But the high points are must haves!

Where else are you going to find Lubricated Goat’s “In the Raw” (literally…) video, A King Snake Roost video and, yes, you heard me, a glorious four(!) Cows videos…

 

Cows

Cows “Hitting the Wall”

 

three Cosmic Psychos videos (though none of them are particularly good), two Melvins videos (including the awesome Honey Bucket, filmed in a barn filled with sheep)…

 

melvins

Melvins “Honey Bucket”

 

and, two actual God Bullies videos(!), which just serve to remind me how badly I need to convert those LP’s to MP3’s!

 

God Bullies

God Bullies “Cemetery”

 

Anyway, if you’re in the know, then you know you’ve got to pick this up. If you’re not in the know, then you’ll probably not want to.



but words can never hurt me

No Way OutLately we have hit on a block of stuff on Netflix that is obviously stuff that I put in the queue, but have no recollection of queuing it, or even having heard of it. Too much late night film blog reading I imagine. But so far, the stuff isn’t bad, though it does lean a bit too heavily on the drama side. And speaking of drama…

This time around we watched No Way Out, which seems to be Sidney Poitier’s first movie. And a very dramatic tale it is. A story of the racial tension that erupts when a pair of bankrobbers/brothers who are wounded in a shootout get taken to the hospital prison ward. One of them dies there, while under the watchful eyes of his brother and under the care of a black physician. Of course, his brother being rather anger filled and ignorant of quite a few things, accuses the doctor of murder and swears revenge. Sydney Poitier is Dr. Brooks, a young intern who just happens to be assigned to the hospital’s prison ward at the wrong time and Richard Widmark is Ray, a frustrated man who is so blinded by his hatred and desire for vengeance against the world that he is basically incoherent. But not too incoherent to flame this vengeance, from his hospital bed no less! He uses the local femme fatale to make sure that the word of his brothers “murder” spreads to the unsavory part of town where they are from and from there, things take on a new life.

 

No Way Out

 

No Way Out features lots of double-crossing, a race riot and plenty of language that I find bewildering to hear in a film, being someone who was raised in the (I wouldn’t’ say racist-free but at least rasicsm “unacceptable”) era following the 1960’s. This film is filled with a stream of slurs and the feeling is akin to watching reruns of All In The Family if you haven’t seen them in many years. I do appreciate all of these old movies about race issues and the light that they tended to show racists in. Though this one is pretty old for that, being from 1950, it still has a lot of “they said what?” moments.

 

No Way Out

 

The movie is a waiting game where you watch Poitier having endless slurs, threats and insults heaped upon him (and not just from Ray), and wondering if (or when) is he going to snap. A great film with great drama and tension and some violence. Poitier and Widmark are both great and quite convincing here. Though the contrast between Poitier’s endless caring and Widmark’s endless shallow hostility is almost a bit too much, you do get the feeling that Poitier might cave on his values before Widmark does. Poitier is so compassionate that it seems to overwhelm him at times and he shows a great resolve to ignore what is forced upon him and just continue to do the best job that he can… But as the threats of violence expand their scope, it does start to seem like there is no way out, and how much can we expect the poor doctor to take?



crime and punishment

Michael Clayton PosterWondering what all the hubbub had been about, we watched Michael Clayton. As my second George Clooney movie (following O Brother, Where Art Thou? and I liked this one better), I must admit that I can’t hold anything against the guy.

Michael Clayton is a somewhat confusing thriller, as it takes a bit of time to figure out what the hell is going on and who the hell this Michael Clayton guy is, but it becomes apparent that he is some sort of special lawyer who takes care of “problems” for this big law firm. It takes forever for us to see him do anything that shows any of his great ability, as he mainly seems to drive around and fail to convince people of things while his life seems to be heading a bit downhill. But, of course, something does come up. For years his firm has been fighting a class action law suit for a chemical firm against a bunch of farm families, who have lost hundreds of their family members to pesticide poisoning. There is potentially billions of dollars on the line, and the survival of the law firm if anything goes wrong. Well, of course, something does goes wrong, something rather unexpected. The firms high-powered and vicious attorney who is running the case, suddenly realizes that all this stuff that he has spent his life doing is bad stuff and he needs to right this wrong against these farmers… And it becomes time for some major damage control. Clayton is basically told to straighten it out, and of course, the rebellious lawyer is one of Clayton’s closest friends.

Though Michael Clayton made me think often of A Civil Action, another film about lawyers battling limitless corporate greed, they really have little in common (aside from their hostile views towards corporate greed and people who do bad things while turning a blind eye to the realities of what they are doing) as Michael Clayton is a snazzy Hollywood thriller with: car bombs, clandestine surveillance, murder, mob shenanigans, corruption and all sorts of unsavory elements.

Clooney, of course, does a fine job as Michael Clayton, but there are some other good roles: Tom Wilkinson as the attorney gone to the other side is compelling and great, Sydney Pollack (hmmm.. Also in A Civil Action) brings along his usual believability and does a great job as the head of the law firm and Tilda Swinton plays the consul of the chemical company, and does an uncomfortably great job with that. And Tony Gilroy did a good job, especially as a first time director, and it is certainly a good movie, but I’m still not sure why all the Oscar buzz. Maybe the rest of the choices were crap?



 

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