Ramones & Arthur Kane Films @ Raindance Film Festival October 2005
The Raindance Film Festival is dedicated to fostering and promoting independent film in the UK and around the world. Raindance combines Raindance, Raindance East and Raindance Kids Film Festivals, Training Courses, Raindance Film Productions and the Raindance Film Magazine, and every year host the prestigious British Independent Film Awards in London. Raindance spans the full spectrum of the art, craft and business of independent movies - from guerrilla style low or no budget productions to big budget indie blockbusters. On the menu for this year’s festival was the Ramones End of the Century Film and a short of the soon-to-be-released full documentary about Arthur Kane (New York Doll). Trakmarx got sneaked in the back door care of Dominic Thackray of one of the Raindance faithful, nice one! For more on the Raindance organisation check www.raindance.co.uk you should just they continue to do the business for film in this country.
Fearing the worst, as with all these types of ‘rocumentary’ we, the audience, crept into see the first feature, the Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane film.
Seeing Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane in civy clothing was the first shock of the night. He spoke of an almost inconsequential existence for nearly 30yrs. The clique ‘I used to be somebody’ seems to actually ring true with this guy.
But you are a New York Doll! How could Arthur be anything else?
What could this poor chap have been through to have lost so much of his self-confidence “I’m a loser,…………………….a scmuch” he confesses to us.
Second shocking revelation of the night, is that Arthur appears to have been the last person on this blue planet to be aware of the impending New York Dolls engagement to play with the rest of the surviving Dolls, after over some quarter of a century.
Arthur gets the first clue that something is afoot when he opens an e-mail from an old, old friend from England, who he hasn’t heard from in about the same amount of time as the Dolls last graced a stage in full patent red leather. It reads “are you really going to be playing at this years (Morrissey’s) Meltdown, at the Queens Festival Hall in London?”
Then, having rang Morrissey, only to find out that it’s all true, the fear kicks in for Arthur……………… What if ?
We are the ‘flies on the wall’ for the first rehearsal session in the U.S. (very odd moment!). Then we’re in the backstage area of the QFH, were Arthur delivers an open prayer to the gathered, remaining Dolls and stand-ins, prior to taking on the biggest crowd the Dolls have ever played to in their lives. The prayer is touching; it thanks God for the multiple miracles that he has finally bestowed on Arthur and his cohorts tonight. Johnny and Jerry are not missed out in the blessing; they will be there tonight, brothers in arms again.
Arthur, Sylvain and Dave take the stage, their home, where they have always belonged.
Arthur is KILLER Kane! He’s back, just where he should be.
The freeze frame of Arthur at the end of the film captures an expression on his face; it tells of a man happy again, fulfilled, the smile is a real Killer.
R.I.P. Arthur Kane………..New York Doll……………..Period!
I told T.V. Smith and Gaye Advert before we went in to the auditorium that I was armed with a Maxi Pack of Revels and a box of tissues. The latter had already taken more of a pounding than the all-chocolate Revels selection, and we hadn't even got to the Ramones flick yet. 'Any one got a towel I could borrow? I asked, this was going to be an emotional ride, I just knew it.'
trakMARX has already given the gory (glory) details of the End of the Century documentary (TK 16), so no need to repeat that here.
We see where the guys grow up. Look, it's the birth of the seventies, Queens NYC, it's more like down town Beiruit than Down Town Judy Brown, or those glossy images of Saturday night time T.V. back in the day have us believe. Don't think the people of Queen's would have known what a double-shot latte was then. South of Houston, deep in the Bowery towards the East Village isn't much better.
Look, you know the club, you know the story. The narrators of the film tell it all in graphic detail. You can almost smell that sweaty hole known as CBGBs. Brudder Joey goes one better (just in case the penny hasn't dropped yet) describing the saw-dust on the floor of the bar, the local bums shuffling change to make the next shot of their chosen poison and of the dog shit on the floor, which you need to maneuver around with Marine-like precision. After hearing from all the main characters of the day, we get the drift alright, life was tough being in the Ramones:
Johnny Ramone: Ran a pretty type ship, he had to (read on below), the 'manager within the band'. He openly admits that many people didn't like him, he didn't particularly like them, or even talking to ‘em. Nothing really bothered him, only the Ramones. That's what mattered. Johnny the Bastard.
Joey Ramone: The freak, the misfit, he made being a misfit and freak cool for misfits and freaks of the world, a hero! A born romantic. His lost love, to Johnny of all people, destroyed the brudders relationship forever (clocking up eighteen-years from that moment on).
Dee Dee Ramone: The junkie. Mr Funny Guy, I think my favorite; he knew what he was and was proud of it. He stood there, on the front line of every stage in the world punching the living hell out of his white fender precious bass. Man, this guy wrote some great songs for the Ramones. Something he continued to do even from afar, years down the Dee Dee King1 Road.
Tommy: The producer. Yep, never really accepted as a Ramone, apparently. He was there to do a job, produce first and learn to provide the beat second. What he actually did was create a drumming style all of his own, brilliantly.
Marky Ramone: The drunk. A real Ramone. He adored the band from the moment the Voidoid saw the gang in full combat gear, attacking every note like their life depended on it (at the time I suppose it did).
C.J. and Richie Ramone: Get their dues, as the support team (let’s not mention the Elvis Ramone stand-in period eh).
I loved laughing, I loved crying, I loved dancing in my seat at this film. There's tragedy, mystery, romance, high drama, comedy and thee best God damn rock 'n' roll soundtrack your ever gonna hear, spanning some twenty-one years of the Ramones. They may not have sold that many records in relative terms, (the mystery), but without whom........well, if you are a reader of Trakmarx I know you certainly don't need me to fill in any gaps at this point.
We miss the Ramones like hell! This film reminds us why, as if we needed reminding. As the end credits start so does the applause. But we're British! I've seen applause at the end of movies before, that was in the States, but here in ol' London town! And the best thing, the dancing, yep dancing in the aisles, to Sheena is a Punk Rocker as the credits roll. Haven’t seen that since Rude Boy did the rounds with the Swindle a lifetime ago.
All Ramones fans...definitely a happy family!
1. Dee Dee’s career move as a rapper……avoid!.
Both Ramones and Arthur Kane films won their relevant category awards:
BEST DEBUT FEATURE
END OF THE CENTURY
BEST OFFICIAL SELECTION SHORT
ARTHUR "KILLER" KANE
There, there is justice after all.
Suburban Kid tMx 17 11/04