Thoughts from the AMEN Pew #10

The wine is poured. The sun has set. And that only means one thing. Its time for the stupid to commence. 

 I am a big fan of a quality line read. Big overdramatic stuff. A very boring piece of dialogue can be completely transformed by some quality acting being thrown at it. This week, I was reminded of a certain video game that had a certain phenomenal actor giving one of the best line reads of his career. Bask in the maximum flava acting. 

 I actually got an email in my account. Discussing a few more songs that your boss would definitely not want to have start playing. I wanted to take the time out here and highlight this one. I heard this for the first time a few years ago and HOLY SHIT. I wish I would have heard this YEARS ago. I may put up a christmas playlist during the holiday season, but got damn is this song dope. So, mad shout out to you know who you are. And also, yes, your boss would freak if this would start playing.

 The following message goes out to people who let their religion determine the ability of a person to exist in this reality. Man, fuck off. In late high school/college, I just assumed we were on a forward trajectory out of religion. That we would finally grow the fuck up and get our shit off this planet (exploring SPACCCEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE). unfortunately, that did not happen. We elected an internet troll president and his vice president is Torquemada. So now religion is stealing people at an alarming rate. Fuck that. This Church is going to continue to profess the dogma of doing whatever helps you escape the unfathomable depression of existence for 5 minutes without fucking over anyone else’s shit. I’ll let Flava Saint George Carlin explain

 Mad shout out to Garth Ennis. I never would have thought reading Preacher for the first time that we would see an adaptation of anything he did. Let alone both Preacher and now The Boys. People love this fuckin thing.  And I couldnt be more proud. Who would have thought the dude who wrote one of my favorite Punisher arcs of all time managed to find success. If you havent started it yet. Watch it. 

Also, Amazon is just killing it with their self made stuff lately. I like this approach of doing a few things really well instead of Netflix’s approach about vomiting garbage on your face. 

Anyway, The Boys. Watch it. 

 So lately, when I get EXCEPTIONALLY FUCKED UP (where I think I am headed tonight). I end up down the rabbit hole of urban exploration videos. Lately, I have really been digging Adam the Woo. The dude manages to fine shit I didn’t know I care about, which I feel like is a niche skill in the land of youtube. Up to you if you like it. If not, whatever, fuck you. Join me, shall you? 

 Yep. And on that note, I am going to finish The Boys. Have a good night. Chill out to the sweet sounds of 90s alternative.

Ronnie and Neil

Today, I am going to tell a story that seems to have fallen away a bit. But, I think about it often, especially these days. So you should to. 

In 1970, during the heart of the post-Civil Rights Act era, Neil Young wrote this song. 

For reference, this is on my favorite Neil Young record, and I completely connected with it from the second I heard it. I think its self explanatory. 

As is this one in 1972, from his seminal record Harvest. If you can’t figure out what its about, its about George Wallace…and the state of Alabama. 

Ronnie Van Zant and his band, being avid Neil Young fans, decided to write an opposition piece to these songs. In that band’s style, they came up with a fucking riff that you can’t beat, a slamming chorus, and no one actually paid attention to the goddamn lyrics. 

Now, in doing research about this relationship, I assumed it was one of those rock stories that had fallen by the wayside. Nope, turns out, people have written whole albums about this. The wikipedia page is pretty clear about all this. Neil Young later said he regretted writing it, and that he shouldn’t have castigated the entirety of the state. 

I am going to argue that Neil Young was wrong to retract his words. And Ronnie Van Zant was irresponsible in how he handled it. 

First, lets start with Sweet Home Alabama. In terms of a song to go against Neil Young’s indictment of the South, its fucking stupid. The entire message of that song is, “Hey, we didn’t all vote for George Wallace. We did what we could so oh well. And we wont be sad when he’s gone. Oh, and hey look, we have Muscle Shoals and plenty of black artists have recorded there!” 

That is a fucking stupid argument. Yes, you didn’t vote for George Wallace, but enough people did to where he is the fucking governor of your state. The answer isn’t oh well. If you honestly don’t like the man, maybey our chorus shouldn’t be “Sweet Home Alabama,” but “Fuck George Wallace.” This is a classic thing Southerners do. They absolve themsleves from the sins of their countrymen. And this has been going on since the Civil War. “Well, I didn’t have any slaves, so I’m alright.”

Second, there is no avoiding the sins of the past. And there is no “wasn’t me,” you can do here.  If you don’t accept that what happened back then was wrong (a) and (b) we are all responsible for it, you will never make any progress. There is no responsibility and collective guilt. We just ignore the sins of the past. Well I didnt do it so it musn’t have been that bad. 

Cut to today. When no lessons are tought, when no shame is applied, we are still stuck in this conflict. Our sins can be laid in front of us, as Neil Young did, and we just say, “Nope not us” like Ronnie Van Zant. 

To be fair to Ronnie, he never lived long enough to see what his band would become. I dont think he intended his song to be the anthem of assholes everywhere. And Neil Young was a pallbearer at Ronnie’s funeral. Such is the duality of the Southern Thing. Either way, maybe he should have thought ahead and crafted his argument better. Cause now people just skip to the chorus. 

I’ll leave with this thought. I think this conflict between Neil’s two songs and Ronnie’s is the microcosm of the eternal white identity conflict in the south. And until we figure out we shouldn’t be mad at Neil and we should do something about it, we will be stuck in this limbo. And people will still think they are justified in doing terrible fucking shit that hurt other human beings just like them. 

I don’t have an answer. 

P.S. I thought about closing this post on a different song. Cause this one is rough. But Randy hit it dead on. Eat that shit, assholes. If you don’t know what this song is about, you should listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast about this whole record

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – A Review

I fucking love Quentin Tarantino, and I always have. Well, at least from the point in my life where I heard of him. 

Quentin is one of the few directors that I had the pleasure of seeing his films in order. I came in during the great chasm inbetween Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol 1. At that particular time, Jackie Brown hadn’t hit DVD yet, and a friend of mine let me borrow Reservoir Dogs. I was blown away. You know, I was just getting into film, and this felt like a film nerd’s movie. Which it is. 

I think thats why I always connected to the man. He was one of us. A dude who just loved movies. 

Ill avoid giving other reviews to his movies becomes one or two of them are probably going to be a feature of a future retrospective

So, lets get to it

 Warning for all future reviews on this blog. I’m going to do all of the spoilers. I personally dont understand spoiler culture. If a spoiler is really what makes the movie, just go see it first without a review. Otherwise, its really hard to do criticism for a film without talking about all of it. So there it is. SPOILERS IN THE HOUUUUUUSSEEEEEE

 I really love this movie. For probably atypical reasons.

After The Hateful Eight, which I really didn’t like (Short Version: Its a 70mm chamber play in which everyone is an asshole, but not in an interesting way. Its Reservoir Dogs but boring, and three hours long); I wanted something easy. And a film about two amazing characters and their adventures in late 60’s hollywood. I am game. 

The best way I can explain the plot is like this. Its a thought experiment from Quentin. What would it take for the 60s not to have ended? Two things really 1) Vietnam, which is kind of in the background throughout the film….and not the film’s focus 2) The death of the 60s never happening. The Manson Family murders

How does that not happen? Well Burt Reynolds lived nearby, what if they would have decided to go to his house instead. Hal Needham would have fucking kicked their ass. 

There’s your premise, and you just work backwards from there. 

What you are left with is a gorgeous exploration of a failing actor’s career and his hetero-life-mate stuntman’s journey. With some minor tweaks, this is the movie. And truthfully, this is all you need. 

Rick Dalton (Leo) and Cliff Booth (Pitt) easily stand with the best Quentin characters. Truthfully, you could have taken the Sharon Tate stuff out, and I could have watched that for three hours. Randoms on the internet seem to agree with that thought, and just say they should have stripped it out. 

That I disagree with. In a way, Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is the pure heart of this film. The 1960s in their most wholesome form. The whole movie you know whats coming and so its just heartbreaking to see how happy she is to have other people love her performance. 

We have some powerhouse acting done here by Leo, Pitt, and Robbie. I especially want to commend Brad Pitt. I think this may be his best role he’s had. Cliff Booth is one of those classic Quentin archetypes like Jules Winnfield

On the cinematography front, its far less flashy than his other films, but thats on purpose. He is really living the 1960s hollywood asthetic. And it looks gorgeous in that way. Really bright, lively. Just a great time to watch visually. 

I also want to give a big shout out to how he handled the Manson Family stuff. We all expected a Inglorious Basterds type ending here. And oh boy did we get it. THAT I wont spoil, but I do love how he handled it. He makes his opinion clear on the page. These people are some fucking assholes, and they shouldnt have been given the time of day. If they would have picked a house where people could have defended themsleves, they would have gotten fucked up cause they were a bunch of fucking pussies. 

I agree. 

I really like that all we get of Charlie Manson is a two second cameo. Motherfucker doesn’t deserve anything else. Quentin gets harassed alot for his violence, and be sure, the last 10 min of this movie meets that criteria. But, its clear that he feels like the entire Manson Family situation was a goddamn waste. A stupid sensless crime that ruined an entire culture. 

So, it gets a rewrite, and I think we are al the better for it. 

I want to leave this review with one last thought. I think this is an acting delight. However, that means the script is real bloated. You could trim 45 min out of this movie, and probably have the same impact. I am going to dock this movie .5 just for that, but I have a feeling on further reviews I may give it back. This movie is a slow burn, and I really want to spend more time in that world. 

3.5/4 – A double album of a film. Big. Alot to explore. And just really fun to hang out with. This film already lives in my head way more than The Hateful Eight ever did. I can’t wait to watch it again. Pitt deserves Best Supporting.

P.S. To the people on the internet saying this is Quentin’s big feet film. CLEARLY, never saw Death Proof

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