John Paizs's Crime Wave

John Paizs's Crime Wave

JONATHAN BALL
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5vkj48
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  • Book Info
    John Paizs's Crime Wave
    Book Description:

    InJohn Paizs's 'Crime Wave,'writer and filmmaker Jonathan Ball offers the first book-length study of this curious Canadian film.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6999-4
    Subjects: Film Studies, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 The Top! Few Films Made It!
    (pp. 3-32)

    In a sad but fitting testament to the neglect of John Paizs’sCrime Wave(1985), when I announced to friends my plan to write this book they agreed the premise would make for a fine experimental novel (one masquerading as a work of academic non-fiction), which might even fool a few poor saps into believing the film existed. Even after my explanations and denials, one friend still refused to believe that I had not fabricated both Paizs and the film as an elaborate hoax. She remains impressed that I have (so she believes) faked the Wikipedia entry onCrime Wave...

  5. 2 Beginnings and Endings
    (pp. 33-62)

    John Paizs was born in Winnipeg in 1957, and his childhood influences were typically Canadian, in the sense that they were American. To be Canadian at the time meant, for Geoff Pevere, to “live in one place [when] what you enjoyed all came from somewhere else.”¹ Paizs’s 1980s work – his most significant – bears the clear influence of American comic books, sitcoms, educational films, movie trailers, commercials, B-movie genre thrillers, and cartoons (often this influence appears through direct imitation of these models). Paizs’s artistic ambitions have always been tied to such fare: “Originally, I wanted to be a comic book artist,...

  6. 3 The Greatest Color Crime Movie Never Made
    (pp. 63-100)

    AsCrime Wavebegins, the opening credits introduce a number of its overarching themes. The Americanized spelling of the production company, “Favorite Pictures,” may speak to Paizs’s own ambitions for a U.S. release, but it also seems appropriate for a film that wants, at its core, to be a Hollywood film.Crime Waveboth loves and loathes Hollywood convention, and these conflicting impulses inform its pastiche aesthetic. While reaching for the lost glory of Hollywood’s bygone era – albeit that of B-movies and other commercial fare rather than the “classics” – Paizs recovers but also ridicules the cast-offs of American cinema by...

  7. 4 The Stuff In-Between
    (pp. 101-118)

    Steven is too deep in despair to even throw his new beginning and ending in the garbage, and Kim takes this lack of morning trash as a positive sign. She fantasizes about Steven’s stunning success, which in her childish world means that he would still live above her garage and let her display him at “show and tell.” The blackboard in her dreamed scene captures Kim’s childlike naivety: Steven stands before the class as Kim lectures, pointing to him with a metre stick, while in the background Kim has chalked a smiling stick-figure Steven in the “persistence of vision” pose....

  8. 5 Twists!
    (pp. 119-136)

    The party over, Kim drifts off to a peaceful sleep, as does Steven, with visions of “twists” drifting through his head (letters float through his window in an animated sequence, to form the word “twists” – Paizs produced this scene through a double exposure, first shooting the apartment set and then the animation stand).¹ In the original script, Steven lies awake as Ronnie Boyles, the Hollidays, and Stanley Falco carouse in the neighbourhood.² The original version of the film reduces this scene to the figures appearing in the darkness of the room. In both earlier versions (the scripted and the shot)...

  9. 6 The Gap Exposing the Real
    (pp. 137-156)

    The final beginning and ending of “Crime Wave” breaks from the formula of its precursors in important ways. Most obviously, it presents a self-reflexive metafiction (not unlike Paizs’s ownCrime Wave) in place of the typical crime plot. Steven Penny imagines himself as the protagonist of the film-within-a-film, and the “Crime Wave” withinCrime Wavebecomes the story of “Steven Penny” and his rise to color crime moviemaking supremacy. An unlikely hero hailing “from the North” (this phrase, reiterated from Steven’s previous beginnings, is grafted onto the cover ofTimemagazine), “Steven Penny” rockets south (from Canada) into Hollywood and...

  10. 7 An Alternate Universe
    (pp. 157-168)

    A different ending forCrime Waveexists. Although not uncommon in Hollywood film, alternate endings are rare among cash-strapped productions. Still more rare, Paizs’s decision to reconceptualize, rewrite, and reshootCrime Wave’s ending occurredafterthe film’s festival premiere. This decision cost Paizs not just time and money but momentum. Pevere speculates on whether there might have been

    some alternative-universe future forCrime Wave. Where things might have turned out differentlyif: ifthe movie hadn’t broken down when it did;ifPaizs hadn’t taken over a year to re-shoot the ending of an already-finished movie [in fact, Paizs premiered...

  11. 8 From the North
    (pp. 169-178)

    Steven Penny arrives “from the North” (i.e., from Canada) to crush the old order and forge a new color crime movie empire. For he has a dream: to create the greatest color crime movie ever made. But note the dimensions of this dream. He dreams in colour, our Steven. No stark blacks and whites, nofilm noirgrimness will accompany his criminal visions. We can expect Steven’s “Crime Wave” to be as brightly saturated as Paizs’s ownCrime Wave. Kim suggests at the film’s end that we have just watched either Steven’s “Crime Wave” or a “making-of” documentary whose sequel...

  12. Production Credits
    (pp. 179-180)
  13. Further Viewing
    (pp. 181-182)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 183-194)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 195-196)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)