“This is a camp-out! Turn off all electronic devices EEE-MEE-DIATELY.”
KLARA DISCOVERS SHOPPING MALLS “All these shops, all these … things … in one building. Amazing. MOLLY: And this isn’t even the best part … There’s a place called the food court … Totally rocks …”
“… I’m for peace, not the environment. You can’t do it all.”
AND THEN THERE’S THIS … “That’s the first rule of radio, junior … don’t think.” I once worked in small and medium market radio in western Canada. The equipment may have changed, but it is somehow comforting to know some things haven’t changed. (No, the above is not a line of dialogue from the Howard Stern film “Private Parts” -although it would fit right in. It’s a talk balloon from DJ Val Rhymin.)
With a Pulitzer Prize win for his dazzling wordplay and authentic literary voice rap/hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar has legitimized his chosen field of music to many non-believers, Others will insist that the art form was legitimized years ago. (Let’s see if I understand this: rap refers to the music, hip-hop is the lifestyle.)
As a straight white male raised in the Canadian West by well-meaning parents I obviously cannot relate to Mr. Lamar’s accounts of growing up poor in the challenging environments of the urban ghettoes of America but there is also something universal and humane in his art.
The anguished cry of “You Call This Music?” has echoed through the generations and, as a young boomer, I vowed that I would never use that phrase in later years and mean it.
Granted, as a lifelong (somewhat reluctant) bachelor I have never had kids cranking up rap or death metal behind closed doors but I would like to think that I stuck to my youthful vow. As the legendary broadcaster Red Robinson once said, “Our generation opened up a lot of doors and then they refused to leave the room.”
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, “The times are a-changin’ again” and to borrow another phrase from Mr. Z “Somethin’s happenin’ here but you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr. Jones!”
Kendrick Lamar gracing the cover of VANITY FAIR magazine?
Come to think of it, that is the second African-American face I have seen on the cover of the venerable monthly in recent issues. (Prize-winning screenwriter and actress Lena Waithe was front and center a few months ago.)
‘Course I could have missed a few issues but it seems to me that more people of color are making the cover since new editor Radhika Jones took over as editor of the magazine several months ago. (There were black and/or brown bodies on the covers for special issues, like the annual Hollywood Issue, but they had to share the cover with a lot of Caucasians.)
One thing hasn’t changed though – VANITY FAIR is still my favorite wish-fulfillment magazine!
Screenwriter Alex Ross Perry may have noticed some friends packing up stuff for their late parents. Perhaps he was faced with the onerous task himself. He may have thought, Now there’s a good subject for a film.
Trouble was, nobody wanted to see it.
At least that’s what I gathered from the box office and reviews (Critics gave Nostalgia a rating of 35% on the Rotten Tomatoes.com website and the audience “reviewers” weren’t too enthused either. Ouch!) Okay, it does drag a little.
A pensioner in his 80s (Bruce Dern), surrounded by objects collected over the years tells an insurance agent (John Ortiz) he doesn’t care about any of it. This leads to another story about a widow (the great Ellen Burstyn) devastated by the loss of her house. She says to the agent, What is the first thing you grab when your house is burning. In her case the only thing she managed to save was a treasured possession that belonged to her late husband
The sometimes uncomfortable but essential “NOSTALGIA”
Perhaps the most sobering part of the film features Jon Hamm and the great Catherine Keener as a brother and sister duo who return to the house they grew up in to clean up after their parents who have moved to Florida. Catherine’s daughter (Annaliese Basso), your typical millennial i.e. early 20s, cannot relate since she never spent any time in the house and, furthermore, has no use for her grandfather’s vinyl albums. (“Whatever I want, I can download.”)
Basically, the theme of the film is the sentimental attachments we form to objects collected over a lifetime and what to do with them at a critical juncture. (For millennials, the film makes the point that everything of value is on phones and/or on laptops and if those objects are destroyed, there are no keepsakes to remember them by.)
Despite the negative feedback from various sources, I would recommend the film as required viewing for all boomers of a certain age. (In North America we call it “downsizing”. Europeans are more pragmatic. They refer to the process as “Swedish death cleaning.”)
For those to whom the film applies (I plead guilty) the film’s subject matter can make for uncomfortable viewing. In fact, I had to watch it in installments because I related so deeply to the film’s subject matter.
Robert de Niro plays a washed-up 1980s sitcom star seeking to reinvent himself as a hip (and very blue) stand-up comic but all the audiences wanna see is the character he played in the long-ago series.
Kinda reminds me of the plight in which Bojack Horseman finds himself in the animated Netflix hit (back in the Nineties, according to the show’s premise, Bojack starred in a silly, family-friendly TV series called “Horsin’ Around” and the show still follows him around like a bad smell.)
Of course, there is one important difference (outside of the fact that Mr. de Niro is not animated): Bojack Horseman is actually funny.
Recently I was watching Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel High-Rise.
Adapting Ballard novels for the screen is always a challenging proposition. Even the great David Cronenberg had problems with his notorious 1996 adaptation of the Ballard novel Crash .
Now director Ben Wheatley and his co-conspirator Jump have tried their hand. U.K. film-maker Wheatley does have a gift for highly visual (and often disturbing) imagery but despite that and committed performances by a British A-List cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller, Aussie import Luke Evans and America’s Elizabeth Moss it was hard to tell what was driving the alleged plot.
I guess one of the things Mr. Wheatley was aiming for was a broad satire on class distinctions (the idle rich live in sumptuous spreads at the top of the building and the struggling lower classes live in the lower part of the building and understandably want to move up) but that whole thing was done better (and more coherently) in South Korean film-maker Joon Ho Bong’s Snowpiercer.
To paraphrase Will Shakespeare (or whoever wrote Macbeth) “Tis a tale written by an auteur, full of sound and fury, signifying something.”