Sometime during the Cannes Film Festival (5.15 through 5.26) I’m going to wheedle my way into a market screening of Randall Miller‘s CBGB. Exchange CEO Brian O’Shea announced today he’s acquired int’l rights to this saga of the famed Lower East Side punk-rock club and of founder Hilly Kristal (Alan Rickman). You know Rickman will be tasty but the film will have to get it right in terms of that rank and tattered Bowery & Bleecker atmosphere, particularly as manifested from the mid ’70s to early ’80s.
Two things worry me…no, three. One, there was a male supporting player in Miller’s Bottleshock, which began in the late ’60s or early ’70s, who wore an atrocious hippie-hair wig. That told me that Miller isn’t all that good at recreating ’60s and ’70s period flavor. Two, the girl in the pink poster doesn’t look like a denizen of the Lower East Side in the ’70s — she looks like a poseur from Mamaroneck or Cranford hanging out at a mall in 1988. And three, the above poster is nothing short of atrocious. A movie that really values what CBGB was about wouldn’t mention “one disgusting toilet” in the copy line. (I remember that toilet and it was fairly gross, but that wasn’t the point.)
There were two kinds of people who caught shows at CBGB. The first kind looked at the “CBGB and OMFUG” sign and said, “Yeah, sure…stands for Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.” Which is what Kristal had in mind when he created the acronym. The second kind just went with the sound of CBGB and presumed that OMFUG was a uniquely New York mantra that combined the meditative “ohhhhm” with FUG, which naturally associates with The Fugs (Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders, “I couldn’t get high, oh no no!”).