The Non-Commissioned Officers’ Film Jukebox

The Non-Commissioned Officers

There are many reasons for wanting to start a band, but doing so in order to promote a film is pretty unusual. When brothers Jordan and Eric Lehning were drafted in to act in indie zombie romance Make-Out with Violence and compose the score for it, they went beyond the call of duty and formed a band to help raise money for the film. The moody synth-pop of their Make-Out with Violence EP (Make Mine), full of teenage longing, eerie sounds and melancholy voices, is certainly a tantalising foretaste, and if the film is on a par with the music, it is well worth checking out – watch the trailer. Below, Eric Lehning tells us about the films that have inspired him.

1- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
This is the best movie ever made. For months after I saw it, I thought I was supposed to become a Bedouin. Sitting there in front of the TV with an A&W root beer in my hand saying, ‘The desert calls me’. Thank god I realised it was the medium of film that inspired me. I would not make it on camel’s milk alone.

2- Blazing Saddles (1974)
Hatred has never been funnier. The way Mel Brooks smashes the N word in your face like a pie just deflates all of its malicious power. I don’t know if it’s easier for a Jew to get away with that than a honky but I’m so glad he did. My favourite line is: ‘A tollbooth!? Somebody’s gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes.’

3- The NeverEnding Story (1984)
This is a great movie to see as a child. Right off the bat the hero’s horse drowns in mud. The scene where he’s crawling through the swamp and is saved from the wolf by the Luck Dragon still makes me misty. That dragon became an incarnation of art for me as a kid. A benevolent force that dispels fear. When Fantasia is just asteroids and the Ivory Tower appears from the void, the music cue gets right on top of me.

4- Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
Mishima should be in the Smithsonian. This is one of the most coherent, precise films ever made. It’s a movie about the Japanese artist Yukio Mishima made by Paul Schrader. The guy’s whole life is about the harmony of art and action (pen and sword). Philip Glass’s score is in a class of its own.

5- Ghost Busters (1984)
Something about really smart people scared stupid makes me feel alright about everything. Rick Moranis’s rant about the ‘form of the destructor’ is something I used to have memorised until I got a little too comfortable with a girl I was sweet on and just spewed the whole thing out over dinner. I knew I was blowing it but I was transported and had to go all the way. I went there… alone, and subsequently forgot the monologue.

6- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
What is so strong for me about this episode of the Star Wars saga is that you could watch it without knowing anything about the other films and be left with a total sense of that world. It’s the most legit sci-fi/adventure movie of all time. Wanting to be Harrison Ford is why I don’t have a Southern accent.

7- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001 is more than a fantasy or a genre film. It’s about the relevance of soul when put in the context of evolution. Nothing else makes me feel as human or as alien as this movie.

8- Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s vision of the effects of overpopulation and a civilisation on overdrive is still the industry standard when imagining the near future. What’s so impressive to me is that you could actually see all those big hairdos coming back by 2016.

9- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Most love stories aren’t really about love, they’re about being smitten. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are so vitriolic with each other, but as soon as an outsider challenges them they become a monument of solidarity. Virginia Woolf is the best movie that’s ever been made about staying together. The damage two creatures of flesh do to each other as they attempt to be one.

10- The Dark Crystal (1982)
There’s plenty of logistical reasons why more puppet movies haven’t been made. There’s only so much Frank Oz to go around I guess. And Jim Henson’s dead. I watched this movie just the other night, and the scene where all the Skeksis are chewing down is a gross/intriguing sensory overload.