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Speeding Into Madness with Friedkin’s Bugged Out Lovers

Sent From: Murphy Hooker’s Wireless Handheld Device (4:28 p.m.) 6/2/2007

Greetings and salutations* from the damask-drenched dungeon of a narcoleptic flibbertigibbet whose insatiable sex drive, dizzy disposition and chain-smoking Chihuahua-esque countenance makes the archetypical female neurotic Annie Hall, look like Cher after nine Drambuie
cocktails …

Yes, it’s 4pm on Sunday and yes, I’m being held hostage (again), this time chained to a debutante’s Barbara Berry bed clad in half-a-toga. Don’t ask, but it appears, if I ever get out of this claustrophobic, haute couture hell hole, your favorite Gonzo Film Scribe will be spending the rest of the week washing glitter from my hair while piecing together the tattered remains of another Lost Weekend in The City … go figure.

I know what you film geeks are saying, cut the shit Phil …* what’s new in the theater this week? Short answer: nothing. Long answer … seeing as I’m chained to a designer bedpost, let me throw you an Indie bone. The debutante’s dungeon is surprisingly stocked with a Sunday Chronicle and some light reading would be a welcome distraction from the four hour pedicure … if I could just, reach, the bedside table ...


courtesy of Lions Gate Films

Unnerved, Huffing On Bug Spray

Feeling a little claustrophobic yourself? Then soak in a dysfunctional love story from a long-lost director from my favorite cinematic decade, the 1970s.  Being a disciple of Burroughs’ Sardonic Philosophy, when I think of buggery in movies, I think Cronenberg, Weller and Mugwumps, oh my! But ah, no … Hold your hats Kafka-ites, there is another ...* bug on the scene I mean, and it’s coming from a good source, the hard-edged old boot Billy Friedkin, or Mr. Lansing to you … 

The quintessential 70s anti-aesthete, Friedkin, The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971), Sorcerer (1977) is back and gritty as ever with Bug (2007). If you dug films like The Machinist, Spider or Naked Lunch, then slouch on down to your local Indie Plex to get dirty with Billy Boy’s cast of paranoid freaks. Tracy Letts from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater has masterfully adapted his off-the-deep-end, off-Broadway play about a hard livin’, hard sufferin’ waitress at a lesbian honky-tonk (Ashley Judd) who hooks up with an A.W.O.L. vet (Michael Shannon) with a secret.

When the “bugs” start appearing after the mad couple first makes love, he points out an aphid on his pillow and she can’t see a thing, or can she? Soon bugs are everywhere. Judd’s motel room is transformed into a mad bunker, a jungle of flypaper covered in aluminum. As the couple dives headfirst into a conspiracy theorist’s bizarre fever-dream, the pair scratches until sores appear, he uses a knife to dig out eggs sacs from beneath the surface of his skin and, as you might guess, things start to get really, really weird …


courtesy of Lions Gate Films

Bug
is Ashley Judd’s movie. After getting bottom tier roles for years, she nails her part to the wall with a 50-foot flyswatter.  If this were Hollywood’s Golden Era, some would liken her to a young Barbara Stanwyck – but this is 2007 and no one under 40 even remembers Babs so I’ll shut up with my esoteric film references already … Just know Bug is (I never thought I would say this) a Judd tour-de-force and the film Friedkin fans have been waiting for, for 25 years. Filled with intense edge and relentless paranoia, it’s definitely worth a view if you aren’t chained to a Barbara Berry bed clad in a half-toga ...

Until Thursday, this is Poppa H signing off. Be bad and get into trouble baby*.

Film Happenings Round Town

•    Wednesday (6/7) – Bernard Herrmann Double Feature at the Castro
•    Cape Fear (1962)?: Dir. Thompson - ?A heaving film noir masterpiece, Gregory Peck meets the seething embodiment of evil, Robert Mitchum, a rapist he put behind bars years ago. Now a free man, Mitchum’s Max Cady terrorizes the Counselor’s family to the delight of moviegoers. Herrmann’s score is so essential Scorsese used it in the DeNiro/Nolte remake.
•    On Dangerous Ground? (1952): Dir. Ray - Ryan is a cop who finds his soul through a relationship with a blind Lupino. Hard as nails romantic noir, it’s another Nicholas Ray subterranean classic.

Volume 15 Footnotes
•    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater channeling Jack Nicholson to Winona Ryder.
•     “Cut the shit Phil ….” – The Player (1993): Producer, Tim Robbins’ secret stalker eulogizes the martyred screenwriter David Kahane in the Altman classic.
•    “There is another …” – The Empire Strikes Back (1980): Sage Yoda to the Ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi, knee-deep in the muck of the Dagobah System Swamplands.
•    “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.