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April 22, 2011


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Tom Block

Assayas wanted Feelies songs throughout "Carlos" but they wisely declined the honor; "Loveless Love" is goddam wonderful in it, though. I'd totally forgotten it's in Demme's movie, too.

Glenn Kenny

Actually, Tom, "Forces At Work" is in "Carlos" too, and the accounts of what went down between the Feelies and Olivier are kind of not-quite-accurate, for various reasons of the make-a-long-story-short/lost-in-translation ilk. I myself actually intervened a bit with the band, whom I've known for almost 35 years (Jesus!), on Assayas' behalf, and was/remain on the "pro" side of the Feelies-music-in-"Carlos" issue; I didn't bring it up in this post because I've mentioned it before, and I didn't wanna look like a name-dropping groupie alternative star-fucker or what have you. (I know there are other "critics" who are totally fine with that, but, you know.) Anyway, since you don't think the music should be in there, there's little point in me repeating the story, but let's just say it was a series of misunderstandings that got further pulverized by a production deadline.

Tom Block

Just to be clear, it's not that I think the music didn't belong. What I at least READ somewhere is that the band didn't want their songs to become so heavily associated with a movie about a terrorist that their body of work would be thought of as "that 'Carlos' music" (<--my paraphrase). True or not, that's an impulse I certainly understand. I'm certainly interested in the fuller story if you feel like linking or recapping...

Glenn Kenny

All right, long story short, from what I know/heard: OA wanted to use a bunch of Feelies songs, most of them from "Rhythms," one from "Only Life," and he was looking to the U.K. division of Domino Records, which had recently reissued "Rhythms" and "The Good Earth" in the U.K. and Europe (I think). He was also looking for songs by other artists, including Robert Wyatt(!). Domino U.K. gave him a blanket turndown, saying NONE of the artists wanted their music used in a movie "about a terrorist/terrorism." Except Domino was not in an official position to turn down on behalf of the Feelies, as they were the licensees, not the licensors, of those records (which were reissued by Bar/None in the U.S.); Glenn and Bill of the Feelies are in fact now the ones in the position to give the nod. I got OA in touch with them through Mr. Demeski, the person in the band I'm closest with. I can't speak for Glenn and Bill, but it's well-known that they are VERY particular on how their music is used in film IF AT ALL (they turn down almost everything), and there was a long back-and-forth with OA about using vocal portions of the songs, stuff like that. Bear in mind that this was all happening literally weeks before "Carlos" was screening in Cannes and OA was tearing his hair out over this and so much else at the time. Had the parties actually been able to get together under less frantic circumstances and establish a relationship wherein OA could have shown exactly what he wanted to do and why, would things have turned out differently? Can't really say. In the end, there's about four minutes of Feelies music in the picture, which doesn't sound like a lot given the film's length but isn't a little, either. As for the song Olivier wanted from "Only Life" (it was "Higher Ground") he never was able to locate the licensor ("Only Life" was an A&M release) and I understand the Feelies themselves are at a loss with respect to that as well. (Shades of The Red Crayola's "Soldier Talk," which took forever to get reissued because the original label Radar was so deeply swallowed up by Warner U.K. that nobody knew anything about it...and the consideration was that the piece of music was such small potatoes that it wasn't worth the trouble of finding out. [I was actually told by someone in the periphery of the corporate bowels that assigning a licensing person to even look into the matter was deemed a waste of resources.] This is a weird field.)

Tom Block

Jesus. Thanks.

>four minutes...doesn't sound like a lot given the film's length but isn't a little

The sound of "Loveless Love" is inextricably bound up in my mind with the whole movie's tension and sexiness. Considering it takes up a very few minutes in a 5-1/2 hour movie, that's leaving a mark.


Have I mentioned before how much I love CARLOS? And I'll be checking out that SOMETHING WILD disc this weekend, too.

Stephen Whitty

Funny, caught this film last night on a channel-surfing driveby about 10 minutes in and was immediately hooked until the end.

A small fave, not least of all for its wonderful, unintentional, freeze-frame evocation of downtown NY circa late-80s.

Still, looking at it, I did wonder a bit about the trajectory of Melanie Griffith's career. Within a very short period of time, the woman worked with Demme, Lumet, DePalma, Nichols. And then...?

There were, admittedly, all sorts of personal/private stresses involved, but still it's an odd, melancholy tale. (I'd say a "cautionary" one but I'm not sure what the lesson would be.)

The Siren

Stephen, I don't know, is it really all that odd? I'd say Griffith's string of good roles in A pictures ended with Nobody's Fool in '94 (a movie I like); according to IMDB that would be the year she turned 37.

It makes me sad just to type this, but I'm more surprised when a leading actress' career *doesn't* fall off a cliff around that age, whether she's straight or sober, level-headed and stable or loopier than an LA freeway.

Scott Lemieux

Have been wondering about the new Feelies -- your endorsement makes the purchase decision easy.


I don't think Griffith was ever considered a big box office draw either, despite the success of WORKING GIRL (her only real hit, I believe). Arguably, if she had tried to build on that film's success with more romantic comedies instead of things like PACIFIC HEIGHTS, BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and SHINING THROUGH, she might have gained a little longevity. BORN YESTERDAY was too little, too late, and of course forced comparison to the great Judy Holliday. Then she had that weird lip job, or whatever, that made her barely recognizable. It's sad what the business (and the market) does to women as they age, or what they do to themselves to try to remain "viable" in it.


Glenn, please keep dropping names and being a star-fucking groupie, as long as you're talking about the greatest band of all time, the Feelies. I'm actually happy they're associated with Carlos, because otherwise they would just be associated with Smithereens.

Stephen: I'm sure that Griffith was honored to work with Lumet, but at what cost? Are people now going to make arguments for A Stranger Among Us? I'm a bit of a Lumet fanboy, but even I have my limits.

Mr. Peel

Great as this scene is, I have a particular soft spot for the one right before this when everything is fine with the two of them, Charlie is finally able to relax and everything stops as they just dance. I love this movie.

Incidentally, I spotted Griffith a my local Starbucks about a year ago and the first thing that came to mind was how the area, Los Feliz, was more the sort of place that Audrey/Lulu would be in. For what it's worth she looked fine (i.e. lips). I left her alone, much as I wanted to say something.

As for Lumet, that film wasn't a hit but does anyone think that it seriously impacted her stardom trajectory? Would things really have turned out any different otherwise?

That also makes me want to ask if there has been any talk over the past week of certain disreputable Lumet titles people have a secret fondness for. I don't think I've seen GUILTY AS SIN since opening weekend but for some strange reason I'd kind of like to seek it out.


Mr. Peel: I actually recall rather liking GUILTY AS SIN, if in no way thinking it ranked with Lumet's greats.

Glad to hear that Griffith may have let her lips return to normal.

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