Monday, July 6, 2009

How Many Angels Can Dance On The Head Of A Needle?

Downtown 81 (1981) Directed By Edo Bertigolio
Has some really good music from Kid Creole and The Coconuts, James White And The Blacks, DNA, Tuxedo Moon, The Plastics, Melle Mel, Vincent Gallo, Suicide, Liquid Liquid, Lydia Lunch, and other early 80's New York Underground's finest.But outside of all the great bands, and the interesting documentary aspect of the location shooting, New York's East Village, before it's gentrification.The dialog, especially the narration, recorded by rap/spoken word poet Saul Williams years after it's shooting and intended to fill in some of the narrative gaps (ala Andrej Zulawski's internal editing in his incomplete "On The Silver Globe"), ranges from decent to occasionally clever. The rest of the actors and discussion is laughably bad, such as, lead actor, and guide to the streets, Jean-Michel Basquait's,, painfully awkward scenes between himself and a mysterious women whose luxury car he leaps into after meeting only a few moments before (like a chewing gum commercial or beginning lines from a Dear Penthouse forum letter).Proving no matter how many underground 80's icons you can cram into a film, like Blondie's Debby Harry (in the role of fairy godmother), if they can't act and don't have anything interesting to say, star-power alone will not be enough to blind us to this fact.It's through and through a novelty item, but one with just enough interesting performances sprinkled throughout to keep things lively and worth the watch for music fans.It aims for Jack Kerouac style spontaneity, but doesn't have the insight or the charisma to keep up the energy, which is where the music comes in to pick up the slack, which it does in a series of diminishing returns. It's pretty balanced though, in its ratio of good music to bad acting. The fairy tale ending, makes more sense on a second viewing, than it did my first.NY at the time, must have seemed like a junkyard wonderland to Basquait and his ilk, who could go from homelessness (even if by choice, as Basquait did) to sudden celebrity allure (even if rapidly flushed away in exploitative record deals and fast drugs; a place where fairy really could pop up and deliver fame and fortune. Every ten years or so the mainstream and underground come into commercial and cosmic alignment, and what was out becomes in, and what was in becomes retro (though the gestation period for retro has become increasingly short, with out of date fashions and B celebrity driven reality shows lingering like zombies), and add nauseam. Baquait was 19 when he made this, he died six years later of a heroin/cocaine cocktail gone wrong; cheers to success. How Many Angels Can Dance On A Pinhead:

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