Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rolling Stones – "Emotional Rescue" (1980)

I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue

I had a very nice nap this afternoon.  It cost me $8.50 – which is more than I usually pay for a nap – because I took that nap while watching A Bigger Splash at a local movie theatre.

Here's the trailer for A Bigger Splash:

The best thing about A Bigger Splash is its setting – Pantelleria, a gorgeous little Mediterranean island that’s about halfway between Sicily and Tunisia:

The second-best thing is that Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” is featured on the soundtrack.  (That song is also used to good effect by Martin Scorsese in Goodfellas.)

The third-best thing about the movie is that it has a fair amount of nudity.

The worst thing about the movie is everything else.

The movie has four main characters.  Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is a rock star who has come to Pantelleria to loll around with her younger and much better-looking boyfriend Paul (who’s played by some unknown Belgian actor whose name I can neither pronounce nor spell).

Harry (Ralph Fiennes) is Marianne’s ex-lover, a record producer who shows up for an unexpected visit.  He’s accompanied by a very young and very nubile young woman named Penelope (Dakota Johnson), who is supposedly a daughter of his who he only recently got to know.

Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson
Marianne is suspicious at first that Penelope is not really Harry’s daughter, but his lover.  He naturally denies it . . . but he would deny it, wouldn’t he?

To cut to the chase, Ralph ends up sleeping with Marianne and Paul ends up sleeping with Penelope, a latter-day Lolita who claims to be 22, but turns out to be 17.

Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton
At least I think that’s what happened.  I can’t be sure because I was napping . . . more than once, if the truth be known.

I can’t for the life of me understand why so many movie critics are giving A Bigger Splash glowing reviews.  It is boring and pointless and insufferable.

Dakota Johnson and the Belgian guy
with the impossible-to-spell name
The most annoying thing about the movie is Ralph Fiennes, whose character consists of equal parts nervous energy and b*llshit.  The most annoying scene in the movie features him telling a tall tale about how he used his record-producer mojo to make “Emotional Rescue” a hit, and then doing a really bad Mick Jagger imitation – dancing spastically as he sings.

Unlike yours truly, Washington Post reviewer Ann Hornaday loved that scene, which she describes as the film’s “most hedonistically enjoyable sequence”:

Marianne’s obvious relaxation and delight [as Harry dances] are contagious.  Viewers who have come under the film’s spell by that time will feel as if they could stay in that room all day.

Ralph Fiennes dances up a storm
I’m too cheap to leave movies in the middle, but I was very tempted to do so in the middle of A Bigger Splash.  But I kept falling asleep.

The second-most annoying thing about the movie is that Swinton never speaks above a whisper.  Her rock-star character is recovering from throat surgery, you see, and isn’t supposed to use her voice until she is fully healed.

As it turns out, this was not a dumb idea on the part of the movie’s writer or director.  It was Swinton who insisted that her character be silent:

It was a time in my life when, for personal reasons, I was all out of words; I didn't want to say anything.  I wanted to do the film though, and this was the only way I could make it happen.  [Italian director Luca Guadagnino] really wanted me to do the film.  But the moment came to shoot it, and I really just had nothing to say. . . . Eventually I said to Luca: “Look, I'll come if I don't have to speak,” and the more I thought about it, the more I felt it would work.  It wouldn't be just about making me relax, but it would be good for the film.

Back to Ann Hornaday’s review, which describes the Swinton character as “a Patti Smith-like singer.”  That’s like saying Spinal Tap is a Beach Boys-like band. 

Here's Swinton's Marianne character:

Does glammy Marianne look anything like Patti Smith?

Marianne's onstage look was clearly inspired not by Patti Smith but by Swinton's close friend, David Bowie.

One final note.  A Bigger Splash was inspired by a French movie, La Piscine, which was released in 1969.  La Piscine starred Alain Delon and Romy Schneider – who had been lovers in real life – as Harry  and Marianne.  

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
More importantly, its cast also included Jane Birkin – who would later become the namesake for the famous Hermès Birkin bag – as Penelope.  

Here’s “Emotional Rescue,” which has to be one of the very worst songs the Rolling Stones ever released.  Jagger’s falsetto singing is just awful.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon.  (I'd spend my $1.29 on a good song instead, but you're big boys and girls.)

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