Sunday, 5 June 2011

Assault On Precinct 13 & Driving With Miles Davis


The consequences of giving a little girl the wrong kind of ice cream: several cops, a secretary, two cons, countless youths, the ice cream seller and the little girl, all killed. Yes, it was a bad day in L.A., but wasn’t Laurie Zimmer fantastic as ‘Leigh’? Those smoky eyes, the droll delivery of almost every line. When she parks a smoke between Napoleon Wilson’s lips I can’t help thinking of Bogey and Bacall. She had something of the divine LB about her, pared down and hardboiled...what a great femme fatale she would have made 30 years earlier. Watching ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ again the first assault struck me as a incredible scene – Carpenter’s vision – to have nothing but the ‘phutt’ of firearms peppering rooms – a kind of audio-visual poetry is created from just this, bullets flying into rooms. The way a paper pad is hit, a leaf or two fluttering from the impact, then more sheets being blown apart – it’s a mesmerising alternative to the more obvious choice of victims dodging bullets amid a cacophony of yells, screams, dramatic music and thunderous artillery. And the soundtrack, as you know, is one of the greatest ever written.

In ’87 Carpenter made ‘Prince Of Darkness’, which I’ve not seen, but it provides a tenuous link to Miles Davis, who acquired that nickname somewhere along the way. The Oslo concert footage has only recently emerged, I believe. It’s top sound and visual quality. I love the shot of his foot on the pedal early in ‘What I Say’. That just seems to symbolise so much, sartorially (flares, slight platform sole), but musically, dare I suggest, foot-to-the-floor...and fuck anyone who doesn’t get it – Miles is driving this machine through all the bullshit, and he’s wearing ‘freak’ gear! He’s in top gear! Can I keep up the driving metaphor? You bet – this car’s akin to that designed by Homer Simpson in one episode, but only in that it is totally his vision and it goes against the grain of what ‘should’ be created. Unlike Homer’s car, though, it works, is a fully functioning beast that snarls, roars, purrs, skids and screeches – and when you take a ride, you’re not sure where you’re going, you get confused, perhaps even afraid, irate and so on. Miles is The Driver. And seat belts are advised.


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