Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ten Statements About....HEAD (1968)

"Hey, Hey, we are The Monkees...and we've had Enough Of
Your Shit."
"Nobody lends money to a man with a sense of humor."

1) Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this film is that at its core it's four people trying to break down their public identity and reconstruct it in a way that's not disrespectful to that first version but much more adult. I think it works, even if said attempt happened long after the damage was already done.

2) That being much as I love this movie, and it is one of my all-time favorites, there are moments when the quartet tries to hard. I think the inclusion of actual Vietnam footage jars the viewer out of the anarchistic comedic sketches and disrupts the flow of the film itself.

(However, the incorporation of Rockettes footage during the 'Long Song Title (Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?)' is amazing, especially given how the editing lines up the dancing to go along with the beats of the song itself.)

3) While I know some people point to the recently departed Davey Jones as the 'face' of the Monkees, my nominee is Mickey Dolenz. The other member of the group chosen for his acting experience (Jones was a regular on the British soap Coronation Street, while Dolenz was the star of the drama Circus Boy), he is a master not only of comic timing but of excellent facial expression. Hell, one of my favorite moments is when we get a demented reaction from Dolenz during the desert sketch when the voice in his head does, in fact, leave him alone.

4) That being said, Jones does provide the best song sequence in this film, the absolutely gorgeous Harry Nilsson ballad 'Daddy's Song.' Very simply shot with a very elegant concept, this song allows Jones to display his true talent for dancing, as he engages in a clever little number with film choreographer Toni Basil.
Davey Jones is hanging out with Frank Zappa and his pet
cow.  Your argument is no longer valid.

5) I really have to wonder if Tim Carrey, who played Lord High N' Mighty, wasn't exactly acting during his handful of rants at the quartet.

6) You'll notice I don't talk much about a plot here. That's because this isn't so much a narrative film but a string of gags and sketches and musical numbers held together by this dubious through line. The film is so plotless, in fact, that I have to wonder if writers Bob Rafaelson and Jack Nicholson (along with the Monkees themselves) didn't look upon this as an unofficial remake of the infamous Olsen and Johnson 'comedy' Hellzapoppin', which also made a plot point out of the main characters being unpopular hacks.

7) I know there are lots of people who look upon the Monkees' early compositions as their masterpieces, but I am absolutely confident in declaring the songs on this soundtrack as being the best collection of songs this band ever put together, a grouping of numbers that manage to reflect the personalities of each member individually and as part of the band. In addition to the previously cited 'Daddy's Song,' I love 'Circle Sky,' 'Long Title (Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?)' and 'The Porpoise Song.'

"And then I thought about starting a hippie death cult...but I
decided to stare into space and join a rock band instead..."
8) While Mickey Dolenz is the best all-around actor...there are moments where Mike Nesmith cracks me up. The rant he goes off on about surprise parties that ends with '....the same goes for Christmas' gives me the giggles something fierce.

9) There are some details to this movie that still make me wonder, and details I discover every time I watch, this time around, the handful of backwards credits. I don't think they're supposed to have significance, but then....

10) ....there is the idea that this is all a fantasy in the mind of someone--I can never decide if it's Victor Mature or Mickey Dolenz whose head we're riding in, but the circular nature of the film itself gives me that impression.

Overall...I love this movie (I've watched it way too many times for it to be healthy for me), and I've only scratched the surface of this flick with my Ten Statements. Eminently rewatchable, it's one of the better examples of psychedelic cinema. And it makes me sad we never got the sequel the band had planned in the 80's, which would have seen them trapped by the denizens of Pleasant Valley....

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