Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

"What The Fuck Is Going On?" Paul Thomas Anderson & Robert Downey Sr. Talk The Criterion Box Set 'Up All Night With...'

The Playlist By Edward Davis | The Playlist June 4, 2012 at 3:43PM

It really doesn't get more irreverent and outlandish than the cult films of Robert Downey Sr. and let's face it, every cinephile worth his salt loves an excuse to talk about the underground filmmaker's outré classic "Putney Swope."
3
Eclipse, Robert Downey Sr., Paul Thomas Anderson

It really doesn't get more irreverent and outlandish than the cult films of Robert Downey Sr. and let's face it, every cinephile worth his salt loves an excuse to talk about the underground filmmaker's outré classic "Putney Swope."

And so one of the more strange and wonderfully offbeat box sets to come to DVD late last month was Criterion's Eclipse set dedicated to the unconventional works of Robert Downey Sr. titled, "Up All Night With Robert Downey Sr."  The father of Robert Downey Jr. and a satirical, experimental and counter cultural filmmaker in New York in the late 1960s, many of Downey Sr.'s vehmently uncommercial and mischievous pictures have been virtually awol for decades outside of small, appreciative arthouses like New York's Anthology Film Archives.

Often featuring taboo and trangressive topics, shot on shoestring budgets (guerilla style without permits), utilizing non-actors, told with often whimsical aesthetics ("Chafed Elbows" is mostly visualized via 35 mm photographs, voice-over dialogue and minor animation) and employing random running times without regard to traditional film lengths, RDSr.'s zany pictures are part LSD-soaked bohemia, part subversive Merry Pranksterism with a pinch of shit-disturbing dadism thrown in for good measure. As critical essayist Michael Koresky writes in the box set's booklet, the fiercely independent and idiosyncratic Downey Sr. used film "to freestyle and bop."

Included on the Eclipse set are Downey Sr.'s absurdist political screed, "Babo 73," a tale about incest and odd pregnancies ("Chafed Elbows" often described as a "riot of bad taste") and the director's most heralded film, the advertising, race relations and consumer culture send-up "Putney Swope" -- a film so damn caustic and funny it deserves its own two-disc pimp Criterion edition, but we suppose we'll take what we can get (you must check out this excellent slideshow essay Criterion created on the picture). Sadly missing are the surreal religious parody "Greaser's Palace" and "Pound" which features dog and cats at an animal shelter played by human actors, including the debut of Robert Downey Jr. at five years old playing a puppy. We can only hope Criterion is hoping to put those two films out at a later date.

Meanwhile, a longtime admirer of 'Swope' and the films of Robert Downey Sr. is Paul Thomas Anderson who wove in references to the movie in "Boogie Nights" (Robert Downey Sr. has a small cameo and Don Cheadle's character Buck Swope, is named in homage). Criterion recently sat down PTA and RD Sr. for a chit chat about "Babo 73," the aforementioned "Putney Swope," the New York singles documentary-esque "No More Excuses" and perhaps Downey's most bizarre film, "Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight." Criterion cut the conversation into four clips which you can watch below. They don't quite do the films justice at all, but if they encourage you to go out and explore the films of RDSr. they've done the job. Oh and they also describe why Downey always sub-credited himself as "A Prince" in all his films. Criterion's "Up All Night" is out on DVD now.

Plus everyone's favorite jingle from "Putney Swope."

This article is related to: Paul Thomas Anderson, Criterion Collection, The Criterion Collection, Robert Downey Sr.


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates