Keeping the Faith
dr. Edward Norton
str. Jenna Elfman, Ben Stiller and Edward Norton
"Show Biz Kids making movies of themselves
you know they don't give a fuck about anybody else"
"Show Biz Kids", Steely Dan
It wasn't shaping up as the greatest of days. I had spent the night sleeping on a bare wood floor with only a few blankets to soften the incremental blow, leaving me only one sheet to cover the rest of my body. When I awoke I was frozen through with nothing to look forward to but six hours at the library, the place I see as a steady paycheck.. Some fleeting comfort came my way as I crossed the park with Funkadelic on my walkman, but in general I was under temporary restraint. Get it done, live through it, stop complaining, think of all you can do afterwards. I took my advice, and before I could get to the crux of the point of the moral, I was on a city-bound bus on my way to a six o'clock screening of Keeping the Faith.
The problem was that I had an hour to kill before this cinema trifle, so I did the standard fanboy thing and went Pitt Street way for some cheap and hilarious vinyl. I picked up Rick Wakeman's The Six Wives of Henry VIII for a dollar, which is no doubt way too much for something so relentlessly shitty, but what the fuck, its a gatefold sleeve, mellotrons are cool and there's some useful historical information on the back. Van Morrison's St. Dominic's Preview set me back a slightly pricy fiver, but I've wanted this album for months now. Anyway, I'm checking for scratches and making my way to the counter when I gaze up at the rack which usually contains over-priced second hand boxsets and mint condition Michael Jackson dolls when I catch a gorgeous eyeful of a true rarity. I'm drooling, shaking, all internally 'course. "Hey, what's in that box up there?" I ask. "Oh, that's the Steely Dan boxset. It's got all their albums.". Now this is looking good for me. Five minutes earlier at another store all I could find was an eight dollar copy of Countdown to Ecstasy, but here was everything I'd ever need in a lovely cream box. Most importantly, it was only twenty-five dollars. Sure, I had The Royal Scam and Aja already, but I could do with spares. Aja in particular had been getting a pretty thorough playing in the last week (The grooves of "Black Cow" and "Peg" are currently begging never to be submitted to my needle again). And for bonus collectors and other greedy and show-offy types like myself, there was a rare 12" copy of their single "FM", which, as any true fan of the Dan can tell you, was never collected on album. As a bad jazz critic might say: tasty.
Oh, in between the indistinct time of 5:45 and 8:15 I see the film. I have tried to recall the events of that shadowy period, but I cannot grasp any tangible joke or plot thread. For me that time is forever lost, an indistinct morass of fraud and bakesale. To recall those strained cinematic affairs now pains me to no end. I think of mediocrity shot through all promise, and about Edward Norton going down in flames as promise hits a left and sideswipes career suicide. Call the doctor. Get me a priest.
Movies like this are just bad radio, but when you're stuck in the cinema with a broken knob then you better pray something good comes on pretty damn soon. Personally, cheap box sets are the way to go. Look for the permanent gem, the pop culture hope diamond, that shiny object that demands replay and earns your respect. Sure, you can throw down ten to twelve dollars to confirm all your worst fears and notch up another catastrophe on your disaster sheet, but wouldn't you rather obtain the back catalogue of a much-maligned 70s group. The choice is clearer than clear. For now: God save Supertramp.
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