Sunday, July 31, 2016

Noirsville Tune Of The Week

Again the great Tom Waits


Licorice tattoo turned a gun metal blue
Scrawled across the shoulders of a dying town
Took the one eyed jacks across the railroad tracks
And the scar on its belly pulled a stranger passing through
He's a juvenile delinquent never learned how to behave
But the cops would never think to look in Burma-Shave

And the road was like a ribbon and the moon was like a bone
He didn't seem to be like any guy she'd ever known
He kind of looked like Farley Granger with his hair slicked back
She says I'm a sucker for a fella in a cowboy hat
How far are you going?
Said Depends on what you mean
He says I'm only stopping here to get some gasoline
I guess I'm going thataway just as long as it's paved
And I guess you'd say I'm on my way to Burma Shave

And with her knees up on the glove compartment
She took out her barrettes and her hair spilled out like root beer
And she popped her gum and arched her back
Hell Marysville ain't nothing but a wide spot in the road
Some nights my heart pounds like thunder
Don't know why it don't explode
Cause everyone in this stinking town's got one foot in the grave
And I'd rather take my chances out in Burma Shave

Presley's what I go by why don't you change the stations
Count the grain elevators in the rearview mirror
She said mister anywhere you point this thing
It got to beat the hell out of the sting
Of going to bed with every dream that dies here every mornin
And so drill me a hole with a barber pole
And I'm jumping my parole just like a fugitive tonight
Why don't you have another swig and pass that car if you're so brave
I wanna get there before the sun comes up in Burma Shave

And the spider web crack and the mustang screamed
The smoke from the tires and the twisted machine
Just a nickel's worth of dreams and every wishbone that they saved
Lie swindled from them on the way to Burma Shave

And the sun hit the derrick and cast a bat wing shadow
Up against the car door on the shotgun side
And when they pulled her from the wreck
You know she still had on her shades
They say that dreams are growing wild
Just this side
Of Burma Shave

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Noirsville Iconic Photo of The Week

Vivian Maier, an excellent New York street photographer who took thousand of photos in the 1950s and 60s, was left woefully unacknowledged during her time. It was only in 2011, two years after her death, that her photos were recognized for their raw beauty in a collection published by historian and collector John Maloof.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Paris, Texas (1984) Lost And Found And Lost Again

Directed by Wim Wenders (The American Friend (1977)) and written by L.M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard. It has an immersive and quite distinctive score composed by Ry Cooder. The beautiful cinematography was by Robby Müller (The American Friend (1977)).

The film stars Harry Dean Stanton (The Wrong Man (1956), Farewell, My Lovely (1975), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Inland Empire (2006)), Dean Stockwell (The Arnelo Affair (1947), Compulsion (1959), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Blue Velvet (1986)), Nastassja Kinski (Inland Empire (2006)), Bernhard Wicki, Aurore Clément, and Hunter Carson.

Devil's Graveyard, West Texas
A Film Soleil, Psychological Noir, Paris, Texas begins in the parched Devil’s Graveyard landscape of West Texas. A man Travis (Stanton), gaunt, seemingly dazed, disheveled, grizzled, wanders out of oblivion, dressed in a dusty, double breasted, pinstripe suit and red baseball cap.

Travis (Stanton)
He stumbles into a dilapidated ramshackle adobe and trailer roadside pit stop, a de facto wind swept trash rack of haphazard human ephemera, to the accompaniment of Ry Cooder's haunting slide guitar. Travis abruptly keels over.

He comes to in Terlingua, Texas, in a doctor's clinic (Wicki). He does not answer the doctor's questions, he acts mute. Is he an amnesiac, or just another ornery desert rat? The doctor checks his personal effects. A business card with the name Walt Henderson (Stockwell) and a Los Angeles phone number is found. A call is made. Walt confirms the man is his, four year missing and presumed dead, older brother Travis.

Dr. Ulmer (Wicki)
Anne (Clément,) and Walt (Stockwell)
Walt flies out to Texas to get him. He rents a car and drives down into the Big Bend Country. When Walt gets there he finds out that Travis lit out again. Walt disgustedly drives around the few roads searching for him, finally spotting him walking a powerline. Walt is taken back by Travis' appearance, he tells him he "looks like forty miles of bad road." Walt beckons him to the car but Travis seems magnetically pulled to the perspective of the powerline stretching to infinity. Travis only reluctantly gets in the car.

On the road Travis clams up to Walt's friendly interrogations. Walt and Travis stop at some roadside cabins for the night. When Walt goes back into town to get Travis some new clothes he ghosts again for the high lonesome. Another quick search finds Travis loping down the railroad tracks headed for nowhere. At an all night diner Walt tells Travis that Hunter his son is now living with him, that Jane his wife, dropped him off after Travis disappeared.

Travis finally comes out of his post traumatic trance like state and speaks, and it's seemingly cryptic. He mentions Paris, that he wants to go to Paris. Not France but Paris, Texas, and the empty lot where mom told him he was conceived. It's as if getting back there to ground zero he can start over with a clean slate. In fits and starts we begin to see the whole picture.  Walt and his wife Anne ( Clement) live in Los Angeles with Travis's son Hunter (Carson). Hunter was dropped off by Jane (Kinski), who was finding it difficult to take care of him on her own. Jane still deposits various amounts money every month in an account for Hunter.

Hunter (Carson)
Travis and Hunter bonding

Going to Houston to look for his mom
When Travis and Walt make it back to Los Angeles Travis begins to relearn how to be a father to Hunter. Hunter is at first apprehensive, but soon warms to Travis. Travis becomes determined to put back together the pieces of his life and family. The more time he spends with his brother and his wife the more he knows that Hunter should be with his biological mother and he longs for a reunion with Jane. An old family Super 8 movie of Walt, Anne, Travis, Jane, and Hunter back in happier times buoys his perseverance. He finds out from Anne that the deposits that Jane makes are on the same day (the 5th) every month at the same bank. The bank is in Houston. Travis decides to go to Houston and Hunter decides to go with him. They head out on the two lane in his '59 Ford Ranchero.

Travis and Hunter heading to Houston
In Houston, Travis and Hunter, stake out the bank on the 5th of the month.

Jane comes in and makes her deposit and they follow her to an industrial-warehouse-waterfront district peepshow/whorehouse where she works.

Travis tells Hunter to stay in the ranchero and lock the doors. The peepshow consists of various booths that are labeled Pool, Hotel, Diner, et., etc., for whatever erotic fantasy gets your kink on. The girls sit behind a two way mirror and the patrons speak to them over a phone asking them to comply with their requests. Travis going in the back door at first goes to the lounge upstairs and spots Jane wearing a pink dress. Before he can approach her he is ushered away by a pimp. Travis goes into a booth and requests a blond, but another girl shows up dressed as a nurse.

He tries another booth and this time Jane shows up. Their first interaction is awkward, Travis asks if Jane ever screws any of her customers, he wants to know if its cash for gash. She says she doesn't.

Travis is asking because it's a subject that hits pretty close to the original reason their marriage went nuclear. Travis is a jealous man. He leaves the booth gets in the Ranchero with Hunter and splits, heading down the highway. They get about a hundred miles before Travis stops in some one horse town and proceeds to get hammered in the fly speck's Broadway Bar closing the place down. Travis is shitfaced. Hunter supports him and they make their wobbly way to the all night laundry across the street and crash in the lounge.

The Broadway Bar
crashing at the all night laundry lounge
Travis, in the morning, now knows that reuniting his family will never work, he'll just get drunk and jealous and the cycle will start all over again. He heads back to the peepshow with an alternative plan. In his second encounter with Jane the peepshow booth becomes a de facto confessional. Travis turns his chair around so that he cannot see Jane. He begins to tell her a story.

"I knew these people. These two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was very young, about 17 or 18, I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful, you know. And together they turned everything into a kind of adventure. And she liked that. Just an ordinary trip down to the grocery store was full of adventure. They were always laughing at stupid things. He liked to make her laugh, and they didn’t much care for anything else because all they wanted to do was be with each other. They were always together…Yes, they were, they were real happy. And he, he loved her more than he ever felt possible.

He couldn’t stand being away from her during the day when he went to work. So he’d quit, just to be home with her. Then he’d get another job when the money ran out, and then he’d quit again. But pretty soon, she started to worry. Money, I guess. Not having enough. Not knowing when the next check was coming in. So he started to get kind of torn inside. Well, he knew he had to work to support her, but he couldn’t stand being away from her either. And the more he was away from her, the crazier he got, except now, he got really crazy. He started imagining all kinds of things. He started thinking that she was seeing other men on the sly. He’d come home from work and accuse her of spending the day with somebody else. He’d yell at her and break things in the trailer. Yes, they lived in a trailer home…

Anyway, he started to drink real bad, and he’d stay out late to test her, to see if she’d get jealous. He wanted her to get jealous, but she didn’t. She just worried about him but that got him even madder…because he thought if she never got jealous about him, that she didn’t really care about him. Jealousy was a sign of her love for him. And then one night, one night, she told him that she was pregnant. She was about three or four months pregnant. And he didn’t even know, and then suddenly everything changed. He stopped drinking and got a steady job. He was convinced that she loved him now, because she was carrying his child. And he was going to dedicate himself to making a home for her.

But a funny thing started to happen…He didn’t even notice it at first. She started to change. From the day the baby was born, she began to get irritated with everything around her. She got mad at everything. Even the baby seemed to be an injustice to her. He kept trying to make everything all right for her. Buy her things. Take her out to dinner once a week. But nothing seemed to satisfy her. For two years, he struggled to pull them back together like they were when they first met, but finally he knew that it was never gonna work out. So he hit the bottle again. But this time it got mean. This time, when he came home late at night, she wasn’t worried about him, or jealous, she was just enraged. She accused him of holding her captive by making her have a baby. She told him that she dreamed about escaping. That was all she dreamed about: escape. She saw herself at night running naked down a highway, running across fields, running down riverbeds, always running. And always, just when she was about to get away, he’d be there. He would stop her somehow. He would just appear and stop her. And when she told him these dreams, he believed them. He knew she had to be stopped or she’d leave him forever.

 So he tied a cow bell to her ankle so he could hear her at night if she tried to get out of bed. But she learned how to muffle the bell by stuffing a sock into it, and inching her way out of the bed and into the night. He caught her one night when the sock fell out and he heard her trying to run to the highway. He caught her and dragged her back to the trailer, and tied her to the stove with his belt. He just left her there and went back to bed and lay there listening to her scream. Then he listened to his son scream, and he was surprised at himself because he didn’t feel anything anymore. All he wanted to do was sleep. And for the first time, he wished he were far away. Lost in a deep, vast country where nobody knew him. Somewhere without language, or streets. And he dreamed about this place without knowing its name.

And when he woke up, he was on fire. There were blue flames burning the sheets of his bed. He ran through the flames toward the only two people he loved, but they were gone. His arms were burning, and he threw himself outside and rolled on the wet ground. Then he ran. He never looked back at the fire. He just ran. He ran until the sun came up and he couldn’t run any further. And when the sun went down, he ran again. For five days he ran like this until every sign of man had disappeared."

It's one of the great monologues in cinema history.

Jane turns her back to the mirror and tells her own confession.  She wants to see him so she turns off the light. Travis tells her that he brought Hunter back to her and that he is waiting in room 1520 of the Meridian Hotel. Travis waits on the top level of a high rise parking lot and watches the reunion of Hunter and Travis through the hotel window from a distance, a distance that will only get larger in the future. 

So we are left with an ambiguous and noirish ending, Travis is again a voluntary missing person, Hunter has again lost his father, and also the stable caring love of his uncle and aunt, and Jane a peepshow performer is now going to struggle even more than ever to raise her son in a less than ideal environment. 

Screencaps are from the Criterion DVD. 10/10


A bonus sampling of Ry Cooder's opening track for Paris, Texas with some excellent accompanying images below, enjoy.