Friday, October 01, 2010


SOMETHING WILD
Here's a clip from one of my fave flicks, Jonathon Demme's Something Wild from 1986. The film's got a few good things going for it: the appearances of The Feelies, John Waters and John Sayles in the movie itself; an '80s soundtrack which doesn't totally make you want to barf (The Feelies again, plus a score by John Cale and songs by artists I can't claim to be a fan of - New Order, David Byrne and the Go-Betweens - but whose songs on the 'track itself work for the given era); a screenplay which never gets too "hip" or "cutting edge" for its own good; a plot with many unforeseeable twists and turns; and the presence of three lead actors who, despite whatever prejudices you may have (that's directed mainly towards cyborg Melanie Griffiths), put in their best performances. Besides, Ray Liotta is a fine actor who, for whatever reason, has decided to waste his talent in cinematic garbage the last two decades, and Jeff Daniels also put in an excellent performance in Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale (another film w/ Daniels and The Feelies on the soundtrack... is this a coincidence?). Directed by Jonathon Demme, a man who spent some time hanging around the NYC punk/new wave scene in the '70s and once listed Forever Changes by Love as his favourite album of all time (I'm just trying to lend him some cred, OK?), the storyline follows square-John/suit Daniels as he is (willingly) "kidnapped" by black-clad mistress Griffiths during his lunch hour and their eventual road-bound odyssey to her home town and 10-year high school reunion, only to have their adventures rudely interrupted by the presence of a menacing ex-con (and ex-boyfriend) thug, played by Liotta. Hi-jinx ensues.
I first saw Something Wild when it came out in the cinemas. I was only 14, though the film's "New Wave" (I won't stretch a story and claim it holds the same punk-rock appeal as, say, Repo Man) vibe had me curious. It's safe to say that approx. 75% of the film's appeal went over my head, though it did at least introduce me to The Feelies. It was only a re-viewing at age 19 when things fell into place. Not too dissimilar to the equally-great Blue Velvet and River's Edge, films which also tread a path of unveiling a dark side to small-town US of A, it's one of the finest films of its day. Ladies and dorks, Something Wild is one of the great unsung films of the 1980s, so under-appreciated that it even airs Down Under on occasion as a midday movie on free-to-air TV: the televisual graveyard usually reserved for made-for-TV atrocities starring Harry Hamlin and/or Tory Spelling. It desrves better. At the very least, it deserves your attention.

5 comments:

boy moritz said...

Davey boy! Luv this movie. Don't think there's any john cale in it though. Byrne did the score. I had it on cassette as of 4 yrs ago.

Dave said...

Oi Shane! You sure? I might have to check out the opening credits sometime (can't find the info on the 'net). Byrne sings the opening song over the starting credits (w/ Celia Cruz), but I'm pretty sure Cale does the score. The soundtrack release itself omits many of the tracks used in the actual movie. Hope you're well.

Anonymous said...

Good call on this 'forgotten' flick - wasn't 'Pay to Cum' on the soundtrack? Been a while ...... Cheers R Loveday

Dave said...

Long time no hear indeed. How's things? You in Perth?
BTW, you're thinking of Scorcese's "After Hours" from 1985 which has "Pay To Cum" on the soundtrack. Quite a similar film, though (it seemed to be a trend at the time in cinema to have straight-laced squares shown the "wilder" side of life for a day or two via whacky adventures.)

Pussy Galore said...

Well pass me the Kleenex....it's a Marcy Reunion!