12.07.2004

Get yer ass to see TARNATION.

What is it that StinkyLulu loved so much about Jonathan Caouette's extraordinary film TARNATION? On first glance, that seems a toughie. What's not to love? As a film, it sorta defies smartypantsiness. (Scroll down to the bottom of the October archive forAfrofuturist's succinct supersmart analysis which says the only important brainy things StinkyLu's yet seen said about the film...)

But what did StinkyLulu love so? Is it Caouette's & StinkyLulu's overlapping cultural obsessions (which include Carrie, Dolly Parton, that tv movie about Jonestown, Bernadette from Zoom, Karen Black and Sandy Dennis in Jimmy Dean, the list goes on...)? The shared investment in popculture collage as a form of autobiographical self expression? The shared familial devastation derived from the late50s/early60s overprescription of shock therapy? The shared ability to refer to themselves in the third person?

Of course StinkyLulu loved all of this but what did StinkyLu lurv so much more? It's almost impossible beyond words but it's in the way Caouette describes the inimitable Dolly Parton: "Dolly is pure hope."

StinkyLulu completely understands what Caouette's talking about with Dolly. And it's that kind of hope that StinkyLulu finds so throttling, so transcendant & constant in Caouette's Tarnation, even amidst the vertiginous whorl of emotion and archival footage that comprises the actual film. Really. It's the pure hope. For all the mental illness & abuse & desparation & fear & filth, StinkyLulu's eyes see this film as most purely about HOPE. How to find it. How to feed it. How to keep it alive. How to give it away. How to know it's there. How to hope. Even when confronted with the likes of Renee's punkin rant -- the reverberations of which are aftershocking StinkyLulu's system even still...
Jonathan&Renee
StinkyLulu loves the gift of hope that survives throughout Caouette's cinematic reconfiguration of autobiography as a performance genre. Now StinkyLu's hoping for a revival of the Blue Velvet musical... C'mon, Jonathan -- your fans are waiting...

1 comment:

Afrofuturist said...

Glad you got a chance to see Tarnation. And many, many thanks, by the way, for directing my attention to the PBS Broadway series, which had flown under my radar. Despite the fact that I was named after a character from Fiddler on the Roof, I was not really up on my history of the American musical, so the series was a real education.