Everyone’s Favorite Curse Word | San Diego Drive
Clapboard jungle: the heads of independent cinema.
This week’s offerings include a trio of documentaries ranging in subject matter from the story of everyone’s favorite curse word, the Miami Cocaine Cartel, and for the openers, a fable of warning for the marginally talented among us who think we have what it takes to be successful in Hollywood.
Clapboard jungle (2021)
As if the poster’s graphics – renderings by independent monarch artist George Romero, Dick Miller, Sid Haig, Larry Cohen, Tom Savini, and more – weren’t enticing enough, the accompanying paragraph spoke of ‘a “currently crowded market” and how this documentary “would serve as a survival guide for the modern independent filmmaker”. Nowhere does it mention, “the vanity production by Justin McConnell who seems to have spent fifteen years in a semi-professional capacity trying to emulate the schlock that came before him.” McConnell’s IMDB profile has almost as many entries as Scorsese. According to the writer-producer-editor-director-star-wallpaper-hanger-etc. the main reason his showreel isn’t as breathtaking as Marty has everything to do with budget limitations. (Guess McConnell was too busy savoring the intricacies of Troma to bother with Who’s That Knocking at My Door?)
We spend 5 years in McConnell’s life, following him from festival to festival, and one failed deal after another as he desperately tries to make feature films out of them. This boy has more images of himself than the Kardashians. (Even Kim is unlikely to have filmed herself sleeping on an airplane.) There is much to be learned from many of the illustrious and less distinguished participants that one would think some of them rubbed off on the director. McConnell begins with 3 absolute imperatives to avoid when making a movie (don’t do it all on yourself, avoid a self-reflective thread on the movie-making process, and never open it with a quote), then continue to contradict the advice.
It would also have served McConnell to listen to the wise advice of Buddy Giovinazzo (Life is hot in Cracktown, a night of nightmares): “If a director says to himself: ‘I’ve seen this scene a hundred times… do something different. “” What McConnell has to show for himself can at best be described as derivative. What the film has to say about the current cast of the state is material that gerd is made of.
While he didn’t live to be one of McConnell’s subjects, the most honest answer to the often-asked question: “Do you have any advice on how to get a managerial job?” came from Jerry Lewis: “The fact that you have to ask proves you’re not here yet.” By Steven Kostanski (Leprechaun Returns, Psycho Goreman) the pragmatic remedy was a close second: get a job, save your money and do it yourself. Available on Arrow Video.
F * ck (2005)
Neither as idiosyncratic nor confident as The aristocrats, filmmaker Steve Anderson F * ck is nonetheless a very attractive feature-length documentary dedicated to everyone’s favorite adjective. First, let’s remove any discussion of “fornication under the consent of the king” or “for illegal carnal knowledge”. Any truth behind the word derived from the acronym of these terms is quickly dispelled. In fact, aside from evidence that the word first appeared in the late 1700s, there isn’t much more discussion of who invented it and why. From the movie, no one knows.
Almost instantly, all aspirations for historical documents are put aside. Instead, we are treated for a social analysis / position statement delivered by a group of talking heads who either like to say the word or see it as one of the main reasons our society is in a state of crisis. so miserable moral decay. (F * ck spits the word more than 800 times on average 8.88 “F * cks” one minute.) The vast majority of attendees include comedians interviewed for the film and politicians caught off guard while the tape was filming. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Howard Stern are all featured via archive footage. Drew Carey, Billy Connolly and Bill Maher take turns extolling the cathartic virtues of the word. And wait for those wacky Republicans Dicks Nixon and Cheney to crack under the pressure and let loose with a dirty exclamation or two.
Perhaps the funniest participant is Pat Boone. Whenever he’s agitated, Pat changes his last name to the foul curse. If he were to have one of his white dollars housed in a revolving door, instead of releasing a long, strong curse, the former Little Richard cover artist would emit a “BOONE!” Resounding! Gangsta rapper-turned-Car Shield pitchman Ice-T quickly adds that he can’t wait to get home, pounce on his wife and give her a good “Booneing.” Available on DVD.
Cocaine Cowboys (2005)
Had I trusted my first impression, I probably would have hit the stop five minutes after seeing blurry home movies interspersed with an equally blurry hitman spraying the screen with bullets. Hell, it could only get better. I looked and it did.
This is Miami in the ’70s, a small sleepy retiree community with large open borders. Coke, rum, pot, illegal, name it, Miami had it all. At the time, the Colombian cartel in Medellin controlled 80% of the cocaine trade. This made you could barely see the tops of the glass coffee tables for all the banging mounds. Billy Corbin’s videotaped documentary is told from firsthand accounts of three battle-scarred survivors: convicted drug trafficker Jon Roberts, Mickey Munday, a pilot convicted of smuggling over ten tons of gunpowder United States, and Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, an unrepentant contract killer currently serving four consecutive life sentences.
These boys were ingenious. Why risk transporting contraband in their personal automobile? Instead, they bought a towing service and hid the drugs in beaters that they carried to their destination. If a cop stopped them, which they never did, they had the perfect excuse, “It’s not my car.”
Illegal drugs and violence invariably go hand in hand, and it wasn’t long before Miami’s annual death rate approached 700. (The Police Department had to rent a refrigerated truck from Burger King to house all the corpses.) Perhaps the most brutal number. in this universe of indescribable violence is Griselda Blanco, the “queen of cocaine”. Only a tough mother would dare to name her youngest son Michael Corleone. Blanco’s never-ending battles with other drug dealers almost alone caused the bloodshed for which Miami became infamous in the ’80s.
It’s documentary cinema in figures. Shoot a group of interviewees with compelling stories to tell and supplement them with archival footage and reportage. Technically, it’s a nightmare. I can understand the visual loss when switching from VHS to high definition, but what’s the excuse for all the ugly contemporary interview footage? Was the director trying to match everything? As cinematically negligible as it may be, the film never shies away from hammering out the terrible truth. Ironically, drug trafficking helped fuel Miami’s construction boom. Although he never openly crusades for the legalization of drugs, I cannot think of a more eloquent defense. Watch it tonight on Pluto, Tubi, Vudu or FuboTV.