October 7, 2008
It makes sense that Francis Ford Coppola would make a respectable wine – not just because he’s Italian and lives in San Francisco but because he’s unquestionably enjoyed some bacchanalian excess. Over the years, his body has become a huge, hairy dirigible advertising the dangers of la dolce vita. Ironically, Coppola is carrying roughly the same weight Marlon Brando was when he played Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. No need to throw stones, but perhaps the paparazzi should shoot Coppola entirely in the shadows – like he did Brando in the movie (well, at least the scenes where he wasn’t using a manatee as Brando’s body double). Really, when you’re paying a couple of million dollars for a sweaty sumo wrestler with a speech impediment, what’s a few hundred thou more to maintain a saltwater stock tank full of hydrilla and turtle grass? If a manatee contract rider seems excessive, maybe you’re not cut out for Hollywood. Movie-making isn’t for the faint hearted. Ask Martin Sheen. At 36, he suffered a heart attack during the filming of Apocalypse Now – probably because at some point he found out what Brando was being paid. That might also explain the drunken, improvised Elvis-kwon-do hotel room scene at the beginning of the movie – the one where he breaks the mirror with his fist while Jim Morrison slurs the apocalyptic lyrics to “The End” in the background. Sheen should have probably won an Oscar for that scene, but unfortunately, he wasn’t acting. It was his birthday, and he was depressed and alcoholic. Plus, it was fucking monsoon season for Christ,s sake. Coppola himself threatened suicide on several occasions, not only because Brando gave him a frightening vision of his physiological future, but because back in ’78, $30 million was a lot of money to flush down the toilet on an ego trip. Of course, how could he know that nearly 20 years later Kevin Costner would make that figure look like chump change with his idiot-epic Waterworld (aka Fishtar), which tabbed out at $176 million, a stark illustration of what happens when you trade Thai Stick for blow. As a result, no one in Hollywood returns Costner’s calls anymore, not even Flavor Flav. You can see how after more than 200 days of slogging around the Philippines in monsoon season, Coppola would get serious about stomping grapes. Who could have guessed he would blow up like one? Big as he is, Coppola’s films are even bigger, and Apocalypse Now might be the biggest of all. If not, it’s at least the most ambitious. Bottom line is that art takes balls … unless, of course, you’re a burlesque troupe, in which case balls aren’t a requirement. You still need moxy, chutzpah, nerve, and cheek, though, and nowhere will you find more cheek than the Kitty Kitty Bang Bang burlesque troupe. This Saturday at 9pm, they will be performing a new show called Apocalypse Wow! at the Compound, which sounds like the set for a Rambo movie, but it’s really just a performance space next to the Scoot Inn on East Fourth. Apocalypse Wow! pairs the Bangers with Tom Waits Peepshow cohorts the No Salvation Army Band in an “apocalyptic musical romp” that may be the most artistically ambitious thing you’ve seen that doesn’t involve killing a water buffalo.