Barreled forth on the backs of de Sade, Courbet, Bataille, and others, New French Extremity is a transgressive movement within all of the French arts but bloomed perhaps most colorfully by this century’s newest fork of body-horror films: It’s a not revival and for the most part, even if you’re not interested in seeing Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg having their genitals mutilated [See 2009’s Antichrist], it’s horrible fun.
For more, check out Trouble Every Day (2001); Haute Tension (2003); and Frontière(s) (2007);.
In the Delaware tribe of Native Americans, when a young boy begins to reach manhood, he is to undertake a “vision quest”, going into the woods alone to forge for himself and reach a greater spiritual awareness. To that boy’s counterpart in modern middle-class society, this may sound insane. This could be because that particular demographic is woefully displaced from the greater spiritual concerns of more indigenous peoples. Or it could be that those suburbanites’ own rites of passage are just as insane.
“Becoming a Man” is one of the six sketches troupe member Bruce McCulloch also directed for The Kids in the Hall. The sketch originally aired in 1993, and it deftly shows McCulloch’s fondness for exposing the surreality of the North American socio-cultural experience. As Chad’s father gets more and more drunk, McCulloch’s use of quick cuts captures the young boy’s jarring encounter with the grown-up world, as does the expression on the uncredited child actor’s face. Also turning in a grand performance is troupe member Kevin McDonald. The Kids in the Hall as a troupe often played the female roles in their sketches, but in this case, it especially helps to lighten the darker undertone of the sketch, to provide a sort of comic relief, as it were. McDonald also aptly portrays the suburban mom: completely out of the loop as to the events of the day and left in the wake, forced to keep the party going, a smile plastered to her face. But upon Chad’s return, that genuine smile of understanding lets the audience know that Chad has at least some positive emotional base at home.
The rite of passage for young boys in our modern society is rarely heralded by fanfare; in fact, it is rarely acknowledged at all and has become more and more individualized over the years. But as The Kids in the Hall skews the tradition, it seems the greatest rite of passage, the one in common for all young men, is the day they realize their parents—and by extension, all adults—are as scared and weak and confused by life as they themselves are.
I woke up rather early the other morning, and almost immediately after opening my eyes I started hearing the often-imitated crooning of Elvis Presley echoing through my skull. That’s not entirely a surprise—I was flying to Las Vegas that day, so the fact that a song by the King popped into my head did seem somehow appropriate. I suppose that a selection from Tom Jones or Dean Martin would probably have fit just as well, but for whatever reason for me that day it was Elvis—and his music was stuck in my head all morning.
”…A little less conversation / A little more action please…”
Maybe it’s time again to revisit Peyton Place, not the cheesy television show or even the risque novel, but the big screen movie of love, angst, teen rebellion, and parental authority. Never has sexual repression looked so good, with Lana Turner as the repressed single mother who accuses her good girl teenage daughter played by nymphet Diane Varsi of acting the whore. Although this tale was set at the beginning of World War II, it’s late ‘50s release said more about that decade of juvenile delinquency than it did the past as kids go to make out parties, get married against parental wishes, and rebel against corporate conformity. That’s why the movie feels so fresh today. Despite the dated clothes and cars, the norms of contemporary times seem to have regressed and the threat of world war as a backdrop to the what the heck attitude of adolescents makes the zeitgeist seem increasingly appropriate. The trailer seen here with the movie premiere make looking into the past a vision of the near future.
Being one of the most eclectic, innovative, and all-around brilliant musicians in the world, Brian Eno’s list of collaborators is a who’s who of art rock luminaries. He is a founding member of Roxy Music, a pioneering composer of ambient music, and the producer of records with John Cale, Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Devo, U2, and many more. But while Eno’s reputation is certainly secure, the true measure of pop culture relevance is being linked by six degrees or less to that other bastion of prolificacy, Kevin Bacon. (Personally, I think Michael Caine is a much better choice for the Six Degrees game, or even Donald Sutherland, but no one asked me.)
Okay, let’s see… 1) In their most recent album Congratulations, MGMT name-drops Eno with a song entitled, appropriately enough, “Brian Eno”. That album also contains a track named “Song for Dan Treacy,” a reference to the lead singer and songwriter for the legendary punk rock band 2) The Television Personalities. That band’s repertoire includes a whimsical cover of the Syd Barrett-penned “Bike,” probably the most widely-known tune from Barrett’s run with Pink Floyd. “Bike” was also performed by punk outfit 3) the Vindictives on their album, Partytime for Assholes, an album that included the 4) Burt Bacharach/Hal David standard, “Magic Moments.” Bacharach wrote the music for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which starred 5) Katharine Ross. Ross was in The Graduate with 6) Dustin Hoffman, who was in Sleepers with 7) Kevin Bacon. Okay, so not quite six degrees. Wait… Wasn’t Kevin Bacon in Arthur 2: On the Rocks? Whatever.
Seven is the best I can do, but this being the internet I’m sure someone will rise to the challenge. The important part is that Brian Eno IS a genius and, judging from his last album with David Byrne, isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And let’s not kid ourselves. This exercise was really just an excuse to dig up that Vindictives cover of “Bike”.