Thursday, 11 August 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: Bodies and Tunes...

I Sell The Dead:
Like a combination of the tale of Burke & Hare (19th Century body snatchers in Edinburgh who brought increasingly fresh bodies to Doctor Knox for dissection), The Evil Dead Trilogy (one particular sequence in the first half is obviously directly influenced by Raimi's gory saga), and various snippets of Ye Olde British folklore. Two grave diggers face the hangman's noose and one - Dominic Monaghan - tells his back story and their encounters with some of their more lively spoils. The pace and plotting are somewhat uneasy, but the visual flair of the movie manages to maintain your attention, even if the first 20 minutes-or-so can test your patience.

Empire Records:
No doubt it was a case of 'you had to be there, man' - because coming to this flick 16 years later, and being a member of Generation Y (the younger-sibling of Generation X, as depicted in this movie), means that I just don't quite get it - or rather, it doesn't make for a strong connection. I can understand why some of a certain age would take this to heart (especially if you happened to be working in a music store during the mid 1990s), but unlike Clerks - which has a more down-to-earth and broader-church approach to slacker celebration - it feels dated. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but Clerks has a more universal tone (indeed, we're always going to need convenience stores aka corner shops, but the world of music purchasing has vastly changed since 1995). However, the central conceit of an independent music store - staffed by a range of fresh-faced late-teen/early-twenty-somethings - fighting against the prospect of being bought-up by corporate entity "Music Town" is charming, if somewhat fairytale in its wishful approach to the ever-changing face of music store commerce.

It's a period piece, directed at a very specific audience, which is a problem for those outside of the loop looking in the best part of 20 years later. George Lucas' American Graffiti (where were you in '62?), or Richard Linklater's 1970s-set Dazed & Confused, or Gregg Mottola's 1980s-set Adventureland, have more focused approaches (and yet they remain relatively relaxed narratives), and concern a cast of characters that are easier to identify with, even if you're decades removed from the depicted time itself. That all said, Empire Records is like a time capsule to look back on a certain group at a certain time in certain circumstances. What it lacks in broader appeal, it makes up for with fanciful innocence in the dying days of the Grunge scene.

I'm trying to think of a present-day equivalent of movies like American Graffiti, Dazed & Confused, and Clerks - that speaks to a particular audience of a particular time, of this time, of the post-millennium media-drenched Generation Y - and I can really only think of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which when I actually think about it, is a very good example. It's a very different movie in comparison (Adventureland may be from 2009, like Skateland, but they are both nostalgic movies for 1980s youth), but yeah ... Scott Pilgrim is the Empire Records for the 2000s. Its appeal is generally broader, but still not as universal as Clerks (which itself had a 2000s-set sequel which spoke once again to Generation X, now that they were all apparently grown up) - however, it's a much stronger movie than Empire Records in all respects.

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