Tag Archive | 1979

Top Ten Reasons Why 20th Century Women is My Favorite Film of 2016

20th-century-women-cast
Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig and Lucas Jade Zumann Star in 20th Century Women

The Coming-of-Age Story can fall into one of two categories: Sublime when done well, but Worse than Anything when done poorly. 20th Century Women, a new film directed by Mike Mills (Beginners) flips this genre sideways by looking at a pivotal year in the life of a fifteen year old boy through his relationships with three strong and finely nuanced women. Set in Santa Barbara, California in 1979, 20th Century Women follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a dedicated single mom in her mid-50s, who is raising her teenage son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) during a time filled with cultural change and rebellion. Without a father figure in Jamie’s life, Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women to help her bring-up Jamie  to be a good man. Abbie (Greta Gerwig) is a free-spirited, 20-something punk artist and cancer survivor who is a boarder in their home, while 17-year-old Julie (Elle Fanning) is a troubled, promiscuous neighbor, who is also Jamie’s best friend. Billy Crudup also stars as William, a charming but aimless Handyman who also rents a room with the Fields home.

For anyone who lived through an important time of his or her life during 1979 (it was the year I graduated from high school, lost my virginity, and started college) 20th Century Women will feels like a unique, cliché-free set of life experiences that creates a pitch-perfect time capsule, dictated by a very specific time in pop culture history. Here are my Top Ten reasons why I love this film so much.

1. Even when she is horrible-piece-of-shit films like Greenburg, Greta Gerwig is the best thing in any movie she makes.  I love everything about her character, Abbie, who reminded me of my former Punk Rock self, only way cooler.

2. The cinematography and art direction make each frame of the film look like a William Eggleston photograph.

3. Its depiction of the California Punk Rock scene in 1979 (which I was deeply immersed in) also manages to includes songs from the NYC’s No Wave scene and of course British First Wave Punk. The soundtrack reflects the film’s time period with music from artists who helped define the era: Devo, Suicide, The Germs, The Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees, David Bowie, Buzzcocks and Black Flag. Holy Cow! I felt like someone stole my vinyl collection from this era and put it in the film.

4. The soundtrack also features and original score by Roger Neill, which is utterly transportive.

5. I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of the Talking Heads’ music, but three of their songs – “Don’t Worry about the Government,” “Artists Only” and “The Big Country” — are far superior to any their popular hits, and arguably better than most other songs on the planet. Two of these three songs are included on the soundtrack. You will have to see the movie to find out which ones. BTW I predict that this film will provoke a surge in downloads of the Talking Heads’ catalog.

6. There’s a 3D acid flashback visual effect that the filmmakers use to elucidate the feeling of traveling in a fast car as being comparable to moving across time. I’ve never seen anything like that before and it is so trippy and profoundly emotionally effective.

7. 20th Century Women reminded me so much of three of my favorite films, ever: Dazed and Confused, Almost Famous,  and American Beauty. If you dig those films, then you will just love this one.

8. An old high school friend of mine makes a cameo appearance in the film, sort of by accident. Tony Reflex from the seminal Orange County punk band, Adolescents, can be seen in a photograph used in a montage that depicts the rise of the punk rock movement in the late 1970s. That was fun.

9. No meaningless violence or senseless tragedy. I hope that isn’t a spoiler for anyone.

10. It is just the best movie, and you should go see it!

Grade: A+

20th Century Women — which was just nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for this year’s Golden Globes, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day, and Nationwide on January 20th, 2017. Music From The Motion Picture: 20th Century Women will be released digitally on December 16th, while a CD version will be released on January 13th 2017, followed by an LP version on February 10th, 2017.

various artists 20th century women music from the motion picture

Remembering Jimmy McCulloch

Jimmy Mcculloch Guitar
Image Source

On this day, September 27th in 1979, Scottish guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (sometimes spelled McCullough) died from a heroin overdose in his flat in Maida Vale, London. He was 26 years old.

McCulloch, perhaps best known as the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney’s Wings (1974 to 1977) had also been a member of Stone The Crows and Thunderclap Newman. When “Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman went to No.1 in 1969, it made McCulloch the youngest guitarist to ever play on a UK No.1 single, as he was was just sixteen years old at the time.

In a tragic case of artistic irony, the Wings‘ hit, “Medicine Jar,” sung by Jimmy, was the first song recorded by the group to feature another band member on all lead vocals. “Medicine Jar” is an anti-drug song with music written by McCulloch. Colin Allen, who was a drummer in the band Stone The Crows (with McCulloch), wrote the lyrics. RIP.

RIP Japanese Conceptual Artist On Kawara

Wednesday December 12, 1979
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 1979 By On Kawara (Photo By Gail)

I took the above photo during Geoffrey and my most recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art this past Saturday, at which time the artist who painted it, On Kawara, was still very much alive. And now, he’s dead, having passed away on July 10th, 2014 at his home in NYC, at the age of 81. He had a good, long life!

Read about the career and art of On Kawara in the Huffington Post’s excellent Obit, found at This Link.

Video Clip of The Week: Tweens, “Be Mean”

I wonder if Cincinnati’s Tweens realize how much their awesome song “Be Mean” sounds like 1979-era Buzzcocks as fronted by Lydia Lunch. Does vocalist/guitarist Bridget Battle even know who Lydia Lunch is? Who Cares?! These kids rock!

Tweens embrace a BubbleGum Punk ethic that resists any trace of smarm, which I appreciate. Fleshed out by Peyton Copes on bass and Jerri Queen on drums, the trio’s self-titled debut album, from which “Be Mean” is culled, was produced by Eli Janney, whom I still associate more with being the bassist for Post-Hardcore band Girls Against Boys than for his long-standing reputation as a studio genius, so what does that say about me? I haven’t heard the full record yet, but just based on this one song and that Eli Janney association, I  am going to guess that it is amazing.

Check out Tweens’ bitchen website at This Link and buy the album on April 8th! Enjoy!

Tweens Album Cover

The Jam, "Strange Town"

The Jam Strange Town

The Video for The Jam’s 1979 hit, “Strange Town” (click link to watch) — a song that Paul Weller wrote about his first visits to London — is brought to you by Weller’s 54th Birthday, which is today, May 25th. What a great song! Happy Birthday, Paul!

Classic Post Punk Album: Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats

RIP Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson

On This Date in 1979: Industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle released their third album, 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Industrial Records). The album’s cover photograph was taken at Beachy Head, a chalk headland on the south coast of England. The cliff there is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising to 530 feet above sea level. In addition to offering spectacular coastal views, its height has also made Beachy Head notorious as one of the world’s most popular suicide spots. On the original cover of 20 Jazz Funk Greats, a nude and apparently dead male body appears in the foreground. See a picture after the jump (pun intended).

Continue reading

Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock ‘N’ Roll High School

On This Date in 1979: The movie Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, starring The Ramones along with PJ Soles, Vincent Van Patten , Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel premiered in Los Angeles. Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, which is one of my favorite rock movie musicals ever, is a part of Shout Factory‘s Roger Corman Cult Classics series, being reissued on DVD in May 2010. Yay!