Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finding My Inner Punk, With the Help of The Clash

NEW YORK—Despite having my one umbrella destroyed by the heavy winds yesterday afternoon, leaving me vulnerable to getting heavily rained on by Mother Nature last night, I had an excellent weekend.

But the highlight of my weekend was not the spate of Japanese films I saw for the first time on Friday and Saturday at Film Forum: two black-and-white masterpieces—Mikio Naruse's Floating Clouds (1955) and Kenji Mizoguchi's final film Street of Shame (1956)—and one fairly amusing color musical-comedy, Keisuke Kinoshita's Carmen Comes Home (1951), featuring Hideko Takamine in an exuberant singing-and-dancing role—as a stripper, to make things that much hotter—that is as far as possible from the quietly suffering heroines she played for Naruse in her collaborations with him. And no, it wasn't even Jacques Tourneur's fascinatingly dense 1946 Technicolor Western Canyon Passage, seen at Anthology Film Archives—though that experience was marred by a supposedly restored print that was plagued by terribly flawed audio, making some of the dialogue barely comprehensible.

No, the highlight of my weekend was this:

A co-worker of mine at The Wall Street Journal fronts this punk-rock band on the side; the group recently released their first album and celebrated that release on Friday at Fontana's Bar in New York's Lower East Side. Afterwards, Fontana's hosted a session of "Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke," with a live band providing the musical accompaniment as people got up to sing a song of their choice—or, at least, of their choice based on a long list of selections. I decided to take a stab at it with The Clash's "I Fought the Law"...and what you see above is the result of that experiment.(Believe it or not, I was not feeling drunk at all before doing this, despite the one-and-a-half pint of beers I had consumed; over the years, I've developed a pretty good tolerance for beer, at least.)

I'll leave it to you all to be the judge of how successful I was at this endeavor. All I can report is that, against all odds, I actually left the stage feeling like an honest-to-God rock star—for the moment, at least. And isn't that what karaoke is at least partly about?

P.S. As I was getting my ears blown to bits as a spectator and as a performer at Fontana's, many of my fellow cinephile friends and acquaintances were apparently getting their minds blown at Walter Reade Theater by this old film by some French dude I've never heard of. Maybe some of those cinephile friends/acquaintances can tell me if I truly missed something special. I, for one, regret nothing. (Not yet, anyway.)

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