Image Entertainment // 2005 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Elizabeth Skipper (Retired) // February 21st, 2005
When I was in college, Henry Rollins (of Rollins Band and Black Flag fame and Jack Frost infamy) gave a spoken-word performance at my school and I had the distinct pleasure of being one the group of students to eat dinner with him beforehand. And in the maybe twenty words total I spoke to him, I'm sure he learned that I'm originally from Canton, Ohio, because that's the sort of thing people tell celebrities they're eating dinner with. So do you think that's why, in one of his stories on Henry Rollins: Shock and Awe, he chooses Canton as his random example city? Do you think it's because ever since that dinner he's been pining for me but he couldn't find me or didn't know how to tell me his true feelings?
Yeah, I thought so too.
Shock and Awe was recorded live at the Moore Theater in Seattle on March 14, 2004. During the show's 97 minutes, Rollins touches on (and, more often than not, rambles about) various subjects, weaving tirades and tales seamlessly together into an indefinable amalgamation that is not quite stand-up comedy and not quite a lecture and so is dubbed a spoken-word performance. I prefer to call it life advice from a man you don't want to cross.
Rollins is a big man and a loud man and most definitely an opinionated man. When he tells you do something, you really, really want to do it. Despite his larger-than-life (or at least larger-than-you) presence, though, he reveals weakness and humility in his stories that make you believe he is no different from the rest of us. Of course, you only believe it for a minute, and then he switches gears and goes off on some subject or another and you remember that this is Henry Rollins you're watching and he might very well crush you if you don't listen up. When Rollins revealed that he has trouble finding dates, I almost felt pity for him, but when he bragged about throwing a woman out of his car for being "not much of a reader," all I wanted to do was flee to the nearest library.
Of course, if I didn't have such a crush on Henry, maybe his words wouldn't have this effect on me. But I'm powerless against a man who can put together a show like this:
* The President Don't Talk Good
"I just wish that the President was on a closed-circuit broadcast system, so no one outside of America would have to hear him. So it could be kind of our little dirty secret."
* Hell for Masturbators
"I've had this vision for a long time of jack-off hell. It's for men only. Women escape hell because I think your hell is here, because men are just always humping on your leg and stuff."
* L.A. Living, L.A. Dating
"I want a woman who can sit me down, shut me up, tell me ten things I don't already know, and make me laugh. I don't care what you look like, just turn me on. And if you can do that, I will follow you on bloody stumps through the snow. I will nibble your mukluks with my own teeth. I will do your windows. I will care about your feelings. Just have something in there."
* Post-Ejaculatory Refractory Period
"I tend to wake up several hours later in a different part of the house than where I started."
* Home Invader
"It's all part of the Patriot Act, 58,000 words of Kafkaesque legalese that not even the President can get through, don't worry. And all these obtuse terms mean that we just get to put our hand up your ass anytime we want."
* My Telemarketer Friend
"If you call my house at that hour and you're trying to sell me something, you're like the fly, you've landed on my web and I will f*** with you."
* Kill Bill Premiere
"No one in the entertainment industry can be seen to have an appetite. You're supposed to survive on ambition and hatred and nicotine. It's the Sharon Stone method."
* USO Tour
"My moral high horse is a three-legged nag with no teeth that smells of death and has flies and vultures circling overhead."
* Fun with William Shatner
Ben Folds: "I'm producing an album for William Shatner."
Henry Rollins: "Wow, and you want me to do what, exactly?"
Ben Folds: "I don't know, but I think if you show up and you're in the same room as he is, something insane might happen."
Be forewarned: Henry Rollins is funny, insightful, and compelling, but he has a proclivity for rambling, to put it mildly. He always finds his way back to the point of the story, but sometimes the tangents that make up the journey become somewhat aggravating. Nevertheless, some of the best intensity of his act comes during those rambles. No one's perfect, not even, despite my crush, Henry Rollins, but I think the pleasure of his performances outweighs the pain.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio and 1.78:1 anamorphic video transfers are nothing special at all, but do you really need good transfers to enjoy a live recording of a spoken-word performance? What, do you need to hear the applause more clearly or see each individual bead of sweat dripping off Henry Rollins's head? I didn't think so; these suffice just fine.
I can't think of a single reason you shouldn't at least rent Shock and Awe, if only to hear Henry Rollins impersonate William Shatner. And, hey, with an MSRP of $19.99, why not splurge on a purchase? It will certainly make a great icebreaker at parties.
I was never a fan of his music, and Johnny Mnemonic? Please. But Henry Rollins has finally found his niche in his "spoken-word performances," and he is free to continue his rehabilitation.
Review content copyright © 2005 Elizabeth Skipper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* Official Henry Rollins Site