Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ladies And Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains Is Fabulous

Late last night (really, really late) I watched cult classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. I had heard alot about this film, and always wanted to see it. TCM (they have really been amazing lately) played it as part of their Friday night, late night Underground Film series.

From Amazon:

Some movies just stumble towards cult, mythic status; Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains is one of those magnificent accidents. Besides in-fighting, the few previews shown to the public were unanimously panned, Paramount was at a loss as to how to market it, and the movie had never been available on DVD (or VHS, for that matter). This has just compounded its status as a "lost" film, with the few people who have seen it being evangelical in their gossip about this pseudo punk 'n' roll documentary.

Now that it’s here, was it worth the wait? Does it hold up over time? You bet it does. Orphaned girls (Diane Lane, Marin Kanter) along with their cousin (Laura Dern) channel their frustration into a band, The Stains. After a few gigs, the media picks up what they consider a novelty. This leads to a tour with The Looters--idealistic punks from London--and the Metal Corpses (headed by Fee Waybil of the Tubes in a perfectly oblivious performance). Head Looter takes head Stain under his wing, only to become disillusioned as he watches the American media, and by extension American teens, chose popularity over talent (as he sees it). Despite their differing views about how the movie should be handled, both the message of girl empowerment (screenwriter Nancy Dowd) and the idea that all great ideas become co-opted and watered-down (director Lou Adler) resonate throughout the film. The performances, while not uniformly great, work so well within the context of the documentary style that they have their own charm. And Diane Lane, as Stain leader Corinne "Third Degree" Burns, is simply outstanding, simmering with angst that bursts out at all the right points. A young Ray Winstone turns in a fine performance as the lead singer of the Looters, showing both contempt and sensitivity towards the fledgling Stains. Adding to its cult credentials, the rest of the Looters are played by Steve Jones and Paul Cook (Sex Pistols) and Paul Simonon (The Clash). With audio commentaries by not only director Adler, but stars Lane and Dern, this movie is not only great for any fans of Times Square and Rock 'n' Roll High School, but it’s a great addition to any library of music films in general. --Robert Arambel

What really makes this film hold up is that the cheese factor is pretty low, extremely low given the time period. I fully expected poor dialogue, bad music sync ups in the live performances, singers clearly mouthing the words instead of singing them, crappy 80's theme music, wooden performances from the musicians, amateurish direction (this being only 1 of 2 films Adler ever directed, and Up In Smoke was the other), etc.

Instead the film features solid dialogue (provided by the Oscar winning writer of Coming Home, and even funnier - Slap Shot - yes, Slap Shot was written by a woman, and that is totally awesome/hilarious, but I digress) that has actually aged extremely well. It seems that one of the reasons that the film failed to secure a wide release upon it's completion was that it was created on the fringes of the Hollywood system (largely filmed and cut in Canada). However, this outsider positioning "kept it real" - the film remained mostly untampered with by BIG HOLLYWOOD, and as such feels like a snapshot of the punk era, rather than a contrived, BIG HOLLYWOOD take on the era made palatable for mass consumption.

The live performances crackle with energy, as the Looters performance of Be A Professional is seriously fantastic. Steve Jones and Paul Cook are still fresh out of the Sex Pistols, and Paul Simonon is still in the Clash at the time, and they fire on all cylinders. This is not surprising - what is surprising is that Jones, Cook, and Simonon give fine performances off stage as well. Sure, they are essentially playing themselves, but they help lend an authenticity to a rock and roll movie, which is all you can really hope for from them.

The performance of Diane Lane is of course the centerpiece here, and she is truly great (to me and to many guys of my generation, she will always be Cherry Valens). She is spiteful, intelligent, street smart, beautiful, confusing, etc. - sometimes at the same time. In short, she rocks here. The always excellent Ray Winstone plays the lead singer of the Looters, and he is the most three dimensional character here.

Rent it, it's well worth it. It's a superb B movie that's time has finally come.

Art For A Dollar Is Ingenious

Art For A Dollar is too cool. From Divine Caroline:

Critically acclaimed tattoo artist, Scott Campbell, recently showed his work at the O.H.W.O.W. gallery in Miami, FL. The highlight of the evening was a series of laser-cut etchings, each on a stack of $1 bills. The collection is entitled “Make It Rain” and shows a sampling of the artist’s dark and beautiful undertones. Scott Campbell was born in rural Louisiana and began his career illustrating before mastering the art of tattoo. In 2004, he opened Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn where he perfected his signature style.

More at

Go check them out, they are awesome.