Friday, March 28, 2008

Condor, You Shall Fly Again!

So now you can have your ashes launched to the moon. I don't feel the need to say much about this, but am instead using it as an excuse to plug one of my favortie (and one of the least talked-about) films of all time: Tony Richardson's The Loved One.
This is the picture Richardson decided to make after winning two of Tom Jones's four Oscars (Best Picture and Director both went to him). Haven't seen Jones? Go see it. The chicken scene is still as sexy and funny as ever. So Richardson comes off of a huge double whammy and has something close to carte blanche. He decides to adapt Evelyn Waugh's black comedy about the undertaking business in Hollywood. He does this with the help of screenwriter Terry Southern (who had just co-written Dr. Strangelove), and a cast that includes Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters (my favorite madman and Robin Williams's mentor), Milton Berle, James Coburn, Sir John Gielgud, Roddy McDowall, Rod Steiger, a young Paul Williams, and yes, Liberace. Some phrases I'll throw out to entice you: "Mama's little Joy-Boy want lobster," "last one in the box is a bad boy," "they told me you were hung with red protruding eyeballs and black protruding tongue." And Mr. Joyboy's mother... omg... one of the most amazing screen concoctions ever.
As if you need to know any more than that, the film bombed because it was a bit too grotesquely grim (even by today's standards, it makes Six Feet Under look like the bastion of good taste). It's hysterical, sad, twisted, and gorgeous (Haskell Wexler shot some amazing black and white). As much a meditation on the death of the golden age of Hollywood as it is about the commodification of mortality (and immortality), I think it still holds up, despite some moments that seem forever trapped in the 60's. Go see it, and you'll get the connection to the moon ashes article.