Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Think Pieces, No Hats on the Bed, and Utah Get Me Two

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Three films. Whenever I come across any of those three films on TV, I'm compelled to drop everything I'm doing and I will watch the rest of that movie. No matter what. I did it last night with Almost Famous. I was flipping the channels trying to find a basketball game and I came across the scene when Penny Lane is dancing by herself hours after a concert ended and she was dancing around barefoot in the empty venue with trash on the floor. I adore every scene with Lester Bangs (played magnificently by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Ben Fong-Torres (from Rolling Stone), so I'm compelled to watch Almost Famous whenever it's on.

So about those three films I'm compelled to watch whenever it's on?

Almost Famous, Drugstore Cowboy, and Point Break.

Yes, Point Break.

I know what you're thinking... "I get your obsession with Almost Famous and the appeal of junkies in Drugstore Cowboy, but Point Fucking Break? Keanu Fucking Reeves? Have you been snorting bath salts all morning?"

Yes, Keanu Fucking Reeves. No, to snorting the baths salts. I prefer to shoot those up in the veins in between my toes.

In college, our fraternity house was not wired for cable TV, so we watched a ton of movies via VCR. A few of us had taped copies of Point Break, which we watched three or four times a day. There was one room that had Point Break on a loop. Nonstop. I watched Point Break thousands and thousands of times that I knew the entire dialogue frontwards and backwards. My friends knew every scene too. Over the period of one summer, we smoked a pound of weed and had become Point Break scholars. We started playing a game when we tried to stump each other with the most obscure quotes from Point Break. We knew the movie so well, we could have acted it out. Too bad YouTube didn't exist back then, because we would've made our own version of it with props and everything.

My affinity for Point Break is more nostalgia than anything else. I get flashbacks of happier times. Simpler times. Pre-social media. Pre-internet. I was still a couple years away from getting my first CompuServe email address. You're only 19 years-old once in your life and Point Break is an insta-wormhole back to those mellow and groovy times when I'd be sitting on a dilapidated couch and ripping bong hits with friends while mocking Keanu Reeves.

"I caught my first tube... sir."

Drugstore Cowboy is not on very often. Heck, Point Break or Almost Famous is on at least once a day... somewhere. Whereas Drugstore Cowboy pops up once in a blew moon, usually at 3am on IFC or Sundance. I read the originally book and very rarely do you come across a great film adaptation of a book, but this is one of those rare cases.

In Drugstore Cowboy, Matt Dillon played a real life thief who knocked over drugstores in the Pacific Northwest in the late 60s and early 70s. The thief eventually got busted and spent long stints in jail. He had all the time in the world to write and cranked out the manuscript to Drugstore Cowboy. It got published. Matt Dillon got a hold of the book and it got made into a film. It's really one of Dillon's best roles, up there with his performance as a greaser thug in The Outsiders.

I didn't read the book until I moved to Seattle and one of my housemates told me I needed to read the book that inspired the movie. The movie does a pretty damn fine job (credit goes to director Gus Van Sant) which is why I can easily watch the film without being annoyed at the blatant differences. Like I said, this flick is rarely on cable, so when I come across it, I will gladly immerse myself into the rest of the film. On the rare occurrences, I find it an absolute treat if I can catch Drugstore Cowboy at the beginning.

William S. Burroughs makes a few cameos as Father Tom, or the junkie priest who supposedly shot up a million dollars worth of heroin into his arm. Those scenes with Burroughs are haunting, yet steal the film.

"Narcotics have been systematically scapegoated and demonized."

I also learned about a weird superstition from Drugstore Cowboys involving hats on a bed. Supposedly it's bad luck if you put a hat on a bed. It's not something I always try to avoid, but if I see one, I will often accidentally knock it onto the floor.

Old habits never die.

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