Life's a funny thing, nobody wants to get old but no one wants to die young either. You just have to follow the path." -Keith Richards.
These days it seems everyone needs to stop, take a deep breath and re-examine their path and the paths of those around them. Times are crazy right now and the human monster can't stop shitting on itself. War, violence, apathy, greed, prejudice and environmental destruction run rampant. We need to think about what kind of world we are going to leave Keith Richards.
I jest (there is a crapload of good in the world, too), but the 71-year-old guitarist does seem almost immortal. Especially in Keith Richards: Under the Influence, a new(ish) Netflix Original documentary that features Richards, still smoking, as he strolls through, listens to and reminisces about the musical eras and icons that influenced his life and music.
The Rolling Stones started because Keith bumped into his old childhood buddy Mick Jagger riding the bus to art school. Mick had a pair of records under his arm, Chuck Berry At The Hop and The Best of Muddy Waters, and the rest was history. Sure, nowadays Keith Richards looks like someone unwrapped a mummy and ushered it into a python skin jacket, but he speaks, laughs and plays music with a playful alchemy that must come from true happiness.
Under The Influence is not about sex or drugs, only rock 'n roll. Icons like Hank Williams, Buddy Guy, Howling Wolf and Tom Waits pop up as Richards reflects on a life he wouldn't change if he could. Directed by Morgan Neville (who made the also very worthy 20 Feet From Stardom), this flick is a blatant tie-in to Richard's new solo album, Crosseyed Heart (which you'll like if you like all the Dylan albums since Time Out of Mind), but it's also a very real 81 minutes of music and joy with a true rock 'n roll legend. Under the Influence is the download of the week.
Also worth the bandwidth is Rocky 4, the best Rocky in my opinion. Released in 1985, this one stars Dolph Lundgren (The Punisher) as a Russian fighter named Ivan Drago who straight-up murders Apollo Creed in the ring as a way to entice the Italian Stallion to a freezing Cold War brawl in Russia. Featuring the best training montages of the entire franchise, Rocky 4 transcends its patriotic brawl of traditional American individualistic values against the cold systematic and technological ethos of communism. It's formulaic but it works, and this week Creed opens at the Whistler Village 8 to pick up the storyline a generation later.
Apollo Creed died before his son was born, but Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan) has boxing in his blood nonetheless, and when he teams up with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and director Ryan Coogler, the results are better than expected. Creed is remix rather than rehash and it's actually nice to see Stallone slip back into his most iconic creation.
Victor Frankenstein, on the other hand, looks more like the unnecessary modern day rehashing/watering down we are used to these days. Starring James McAvoy and Danielle Radcliffe as the man (and his assistant) who builds the monster, this one is PG-13 and probably not nearly as fun as Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein — beware.
Skipping ahead to next week, the 15th annual Whistler Film Fest starts Dec. 2 and officially kicks off with the Canadian premier of Todd Haynes' Carol, heralded as groundbreaking for the way it respects and portrays a love story between two women that should net both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara a lot of attention come awards season.
But Thursday also features The Wave — an epic Norwegian disaster film about a mountain that collapses into a lake and sends a massive tsunami into a quiet resort town. And don't forget, Chasing Banksy. Directed by Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case and Frankenhooker), who plays it straight this time with a tale of some down-and-out New York artists who drive to New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina to steal some Banksy graffiti and get rich.
And if you're really feeling brave you can catch Gaspar Noe's Love in 3D, late night Thursday at the Village 8. Instantly controversial for its depiction of hardcore sex, Love has also been heralded for creating a serious exploration of sexuality in what looks like a porn film except the sex bits push the story forward. Remember, Noe is a known cinematic provocateur, so don't be surprised when the 3D money shot sticks in your mind — adults only, enter at your own risk. Noe's the guy who made Irreversible. Nuff said on that but make sure to hit as many WFF films as possible.