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

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let's get into trouble, baby

Trolling around for something to throw up during my weekly bout of shameless self-promotion (coming forthwith), I happened upon -- and, lucky for you, was unable to resist -- Bruce Conner's 1978 video for Devo's "Mongoloid." (The older version, not the one on Q. Are We Not Men? A. We Are Devo!) Skip Thurston and Mark if you're impatient:

I remember launching into a tedious, humorless defense of Devo when an old roommate asserted that they were a novelty act. I still feel kind of bad about my tone (yeah, I'm sure he rushed out and listened to their records afterwards), but not about the message. You don't have to go far from "Whip It" to discover the singular genius of Devo, who at their best sound like an only slightly more mainstream version of The Residents; any track on Freedom of Choice should do. (As should the aforementioned Are We Not Men? and the nigh impenetrable Duty For the Future.) If it's not awesome enough that the band recorded a cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" that entirely skips the famous riff, if you're not impressed that they were once almost Johnny Rotten's post-Sex Pistols backing band, if it's not intellectually peculiar enough that their name and theme bear strong similarities to Oscar Kiss Maerth's pseudoscientific The Beginning Was the End, which posited that the rise of man is due to an evolutionary accident caused by a species of sex-crazed, cannibalistic apes -- then at least you can concede that they're worth more than novelty status for getting Bruce Conner, without solicitation, to make a short film around one of their songs.

The clip is pure Conner. The one below isn't. This is one of the better parts of the intermittently genius Tapeheads. (Groupie to passing metal band: "Teach me to read!") Here's the Swedish synth pop band Cube Squared. (I.e., what I always hoped the sequel to Cube had been called. Cube 2: Hypercube? Come on.). The vocals, with lyrics rewritten for another tongue, are Devo; the bods are not. Do not zip past Don Cornelius.

Now for the nitty-gritty! Two features this week: one about "The Valerie Project," a film-music screening featuring members of Espers, Fern Knight and Grass performing over the 1970 Czech New Wave coming-of-age classic Valerie and Her Week of Wonders; another featuring Ryan Fleck and Shareeka Epps talking about Half Nelson (the review's at the bottom -- also, based mostly on this picture, Fleck looks like a far, far skinnier me; weird). Also, a review (third down) of Neil LaBute's The Wicker Man. Also, Rep.


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