Monday, 4 January 2010

ROCK'N'ROLL PARTS 1,2&3 (Eli Reiner, Dancla Flakier, Dominick Stenz, Gorse Badier, Calgary Kurt, Phil Spector, Todd Sameth, 1978, 1987, 2006)

'Chekhov said you put a gun in act one, it goes off in the end. Well I am the gun, and I've been going off since I was born' Phil Spector

Myth explodes. Fact expires. Familiar stepping stones are used or ignored. Pacino as Spector delivers a eulogy at Lenny Bruce's funeral; Spector as Spector delivers the same speech, word for word, at Jack Nitzsche's funeral. Diabetic stammering is blended into a one-chord gauze. Spector as Spector hosts late night birthday parties every Sunday at Jack's Bowl in suburban Pasadena. Sonics bleed together. Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner didn't get as far as he did without knowing his way around a gun. We succeed, we fail, we make sure we're paid.

Elliot Gould as Leonard Cohen is drunkenly amused, always.

The World slights him at every turn; he is wronged, he doesn't need to explain himself, he says, but he does. Spector as Spector imagines Cruise as Spector delivers a didactic sermon on a Christmas record; Spector as Spector repeats it, word for word, at the funeral of Rudolf Nureyev. Pacino as Spector riffs and cribs and paraphrases from it all, half-cut like Lenny Bruce, on a recording for the soundtrack for Rudolf Nuryev's futuristic folly Beautiful Disco (1980). Spector as Spector imagines Cruise as Spector pitching a film to Peter Coyote as Robert Evans: Louis Cypher: Guitar Legend. No dice.

Spector as Spector imagines Cruise as Spector arguing with a gang in a late night diner. Pacino as Spector bends and drills one hundred musicians and thirty thousand dollars into the million-weight edifice You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. The scene starts with soggy bum notes and inane repetition, running the gamut of self-doubt as Wallace Shawn as Don Kirchner threatens to pull the plug on genius. Tepid applause; Spector as Spector lectures the screen, dismantles the camera, eats the crowd.

Julian Lennon invokes his Dad in name only. Spector as Spector imagines Cruise as Spector strangling Lennon in London, drunkenly. Still, Cruise doesn't answer the phone, has no interest in playing Phil. Spector as Spector waves a handgun at the screen, threateningly.

Spector as Spector appears to explain: His life, originally, was to be split in three, a triptych of success-against-the-odds, parts one, two and three; but life refused to bow to a triumphant narrative. Four directors helmed the first part, three worked on the second. The third was completed without Spector, as he awaited trial in prison.

But he can't stop interfering. Pacino left the set of Part One, nostrils flaring like the hungry barrels of the shotgun Spector had on set; no matter, Part Two repeats many of the scenes of Part One, mythologising the already mythologised, with Spector as Spector imagining Cruise as Spector impersonating Pacino as Spector delivering bad jokes in the studio, the magic that punctuates the magic. Until inevitably, Spector as Spector appears, explaining, untangling, deciphering; but really, he mystifies even more, sabotaging the story of his life as surely as he sabotaged his life.

And so it goes: Part Three is just a remake of parts one and two, but the gun goes off, fatally. The series of directors, anonymous, grows longer. Scorcese wouldn't do it, and appears as himself to say as much. And so three films, all released at separate times, all blur together, because each part of Spector's life is the same story, ad infinitum.

Cruise's phone keeps ringing, unanswered.

The strings swell; Spector's own score is an amalgam of his best bits, Tina Turner shakes in nude silhouette, Darlene Love shimmers, Ronnie Spector disappears from view. Spector as Spector spends weeks trying to get a jukebox into an Oakland McDonald's. Nobody recognises him at any turn. Time drifts; the story has an explosive beginning, hit after hit after hit, before drifting through the decades, fuelled by tragicomic interludes. Spector as Spector talks to the camera, sometime in the early 21st Century:

'Sometimes, I feel like a story with no end. There's got to be one last shot, one last explosion, before this little Jewish firework goes out.'


Rock'n'Roll Parts 1,2 & 3 Directed by Eli Reiner, Dancla Flakier, Dominick Stenz, Gorse Badier, Calgary Kurt, Phil Spector, Todd Sameth Starring Al Pacino, Phil Spector, Elliot Gould, Larry Fishburne, Tina Turner, Wallace Shawn, Sheila Ferguson, Scott Glenn, Julian Lennon Produced by Phil Spector, Robert Evans, Todd Sameth, David Geffen Written by Phil Spector, Mick Brown UA/Warner Bros/Fox Release Date US: Nov 1978, Dec 1987, Feb 2006 Tagline: 'He's A Rebel'

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