If the death of Michael Jackson taught us something it’s that it’s by him that the video clip became mandatory in pop culture. In 1988 small films with two futures big stars shows us the evidence: moving picture was the future of music! This film is called Tapeheads, it’s the work of Bill Fishman.
It started in a London Video club, on the white box of the DVD; I saw the united names of John Cusack and Tim Robbins. What’s make you go to a movie? This time what attracted me were the actors’ names? Do I need to be more specific? John Cusack: High fidelity, Midnight in the garden of good and evil, Being John Malkovich, Grosse point blank, Bullets over Broadway: cult films, sublime or funny, tortured and seductive! The curiosity took me, and we took Tapeheads home! After five minutes of seeing this film, hallucinated I mentally shouted: “This movie is genius!”
What is Tapeheads? It’s a comedy with music and about music, as funny and creative as monuments like Spinal Tap and Tenacious D and the Pick of destiny!
For Josh (Robbins)’s Birthday Ivan (Cusack) let a strange partying crowd get in the nuclear central they’re supposed to protect!
While they’re chief is in the toilets reading an army magazine, the party gets crazy and Josh use the cctv equipment to make a video clip. In the toilets, the chief sees a pair of stiletto which are peeing standing! He comes back furious into the surveillance room saying that he saw an UFOP (Unidentified female on premise)! They loose their jobs and everything can begin: they will become Video Aces, and produce music videos!
Of course no major wants them! So they‘ll do little filming jobs to keep the material: they’ll film a dog medium at work (so kitsch it’s awesome), will film a dying man last wills ( except they will harass the guy who will die during the shooting!)
They’ll do an ad for Roscoe’s chicken wings and waffles:
Eventually Ivan find them a contract … on specs! I love the fact that to get to this production he had to get out of the elevator in the same way he did to reach floor 7 ½ in Being John Malkovich!
When they’re filming the party of a candidate to be president of the USA, a compromising tape is hidden in their things. The candidate M. Mart (his wife is called Kay Mart!!) loves atomic bombs and gives cigarettes to little kids in his campaign ad, will throw at them his burlesque hitmen!
This film is a sophisticated and cathartic massacre game! Music is omnipresent, and the integration of films in the film is brilliant and creative! It can be television, the music videos, super 8, advertisement, it all help into the development of the story in a dynamic and visually impressive way! The invention in this opus is pop, surrealist, dada, naïve but rarely post-modern. I mean by that, that parody is rare in this movie except when the two girl are playing the kung fu bitches Bruce Lee’s way! Fishman sees television, which was negative and dangerous in some other eighties movies like Videodrome or Poltergeist, as a creative tool, too present, but inspiring! Belinda thinks that Roscoe’s first ad was an interesting art performance!
Despite of the creativity of the script, this film would be nothing without his actors: Cusack is generous with energy and passion. Tim Robbins’ transformation from a shy geek into a man is remarkably refined for such an anonymous opus! Don Cornelius playing “Am I crying?”Mo Fuzz is hilarious and charismatic!!
This film is full of Cameos: there is one of Courtney Love! Tapeheads was produced by Mike Nesmith (ex Monkees), so it’s in the musical business and independently that Tapeheads was produced and that probably explains that regrettable lack of visibility! This film just deserves to be cult, so take any opportunity to watch it!
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