Monday, June 28, 2004

Erratic...At Best
My joie de vivre gone and my mind is all over the d@mn place

I bought Barbarella this weekend.


I plunked down some cash and bought that movie.

Why on God's green Earth would I do that?

What was I thinking?

Well, if you've read the last couple of weeks worth of posts, I think you might be able to see the trend.

Is Barbarella a terrible movie? In effect, yes. (Though DeLaurentiis outdid this one 12 years later with Flash Gordon. The amazing thing is that they almost look like the same movie. Brilliant.)

So why buy it? I don't know. I just felt like it.

Haven't rewatched it yet, so I'm not sure what to say on the subject. So let's move on, because depending on your leanings, you might find me more at fault for my other purchase: Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine! (Exclamation mine; not part of the original title)

Two things this movie instantly made me think:

1) It was made in 1965, a year after a Fistful of Dollars and a year before Django. Basically this crazed piece of fluff was produced in the proper birth years of the spaghetti western.

2) It reminded me of an important factor missing from movies today: fun, both how to have it, and how to make it.

Is it a bad movie? More or less, yes.

Was it fun to watch? More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

The story: Dr. Goldfoot (Vincent Price) has created a squadron of killer robot women who are sent out to seduce rich men and rob them of their fortunes. When Goldfoot's assistant, Igor, accidentally meets Robot #11 up with foolhardy secret agent Craig Gamble (Frankie Avalon), an investigation begins into Goldfoot's fiendish plot.

The review: It's so d@mned hokey, but it's so charming. It's got some of the worst slapstick jokes ever filmed. It's got Frankie Avalon as a main character, and the silliest cameo by Annette Funicello.

And so innocent. It's an excuse to have a bunch of girls running around in gold bikinis, but Marx brother's movies from thirty years before had more sexual innuendo. The most hilarious part is that three of the Girl-bots were former Playboy playmates. They'd already shown their share of skin, but the bikini bottoms they were compared to today's endless parade of thongs look absolutely frumpy. (Don't get me wrong...still it's way.)

Then there's Vincent Price. Now I had always thought of Vincent as a touch hokey but not in a bad way. He was always fun. What made this so good was how much Vincent got to absolutely ham it up. I was laughing my half-mad @$$ off.

Some of it, even I couldn't forgive, but for the most part it was exactly what I wanted to watch. Why? Because it was fun. Plain fun. It was ridiculous and ran with it. It didn't apologize for what it was, it just had a good time.

This movie was fluff, but just about every movie today is fluff. The difference is that this movie didn't pretend to be more than fluff, and still had some artful qualities. Most movies today pretend to be art, and hide that they're just fluff. If you wanna point fingers I'd say it's the fault of Lucas/Speilberg for the invention of the blockbuster, and Scorcese/Coppola for the introduction to America of 'cinema as art.' Like everything else, those four are/were good...but all good things in Hollywood get swallowed up by sheer volume and hack jobs.

I also blame today's audience. The reason we all like reality TV is because we get to laugh at people we think are pathetic compared to us. At first it was Springer and talk-show circus, but again we've "legitimatized" it by filling it with pretty but stupid people. It's all mean. Why watch Avalon do a few silly pratfalls, when you can watch a parade of the pretty jack@$$es next door?

Well, I say at least Avalon had to perform, badly or not. He was trying to make me laugh. Reality TV, fake as it is, isn't trying to be pathetic as it is...and hence, had gotten me to the point of wanting to vomit...all the time.

I also watched Katsuhito Ishii's Party 7...

It's fun too. I think I'm on to something.


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