Thursday, October 19, 2017
Sunday, October 15, 2017
In the last year two more titles have followed that give some more dimension to the house and solidifying it as a destination for readers and writers of literary crime and transgressive fiction.
The rise of indie presses putting out good shit is exciting, but goodness gracious, how many of these quality houses have to burn down too soon? True, it's exciting to see other houses pick up and re-release some great titles, but it'd be swell to see somebody go the distance.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Sunday, September 17, 2017
His body of work includes too many important (to me) films to try and cover in a single piece, but I've assembled a very personal top-five Harry Dean Stanton moments.
Big Love - As Roman Grant, patriarch and prophet of a polygamous Mormon cult who travels everywhere in a well-armed caravan of white SUVs, he is a straight up gangster bringing physical as well as spiritual menace to the proceedings - especially in the first few seasons of the show. The first scene of him trying to muscle in on estranged son in law Bill Paxton's successful business via blackmail is some shiver-inducing shit.
Paris, Texas - As the lonely figure wandering through the desert in Wim Wenders' adaptation of Sam Shepard's play he spends the first eternity of his performance almost entirely mute - confused, haunted, determined - but he drops the heavy anchor of the film's emotional core in a scene of dialogue with peep-show performer Nastassja Kinski. Separated by a one-way mirror and using a telephone, the barriers between the characters are slowly dissolved and the stage is set for a second similar encounter that packs a wallop.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - A bit player in Sam Peckinpah's oft-maligned (and I've only seen the restored version - so maybe it really did suck for decades) meditation on betrayal, Harry Dean Stanton has a single show-stealing moment that nicely frames the whole film. When Kris Kristofferson's laconically charismatic Billy breaks out of jail and unexpectedly catches up to his gang bunked out in the middle of the night Stanton's Luke gives up his spot in the bed he's sharing with a woman Billy wants to sleep with. He's disappointed to, he's jealous, but he's also happy to see his friend alive and assumes beta-dog position without it a showdown. The look on his face and his body language in the scene pretty much sums up all the film's themes. Breaks my heart every time.
Repo Man - As Bud, mentor to Emilio Estevez's Otto in Alex Cox's weird masterpiece, Stanton has the lion's share of good lines, but it's hard to imagine another actor who could take the contempt the young punk throws his way and hand it back to him so expertly folded and origami'd that initial scorn becomes admiration and hero worship. The 'the life of a repo man is always intense' scene deserves iconic status.
Wild At Heart - As Johnnie Farragut, P.I. and whipped dog to Diane Ladd's Marietta Fortune in David Lynch's expanding adaptation of Barry Gifford's novel, Stanton has many memorable moments - driving across the swampy south tapping his fingers on his way to New Orleans, yipping at a hyena on the hotel television and bemoaning the sexual possibilities he and Ladd are passing up by hitting the road instead of staying in that king-sized bed - but it's his final doomed moments being tormented by Grace Zabriski, Calvin Lockhart and David Patrick Kelly as a trio of hired voodoo killers that he looks at the camera, sighs 'oh Marietta' and conveys that he may be a sap and a cuck-hold, but he's no fool - he knew this end was a strong possibility, but he made his own choices with his eyes open, and he'd probably make them again, for the love of a woman who doesn't return it.
A few more films I love that he sometimes anchored, other times supported and occasionally made no more than a cameo-appearance in, but, held so much character in his face that he, enriched and sold the entire atmosphere of: Alien, Alpha Dog, Cockfighter, Cool Hand Luke, Dillinger, Escape From New York, In the Heat of the Night, 92 in the Shade, The Pledge, Ride in the Whirlwind, Seven Psychopaths, The Straight Story, Straight Time, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Two-Lane Blacktop.
I was already very much looking forward to John Carroll Lynch's Lucky, but oh man, now I bet it's going to land like an anvil on my heart.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
I only spent time with him once in person - it was last year when he came to St. Louis for a N@B event. He read from his novel The Cost of Doing Business and hearing him read it - his own words, in his own voice - gave some soul and world-weariness to the otherwise humorous passage that stuck with me.
He pushed further in to me - asked more from me personally - than most casual friends I have had.
And because he asked I tried to give.
I don't think I gave him much. It wasn't enough. But I was happy to give what I could. It was an honor that he talked plainly to me about his needs and failures. We had those to bond over.
Weakness and moral failure are the cement of some of my closest friendships. I've got tons to share.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Monday, September 11, 2017
If you, like me, are going to have a hard time waiting week to week or for DVD release in a year lemme suggest a few other items that might tickle your (funny) bone.