Friday, July 3, 2015

Brian Wilson / Love And Mercy

Here is my take on today's revised review. 
To make a movie that is commercially successful in today's world, the movie has to be about two hours long. Just like a hit song in the early to mid 60s that had to be between two and three minutes tops.
Brian's life is so complex that in order to tell the entire story that you feel should have been included in the film would easily take a four hour epic film and in today's market that movie would have failed.
Your comments about Landy ... and that they did not talk about all the good things he accomplished with Brian ... do have some validity.  However, when you consider the fact that Melinda was a main contributor to this script, it is understandable that the final product shows us a Landy character that emphasized all his faults.
I think the movie was brilliant in what it did show. I tended to agree on your Cusack complaint but a few weeks ago I watched a TV special from Hawaii showing a Beach Boys concert from the 80s.  I looked at Brian and his weight at the time and his hair style and his facial expression and I now think Cusack did a wonderful job in recreating the Brian of that era.
I am not an expert here, just a big fan and I respect your view but don't agree on some of your points.
Mark, GoHawksGo 

I don't think it would take four hours to tell this story if you simply stuck to the key highlights of Brian's life.  Again, I cite the "American Band" documentary as an example ... and that takes on the burden of covering the whole band.  With Brian as the driving source of the band's success, I think there's a way to show the key points through his eyes ... and still tell a more vivid story of his own life experiences as well.  

How would I do it better?  To give a truer picture of all that encompasses the complicated life of Brian Wilson?  OK, just bear with me here for a moment or two.  

(Preparing for MY "movie pitch" to the major studios!) 
The film opens with 300+ pound Brian lying in bed in his infamous blue bathrobe.  (Maybe The Barenaked Ladies track is playing in the background over the opening credits ... or maybe just a montage of The Beach Boys' Greatest Hits.)

Brian is rambling on ... in a semi-coherent narrative that will drop in and out as needed throughout movie.  He flashes back to the early days and the film becomes the visual of all of Brian's memories ... the good (telling the story of how the band first used the money their parents left them for food to rent instruments and record their very first track, "Surfin'") ... the early days of their surf-sensation ... recapping tsome of the live shows and television appearances (much like the current film does, but sticking in chronological order.)  The competition with The Four Seasons and The Beatles to stay on the cutting edge of pop music ... the pressure of Dad Murry trying to control their recording sessions, striking Brian in the ear as "fat Brian" tells about his hearing loss ... Brian's mental breakdown on the plane (heavy narrative here as he describes all the emotions he was feeling at the time ... all leading up to his decision to quit the touring band and stay behind in the studio creating his masterpieces) ... the incredible progression of this music from the simple Chuck Berry riffs of "Surfin' USA" and "Fun Fun Fun" into the complicated, almost symphonic opening to California Girls ... how he used The Wrecking Crew for the recordings so that the band could stay on the road and he could capture all of the wonderful sounds he heard in his head by way of cracker-jack musicians who could translate those thoughts into revolutionary music ... firing his father (and Murry ultimately selling the rights to all of Brian's songs) ... the inspiration of "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" to create "Pet Sounds".  (I wouldn't change a thing about the "Pet Sounds" sessions ... just show more of what led up to this era) ... but I WOULD show how the rest of The Beach Boys thought he was off his rocker for abandoning "the formula" ... and even Capitol Records hedged their bets by releasing a Greatest Hits Album to compete with the much more avant-garde "Pet Sounds" LP.  Thn into the aborted "Smile" album (great footage in the current film that captures some of this) that ultimately pushed him over the edge (drug usage, drinking, living life to the excess, etc.)

Flash to Brian in bed again ... he describes the torment of "Smile" being shelved ... that was the last straw ... the band would have to soldier on without him ... they'd have to find their own way because he could no longer participate in a positive fashion.  "Rolling Stone" Magazine calls Brian a "genius" and he breaks down again ... he can't handle the pressure of all that this entails.

The Beach Boys fall out of favor with the music scene of the early '70's ... and then their career is completely rejuvenated with the release of "Endless Summer", a #1 Album that puts them back on top of the charts ... all of a sudden, they're selling out shows from coast to coast ... MAJOR tours with Chicago and the whole "Brian Is Back" campaign.  "15 Big Ones" ... and then the beginning of the intense regimen to make Brian healthy again.

Brian continues to narrate ... he's confused and distressed ... they hook him up with Dr. Eugene Landy who acts as both psychiatrist and disciplinarian ... again Brian remembers through voice-overs as we see scenes unfold of both a tormented ... and healthier ... Brian Wilson.  We see ... and feel ... his pain.

Again, more voice overs ... Landy has taken control of his life ... moved into Brian's house ... started adding his name to new compositions ... has drawn up papers giving him executor control and huge monetary gains.  All this unfolds simultaneously on the screen.

Brian meets Melinda.  (Quite honestly it's difficult to accept that Brian, in his current state of mind, can feel ANY emotion, much less love and romance ... and this all comes across as very awkward in the film ... nor does there appear to be any reason why Melinda would be attracted to him in his current mental state ... but obviously it happened and together with his brother Carl and his mother Audree, they wrestled control away from Landy so that Brian could start living his own life again.)  Show some of the music that was created during all this turmoil along the "comeback trail" ... show Brian's recovery and inspiration to put a band together and start performing his music again ... plus all the new music that has come since.

Show Brian coming to terms with the brilliance of "Pet Sounds" and "Smile" and performing them IN FULL in concerts around the world, celebrating his musical career highpoints in spotlight performances.

Final scenes show Brian in bed today ... different bed ... different bathrobe ... photos of Melinda and the kids on the walls ... healthy, thin, but older and wiser ... he talks about what he had to go through to get to this point ... the loss of his brothers ... after a couple of clips of solo Brian in concert, fade out to the 50th Anniversary Tour of The Beach Boys with subtitles explaining how that, too, fell apart at the end ... but today Brian is back out on the road with Al Jardine, David Marks, Blondie Chaplain, etc.  His latest album "Pier Pressure" is a contemporary hit, reaching a whole new audience.  He is still in many ways socially dysfunctional ... but he's living his life on his terms and creating brilliant music again.

NOTE:  No Manson ... no frivolous lawsuits ... this is BRIAN's story and should be told as such.  (In the unlikely event that somebody someday should want to make a story about Mike Love's life, they can get into all the other craziness that encompasses The Beach Boys ... but the truth is Mike Love may just be the luckiest man alive ... he just happened to have the right cousin who brought him into the band ... that Love is such an egomaniacal blow-hard today is beyond my comprehension ... this man should be thanking his lucky stars on a daily basis for all that he has reaped over the past 50-some years thanks to his mega-talented cousin. ... but that's fodder for a different film ... perhaps a cartoon.) 

Just read your latest "Love And Mercy" review ... I think your readers  are gonna disown you! LOL

You have the BEST, MOST interesting way of keeping everybody up to speed on all the topics we care about.  
This extensive report you wrote on "Love and Mercy" is to me an "essential" read for anyone who wants to discuss and learn more about Brian's life.  He was invisible and almost mythical for many years, but to the Beach Boy 60s fans he was "there" undeniably in both our minds and our musical core through his writing and singing on songs in our personal collections like "Don't Worry Baby", "In My Room", "Surfer Girl", "409", and the list is amazing, unending.  
It's difficult to actually write what I mean to say about his writing "essence", but it has something to do with his ability to put his words to his music and making it OUR words and OUR music, OUR thoughts, OUR experiences, OUR Age of Innocence, taking us through our First Date, or our First Car, or our First Love, or our dreams of someday actually going to California or Hawaii and surfing our First Big Wave.
Younger listeners should take the time to explore the Beach Boys 60s catalog.  I believe they will find the same "Vibe" in that music that WE did.
When you say that you sometimes get "emotional" about the feelings The Beach Boys still generate through their incredible talent combined with Brian's songs and arrangements, I "KOTALLY" understand. 
Thanks for creating Forgotten Hits,
Van Dorn
Thanks, Veeder ... I appreciate it.  Not trying to sway anyone's opinion ... some of this stuff you just have to experience yourself ... but I've always felt that there are many sides to the same story ... you've just gotta pick the ones that work for you.  That being said, you can't simply discount the OTHER things that factor into the overall picture ... or you never GET the overall picture.  Thanks again.  (kk)