Rockie's Vulcan Video Staff Picks for September 2017
Rockie has been working at one of the last video stores standing, Vulcan Video in Austin, TX, for nearly a decade. The best part about working there is being able to share a recommendation with a customer. Sure, some of his recommendations have been shot down in flames, but the ones that hit always make it well worthwhile. For his Staff Picks, he has a few selections mined from the mighty Vulcan Video.
Devo: The Complete Truth About De-Evolution (1976-1990)
A collection of all of Devo's music videos, but more importantly a museum a pure creativity. Easily one of the greatest American bands to ever exist, their secret weapon was always the intelligence they injected into their work, especially the music videos they directed and conceptualized. Predating MTV for their first few videos, they were always way ahead of the curve, never losing sight of who they were even when videos became a mainstream sensation. Using traditional instruments plus a few they created themselves, Devo sets out to make original material at all times and if they do a cover, it will be a Devo cover, not a carbon copy in the slightest. What may appear as weird at first can actually contain many life lessons you've been lacking. They inspire me very much and all I can hope is they do the same for you, no matter what art you apply yourself to.
Washington D.C. natives Fugazi, the do-it-yourself band with razor sharp messages about living proper amidst such corruption and pain, made an odd duck of a documentary. More of a tone poem, the film really has no structure as it loosely follows the band over a decade stretch of good and bad live shows, studio sessions, and fan engagements. I always liked the fact that Fugazi only charged 5 dollars for their shows and carried their own gear everywhere. Their admirable work ethic coupled with their longevity made me think this doc would have a ton of structure but they go the complete opposite direction. We are served a doc that feels drugged out, loose, and in no hurry to tell a narrative about the group. Instead we see tons of archived footage and are left to construct most of the facts ourselves. But you, dear reader, are smart enough to understand the film and you’ll soon see there will never be another band like them in the near future.
My favorite Penelope Spheeris narrative film by a long shot (The Decline of Western Civilization is untouchable, come on now), Suburbia is her rawest effort and her most heartbreaking to boot. With his home life in the toilet, our lead character Evan befriends a pack of stray youths who live in abandoned homes around California. This is a film that does not try to be Punk Rock, it is Punk Rock. Shot on location, Suburbia goes to real clubs, shoots real punk bands, and inhabits damn near unlivable squalor to effortlessly achieve its vision. I have to point out the bookends of this film because they are both jaw-dropping with a powerful meaning; the children will inevitably suffer regardless of their protection. These scenes serve as unbreachable walls holding in all of the suffering of the wasted youth. An important teen film that will scar you.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
I was never huge into the Final Fantasy series, nor any good at it for that matter. That said, I did play the phenomenon that was Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation 1 and have that wonderful story burned into my mind. It was a gripping title that had characters so memorable, and loss so great, it left a mark on video games forever. The movie Advent Children takes place two years after the events of the game, making good on adding to a good story, rather than cashing in on its success. The animation is electric, more concerned with looking amazing than being bogged down by real-world physics, which was the mistake of the first Final Fantasy film outing. It is extremely helpful if you’ve played the game but, if you are totally lost, trust me when I say Wikipedia has you covered; when I say this game is huge, I am being dead serious. This is the video game story, dissected and analyzed to death, and this movie just adds to that greatness.
Blue Ruin (2013)
“You know what's awful? Just 'cause my dad loved your mom... we all end up dead.” A modern day Hatfields & McCoys, back and forth revenge yarn. Two families have been beefing with one another for generations and Blue Ruin picks up on the ass-end of this conflict. Dwight, played to stunning perfection by Macon Blair, is homeless and living out of his car when he learns about the release of the man who murdered his parents. He returns home with nothing but revenge on the brain and nothing to lose. What follows is an intense and unintentionally hilarious tale of desperate and unavoidable vengeance. Thing is, Dwight is not good at revenge at all; he makes tons of mistakes, sometimes inflicting damage to himself on his swath of carnage. I saw this before director Jeremy Saulnier's Murder Party and immediately went back to watch that (thanks Vulcan Video!) and was first in line at Fantastic Fest for Green Room. After ingesting all of what Saulnier had to offer, it was impossible not to become a fan. Blue Ruin has expert-level staging in all of its sequences and he would only get better with Green Room. Macon Blair is worth the ride alone for his amazing performance. He not only carries the picture but completely understands what needed to be achieved for such a tale to be told. He lets it all hang out and the world is a better place for it. And yes, Dwight’s big pal, Ben Gaffney is the older brother from Home Alone.