Sunday, October 13, 2013

CBGB the movie: "I was there, man"

I wrote this a few days ago. A friend of mine who edits some important music website hired me to write about the CBGB movie premiere, but illness, personal tragedy, and technical difficulties prevented it from being published by it's intended recipient. So here it is now in case YOU want to read it. 

When I showed up at the theatrical premiere of the CBGB’s movie I had already seen the whole thing on youtube a week prior. I sung it’s praises to like, basically everyone, and I think at least six people watched it because of me. The universe punished me for lying about this movie being good by forcing me into a situation where I would have to watch it for a second time, in a place where I couldn’t smoke cigarettes or eat an ice cream sundae or tweet the whole time.

I had never been to a movie premiere before, except working craft services a couple times when I cooked for a catering company, so this was very exciting to me! As a kid I was on Steampipe Alley once, but that is probably the most glamorous thing I’ve ever done prior to tonight.

I’m not a movie critic and I don’t know anything about film. I watch a lot of crappy horror movies, without much of a critical eye, and sometimes I watch a TV show or something. I think I’m qualified to review this movie though! Here are my credentials:
  1. A few years ago I ate and reviewed every slice of pizza in Manhattan so I know how to review stuff.
  2. I snuck into CBGBs through the back door after getting kicked out of there for bringing in booze probably like 800 times when I was a teenager. When we were sixteen my best friend smashed the toilet in the men’s room with a sledgehammer. When we were seventeen my other friend took a shit on that same toilet! Or on whatever toilet they replaced it with. You know what I meant. I think he was the only person to ever shit on that toilet in the 40 years that CBGBs was open. It was like a five minute dump and during that time about a dozen people stopped watching whatever band was playing (the Queers, maybe?) to form an audience while my dude dropped one. Also: my high school band played our CBs Audition Night with an as-yet-unsigned Puddle of Mudd! Also also I went to like 9000 hardcore matinees on Sunday afternoons even though I’m a tiny wimp and all the dudes that went to those shows looked like Action Bronson dressed like the Bushwackers.
  3. I’m really punk still even though I’m 30.
So yeah, my friend offered to send me to write a review. I’m sure plenty of more qualified people will be reviewing the film, so this will mostly be a review of the movie premiere. I hope that’s okay with you!

I was really excited because I’ve never been a proper journalist and Claire even got me “Red Carpet Approved” and I didn’t know what that meant but it sounded absolutely enchanting. Turns out what it meant was that I got to the thing like hoooooouuuuuuurs early and then I stood around on a wood platform with a bunch of photographers. I learned two important things on that platform:
  1. Photographers are mostly horrible men who say awful things about women so casually like it’s no big deal.
  2. Duff McKagan is really hot still and kind of looks like David Bowie. 
I spent my time tweeting CBGB’s Movie Red Carpet Fanfic, but after a while that got hella boring and I was cold and I was smoking too much so I wandered inside and read a book in the bathroom for a while. I’m currently reading A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle and it’s wonderful so far!

Eventually it seemed like the movie might be starting soon and so I made my way into the farthest possible theater and took the seat in the furthest back corner and kept reading my book. It was like an hour before the 8:30 screening time and there were maybe six people in the theater. They seemed teenage but at some point I started thinking everyone under 23 was a teenager, so who knows. Eventually some more people showed up and they were all women and they were all different ages and they all seemed to know each other! They were yelling and screaming about some actress from the movie called Stana Katic who they are all superfans of and they were taking videos and trading pictures and calling each other by their twitter and tumblr handles. It was so cool and earnest and way better than rich middle aged white dudes wearing CBGBs Forever tshirts under blazers and like, fake Rolling Stones LES rock’n’rollers doing studied pouts and wearing stupid paisley scarves.

At one point these two The Strokes type douches walked in and kind of paused at the door to survey the crowd. Everyone in the room was being super loud and rambunctious and they were so excited to be at a movie premiere for a movie that their celebrity idol was in. Like, one lady exclaimed, hyperventilating, “I DON’T EVEN CARE THAT SHE’S IN VIP AND I’M ALL THE WAY UP HERE! JUST KNOWING THAT I’M IN THE SAME BUILDING AS HER BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS HER I MEAN… UGH!...” and she trailed off in excitement and everyone in the room just shook their heads knowingly all, “yeah, us too.” And these two dudes just could not hide their revulsion. It was palpable from across the room. I get it because being a superfan of a celebrity is really vulnerable and uncool and that’s scary to dickheads and they can only respond by sneering at it. But I’d definitely rather be in a room full of Stana Stans than at fucking Max Fish or that other one.  Lit Lounge. I had to google “LES Hipster Bars 2001” to remember the name of Lit Lounge. FYI, there are soooo many yelp lists called “LES Hipster Bars” apparently. Weird world.

ANYWAY, the point, I guess is that the Stana Katic fans were way cool and fun and really eager to talk and enjoy themselves and weren’t putting on airs or pretending. (In fact if you look closely at the top left corner of this video you can see the moment where a really kind woman who was next to me took the time to explain the entire Stana Superfan Subculture.) And those two fake Strokes are imposters and they’re miserable and their friends only pretend to like them but actually hate them and besides that’s not even how cool people dress anymore so they were either Secretly Old or they Just Moved Here. Open invitation to those two dipshits to hop in a fucking time machine and stay there.

Then the movie started and I watched it again and look, it’s not that bad, okay? All these dorks are gonna get so mad but like WHAT. EVER. Who expected the CBGBs movie to be good? Is this what you want to spend your time worrying about? There was some stuff I really liked about it.
  1. Hilly Kristal was a saint and he deserves to have a movie about what a saint he is, even if it’s a corny failure of a movie.
  2. Lou Reed looks like Moose Mason dressed as Slim Shady dressed as an undercover cop trying to sneak into a punk show.
  3. You can totally tell it was filmed on a NYC set in some other town (Savannah, GA, apparently) and not actual New York and it’s a fun game to spot the different signifiers like the shape of the awnings or the type of streetlights.
  4. I like the idea of having John Holstrom illustrate bits of it even if the director totally blew it and made them look stupid.
  5. Corny failed punk movies are always fun for punks to watch and be like, “UUUUH-UUUUUUH” with their hand over their mouth.
  6. I don’t know who any of the actors were, basically, but they all looked kind of like other actors from some angles. Like, there was a sort of Jared Leto and a kinda James Franco and a maybe Willem Defoe and I think Legs McNeill was played by the actual singer from the All-American Rejects.
There was also stuff that totally sucked:
  1. So much of the plot is just straight up told to you by characters instead of shown via action and that gets hella boring. Like there are these bikers that hang out in the bar, and then one day the Lead Biker is like, “Hilly I think we’re going to leave this place because we scare your customers and it looks like something big is on the cusp of happening here and we wouldn’t want to stand in the way of your dreams and inevitable success” and it made me think that the director or writer or whoever thinks I’m stupid and doesn’t think I can figure stuff out.
  2. Why couldn’t we have any NYHC cameos? You couldn’t get Freddie Madball to be the loan shark? C’mon. 
  3. There are at least two moments where they show footage of a modern subway and there was no point in them being there and it really bugged me. It’s okay if you can’t afford to make a fake subway car, but these new ones have little LED displays on the sides and this is supposed to be the 70s! I don’t know why that one dumb thing out of the millions of dumb things bugged me so much, but it really bothered me a lot.
All that said, I genuinely enjoyed watching this movie the first time, alone in my underwear, when I could like, clip my nails and fill fanzine orders or whatever while I was watching it, but the second time it seemed unbearably long and totally boring.

In conclusion: Go see this movie if you are a Stana Katic superfan or if you like stuff that sucks.

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