Yes, I was at the world premiere of Randy and Evi Quaid‘s billed-as-docudrama-but-actually-comedy, “Starwhackers.” And it was…um…it was…unforgettable? Bizarre? Amateurish? Uninformative? Maddening?
So here is the transcribed-from-my-notes liveblog, several days after the fact. Protip: take a Gravol before watching this thing, it appears to have been shot on iPhones held by a caffeine junkie.
I will assume you’re familiar with the background: that the Quaids fled the US claiming they were being persecuted by so-called starwhackers, who kill important stars for the insurance money and also to keep the internet fed with drama (guys, trust me, the internet doesn’t need a new source of drama). The audience was palpably hoping that this film would explain the idea a bit better, but this movie is anything but linear and logical. There were no answers here. There weren’t even any coherent questions.
Click over the jump for the whole fiasco:
The two front rows of the Rio are roped off with BOTH police tape and a red velvet rope: neither seems necessary, as there appear to be maybe six people in the entire two rows, and they consist of one tall, prosperous-looking fellow and his entourage, at least judging from the fact that when one asks “is this yours?” he says yes and, turning away, adds, “would you carry that for me?” not waiting for the answer.
Which is yes.
There appears to be quite a machine behind this premiere, even though the doorman appears positively elfin. I am sitting behind the people from CTV and CBC, the two main Canadian television networks, who could not be said to be thrilled with the proceedings, particularly the time investment of sitting through two full-length motion pictures, a Q&A of as-yet-indeterminate length, and a musical performance which, because Randy is from Texas, threatens to include country music.
Overheard: “He’s got a lot at stake here…a family fortune…”
It could not be said to be a full house, but it’s a respectably fullISH one. How civilized: this is one movie theatre that serves beer! The crowd does not let this pass unnoticed, nor the burlesque-esque beer girls who walk up and down the aisles with their noses, their beer trays, and their asses held high.
There is a woman in a sequined dress running around apparently running things, but while she’s at it, she might want to run to the video store and check out that part in Miss Congeniality where Michael Caine teaches Sandra Bullock how to walk. “Gliiiiiiide!”
Mister Prosperous Tall American is back, along with his entourage, and back behnd the rope they go. Good, the front rows were looking rather lonely without them.
Now Alex and Corinne, the theatre managers, intro Real Time, a feature film from Randall Cole starring Randy Quaid. From eavesdropping, I understand that it’s being shown here because Randy’s never seen it on the big screen yet, so here it is and quite good it is, too, particularly for a Canadian film, which often have the look of really, really good Senior Class projects.
Why do all career criminals in movies nowadays have that accent? You know the one: the one from Sexy Beast, that one. Randy has it now, with occasional Texan inflexions, but he’s a terrific actor and sells the hell out of it. I have no problem believing his character comes from Leeds via a brief stay in, say, Galveston. Would I buy this movie? No. Would I rent this movie? Hellz yeah. Although it is rather comic to see some other city, Ontarian from the looks of it (Ottawa?) standing in for Chilliwack. You can’t tell me any place in BC has quite that much brick. Congratulations to The Wack for getting the metropolitan equivalent of a stunt double.
Also: nobody who grew up in Vancouver calls it “The East End.” It’s East Van, duh.
My one-seat-over neighbor has a friend who wants to stage Starwhackers in Toronto, where it would probably sell out. Insert generic Toronto joke here. But she has a point.
Starwhackers is, we are warned, a work in progress. Evi comes out to intro the film, looking a great deal better: less toxic and maudlin than she did in Vanity Fair.
Indeed, she looks like a very sleek, wholesome lesbian: say, a retired book editor, a Taos town councillor, or owner of a successful chain of vegan restaurants. Truly awesome cheekbones never desert you, my friends.
Evi tells us that Starwhackers features heightened reality, Shakespeare’s most profound moments, and true fear. With a blue collar spin.
Evi introduces Adam, an audience member who is down towards the front. He is autistic, so she explains the murder is fake, and he says, “it’s cool” and I guess Adam is as well.
“The bullets are blank, the penis is prosthetic, and there’s LOTS of nudity, so I hope you enjoy it,” she says, and the movie starts, to wild cheering (nudity is big in Vancouver. Come to think of it, so are prosthetic penises).
The film opens on Randy delivering what I think is
Caliban‘s monologue, Brutus’s summing-up from Julius Ceasar, looking like a hermit, stark raving nekkid except for the full-length fake mink. If that’s a prosthetic penis, where in HELL did he put the real one?
Evi is credited, incidentally, as “Mrs. Randy Quaid“.
At that moment, Corinne comes around again reminding people “Don’t record the film! You can tweet, but don’t record!” but how can you tweet? This thing is like a bunker and there ain’t no wifi. I’d hoped to get far enough down front and on the left to hijack the Starbucks wifi, but no go. This place must be a haven for the tinfoil hat brigade, because ain’t no mysterious waves wafting through that concrete.
Randy, meanwhile, claims to be possessed by the spirit of Falstaff. This is what Evi told me, so I’m passing it along. Let’s just say not all of the audience’s laughter was generous. The penis gets laughs just by poking its little head out from between the folds of plush acrylic lustrousness.
“A hair for memory,” is a great speech, but there’s just something about delivering it naked to a cellphone camera while fondling what looks like a yak’s merkin that takes away from the gravity of the poetry. What else can you do but what he does, which is to turn butt to the camera and stuff the fluff in his buttcrack, all the while continuing to speechify like a Stratford war horse.
This movie is almost a parody of itself, only without the intentionally funny bits.
Prosthetic or not, he does have a photogenic penis. It should get its own agent. When he straightens up and poses like a middle-aged David, the camera is, I’m sorry Randy, not looking at your face.
Some of the clowning and the self-indulgence of this whole thing remind me of the sort of art experimentation John Lennon and Yoko Ono used to do. When you’re on heroin, anything seems like a good idea.
Now we get some Iago monologue: new play because new character. This isn’t Saint Randy the Persecuted: this is Randy the Chief Starwhacker, dressed in an expensive suit, a mobster shirt, a fishnet stocking over his face, and an antlered deer skull, turning him into an avatar of the Horned Man of the Celts.
Do the Celts hate Hollywood? Well, Irish movies ARE better; maybe they’re just jealous of the money?
The entire movie appears to have been shot on a cellphone camera, which results in such nausea that I have to bail out of the Q&A instead of staying for more of the comedy. The threat of country music was also a factor.
I do think you go to hell for rewriting King Lear and inserting “Royalties” in the lines.
“Wherefore was I born?” speech. Again. Look, Richard II was just not the man’s best work.
Randy plays all the parts in this movie except the devil (a hot blonde) and the friends of the hitman. Reuben from Real Time, it must be said, was a much better shot than this hitman, who is played by Randy wearing full Mobster Outfit, all black, with the Terminator Shades of Death. The hitman pursues the hermit-like Randy over the dusty hills of BC.
That penis shouldn’t just get its own agent, it should get a stunt double. All that running just can NOT be comfortable.
Also, it is impossible to look dignified when you’re naked except for a long fur coat, and running shoes with black socks. The shoes and socks, my friend, have got to go: you look like an investment banker interrupted in a nooner.
Anyway, we get it, we get it, it’s King Lear in the wilderness, and presumably that poor, persecuted donkey is his Fool. And now, a word from our sponsor, the Chief Starwhacker:
“Quaid, the American Male human is retarded. Our aim is to keep him that way. We want him stupid. We NEED him stupid. That’s where you come in…”
Here’s the conspiracy bit: Essentially, the Starwhackers need people attached to the electric teat so they 1) generate huge funds for the military-industrial-entertainment complex, which funds war and 2) don’t ask too many questions.
So, basically, Starwhackers is kinda sorta like if Idiocracy had been directed by Kenneth Branagh on a paranoid coke binge. And, let me remind you, shot on cellphones. Take a Gravol before watching.
The hitman, by the way, has an unreconstructed Texas accent. Some of the best parts of the film are the hitman at dinner, chatting to his friend about what he’s doing there. It’s not linear (nothing in this mishmash is linear) but it seems to be improv, and very well-done. This guy is just a professional doing his job, nothing personal about it. And a likeable guy, too.
I think that was Scrooge‘s speech that Hermit St. Randy just gave. Oh, okay, sure, why the hell not, eh?
My sharp-eyed neighbor leans over and nudges me in the ribs, saying “I think that’s a different penis” and I think she may be right. Did the other one wear out? Imagine going back into a sex shop and trying to get your money back because you wore out the first penis.
And now we have an interlude watching donkey sex. Oooookaaaaay.
And back to St.Hermit Randy, who is by now so sunburned he practically flouresces.
And now an interlude of a jackrabbit being chased by a car…guess where this is going? Next up, St. Randy on all fours, eating grass, rolling in the dirt, and running around with the horse and the two donkeys.
His nostrils, too, should get their own agent. There are vast stretches (or maybe they only SEEM vast) where there is no dialogue, but lots and lots and lots and LOTS of breathing. It’s quite an audition tape for a “breath-over” artist, should Pixar be requiring one any time soon.
You can tell the hitman is evil because he wears so much guyliner. If you watch old 30’s films, you can see the same thing. You can always tell who the killer is because he’s wearing too much eyeliner. FACT.
The hitman is chatting with his friends, and the talk has turned to the future. He wants, it seems, to settle down, have some kids. “First things first: Kill Randy Quaid.”
He’s driving around in a Mercedes 4×4: is that product placement? He also drinks Coke, very conspicuously.
And now, the hitman interviews the donkey. Sure, why the hell not? He accuses her of hiding Quaid. “You don’t have to be so stubborn. We’re all on thes ame page here. You want him off the field and I want him off the planet.”
It really must be a challenge acting opposite a donkey. I should ask Nicole Richie.
I am not sure why, but now we are watching a cattle-branding scene which the hitman accompanies on violin. Let’s just say Quaid is a better horseman than voilinist and leave it at that.
And here we have a loooooooooooooooooooong shot of the trail of dust kicked up by the hitman’s 4×4. This, my friends, is why god invented competent film editors.
I still don’t know what the donkeys did to deserve that lecture.
And it’s back to St. Quaid among the Wilderness. He’s a little old to do Hamlet, don’t you think? Even just “To Be or Not To Be.” He does the entire soliloquy twice without a cut, and the audience begins to make snoring sounds. I thought that woman in the back was yelling “Moo” but she’s actually yelling “Boo” but has a head cold. The THIRD time he starts the speech the entire theatre breas up and my neighbor says “Oh my god I have to pee so badly” and up she gets and runs out. Too bad this is a premiere and my RunPee app doesn’t have the information on when she can safely go. I reply, “Well, you already know how this part goes…”
Some people have already left.
Oh dear god, he’s not doing it AGAIN? That’s four times. Oh thank god, he just starts and then stops.
Again I say, it is not possible to look dinified with your clothes off and shoes and socks on, particularly not if they’re black. More running through the hills, fleeing the hitman stuff, more penis-airing.
Now he’s having a Smeagol-style breakdown as all his personalities come together, the Starwhacker Chief, the Hitman, and the Outcast. “I am a villain. I shall despair. No creature loves me” does the entire thing twice, and addresses the head starwhacker.
“Horns hast thou. Thou art banished” And blam! Shot.
I think this is the world’s longest death scene, or maybe it just feels like it. “I am dead,” he says, and everyone applauds loudly. It reminds me of that PDQ Bach bit where the opera singer is dying and the chorus goes “Then DIE ALREADY!” over and over.
But he’s not dead yet, folks. HE still manages Falstaff’s dying speech. “I am myself alone,” says the horned man. “Down, Quaid, down to hell and say I sent thee hither.”
Next we see Quaid nude, confused, and having an out-of-body experience. The audience gives everyone to understand they are disappointed he won’t stay quiet, but OF COURSE he won’t. There are soliloquys to be butchered!
Look, there is only so much an actor can do without lines. There is a lot of staring, there is a lot of breathing….and now, some lines. From Julius Caesar, in fact.
“What is honour?” I’m more curious as to why he’s suddenly wearing a tee shirt. Is it the mark of Grace or something? Anyway, he’s suddenly given his life back, and now we’re back to speechifying.
“Randy loves Randy. Then Fly!” and is this the second time for that speech, or the third?
Some girl in the audience cannot stop cackling like a witch in Macbeth, and on that note, the movie ends. And I flee.