a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This Thing That I Wrote

This is all I have in this week's PW. It's just Rep. But it does have a longish piece on the latest short from traveling, celluloid-shootin' documentarian Bill Brown. So I'm thinking "just" may be a tad on the self-depricating side, even for me.

That is all.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Welp, here comes it

The rumors are true: Sátántangó, Béla Tarr's (in)famous 7 1/2 hour exercise in long-take post-Communist Hungarian miserablism and one of my favorite films, is coming out on DVD.

Why am I not smiling ear-to-ear, you ask? ("You aren't?," you actually ask.) Because the disc is being produced by Facets. In case you haven't heard, Facets are evil. Pure evil. The dreaded Facets is a company who manage to combine a) the ability and wherewithal to put out on DVD rare and much, much sought-out films with b) utter technical incompetence, about which they have an apparent and seemingly malevolent nonchalance. For instance, if you wish to see Tarr's entire catelogue -- a feat, thanks to the scarcity of screenings of his films, not held by many people -- the only people you can turn to is Facets. Sure, if you have a regionless player, you can get a two-pack of 2001's Werckmeister Harmonies and 1988's Damnation, which boast brilliant transfers from Artificial Eye. But only Facets has the films he made even before then, including his first three Cassavetes-esque outings and 1983's Almanac of Fall (due out next week). If you wish to see a sample of the pure shittiness of the transfers, which look like they were cheaply taped from an nth-generation VHS dub (kind of like Fox Lorber's infamous botch of Godard's Pierrot le fou), check this DVD Beaver review, which tackles only The Prefab People. Egads, no?

Despite earning the considerable, vocal scorn of DVD cineastes the world over, Facets refuses to improve. Note, for instance, that the company stopped sending previews to the aforementioned DVD Beaver. There's no reason to expect that Facets will take care of Sátántangó, which is so much more than just a 7 1/2 hour ass-marathon. (I haven't been able to get it out of my head since catching it during one of its too-sporadic runs at MoMa this past January.) There are rumblings that the aforementioned Artifical Eye is working on it, with Tarr's aid, but rumblings they remain. In the meantime, all we have is this doubtlessly shit, appallingly overpriced set.

But to paraphrase Seymour Skinner, prove me wrong, assclowns. Prove me wrong.

By the way, check out Zach Campbell's 'tango post, wherein he wrestles -- mostly with commenters, that is -- over the notion that the film would ever translate to the home video format.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Meh. Too hot.

Nuts to this. It's still too damn hot. (Look! My brain's so fried I can't even come up with a synonym for "hot!") Meanwhile, here's what's up in the ol' PW:

  • A review of Sundance hottie Quinceañera, now the closing night film for the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Fest;
  • Four scattered blurbs of PIGLFF players. Note: as you can probably surmise, the printed C+ for Charles Busch's A Very Serious Person is a misprint. Make that plus a tail;
  • A review of producer-turned-director Lee Daniels' mind-blowingly execrable Shadowboxer;
  • Rep.

  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    How tricks...is*

    Not so much busy as busy at mismanaging my time, as usual. A proper post, I swear, is around the corner. No, really, I swear. Can I please swear? Have I lost swearing priveleges? I would love if you'd let me swear to you this one thing. Won't you let me swear?

    Till then, a fill-form of what I've been doing of late:

    Reading. Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism Into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show, by Geoffrey Nunberg. Going Nucular, the pop-linguist's last tome, was an indispensible collection of little bursts, each no more than five pages in length but with vast coverage of how certain words can be manipulated and perverted, both by the Machiavellian and the careless. Can Nunberg work the same magic when fixed to a thesis? So far, it appears so, but, then, "so far" is pg. 40ish. Best excavation: Phil Ochs' "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," an evisceration of the hypocritical breed which contains lines like "I love Puerto Ricans and Negroes/as long as they don't move next door."

    Watching. Grand Prix, 1966, John Frankenheimer. DVD Beaver has called it the DVD of the Year, though not quite because of the movie itself, which I recall as being very neatly divided between the indescribably awesome (the race scenes, with their Saul Bass montages and Super Panavision cameras fucking rigged to speeding fucking racecars) and the indescribably boring (everything else). I've done no more than give it a quick browse, but already the indescribably awesome stuff is even more indescribably awesome than remembered. Which way will the indescribably boring parts go? I wasn't aware that Françoise Hardy was in this movie. Is it time to bring back Cinerama?

    Getting ready to watch. Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3. Warner's are neck and neck with Criterion, in my book, for DVD-making (see above), and this latest set promises more of the same. Kudos for stacking the deck with obscurities: the closest to well-known is Robert Montgomery's ridiculous experiment The Lady in the Lake (with YOU as Phil Marlowe -- i.e., it's all P.O.V.), though there are titles from John Farrow (His Kind of Woman), Anthony Mann (Border Incident), and Nicholas Ray (On Dangerous Ground). But the icing on the cake? A handful of shorts, including one from Joseph Losey. Why even gripe that you can't buy them separately?

    Mourning. Syd Barrett, 1946 - 2006. I probably wouldn't care for Pink Floyd at all if it weren't for Syd Barrett, the only member of this noticeably ugly band to ever be a pinup. This Slate semi-memorium makes a sound argument for not taking the rock snob route, i.e., claiming that the Floyd would've been better off with Barrett on staff through it all. (For one thing, that's mighty presumptuous. That London was Barrett-centric even briefly is freakier than anything he recorded.) But for now, ignore that. PF got considerably less interesting after losing Barrett's singular style, which melded pop-psych with Lewish Carroll-style English eccentricity, all while attached to some of the narrowest chord progressions imaginable. Speaking of the first and only all-Barrett PF album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (a title swiped from the pages of Wind in the Willows), allmusic's Steve Huey put it best: "[it] captures both sides of psychedelic experimentation -- the pleasures of expanding one's mind and perception, and an underlying threat of mental disorder and even lunacy." Recommended tracks: the early singles "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play"; "Lucifer Sam," "The Gnome," and the non-sequitur-heavy "Bike" from Piper; from The Madcap Laughs, "Terrapin," "Dark Globe," "Octopus," and the James Joyce-ripped "Golden Hair"; and if you can track it down, "Vegetable Man." I know there's a PF song or two that sums up what I wish to say here perfectly...

    (By the way, if you want to peep some actually not terribly disturbing or sensational pictures of Barrett through the second half of his life -- as well as from other areas of his life -- head to the first link. I was curious and don't feel much guilty that I succumbed. It's fine, really.)

    Penning Eight scattered caps for the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which imparts a simple, unmistakable message: avoid American QueerIndies at most costs. (Also, what's awesome is that Sean Burns' piece on the fest's repertory is borderline impossible to find on the PW site. Consider this a shout-out.) Elsewhere, I predictably foam over the belated stateside release of Jean-Pierre Melville's 1969 Resistance pic, Army of Shadows. Also, as ever, Rep.

    * That is, if "How's tricks?" does indeed imply that "tricks" is singular. I.e., whatever.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Wassup Passersby

    Go here and here also. Thanks buds.