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The Sebastian Guinness Gallery on Burlington Road (just round the corner from Mespil Road’s eponymous hotel) is currently playing host to a short and typically saccharine-sweet exhibition of David LaChapelle photography. Well known for his gaudy, hypersurreal celebrity portraits, ad campaigns and fashion editorials, the majority of LaChapelle’s work drips off the screen in vivid hues and varying amounts of raunch, kitsch, campery and bling – in some instances, all at once.

Would-Be Martyr And 72 Virgins

“American Jesus” appears to be a compilation of existing work with only a handful of new pieces, but it’s worth a trip to see LaChapelle’s full technicolour brilliance blown up large and more in your face than ever. As the title attests, religious-themed work of all creeds dominates. There’s a full replication of his 2003 “Jesus Is My Homeboy” editorial for i-D Magazine, depicting Christ as
a latter-day dude with a coterie of leisurewear- and tat-sporting apostles;
his “Archangel Michael” tribute to Jacko; the Gulliveresque “Would-Be Martyr” surrounded by 72 Bratzy virgins; and the “Candy Mosque”, looking good enough to eat (which would surely be a sacrilege upon a sacrilege).

Last Supper

There’s a nod to Michelangelo’s “La Pieta” (taken from his 2005 “Heaven To Hell” collection) with Courtney Love cradling a suspiciously Kurty Jesus.
And there are the fabulous ensemble works “Deluge” and “Cathedral”, which draw inspiration from the Great Flood, with the former in particular depicting a drowing society brought down by consumerism – ironic indeed from the man with the most excessive eye in the genre.

Cathedral

Speaking of consumerism, the first of two distinctly untypical subsets of LaChapelle’s work on display, “Negative Currency”, presumably took its place as a commentary on the greatest Western religion of them all – the almighty dollar – while the second, a selection of the eerily serene underwater portraits which made up his 2007 “Awakened” collection (are they going towards the surface,
or going towards the light?), is possibly LaChapelle at his most minimal and sombre. A watermelon sorbet amongst the knickerbocker glory of everything else on show, it’s not what you’d expect, and all the more outstanding for it.

Job Awakened

“American Jesus” is open Tuesdays-Saturdays 11-6 until 31st October, and is well worth a look on your lunch break – just don’t have dessert before you go.

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Look out, Wu-Tang Clan!

There’s a new crew in town…

So Bad it’s gonna be good?

Given that, by my count, he’s made 10 average-to-awful films in a row
(from 2004’s National Treasure to 2009’s Knowing) with only a 12-second Grindhouse trailer cameo to leaven the dross, I thought it a pretty safe bet
that Nicolas Cage was never going to make another decent film in his life.
That was before I saw the trailer for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans:

From what I can gather, it’s a “franchise” re-imagining of the Abel Ferrara / Harvey Keitel original – perhaps they’re aiming to kick off a corrupt cop version of softcore DTV serial The Red Shoe Diaries? I saw the original Bad Lt. once in college and remember quite a lot of heavy religious iconography and El Harvo stumbling around muttering, firing guns and whining, frequently all at once
and occasionally without his pants on. That was a treat and no mistake.

This time round, Werner Herzog seems happy to bin all that stuff and just go for Saint Nic reprising Sailor Ripley from Wild At Heart, off on another psycho bender except this time with a cop’s badge instead of a snakeskin jacket. What won’t be to like? The only minus marks here come from a sequence which seems to hint that his drug use stems from an injury incurred in the line of duty, which in my book feels a little too Hollywood-character-compassionate for what’s obviously an indie film. And since when do Werner Herzog protagonists, of all people, need to have mitigating moral circumstances? You can only imagine how Klaus Kinski would have reacted to a bunch of studio suits looking to play to the multiplexes. Anyhoo, any film in which Val Kilmer’s playing the straight man must be worth a look. And with any luck, its success will lead to any number of future Bad Lieutenant spinoffs. James Van Der Beek in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Capeside, Massachusetts? Matthew Perry in Bad Lieutenant: Upper West Side Social Circle? John Cusack in Bad Lieutenant: Chicago Museum of Science and Industry? Bring them on. Bring them all on. But bring this one first.

Swayze takes the train

So R.I.P. then Patrick Swayze. Work’s precluded me from doing much blogging of late but some passings can’t go without comment. Most will be remembering him today as the romantic lead of Dirty Dancing and Ghost, others still as surfin’ dude/stickup man Bodhi in Point Break, but for me and most men of my age,
it’s time to raise a glass at the Double Deuce and pay our respects to JT Dalton, the best damn cooler in the business.

Twenty years on, Road House still holds its own as a Saturday night sixpack’n’pizza guilty pleasure par excellence, as this scene amply illustrates:

Annnnnd repeat to fade. Directed by the tellingly-named Rowdy Herrington,
it’s a heady concoction of bar-room brawls, cheesy wisecracks, hairsprayed tarts, more bar-room brawls, Jeff Healey essentially playing himself, salty language, even more bar-room brawls, stuffed polar bears, the entire central casting roster of good ol’ boy bad guys, and for good measure, a bar-room brawl or two. Essentially, it plays out as a grown-up episode of the A-Team, with Swayze rolling into town as a one-man combo of the smart one, the tough one, the hunky one and the crazy one, in order to help out a troubled venture by taking down a supercilious local crimelord (Ben Gazzara – who else?) and his denim-clad goons.

With some fairly crunchy violence, a sweet’n’steamy love interest in Kelly Lynch, gratuitous swearing aplenty and no end of classic quips like, “I was on a break!” – “Stay on it…” or, “Consider it severance pay – take the train…”,
Road House will forever be the one you reach for when the vicarious urge
takes you to imagine yourself as the toughest, smoothest sonovabitch in
all of Missouri. And if the imminent tombstone doesn’t read “PATRICK SWAYZE, 1952-2009: IT WAS HIS WAY OR THE HIGHWAY”, then I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.

I’m A Rock Et Man

Invoking the spirit of Shatner in my T.J. Hooker piece earlier reminded me of possibly the finest thing he’s ever done – this version of Elton John’s Rocket Man for a 1978 Sci Fi Awards ceremony:

So good is it that it not only has a Family Guy parody courtesy of Stewie,
it’s also referenced in Beck’s video for “Where It’s At”. (The entire vid is worth sitting through but FFWD to 2.25 if you absolutely must.)

Of course I say cop shows, but most of these guys were private eyes who had an unorthodox way of getting things done, dammit! And note that these weren’t necessarily the best shows, but the best credits – the sequences that made you go, “man, I want to watch this…”. The frequent disappointments
which followed were only because the anticipation had been made so great by a winning combination of music, mayhem, character and charisma that was guaranteed to keep you hooked – at least until the first ad break.

MIA here are Miami Vice, CHiPs and Magnum P.I., which all had great theme tunes but boring credits (unless you were a big fan of the Florida Tourist Board, closeups of motorbike parts or a shirtless Tom Selleck respectively).

1. Spenser For Hire

Whether wining and dining them in Boston’s finest restaurants or taking them in the shower, Robert Urich sure knew how to treat a lady right. This one seemed to have it all – badass black sidekick? Check. Short, balding, harassed, donut-eating cop who world-wearily puts up with Spenser’s unorthodox way of getting things done, dammit? Check. Scary eyes senior authority figure? Check check check. But what’s with Spenser’s oral fixation? One minute he’s popping breath mints at a Celtics game, the next he’s slurping up spaghetti in a lumberjack shirt. And whatever Hawk’s finding so funny in the closing sequence, Spenser sure ain’t laughing.

(NB Avery Brooks got his own short-lived spinoff, A Man Called Hawk,
tho it was cancelled after 13 eps either due to low ratings – or if you believe John from Michigan, having “overwhelmed white people in the 1980s to see a black man portrayed so splendidly”!)

2. Matt Houston

Christ, I wanted to be Matt Houston. What a guy! A Texan millionaire who had literally nothing better to do than solve crime, he was equally at ease hob-nobbing at posh society do’s or rolling around in the dirt wrasslin’ bad guys. That’s versatility. Why was he so cool? Watch and learn, people: he’s the playboy master of whatever vehicle he hops into, be it fast car, speedboat or whirlybird. He drives police cars… over OTHER police cars! Despite – or perhaps due to – looking like the guy off the Brawny kitchen roll packaging, he gets all the ladies, not least his pouting bit of posh “assistant” CJ (US 70s-80s TV smokestress Pamela Hensley), who seemed to adore and despair of him in equal measures. He doesn’t just have a world-weary, harassed, donut-eating cop buddy, he’s got a BLACK, world-weary, harassed donut-eating cop buddy – who can skindive. Take that, Magnum! And don’t even get me started on his Uzi-toting, brandy-quaffing octogenarian uncle… Obviously the main inspiration for the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, how this only lasted 3 seasons is beyond me.

3. The Equalizer

Great music, especially when it kicks in at the end. Also stands out among the other character-fests due to the lack of Edwood Woodwood until the last 15 secs of the sequence, and even then he’s in silhouette for most of that.
No knockaround regular guys here – this show means business.
Other than the Jerry Seinfeld lookalike who can’t get out of the phone booth (hey, we’ve all been there) I’d forgotten how many scenarios in the credits allude to vulnerable single women being followed by undesirables in flat leather caps. Never mind the Equalizer, someone call the Fashion Police!

4. Hardcastle & McCormick

Or “The Judge and The Pilot”, as the French subtitles helpfully translate for those of us who are completely in the dark as to what the fuck was going on here. Although it must be through some sense of Parisian bourgeois liberalism that McCormick is referred to as a pilot, when in actual fact he was a reformed car thief. There’s no denying it – you see him in prison as the lyrics sing “everybody’s doing time”. Less liberal, more literal. (These, of course,
are the same lyrics which include the never-bettered couplet, “Slow motion man / Iron and steel in the palm of your hand”. Yes!) Teamed up with Brian Keith’s crusty retired judge Hardcastle, they went after bad guys who’d walked away scot-free from Hardcastle’s court – on technicalities! The sons of bitches. Probably wearing shit-eating grins while they were strutting out, too.
One look at these credits, however, and it’s obvious that, as they say on Top Gear, the car’s the star. The reg plate alone – COYOTE X – dripped with cool, and that was before you saw it move. Every 9-year old boy wanted to gun it into 5th and drive underneath an artic, preferably while blowing a Wish I Was In Dixie musical horn, making for a fidgety sit through whatever faffery the judge and the pilot were getting into while you waited for the car chases.
If they were remaking this for a rubbish Hollywood comedy today, they’d be casting Will Ferrell and Bryan Dennehy with infrequently hilarious results.
(NB if this actually happens I will sue.)

5. The A-Team

I know, I know, it’s not a cop show, but no list of this sort would be complete without this lot. This is the one that got your fizzy-drink high spiking to dangerous levels whenever the chopper blades and military drumbeat laid down the backbeat for what was to come – a 90-second orgy of shit-eating grins, cigar chomping, manic mugging, bad-assery and of course, lots and lots
of vehicular destruction. Cars drive THROUGH buildings! Jeeps FLIP over shrubbery! Low-flying choppers force cars INTO puddles! Whatever came next, great as it invariably was, could never quite live up to the excitement of those opening credits. And let’s not forget the wonderful postmodern touch of Face reacting to the Cylon. I bet David Lynch was a big A-Team fan.

6. Cagney & Lacey
Ahh, that jaunty sax… the girls walking to work on the streets… this must be an ’80s precursor to Sex and The City, right? But hang on a minute, does she have a gun? Christ, they both do! Whu… they’re cops? In fashionable (for the time) knitwear? Only in New York! Just to keep some kind of gender balance,
they surround them with a representative of every known male cop category: the balding, harassed one (donut surely just out of shot), the down-with-the-streets black one, the shirtless one and the bow-tie wearing Poindexter one, but all of them together couldn’t hold a candle to the twin blow-dried beacons of feminine assertiveness, Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly. That bit where they barely react to the flasher? That was the start of Girl Power, right there.

7. Knight Rider

Controversial as it may seem, for all its sleek black finish and many secret weapon buttons, I think I would have always preferred to drive Coyote X over KITT. Let’s face it, he was always a bit up himself. The credits never gave an inkling, though: what you got was a portentous voiceover bordering on asthmatic – bringing the excitement of Movie Voiceover Man to those of us who were still only young enough for the small screen – and THAT fantastic electronic score. You got a black car speeding through a vast purple twilit desert, evoking wondrous visions of exotic, unknown Americana and vague fears of what might happen if you got any sand in the axles. You got David Hasslehoff, cool dude extraordinaire (“a man who does not exist”, indeed). And you got lots of KITT smashing through and jumping over whatever foolish obstacles managed
to get in his way. Full marks also to Patricia MacPherson for perfecting the
“look-around-suspiciously-followed-by-an-oh-it’s-YOU-grin” so crucial for
a good character intro credit montage. That girl will go far. Er, or perhaps not…

8. Hart To Hart

I don’t think there’s anything I can say about this that Max himself doesn’t say better, although special mention must go to the bit where their smooching in the surf is rudely interrupted by a dead body. Proof positive to debunk anyone who says that all the excitement goes once you get married.

9. T.J. Hooker

Always a big hit with those of us too young to appreciate the full ridiculousness of William Shatner or the streetwalkin’ slang connotations of the title,
T.J. Hooker was the coolest cop – and the coolest-named cop – around.
This series seems to have had different yet equally exciting opening credits for
each season; here, I’ve plumped for Season 4 which, while sadly lacking in any demonstration of the “T.J. Hooker roll” or a shirtless Adrian Zmed (steady, girls), gets bonus Heather Locklear sassafras points and showcases a relentless parade of auto erotica (a car chase where both cars are on fire? I’m there!), including perhaps the signature “cop-car-cresting-a-hill-by-six-clear-feet” shot, plus one genius piece of editing where it appears that Romano has blown up his own squad car with a single shotgun blast. Try explaining that one to your desk sergeant…

10. Ohara

Something of a dark horse, this one, and a show I’ve never actually seen an episode of. But if I were sitting on the couch in my pants eating a giant block of cheese at 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon and I saw these credits come up on screen, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be changing channels. It seems to have been a short-lived Pat Morita vehicle based on his post-Karate Kid mainstream popularity – I can only imagine lots of gags where people reckoned he was an Irish cop when they heard the name – where his (oh yes) unconventional police lieutenant was ably assisted by solid performers of the likes of Jon Polito,
Jack Wallace and Robert Clohessy, not to mention the as-then-unknown talents of take-no-shit screen goddesses Rachel Ticotin and Catherine Keener.
It’s unavailable on DVD. Hell, it’s even unavailable on VHS. But somewhere, surely, it’s out there, and someone watching these credits is right now saying, “oh man, this is going to be great…”

Not that there’s much competition, but Jimmy Bullard must surely be the Premiership’s funniest player. Here he is filming his player idents for Sky:

And this is his legendary message to his old club Peterborough United,
followed by some on-couch blather with Lovejoy and Hells Bells which,
to be fair, isn’t quite as entertaining: