Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tom Waits Has Something For the Kids on Easter

It's called "Chocolate Jesus"

Remember when Tom Waits was actually a part time actor and not just a world class musician? Good times... especially the Lily Tomlin coupling in Short Cuts and the bug eating in Dracula.

One of my favorite film books, With Nails: The Film Diaires of Richard E Grant, has a few bits on Waits. Grant, like Waits, was a frequent supporting player in interesting / storied movies of the early 90s and he lived to write about it.

The cast of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula gathers at the Coppola estate for a week long bonding / rehearsal session before filming. Gary Oldman looks sad and tells Grant that his 11 month marriage to Uma Thurman (Grant's co-star from Henry & June) is over -- he wonders if he'll be one of those people who marries a lot. The actor/diarist notices that Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves are "sibling-close" and he's amused by Keanu who has decide to call everyone by their second names "Laura Ryder, Leonard Oldman, Phillip Hopkins". Tom Waits arrives a day later, pulling the focus.
Tom Waits. How can I not introduce him to these pages without falling into the cheesy showbizzy-sleaze-shpeak of a lone motel lounge act compère - hit the snare drum, smash a cymbal, bang a drum and wind up with 'LADIES - AND - GENTLEMEN - THE - IN - HOLE - THE - WALL - BAR - AND - SNAKEPIT - SALOON - PROUD - 'N' - PRIVILEGED - TO - PRESENT - FOR - YOUR - ENTERTAINMENT - AND - YES! - GODDAMMITT!! - EDUCATION - TONITE - THE - ONE - AND - THE - ONLY - MR - LONELINESS - OF - A - LONG - DISTANCE - SONGWRITER - HIMSELF - IN - THE - FLESH - IN - THIS - HERE - LOUNGE - LADIES - 'N' - GENTLEMEN - LET'S - PUT - OUR - HANDS - TOGETHER - AND - GIVE - IT - UP - FOR - (gasping for breath) - MISTAH!!! TOM!!!!!!! WAITS !!!!!!!!!!' Everyone else is in smatterings of designer casuals. Mistah Waits arrives straight off an old record cover in a '64 open-topped Cadillac, with fins, with a funnel of dust trailing down the dirt road. The gravel voice gets out some howdy-doodys and his clothes and hair are crumple-sculpted to him. Doesn't seem to have a straight bone in his bearing and kills me off with his cool by growling out a compliment for Withnail. Out the side of his mouth. Like we might be being spied on by the bailiffs. Him, rolling tobacco and reefer. Winona and I are 'We've got all your recordings, Tom!!' To which he just heh-hehs.
I just noticed that Mistah Waits is in the cast list of Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus which I'm more and more excited about. [previously excitement] Danger! Danger! One should never ever get excited about movies that only have release dates scheduled in Romania and the Czech Republic.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus clockwise from top left: Christopher Plummer as "Doctor Parnassus", Heath Ledger (and Johnny Depp and Jude Law and Colin Farrell) as "Tony", Tom Waits as "Mr. Nick" (some sources refer to this character as "The Devil"), your auteur Terry Gilliam, Lily Cole as the Doctor's daughter and Andrew Garfield as "Anton".

Lionsgate is going to be handling the film's UK release but I can't understand why nothing is set for the US? You'd think someone in a suit would remember that for all of Gilliam's recent film completion / box office troubles, it wasn't always this way (think Twelve Monkeys and The Fisher King... though I realize that Hollywood memories don't stretch back that far. Weren't movies silent and in black and white back then?). Plus there's the free publicity of being Heath Ledger's last film and having three A-Listers sub for his incomplete scenes and those Cannes rumors. Can we get this thing on the schedule already? Even if it's no masterpiece it'll surely be worth gawking at.


Brendon said...

The US deal for Parnassus is forthcoming. It's less than 14 days since the film was actually completed, so still early days for negotiations.

I bet the eventual US distributor pays a pretty penny for it.

JoFo said...

The last film of Heath Ledger. What more is needed to be said?

Selfstyler said...

I've gotten obsessed with Tom Waits in the last month or so - all the albums I can get hold of, loving every one of them. I'm driving my girlfriend crazy.

On the subject of Parnassus though - very much looking forward to it. I just feel it's a shame it has the spectre of 'Ledger's last film' hanging over it. I worry people won't look beyond that.

thombeau said...

Gilliam is an insane genius and visionary who should be encouraged! Just sayin'.

Janice said...

Thanks for the heads-up about Grant's memoir, Nate - looks like a must-read.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Yeah, I read that most distribs considering the title were waiting on the finished product to bid. Still, if the UK and Australia can snap it up sight unseen then why not the US.

Joe said...

This is probably the best blog title I've read all year. My imagination is running wild.