I am a member of a somewhat popular music mailing list. This was today’s item, if there was one. The last thing this man wrote of any importance, in my opinion, was his 80’s Record Guide. Still, this may be interesting to some.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
If this comes completely out of the blue, I apologize.
It is now official–Village Voice Media fired me today, “for
taste,” which means (among other things) slightly sweeter
severance. This despite the support of new music editor Rob
Harvilla, who I like as a person and a writer. We both believed I
had won myself some kind of niche as gray eminence. So I was
surprised Tuesday when I was among the eight Voice employees
(five editorial, three art) who were instructed to bring their
union reps to a meeting with upper management today. But I
certainly wasn’t shocked–my approach to music coverage has never
been much like that of the New Times papers,
Bless the union, my severance is substantial enough to give me
time to figure out what I’m doing next. In fact, having finished
all my freelance reviews yesterday, I don’t have a single
assignment pending. So, since I have no intention of giving up
rock criticism, all reasonable offers entertained; my phone
number is in the book, as they used to say when there were books.
What I don’t need is a vacation–the three of us just had a great
two and a half weeks, and Nina matriculated at BMCC yesterday.
No need to respond. Forward to whoever you will.
That being said (and obvious to anyone slightly close to me), things are on the downslide. The Night Gardener, a book that I finished last night, was the first Pelecanos novel to make me audibly emit an “eh.” I liked it. That’s all I can give. Slow and a little too morally fixated, even for Pelecanos. Many characters are an obvious result of his work on The Wire – not a bad thing, though not really a thing at all within the context of this book. I’m not one to send fanboy e-mails to writers, but I do every once in a while. Pelecanos is the only writer that has been nice enough to return them. That may have something to do with our bylines infrequently appearing in the same magazines/books, you know, writer to writer or whatever. Irregardless, The Night Gardener didn’t feel right; my finger is not on it. The icing on my “eh” feeling came today, after veiwing this. I know exactly what doesn’t feel right about that. You will, too.
…to your right. Check out the latest adventures of my man Skag.
Written, Directed, Produced, and skewed all to hell by a confused Robert Duvall
Assassination Tango firmly adds Robert Duvall to a certain class of old actors. That certain class is termed “OUT OF THEIR FUCKING MINDS.” In the case of Duvall’s 2002 Ultimate Driver’s Seat outing, calling it self-indulgent would be an insult to self-indulgence. The same nebulous greatness that shines from Road House is present here, albeit divergent subject matter. I pieced this absurdity together through several cruise ship hangovers, as it played back-to-back in my cabin on channel 16. If everything else is left demolished during my hangovers, I can safely say that my sense of humor somehow becomes acutely silly. Therefore, I made some notes.
From some scrawl across Carnival Cruise Lines stationary, I develop this for you:
Duvall plays a hit man of ill-defined organized crime association. He works for a man named “Frankie” who just so happens to own a bar called “Frankie’s.” Duvall’s character explodes into “fuck”-ridden tirades at absolutely no provocation, usually during civil conversations over coffee. Self-proclaiming to be “the best” at hits, he is sent to Argentina to off a political figure of unexplained position or relevance. While there, he becomes obsessed with tango dancing, a counter plot that should appeal to the menopausal word-jumble aficionado in all of us. The Argentine point of contact is played by Ruben Blades (1), who excels in un-acting and flinching as a result of Duvall’s many unforeseen and rootless outburst.
Back home (New York, I think), Duvall is enamored with his girlfriend’s ten-year-old daughter. In Argentina, Duvall shoots men in broad daylight (2) while dressed/disguised as a longshoreman (skullcap and fake beard). He even shoots a custom’s agent (“who the fuck are you” “who the fuck’s asking??” “let me fucking finish taking a leak here”) in an airport restroom, and under the apparent impression that forensic science stopped around 1970, deposits the murder weapon in a trashcan down the hall.
His character claims to have previously “operated” for ten years in Guatemala, though still manages to bring much unneeded attention to himself on foreign soil, especially through random arguments with strangers – scenes which are grade A- lowlarious (3).
The dance sequences are hard to take, and rudderless romantic conversations between Duvall and the Argentine love-interest/tango expert drag on for eternal minutes. There’s no shortage of “tango is the future,” “tango is love,” “tango is eroticism,” etc malarkey.
Duvall uses a tiny, single-shot .22 caliber purse gun throughout the film, meaning he walks right up to his prey. Scenes of tango dancing are piggy-backed with scenes of Duvall, tiny ponytail combed out, rocking no shirt, cleaning the diminutive pistol, and test firing it into a phone book. After doing so, he exclaims, “Yes!!”
The senseless plot trails off in 49 different directions. Characters start development, only to be never seen again. The assassination and subsequent escape result in a science-fiction level of implausibility over the latter part of the film.
Has anyone seen this movie? Please speak up. And no, that’s not all I have to say about the cruise. You’ll just have to let it trickle out.
(1) Does the man not have a badass name? Yup.
(2) Always mumbling “you motherfucker” before pulling the trigger.
(3) I just made that word up. Back off.