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You are incorrect. Jimmy Wolpaw directed and wrote the movie, yes.
The delightful folk songs were written by leading man Stanley Matis. He also co-wrote some of the script. NRBQ and The Young Adults also showcased some of their talents here. Captain Lou Albano is great in this movie.
It was filmed in and around Providence, Rhode Island. The club was the original Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel which was torn down shortly afterward. Luckily, it was rebuilt at a new location, 79 Washington Street.
I think this movie is in a class by itself, and is a bit ahead of its time. Time for a multi-commentary DVD with all the trimmings. Why it's not shown once in a while on IFC or Sundance is rather puzzling. It rules.
For any fan of twisted musicals like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and This is Spinal Tap, Complex World is a great find. The plot loops around in giddy swirls, helped on by genuinely bizarre songs from The Young Adults -- songs like "Christmas in Japan in July," "Do the Heimlich," and "Kill Yourself." These Adam-Ant-on-crack songs are supplemented by original tunes by writer-director Jim Wolpaw, which range from advocating paving New Jersey to denying women food so that the men of the world have enough to eat. The plot is impossible to describe, but it's a twisted, hilarious film. If you can find it, see it.
I love this movie. I rented it at the video store because I was intrigued by the cover and was more than pleasantly surprised. I became an instant fan of the Young Adults, they were a real band in Rhode Island, they have since disbanded. I was able to locate a record of theirs titled "Helping Others" which was a soundtrack of sorts for the movie. I was also able to track down Stanley Mathis who is a performer in New England he played the lead role in the movie and wrote the songs he performs in the movie (the New Jersey song and the feed the women song) I emailed and he very graciously mailed me a copy of his tape which included many of the songs he performed in the movie. I also was able to track down Rudy Cheeks (sax player) from the Young Adults but he was unable to help me obtain any more recordings of the Young Adults. An interesting note, the actor that plays the leader of the terrorist group (Harpo) went on to play George Costanza's boss on the Seinfeld show. Great movie, well worth the search to find it.
First of all, let me say that i was fortunate enough to see this movie
in a movie theatre; to add to that,i saw it along with two buddies who
are,like me,stupid,lousy guitar-playing musicians.And finally, we were
all living in Boston,possibly the ultimate stupid guitar-playing
musician town on the planet. On with the film then;A simple "animal
house"-like story,where an evil,evil major plans to bomb his son's rock
club to climb the polls,and does so by sending in a hit squad of fake
"terrorists"; While these try to plant the bomb within the club many
stories unfold, from the band members who are gigging there that night
to the club goers, the terrorists and so on.Obviously, the whole lot of
characters is an unimaginably idiotic one,each more absurd than the
previous. Now, while there's a lot of "Phython-like" humour,some of the
characters are funny in a trashy kind of way.The "main character"(which
is by no means the main character -a thing i believe was invented by
Woodie Allen, where other characters are much more present on screen
than the main one)can be seen as THE ULTIMATE creep,he's dressed as one
and behaves as one, and that's how the story rotates around him, for in
fact he tries to warn people of the bomb(in fact he does it on stage
with a microphone)but he is so impossible to look at that his warning
is not noticed, and so the movie can go on.All the characters are
exaggerated in this way,reminding those who see Complex World of kid
movies like Bill and Ted or Wayne's World.(even though musicians will
like this best, more on that later).It is my guess that if you like old
Allen movies, like Try it Again Sam or Grab The Money And Run you will
love this unknown little flick without necessarily noticing the best
about it; In fact,what makes this movie incredible,and my whole
point,is that a whole set of songs by a factious band,"The Young
Adults", was made for the film; These, with their lyrics and
incredibly-catchy,incredibly-stupid lines will make the day for any and
all "stupid,guitar-tooting musician" worth their salt.("I WANNA GET MY
PICTURE IN THE MAGAZINES; I WANNA THROW UP IN THE BACK OF A
LIMOU-SINE"),or (KILL YOURSELF,dada dada da,KILL YOURSELF,dada dada da
da,I CAN'T SEE HOW IT WOULD HURT TO TRY). So, if you too "sometimes
feel like a chimp-chimp-chimp-an-zee",go out to your favourite obscure
video rental and grab a copy of
(It's A)Complex World, you won't regret it.
Once upon a time there was a place called Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel. This
Heartbreak Hotel was rock bar in the Providence, Rhode Island. In 1987
the hotel had some rough times and it looked as if the doors were going
to close for good. So Lupo got his bartender Jim Wolpaw who had made an
Oscar nominated short film Keats and His Nightingale: A Blind Date to
make a movie around the benefit concert to save the Heartbreak.
The headlining act of the concert was Providence's own The Young Adults. The Young Adults were big success in their hometown and had some local air play around 1979 with the single Complex World w/ Beer. Due to internal problems the band split. What kind of sound did the Young Adults kick out? The band lead by David Hansen (then known as Sport Fisher) produced songs that were humorous in nature, yet had the sound of honest, soulful rock 'n' roll. Songs like: Do The Heimlich, Christmas In Japan In July, and Complex World , of course, would make up the soundtrack of (you guessed it) Complex World. Side Note: the band was once sought by Lorne Michaels to be the band for "Saturday Night Live". The Young Adults only album was entitled Helping Others on the Heartbreak Hits label. And now you know the rest of the story.
Sorry, Paul Harvey moment! I found out about this movie in the early nineties. It was in one of those non-chain video stores. Mom and Pop video stores are great because sometimes they get movies that would be normally tossed to the side. During that time, I had seen Quinten Tarantino's Reservior Dogs and wanted to find more independent and cult movies. Complex World is high on my list of cult favorite movies.
Complex World is the story of Morris Brock (Stanley Matis), a man who joins a group of terrorists in order to get out from under the shadow of his dead brother. Morris isn't the ring leader in this scheme. In fact, the group is lead by Malcom (Daniel Von Bargen), who like most of the group, can't stand Morris. Well that isn't completely true, the group's weapons expert and the movie's token black Harpo (Allen Oliver) is silent for most of the film. Last, but not least Gilda (Margo Dionne) is Morris' east German love interest that has no interest in him.
The terrorists' plans are to place a bomb in the basement of the Heartbreak and then hold the people for ransom. The terrorists are themselves being manipulated by the underlings of Sen. Robert Burgess (Bob Owczarek) who son Jeff Burgess (Dan Welch) is the owner of the Heartbreak. The senator sees his son as a risk to his run for president and is willing to have him killed as an opportunity to make him a sympathetic hero. Are you still with me? Good! What no one counted on is Jeff complete unwillingness to take anything seriously.
On top of everything else, the mayor office has a motorcycle gang hired to terrorize the people of Heartbreak while officials promise to ignore the gang's actions. The gang is lead by Boris Lee played masterfully by none other than Captain Lou "Super Mario Super Show" Albino. Boris Lee is a biker with as strong sense of history and a major fan of Stonewall Jackson.
The least powerful of the Heartbreak Hotel's enemies is the Rev. Tilman Gandy Jr. I don't know if the Rev. was some kind of comic act, but I strongly doubt that he is an actual Reverened. The Rev. Gandy Jr. stands outside the Heartbreak preaching to anyone who will listen to him. The Sermon involves very a fractured retelling of Noah's Ark an some bad philistine jokes.
Complex World is not a very polished film, and if crude, dark humor isn't your cup of tea you may want to avoid. The icing on the cake is the songs of Morris Brock. Like some kind of mix between Woody Allen and Bob Dylan, Morris belts out unforgettable numbers like: Why Do We Feed the Broads, Dead Guy Song, Khruschev Went to the Zoo, and ending with the hateful anthem New Jersey. The Young Adults is comprised of toe tappers like: Kill Yourself, Meeting Girls, Summer Song, Meat Rampage, I Married a Tree, and the songs previously mentioned above. The songs alone are reason enough to see this movie once. It should also be noted that the band NRBQ has two songs they perform for the soundtrack: Me and the Boys and 12 Bar Blues. The Smithereens are the extras around the bar.
While the music plays above "clone band" the Beatlegends take a phone call from the spirit of Elvis while doing lines of coke. The members of the Beatlegends learn about the whereabouts of John Lennon's soul and the secret of life.
In the end, Complex World is movie that looks at the prospect of annihilation, laughs at it, shrugs its shoulders and walks away. If your looking for something that funny to watch, you like good jams, or you dig post Cold-War nostalgia, This is your film. Now your saying, "Abe sound great, but where do I find this wonder of cinema?" Well, on Amazon for up twenty bucks the magic and be yours to keep. A website had it for sale for a hundred, so you can pretty much see where the nice price is.
Abi' Retroactive Score for Complex world: 8.5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hello readers of my reviews and chance strangers alike;
Here is my recommendation for today - find and watch Complex World, if it's the last thing you do.
Here comes the review:
Complex World (or as i know it, "It's A Complex World") is a low-budget surreal comedy about a series of intertwining stories that rotate around a night at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, which although real (it's the nightclub where the film takes place), it's fictionalised in the film;
Morris Brock is a self-loathing, counterculture artsy-type singer who loathes himself and everyone around him, with tragic-comic effects; intent on going out in a blaze of glory, he joins up with a bunch of crooks planning to blow up the club with a giant bomb; the crooks themselves (a bunch of wackos) are trying to pass as terrorists, but are in fact on the payroll of the Major of the city, who is the father of the club's owner - and he is ready to have his son murdered just to jump ahead in the polls.
And to top it all off, the bands who are gigging at Lupo's are as weird as the other characters - "The Young Adults" (whom i previously thought fictitious, but were in fact real), who sing weird-al style comedy rock, and are enough quality entertainment to provide enough laughs just by themselves. The bands are about to go on stage, the crowd begins to gather, the bomb is ready to explode - what follows is some of the biggest assortment of over-the-top characters you will ever see on screen.
So, you *must* watch this film; will you like it??
Maybe, maybe not - COmplex World caters to a particular audience, the irreverent, the college student, the person with a complex sense of humour - in general, if you like Woody Allen's first films, you will probably like this - and most of all, it caters to musicians, rock muzos in particular.
Are you somebody who would love this film?
If you loved The Blues Brother, Kentucky Fried Movie, Rocky Horror, and other less-than-serious comedies, you will absolutely adore this film; if you also have a darker sense of humour, say, you loved the ultra- campy Phantom of Paradise, you'll love this;
Sure enough, there's a chance you will hate this film, it's not for everyone, and you might be running a risk since the only way to catch it nowadays is to buy it on DVD (though i believe that Tower Records in Boston, by mass ave, has a copy on rental), but sometimes digging for gold requires effort and the occasional failure;
And (It's A)Complex World is such an underground gem, it would be a crime to miss it.
My vote: 10/10 - way ahead of its times.
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