A night at the movies with Domenic “Nicky” Palermo from Nothing

**Welcome to the inaugural Deciblog Film Club, where each month we’ll poll someone from the extremely extreme community at large on a handful of films that have had an impact on their lives and their art.
Think of it as an opportunity for all of us to lay down the blast beats and death growls for five minutes, find a spot on the easy chair and pick up the popcorn . . . On second thoughts, given that this month’s guest, Dominic “Nicky” Palermo from Philly’s own fuzzed-out and downbeat alt-metal/rock/other act Nothing, put Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth on his lighthearted list, and as a third grader went trick-or-treating as Alex from A Clockwork Orange, maybe hold off on the popcorn for now. Here goes, uhh, Nothing:

THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (1928, dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer)
“Our old drummer was a really big music and film nerd; he put me on to a lot of cool things. The relationship didn’t really work out well [but] he turned me onto this movie and, honestly, I think it’s pretty much the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. Between the imprisonment and the torture, the humiliation and finally the execution, it is the saddest film. When you look at the faces of her captors, the angles of the filming, I mean; it just truly shows the vile nature of humans and how we are design to be so. As far as I know it was always silent—I have tossed about the idea of playing live to it. We used to run the film when we would play live, in some of our earlier shows, which was always fun. It just made everything really heavy. Plus, Antonin Artuad is in it, too, who is one of my favorite writers ever. He plays the mad monk.”
Essential scene
“Any of the scenes where she is playing are always really heavy. When they take her hair off, though, is the scene for me; it’s just the pure humiliation. This is a person who is obviously special and we’ve just treated her like an animal. It’s sad, honestly.”


THE HOUSE IS BLACK (1963, dir. Forough Farrokhzad)
“You’ll have to excuse me—I forget the name of the actual colony. This is a beautiful film to watch, for an Iranian short film . . . I never got into Iranian films, a friend from out west had told me about it and got me a link for it and I’ve only seen it the one time because it’s kinda hard to find but apparently this film spawned the Iranian new wave. The director was Farrokhzad, I believe. I’m probably mispronouncing it. The film is just a look at life and suffering in a leper colony, and basically it centers on the human condition and the strange, evil trick that we call creation. It’s just another look into what we deal with and why. It’s definitely a very strange film but I’d seen it recently so thought I’d bring it to your attention.Most of these films I am mentioning are things that I have watched recently—besides The Passion Joan of Arc—or over the past couple of years. It’s too hard to put together an list of my favorite films. It took me a couple of hours to come up with this, so I can’t imagine my actual favorite films.”


MIRROR (1975, dir. Andrei Tarkowsky)
“That was the first Tarkowsy film I ever seen. The way the film is structured is very hard for people to get a hold of. I’ve watched some movies that are structured that way and they are really hard for me to watch, too, but I just try to put myself through them because I feel that any movie that’s like that is meant to be seen from beginning to end. You don’t drop in and out of it. As difficult as they can be to watch sometimes, I just always push myself through it. With Mirror, I actually pulled clips of this for the first video that I released for Nothing, “The Last Day in Bouville”. I just pulled clips from films like this and newsreels and spliced them together with the song. Mirror was in that quite a bit.”
Essential scene
“There are definitely some great scenes but it’s just the overall feel of the film. Obviously a lot of the film is about childhood and adult memories, which are all shot in like vivid colors then cut back to black and white. It is dreamlike. It’s like you step into his consciousness for a little while. I read somewhere that someone asked him if it was supposed to be dream or memory and he said that it was actually a nightmare, which is pretty cool. It is a difficult film to watch, and it’s pretty ugly, but it’s like most things that are ugly there is always the beauty that’s underneath. There is something about me and Brandon, I don’t know what type of human being we are that makes us attached to that side of life, but there is always a hidden beauty in melancholia. When we begin the writing process we try to draw out that tragedy, that tragic beauty that can sit inside a crushing riff or a lyric. That’s always been a style in what we’ve wanted to do.”

DOGTOOTH (2009, dir. Giorgos Lanthimos)
“This film ended up in my lighthearted list and it’s anything but. It’s almost a dark comedy in some parts. You don’t really understand what the hell is going on. My favorite part of this film has always been the thought of what could possibly have inspired it. It’s a pretty fucking crazy movie. The father, the submissive wife, keeping the kids in this gated suburban home, and as the kids get older they start to unravel with the cabin fever. As unbelievable as the story could be, they keep the emotions where you can understand why some of this stuff happens, like their hormones changing and being stuck in the house. It is a great film. I don’t really understand [the father’s] motivation behind it. They don’t really make it clear, I don’t think. But I mean from the beginning, as the movie starts you have this feeling, this undercurrent that something sexual is going on behind everything.”
Great scene
“I mean the scene where the daughter smashes her teeth out with the weight in the bathroom is, for me, like, ‘Holy shit, this is great!'”

LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1992, dir. Mike Figgis)
“I feel like that film is very personal; almost maybe some parts autobiographical because it was so real. Elisabeth Shue and Nicolas Cage were so good in that movie. That was another movie that I watched pretty much when it came out and I was pretty young. Everyone in my family has been an abuser of alcohol—at least—and seeing terrible things happening to people in my family because of alcohol, seeing friends’ families that grew up in my neighborhood . . . The movie, I could still watch it because it is the one movie that really shows alcohol in its purest form, as the bloodsucking leech that it is. It’s a dark film. You watch your character hit rock bottom, and then die. It’s sad. It has been a movie that I have cared for since it came out. I don’t want to get into specifics but I’ve people in my family that have dealt with some of the same issues. There is part where Elisabeth Shue tries to get him to eat and he just like stumbles around to get more booze and I remember in the household growing up that almost exact situation happened in front of me. I also think that the scene where she is raped is like, ‘Really? Do we really need to have this with everything else that is going on in the movie?’ I think it just shows this side to alcohol that people try to dismiss.”
Great scene
“Any of the scenes where he is just crying is always really hard to watch. I’m trying to think of an exact scene—I mean, I would have to say the whole film in general is pretty tough.”

Guilty Pleasure
MEAN GIRLS (2004, dir. Mark Waters)

I love Mean Girls. If Mean Girls is on TV at any point in time I just get locked right in and watch the whole thing. I mean, I am not really a fan of anything else that any of those people ever did—I don’t know what it is but that film is just really funny to me. I guess it’s not that bad; it’s a pretty popular movie all-round but it’s a little embarrassing. I can’t really speak as far as that sort of high school, but my high school was honestly nightmarish. I went to a school called Frankford High School, which would have been like if you’d slammed Mean Girls together with Precious. That was my high school; a lot more fist fights than arguing. It was basically a zoo.

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