Sunday, August 29, 2010

DOGS IN SPACE film: no dissonance


Illustrating my contention that there is no cognitive dissonance* in the arts, consider the 1986 film "Dogs in Space," well restored and soon be re-released in dvd and assorted files. It was fashioned by its scene's insiders to celebrate something very geographically site-specific-- the emergence of punk rock in the late 70s in Australia via an ensemble cast set in a squalid rented house -- yet its many fine attributes place it universally global, echoing nascent and emerging punk scenes anywhere and everywhere. It certainly mirrors all written tales of famed communal punk rock hovel Disgraceland in my own metropolis.

Its splendid casting certainly churns it all up effectively. Standouts in the large cast (all of whom are meant to represent genuine folks): as the beautiful blonde punkette, actress Saskia Post (happily still working) will break your heart by the film's end, while her love interest (and that's to taken very literally, as he straddles her to the floor each time he sees her no matter what the setting, a very cute continuing sight gag throughout the film as both actors are quite appealing) was none other than the now late but then extremely young Michael Hutchence (of INXS chart hittery.) Yes, he does his own vocals throughout.

Applicably enough, even the film's name derives not only from its fictional punk band, but also, with televised space exploration and falling Skylab debris of the era as Greek chorus throughout, from the sad plight of the real dogs in space, unfortunates like the U.S.S.R.'s Laika, who was elevated higher than any sentient Earthling had ever been beyond the stratosphere and into the heavens, then left up there to die. Metaphor, ya see.

The right music helps as well. Do I know this very specific, regional Oz discography? No. But despite my own geezerhood, I did write the first book published in the U.S. on the subject of punk rock which went to press the week the Sex Pistols broke up, and can accurately assess the intended veracity here. Which would be a resounding "yes."

Except for a final song that narrates the growth of one of the characters, the film is bookended and served well by Iggy Pop via "Dog Food" and "Endless Sea." Do note in the film's special features a section on the real musicians depicted, the real Oz punk scene and its real influences, in which all agree on the standard Velvet Underground, New York Dolls and Iggy and The Stooges triumvirate. But when each is asked for specific songs special to their group, each separately repeats as if by rehearsed mantra "Raw Power," "Raw Power," "Raw Power" etc. etc.

Below ~~spoiler alert!~~ Saskia Post breaking our hearts to "Endless Sea" by Iggy Pop, produced by James Williamson, co-writers of  "Raw Power" and "Kill City"
 


*See LINK Yet artists can be both personal and universal, wild and disciplined etc. simultaneously. 
Addenda: "Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings." - W. H. Auden, "Sometimes A Great Notion."

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