I recently imported about 165 posts from the archives over here to the new blog, but the photos didn’t import, so please bear with me while I try to find the backups and restore pictures. My apologies if the mass import screwed with your RSS feeds.
Look, I don’t know, I needed something to illustrate this post and this picture has always amused me.
Here are a few items I’ve been enjoying lately from around the web:
Today at Press Play,The Three Burials of No Country For Old Men,a compilation of three essays challenging the critical acclaim of the Coen Brothers’ 2007 film. I am absolutely delighted to have been asked to contribute to Press Play, especially for an essay on the Coens, filmmakers I find aggravating and compelling in equal measure.
The Silence (2012): One of the highest ratings I’ve given a film during my time at Spectrum, though with a caveat: The film relies on some tired pedophile tropes that weaken the rest of this compelling film. Some day, hopefully in my lifetime, we’ll see less of these “complicated men dealing with one-dimensional female characters being raped and killed” story lines.
Eden (2012): Most films that explore issues like sex trafficking — or any sort of sexual abuse, frankly — inadvertently veer into exploitation when depicting the crimes. Well, some films deliberately choose to portray sex crimes because they want a veneer of respectability over their base exploitation, but that’s a whole ‘other post. Eden tries, at least for a while, to avoid indulging in anything salacious, which was admirable until we suddenly see the lead, Jamie Chung, running in her little Asian schoolgirl outfit, blouse open, blood-covered bra and breasts bouncing with each stride. It’s some weak-ass wannabe Russ Meyer shit, done, I assume, because the film was made by people who felt they must court an audience who has to be horrified into realizing that kidnapping and raping girls and forcing them into sex slavery is wrong.
Furious Cinema has been hosting a Scenes of the Crime Blogathon since December (!), and it runs until the end of April. At the last minute (in an entirely different style and at great expense) I have decided to participate. While holding your breath, check out the entries already there. There are literally dozens of excellent posts already there and more sure to come.
And a last-minute addition I forgot to include earlier today: The Film Experience is taking their Hit Me With Your Best Shot series and opening it up to everyone. Every Wednesday from March through August, anyone can join in with their favorite screen cap of that week’s movie. Next week are two shorts, The Eagleman Stag (2012) and Death to the Tin Man (2006). Click on the link above to see the rest of the schedule out to four weeks, with more to be announced as the series continues.
Raiders of Ghost City post coming Thursday!
And one more thing I forgot to mention when I first posted this: No schedule post for April. I’ll talk about that more in the May schedule post, which will go up, promise.
A quick note for Raiders of Ghost City fans: I’m writing for a couple of other outlets now and have, between today and March 20th, ten deadlines to meet. Raiders is going to have to wait for a couple of weeks while I get everything else squared away. Thanks for your patience.
Speaking of other outlets, one hasn’t yet gone live but should soon. Meanwhile, here are some of my recent articles at Spectrum Culture, followed by other items of interest I think you might enjoy:
The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012): Originally released on the festival circuit as Jeff, this documentary of the serial killer is no ordinary examination into the warped mind of a murderer. Focusing on interviews with three people close to the case — a neighbor, the lead detective and the medical examiner — The Jeffrey Dahmer Files presents an almost tongue-in-cheek take on the horrific crimes. Several reviewers found the film too hipster-pretentious to bear, though I felt that the juxtaposition of Dahmer as a cult figure to entertain the masses with the nauseating reality of his crimes was the whole point.
The Sweeney (2012): The modern movie reboot of the classic 1970s British cop show. When I gave it two stars out of five, I was being generous.
Re-Make/Re-Model: The Killer Inside Me (1976) vs. The Killer Inside Me (2010): “…by the time Lou Ford (Stacy Keach) saunters into the prostitute’s home, he is an animal on the prowl. Joyce (a terrific Susan Tyrrell) is languid but interested until she learns he’s a cop. She pounces, her slaps triggering in Lou what is known in the novel as “the sickness,” violent outbursts brought on by flashbacks to childhood abuse. He beats Joyce viciously until the spectre of his father returns, frightening him into apology. ‘Don’t be sorry,’ a battered Joyce says as she pulls him down on top of her. ‘I love it.’”
Oeuvre: Scarface (1983): The Spectrum Culture Oeuvre director this time around is Brian De Palma, and I was lucky enough to get some of the best films to review, and that includes Scarface. I can’t express how excited and lucky I felt to have gotten this film when our editor assigned these out, and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.
One of my goals for this year is to read more about art, film, literature, creative people, musicians, anyone fascinating. Instead of posting links only to my own content elsewhere on the web, I’d like to also share some of the more interesting articles I’ve found. I was going to call this feature Things I Read That You Might Like To Read, Plus Things I Write That You Might Also Like To Read, but when I tried it the Internet called and told me to cut it the hell out.
The B-roll footage from Django Unchained. Contains a few naughty words, though the n-word is dubbed out. The featured video after this ends is most definitely NSFW though, and not safe in a way I thought meant YouTube would delete it, but there it is.
James Grissom’s blog Follies of God contains an astonishing amount of quotes and interviews from various actors, directors, playwrights, and more, all part of Grissom’s research for his upcoming book Follies of God, 1990-2010. You can spend a gloriously long time there getting lost in the amazing content. A few specific entries I wanted to point out:
Tom Waits reads Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart,” followed by Bono reading “Roll the Dice.” Courtesy Open Culture.
Bonus awesome picture of Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.
And my recent reviews on Spectrum Culture:
Criminally Underrated: Simon (1980): I was glad I had signed up to do this a few months ago, because all the recent hate Alan Arkin is getting for his Best Supporting nom is making me rebellious. Coming soon, I will live-tweet Calypso Heat Wave (1957), Arkin’s first film, and then I will post 8 million pictures of Alan Arkin, and shout at people who don’t like him while waving my fist in the air. Stay tuned!
Oeuvre: De Palma: The Fury (1978): This is a nutty kind of a film, one that I found myself enjoying more on the re-watch than on the original viewing. A very satisfying ending. If you like Zabriskie Point‘s ending, you’ll love The Fury’s.
Hors Satan (2012): Bruno Dumont’s latest left me a bit cold, I confess. His first two films in the late 1990s were revelatory, then the wankery known as Twentynine Palms happened, and I’m not convinced he’s ever recovered. But this did afford me the opportunity to go on a bit of Bruno Dumont binge, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I’m probably the only person in Kansas who can make that claim.
“…Underneath the obvious joke, Death to Smoochy is practically Shakespearean in its tragedy. Children’s entertainment is used as an analogue for the entire entertainment biz, not merely the crooked world of kid’s shows. The focus is less on the business itself than on its effect on individuals, like former child star Buggy Ding Dong (Vincent Schiavelli), now a drug-addled, urine-covered hit man. Spinner Dunn (Michael Rispoli) had been a boxer, a man once well paid to punch another man for the entertainment of others, now a goofball left with the mind of a young child. Everyone in the biz has been broken by it in some essential way, their dreams discarded as a world of fame, money and groupies overwhelmed them, then discarded them.”
“Director David Giancola warned Anna Nicole Smith and her partner Howard K. Stern that if she did not complete Illegal Aliens, he would replace her by having her alien character morph into a banana, then he would release the behind-the-scenes footage of her antics and she would be put on, as Giancola said, “the acting blacklist.” The acting blacklist, mind you, as though there is a large leather-bound tome kept hidden in a dungeon somewhere just south of Burbank, guarded by wizened old character actors in retirement, names of misbehaving personalities carefully recorded in the ledger, their careers ruined, their names uttered only in hushed tones forevermore.”
“The rehearsal begins and Frank must prompt John Barrymore (Christopher Plummer) for nearly every word, as the maestro has lost his ability to remember lines. The prompter then dutifully disappears into silence as the once great actor drifts off into reminiscence and scandalous stories. It’s questionable what these anecdotes coupled with Shakespearean stanzas are truly supposed to mean. The real Barrymore suffered heavily from years of alcoholism and likely from mental illness, perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease. The play, it appears, is trying to give pattern and meaning to what in real life would have had none, and as an artistic conceit it’s common enough, though not particularly weighty, especially when rendered in naughty limericks and mother-in-law jokes.”