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This Film Festival’s Not for Sissies … or Steven Seagal’

Posted in humour,movies,satire by YTAH on July 16, 2008
Tags: , , , ,

Like Canada, and Italy, and various otherwise-fine places around the globe, there are many shitty things about living in Cape Town. This includes the retarded service, and the retards serving you; The ridiculously high beer prices; The people; The small-town, third-world, spaced-out, stoner-haze mentality; The city planning by rabid spider monkeys on crack; Capetonians generally. In fact, the only place I’ve visited that I disliked more on first sight was Edinburgh, and that’s because my first experience with that allegedly fine city involved a smelly room in a cheaply-run-but-hopelessly-expensive guest house, a jammed window, and a pile of sweat-drenched socks that some primeval yeti deposited there aeons ago but which, thanks to the oppressive humidity, had not yet petrified.

‘You can’t stop here … this is banana country.’

Not being Capetonian by birth and yet, as you know, prone to strong opinions, there are times where I’m fucking convinced I’d be better off living someplace else. Being a well-seasoned traveller – someone who has single-handedly journeyed to the shopping centre at the end of the street, battling the elements and the slow-moving cunts on the sidewalk in order to purchase travel guides on the wonders of Paris and Peru; a modern Cousteau, who has bravely sat through entire episodes of the Discovery Channel series on Mount Everest, and who fearlessly skimmed an issue of National Geographic about the glories of the Himalayas; an indomitable explorer who has watched The Life Aquatic seven times in one sitting – being, as it were, a man of my time, I have seen numerous places I’d rather live. Hawaii. Honduras. Enchanting Sudan.

Pervert the movieAnother excellent film.

But, for once, something actually went right in this piece of crap town that I’ve been indoctrinated into calling “home”. And it happened in the most unexpected place: the cinema – you know, that venue where the most foolish of mortals congregate to annoy the living crap out of their more intelligent cousins several rungs up the evolutionary ladder. In any event. Last week I gave a shameless plug to the X-Fest, which promised a variety of movies that were either in bad taste, called Bad Taste, or a combination of the two. And Christ, did they deliver; indeed, Peter Jackson’s contribution to the festival’s fare was one of these happy combinations of low standards and great fun. (Rare it is, in a blood-spattered movie, that you find yourself wishing: “More gore! More! More!” [Although not quite as rare as it is to wish for more Gore in an environmental documentary, but still.]) Anyhow, Jackson’s turn came much later.

Sick, Oh

It all started, like so many worthy things, on a Friday evening. It also, more unusually, featured several crates’ worth of beer and a crowd of prurient louts, who had made the pilgrimage to the Labia on Orange to watch the runner-ups for this year’s exploitation movie of the year, no doubt as a result of last week’s column. Loathe as I am to admit this, sitting in a crowded theatre with a bunch of drunk(ish) yobbos for once improved the filmgoing experience – nay, made it; and for several hours we all enjoyed the Grindhouse experience, with everyone (yours truly included) groaning, laughing, and applauding at various intervals. Tarantino shoulda been there. I don’t think anyone will ever enjoy Death Proof more than this, since the carnival atmosphere gave the patently manipulative film the necessary context of pulpy fun. (Please note, however, that this is the exception, not the rule. Try this during The Dark Knight and it will be your last, you hear me.)

Of course, the fact that Ster-Kinekor had given them the full-length version of both films, with one measly trailer (by Rodriquez himself), instead of the shortened films plus all six trailers, meant that we didn’t get the true Grindhouse experience T&R had originally planned, which supports my theory that S-K and the Weinsteins are in a secret cabal against us. It also meant that I missed Sick, which is one of the great tragedies of modern existence. (Missing the film, not the film itself. Bob Flanagan is more incendiary than Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and Bill Hicks combined, so you could see why I’d like him.)

Self-portraitThe Artist with Self-Portrait: Confounding his critics again.

However, later in the festival I had the opportunity to compensate myself for this, at least partly, by seeing a different documentary about another of the great cultural icons of the 20th century. I am referring of course to world-renowned musician, environmentalist, spiritualist, and guru, the esteemed Charles Manson. Now I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Despite his critics in the media, he is a man of diverse character whose only crime is that his deeply spiritual beliefs and humanity once led him to found a self-sustained community of like-minded rebels and loners. Was it his fault they all went on a crazy killing rampage? Did he ever tell his followers, in the nights gathered around the communal fire in the caves scattered throughout the hills around an abandoned dude ranch, after a long day of practicing their target shooting and converting dune buggies into anti-apocalypse armed vehicles: “Go forth and massacre this random bunch of whores and thieves and drug-dealers”? Well okay maybe, but is that a crime? Wouldn’t you want to kill the rival dealer or someone who dissed your last album? Besides, I mean, who likes pregnant people anyway?

Unfortunately, Charlie’s more freewheeling exploits have overshadowed his true love: music. As he says proudly in the interview which makes up most of the aptly-titled Charles Manson Superstar, “Music is my religion. I am music.” Originally a folksinger, he is a true visionary, unafraid to explore new musical genres – even incorporating freestyle rap into his act (as demonstrated in this marvellous film). Music represents his connection with the “straight” world, which he regards as a pale shadow-copy of the true world that exists only in the correctional system, or what he calls “the hallways of always”. Speaking about his approach to his music, he says, “My relationship to music is completely subliminal, it just flows through me.” As a painter, he also designs his own album covers, for example that of his latest release, from which came the acclaimed hit single, “Does My Crazy Look Big in This?”

Man's SonGet your personal Jesus here!

As a deeply sensitive human being, he is innately concerned with the well-being of his fellow man. Not content to touch people with his music, he can also reach out to them with his mind – surely the sign of a truly spiritual man. In the words of Charles Manson, “Look down at me and you see a fool; look up at me and you see a god; look straight at me and you see yourself.”

Album coversThe soundtrack to Chuck’s prison outreach program, & Mr Manson’s most recent album.

He is perhaps the only living person whose accomplishments and genius could compare to that of Mr Steven Seagal. Just like Steven Seagal, Charles Manson is not willing to let people’s preconception of him ruin his enlightened state of being. Just like Steven Seagal, he is a man whose concern for the world has manifested itself in the creation and support of environmental charities across the globe. And just like Steven Seagal, Charles is a man who is an expert in the Martial Arts, especially focussing on Loo Knee, a unique blend of karate and mime, which he demonstrated several times during the interview as a way to stretch his muscles.

LIEHis not-at-all-scary debut album.

Unfairly branded an outlaw, an outcast, a radical, yes – even a maniac, “Uncle Charlie” (as he is affectionately known by the other inmates) has always been a kind and gentle soul. Unswervingly supportive of family values; so earnestly law-abiding that on his first album he even admonishing the youth, “Don’t do anything illegal.” Now I ask you: does that sound like the behaviour of a criminal? It is with great gratitude and admiration that we applaud the makers of this fine film for enlightening us about the plight of this unjustly persecuted genius.

(By the way, if you take any of the above seriously, you’re as un-fucking-hinged as Mr Manson himself. He’s a certified lunatic; what’s your excuse?)

If you didn’t attend the festival, you’re a fucking cunt. However, the fact that you missed out on these excellent films is your just punishment for being so goddamn pathetic.

[Originally posted on africans.co.za on Wednesday, April 02, 2008.]

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