On this week's episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM I talked about the many different versions of Evil Ways, a song that most people know from the Santana cover which appears on their self-titled album from 1969. A lesser known adaptation by The Village Callers was released the same year as Santana's but the song was originally written by jazz guitarist Sonny Henry and first appeared on Willie Bobo's album Bobo Motion. In case you'd like to hear some other recordings of the song I suggest you listen to the female fronted version by The Colonists, Myrckwoode's high energy version, Chet Baker's take, or how about Johnny Mathis' passionate vocal styling? If you want to see all the many, and I mean many, different versions of the song you should look no further than Sonny Henry's writing credits on Discogs. Somewhere in my personal collection I have a compilation album released by Rhino Records which features a bunch of different versions of Louie Louie. I'd like to see a similar release that features a bunch of covers of Evil Ways.
CQ follows an aspiring filmmaker, Paul Ballard, as he works as an editor for a science fiction film that's a mix between Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik. When Paul isn't editing the film within a film, Codename: Dragonfly, he's maneuvering between his tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend Marlene and his pet project, an experimental autobiographical documentary.
In many ways CQ seems to be aimed at an audience of hopeful filmmakers or at least people that are interested in how the industry is run. You'll see images of Paul splicing film and people working on overdubs or miniature set pieces. Everything is presented romantically and with an air of movie magic. This, in part, is what gives the film its unique style. Although the setting feels hectic at times it's presented in a way that makes film making seem fast paced and exciting. Unfortunately, the film is constantly reminding you that the centerpiece of the plot is Codename:Dragonfly and Coppola leaves little room for character development. Every character is very flat and there is little growth over the course of the film. You can't really develop any sort of interest in anyone because every moment in the film is meant to further the plot. On particular example is Paul and Marlene's relationship. Marlene's character almost feels like she can be completely removed from the film as she's simply there to create conflict between Paul and his autobiography. We only really see Marlene complain that Paul is neglecting her and how she thinks his creative pursuits are frivolous.
That being said, I would say that you can still enjoy CQ purely for it's stylistic atmosphere. Every character seems cool or beautiful and the sets show an idealized 1960s France where anything can happen. The world that Coppola builds is a world that looks like a subdued version of Beyond the Valley of The Dolls or The Italian Job or any other typical late 60s film. It's a space that draws people like me in. You really want to walk around in that world and absorb everything.
The film has a fairly short run time so any complaints you may have about it's floppy plot can easily be forgotten as you enjoy CQ for what it is: a love letter to the spirit and look of 1960s cinema. While I think there is a message behind the film it wasn't too apparent to me. Perhaps Coppola is telling us to follow our hearts and pursue our creative aspirations but admittedly that's probably a fairly basic reading of the film. But then again, what do I know? Most of the films I watch are based around foam brick castles and latex monsters.
You can check out this week's playlist below: