Thursday, December 15, 2011
bad/awesome flixxx review: Johnny Suede (1991)
"Deke- turn on the tv- there's a old cowboy movie on with nothing but midgets. Yeah midgets- even the horses are midgets." - Johnny Suede
"She's not a schoolteacher! She works with retarded kids and shit, and I mean that's a big difference." - Johnny Suede
"I wrote a song once...It's called "The Rent Song". Did you ever hear "The Rent Song"? It goes like this: hey, hey, -today is the day- those that pay- will get to stay. Those that don't,- I hate to say,- they got to pack their shit..and move, move away...Practice that, Caruso." - Landlord
This is a helluva flick. I hadn't seen it since around the time it came out. I probably saw it in like 92 for the first time. It left an impression on me. I remembered it being somewhat strange but quirky. Going back now, it makes sense that the director Tom Dicillo had worked on numerous projects with Jim Jarmusch. It has a very Jarmusch feel to it. Johnny Suede is a misunderstood crooner who just wants to put a band together and doesn't really understand anything about women. Brad Pitt, Nick Cave, Catherine Keener & (a tiny cameo by a man who'd become a megastar that same year with PULP FICTION) Samuel Jackson star in JOHNNY SUEDE!!!
This is a crazy lil flick about a guy named Johnny. Not sure if his last name is Caruso of if that was some vague reference his landlord was making. Either way, he goes by Johnny Suede and he's a big liar with a huge pompadour that really wants to start a band. He idolizes Ricky Nelson and thinks that he has it all except for a pair of suede shoes. There's a revival of rockabilly type shit in Brooklyn where he apparently lives, led by a guy called Freak Storm (Nick Cave). Johnny just wants to get a band together but his buddy keeps trying to get him out to the club scene. When he splits for home one night after hanging for a while at a club, he sees a woman being raped (even though she's not complaining and a dude says she's game for it). He goes to call the police and a huge box crashes down on the phone booth he's in. When he checks it out, theres a pair of diamond encrusted black suede shoes inside of it.
The shoes immediately give Johnny confidence and he hits on this chick Darlette who's dating a weird photographer in town named Flip Doubt. He keeps seeing her even though she's dating the other guy, continually fueling his own ego. But Johnny is broke and- even though he doesn't want to- takes a job as a painter with Deke (his bud). Darlette complains of abuse by the boyfriend but he has a gun so Johnny can't get him. Then one day, Darlette just dumps Johnny. He finally gets his band together, pisses off a midget, and meets a weird chick who's nothing like anyone he's ever met.
Johnny meets Freak Storm who's kind of a crook/junkie. He gives him his tape and $20, and Freak Storm gives him a song. The tape was supposed to go to a producer, but we never learn if it ends up there. Johnny actually turns the song into a better song. He ends up digging the new chick, they become involved, and she asks him to move in with her. Johnny contemplates the move with Deke one day, but decides against it. Naturally he ends up moving in with her anyway. But Johnny is a dude, and he's a flawed character at that. He has bad dreams about the midget getting him, and he ends up following some chick home from the subway. He actually just goes into her apartment and tells her some tale, and they end up fucking. Johnny returns home and lies to his girl about where he's been, but somehow, the subway ladie's panties were stuck to his pants or his jacket, or in his pocket or something. BUSTED.
So Johnny fucked up. She kicks him out, throws a shoe out the window at him and he can't find it. He told her not to throw shoes at him, and so he ends up slugging her in the belly. Then he splits. He's been through the ringer. Oh yeah, it was his birthday too. Forgot about that. He can't find his shoe. He goes out, sees Darlette, and she's with.... you guessed it- Freak Storm. So its the next morning, and Johnny makes his way back to Yvonne's (his chick- Keener). She hands him his shoe. But then the movie ends, and we see a cab drive off, with a shoe on its roof. Fucking weird. The whole thing has a weird indie feel to it. And seeing it now is weird because you know Brad Pitt as this huge star, but the only thing he'd done before this was THELMA AND LOUISE and it hadn't even been edited yet. So this was one of his first deals. He knocks it out of the fucking park if you ask me. Should you see this? If you're a Jarmusch fan, absolutely. If you like weird shit, totally. If you appreciate a good surreal dark comedy. Yes. Check it.