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Pink Floyd The Wall

Pink Rock: Josie and The Pussycats & Pink Floyd: The Wall

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It is incredible how much movie there is in the 98 minutes of the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats.

The film is bright, colorful, and campy but also has a strong point of view. Also, it rips, and I love it.

We begin with DuJour, who are presently the hottest boy band in town. When DuJour seem to get wise to the manipulation of their music, their producer (Wyatt, played by the indefatigable Alan Cumming) causes their plane to crash and parachutes to safety. Anyone who has followed the trajectory of a pop star in the ’90s knows that this is not far from an accurate portrayal of the industry at the time.

Wyatt finds himself at an impasse: he needs fresh blood. Enter Josie, Melody, and Valerie. These punk rock prom queens are the opposite of DuJour: an all-female rock band playing what could technically, by some definitions of the word, be called shows at bowling alleys and lugging their equipment by hand into their crusty van. Wyatt happens upon the girls, and they find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of commercial fame.

The movie introduces us to the CEO of their new record label, MegaRecords. The CEO is named Fiona, is played by Parker Posey, and is an icon. We learn that the US government has teamed up with the music industry to subliminally manipulate teenagers into participating in an ever-changing landscape of expensive trends, and Josie and the Pussycats are the next vessels for this corporate skullduggery.

Can the girls overcome corporate greed and save the day? Yes. Does it all happen to a soundtrack performed by the lead singer of Letters to Cleo? Also yes; in fact, the songs feature work by a cavalcade of ’90s and early 2000s musicians you might know: Fountains of Wayne, Counting Crows, and even The Go-Go’s. Does Melody (played by Tara Reid) fight Carson Daly? Again, yes.

This movie has all the appeal of pink lemonade: tart, sweet, and very pink.

Conversely, Pink Floyd – The Wall may be the longest 95-minute movie in history.

The film is the visual accompaniment to the album of the same name and in fact features very little dialogue. The film is less of a linear story and more a narrative cobbled together from various images. This imagery serves to reinforce the narrative provided by the music, which is the story of a young man growing up after WWII in England. The film is mostly live action but has incredibly vivid animation sequences woven in to further accentuate and heighten dramatic moments in the film. It is this author’s opinion that a super-cut of the animated sequences would save everyone a lot of time in telling this story.

The main character (who, according to the script, is named Pink) is a severely depressed musician in the present day of the film. We first meet him as an adult, sitting in a hotel room, doing his best impression of that Maxell ad (which would be released about a year after the film, but please let me insert even a shred of levity into this incredibly dour film).

We then see Pink’s father in a foxhole, under attack by a barrage of bombs. The father is killed, the mother mourns, and we know that Pink will never entirely recover from the loss of his father. We see Pink searching for a father figure and trying to piece together an idea of the man who could have shaped him, instead being molded by his father’s absence.

The animated sequences in this film, it cannot be understated, are incredible. These sequences were designed by Gerald Scarfe, an illustrator for The New Yorker who would go on to be a designer for the Disney adaptation of Hercules. These sequences are intricate and striking, and while a tad heavy-handed, they do a lot of heavy lifting in the film. They are vivid and full of life, often in stark contrast to the main character, who spends a great deal of his time catatonic in front of a television.

We see young Pink in grade school, being mocked by his teacher for writing poetry. It is implied that the teacher lashes out because he himself is bullied by his wife at home. This will not be the last time a woman is blamed for the behavior of a man in this film.

It is at this point we get some of the most memorable imagery in the film, during the song “Another Brick in the Wall.”

Pink continues to age, and we see him having his sexual awakening. Unfortunately, this takes place during a song sung directly to his mother. Pink seeks comfort and validation from his mother and then again from the woman he marries. His wife is portrayed as unreasonable for trying to talk to him while he’s sat disassociating at his piano, and she eventually seeks companionship elsewhere. While this author does not advocate for infidelity, they do advocate for literally acknowledging your partner at any time ever besides when you need to be soothed. Pink blames his mother for this disposition, does no introspecting as to his role, and no one who has met more than four men is surprised by this. Pink’s wife leaves him for an advocate for nuclear disarmament who actually speaks to her. We wish her the best.

We then see a beautiful, if misguided, animated sequence where a flower that would make Georgia O’Keefe blush eats a rather phallic flower. Wonder what that could be about?

We return to flesh, for a song about how women are dirty and evil and manipulative. Women be shoppin’, etc., etc. A groupie follows Pink back to his place and is ignored in favor of the television, mirroring his relationship with his wife. Pink reacts to this by destroying his room, shaving off his hair and eyebrows, and throwing his TV out the window. After cutting his hand during his very normal temper tantrum, Pink loses a lot of blood and slips out of consciousness in front of his TV (which is back, somehow, because this movie is more a series of vibes than it is a narrative). He’s brought back from the brink by a squad of EMTs who break the door down at the request of his greasy manager. Pink spends a long time in the in-between: imagery of him walking through the muddy foxholes where his father and thousands like him lost their lives, footage of war, and clips of riots and police brutality ping-pong across the screen. Pink is in the back seat of a car. It is unclear where he is headed, but he is a big, gross flesh monster. After breaking through his silly putty-adjacent cocoon, Pink is a fascist.

We see Pink speaking and kissing babies at a Nazi (except with hammer imagery) rally, where he whips the crowd into a fury of racism and bigotry. This leads to a montage of hate crimes, assaults, and rapes perpetrated by the hammer skinheads. We are reminded that those who grow up without strong support systems are at risk to becoming radicalized and causing further harm to others. “Hurt people hurt people,” as they say.

It is unclear if this is a dream sequence (as it often is in this film), as we find Pink hiding in a public bathroom in the next sequence. We then launch into the final animated sequence of the film, wherein Pink is put on trial for having feelings. There’s a roundup of the people who have hurt him most in life: his teacher (which is really the fault of the teacher’s wife, somehow), his wife (who didn’t love him enough?), and his mother (who loved him too much/incorrectly?).

We don’t know what becomes of Pink in the end. All we see at the end of the film is a group of children, sifting through rubble and salvaging goods in the ruins of a bombed-out city. This is the only clear message in the film: the young will be left to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of violence.

Pink Floyd – The Wall & Josie and the Pussycats, presented by Sasquatch Productions, screen Thursday, February 29th
7pm
Tickets

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