Sunday, May 25, 2008

Five Scenarios Involving Lou Diamond Phillips

Wilder Strawberries

On the table lay sprawled out and unread a screenplay. But there was no table. The office belonging to Lou Diamond Phillips – inconspicuously located above a food market in downtown LA – bore not a single furnishing, save for a waxwork of Kiefer Sutherland and a reel of claymation shorts modelled on Young Guns 2.

The screenplay lay on the floor, a white indentation on a desert of dust and rogue fire-ants. On its cover read in bold type the words: Wilder Strawberries – a screenplay by Dolphin Jones.

Lou Diamond strode through the door, coughing up a wad of sputum as he passed Kiefer. He looked at the screenplay, and then bent his knees to take hold of it. Knelt down in the middle of the barren room, the document clutched in his mitts and the harsh LA sun stabbing the room through its one window, he showed questions in his face. Questions such as: should I read this thing? do I really need to do another low budget, schlock-fest? why oh why doesn’t Woody Allen draft me for his next romantic lead? should I regrow my ponytail?

The seconds ticked past as dust particles danced visible in the rays of the sun.

The ants scurried as Lou Diamond sat down on the floor, cross-legged, the screenplay open upon his knees. Slowly the words entered the vortex of his mind, one by one sliding in and out of his beating mind, sloshing across prairies and obsidian recesses. He captured every fragment, idea and motif, numbing the screenplay’s unread mystery with ease.

The proposed film – inspired by Bergman’s tale of a retired university professor who travels across Sweden with his daughter-in-law to collect an honorary degree, during which time hallucinations and flashbacks prompt him to ruminate on his life and mortality – went some way to exciting Lou Diamond Phillips in the groin.

He would play Miguel the Human Flamethrower, a drug-dealer who travels across Mexico to do one last deal. Days before the trip, Miguel learns he has a daughter, a prostitute by the name of America. He is eager to initiate some father-daughter bonding and invites her along. She assents but with the condition that her pimp accompanies them, a cannibalistic midget known only as Jim. Together, the three of them head off across the Mexican country in Miguel’s pink Cadillac. On the way, they stop at sites of personal importance to Miguel: a small village where he fought rival dealers for control of cocaine supply routes linking Columbia and the United States; an abandoned factory that was once a most productive source of heroin; the graves of assorted politicians he had tortured and murdered; a town that witnessed his crowning moment where he single-handedly defeated a gang of Irish arms-dealers, turning himself into a weapon by attaching three flamethrowers to his body, one on one arm, another on the other, and a third on top of his head, secured by ropes and a series of pulleys that allowed him to operate them – an event that earned him his nickname. Flashbacks in the film dramatise his reminiscences, while America and Jim sell the former’s wares to local hombres.

Problems arise as Jim’s vicious nature and reckless drug habit spawn confrontations with the locals, and Miguel must fight to keep America out of peril. The road is not easy, Miguel’s path is lined with many banditos, and all the while he is pursued by a hitman seeking revenge for past deeds. But over the course of the film, he learns the spirit of family, the loyalties that accompany friendship, and rediscovers the great skill by which he acquired his moniker.

Lou Diamond Phillips sits on the floor, eyes bright and silvery, pushed wordless by the screenplay he’s just read. A single reaction zips through his mind, groping and gaining magnitude. It flies from corner to corner, bounding off and on to panels of fleshy pulp, hindered by nothing beyond its own importance, skipping south and ferocious, tunnelling ever closer to its end, skipping in lust driven forward, on and on and on, veering in motion to the mouth of Lou Diamond – and he expels the fragment from his lips gaping and salivating: “Yes!”

---

The Writing of Lou Diamond Phillips

He’s not Joyce. Don’t let people tell you he is. He most certainly is not. Nor is he Dickens. He’s not, and lies are those words that say he is. But words are not foreign to Lou Diamond Phillips. He says them every day – sometimes two or three times.

The words are select, chosen from many, snatched from lingual banks by mighty mental fists. The words curve up from his mouth, floating to the heavens, off to orbit minds faraway. No word is wasted, not one, each and every word is essential.

Words don’t have to be written down to be literature, this is what Lou Diamond Phillips teaches us. Utterance and utterance go unbroken in his films, through the dialogic imagination he moves unimpeded, summoning meaning to his palms.

Words don’t have to be words to be literature, another lesson taught us by Lou Diamond Phillips. Kicks and slaps, hair and sweat, common features in his films, all of them. Connotation drifts from gestures and sneers, every flinch is like music.

The mediators are few, translating the power of Lou Diamond Phillips into a language he himself has no need for. But they exist, latching words to the jolts felt in the light of his cinema. Jolly enjoyable it may be, but important it most certainly is not.

For the actions that grace the screen, a moving literature, require no transposition to letters and syntax. Lou Diamond Phillips doesn’t mock the minion caught attaching words to his wordless play, he merely admonishes with a warm wink of the eye.

Lou Diamond Phillips writes every day. But not with a pen. Every time someone watches Renegades, Lou Diamond is writing. Every time someone watches Young Guns, Lou Diamond is writing. And so it will go, long into the twilight of cinema.

---

Dialogue (Waiting for Lou Diamond Phillips)

[Two men stand at a bus stop. In the background a flute plays.]

BRONCHO: It’s five o’clock.
WILBER: Is it?
BRONCHO: Isn’t that what I just said?
WILBER: Just clarifying.
BRONCHO: Open your ears next time.
WILBER: I heard what you said.
BRONCHO: Then why the question?
WILBER: I wanted to be sure.
BRONCHO: What a needless inquisition. [He shakes his head]
WILBER: You hear a flute?
BRONCHO: I hear something.
WILBER: It’s definitely a flute.
BRONCHO: Well okay then.
WILBER: Where’s it coming from?
BRONCHO [angered]: You’re the one hearing it!
WILBER: Wish it would pipe down.

[The flute fades to silence]

WILBER: Where is he?
BRONCHO: He’ll be here. You know he’s always late. Five minutes time we’ll see him sauntering up the road.

[The conversation ends. The two stand aimlessly at the bus top, WILBER with his hands in his pockets, throwing his hips out every few seconds, BRONCHO scratching a burst vein in his cheek. After a moment, BRONCHO sits down on the low wall behind the bus stop, straining his neck back to see the river that flows out from under the road. A second later, he gets up and resumes standing by the bus stop.]

BRONCHO [to himself]: Ah Lou Diamond, Lou Diamond. [He cracks his knuckles] Lou Diamonds in the sky.
WILBER: Eh?
BRONCHO [looking towards WILBER]: What?
WILBER: What did you say?
BRONCHO: Nothing.
WILBER: I heard something.
BRONCHO: Must’ve been that flute of yours.
WILBER: Words. [Pause] Spoken words are all I hear.
BRONCHO: Save the poetry for later – when Lou Diamond arrives.
WILBER: He’s late.
BRONCHO [sullenly]: I know.
WILBER: Where is he?
BRONCHO: Give ‘im five minutes.

[Silence again cuts across the scene.]

WILBER: Did you ever see The First Power?
BRONCHO: One of my favourite Lou Diamond movies.
WILBER [getting enthused]: A classic thriller. A classic dark thriller. It has such a great mood, atmosphere. Really should be more well known.
BRONCHO: Russell Logan.
WILBER: Eh?
BRONCHO: Lou Diamond’s character.
WILBER: Ah yes. [Pause] Russell Logan…
BRONCHO: The film has everything that defines a Lou Diamond Phillips flick. It’s got the action, it’s got the grit. An original narrative that progresses through stages, each stage revealing more story, building up to an exciting climax. The First Power adds to that, that foundation, a strange aura, unsettling but wholly in tune with the film. Exemplary is that scene that has your boyo crucified by the dam. [He makes an understated crucifix gesture.]
WILBER: It’s a magic.
BRONCHO: Ever notice how everything tastes and feels different after watching a Lou Diamond Phillips film? Like the senses become altered, anew.
WILBER: Bit like how everything tastes mint after brushing your teeth.
BRONCHO: Yes, in a way. But…uh…at a more ontological level.
WILBER: Hate the way I get fuck all taste off a Crunchie after brushing. Really gets me riled.

[A bus goes by, but does not stop. BRONCHO turns to look at a poster stuck to the timetable notice.]

BRONCHO [reading]: “Born of goat is the man who fails to see in the eye of God salvation and neverending life. The glories of heaven and the prophet’s tears are two sides of the essence of man, over and under, one and two, levied upon the soul till his eternity beckons, yielding judgement and the final revelation.”
WILBER: Goat?
BRONCHO [still reading]: “Satan’s tentacles are a continuous malady to which we must be opposed. Never before has a civilisation been so vulnerable to the temptations of the ungodly. Sinful ways are the mores of our day.” [Pause] “Resist devilish lifestyle and fight the harbingers of iniquity - visit our church this Sunday.”
WILBER: Make a great Lou Diamond movie that stuff would.
BRONCHO [curious]: Yeah. Would.
WILBER: He could have a goat as a sidekick.
BRONCHO: No. Weren’t you listening? Goats are bad.
WILBER: Okay. Goats could be attacking the Pentagon and he has to fight them off.
BRONCHO: Um, maybe.
WILBER: And Al Pacino could play Satan’s tentacles.
BRONCHO: Why Pacino?
WILBER: Wasn’t there a scene in Frankie and Johnny where a tentacle monster eats Michelle Pfeiffer’s character?
BRONCHO: Frankie?
WILBER: Yeah.
BRONCHO: A tentacle monster ate Frankie?
WILBER: Yeah.
BRONCHO [furrowing his brow]: Dunno. Never saw it.
WILBER: Think it was Frankie and Johnny. [His gaze slowly floats away from BRONCHO.]

[A pigeon flies by overhead. The two men stand around the bus stop. WILBER puts his hands back in his pockets and looks at his feet. BRONCHO yawns.]

WILBER: Where is he?
BRONCHO: Give ‘im five minutes.

[A flute sounds in the background.]

WILBER: You hear something?
BRONCHO: Just your noisy yap.

[The flute plays, clearly audible. WILBER stands arching his head up and around, as if looking for something. BRONCHO sniffs and puts his hands in his pocket.]

CURTAIN

---

Happiness (Electrodes)

There was no happiness in the situation. Fear, trembling, isolation, these were the notions ravaging Lou Diamond Phillips. Shudder and more shudder. Happiness occurs in the present. Yet presently absent is the happiness that buoys us.

It wasn’t a dungeon but it was dark. A night of the mind with no dawn. In his head but no longer, strapped to a vertical board is he. Secured by leather and unable to move. A light presently appears, shining sight’s new vision for the hapless hero.

Without clothes he stands, motionless. An additional shudder, for what vision brings is no happiness in the present. Electrodes attached to his balls. Not good. Thoughts of escape overtake confusion but are themselves curtailed by helplessness.

We’ll be happy when we do this, that, accomplish, succeed, eyes cast upon the future. The present strives for a happiness only the future can supply. But no. Aims become supplanted by others, renewed, continuing the struggle against nothingness.

The balls tingle but the electrodes are still, no current is passed. The minutes tomorrow are contingent. The electrodes could fire up any second. Or not. Being is not the carrier of happiness: a continuous becoming sanctions happiness.

Change and growth, difference and the new, these are nodes sutured to happiness. It comes in the doing, the present work. The end and being are illusions, forever bred by the mind. Overcome the frivolous we might, but the electrodes remain.

---

Panda

The panda bent over, face crinkled in revulsion, wiped forcefully then threw the wad of paper into the toilet. It tilted its head up, checking its master’s reaction, what side of the coin would await the poor creature: clean and finished and no more, or still filthy and repeat? So much rested on the answer to this question. The eyes and brow looked calm, content for once that the panda had done its job – the time for bathroom labour was over, finished until next time.

The rumour was clear. What wasn’t clear was where it originated. But that didn’t matter much to Lou Diamond Phillips – the truth was of principal concern. And this truth was true, or it turned out to be so anyway.

Throw a bamboo plant in your bathroom and a panda will take up residence there, they said. Not only that, for it will also, as a gesture of thanks, wipe your arse for you every day.

Lou Diamond was sceptical at first, how could he not be. But since he’s an incredibly busy man with no time to wipe his own arse, he thought he’d try it out.

It was a mere matter of days before the panda showed up. He’d strategically placed the plant in the middle of the bathroom, in full view, and removed the air fresheners so the plant’s scent wouldn’t be nullified. Lo and behold, in walks Lou Diamond one morning to find a panda sitting on the lino chewing a bamboo shoot.

The deal, like a good business agreement, functioned well for both parties. The panda would have its bamboo goodies renewed when exhausted and Lou Diamond would be able to use his bathroom time as a chance to read over scripts. There was no transition period, each adapted perfectly to the situation. As soon as Lou Diamond stepped into the bathroom, the panda would be up and ready, perched precariously on the edge of the toilet.

Alas, the poor panda found as the years went by a great depression envelop its being. Daily cleaning took its toll on the creature. Its personality became warped as the panda turned cantankerous and began to resent the master. But it was forever chained to the deal, imprisoned in a thankless profession, fruitless and perpetual, that functioned to generate gains that it would never share.

Yet the fault did not lie entirely with Lou Diamond. He was as much a victim of the deal as the oppressed and exploited panda. Sure, the yield went to him and no other. But the gulf separating him from his underling worked to conceal their true relation, that of master and slave, blinding Lou Diamond to the reality of the situation and the misery of the panda. He was concerned with the state of his arsehole, all else paled in significance. In the end, the panda’s happiness was sacrificed so that Lou Diamond could work on making a new opus: Bats 2: More Bats.

I ask you, which was more important?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Mary K. said...

Oh you kill me Aaron. Thanks for the peek at not only the mind of LDP, but the mind of AF as well.

Just remember, great power brings great responsibility. Use yours for the good. : )

2:20 pm  

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