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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Finally! An Imamura Retro

This Friday sees the opening weekend/film in BAM Cinématek's month-long retro on Shohei Imamura, the great Japanese director who died last May. (As far as I can tell, it's complete, though I didn't spot his blessfully odd contribution to the otherwise seriously spotty omnibus film, September 11 -- in fact, the last thing he completed.) Back when I memorialized Imamura, I had only seen a couple of his films. I'm now better caught up, but there's only so much you can find on video, with everything he made before 1979's brilliant serial killer study Vengeance is Mine a blank spot on video shelves. Everything, that is, except 1966's The Pornographers, which Criterion put out a couple years back. Here's one of that film's more out-there sections. For the uninitiated, it shouldn't give away too much, while giving you an idea of Imamura's singularly whack style.

This Weekly!! I interviewed Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer, whose Black Snake Moan I reviewed; on the same page, you'll find me going off on Maria Maggenti's omnisexual, misleadingly titled neo-farce Puccini For Beginners. Also, Rep, the highlight of which is a longish blurb on Austrian artist Valie Export's brilliantly cluttered Invisible Adversaries (playing up in Gotham, too, I see).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: What's Arguably Creepier Than the Scene in Dorothy's Apartment from Blue Velvet?

A. This. (I.e., The same scene re-staged so as to implement both Slavoj Zizek's interpretations and readings of the scene and Slavoj Zizek himself. Sweating and sputtering forth as Dennis Hopper abuses Isabella Rossellini, the Slovenian philosopher doesn't settle purely on a voyeuristic reading of the scene, arguably Lynch's finest. In less than five minutes, Zizek breaks it down into different perspectives, acknowledging Dorothy's "passivity," as evidenced by that look of rapture after Frank coldcocks her.)

The scene, by the by, comes from Sophie Fiennes' epic doc The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, just one of the many pieces of Zizek-centric cinema from the last couple years. (There's also Zizek! and The Reality of the Virtual. So far, only the former is available on DVD.)

This Weekly!! I contributed two speculative bits for this issue's "Next" cover story, including a piece where I diss the HD DVD/Blu-Ray tussle and declare celluloid dead. (It's roughly halfway down, but you'll have better luck just typing my moniker into a page-search function. Funnily enough, a printing mishap left both pieces snipped from the print version. Whoops!) Elsewhere, I compare/contrast Children of Men's long takes with Ugetsu's (second down), review Michael Apted's Amazing Grace (the grade's a notch too high, by the way -- my bad) and The Lives of Others. And then there's Rep.

Oh, and I'm going to be on the radio Friday (2/13). That's right. The City Paper's Sam Adams and I will be joining Marty Moss-Coane on Philly's NPR affiliate, WHYY, to talk Oscars from 11am to noon. Those who'd like to listen but live nowhere near need only go to the site and listen on-line, either live or via archives. I promise not to cuss. (Addendeum: It happened and it appears to have gone well. You can download the clip at the bottom of this page.)


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Top Ten List is Totally Up

Turn to your right. You will find a link to my 2006 Top Ten List. And there was much anticlimactic rejoicing.

Also, for those interested, this year I was welcomed into the ranks of The Skandies, the 'net's/world's known oldest movie nerd poll. I trust you can find my ballott, but see if you don't waste, like, an hour there, looking at individual ballots, etc. For history, plus an explanaton, see about halfway down the page on this sight.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Wherethefuckforth Spaced?

Sorry to YouTube two Britcoms in a row, but the imminent arrival of Hot Fuzz combined with the realization that even Shaun of the Dead couldn't get the BBC to spirit Simon Pegg's show Spaced to North American DVD shelves got the better of me. Pegg and Shaun director/co-writer Edgar Wright actually only make up only two-thirds of the brains behind the heavily referential show. The rest of the pie is taken up by Jessica Stevenson, a flaky on-and-off journalist with whom Pegg's aspiring cartoonist/slacker pretends to be a couple to score a two-bedroom flat, if only because no one likes to flat-hunt. (Don't worry -- the Three's Company-level set-up is essentially ignored starting about halfway through episode two.) Stevenson swung by for a cameo in Shaun, but I wish she could score her own thing; looking at her IMDb page, it appears she played a Bridget Jones pal in the scary looking sequel and has a role in Harry Potter 5, but otherwise we may have to wait for Pegg to find time for either a third series or wrap-up of Spaced -- both of which he's mentioned if just in passing -- to get some quality time with her. Till BBC gets off their asses re: this (and others -- where's series two of I'm Alan Partridge?), you'll have to catch it on BBC America or get it on sale from across the sea.

Anyway, the following clip is a more-than-fair representation of the show's uncanny ability to take what sounds noxious -- a show full of broad British stereotypes, self-depricating-but-not-wholly-so slickness and endless pop culture homages -- and make them fun, clever and funny. This one doesn't have Nick Frost, who's alarmingly thinner as Pegg's military-minded friend, but it does have the very amusing Michael Smiley, who pops up a couple times during the series as the endearingly ADD-addled bike messenger, Tyres.

Las Weekly!! I totally interviewed Melvin Van Peebles. Also, Rep. I also forgot to mention, but I also wrote a lengthy-in-the-ass piece on Inland Empire for local catch-all blog-thing, Phawker.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Stop fighting...now. Stop writing...now.

I've been known to go on and on about the Britshow Look Around You, a parody of old educational films that manages to cram more inspired nonsense into tight quarters than arguably ever before. (At least during its first series, when episodes lasted only 9 minutes. Series 2 stretched it out to 30 and heavily re-worked the format. Yuks suffered, but it's possibly even stranger.) They're no longer making the BBC America rounds and it has yet to find its way to Region 1, so what else is a voracious Anglophile to do? Here's episode, or Module, 1, my pick for the funniest. See if you can spot Simon Pegg.

Feh Weekly!! The Worst. Jaunary. Dropping Grounds. Ever. continues, leaving me with nothin this week but an A-List on the local mock-doc Disturbing Images: The Story of Helmut K., and natch, Rep.

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