1964 Chevy Malibu
December 19, 2014 9:47 AM   Subscribe

 
Weirder than the movie itself? I can't wait to read it.
posted by Gelatin at 9:59 AM on December 19, 2014


Oh. You don't want to look in there.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:02 AM on December 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


The life of a filmmaker is always intense.
posted by TedW at 10:04 AM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Let's go get sushi and not pay!
posted by davros42 at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, Stanton was furious when asked to use a plastic bat, screaming out that "Harry Dean Stanton only uses REAL baseball bats."

I love Harry Dean Stanton.
posted by Aznable at 10:16 AM on December 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


Great find, thanks for the memories and the post!
I must have seen this movie scores of times just turning friends on to it once i had 'discovered' it.


" A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness."
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:17 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Spoiler: An interesting history, but hardly all that weird considering the film and its independent production. (What is this love clickbait headlines have with the word "weird," anyway?)

Looking to make the project more attractive to potential investors, Cox packaged the script with a four page comic book treatment (which can be found here).

It's also in the tin containing the special edition DVD release, which also contains the (excellent) soundtrack!
posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on December 19, 2014


What is this love clickbait headlines have with the word "weird," anyway?

You find one in every link.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on December 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


But what about our relationship?
posted by Melismata at 10:21 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Look at those assholes, ordinary fucking people. I hate 'em.
posted by maxsparber at 10:23 AM on December 19, 2014 [16 favorites]


comment
posted by ardgedee at 10:27 AM on December 19, 2014 [39 favorites]


I don't want no commies on my Metafilter. And no Christians, either!
posted by rocketman at 10:28 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a weird sponsorship deal, not quite sure how that was supposed to have worked.

Hey, kids! Generic food! As seen in Repo Man!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate of beans. Suddenly someone'll say, like, "plate," or "beans," or "plate of beans" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either.
posted by Aznable at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


No mention of, as Criterion puts it "Cox pays homage to the hissing “great whatsit” of 1955’s apocalyptic noir Kiss Me Deadly with his own glowing trunk MacGuffin." Of course, Pulp Fiction also pays tribute to the same MacGuffin.
posted by larrybob at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


You find one in every link.

You'll see.

(I would have loved to see Lance Henriksen in this movie. He's an absurdly good actor who has lived almost exclusively as bit parts and B movies.)
posted by quin at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sy Richardson reads his side the full version of his conversation with Otto in the car, set to music by the Juicy Bananas from the soundtrack.

For the best listening experience, I've found it's best done at about 2am while cruising through the city in a 1979 Buick Riviera on a hot summer night.
posted by chambers at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Of course, Pulp Fiction also pays tribute to the same MacGuffin.

I like to think it's the same object in all three movies.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on December 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


But what about our relationship?

Fuck that.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:39 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hey, kids! Generic food! As seen in Repo Man!

One could make an argument that generic food is in some ways the most punk of all foods.
posted by chambers at 10:40 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like to think it's the same object in all three movies.

I would read that fan-fic.
posted by Aznable at 10:41 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The impression I got from listening to the DVD commentary some years ago is that the people in charge of making this movie spent most of their time and effort dealing with things that ended up having very little to do with what ended up making it great. I don't remember the details, but it seemed like they were sort of trying to tell a story that made sense, and avoided it only by some combination of incompetence, luck, and the cosmic lattice of coincidence. That would explain why there can never be a sequel.
posted by sfenders at 10:46 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fave new trivia: the main Malibu picture car gets stolen off the parking lot in the middle of the shoot. Hilarious!
posted by ovvl at 10:51 AM on December 19, 2014


The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:59 AM on December 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


> I like to think it's the same object in all three movies.

Can't be the exact same, unless Otto came back. Maybe it's all from the same ET crash, then.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 11:00 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's less powerful in 1994, possibly having passed through a few million years of it's own subjective time.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on December 19, 2014


"Plate of shrimp!" my three-year-old brother said
posted by pxe2000 at 11:10 AM on December 19, 2014


Ebert's review (someone in the comments linked to it)
posted by small_ruminant at 11:11 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The article mentions that Lee Ving from Fear was briefly considered for the role of Bud and then completely misses the fact that Zander Schloss who played Kevin was the bass player for the band Circle Jerks.
posted by Gev at 11:14 AM on December 19, 2014


Nah, it covers that bit:

Zander Schloss, a fan at the time, introduced himself to the Jerks and received a very unenthusiastic response ("Hi, I play Kevin the nerd." "So?"). However, he actually went on to join the band, and played with them for twelve years.
posted by Aznable at 11:16 AM on December 19, 2014


And speaking of the Circle Jerks...

Metafilter: I can't believe I used to be into these guys.
posted by Aznable at 11:17 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


The first Circle Jerks album is still incredible. Nothing to be ashamed of!
posted by DrLickies at 11:20 AM on December 19, 2014


Huh, didn't know about the comic. The top panel on page 2 is great.

Glad the TV edit got a shout-out, it's really amazing. Has some extra scenes in it too, like the bit about Lorna Doones containing all the nutrients necessary for survival.

It's always been a shame that Alex Cox hasn't done more films with impact. Between Repo Man and Sid & Nancy he had a hell of a good start. Has anyone watched Repo Chick? Is there any point? It sounds like a terrible idea.
posted by Nelson at 11:20 AM on December 19, 2014


Late Cox is a mixed bag, but I have high hopes for Bill the Galactic Hero.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on December 19, 2014


> Nah, it covers that bit:

Ha.. that's what I get for commenting before reading the whole article.
posted by Gev at 11:26 AM on December 19, 2014


Ha.. that's what I get for commenting before reading the whole article.

That's why there aint a Metafilter commenter I know that don't take speed.
posted by Aznable at 11:29 AM on December 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead.
posted by ZipRibbons at 11:30 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's why there aint a Metafilter commenter I know that don't take speed.

For ADD.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on December 19, 2014


It's always been a shame that Alex Cox hasn't done more films with impact.

Straight to Hell is tons of fun, and Walker is maybe the best political film ever made (sort of) in Hollywood. I'd been telling people about it for years, and felt way vindicated when a Criterion DVD came out.

The Revenger's Tragedy is also pretty interesting, as are Highway Patrolman and Three Businessmen. Like Orson Welles, Cox has been an exile from LA for a long time, but he's made plenty of good movies.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Of course, Pulp Fiction also pays tribute to the same MacGuffin.

As exceptional an actor as Samuel L. Jackson is, when it comes to how Tarantino used him, it's pretty easy to see that there is a decent bit of Sy Richardson in the character of Jules Winnfield. If you look at Repo Man and Straight to Hell, you can see where Tarantino found the elements that would appear in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I don't mean this in a negative way at all - IIRC, Tarantino digs Alex Cox, and it's from a 'that (suit/costume/tone/attitude/situation/whatever) in this film is so damn cool, I want to see what I can do with a bit of that' place that he's usually pretty good at.

I really dig Sy Richardson's work, and he should have had a bigger career. He's one of the people who are on my 'prototype' list, which is comprised of actors that when you look back, seem to have laid down a good bit of groundwork for an certain archetype of role that another actor becomes very famous for later on. It's not about which actor is better, just an example of the weird way fate and luck work that you realize that the earlier actor could have easily fit into that later role. In this way, I kind of see Sy Richardson as sort of a 'proto' Samuel L. Jackson. Another example of this to me is John Saxon, who in many ways is sort of a 'proto' George Clooney. I might not be explaining it just right, but I hope it makes sense in a way. I think things like this are best discussed and hashed out over drinks in sort of a barroom Socratic roundtable format, and sometimes don't translate as easily to the internet.
posted by chambers at 11:36 AM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Alex Cox's latest, the crowd-funded BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, had it's world premier last week, and he just made it available to us funders online. Haven't decided if I'm going to watch it tomorrow or give it to myself as a Christmas gift.
posted by effbot at 11:37 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I love Straight To Hell, but it's a jumble and very much an acquired taste. Sid and Nancy and Walker are of course prime Cox.
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2014


One could make an argument that generic food is in some ways the most punk of all foods.

Couldn't enjoy it more than this, Ma. Mmm, mmm, this is swell.

Sy Richardson reads his side the full version of his conversation with Otto in the car yt , set to music by the Juicy Bananas from the soundtrack.

He's a baaaaaaaad man!

I was into these dudes before anybody.
posted by Gelatin at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love Straight To Hell, but it's a jumble and very much an acquired taste.

I love the bit where the movie comes to a screeching halt so Cait O'Riordan and the Pogues can sing "Danny Boy" for no apparent reason.
posted by Gelatin at 11:42 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hey Matt, wanna make 5 bucks?
posted by porn in the woods at 11:42 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Straight to Hell
The film was not originally intended to be made at all, and the reason for a preponderance of musicians in the cast was the result of a concert tour of Nicaragua that was planned in the first place.
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2014


Artw, you beat me to the punch by literally a fraction of a second.

We seem to be approaching the outskirts of the 'plate of shrimp' zone.
posted by chambers at 11:52 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would totally have "The film was not originally intended to be made at all" put on all posters and DVD covers if it were mine.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


And Bill the Galactic Hero can't be profitable.
posted by el io at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Alex Cox's latest, the crowd-funded BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, had it's world premier last week, and he just made it available to us funders online. Haven't decided if I'm going to watch it tomorrow or give it to myself as a Christmas gift.

Wow, Alex Cox looks more like a character from Wallace and Grommit each time I see him. Though I was rather disappointed by Repo Chick and it's green screen and model trains insanity, I'm interested to see what this new film turns out like.

I think there is a perfect format for Alex Cox to be able to work in that has a very good chance of allowing him to do what he does best without having to divert so much of his skills on working around budget constraints for every scene. It's a relatively young format that's not taken very seriously by most as a place to present a feature length narrative, but in the right creative hands could become very very interesting - Machinima.

I'm not saying that impressive work hasn't been made already in that format over the years, but it still remains to be fully accepted as a viable way to create feature length films. Most recently, Valve's interest in making a feature length Team Fortress 2 movie produced the beautiful short "Expiration Day." It feels to me as if we're actually on the cusp of seeing game development companies becoming a viable one-stop alternative to providing the skill, facilities, and the means of production (and even worldwide digital and physical distribution) that the studio and larger film production companies do today.

I think Alex Cox could do very good things in this format, and being an outsider to the Hollywood system these days would allow him to have much more creative freedom than the constraints placed on a big-name Hollywood director brought in at great expense by a game developer that could end with a final product weakened by compromises made to make things more accessible and minimize risk. Once these game companies separate the machinma production from a direct association from a particular game title, and rely on using and expanding their mocap facilities, model designers, and their software engines and renderers to create more unique environments outside of their existing title catalog, I really hope to see it accepted as a whole new way to produce narrative features.
posted by chambers at 12:44 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Alex Cox basically gave me my education in Film Studies over the television so I have to say the students at Boulder are getting a great deal.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Feeling 7-Up I'm Feeling 7-Up
Feeling 7-Up I'm Feeling 7-Up
It's a crisp refreshing feeling
Crystal clear and light
America's drinking 7-Up
And it sure feels right
Feeling lucky seven
Feeling seventh heaven
Feeling lucky seven, 7-Up
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Late Cox is a mixed bag, but I have high hopes for Bill the Galactic Hero.

Wait... what? BtGH? Really?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan, but really? The whole point of Bill (or Bil, he's not a officer after all, only officers get to "L"s) is that it is pure satire and sarcasm. The whole series makes fun of other sci-fi, and the humor is derived from Harrison's brilliant use of language e.g. ""Shut up you moron or I'll kill you", he hinted."

And how are they going to deal with his shape shifting mood foot?

I.. I want to believe, but I can't see this being anything other than wrong. I mean, Stainless Steel Rat or Deathworld make a million times more sense as a movie than Bill.

(on closer read, I see it is entirely a labor of love. That actually bodes well, because it certainly would be too weird for a studio to allow to live as it exists on the page.)
posted by quin at 12:58 PM on December 19, 2014


Ooh. Footage!
posted by quin at 1:08 PM on December 19, 2014


Stop singing, Charlie.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


From the Footage! link: "Don’t like Nazis. Have no problem with communists other than their capitalistic tendencies."
posted by el io at 1:21 PM on December 19, 2014


Aha! I'm not crazy! I knew I remembered a longer version of the radiation speech (Hemisphere...hemisphere... and the handful of hair) but would never have thought to look for the TV edit.
posted by bink at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The cop in the beginning was my mom's neighbor in long beach!
posted by lkc at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2014


...Fox and Burbank designed the aliens seen briefly in the picture out of condoms filled with water...

I knew it! I always knew they were condoms! I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:10 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


That would explain[s] why there can never [should] be a sequel.
Repo Chick
posted by Gotanda at 4:26 PM on December 19, 2014


Holy crap, BILL is done?!?! And it was inspired by the fantastic ICARUS XB-1?
I was frustratingly late to the Kickstarter---emailed him to ask if I could just send him money, but never heard back---but I'll look forward to seeing this somehow.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Second Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann reference in a week, IIRC...
posted by mikelieman at 6:37 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's a scene where Bud is making a call in a phone booth while Otto noodles on a handheld Casio (?) just outside. It sounds like he is playing music from Liquid Sky.
posted by Camofrog at 8:32 PM on December 19, 2014


It's hard to recall having more fun at the movies than seeing this. Then, many years of shibboleth quote games with your friends. It's Monty Python And The Holy Grail for punks.
posted by thelonius at 8:44 PM on December 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Aznable: "Unsurprisingly, Stanton was furious when asked to use a plastic bat, screaming out that "Harry Dean Stanton only uses REAL baseball bats."

I love Harry Dean Stanton.
"

Huh. That was the point at which I thought "Christ, what an asshole."
posted by Lexica at 10:41 PM on December 19, 2014


Huh. That was the point at which I thought "Christ, what an asshole."

I've heard he's not the easiest to work with, and I could see a reasonable argument for wanting to use a real bat - one, the reactions of the other actors are going to be much more authentic with how they react as well as a fake bat would handle differently and two, your body would move differently with a fake bat. I'm not saying it's necessarily the best or wisest way to do it with a small production that can't risk an injury, but at least he had a point.

The not learning his lines and wanting cards thing is what bugs me the most. I've heard this is a common issue when an actor has been in the game far longer than the director and pull this 'how much shit can I get away with' stuff. It's a power struggle every director has to learn how to handle one day. The situation is a lot like a person whose just beginning to learn how to ride a horse and are put on an little bit older horse because they won't be as skittish as younger horses. However, older horses also know a lot more ways to get a rider to do what it wants, and will test the new rider to see what it can get away with, like stopping to eat a lot, making it seem like it really needs to go back to the barn, deliberately walking toward low hanging branches that will hit the rider, etc. It want's as much control of the situation as you will be tricked into giving it, and is one of the few situations that horses can be considered actually rather clever.

So while I do respect Harry Dean Stanton's work, I don't envy whoever finds themselves in a situation where they responsible for managing/directing/wrangling him.
posted by chambers at 1:03 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


After reading the article I dug out the Criterion copy (okay, actually a torrent of it - the DVD doesn't seem to be available in Region 4) and watched the movie again. I was a bit disappointed by the scene he mentions where Otto is singing on the railroad tracks as the lights from the 4th St Bridge wink out. In the article he makes it sound longer than it is. In the movie it's a beautifully-composed scene, but as far as the lights go you see a couple of them turn off and then a few frames later it cuts to the next scene where Otto is kicking a can as he walks past a junkyard.

But, whatever.

Repo Man has a dreamlike quality which for me is usually associated with movies from the 50's and 60's which I used to watch when they aired at 2 AM on the TV back in the 1980's. The plot is really disjointed, and from the article it sounds like a lot got cut out. There's a scene in which Lite is talking to Otto about fighting in a war, and then Otto mentions Marlene, and it always felt like that conversation came out of nowhere. If there was a possible ending where Bud joined Marlene and the Rodriguez brothers as guerrillas (as alluded to in the article) then that conversation makes more sense.

Edge City as portrayed in the movie consists almost entirely of interstitial spaces, i.e. the places in between destinations: roads, sidewalks, alleys, underpasses, back lots, empty lots, parking lots, train sidings, empty river beds, and of course car interiors. The chopped-up, stuck-together feel of the plot feels like the movie itself consists of only the interstitial scenes, with the key scenes removed. For example, after Bud is shot in the side of the head you don't see him again until the hospital - he just sort of vanishes even though the convenience-store shoot-out goes on for a while. You are never shown why Marlene is a commando or why Plettschner pulls a gun on her. The movie holds together with dream-logic: Marlene is a helping force which counters the opposing force of Agent Rogersz.

I also realized after watching it again that Otto has bad luck with girlfriends, even allowing for the fact that he acts like an asshole to them.
posted by um at 4:38 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I also realized after watching it again that Otto has bad luck with girlfriends, even allowing for the fact that he acts like an asshole to them.

Really, really acts like an asshole. One of the many wonderful things about that movie is how unsympathetic its protagonist is (a good preparation for Sid & Nancy, the rare love story where the director is clearly just furious with both its lovers). Otto may start as a punk– and the punks are not exactly forces for good themselves– but he leaps into a suit the first chance he gets, never cares about anyone but himself, and is generally a total bastard at every opportunity. The film's parsimonious empathy is as punk as its soundtrack.

It was also really interesting to read about how much of the visual style came from Muller. One of the really striking things about that movie is how distant the camera is. Note, for example, the time machines conversation: It's a straight dialogue scene, the only physical action is the sort of business a director gives an actor to keep them busy. But there's no close-up, not even a chest-up shot. It's a knees-up shot, followed by a very wide shot that would be an opening master in any other movie. The weird effect of having the conversation play out in such a wide shot is really significant, and has a lot to do with the drifty, dreamy feeling noted above. I had thought that was a product of Cox's love of spagetti westerns, making his characters part of the implacable landscape like the Italians did, but it seems like Muller was also a real creative force there.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:24 AM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]




I also realized after watching it again that Otto has bad luck with girlfriends, even allowing for the fact that he acts like an asshole to them.

I've always thought the way Alex Cox portrayed what loosely could be called the story's romantic interest/subplot as kind of a symbolic 'fuck you' to the idea that you are almost always required to have a romantic subplot in the script to make it worth buying in Hollywood. So Alex gave them one: an asshole meets and has a fling with a woman who is just as open to the idea of betraying and torturing him by electrocution as having sex with him, and when the "What about our relationship?" line comes along, the Otto's "Fuck that!" reply is not only his character being the asshole he is, but Alex's take on the expectation that a writer has to shoehorn in a romantic subplot just because "that's what you're supposed to do."

Maybe I'm just projecting, though. Regardless of what gender of the lead character is, I've always been very irritated the idea that having some sort of romantic subplot is perceived as a generally accepted requirement for a film to be considered an investment worth the risk (less so now than in the 80s and earlier, but it's still there today). If it actually works for the story, great, bring it on in, but if you have to shoehorn one in to get the movie made, if you don't do it just right the film can suffer from an awkward plot, lack of chemistry between actors in a scene, pacing, etc.
posted by chambers at 11:05 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


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