Daily Archives: February 11, 2009

movie log: Gas Food Lodging (1992)

Seen February 7, 2009: Gas Food Lodging directed by Allison Anders, starring Brooke Adams, Ione Sky, and Fairuza Balk, and with a bunch of supporting actors including James Brolin, Robert Knepper, Donovan Leitch (the one who is Sky’s brother, not her father), and others.

Skye and Balk play two teenage sisters, Trudi and Shade Morton, who live in a trailer with their mother Nora (Brooke Adams) in a dry, desert, go-nowhere town in the southwestern US. Shade is fascinated by an actress in a series of Mexican soap-opera-ish movies with fancy costumes and highly dramatic dialog. This diversion apparently provides her some escape from her plain reality. The three women are often at odds, with worries about money, about men and boys, and from being cooped up in close quarters, sometimes crossing boundaries in roles of mother or sister or daughter. Outside of their family circle each has to deal with other individuals from the town, from the past, from outside their immediate environment.

I wanted to see this for the main actors: in particular I’m a fan of Fairuza Balk and Ione Sky. In the end, though, that’s all I got out of it. I found it to be a rough collection of events and episodes and characters, none of which seemed to go anywhere or relate to any other element in the film. I don’t have a problem with slice-of-life films where there’s not much point other than looking at the subject characters. There are such movies that are among my favorites. There doesn’t have to be a point, but there has to be something. A theme, some cohesion, some transition. Maybe something else. Maybe something undefinable – but at any rate something that didn’t hit me in this movie. Nothing seems to click, e.g. Shade’s obsession with the Mexican films seems to have no influence on her or on the story. Everyone and every event passes by without really touching anyone except perhaps in physical ways. Nobody seems worth knowing, or helping. There’s occasional wistful voice-over dialog by Shade’s character that seems completely out of touch with the movie; its only affect was to make me wonder if maybe it was useful in the book on which this movie was based. I dunno, maybe it’s something in my genes. Judging by a brief scan over comments in the IMDB, it’s mostly women that like it, and mostly men that, like me, don’t get it. For that matter, I don’t even get the title.

movie log: Strangers on a Train (1951)

Seen January 31, 2009: Strangers on a Train directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Farley Granger and Robert Walker.

This is a famously classic Hitchcock suspense movie that begins with an encounter on a train; two men: one, Guy Haines (Granger), a well-known tennis player and the other, Bruno Anthony (Walker), a graspingly adoring fan. Bruno relates a hypothetical plan that he has imagined two strangers could undertake, and as the movie continues and the strangers part ways, it appears that he wasn’t just being frivolous. I’m not going to get into the story more than that, but I will say that this film is highly deserving of its reputation including (both in the reputation and the deserts) the performance by Robert Walker.

Private Lightning strike

The other day I ran across a great find: a new blog — here — by Steve Keith, ex-member of Private Lightning, a Boston-area band from the late 1970s and early 1980s. He’s also made a great collection of their music online (linked from that blog), and suggests that he will not only be adding more but sharing some reminiscences.

Private Lightning was one of my favorite local bands from that era. (It also curiously provided an early point of commonality with a couple of friends that I met at two different software contracting jobs way back then). I’ve long wished that some of their music was available in digital format, and from time to time (say, annually) have gone searching the web for news of same, always to give up and vow to one day digitize what I have on vinyl (those being: their 1980 album release, a 45 single, and a couple of tracks on a “Live at the Metro” LP). The other day, a woot offering of a fairly inexpensive USB turntable prompted me to go another search, apparently on the very day on which Steve started his blog.

What joy! Private Lightning ought, I think, to have had great success. An older posting by Steve that I’ve run across before, here, on a New England Music Scrapbook site, might explain why great fame did not come, as might another posting by Joe Viglione here. Who can say? Those have some sad reflections, but there’s been a lot of water under the bridge at this point, and I’m just happy to now be able to hear some of their familiar tunes plus many that are new to me. Thanks, Steve.