The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, and a few more films

The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1972)
a/k/a The Goalkeeper's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick

This is one of Wim Wenders' earliest features, very subdued but fascinating.

Josef Bloch is a pro soccer goalkeeper, and sees that an opposing player is off-sides. This should stop play for a penalty, so he doesn't bother defending the goal, and there's a score. The referee doesn't make the offsides call, though, so Bloch goes ballistic, yells and even even shoves the ref, and is ejected from the game. He leaves the stadium, goes wandering into the town, and the rest of the movie happens.

And if you hate sports or soccer, don't worry. All the movie's athletic action was in that first scene.

Bloch goes to the cinema, goes home with the pretty blonde selling tickets, sleeps with her, and for no particular reason, he kills her the next morning. He tidies up, tries to wipe away his finger prints, and goes on about his life after taking hers. He doesn't even leave town, and makes no effort to hide himself.

#295  [archive]
MAY 24, 2024

It's very nonchalant — if the cops can put together the evidence, they'll know who and where he is, and you're wondering whether the cops can put together the evidence.

But the movie's attention isn't on the cops. It stays with Bloch, and unlike any murder movie I can remember, there's no particular tension. Everything plays out quietly, calmly. Bloch's just a bloke doing things around town, which includes killing someone.

"What's that noise?"

"Your room's right above the bowling alley."

It's very odd, anti-genre, and I loved it. Among many other things, I appreciate that the murder is hinted at more than shown. If you hold a sustained blink for a few seconds you'll miss it.

Also, from reading the papers I assume most American football players are horrible and violent people, so it plays into my prejudice to see that a German footballer is just as horrible and violent. 

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

The Goat (1921)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

Buster Keaton is mistaken for an escaped killer, but the story is unimportant, almost nonexistent. It's just Buster doing several bits, most of them funny.

I laughed out loud only four times in 23 minutes, so this isn't Mr Keaton's best, but it's better than a lot of other comedians' best.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

God Has a Rap Sheet (2002)
Streaming free at Tubi

In New York City, nine men are jailed in a single holding cell about the size of a school classroom. This being a theatrical exercise, one is a Hasidic Jew and one's a Muslim wearing a kufi cap; one's a black tough-talker, one's his Puerto Rican best-buddy, and one's a heavily tattooed white supremacist; one's an Asian-American gay guy, one's his English companion who's startled at all things American; and one's God, and one's Satan.

"In order to make this whole thing work, you guys have got to make it work, do you understand?"

The setting and characters don't seem real, but reality probably wasn't the intent. It's more the telling of a tall tale — 'nine stereotypes walk into a jail cell'. It feels like a play written and well-staged by amateurs, trying to be profound, and it slightly might be.

God Has a Rap Sheet is an attempt at something out of the ordinary, successful on those terms, with not lots but noticeable amounts of intelligence. Also, some cool music.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦  

The Gods of Times Square (1999)
Streaming free at YouTube

Before its tragic clean-up by Giuliani, Times Square in New York City was an interesting place. This doc is all about its 1990s street preachers, proselytizing all manner of nonsense at every intersection.

Jesus has already returned, and plans to marry Madonna, says one man claiming "inside knowledge." Black nationalists stand before a Star of David and preach that all white people are evil. A priest tells us that Mickey Mouse is the antichrist. 

When I was 25 years younger — when this was made — I would've enjoyed this more than I enjoyed it today. The joy of meeting kooks and their gods has faded, and become wearisome, because religious insanity isn't found only in places like Tehran and Times Square. it's everywhere, and if you believe in a religion you're part of the problem.

Verdict: YES.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

Godspell (1973)
Streaming free at Internet Archive

Direct from the New Testament via off-Broadway, this is a musical adaptation of the book of Matthew, set in the present day and performed as mild vaudeville.

If you attended Sunday School as a child, you'll recognize all the plot points, but the disciples have become squeaky-clean hippies, and instead of the usual sanctimonious tone, all the lessons are delivered lightly — conversationally, which is nice, or spoken the way you'd speak to a child, which isn't.

Some of the music sounds like cotton candy, but most of it's pleasant, although the best-known number, "Day by Day," seems sung a little off-key. The film is inoffensive, sticking close to the gospel, at least as I recall it.

Victor Garber plays Christ, wearing a Superman shirt with suspenders, singing and dancing and getting ready for his crucifixion.

It's as sincere as a big-budget movie can be, and it's not bad, but not as good as Jesus Christ Superstar, and nowhere near as good as Jesus of Montreal, where they don't even sing.

Verdict: MAYBE.

♦ ♦ ♦


• • • Coming attractions • • •     

Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956)
Gog (1954)
Going Attractions: Drive-Ins (2013)
Going Attractions: Movie Palaces (2019)

... plus schlock, shorts, and surprises

— — —
Now accepting movie recommendations,
starting with the letter 'H'.
Just add a comment, below.
— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
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  1. Well I'll just be damned, it's Monday again and time for some tunes.

    After 40 years of rock, Ben Folds decided it was time to inject some jazz into the mix, so in 1993 he formed Ben Folds Five, which, beside being three-way wordplay, actually did form the collision of rock and jazz to euphonious effect. Here, off their second album, the trio plays Theme From Dr. Pyser. I'd say it slides like jazz and rocks like rock, but you get to decide for yourself.


    . . . and here is The World's Most Dangerous Band, led by Paul Shaffer, performing one of the great songs of the 60s, MacArthur Park -- In this case the vocal is by Will Lee of TWMDB who includes the song on a contemporaneous album. This performance includes Jimmy Webb, joining Mr Shaffer on a second "piano". Mr Webb was 21 when he wrote this song, which is actually extracted from a longer piece which Mr Webb called "cantata". Unlike the tipsy Richard Harris, Will Lee doesn't use phantom singers to hit the high notes.


    Huey P. Meaux was a sometime music producer, sometime music label owner, sometime songwriter and sometime jailbird in western Louisiana and the Texas gulf coast from the 1950s through the 1980s. In the mists of this history he wrote a song called The Rains Came, or at least put his name on the song as writer. By coincidence he was producing a funky musical group called Big Sambo and the House Wreckers, and he "gave" them his song to record. This is how it sounded . . .


    After America' shores had experienced the British Invasion in the mid-60s, he changed the name of one of his white gulf coast bands from Doug Sahm to The Sir Douglas Quintet and gave them the same song to record. Here is how the white guys sang it . . .


    Emerson, Lake and Palmer were part of the second British invasion and also part of the maturation of rock and roll. They collectively and individually went on to form a dozen bands. They also, several years after the fact, took a poem by X. J. Kennedy and created a British-based narrative of the American assassination. The last verse of the X. J. Kennedy poem goes like this:
    Down in Dallas, down in Dallas
    Where a desert wind walks by night,
    Lee Oswald nailed Jack Kennedy up
    On the cross of a rifle sight.
    They took it from there . . .


    And I close with another British blues singer whose songs I have posted before, perhaps even this one. He's pretty much retired now, but every once in a while he gets the old group back together to sing of their admiration for Tina Turner. Ladies and gentlemen, please crank up the volume for the Eric Burdon Band . . .


    . . . my best wishes as always,

  2. Ben Folds — That's the song that plays on a loop in the lobby here.

    MacArthur Park is a grand song, and this is a grand version. It goose bumped me the first time I saw it. I hadn't known that Richard Harris faked the high notes, but of course he did. Being British I could forgive him for "MacArthur's" but all the Americans should know better. Glen Campbell simply skipped the last notes. Donna Summer almost went there.

    Rains — Did somebody else cover this and make it a hit? I've heard it before but not by either of those bands, and I can't find the version I've heard…

    Lucky Man is about JFK? That's … weird. Always thought it was just a songwriter tripping. I'd take JFK over most of what's followed, but I'm not a believer in the myth of the man. "Of his honour and his glory, The people would sing." Honestly, ick.

    Eric Burdon is always great, grazi, a favorite from that era. So much breadth. Spill the Wine. We Gotta Get Outta This Place. Frickin' Sky Pilot. San Franciscan Nights.

  3. For me, Kennedy is current events, not history. The reference in the song is to Jimmy Dean's tune "PT-109". It became a popular song and portrayed not just JFK, but also his crew as heroes. Kennedy did grasp a strap of an injured crewman's Mae West between his teeth and tow him to safety. Maybe not honor and glory, but he was awarded a couple of medals.


    1. Jimmy Dean?


      "Some little consumer geekaroid thought this shit up..."

    2. Grabbing a strap makes sense, but what the heck's a Mae West?

    3. Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage tastes good, but I agree with the voice, I'm never buying it again. Twice in recent months I've bought Jimmy Dean products, not sausage but sausage-adjacent, and both times they've tasted fine but I've been woefully disappointed by the quantity for the price. So, never again. Jimmy Dean can kiss my sausage.

  4. Yes, Jimmy Dean was full of shit. So check out the story from a credible source. Lt. Kennedy received a couple of medals for saving the lives of most of his crew. The song might be crap, but Lt. Kennedy's actions that night (and the next day and night) weren't crap. Kennedy spent much of the rest of his life pretty close to a rocking chair because of a permanent back injury. A Mae West is a military life vest. Many military stories are horseshit. This one isn't. The one about his older brother isn't either. I've spent much of my life reading, and some of that reading was military history. This story checks out. That doesn't make Kennedy a great President, but check out Kennedy's speech to the nation about race. That's actual history, not sausage.


    1. Kennedy was the second greatest president of my lifetime, but that's a very low bar to limbo under. Mae West and his fame as a war hero don't factor into that, though.

    2. Mae West


    3. $8K doesn't even include free shipping?

      Mae West can grab my strap any time.

  5. I'm sure somebody will come up with a reason that the Empire of Japan was actually the victim in this war, although they murdered about six million people. Not killed in action: they murdered people who had already surrendered. Some wars actually do have good guys and bad guys, even if somebody made a movie depicting otherwise. Once in a while ya gotta read a book.


    1. I'm wondering how we got to this topic, but since we're here I'll be the somebody who says it — *of course* Japan was a victim in World War II. Can't fight in a war without being a victim of it.

    2. It might be useful to differentiate between nation states and the phony baloney governments that make national policy.

      In any case, we got here because I DJed Lucky Man by ELP and you icked the lyrics.

      If you want to hear it again, listen to the album version. It's over a minute longer than the 45.


    3. Always liked "Lucky Man," and I'm not icking the lyrics. Just icking out at the revelation that the song is another memorial to Kennedy, but with work I believe I can still enjoy it as a catchy ditty.

    4. Someone has come up with a victim narrative: the Japanese. Even though most Japanese are highly de-politicized, the "public" face still often downplays or seeks to debunk atrocities like The Rape of Nanjing or the atrocities of Unit 731.

      Few others will do so because (a) the overwhelming evidence of Japanese war crimes, though this matters less in our world today, and (b) the refusal by the Chinese to go along with it. Becoming a revisionist on behalf of the Japanese is pretty thankless considering their primary victims make up 17% of the world's total population and will never go along with it.

      (They obviously committed heinous crimes in all occupied territories and against POWs of all nations but they fought in China longer, with more troops, and with an incredible viciousness, so more of their victims were Chinese.)

    5. Trials over Japanese war crimes would involve digging up the dead, victims and perps alike, and I would *absolutely* watch gavel-to-gavel live coverage of that on CNN.

      It might be more beneficial to humanity if we prosecuted the living before the dead, though. Could've had Kissinger at the stockade until quite recently. There are others I'd nominate before Hirohito. For some, the trials wouldn't even need to be subtitled for American audiences.

  6. Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.


    1. Very much on my watchlist, but not until the high C's.


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