No One Impersonates Steve McQueen ... No One
Over the weekend, I was inexplicably compelled to live out a movie-inspired dream I had while living in Los Angeles. It began with a reenactment of the greatest car chase in film history, which occurred in SF exactly 39 years ago over Easter weekend. The movie: Bullitt (1968), the bad ass: Steve McQueen, who plays a loose-cannon SF cop who takes the law into his own calloused hands at every screeching plot turn. If you liked The Departed, check out how O.G. McQueen rolls. Doing his own stunts, he makes DiCaprio and Damon look like sniveling choirboys.
In an attempt to become MRF McQueen for a day, I wrangled a 68 Ford Mustang GT and 68 Dodge Charger from a motor-head chum who insanely agreed to let me chase him across town at high speeds. Due to a lingering concussion, my memory of the “incident” is a blur of scorched rubber and Tazer burns so I won’t list the infractions. But to the surprise of few, after getting some major air, our smoking engines flamed out at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Who could have predicted we’d blow past 17 off-duty CHP officers partying on one of those Rolling Cable Cars. I mean what are the odds? My two-man celebration, honoring the 39th Anniversary of the filming of the Bullitt Car Chase had ended in disappointment. I staggered out of my smoldering Mustang and scurried away from what some might classify as an “angry mob” around the time when the Cable Car CHiPs rolled in to cuff-and-stuff me like 17 Roscoe P. Coltranes on 11 cases of Anchor Steam.
There’s a Lesson Here: Don’t try this at home, kids. The applause I heard that day, well, it wasn’t the applause I heard in my dream. Dreams lie, even when they’re lucid and appear fun and you get to act like Steve McQueen. I have 57 tickets, 4,800 hours of community service and a Denver boot welded to my gas pedal foot to prove it ...
Revisiting the Collected Works of Stanley Kubrick
Why do so many auteur directors, Terence Malick, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, P.T. Anderson, take so damn long to make another movie? These guys have the keys to the kingdom, the world’s greatest magic box. What gives, auteurs? Some attribute it to the “artistic process” while others speak the truth. “Part fear, part showmanship,” Bronx, NY native Stanley Kubrick revealed when posed the question a few months before he died in 1999.
Though we’d have liked to have seen more, he made only six movies in his last 30 years, I'll never stop bowing at the Kubrick Altar. I know what some of you are saying: His movies are too cerebral, too long and boring. Well stop whining and trust me, will ya? Rent Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre again and again and again—until you get it. Why? Because one day, you will.
If you’re too young or old to have experienced one of the midnight shows of A Clockwork Orange back in the day, you missed a cinematic freak show that was so legendary, half the audience in Ft. Worth, Texas, showed up wearing oversized athletic cups on the outside of their Von Erich wrestling pants. That just doesn’t happen anymore, people.
All kidding aside, audiences rioted in England, lads died; the movie was pulled from theaters. Here in the U.S. and especially in Texas, everyone dropped acid, smoked grass—then beat ass. I was only 10 at the time and was merely a terrified, fascinated observer, but what I gleaned was, in a gang fight between the audiences of A Clockwork Orange vs. The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Clockwork wins.
So appreciate the man’s 16 films. They’re prescient, meticulous, spellbinding, visually haunting, coldly emotional and F’in hilarious. Fifty David Finchers on steroids couldn’t hold Kubrick’s lens cap. Rent the following three films. If you don’t like them, you can punch me in the face.
Until we meet again next week, be bad and, get into trouble, baby.*
Prime Kubrick Cuts
• Barry Lyndon (1975) – Ryan O’Neil (Stop your moaning; it’s an epic visual masterpiece.)
• Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Slim Pickens (Boffo entertainment that’s decades ahead of it’s time.)
• Lolita (1962) – Peter Sellers, Shelley Winters (Peter Sellers as Claire Quilty: now that’s comedic heaven.)
“Happenings” Around Town
• Thursday (4/19) – Identification of a Woman (1982), Dir. Antonioni – Castro Theater
• Sunday (4/22), Monday (4/23) – El Topo (1970), Dir. Jodorowsky – Red Vic
• Sunday (4/22) – Fidelity and Betrayal: Variations on the Remake – MoMa Double Feature
- Invisible Adversaries (1976), Dir. Export
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Dir. Siegel
Volume 2 Footnotes*
• “Let’s get into trouble, baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.