Well, someone’s a genius.
Because from the moment I saw Tony Stark working away in his lab to Suicidal Tendencies’ Institutionalized (!!!), from the moment he said to Gwyneth Paltrow (a girl I’m positive I went to school with, aren’t you?) “please don’t turn down my music”, I knew two things: one, that this movie was going to straight-up play me as much as any latter-day John Cusack vehicle has ever tried to…
…Only this time it was going to work, goddamnit!!!
And two: that thanks to its actors this movie was going to do what no superhero movie has so far managed to do — what very few superhero comics manage to do these days — which is the very essence of why anybody has ever read a superhero story at all, from 1938 to right this minute.
Impossible as it would seem, I was about to identify with the hero.
I was about to be just like the hero.
I am Iron Man, motherfucker.
And thus begins my review of Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele. On an appropriate note, don’t you think?
So if you’re all uploaded, Jarvis — let’s fucking go.
Do you like the stupid stuff, or do you like the smart stuff?
Me, I like the smart stuff, but I don’t have any illusions about why that is. I like the smart stuff because it’s the easy stuff…maybe not easy to write, but sure as hell easy to like. Of course in real terms, all of this stuff is smart: it’s a lush record, and down at the part where you get the joint between turntable and microphone there’s a lot of carefully-hidden structure. All rapping is off-balance, falling forward while your feet catch up. Rapping is sports, action, poetry in motion, a controlled chaos…rapping is the fall arrested just in time, just before disaster, by the deus ex machina of the well-oiled musical breaks that you run up against, and the outgoing lyrical hook shot that almost seems like pure luck, pure grace, a sudden accidental fluency before the line drops out of sight.
It isn’t, though.
It’s all just part of the plan.
Which is basically what I like about the hip and the hop: the part where it all suddenly collides, and even a dummy like me can see the pattern that was there all along. You see, my tastes aren’t sufficiently elevated, to appreciate the stupid stuff as it should be appreciated. I’m only good once I put the glasses on.
It’s a failing, I know. I miss most of the poetry that way.
A sufficiently lushly musical record helps to clue me in, though, and as I said, this one is that one. Totally weirdly like listening to the White Album.
Or maybe more like London Calling?
Woudja believe…Venus And Mars?
Sorry about the needless reference to Get Smart. I’m actually not even joking, though. It sounds like every double-album ever made, and don’t be so quick to dismiss McCartney, he’s as formally playful as anyone and more than most, you just don’t see it under that ‘the cute one” garbage he always lays on with a trowel, and besides he doesn’t exactly boast about it. He’s actually having us all on, a bit. I think he’s having a laugh. Sometimes he actually sings about nothing, except it’s all salted with these weird made-up characters and situations and feelings and ludicrous crap…but is any of it any more ludicrous than any other ludicrous crap, that any pop song’s routinely salted with? In the end, all of it’s all on purpose. This man’s flying into fancy, falling forward, falling around the earth…he’s singing the stupid stuff, but not just because it’s stupid. Not just because he can’t think of anything better or smarter or of more worth. But better and smarter can’t make you veer shockingly into the banal, just when you thought you were going to hear something really deep! Pop-culture references, dumb things that rhyme — McCartney always did this, and he still does it all the time. It isn’t bad. I’m not even sure you could legitmately call it cheap.
Lennon did it too, you know.
But, okay…not as much.
Hey, you ever wonder where Iron Man’s freakin’ propellant comes from? Yeah, he flies from Malibu to the Middle East and back — that’s a lot of fuel, man. I love comics, they’re one big magic trick. I remember seeing Spider-Man 2, and just for one split-second being annoyed with Doc Ock’s fusion reactor that starts driving itself…I thought: “that’s not what would happen”, but then I remembered this was comic-book science, and I felt all right again. And laughed. See, they almost fooled me. Meanwhile, Ed was saying “yeah, yeah, whoa, impressive fusion technology, wow…say, what was that you were saying about the artificially-intelligent arms that jack into your spine? And you do that for…what, because you have a burning need to pick things up, sometimes? You’re crazy, movies.” He said the same thing about The Sixth Day — “cloning? Oh, horrors! But that technology where people just scan other people’s minds all the time and put them on DVDs so they can fast-forward or rewind — that shit’s fine. Nothing to see here, just normal everyday technology beyond all semblance of SCIENCE…!!!”
Okay, whatever, so I’m doing it. So what? It’s fun. Hey, feel free to get your own blog and not do it, y’know? But this one’s by request.
Pretty musical stuff. It’s the music, really, that makes it. The words slip in and out of relevance and meaning, sometimes they suck, and then other times you laugh and realize they don’t actually suck, that they’re funny instead, and you missed it. But the music is always backing it up; and that’s where all the cues are, and the clues are. See, now I’m not even meaning to do it, it’s just happening. Maybe I should just cool that off. Anyway, about Iron Man…
I liked it, like I said, because I could identify with the hero. Very critical stuff, this shit, because the rest of any superhero movie is just the stuff you ignore, in a way the suspension of disbelief that’s paid for by the acting. Hey, you notice how I can’t make one lousy rhyme that isn’t on the vowel-sounds, even in print? This is not what you get with the crazy manic first half of Supreme Clientele, it may not be the smart stuff, but it is ALL predicated on the plosives and the fricatives…
Sorry, looking for a rhyme there? Like I said: I can’t supply you with it…
…And that’s pretty impressive, if nothing else by dint of being taxing.
Okay, I’ll stop. It IS fun, though!
Okay, stopping now.
So, Iron Man. Where does the propellant come from? Well, it comes from a place concealed by the ARC reactor, of course: it comes from the power of a hung lantern. Heck, where do you think it comes from in the comics? But for the movie, they needed the mystique of that buzzword power-plant, that prize miracle MacGuffin, to power the movie itself. Marvellous addition. Also I note with pleasure Jeff Bridges’ ability to HAM IT UP as a villain, at first he is just Jeff Bridges, America’s greatest jovial-prick-playing actor — and I should point out how pleased I am that the movie didn’t waste any more of my time than it had to with his “I am the bad guy” revelations, as soon as it was logistically possible for him to show his true colours, the script had him come out with ’em — bet you’re looking for bad rhymes here — and they could’ve so easily gone hacktard on this and made me wait right until the end to find out what I knew ten minutes in, but they didn’t, which was nice — but then he turns into a cackling supervillain in a way that makes you see just how fucking irritating these guys would be in real life…
Okay, so sue me; so I guess you found ’em.
…Listen, just what have you got against fun?
Back to Ghostface: hey, is it just me, or is one half of this genuinely different from the other?
Was this, in fact, a double-sized record?
Shit, I’m so good at this I should write crosswords. Okay, I don’t know, maybe it was or maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe I just need to go back and listen to the first half again. But to me it sounded different, and maybe that’s why I liked it so much: because I’m a sucker for that loose, sprawling double-album thing, that just sucks you in — I mean there were twenty-one tracks on this thing! I was expecting maybe a dozen.
Anyway, I liked it.
So there ya go, Sean!