Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Papa Mike's Video #9: The Monkees in HEAD

'Written' by Jack Nicholson and featuring wildman actor Timothy Carey AND Frank Zappa in the same movie.'  'nuff said, right?

In Head, Bob Rafelson, who had been producing and directing the Monkees TV show for the BBS production company (later to put out Easy Rider, Last Picture Show, his own film Five Easy Pieces and King of Marvin Gardens among others), anything goes.  That's the prevailing attitude, anyway.  Musical numbers are chock-a-block, and for someone like me who is not a Monkeeys fan - nothing inherently against them, I didn't grow up with them is all really - it's actually a great place to go to for not even their mood exactly, but a lampooning of it... ney, a harpooning, exploding, transmogrifying, any way you want to shake at it.

Some of the movie is uproariously funny too, with a few fun songs (and some kinda lame).   Actually, it might just be better than telling you exactly WHAT the movie is about to just show you clips.  I can tell you I dug the movie all I want (I did), but it's hard to put this movie into words.  It's a freak-out, it's a happening, baby.  It's lots of commercial satire and girls screaming and random dream sequences and anything you can shake an LSD stick at kind of filmmaking.

(Oh, and this is a genuinely charming dance sequence, and for me the highlight of the film among many):

You could also put it on double bill with Brian De Palma's Greetings and get a crash course in late 1960s absurdism, tossed with circus-style theatrics (did I mention Zappa has a talking donkey with him?) and with Vietnam as the omnipresent spectre of doom. All the while, the Monkees - Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith- are still charming throughout the picture, as they are - and this is close as I can get to making this actually sensical - in the midst of filming crazy segments for their TV show, which includes disrupting (at the start of the film) a bridge opening ceremony).    It's all OF a piece in a way and not at the same time.

Nicholson and Rafelson wouldn't make a movie like it again, including the sense of rabid and almost dada-ist montage, and if nothing else, whether you actually DESPISE the movie (and I'd hope not), it is a unique document of a time when Columbia Pictures - a major studio - would green-light this all because of the name of the band.  Head is the kind of movie you smile while having your head tilted at, like a dog looking at a couple of humans fucking.

Oh, and did I mention they're sometimes (or always?) imprisoned by a big black box?  No kidding.

Also, the moral of the story is um.... if you're wandering through the desert and you come across a Coca Cola machine, it better not be empty or that thing is being blown up by a tank!  OR SOMETHING!

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