Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jason goes to the Castro for a Paul Williams double freature

And it's darn good fun.

First up, the family friendly (if you don't think too much about cross-species mating) THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979.) What can I say? I love the Muppets, and this is a beautiful, charming, funny movie with tons of cameos by now dead celebrities (and a few who are even still alive.) Paul Williams wrote the music and has a cameo as the piano player at El Sleezo saloon. Kermit travels from his swamp to Hollywood, uniting Muppets all along the way, evading an evil Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) who wants Kermit to be the spokesman for his chain of fried frog legs restaurants. There are plenty of corny jokes, running gags (I'm lost/ Have you tried Hare Krishna?) and breaking of the fourth wall (it's all framed by the Muppets watching the mostly-true movie of how they made it to Hollywood.) It's just too much fun, and honestly I would've sat through anything just for the giant Animal scene.

And then the less family friendly PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974.) Brian De Palma's glam-rock musical about the record industry, The Phantom of the Opera, and Faust (with a little Frankenstein, Cask of Amontillado, Psycho, and The Picture of Dorian Gray thrown in for good measure.) I've seen and reviewed this a couple of times before, and I still love it. But what occurred to me recently is that I don't know anyone who doesn't like this movie. And that seems odd. It's kind of silly, there are a lot of bits worth mocking, it was not a success on its initial release, but it has become a cult favorite and somehow immune to criticism. So how about it, do I have any readers out there who actually hate PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE and want to make a case against it?

I also need to point out that previously I had only seen it on film (well, on DVD at home, but film only in the theater) but the print that has been around the SF Bay Area for a while is pretty faded and worn out, so the Castro actually played it on HD video. And purists be damned, it looked beautiful and I could notice things I'd never seen before (like "Swan Song" symbols not covered with "Death Records.") And that includes my new favorite scene in the movie. When Beef is attacked by the Phantom in the shower, he has a red squiggly temporary tattoo on his cheek. Minutes later, Philbin finds him trying to escape the theater, and now he has a green clover tattoo on his cheek. So his thinking after the attack was, 'I have to go. I'm going to dress, pack my bags, change the tattoo on my cheek, and get the heck out of here!'  And he claims to know the difference between drug real and real real.

Total Running Time: 187 minutes
My Total Minutes: 290,038


Dan said...

I saw Phantom of Paradise when I was 6 or 7 years old. Although rated PG, the scene where the guy's face is disfigured in the record press gave me nightmares for months. I refused to watch the film for many years albeit the opportunities were limited. I have yet to watch the film again although I no longer have nightmares. In fact, I'm curious as to how frightening I would find that scene now. However, I associate the film with my youth and have some trepidation about seeing it again. Not because I'm worried about the content of the film but rather the contrast in reactions would make me feel old.

Although, I don't dislike the film per se; I have avoided it.

puppymeat said...

Well, Dan, you should be a little afraid of the record press scene. In fact, they used a real press and it was strong enough to break the blocks they had put in there to keep it from crushing William Finley's head. He was damn close to getting his head crushed. The scream in that scene is real.

So you may continue your nightmares.