Saturday, 3 April 2010

They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God.

No 258 - The Blues Brothers
Director - John Landis

Films based on SNL sketches are worrying beasts... after all, what works in a sketch might not work when tediously stretched over 90 minutes or more. However, when they work they seem to be gems. And usually gems linked with music and musical cameos and a very loose plot that can factor in random occurrences and more sketch like situations.

So it is with The Blues Brothers. Rather than being based on sketches per se, this was based on a supergroup of musicians which were formed to occasionally play as guest musicians on Saturday Night Live. Then they even went and made albums and the like - and we all know just how shit films based on bands can be...
The film itself follows Jake and Elwood as they try to put their band back together in order to raise $5000 and save their former orphanage - ideally without causing too much trouble. Of course, trouble is duly caused and over the course of the film they end up with almost everyone in the world chasing after them.

The film is made up of a bunch of sections which are all fairly similar. They turn up, either recruit a band member or perform, there is a killer cameo and then they have to leave because angry police/Nazis/red necks/security guards/the army are chasing them. It all builds up to an enormous final performance in which we see how much the music industry has changed in the last 30 years.
But let us begin with the cameos, as that is one of the films triumphs. We have Frank Oz popping up (who I think is a bit of John Landis regular), we have John Candy (who was definitely a John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd regular) even Twiggy appearing in a little joke cameo... and we have dozens of awesome musicians appearing. The Blues Brothers band is formed up of some high profile session musicians (or as high profile as those poor guys can be) but then we get the legends cropping up. James Brown is perfectly cast as a big brash American preacher, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin show that as well as being awesome singers they can hold their own acting in a big old film. Ray Charles, sadly, doesn't - he is quite a rigid and wooden actor (who looks like he's having a bloody brilliant time though)... but he is RAY FUCKING CHARLES so you more than forgive him.
These big musical set pieces are part of the film's very back bone. The other things that seems to run through the entire film's core is a bunch of ridiculous car chases. They start pretty mental as they smash through a mall and destroy pretty much EVERYTHING. However they get bigger and bigger and more and more ridiculous with pile ups of dozens of cop cars which all make up to the foot chase at the end incorporated every security department America has to offer storming the Tax offices.
If you hadn't clocked it already, this is where you realise that THIS is NOT the real world!

There is one cameo which I haven't yet mentioned, because it is definitely the weirdest. It seems, that at some time in the past Jake spurned a lady.... and it seems that this lady has a pretty hefty artillery. So we have Carrie Fisher appearing as The Mystery Woman who just seems to turn up with more and more ridiculous weapons in order to try and blow up John Belushi's Jake Blues.
It seems to go against all of my geek leanings but I find Carrie Fisher much more attractive when she isn't Princess Leia.... controversial (until you remember her cameo in Shampoo)

And on that really super shallow note I shall end my blog.... I had been doing really well recently too....

ah well....

1 comment:

Del said...

Not sure I'd say the band were just session musicians, they were the bulk of Booker T and the MGs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar-Z_l907DY