Today’s post is a thematic concatenation originating in a conversation, the focus of which I cannot reveal, linked to an upcoming movie, proceeding into the art of cinematic musicology, and ending, as all things inevitably must, in the commemoration of my death – but not before the obligatory Leonard Cohen reference is documented.
The Watchmen Movie
In that alluded to conversation, I obtained inside information about The Watchmen, a long-awaited movie, due to be released March 6, 2009.
Then, through a series of events that included artistic decisions about what would and would not be included in the final version of the movie and a court battle over which conglomerate owned which rights to the film that inside information, in a transformation reminiscent of the past administration’s policies, became worthless but retained its classification as a secret.
Nonetheless, I remained interested in the film, which is based on the comic series of the same name. The press release describing the flick follows:
A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, “Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” – which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union – is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity…but who is watching the watchmen?
Wikipedia helpfully adds
Creatively, the focus of Watchmen [the print version] is on its structure. Gibbons [the author] used a nine-panel grid layout throughout the series and added recurring symbols such as a blood-stained smiley face. All but the last issue feature supplemental fictional documents that add to the series’ backstory, and the narrative is intertwined with that of another story, a fictional pirate comic titled Tales of the Black Freighter, which one of the characters is reading.
Watchmen has received critical acclaim both in the comics and mainstream press, and is regarded as a seminal text of the comic book medium.
This trailer provides a taste of the film, which stars Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode and Carla Gugino.
The Watchmen Music
Although the soundtrack only recently went on sale (though not available yet, it can be pre-ordered), the music for The Watchmen has been a matter of discussion for some time. A July 24, 2008 AceShowBiz post included this excerpt:
Explaining more about Cole’s “Unforgettable” track, the 42-year-old [director Zack Snyder] gushed that the song will be heard over the scene in which Edward Blake a.k.a Comedian is being beaten out by Adrian Veidt who is known as Ozymandias. “It’s actually in Blake’s fight with Adrian, because what happens is he’s watching TV and he turns on a Nostalgia ad, and the Nostalgia ad has ‘Unforgettable’ on it,” so claimed Snyder.
“Nostalgia is Veidt’s perfume. And if you look at the graphic novel, that song is mentioned in reference to the perfume, and I thought that would be cool. I shot my own commercial for Nostalgia…Blake is watching that when Adrian kicks the door in and starts beating the crap out of him.”
The selections on the soundtrack,1 shown below, are indeed impressive.
1. Desolation Row, My Chemical Romance
2. Unforgettable, Nat King Cole
3. The Times They Are A-Changin’, Bob Dylan
4. The Sound of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel
5. Me & Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin
6. I’m Your Boogie Man, KC & The Sunshine Band
7. You’re My Thrill, Billie Holiday
8. Pruit Igoe & Prophecies, The Philip Glass Ensemble
9. Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen
10. All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix
11. Ride of the Valkyries, Budapest Symphony Orchestra
12. Pirate Jenny, Nina Simone2
As the Amazon Listing points out,
Watchmen’s Music From The Motion Picture is as wildly adventurous as the film-from Modern Rock hero My Chemical Romance covering Bob Dylan’s ‘Desolation Row’ and 1960s classics from Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to unforgettable gems from Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.
Watchmen may be the first soundtrack ever to include both Leonard Cohen and KC & The Sunshine Band.
From The Watchmen To Reservoir Dogs
The notion of Nat King Cole’s lovely “Unforgettable” playing while a beating is being delivered triggered in me thoughts of Quentin Tarantino’s use of “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel as background for the torture and shooting of the policeman.
The Unbearable Coolness Of Being Tarantino3
And from that scene with its Tarantino trademark violence, it is only a short jump to the Reservoir Dogs scene that has for years been my designated coolest movie scene ever – the iconic Rat-Pack walk set to the jazzy Little Green Bag.4
George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag in Reservoir Dogs
One of the few souvenirs of the short-lived Dutch Invasion of 1970 still on the scene today (remember Venus by Shocking Blue and Ma Belle Amie by the Tee Set?), Little Green Bag is a hodge-podge of quasi-punky, quasi-funky rock and roll with respectable riffs, smile-inducing bounciness, and, of course, those sleigh bells in the opening bars.
George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag
Naturally, from watching the coolest scene in movies to recognizing the intense need to re-enact it is an almost instantaneous transition. Unfortunately, opportunities to act out Reservoir Dogs are dauntingly rare in this Northern Illinois village. A special occasion is required.
Some folks, I know, have used the song during the pre-wedding amble to the church, but awaiting a matrimonial ceremony seems an iffy bet in my case.
Taxes and death, however, as the adage has it, are certainties.
Try as I might, I cannot arouse much enthusiasm for using the scenario as a stroll to the mailbox to send in my tax forms.
Little Green Body Bag
On the other hand, that same set-up could be a great addition to a funeral.
And, there is a precedent of sorts. Check out the first 45 seconds of “Sex, Death & Nudity” episode of Coupling (The original British version, Season 1, Episode 3) as the group of primary characters arrive at a memorial service:
Now, the walk to the service would scarcely invite my personal involvement, what with me being dead and all, so the scene will be shifted to the post-funeral procession.
And, while I am confident that a crew of buddies led by Duke of Derm and Lord of Leisure could pull it off, toting a casket-full of me might, I fear, cramp their style. Instead, I’m thinking that each member of the party would be issued a classy, high-end boutique style green bag containing only a fraction of the creamains.
Heck, it’s OK with me to get bags that are recyclable – or, better yet, biodegradable.
There are still a batch of details, such as where to deposit my residue,5 to be worked out.
Creative differences also have to be resolved. While it would break with tradition, adding women to the group, for example, would, it seems to me, stroke up the coolness factor and add a bit of sexual tension to the occasion.
As returning readers may recall, planning for the memorial has been underway for some time, as evidenced by my Eulogy Series:
- He Was One Heck Of A Guy – The Eulogy
- The Opposite Of Eulogy Is – Eulogy
- Eulogy For Chuckles Lauds Clown, Laughter, Trouser Effervescence
- Graham Chapman And The Parrot Are Dead – A Eulogy To Die For
Given that, it should not be surprising that this is not a casual matter. Improvisation has no place here. A choreographer will be needed to work out the routine. Practice sessions must be mandatory.
So much to do.
I may have to revise the Kübler-Ross model to include a sixth stage:
- Way Cool Memorial Service Planning
- Potential purchasers should be aware that the movie’s “soundtrack” and “score” are two distinctly different musical collection. From IGN:
On March 3rd Warner Sunset/Reprise Records will be releasing both the soundtrack and score to Watchmen.
The soundtrack features music from the likes of My Chemical Romance (who do a brand new cover of the Bob Dylan classic “Desolation Row”), as well as classic tracks from Nat King Cole, Simon & Garfunkel, and Janis Joplin, which are featured prominently in the film itself.
The Original Score Album features music composed by Tyler Bates (The Devil’s Rejects, 300, and Californication). Bates has also been chosen to score the Watchmen’s DVD added story, “Tales From The Black Freighter.”
- Used in the end credits of Tales From The Black Freighter [↩]
- There is – lucky guess – a rather direct Quentin Tarantino-Leonard Cohen connection. See Leonard Cohen and Quentin Tarantino: Heavy Video [↩]
- “Little Green Bag” is a slang reference to cannabis. [↩]
- Efforts to track down my first wife’s address have been thus far unrequited [↩]