I have crushed harder on Linda Ronstadt than any other female celebrity ever. I loved her back in the 70s; I still do. That is really not much of an admission for a person my age to make because back when she was the most famous singer in the world it was like Willie Nelson said, "There's only two kind of men in the world, those who crush on Linda Ronstadt, and those who never heard of her."
And it's not like I haven't crushed on famous females before. I remember being young and watching Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliette, and falling head over heels in love with Olivia Hussey for better than a month. Linda was different though. I don't think God ever created a more perfect blend of beauty, goodness, and talent. He broke the mold, and it's a God-damn pity that future generations will think that the Taylor Swifts, Pinks, Gagas and Cardi Bs of the world are the epitome of female musical ability.
Ronstadt has an entire catalogue of powerful love ballads, all capable of making the hair on the top of your head tingle with electricity. My favorite will always be "Love Has No Pride" on her Don't Cry album. I listened to that song over and over again just to hear that plaintive wail "If you want me to beg, I'll fall down on my knees and ask for you to come back, I'll be pleading for you to come back." It always made me want to scream, "Don't do it, don't do it, Linda. Mother fucker ain't worth it," while, at the same time, secretly wishing I was the one who had the power to elicit such a heartfelt plea.
The just released documentary of Ronstadt's rise to success Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is both a wonderful way to reconnect with her music or to become acquainted with her voice, in case you have been hiding under a rock somewhere or somehow believe that the shit that passes for quality nowadays, actually is.
The movie uses video clips and old pictures to explore her beginnings as a native Arizonan born and raised a short distance from the border with Mexico. One of the most poignant scenes is when she recorded the album Canciones De Mi Padre and took it on tour to honor her Mexican Father and her own roots. As she described how much she loved her father and how his death affected her, I have to admit I cried quite openly. And I don't think that anybody who sees this movie and who has lost a father will escape this fate.
Throughout the movie, the viewer gets a strong sense of what it must have been like to have grown up in such a strong, loving family. It shows up in every part of her life and in how she handled success, friendships, professional relationships, and setbacks. Back in the day, Ronstadt was the most beautiful, desirable woman alive (her eyes still radiate beauty), and a large part of her appeal obviously came from the inside.
I recently saw the movie Judy about Judy Garland's tragic life, and the parallels are clearly contrasted and defined. The Sound of My Voice has extraordinary value in this fact alone, it is a paean to the value of family and the values that are instilled from good parenting just as the Garland movie shows what can happen whenever this is lacking.
When the film talks about Ronstadt's' relationships with other talented people like Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, it made me feel good that they had found each other and supported each other in a business that is known to be very brutal and callous at times. It's been a very long while since I could say that about a movie, as far too much of what comes out of Hollywood now seems to prefer to make me feel lousy about being human.
The ending is sad because it shows how much of Ronstadt's amazing voice has been lost to the ravages of Parkinsons. She handles it so well in public by acknowledging how grateful she is for her long career. Her friend Emmylou, however, breaks down when talking about her friend's great loss.
Despite the sad ending, this is still a feel good trip to the theater. It is an uplifting look at the life of a truly remarkable woman, a strong, powerful, real woman who never had to don a pair of superhero's tights or wear a mask. A woman who competed against men, butted heads with men, but never seem to hate anyone and because of that is venerated, loved and respected by every one who came into her life, ex-lovers included.
If I ever got within hearing range of Linda Ronstadt, I would fall at her feet and sing at the top of my voice, "If you want me to beg, I'd fall down on my knees."
Nah, fuck that. I wouldn't want her to think I was crazy. Infatuated maybe, crazy no.
The world is so crazy nowadays that you are made to feel quite priggish for pointing out the flaws of a movie like this, but you should also feel guiltier if you don't. Moviegoers have gotten quite used to feeling slimed, so much so, that even though the slime is always there, we no longer think of it as as a something bad, more like sunscreen or something.
Hollywood has gotten pretty ingenious over the years in knowing just how much shit they can put in a milkshake without taking away the sweetness. And there is a core of sweetness at the center of this story; it involves friendship, the loss of innocence, and trying to stay pure while the world around you goes fucking nuts.
The producers push all the right buttons to make sure that the audience knows it is there. In this regard, it is somewhat realistic. I can remember the time period and the feeling of never, ever being myself, bouncing off walls, and not being able to get my feet back under me until several years after I got married.
The problem is that it is sweetness double wrapped in shit jokes, cum jokes, penis jokes, porn jokes, and jokes about kids innocently playing with sex toys. I'll give the writers a heads up, no young girl playing a six grader should ever be made to pretend that anal beads are a necklace from her boyfriend and then shown to wrinkle her nose at the smell of shit as she tries to put it on. I have to wonder about her parents. Did they even read the script?
This goes way beyond the pale. So much so, that it actually marks a big moment in cinematic history when the audience could for the first time actually see what's on the screen and also behind the scene of the movie being made simultaneously and to watch a bunch of writers and producers laughing and patting each other on the back while playing in in their own shit and thinking it is funny.
I saw them there. They were bald and toothless with bloodshot demented looking eyes, and their hands and mouths were all covered with flies. I'm sure that they all would argue that they don't look anything like what I just described, yet I would argue back, "But you do; you surely do."
On the drive home, I apologized to myself for choosing this movie. I try to be open minded about things and not to constantly react like a prude, but when I think how far these greedy assholes have pushed the envelope of normalcy, I get very angry, mainly at myself for lacking the courage to be seen standing at the barricades.
I know that kids now days have access to things that they are far too young to be seeing. They cannot be completely shielded from its effects as there are plenty of parents who haven't ever grown up and lost their fascination with dick jokes and potty humor and see nothing wrong with their kids ruining it for everybody else.
A lot of people will tell me to shut up and mind my own business. Good advice probably, and I'll probably get around to it someday, but only after I inform them that they can pretend as much they they want; they are still big part of the damned problem.
All the argument boils down to is that truth remains the truth no matter how sleek, jaded and sophisticated we think we are, and we can argue all we want about our inability to stop the inevitable onslaught of modernity. One day, however, all our justifications will appear about as mindless and evil as the people who wrote this script, and we will be forced to look at our self in the mirror. Will we be balding and toothless then with blood shot demented looking eyes and smelly fingers? Only time will tell.
We don't provide our kids near enough help for dealing with the flood of sewage they will face; we provide only platitudes and fake sincerity. "Get their consent first," is the phrase that the movie keeps uttering in a weak attempt to be PC. Yep, get their consent and then hand them some anal beads to wear as a necklace.
We could stop this if we wanted; the fact that somebody ran this pile of shit past some bigwig and then got the go ahead to make it, tells me we don't really want to make it go away.
What's next, a take off of the Hangover movies filmed at a elementary school in Beverly Hills? Fifty Shades of Gray Crayolas?
Good Boys is lost episode of Leave it to Beaver wrapped inside a R rated movie. I apologize for bringing it to your attention.
I think that pretty much anyone who has seen this movie has pretty much already awarded the Academy Award for best actress to Renee Zellweger. There are a lot of times that she eerily crosses over into actually channeling Garland on the screen.
The movie is very well made too. It is seamless which is pretty impressive considering the amount of musical numbers it contains. I've read one review where the movie is criticized for focusing more on the tragedy of Garland's life than actually presenting her as a real, flesh and bone human being. I cry bullshit on that. Garland's life was nothing, if not a tragedy, and if anything, the film took it a bit easy on her, choosing to present her as feminist martyr of sorts to the way they made movies when she first became a star.
The familiar tropes of a pushy, stage door mother and a crude, ham fisted studio mogul (Louis B. Mayer) are used to give her fans an excuse for Garland's erratic behavior. There is truth to this, no doubt. She was introduced to drugs as a means to control her weight by the powers who ran MGM, and she always felt that her mother cared more about money than she did about her.
But this in no way absolves her, as the film attempts to do, of her own egregious choices and preference for marrying bad men. Plenty of people have been hamstrung in life by circumstances and by people who only want to use them. Most of them don't end up drug addicts and alcoholics who toss their God given talents away.
Garland had her share of demons, a lot of us do. To pretend that being famous gives a person more latitude for bad behavior is simply a false idea. We may love them more for their beauty, but we should always hold them to the same standard as the rest of us. It might actually help them if we do.
The film does well in telling Judy's story in a kind of a shorthand. It depicts her doomed efforts to be a good mother and also shows how much that the people around her had to deal with in order to try and help her. It powerfully evokes the spirit of the London shows where she performed during what must have been the saddest period of her life when she was trying to regain her relevancy and financial footing while at the same time her life was spinning hopelessly out of control.
The film ultimately is about human life and how we choose to live it. It took a great deal of grit and determination to be Judy Garland. It also takes a great deal of grit and determination to be an ordinary human being. Judy is a cautionary tale to be sure, a warning to us all about the price of trying to stand out from the crowd, but the film, and Judy's life also shows us that things of immense beauty and importance can be engendered by great suffering and pain.
I highly recommend this movie. Zellweger is wonderful. The script is excellent, the acting even better, and on the whole, the movie is very well crafted. It is a powerful, very sad movie about a uniquely talented woman who never wanted to be ordinary, even if it cost her everything.
This movie opens with one of my favorite movie openings of all time, a scene where a single taxi drives down Fifth Avenue early in the morning and drops Audrey Hepburn off in front of Tiffanys in New York. It is a scene that encapsulates much of the secret desire I've long possessed for living in a big City and becoming proficient in its language and ways.
Audrey Hepburn in the role of Holly Golightly delivers such a nuanced and impeccable performance that it is surprising to know that she was not the first choice for the role. The producers wanted Marylyn Monroe to play the part, and I am sometimes divided about whether Miss Monroe would have been a better choice or not.
One of the flaws of the movie is the idea that the sleek sophisticated Holly would have ever, even in her most desperate of times, married Buddy Epstein's character, a Texas farmer and veterinarian named Doc Golightly. He appears one day and tries without a chance of success to guilt Holly into returning with him back to Texas. The scene reads false because it is impossible to picture Holly, even a young, impoverished Holly, to have married such a sad character and living on a farm in Texas. Monroe on, the other hand, could have pulled it off because of the earthy sensuality that she possessed in spades.
But Monroe would have been much harder to imagine playing the part of a chic, sophisticated urban beauty who could request her dates pay her $50 for her visits to the powder room. They would have paid Monroe the money all right, but not for a trip to a powder room.
Hepburn is perfect for that part, Blake Edward's light handed treatment of the story makes it all seem like a frothy bad dream created by desperate choices and unchecked desires. Hepburn became known for the role and rightly so. In her hands, Holly becomes a mythic heroine flying through life in search of a forgiveness she believes she'll find when she has accumulated enough wealth to buy her salvation while knowing full well that the effort to accumulate that wealth will only drive her deeper into oblivion.
Thinking about what Monroe could have done with the role is a compelling enterprise as it leads one to imagine a completely different film, one more grounded in the reality of skin, blood, and bone, much more like Truman Capote's book I've been told.
And the decision to cast George Peppard in the role of Paul Varjak is also kind of strange. He is so handsome in the movie with large blue eyes and handles the role of Holly's savior so effortlessly that the viewer has to wonder why he never became a bigger star. Yet, he doesn't seem blemished enough to play Paul Varjak, a writer who survives on the money provided by his wealthy, married, older lover played by the great actress Patricia Neal.
Peppard and Neal both do not seem desperate, or hardened enough for their roles. Peppard's character switched over from the dark side far too easily and Neal's character was far too stoic and accepting of her fate as the jilted lover. If we are still imagining here, I like to think about what a young Warren Beatty or a Steve McQueen could have brought to the role, actors more capable of providing a deeper, more conflicted hero who sacrificed a hell of a lot more in order to save Holly from herself. There was no need to even change Patricia Neal, just tell her to a be bit more like the character in her gritty Academy Award winning performance in the movie HUD. What a movie that could have been.
Don't get me wrong; I love the movie even while recognizing its faults, and for some strange reason the flaws have never seem to bother its popularity among movie goers. I suspect the scenes of the beautiful parts of New York has something to do with it, also the beautiful score by Henry Mancini, and the fact of Audrey Hepburn's on screen presence, insists, no, demands that the viewer take notice her. She could have recited the New York phone book, and we would watch contentedly.
Instead of a gritty, realistic story about corrupted angels and their very bloody redemption, we are left with a pretty dream world where fair maidens are allowed to not recognize their complicity in their own captivity and their saviors, wearing highly polished and only slightly dented suits of armor, rescue them at no great cost to themselves by simply believing in the power of love.
When I look at the move like this, I can see that it was the template for Pretty Woman, also a movie more about a dream world than reality.
It's funny that I didn't see that before.