From the juiced-box and the soundtrack: The Doors – Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)/Texas Radio/Love Me Two Times
[Press ‘play’ to find the next Whisky Bar]
Ramblings: Behind Closed Doors
Final Proof: 3½ Shots
You know how you get drunk with old ghosts? They’re shadows of their former selves and were cooler when they were younger, newer ghosts and you’ve been drinking for a long time with these ghosts you grew up with but who never grew up themselves and they were cool when they first appeared out of nowhere to save you from your mundane existence but a while back you grew past them and they’ve become as tedious as the childhood they pulled you out of and as trying as the drinks they poured you in your youth. Once the ghosts of heroes, they’ve since become human and their valorous vices are now nothing but banal bents. Still, having that ghost beside you as you drink is reassuring in a reminiscent sort of way and When You’re Strange is kinda like that ghost.
It’s impossible for me to review this movie without also reviewing my kinship for Jim Morrison. i’ll try not to dwell, but i’m quite the dweller. See, when i was around 17 i was president of my church youth group and a regular, upstanding kid in an ultra-conservative family. And then i read No One Here Gets Out Alive. Inside 6 months i was addicted to The Doors, out of the church and writing angst-written songs and poetry. i had successfully exchanged one savior for another. You might even say i have Morrison to thank, in part, for my drinking.
Thirty years later, i’ve kept the addictions but the sheen has lost its shine. Morrison is no longer my idol, just a talented guy who wrote some awesome songs and some of his lyrics are poetic but there are some silly lines as well. i no longer worship at the altar of Morrison; as sad as it seems, i simply outgrew him.
Now that i got that off my chest, let’s talk about the movie.
You want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the bad. The narration is pretty much totally and entirely crap. The text is lifted almost word for word from No One Here… and Johnny Depp, as cool as he is, reads it like a pre-school easy reader. “This is Jim. See Jim sing. Sing, Jim, sing. See Jim Drink. Drink, Jim, Drink. See Jim swallow chunks of black tar heroin. Swallow, Jim, swallow.”
The good news for those of us hardcore Doormen (and women) is the footage. There is tons of new, never-seen-before stuff (awesome behind the scenes concert images, Jim’s UCLA film school final, an explanation to the infamous Miami show fiasco) and what we’ve already seen (HWY, notably) has been fully restored and looks awesome.
What really tilts the scales in favor of this, though, is what’s it’s always been about since the beginning: The Music. When You’re Strange is a great excuse to listen to some great tunes and look at some great images of one of the coolest guys ever lucky enough to die too young.
Buzz Kills (Watch Out for Spoilers)
Sex: ½ Shot
No big surprise here. This movie, after all, is about four guys hanging out together pretty much all the time. Still, i gotta give half a shot for all the shots we got of those doe-eyed hippy chicks ripe with optimistic innocence and bursting with ingénue naiveté.
On top of these (i wish), we also got Jim’s girlfriend / kinda wife, Pamela Courson.
For those of you who are more into Door keys than Door locks, here’s a shot of Johnny Depp (47), the narrator:
And of course, here’s some of the man himself:
Drink: 4 Shots
No one was more surprised than me, believe me. i mean, i knew Morrison was a drinker but obviously i’d forgotten how much. (Miss Demeanor, who has recently read No One Here…, tells me the bio is full of his drinking and they maybe even toned it down in the movie.) Anyway, drinking played such a pivotal role in the second half of the film i’m pretty sure it’s gonna show up in the Barcademy Awkwards (The Alkies). Here’s what i mean:
- [Morrison] Drinks whiskey and beer on the [private] plane
- Jim drunk in studio
- Ray w/ a beer in the studio
- Freaks with boda bags
- Morrison moves from drugs to booze at Soft Parade
- “Sometimes alcohol helps Morrison. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
- “I drink so I can talk to assholes. / This includes me.” [From his book of poetry]
- Professional drinkers are hired to look after him but they can’t keep up
- The Janis Joplin story [when Morrison and Joplin party together, they both get drunk, he jams her face in his crotch, she hits him on the head with a whiskey bottle and breaks down in tears]
- Drinking binge with Michael Mcclure [see photo]
- Drinking breaks up the band
- Beer in studio of L.A. Woman
- Morrison dies in the tub after a night of heavy drinking
- Drinking wine out of a screw-on jug under a tree at lakeside
- Jim drinking Bud on a sailboat
- Jim’s alter ego is “Jimbo” and everyone’s afraid of him
i especially like the last one ’cause Al K Hall is my alter ego and he likes it when cool people have alter egos, too.
Rock & Roll: 5 Shots
Yeah, no big surprise here. Babes, we’re talking about the Doors. i’ll give you a taste of the soundtrack. In a shotglass what we got is either Doors’ tracks (and the bummer is that they didn’t find many outtakes or live tracks but, for the most part, went straight with the album versions) or Johnny Depp reading Jim’s poetry.
Heeeerrrrreeeeee’s Johnny: Johnny Depp reading Morrison’s poem, “Cinema”
Heeeerrrrreeeeee’s Jimmy: The Doors – Break On Through (To The Other Side) (Live at the Isle of Wight-1970)
Heeeerrrrreeeeee’s the track list on the soundtrack:
Boring Technical Crap
Written by: Tom DiCillo
Directed by: Tom DiCillo
Jim Morrison – Himself (archive footage)
John Densmore – Himself (archive footage)
Robby Krieger – Himself (archive footage)
Ray Manzarek – Himself (archive footage)
Pamela Courson – Herself (archive footage)
Johnny Depp – Narrator (voice)
This is one of those times it pro’lly makes more sense to wait for the DVD. i saw this bad boy twice (once with Miss D and again with my 15-year-old son) and could stand to see it again, plus there’s gotta be some good extras they could tack on.