I’ve been enjoying “Dancing On The Edge” Stephen Poliakoff’s new BBC drama. 3 episodes down & it is not, I am sure ,going to end well for Chiwetil Ejiofor. Another sure thing about this fine production is that like most films in which he appears (“Blues Brothers 2000” being an exception), it is improved by the involvement of John Goodman. He spent 10 years pretending to be married to Roseanne Barr so that we didn’t have to & for that, at least, we should be grateful.
In David Byrne’s “True Stories” (1986) Goodman is Louis Fyne, ” I’m 6’3″, and maintain a very consistent panda bear shape” & “a dancing fool”. In this skewed & affectionate study of small town America Louis is our lonely Everyman who is looking for & failing to find love. The film’s characters could have been on loan from David Lynch but Byrne , the outsider & narrator, finds no malice in their tics & obsessions. Wes Anderson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & others are directing films like this. Everyone is making “fake” documentaries. David Byrne did it in the 1980s & wrote a soundtrack of outstanding songs.
Getting Pop Staples to sing “Papa Legba” is a masterstroke, “Wild Wild Life” is a blast but Goodman is gifted the key song of the film. Through “People Like Us” the socially awkward Louis is able to express himself perfectly. “We don’t want freedom, we don’t want justice. We just want someone to love”. The lady who never leaves her bed (Swoosie Kurtz) is watching the “celebration of specialness”,. Of course she marries our hero. What else could she do ?
Now…if a partiality for classics of the British New Wave of the late 1970s really did attract women such as the lovely Maggie Unpronouncable then I would not be sat here writing this & you, probably, would not have the time to read it. Come on, movies are fantasy, I get that, but stuff like this has never & will never happen. I have not seen “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006), maybe it is an “Eternal Sunshine”, an original romantic reverie. I have seen “The Other Guys” & know that Will Ferrell needs to get it on with the “Anchorman” sequel or he will be another Steve Martin, remembered for his early, funny films.
The neutering of a balls-out rock classic like “Whole Wide World” by any acoustic strummer boy is a step too far in my book. When John Belushi deals with such an affront in “Animal House” by wrecking the offending instrument he , I’m sure, eloquently spoke for us all. The slightly ramshackle Wreckless Eric made a great debut LP & continued to make good, interesting music. His band here is Davey Payne of the Blockheads, Ian Dury on drums & the striking Denise Roudette on bass, played by the equally striking Naomie Harris in the biopic “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”. Two women who would choose a power chord over leaden lassitude any day of the week. THIS is how “Whole Wide World” sounds…
This is more like it. “Man Bites Dog” (1992) & this, “Crazy Love” (1987) are two wonderfully odd films from Belgium. I’ve been to Belgium & it seems very nice but I must have missed the strange stuff. “Crazy Love” is a triptych of Charles Bukowski stories (with a little John Fante thrown in). Other Bukowski movies have portrayed the protagonist as an approximation of the author. It has been done well by Ben Gazzara. Mickey Rourke & Matt Dillon have done it too. This time we see 3 ages of our hero, Harry Voss.
At the high school prom Harry knows his cystic acne repels his dream girl but swathed, mummy-like, in toilet paper, as an Invisible Man, he has the confidence to approach her & to dance with her. For a couple of minutes he gets to do the things the big boys do & it’s a ridiculous but touching scene. The song “Love Hurts”, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant’s zenith, is perfect. “Some fools fool themselves I guess, but their not fooling me”. “Crazy Love” captures the spirit of Bukowski better than any other film. The bitterness, the pessimism, the thwarted passions & the poetry are all there. Don’t worry too much about Harry. He gets to have sex with a beautiful woman. It’s just that it’s a dead woman…great film !