The Arts Desks’ weekly picks for movies, books, music and TV shows
Movie: “Sid and Nancy” dir. by Alex Cox (1986)
Cox’s follow-up to the cult classic “Repo Man” follows the infamous relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and shrill teen groupie Nancy Spungen through the band’s collapse and a certain tragic event thoroughly cemented in Punk history. Cox’s style is rude and feverish, but at times beautiful. The film mocks the Sex Pistols (maybe justly) and makes no romance out of Sid and Nancy’s self-destructive lifestyles—here Sid Vicious is a talentless junkie and Nancy Spungen is a controlling, caustic harpy, and yet it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for them. The film flows like sloppy poetry, and a number of these shots stay with you regardless of whether you want them to—a reminder that great filmmakers are capable of locating beauty in what amounts to a wasteland.
Book: “Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail ‘72” by Hunter Thompson (1973)
Thompson’s book is one of the finest pieces of journalism ever written—every sentence runs somewhere on a continuum between “Basically Libel” and “Admission of Felony.” Thompson’s account of the doomed McGovern campaign is uncompromising and demonstrates, somehow, a kind of broken honesty, unmarred by any impetuous veil of objectivity. The whole thing comes together in a flurry, never staying too long in any one place and dangerously extracting fragments of the truth from sleazy conferences and Thompson’s own mescaline-fueled indiscretions on press trains and in crime-ridden streets. The book swallows you whole until the last page—nobody has been able to do it quite like him since.
Album: “The Hollow Mountain” by TwinSisterMoon (2009)
This is a mysterious Psychedelic Folk album from the solo project of Mehdi Ameziane, one half of Natural Snow Buildings, full of lush soundscapes and somber acoustic guitar. It summons a natural aesthetic that sounds something like a fantasy version of “The Glow Pt. 2,” haunted by an implacable voice that drags you further into the wilderness. A friend of mine once described this album as “ritual-core.” Quaint guitar-driven tracks are found between stretches of spiraling ambience, making the whole thing feel as strange as it is soothing.
TV Show: “Cromartie High School” (2003)
Pretty much every line in this show is quotable in some capacity. It’s full of ironic, awkward charm and at no point pretends to have a cogent plot. One of the characters is Freddie Mercury (I’m not sure how copyright or likeness law or whatever works in Japan, but as seriously baffling as it is to me, they got away with this. I guess because he never speaks and they don’t ever say his last name?) and he’s one of the less compelling ones. This show is endlessly funny and more people need to know about it.
Written by: Jacob Anderson — firstname.lastname@example.org