Monday, August 14, 2006

Cowboys and Riot Grrrls


Randomly, I watched Coppola’s The Rain People and the recent director's cut rerelase of Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch in succession this week. I didn't watch them together on purpose, but they're both textbook examples of the American New Wave which was basically a movement where a bunch of 1960s film school grads (“the Movie Brats”) got fed up with the Hollywood mainstream and started making “B” pictures ripping off the European Youth Cinema movements. The Wild Bunch was seriously one of the most violent movies I’ve ever seen, its balletic shoot-em-up scenes leading directly into the styles of blood junkies like John Woo and Quentin Tarantino. Here are some fucked-up things that happened between the opening and closing credits: a scorpion gets eaten by a swarm of ants, a tuba player gets shot in the crossfire between two former best friends, a Mexican woman gets topless under a waterfall of grain alcohol, a corrupt Mexican general gets shot through the heart, a cowboy cries a single tear as a little girl laughs by the fire, and a bridge blows up with a bunch of horses on it. Yep.
Although both films are really different on the surface (one’s a stark melodrama/road movie and the other an ultra-violent revisionist western), they’re actually extremely similar overall which made me realize how much more succinct the whole U.S. New Wave umbrella title is than I had originally thought. Both flicks came out in 1969 and use the European New Wave(s) tropes of quick zooms and documentary style handheld camera work, cathartic yet pointless violence (as a specifically American response to Vietnam), experimental montage, and both end (spoiler alert) with a main character getting shot in the back by a little kid. The biggest similarity though is how energetically and self-consciously both films try to buck tradition and bludgeon their way into the cinematic canon (and the European art cinema movement) with controversial content and heavy-handed style. All the global youth cinemas were inherently rebellious and reactionary to the status-quo, but it seems to me that since the US’ came about so much later and had the rest of the movie-making globe to draw on, it made its statements in a much more overt manner. They're still really interesting, just rather obvious. Regardless, James Caan’s performance as an All-American football hero turned mentally handicapped hitchhiker in The Rain People has got to be one of the best of his career.

Anyway, DJ told me that I have to post music, I can’t just babble about movies. I read recently that after they play a few farewell shows in their hometown of Portland, post-punk riot grrrls Sleater-Kinney are ending it. I’ve never been a rabid fan but I defiantly like them a lot and am real sad to see them go. Here's a great song off of 2000’s All Hands on the Bad One, one of my favorite SK records. It’s a bit corny but I thought that was fitting for a farewell track. Thanks for all the noise…..

Sleater-Kinney - Leave You Behind

8 Comments:

Blogger Grant Miller said...

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August 14, 2006 10:07 PM  
Blogger Mazur said...

Grant Miller....your site is funny and you like Sonic Youth.
You also enjoy rim job pornography and soy milk.
I think space ships are way cool.

August 15, 2006 8:19 AM  
Blogger DJ said...

Awesome Grant, thank you, I was wondering what the ridiculous spike in traffic was.

August 15, 2006 6:00 PM  
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