Merchant of Venice

Sunday before Memorial Day was the last day of the Austin Shakespeare production at Zilker park. Here we are waiting for the play to start.

Crowd waits for the play to start.
Waiting for the play to start

Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roll High School

Today’s movie is Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. It a it is an updated, punk-rock version of a Frankie and Annette teen romp, just as the Ramones are an updated version of 60’s pop. And while the Ramones are legit punk, it is too sweet and good natured to feel truly disreputable. That is probably it’s biggest charm. None of the students are really ruining their lives.

The story belongs to two girls: Riff Randall, who thinks school is a drag and just wants to have fun, and her smart friend Kate Rambeau. Kate is apparently on track to be valedictorian but keeps getting in trouble by hanging tight with Riff. It’s like Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks never stopped hanging out with Millie, her mathlete friend. Another break with expected types is the high school star quarterback: he is neither the villian nor a hero. He’s just another dull high school boy who doesn’t know how to talk to girls.

The Ramones play a concert, and while it isn’t really concert footage but it’s great band footage regardless. It was probalby about the most serious thing in the movie. Consisering they played a song about Pinhead at a concert attended by a six foot mouse, that sets a low bar for seriousness.

Return of the Secaucus 7

I saw Return of the Secaucus 7 as part of Richard Linklater’s Jewels in the Wasteland series at the Austin Film Society. This is often described as “The Little Chill,” as it is generally recognized being a spiritural successor to The Big Chill, a movie I viscerally hated when it came out. Secaucus 7 is populated by a group of more sympathetic people. The idealists went on to become teachers, doctors, drug abuse counselors.

It’s a talky, actorly movie, and the best scenes are dialog: Three guys recite a perfectly timed ensemble of a motor sports commercial: “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! At Washington Valley Speedway: thrills, chills, and spills!” Another scene has a woman vomiting off screen in another room, while to guys try to figure out who it is based on the sounds. “No, Maura more of a ralpher.”

It kind of makes me wonder how I’d react to The Big Chill now.

On a side-note, Linklater revealed that the big money in Hollywood is in rewrites. When a multi-million production is scheduled to start and they have script problems, they’re willing to shell out a boatload of money for a week of work. Apparenly Sayles is a writing machine, makes a living this way, and rolls much of the money into is indie projects.