Book #2: Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film, Patton Oswalt

 Hearing Patton Oswalt relate the ways in which his movie-mania could sometimes put a strain on relationships with friends, lovers, and acquaintances brought back memories (not to mention present-day frictions) that were a little too close to home. It doesn't dominate the book, it's just something that hit me in particular. Like The Bad Sleep Well, which I namechecked in my previous post - I love that film so deeply that it's (nearly) impossible for me to understand why everyone wouldn't love it as much as I do. But I can tell you right now, they don't. Which is a good thing to learn if you want to, you know, get along with other people. This memoir is definitely for anyone who's made a lifeline of going to the movies, but it's also a fly-on-the-wall window into the standup comedy scene in Los Angeles in the late nineties - and into comedy in general. The best takeaway for me so far is that it inspired me to go out and rent Blue Collar, a gritty heist-gone-wrong story and first film by Paul Schrader (who wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull), who managed to corral Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel (who apparently hated each other on set) and Yaphet Kotto to tell a working class crime story for which Richard Pryor delivered a performance unlike anything else he ever did. With great use of music by Captain Beefheart, Jack Nitzsche, and Ry Cooder. I know that this book hasn't paid all its rewards just yet, but it was worth reading for the opening credit sequence of Blue Collar alone.

2 comments

  • Howard Druckman

    Howard Druckman Toronto

    Blue Collar is one of my favourite movies of all time. In pre-internet days, It took me five years to hunt down a copy of the soundtrack at a second-hand record store in Peterborough. About 20 years before the "industrial" music of Einstruzende Neubaten, there's Captain Beefheart growling a hard, "I'm gettin fucked over," workingman's blues, with an intermittent background of raw, clanging, echoing metal-on-metal. One of Ry Cooder's first-ever soundtracks, both as a composer and music supervisor, back when he was working with Beefheart a bit. You still won't find this (and tons of other great music, it should be noted) on Apple Music, Spotify, or even iTunes.

    Blue Collar is one of my favourite movies of all time. In pre-internet days, It took me five years to hunt down a copy of the soundtrack at a second-hand record store in Peterborough. About 20 years before the "industrial" music of Einstruzende Neubaten, there's Captain Beefheart growling a hard, "I'm gettin fucked over," workingman's blues, with an intermittent background of raw, clanging, echoing metal-on-metal. One of Ry Cooder's first-ever soundtracks, both as a composer and music supervisor, back when he was working with Beefheart a bit. You still won't find this (and tons of other great music, it should be noted) on Apple Music, Spotify, or even iTunes.

  • Corin Raymond

    Corin Raymond

    Hey Howard, I love hearing this - so cool - and I love that you tracked down that soundtrack! I'm imagining the moment, as you were flipping through those records, that you suddenly had that gold in your hands. Man, the Beefheart-pounding working man factory title sequence alone was worth watching the movie for! And yeah, what a great movie. So glad I got turned onto it. It's an amazing feeling, when suddenly there's this awesome THING that you didn't even know existed, and suddenly it occupies a place in you, it opens up some space for something - a tone, a feeling, an echoing clang - that wasn't there before. Makes me wonder about all the other things I don't know about yet! Not surprised to hear the soundtrack's not available online - I mean you sure as hell aren't gonna find out about Blue Collar on Netflix. I go to Bay Video for my movie love. Guess I'll have to dig in old cardboard boxes of basement vinyl if I wanna dream of playing that soundtrack at home.

    Hey Howard, I love hearing this - so cool - and I love that you tracked down that soundtrack! I'm imagining the moment, as you were flipping through those records, that you suddenly had that gold in your hands. Man, the Beefheart-pounding working man factory title sequence alone was worth watching the movie for! And yeah, what a great movie. So glad I got turned onto it. It's an amazing feeling, when suddenly there's this awesome THING that you didn't even know existed, and suddenly it occupies a place in you, it opens up some space for something - a tone, a feeling, an echoing clang - that wasn't there before. Makes me wonder about all the other things I don't know about yet! Not surprised to hear the soundtrack's not available online - I mean you sure as hell aren't gonna find out about Blue Collar on Netflix. I go to Bay Video for my movie love. Guess I'll have to dig in old cardboard boxes of basement vinyl if I wanna dream of playing that soundtrack at home.

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