Tag Archives: movies

I Was a Nine Year Old Cultist

Source Family Photo
I love this movie: The Source Family. It details the formation and history of your proto-typical southern Californian 70s cult. Founded by entrepreneur-judo champ-war hero-man-killer-turned-spiritual-guru-and natural-food-purveyor, Jim Baker, The Source Family did a lot of its recruiting via a psych-rock band comprised of Family members. Over the years, the band recorded several highly collectable albums under various names, including Yahowa13, Children Of The Sixth Root RaceFather Yod And The Spirit Of ’76Fire, Water, Air, and Yodship. While the trailer for the film implies a bit more doom and drama than the film actually delivers, it’s still a fascinating look into how one man can take over the lives of many. And the music is pure gold!

I have had a lifelong obsession with cults. The idea that a person, by sheer force of personality, can control others fascinates me. That so many of these stories end in tragedy appeals to my sense of drama. That so many of them include sex, drugs and rock and roll appeals to my love of outlaw culture. And to think that it all started with a warning…

I spent the summer of 1980 in Wichita Falls, Texas with family friends. I was nine years old and excited to be on a trip all by myself, but also spent many late drives home from rodeos crying in the backseat because I was certain my parents would die while I was away. Such was the psyche of a young boy away from his family for the first time.

Psyches were generally fragile in that time. The 70s may have officially ended that December 31, but the cultural ramifications and general freakiness were still very much in play. The year 1980 was much more like the loosey-goosey 70s than the Yuppie-filled decade it marks. Music was still loose, drugs were still prevalent, people were still searching. It was confusing.

The parents I was staying with of course had to work, which left a minimum of eight hours a day where their daughter and I were unsupervised. We spent much of that time at the community pool listening to Eddie Rabbit croon about how much he loved a rainy night. We were pretty good kids so we didn’t really get into much trouble but I did get into a scrap or two with the neighborhood boys and it was eventually decided that we would attend Bible school.

Most of the classes were boring, but toward the end of the summer we had a whole week dedicated to cult awareness. You have to remember that the Jonestown massacre had occurred less than two years previous. The first American Blessing Ceremony of the Unification Church (a mass wedding conducted by Rev. Sun Myung Moon) was still two years away. In Texas, and around the country, there was a growing fear of cults and their influence on young people in particular.

The week kicked off with a movie that we all watched in the church activity room. It was all very spooky with grainy news footage of Jim Jones and various fakers, but Jones was the star and it was easy to see why. Who can forget those shades and the fact that his most infamous, heinous act was the origin of an idiom that so perfectly articulated the danger of blind submission. I was indeed drinking the cool aid.

The rest of the week was focused on how we spot cults and those who might want to indoctrinate us into their fold. What actually happened was I went home armed with a dozen or so other cults and leaders I wanted to research. My library lending habits would certainly raise the suspicion of today’s Security State listeners, but this was 1980! I could check out as many books on sadistic egomaniacs as I like!

Somehow, Jim Baker and The Source Family never hit my radar. Maybe it’s because of how the story ends (and I won’t give that away here), but I’ve since been spending some time on Wikipedia and various other sites dedicated to the Source Family story and all I can say is, “Yahowha!”

Movie Review: TRON Legacy

Video: Orangechair.tv – “TRON: Legacy”

TRON: Legacy brings us back to the grid, but the game has changed. It is one of the most visually appealing movies of the year and sports an amazing score from Daft Punk, but the plot lacks the substance to hold up to repeat viewings.

Daft Punk presents a score that turns an otherwise dull movie into a spectacular two-hour music video. The result is a fusion of Hans Zimmer’s Inception and Trent Reznor’s The Social Network scores with an extra dash of adrenaline.

Movie critic for OrangeChair.TV, Mike Eisenberg is also an independent filmmaker and staff writer at Screenrant.com. For more of his reviews, check out OrangeChair.TV.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On A Wire

Leonard Cohen - Bird On A WireLeonard CohenBird On A Wire (TMC)

The story goes that Leonard Cohen’s manager, Marty Machat, commissioned director Tony Palmer to follow Leonard around on a 20-date European tour with the intention of capturing a bit of the creative muse on celluloid.

The film Bird On A Wire sat in Machat’s storage until he passed away, at which time Cohen took over possession and kept the film in hiding. Recently, Cohen returned the footage to the son of his former manager, who immediately set about tracking down Tony Palmer to complete the project that had started four decades earlier.

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Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides

Wesley Willis's Joy RidesNewly released on DVD, Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides is a beautifully assembled biographical documentary of one of Chicago’s most unique artists. Wesley Willis was a diagnosed chronic schizophrenic who found a way to turn both his art and his music into a reliable source of income over his tragically shortened life; he died at 40 of leukemia in 2003. Willis’s twin careers as both an artist and musician fascinated some, offended others, and were marginalized by still others.

His career as a visual art is sometimes even further obscured by the same subset of fans who loved his music. While it is easy to dismiss his ballpoint-pen artwork of cityscapes, to do so is to do Wesley a huge disservice. I wasn’t aware that to a degree, Wesley had formal architectural drawing experience. The amount of detail in his drawings is staggering, and the fact that years after he’d visited a certain city he could draw a building or a subway tunnel from memory is an astounding ability. The movie shows Wesley in the latter part of his life while drawing, and it’s fascinating to see the artist in action.

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New Lennon Bio Pic: Nowhere Boy

It’s a terrible name so can the film be any good? Who knows? A new biographical film on John Lennon titled Nowhere Boy premiered in the UK this week. The film focuses on Lennon’s youth up through the launch of The Beatles. One unique factor is the use of Lennon’s actual voice to drive some of the narrative. He’s a fascinating character and the story of The Beatles doesn’t get old for many of us, but how many really good non-documentary movies have been made about John Lennon’s life and music?

Trailer: Nowhere Boy

Via Melophobe

John Lennon: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

The Beatles: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Over the Edge: An Oral History

Over the Edge

On the movie’s 30th anniversary, Vice Magazine features Over the Edge: An Oral History of the Greatest Teen Rebellion Movie of All Time. They talk to the cast (including Matt Dillon), the writers, the director, the producer, and even Bun E. Carlos:

Bun E. Carlos (drummer for Cheap Trick): When the movie came out, we were still up-and-coming and not yet rock stars. This was our first major soundtrack; we hadn’t had a hit single yet. We were just glad to be asked to participate.

There were two scenes in particular that really worked well with our music. The first scene was when the kid [Mark] shoots the cop car with a BB gun. That song was “Downed,” and it was brand-new. The guitar had a kind of helter-skelter sound, and it was very effective. The second scene was when the other kid [Carl] lies on his bed, listening to headphones with “Surrender” playing. I just thought it was great.

The director admits that one of the teenaged actresses “was practically the music supervisor for the movie. I just listened to what she played me and paid attention. The movie is better for it.” The soundtrack is amazing and—in addition to Cheap Trick—also features the Cars, Van Halen, and the Ramones. Badass.

Via bb.

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Gibbard and Farrar Team for Kerouac Bio

If someone had asked me what Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Son Volt’s Jay Farrar have in common I might have answered, “They both have unique voices?” As it turns out they have much more in common, including a shared passion for Jack Kerouac and it appears now, co-writing credits on the soundtrack for an upcoming bio on the king of Beat writers.

Gibbard and Farrar were approached by filmmakers in 2007 about writing music for the film One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur (IMDB), due on October 20. According to Farrar, approximately 90% of the soundtrack’s lyrics draw directly from Kerouac’s poems. One wonders how the filmmakers landed on these two as writing partners, a question that isn’t immediately answered by Gibbard.

“I’d never met Jay before, and we found ourselves in a studio with a film crew, just blinking at each other, diving right into recording sessions,” Gibbard told Billboard.com. “In that first session, we did 3 or 4 songs together. We had the trepidation of not really knowing each other; getting to know each other in real time as we were recording made for a beautiful recording.”

Album details after the jump…

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Tom Waits Is Satan

Tom Waits As Mr. Nick/The Devil

Tom Waits will portray Satan himself in Terry Gilliam‘s upcoming film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

“How do you play the devil?,” muses Waits of his second pairing with the filmmaker. “How do you play an archetype that large, that deep in history? I finally realized that I was just going to have to play it myself — it’s my devil. It’s the way I play the devil.”

Should be good. You know there ain’t no devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk…

Tom Waits: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

Via 24bit.

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New Mustard Plug Documentary

Never Get Out Of The Van: The Story of Mustard PlugNever Get Out Of The Van: The Story of Mustard Plug is an 84-minute documentary that traces the ska-punk pioneers “from their humble roots in the basements, bars and punk clubs of Grand Rapids, Michigan and follows them on a 17 year journey across the world.” Over two hours of bonus material includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, interview outtakes, six music videos, and live footage of nine songs.

The band claims that the DVD chronicles their “meteoric rise to traveling in a van and their subsequent continuation of traveling in said van.”