Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Hearts of Fire (1987)

This is not Cinema, this is somebody else’s fugged holiday snaps spooled off at 24fps. And a grim excursion it proves...

Hearts of Fire (1987)

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Starring: Bob Dylan, ‘Fiona’, Rupert Everett, Julian Glover, Ian Dury

Trailers: The Lords of Quacktown, S*P*U*D*S*, Afternoon Moonlight

Cherrypick: 404: File Not Found
If one minus one equals zero, then, so theoretical mathematics posits, by peeling zero apart we get both one and minus one. From literally nothing we have created two distinct – if opposing – somethings. 17th Century metaphysical philosopher Johnny Spinoza promoted related ideas concerning the formation of the universe – that it needed no creator, but was, rather, causa sui : a self-causing mechanism. Modern quantum theory now offers hypothetical proof that from absolutely nothing every atom in the cosmos simply spunked itself into existence - with no hint of intelligent design anywhere in sight.

All of which brings us to Hearts of Fire, a celluloid sandwich so devoid of flavour, filling, crust, texture, impetus, wit, energy, conflict, colourful packaging or any other conceivable reason for being that we must assume that the entire production just willed itself into actuality. There can be no other explanation for a film that nobody seemingly wanted to make, certainly no-one wanted to see, and many people now view as an existential prank.
Farts for Hire
This example of a self-creating film is not unique. Quizzed about 1976’s King Kong remake, baffled producer Dino De Laurentiis happily exclaimed “Is just ‘appen!” A similar kind of professional accommodation - tempered by incomprehension - was writ large on Angelina Jolie’s massive face at the premiere of self-sustaining spy shenanigan Salt. Ditto for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bemused grimace on the red carpet for Premium Rush.

In an exclusive 1988 interview with rock mag Burnt Suede, star Bob Dylan himself hinted at the veiled cosmic happenchance that underpinned the making of Hearts of Fire. “It was like a hailstorm in your jacket pocket, man,” he mumbled obliquely; “like being brought up Jewish on a hog farm.” Later in the same interview, director Richard Marquand – previously George Lucas’s directorial avatar/push-around guy on Return of the Jedi – muttered darkly about Druidic rituals, perpetual motion and ‘sentient production schedules’…

Indeed the film they were referring to could only have sprung into existence of its own volition. Imagine Spinal Tap’s home movies, or outtakes from seminal Metallica doc Some Kind of Monster in which the thrash titans take a break from dark metal alchemy, psychotherapy and despising each other in order to ponce around Welsh clifftops in loose-fitting satin jockey-pants. Now imagine fading rock scarecrow Bob Dylan decked out in apatchwork leather harlequin blouson fighting Rupert Everett’s electro-pop princeling for the musical soul of gormless ginger American hayseed ‘Fiona’ while the viewer’s hopes suffocate amid empty verses of narrative nothingness and endless choruses of sublime vacuity. This is not Cinema, this is somebody else’s fugged holiday snaps spooled off at 24fps. And a grim excursion it proves.
A sheepie and a perm = the '80s
Dylan is former rawk! idol Billy Parker. He’s American. He plays grundy sub-Tom Petty toe-tappers. He owns a chicken farm. He’s ‘real’. Everett’s Zak Cyan is nauseatingly English. His music sounds like the Art of Noise being played through a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. He owns a helicopter. He is ‘a nob’. The Hayseed is a guitar-slingin’ blow-dried toll-booth operative with more hair than sense and more sense than talent. She will be their denim battleground.

But there will be no victory. No heart of fire.

This universe does not explode in a supernova of rock ecstasy, but folds into cold, lonely isolation as Bob heads back to Chickentown, Illinois, Rupe gets his head blown off by a jealous fan and the Hayseed gets to play her joyless proto-yacht rock beneath the grim Friday-night lights of her rickety hometown stadium. The film winks out of existence. It has fulfilled its unknowable life cycle and must now die. 
'Eagles of Sanctuary', apparently
In King Lear, Shakespeare suggests that ‘nothing will come of nothing’. But he was wrong. Nothingness has gouged forth the very boiling heavens and all their illimitable glories: C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate; galaxies that existed impossibly long ago and tantalisingly far, far away.

Ninety minutes of undercooked, overripe, solid-gone music industry horseshit is a walk in the fucking park.

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