Friday, March 30, 2012

Ann Capozzolo: Why I Love the Monkees' HEAD

BMFI continues its The Late Show series of underseen cult and classic films with Head, showing tonight at 11:30 pm. Read why Ann Capozzolo, a lifelong Monkees fan and our programming contest winner, loves the zany 1968 film.

By Ann Capozzolo, BMFI Programming Contest Winner 

Seeing Head on the big screen means a lot to me right now. I’m a big Monkees fan. I’m sure you are aware that Davy Jones, the resident ‘cute one’ in the Monkees, passed away recently. So the timing of this event feels right to me. Also, I never thought I’d actually get the chance to see this movie, which is one of my all-time favorites, on the big screen.

I’ve been a fan of the Monkees since I saw the show on TV when I was eleven years old. As you can imagine, at that age I couldn’t get enough of their silly antics and catchy pop songs.

About a year later, I discovered that the Monkees made a movie after their television show was cancelled, and it was going to be on TV... at 3 AM.  The timing puzzled me, but I set my VCR anyway.

When I woke up, I couldn’t wait to see what zany stuff “my” Monkees cooked up for their movie. I popped the tape in right away while eating my breakfast.

I think I stared at the screen with my mouth hanging open for the first twenty minutes. These weren’t really my Monkees. These Monkees were edgy, psychedelic, anti-war, anti-teeny bopper, basically kind of anti-everything, it seemed. And they were making references that went straight over my head. I must have found it amusing enough to muddle through until the end. But I have to say that twelve-year-old Ann was disappointed!

As I got older and could understand Head more, I came back to it again and again. I love all the psychedelic scenes and the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that the Monkees poked fun at their image and their TV show. Many of the scenes in the movie play out like a Monkees episode, but totally exaggerated and infused with dark humor.

I think that if the group wanted to blow up the entire Monkees phenomenon with this film, they did a great job of it. Just like me at twelve, I can’t imagine that typical Monkees fans at the time would have understood the film at all. On the other hand, cinephiles that may have really appreciated the film probably avoided it simply because it starred the Monkees. I’m glad that Head has gotten some recognition in recent years.

Probably the most often talked about aspect of Head is that it was written and produced by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson about two years before they teamed up again to make the classic Five Easy Pieces. Besides the Rafelson and Nicholson pairing--and, of course, all the awesome psychedelic visuals--the film also has this rebellious, loss-of-innocence feel that I think a lot of movies tried to capture at the time.

From the psychedelic imagery to the great music to a bizarre assortment of cameos, like Annette Funicello and Frank Zappa, this movie has the power to put viewers into a 1968 frame of mine. I hope you all enjoy this psychedelic, plotless cult classic as much as I do!  

Ann Capozzolo won BMFI's Winter Programming Contest by suggesting Head. This post is a version of the introduction she'll be giving at tonight's screening. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnCapo.

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