Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’  Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’ Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel'  Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel' 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See The 10 Best Films Of 2007 The 10 Best Films Of 2007 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice 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 Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

"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.


E-Mail Updates