Head (Bob Rafelson / U.S., 1968):

The deceptively amorphous structure, at last revealed as a solarized circle, gives you the death of a lab-created teen sensation and its rebirth as short-circuiting hipsters crashing Old Hollywood (a series of ludicrous studio sets, plus Victor Mature's good-humored bewilderment). The gamble is to forge a spoof of a satire, if you will, elucidated early on with potshots at Lester's How I Won the War and a lampoon of protest collages (girls shrieking in slow-mo to "Circle Sky" mingled with Eddie Adams' footage of the Vietnamese guerilla shot in the head). Micky Dolenz trudges through David Lean's desert and finds Kubrick's Coke machine, which is readily detonated; Davy Jones as Golden Boy endures a pounding from Sonny Liston, fellow manufactured image Annette Funicello weeps in the aisles. "Are you still paying tribute to Ringo Starr?" If the Beatles were housebroken Marx Brothers, the Monkees here are gutty Bowery Boys, a pop phenomenon rolling with its own vacuity in a Borgesian game of mirrors. The end of a decade envisioned as a smart-ass channel-flipper -- Western genre bores Micky so he cuffs a hole into the vistas behind him and walks off the set, Bela Lugosi and Rita Hayworth in recycled clips are from an alternate universe. "It's about the image, man. Kids aren't gonna dig it," Peter Tork protests, Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson step from behind the camera to assure him all's groovy, baby. Included in this abstract comic assault is Mike Nesmith following "Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" by declaring his hatred for Christmas, the hypnotic force of melted ice-cream cones, Timothy Carey's Quasimodo impression, "The Porpoise Song," the black-box that lands the quartet in Mature's hair for a dandruff-removal commercial. Did the Sixties happen, or was it all a Marshall McLuhan lecture? "The youth of America depends on you to point the way" -- Frank Zappa, next to a cow with animated lips. With Dennis Hopper, Teri Garr, Logan Ramsey, Abraham Sofaer, Sonny Liston, and Percy Helton.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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