This movie wasn’t too bad so I’m giving it 3 rounds in the cylinder. That is the least important thing I have to say this week. There were a lot of jokes in my head while I was watching and just as many thoughtful observations about the framing of shots, well written dialogue or heartfelt performances. But there was more sadness than anything else and while I know you all come here for a few laughs and nominal cinematic guidance this week the Watchins will hopefully serve a different purpose.
I Will Fight No More, Forever is a dramatization of Chief Joseph’s attempts to find sanctuary and safety for his band of Nez Perce Native Americans near the conclusion of the war that bore their tribe’s name. The title is based on a quote attributed to Joseph and while it’s up for debate whether he ever uttered those words or not as he finished his speech accepting surrender, what can’t be argued is that our great country was built at great cost. “Live and let live” seems just to apply to the victors and only after they’ve devastated who ever stands in their way. I’m no pacifist, not by a long shot, and tend to favor shock and awe in many of my interpersonal dealings but my heart aches for those people who once called this land home. Their descendants walk this world now mostly as sad shadows corralled in corners far from ancient homesteads. My grandfather would often try to share with me this history. Some of it was his history. But most of the time due to childhood’s apathy I failed to hear a single word. I can’t tell you then if this movie is accurate or just two more hours of Hollywood bullshit.
But I’m gonna change that.
I don’t plan on becoming a great scholar of all things Plains Wars related but I will make sure I’m no longer the naive bastard I currently am. And if you consider yourself a lover of Westerns the I challenge you to go a learn a little something you didn’t know before about the West too. Not because of white guilt (fuck that as hard as it can be fucked) but because you’re a human goddamn being.
I sit here swilling whiskey in my cowboy boots as I type away in air conditioned comfort in a life filled with all sorts of other comforts having never know that much loss and even less true need. I, nor I imagine many of you, can fathom what it would be like to have all you possess taken from you. To watch your family starve. To have your pride slowly strangled at the end of a rope named “progress”. I Will Fight No More, Forever is an average made-for-TV dramatization based on an amazingly powerful and equally sorrowful true story. Made me think about where we came from, and where we’re going. Made me think of where I’m from too, and where I need to find myself now. Keep on watching those movies amigos but take some time to learn some facts along with all our favored fiction. We all do that, we all might just ride a bit more true from this point forward.
Fill yourself with hate
And Life’s loveliest dances
You will never know
Have you ever held your breath for as long as you could? Then, when you finally inhale, it’s just the sweetest air you’ve ever gulped down past your tonsils right? The Gunfighter was that breath of fresh air for me this week. After the rhinoceros ass challenge that was Young Pioneers I needed 180° different and badly. If you haven’t heard of the ”rhinoceros ass challenge” it’s when you shove your head up a rhinoceros’ ass to just sit there confused, uncomfortably surrounded by shit for as long as you can stand or whenever Young Pioneers is over. If you haven’t read last week’s review yet, don’t. Forget I mentioned it or any movie called “Young Pioneers”. Go light your genitals on fire for an hour and a half instead. It makes for a better story and is less painful than having to ever sit through that film. That’s why when my pal Kyle pointed me towards The Gunfighter I approached it as an almost broken man with only the promise of barbecued balls to look forward too.
Young Pioneers was that goddamn bad.
Thankfully The Gunfighter is this goshdurn good.
(Insert Picture HERE!)
Wait, I’m writing this and I don’t have any idea what pictures are going to be where. The Gunfighter is a small independent film that’s been making the festival rounds this season with a healthy bit of promotion behind it so pics are not hard to come by, but, at only eight and a half minutes long, the possibility of spoilers if I post too much is very real. I however am not a very real dick as to post such spoilers for this miniature movie. I mean I have a real dick but he’s not writing this review so we’re all safe. Unless he learns to type I reckon. He’s been into a couple of Rosetta Stone programs lately which is great, having a wise and worldly dick is to be aspired to, but God help him if he starts one of those “learn to type” things. Then he’s gonna get a whuppin’. I’ll agree that image doesn’t really describe a huge punishment except for anyone still reading this and I’ll wager at least one or two brave souls are still about so I’ll stop riding my dick so hard and re-board this train of thought before it comes off the rails completely.
So pictures! You’ll see them soon but, as not to ruin anything, I’ll write the review first. Once that’s done I’ll drop in the four pics I found from the film and one random choice from the internet all in an arbitrary order thus completing my magnum opus of probably a really bad idea-ed-ness. It’s performance art time amigos!
Would you look at that? Every moment in The Gunfighter is sound but this might be one of my favorites. You’re caught off guard the first time our hero, and everyone else in the bar, reacts to the voiceover. A perfectly gruff, whiskey dust in the back of his throat kind of voice thanks to Nick Offerman. I’m not too familiar with the dude but he’s on Parks and Recreation and the internet seems to like him. FYI, some of the internet thinks I’m an asshole but I think that part of the internet is full of shit just like another asshole! I may be an asshole but my ass is filled with, well many things, but one of them is not shit. Metaphorically speaking. Literally/biologically I am functioning well and that’s all I’ll say for now.
Oh man! Things are starting to heat up now right? Our titular slinger of lead is part miffed and part mystified. The otherworldly voice seems to know a whole lot about everybody in this bar including who’s gunning for who, who might be gay and who hasn’t slept with that one guy’s wife (which is no one, because they all have, because she likes sex and so what if you think she’s a slut! We’re all gonna die someday right so the more sex you have now, i.e. before “someday”, the better according to a recent survey question I just asked and answered myself!)
Now the joke we’re all in on, both cast and viewer, that there are no secrets here thanks to an oddly audible narrator could wear thin, and comes close a few times during the production, but the director knows how to keep the funny fires stoked for the most part. I was laughing and enjoying myself instead of crying blood and pissing tears so I knew I wasn’t watching Young Pioneers. What I didn’t know was how the scene would end. Clever set-ups often lead to shitty endings, a smart-ass author realizing too late he’s not smart enough to remove himself gracefully from that corner surrounded by fresh paint. The Gunfighter knew where it stood and where it was headed even if you didn’t.
And the best I must confess, I have saved for the last, for the ruler of this Christmas land is a whore! That’s right, besides the cinematography, sets and solid scripting The Gunfighter features the one thing every movie that means to call itself a “Western” must have. More important than horses, cactus and gun-play and of equal importance to alcohol and gun-play is of course that time honored purveyor of the World’s Oldest Profession: the prostitute. After a week of not one soiled dove in sight watching Young Pioneers here comes Sally to flesh out the whole gang(bang). No sex or nudity is shown in The Gunfighter but it’s alluded to between Sally and this guy. And between that guy and another guy. And between those two guys and a goat. And then a gay goat I think. The script moves easily from one silly (often sexy) shock to the next managing a buildup of increasingly outrageous proportions capped by a fitting release at the finale. It’s not the best cupcake you’ve ever eaten but it’s damn tasty and comes in a really cute box maybe with one of those little character rings smashed into the icing on top that you’ll wear for days to adorably remind yourself of all that you just saw and then ate.
4 rounds for The Gunfighter based on that cupcake metaphor alone! The whole film is really just a metaphor for life if you really think about it or just read the next few lines. It’s short and seems to end before you want it too but actually ends perfectly when it should. It’s adventurous, sexy, confusing, sexually confusing and even a little scary. The omnipotent narrator falls silent and you’re still left to decide for yourself if he’s calling every shot, merely guiding those twitching trigger fingers or just observing like everyone else.
Yeah, it is a lot like life.
But no matter how you see it, we can all agree you only get this one ride. The truths you’ll discover for yourself, out there, are just waiting for you to saddle up and go find them.
Voices in your head or not, today’s a good a day as any to start eh amigos?
Young Pioneers. That is the name of this week’s pain. I haven’t even finished watching it yet, I will, but right now…I…I just can’t. I will finish it of course, that’s my promise to you all and the curse to me-all. I’m only half way through it but here I sit, convinced that when I am done, my theory that this film is the very sphincter through which all monotony, tedium and disinterest comes into the world will stand proven and irrefutable. It is a master class on how not to perform onscreen and some of the actors are so unbelievably terrible I have doubts that they could even function regularly in the real world. That these nimrods remember to breathe while sleeping is proof that a loving God exists and takes pity on the wretched. Beyond that, many of the decisions the characters made were so outrageously, brain-bafflingly, dumb-shitingly stupid that, had actual pioneers made them, we’d have never made it past the west side of Boston much less all the way to the West Coast.
But I’m done joking. I can no longer, in good conscience, continue taking swipes at this dangling turd of a TV movie out of the concern that someone reading this might take my humorous anecdotes as even the slightest of endorsements and decide to track this one done for some yucks. It’s not “so bad it’s good”. It’s so bad it’s the worst goddamn thing you’ve ever seen. Instead, I’ve found a video for you to watch. One that I feel sums up all that Young Pioneers is and all I went through watching it. Enjoy:
Young Pioneers went on to spawn a Christmas special and even attempted a regular weekly series because, despite what I said earlier, God hates us. I never thought it would get worse than Hooded Angels which earned itself a “0″. That’s right, not one single round in the chamber, and yet 0 is still a number and thus means at least some recognition. What to do then for a film that is shittier than the sum of all shits ever shat? Ladies and gentlemen I bring you a new low here at Western Watchins as I proudly and without joy or hesitation award Young Pioneers with exactly what it deserves:
Amigos I was blind but now the scales have fallen from my eyes and I know that as bad as some of these movies get, they could always be worse. It is always blacker than the blackest black times infinity before dawn. After this week, I should have one hell of a sunrise coming my way.
And now I’m off riding true to go and find it. See you next week.
I’m still not sure last weekend actually happened. I got about three hours of sleep Friday night before heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in celebration of a dear friend’s 30th birthday. Nearly constant servings of Butterbeer kept me one whacked out wizard all day but once I got home I was down for 12 hours straight. And I never do that. Had to get my beauty rest, though, as the very next night Angie and I were driving to Tampa for Motley Crüe’s final tour with special guest, Alice Cooper.
I was in for many, many surprises.
I’d never seen either act live and was completely amazed by what I saw. Both Alice’s expert showmanship and Crüe frontman Vince Neil’s complete lack thereof. Alice Cooper is the make-up wearing, child-scarring Godfather of all things macabre-rock. He’s 66 years old, looks twice that number, but kicked so much ass in that amphitheater you’d have figured him for a man half his age. From the moment he appeared you were his and he was yours down to his last sweaty pore. To say there was sort of a connection between Alice and the audience would be like saying that wrapping your dick in tin-foil and fucking a light socket only feels sort of amazing! No, there was an immediate and set lasting connection unlike few, if any, I’ve ever felt. Let’s contrast this for a moment with how Vince worked the crowd.
First of all, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx pretty much look like they always have. Lean and mean and rock and roll. Mick Mars looks like a skeleton with AIDS having a really bad day after a month of bad days after every year of his life having been worse than the one before. He might already be dead with only our love and appreciation animating his tired boney fingers, I can’t be sure, but I can tell you one thing: this poor diseased riddled 63 year old bastard can still fire up such an audio-orgasmic boner the likes of which will fuck your ears to the point they may never fully recover and you’ll be goddamn happy about that fact. Three-quarters then of Motley Crüe sound just as great now as they did back in 1981. Not so for their lead singer who sounded about as bombastic as a ghost passing gas behind closed doors. And, on top of all that, he looked like this:
You think I’m kidding but here’s the band. From left to right there’s Nikki, Tommy, Mick and on the end like some confused elderly woman out looking for mimosas in her mumu is Vince Neil. What at first we all thought was a tech issue we quickly realized was not at all a tech issue. Vince was embarrassingly out of shape and while there have been some successful plus size entertainers, such as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and that ball from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mr. Neil is not among them. If you’re heavy set and perfectly happy? Good for you! I wasn’t when I was big, so I changed because I wanted that for myself, did it for myself and nobody else; which is how it always should be and usually the only way the changes remain permanent. If, however, you’re the lead singer of a balls-to-the-wall, high-speed hair-metal band you might want to be at least in shape enough to make it through one damn song before you’re winded. Watching him struggle was no fun. Whole lines were mumbled, rushed or forgotten entirely. ”Kickstart my Heart” takes on an ominously defibrillatory tone when the guy singing it is covered in cold sweat and clutching his chest. Alice Cooper had a huge animatronic Frankenstein puppet thing that moved its awkward girth about the stage with more conviction and class than Vince ever managed to muster at any point during the evening.
And you laugh for a spell then you think about what each guy, Alice and Vince, are telling you with their performances. He said he was happy to still be alive but Vince had little respect for himself and even less for the audience. One guy is honest with himself, about his abilities and what he has to offer and he blows your mind. The other guy isn’t and just blows.
I touched on this last time we talked but honesty is above all else the quality you must embrace and enact if you’re to be deeply fulfilled in this life. The cosmic conjunction of kismet that’s surrounded me since AFO continued dead center of the lawn seating at the Cooper/Crüe concert when two college guys sitting in front of us began chatting with Angie and I. At one point, and for whatever reason, one of them looked at me and said “I want to see you up there. I would pay to see you up on that stage just talking!” He stared at me with this mixture of reverence and desire. It was unsettling but once again I felt right there what I’d felt back at the con. Maybe I’m not the best host in the world (I am!) but people sure seem to give a shit about what I’m saying (many shits, in fact!). I’m impressed and encouraged that even in the middle of nowhere God, the universe or whatever is still hounding me to get off my ass and do what I’m meant to do. You’re thinking “Chris, it was probably just some random and drunken adoration between single serving friends” and I think “who the hell said that?” and “you might be right!” But then later, on the way home whilst stuck in some godawful traffic, I see a tweet about a Gen Con event I used to emcee, the tweeter mentioning me by name as he laments how that show has suffered and is just not the same since I was unceremoniously removed from the mic. Now the encouragement has become most impressive.
Maybe I’m not so full of me as much as I’m full of something inexplicable but undeniable, something I enjoy giving and people sure as hell enjoy getting. I’ve heard so many comments recently confirming that tweet’s sentiment from mentors, friends, close and casual fans and even some individuals very close to my former adult entertainment associates; and while I do believe there’s a time for everything wasting any more of it on former friends does no good whatsoever. For me, those around me, or the world at large. Trust me, I’ve imagined unleashing jokes, tweets and Facebook posts filled with curb-stomping, cancer and laughable coital catastrophe with every intention to make those who attacked my wife and I hurt just as deeply as they’ve hurt us. I don’t at all claim to be above those kinds of actions but, at least in this instance, I’ve never ripped into those responsible in a fashion fully deserved by their cruelty. For that I’m proud. And from that I am so much the better.
Yes, so much better to go on as I have. If AFO and all this continued confirmation have proven anything to me it’s that being the better man leads to a better life. I will pick myself up by the bootstraps to go find and sing from a thousand microphones replacing the single one cowardly taken from my hand. There’s something in me, something like Alice has, that transcends simply being a commanding public speaker. At the end of the show were they glad to hear you or just glad you shut the fuck up? When all is said and done you want the crowd to know a little more about themselves and that they were right next to you, hand in hand, the entire show. I don’t know how it’s done, what that x-factor is, but my friend Sally, whom I mentioned last week, had this insight and reminded me thus:
“Well Chris, it’s not about your jokes or your speeches. It’s what you DO. Think about it. You and Angie go and DO all these wonderful things! You go places, you do things, and you inspire us to do the same!”
Both Alice and Motley Crüe were singing the same songs in largely the same way as they have been doing for decades. The difference between Alice’s unforgettable turn and Vince’s tired and traumatic attempt boiled down to honesty. Alice is still cock of the walk while Vince is just the brunt of jokes from critics, fans and his own bandmates. Both have a lifetime’s worth of extravagance and swank to wield upon any audience. One guy still cares enough to do so, the other has deluded himself into feeling like he’s so great he doesn’t have to care at all. Alice wasn’t that one moment on stage, he was the indescribable sum of all he’d done up to that point and what’s more, he was letting you in on it. No, fuck that, he was reaching out and grabbing you by the throat and dragging you emotionally up on stage with him. His show was about your goddamn good time. Ever talk to one of those people that when they’re done you realize about 92% of the conversation was about them? And if you got a word in edgewise they’d already heard about the same thing or done it all before and better than you could ever hope to do it? Those people aren’t there for you. They’re not there to listen and truly interact. They’re talking to convince themselves just how important, impressive and accomplished they are.
Alice has done it all but he also wants that for you. Vince has done it all too but he just wants you to kiss his ass. The former inspires, the latter insults.
Vince was deaf to the crowd and pulled the wool over his own eyes to eek his way (just barely) through a 20 song or so set list. He figures his fame and rep will get him through and since he was so awesome back then he doesn’t even need to try now. Alice stood up there and merged himself sonically with the crowd, riding that throbbing dick made of maddening decibels to fuck the fuck out of the whole fucking world! Only way I reckon he could look himself in the mirror afterwards and know he gave you everything is if he actually did. Alice is one honest mother with himself. I challenge myself every day to be the same.
And I ask the same of you.
If you don’t like the direction your life is headed in, if you know you want something more, then go in a different direction. Go get your “more”. And if you don’t like what you see on whatever stage, stop going to see the show. Rock stars, cable networks, movie studios and yes, even your friendly neighborhood provider of convention based entertainment, none of these entities will take any notice or give any fucks at all until you take a stance and then actually stand behind it.
My time, money and effort are worth more to me than mediocre. I live life unashamed and give all I got. I expect the same from my pastimes and entertaining distractions. I would see Alice Cooper again without a second thought, Motley Crüe (all due respect to Tommy, Nikki and Mick) not so much. In everything you take in and everything you put out, you’ve got a choice too. Between boldness and boredom, between encouragement and apathy, between sincerity and farce.
When words are written, spoken or sung, it’s the heart behind them that’ll make the difference every single time.