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LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL | CRITICS' NOTEBOOK

Jonesy, plus a little `Filth'

July 03, 2006|Carina Chocano; Kevin Crust

Saturday night, we braved the fearsome parking cluster at the Ford Amphitheatre to watch former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones present Julien Temple's documentary "The Filth and the Fury."

For anyone who hasn't heard it, Jones has a radio show on Indie 103.1 called "Jonesy's Jukebox." It's hands-down my favorite thing on the radio. Ever.

Jonesy's voice has a melancholy cast, mingled with a nasal twang, so he sounds a little like Eeyore, or Kermit the Frog after a Miss Piggy assault. He stands alone among the obnoxious corporate rock pushers on mainstream radio and the stately arbiters of pop music taste on public radio. He's wry, genuine and not afraid to be slightly depressive. Besides, he has excellent, extremely catholic tastes in music. You never know what you'll hear on his show.

I was gratified to see that Jonesy is looking not bad these days, especially for a former member of a punk band. He's working a sort of stately and robust look, with slightly longish, slicked-back hair. He looks well fed and prosperous, like an Andalusian horse breeder.

Anyway, he did a special broadcast of his show live from the Ford on Saturday night, from a little tent on the landing halfway up to the amphitheater. A crowd was gathered watching him play with his musical guests, the Vacation. They knocked out "I'm Waiting for the Man," then told the kids it was a song about Vicodin.

Not that there were many kids. There were some, but not many. Nothing reminds you you're really very old like a punk rock show -- which is funny, and not as depressing as you'd think.

The opening band was called the Like, and it consisted of three girls who could not have been older than 17. The crowd loved them. There is a distinct possibility that the guy a few rows in front of me was their extremely supportive dad.

A string quartet came out and played "God Save the Queen," and then Jonesy introduced the film, all too briefly. He was tired from doing the show and depressed about England's World Cup loss. He threw a signed soccer ball into the audience, Rod Stewart style. I wish I'd caught it.

I hadn't seen "The Filth and the Fury" (2000) before and am glad I did.

The movie mixes interviews with the band members, news and concert footage and animated sequences to tell the story of the Sex Pistols from the band's point of view, countering manager Malcolm McLaren's version of events that Temple presented in the first Pistols film, "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," which, of course, I completely bought into as a teenager. Now I feel bad.

We left as soon as the film ended and the Vacation started to play a Sex Pistols song -- I can't remember which one at the moment, because, really, who wants to hear a cover after the movie? We high-tailed it to the parking lot, thinking we'd beat the rush. Locked in from all sides.

-- Carina Chocano

A noir tour of L.A.: The sunshine was eclipsed by the noir at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday afternoon. Although the sun shone brightly overhead in Westwood Village at Family Day, up the hill at UCLA's James Bridges Theater, two packed houses turned their attention to film's dark side.

First, film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini presented an illustrated lecture based on their book, "L.A. Noir: The City as Character." Using clips from classics such as "Double Indemnity" and "Sunset Blvd.," less well-known films such as "Quicksand" and "Pitfall," and more recent noirs "The Long Goodbye" and "Chinatown," this guided cinematic tour of the city took on a spatial rather than temporal structure. Hollywood, downtown and the Westside each got their due as Silver and Ursini explored both lost and extant locations featured in the films. For instance, Jerry's Market, featured in "Double Indemnity," is now the Los Feliz post office.

Norma Desmond's home might be off "Sunset Blvd." when Joe Gillis turns into her driveway, but the actual house used in the movie was on Irvine near Wilshire and is no longer there.

Next, "Pitfall," the only one of the films included and not available on DVD, screened in a restored black-and-white 35 millimeter print by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Dick Powell stars in this 1948 gem as disgruntled insurance man John Forbes, who feels like "a wheel inside a wheel inside a wheel."

Despite being married to the sharp-witted Sue (Jane Wyatt) and having a young son, Forbes has more than his head turned by smoky-voiced model Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott). Raymond Burr plays a creepy private detective who saw Mona first and isn't about to let Forbes get away with anything.

The sassy script by Jay Dratler, who (along with Samuel Hoffenstein and Elizabeth Reinhardt) received an Oscar nomination for "Laura," is packed with deadpan one-liners and repartee. Andre De Toth, a master of the genre, directed and incorporated familiar local landmarks, such as the former May Co. building at Wilshire and Fairfax, in creating a realistic portrait of postwar Los Angeles.

-- Kevin Crust

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