Cocksucker Blues (Robert Frank / U.S., 1972):

The Rolling Stones, through a smeared aquarium darkly. According to producer Marshall Chess, the titular number was a joke on a stuffed-shirt impresario, Mick Jagger rasps it on the piano: "Where can I get my cock sucked? / Where can I get my ass fucked? / I may have no money, / But I know where to put it every time." To document their 1972 U.S. tour, the band reportedly picked Robert Frank not because of Pull My Daisy but because he had "good connections for dope," the filmmaker responded by fragmenting the footage into a portrait of the bottomless dreariness of a cocaine crash. The contrast is between fierce performances that seem a vertical montage away from a Kenneth Anger film and absolutely numbing shots of roadies nodding off backstage, Jagger is "the Lucifer, the Dionysius, the Pied Piper of rock ‘n’ roll" but also a slurry hangover asking the cameraman if he wears the same socks every day. Warhol and Capote drop by, powdery toots are prevalent ("Got two Hoovers over here!"), Bianca Jagger stares at a wind-up music box: Mick Taylor drolly notes the "Olympian ecstasy," the zooming, panning camera records it. The rampant groupie-shagging on a private jet was staged by Frank to break up a monotonous flight and to add color to his subject, not unlike Flaherty asking Nanook to wear old furs and hunt with spears. Performances of "Happy" and "Midnight Rambler" are tigerish, and there’s a scintillating glimpse of Jagger and Stevie Wonder jumping in and out of each other’s rhythms. Mostly, however, there’s the downcast spectacle of Keith Richards slowly throwing a TV set down a balcony, which summarizes the documentary’s snapshot of celebrity tedium and empty voyeurism. The Stones gradually edge away from the orgy so that the zeitgeist takes over the jaundiced spotlight, and we’re left with the gallantly named Snatch Girl ("I saw fireflies last night") and the next generation ("He was born on acid!"). In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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