invasion of the paramount: day seven

it's day seven and i find myself at the mercy of the cinematic whims of paige deegan, grant writer for the paramount. to start things off, paige takes us far into the future for the post-apocalyptic madness that is l.q jones' a boy and his dog (1975).

adapted from a harlan ellison story, the movie finds us in the year 2024 and nuclear war has reduced the world to dust as far as the eye can see. among the groups of human jackals roaming the wasteland we have vic, a randy and reckless, just-post-pubescent don johnson, and his dog, blood. they scrounge for food and women, breaking frequently to argue telepathically about whether vic is dumber and hornier than blood is hungry. vic uses blood as his radar to sniff out potential mates and blood uses vic to stay fed. it's an arrangement that has kept them alive and satiated so far, if not particularly happy with one another. one evening, blood catches the scent of a lovely young lady, the wonderfully named quilla june holmes, who happens to be bait for vic, unbeknownst to our hero. she lures him into a subterranean world that is like some sort of norman rockwell tableau populated with fellini-esque grotesques. the plan is to kidnap vic and use him to inseminate the women that live in their underground society. it seems that when they abandoned the surface, their menfolk also lost the ability to procreate. they hook vic up to a vic-milking machine and begin an absurd ritual of marrying every girl in town to him, just to keep things proper. quilla june busts vic out, intent on using him to overthrow the committee that runs the show but it doesn't go in their favor, and vic seems more intent on getting back to the surface anyway, back to where you know what kind of backstabbing and skulduggery to expect from people. there may be no honor among scavengers but they're sure a lot more fun to hang out with than these orwellian underground loons. vic and quilla june escape to the surface to find blood starving, near death. food is in short supply, but our heroes are nothing if not resourceful and it isn't long before they are back on the road together, off to see what lies over the hill. i have a real spot for movies like this, movies that would have absolutely no hope of getting made today. yes, it's amateurish (even with jason robards (?(!))) and yes it is off its rocker, but enough people believed enough in this nutty idea that a full length feature film was made. this is truly auteur work on the part of l.q. jones, i think that it represents him about as well as could be. you know l.q. jones, right?

that's right. that tough old bastard. you take harlan ellison's utter lack of faith in humanity and you filter it through the bareknuckled, rip-roaring worldview of l.q. jones and you have a bleak, funny, ugly, completely cuckoo film unlike anything else you're likely to see. apparently, in world war four, feminists and mensa members were the first to perish. in his inimitable, no bullshit way, jones is reminding us that we shouldn't expect things to be pleasant when existence has been reduced to fulfilling the handful of survival instincts that are hardwired into our reptilian brain. i am glad i got this one in in the scant twelve years we have before 2024. at least i will be prepared now.

next up, we have the one man apocalypse that is john cameron mitchell's hedwig and the angry inch (2001).

it's the same old story - boy meets boy, boy becomes girl, boy leaves girl for boy, girl meets boy, boy leaves girl for superstardom, stealing all of her songs. hedwig is the titular transgendered punk singer (second time this week the queue seems to be following the week's headlines) whom has embarked on a u.s. tour of the worst restaurant chain you have ever seen so that she can stalk her former lover that has achieved success and riches with songs that are rightfully hers. along the way, we are treated to hedwig's life story. beginning life as hansel, a boy in east germany, he fell in love with a G.I., but to return to the states together they had to do so as a man and woman. to achieve this, hansel had sex reassignment surgery (slightly botched, resulting in the also titular angry inch) becoming hedwig. things weren't as rosy as anticipated in the heartland and hedwig is abandoned by her husband for another man. putting the pieces back together, hedwig meets tommy, a slightly backwards kid whom hedwig educates in the ways of love and rock, only to have tommy abandon her as well. tommy becomes rich and famous. hedwig becomes righteously indignant, stalking tommy until her career falls apart. they are briefly reconciled, resulting in a scandal that pulls tommy down and reignites hedwig's career. with the band back together, hedwig takes to the stage one last time for an epiphanic performance that finally leaves hedwig feeling like a whole person for the first time. i have seen mitchell's other work prior to this but this is one i just hadn't gotten around to for one reason or another. well, chalk one up for the queue again because hedwig kicked my ass. it is far and away mitchell's best work. it is funny, clever, moving and complex. talk about auteur work, this is no one but  mitchell's glorious vision from beginning to end. it's been a long time since i have seen work from a filmmaker at a point this early in their career so adept at weaving in their myriad influences and making it seem fresh and new. hedwig's monologues are hilarious and heartbreaking, the songs are fantastic and mitchell is an absolute natural, both in front of and behind the camera. i had always heard that this was kind of the successor to the rocky horror picture show (1975), as far as cult movies go, but i think that sells this incredibly short. much like rocky, it is appropriately outrageous and fun but hedwig gives you something more besides. this is all that and a rich experience, a true labor of love and it shows in every frame. there is a vulnerability, a wisdom and a sweetness that rocky doesn't come close to. you can keep your time warp, i'll take hedwig any day, the whole angry inch.

well, that was a pretty great day. telepathic dogs and transgendered rock stars. thanks, paige. you helped me find a movie i didn't even know i was missing. that's always a treat.

i'll leave you guys for now. i have to go check and make sure i have laid in enough cereal because tomorrow is all about cartoons.

see you then.

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