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Christian Bale’s Beard Doesn’t Put Out

Here is an important lesson I learned from the movie The Fabulous Stains: music is better when no one really knows what they’re doing. Diane Lane doesn’t have to know how to sing, Laura Dern doesn’t even have to know a chord on the guitar (she makes up her own), and that other girl…doesn’t really interest me.

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Not knowing how to play their instruments doesn’t mean they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. At least Diane Lane does. Her image and persona act alongside the music  to create the entire product – yes it’s an image that is subsequently co-opted for commercial gain, and then parodied until the original is obsolete, but initially punk rock seems to be far more about pseudo-politics than anything else.

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So what I’m getting at is: I should be a rock star. I have no musical ability, but I could definitely come up with a crazy outfit and get mad about gender politics. I would call my band Christian Bale’s Beard.

My first album:

albumcover

Tracks:
1. Snake Charming can be Dangerous
2. Tell the Truth, Do I Look Like a Polygamist in this Outfit?
3. The Pedophile’s Pigeons
4. Fat Girls are Notoriously Bad Dancers (Part 1)
5. But We’re Great in the Sack (Part 2) (Radio Edit)
6. Ted Williams
7.  No One Shot Kennedy
8. Puppy Street

That last one is tricky, because just like The Stains, Christian Bale’s Beard will steal a much-loved song from a lesser-known band and claim it as their own. With the combination of our enormous sex appeal and our important political messages, a song like  Puppy Street will make us millions (of dollars). Suck it, We’re Petrified!

So if someone with minimal musical talent, gumption, and energy would just go ahead and make this album for me, that’d be great. Also, teach me the keyboard parts (or drums or guitar or tambourine). That way I can stand on stage and get a lot of attention. I think I’d like that.

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Oh Diane…

I’m a fairly awkward person. And like most people (I think) I’m even more awkward added on top of my original awkward when I’m talking to a fella I find attractive. Eventually I get over this, but those initial stages are painful. I thought this might change when I got married since I’m tied down and all, but it turns out that being married is pretty much just like living together (go figure) and that I’ll probably continue to be awkward. Bummer. 

Take, for instance, this exchange that happened about three minutes ago:
Me (walking to the back window of the cafe – where the bathroom is – in time to see The Attractive Mark Miller Toyota Employee walking to the window): Oh, hi.
The Attractive Mark Miller Toyota Employee: Woah! hi! You must be psychic or something! 
Me: Or at least my bladder is! har har!
The Attractive Mark Miller Toyota Employee: Can I have a coffee?
Me: Sure. (I get him a coffee)
Me: Alright. I’m going to go poop now! har har!

So that went pretty well.

So this brings me to my point: I love Diane Keaton.

annie-hall

Sure, she’s tapped into the over-fifty market, successfully losing my interest, but she has this lovable awkward charm that  I often wish I possessed. She’s classy and silly at the same time! She’s amazing. 

And talking to someone like Woody Allen, I would be all a-flutter, too. What with that tiny, balding head, and those big square glasses.

I love her so much. So why why why why why did she make Mad Money?

mad_money_movie_poster_onesheet_-_queen_latifah__diane_keaton_and_katie_holmes2

(they mean green money)

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Month of Terror Part 2

The Month of Terror Continues!

October 4th: The Innocents (Clayton, 1961)

Apparently the inspiration for 2001’s The OthersThe Innocents is a lot more creepy and yet a lot more overblown. Deborah Kern had Scott’s head exploding (in a bad way) with old-school My-Fair-Lady style acting, but I thought the imagery of the movie more than made up for it. Deborah Kerns is a nanny for two kids haunted by their dead groundskeepers. This movie does creepy shadow in the background right – with pretty stunning black and white photography – even if it does get the ending a little botched.
 
October 5th: Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Gibson, 1986)
 
So the message I get from this movie is Family+Indian = Powerful Force. I like families and Indians, especially this Indian: Will Sampson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fame.
 
October 6th: Poltergeist III (Sherman, 1988)


 
Ever wonder what Laura Flynn Boyle was up to before she played Donna on Twin Peaks? She was playing Donna in Poltergeist III. Compared to the first and second films this one blows. Compared to other PG horror films, this one still blows.
 

 

October 7th: Kairo (Pulse) (Kurosawa, 2001)
 
I saw Dark Water and really loved it. I saw Ringu and thought it was alright. But I just don’t think I really understand J-Horror on the level that it asks. I am told that with philosophical knowledge of Japanese culture I would enjoy these films more, but I don’t know…all I can say is I turned off Animal Crossing for this??
 
October 8th: Vampires (Carpenter, 1998)
 
James Woods needs more leading-man roles. Not! But other than that ugly fucker, I liked this movie almost as much as I liked Near Dark, which I liked.
 
October 9th: Cube (Natali, 1997)
 
This one definitely has an amateur feel to is (and a Canadian one on top of that) but it reaches past that with an original premise and interesting visuals. A group of people are randomly stuck in a large cube with interlocking pieces. Some rooms are rigged with traps. The group must find their way out of the cube before they die from lack of water. While the acting is pretty rough, and each line of dialogue might not exactly add up, cube is a fun movie for those mathematically and philosophically inclined viewers.
 
October 10th: The Dead Zone (Cronenberg, 1983)
 
Did you know Cronenberg is behind this one? I had no idea…turns out this movie is totally awesome. Christopher Walken stars as a man who develops a sixth sense after being in a coma for five years. He becomes a hermit as he weighs the pros and cons of his ability to change the future. I don’t see much Cronenberg here, but the film is competent and interesting as Stephen King horror stories usually are.
 
October 11th: Frankenhooker (Henenlotter, 1990)


 
After wishing my sister a happy birthday a few friends and I sat down for a lovely evening with Frankenhooker. It’s pretty much exactly like it sounds.

October 12th: The Lost Boys (Schumacher, 1987)

Good hair. Good fashion. Great soundtrack. 

October 13th: Silent Night, Deadly Night (Sellier, 1984)
 
This would make a great double feature if it were paired with either My Bloody Valentine for a holiday scare or Bad Santa for evidence that Christmas is not that great. Here’s the pitch: Little Billy sees the murder and rape of his parents by Santa Claus one Christmas eve…you take it from there.
 


This Month of Terror is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

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The Saddest Music in the World

I’m so wary of Guy Maddin. I think it was because I never heard his name until I got to grad school (probably my fault) and so I immediately associated his films with snobbery. However, after I saw his short Sissy Boy Slap Party at a student screening I started to get excited about Maddin.


Not excited enough to worship the ground he walks on like some people I know, but excited enough to rent The Saddest Music in the World and know I want to see more.


Maddin reverts to a silent film style (though still shooting in widescreen, which I think is kind of odd) using grainy black and white photography, out-of-sync sound and occassionally a two color process. While this style was annoying at first (I resented the fact that he was attempting to make his films look old, whereas viewing these silent films in the 20s would have been much cleaner) I think I’m starting to get it. The antique style makes the more modern twists in the stories so funny.

In 1920 a film about young men in underpants slapping each other wouldn’t be so available. Likewise a movie about a woman whose legs are cut off accidentally by a drunken doctor. Maddin borrows elements from old Lon Chaney movies (The Unknown, for example, which he presented at this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival) but makes them more explicit. This produces a shocking effect as the form and content are incongruent. 
 
Plus, Isabella Rosselini wears glass legs filled with beer. What can be better than that?

Oh yeah, her wig.

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technicolor is magic

the thief of bagdad

how does a movie have three directors? wait, reading online, i found that there may actually have been up to six directors with half of them being uncredited. i guess it was because of the war. and because it’s pre-new wave, so directors had no control or less control or whatever. just like that bad and the beautiful movie. but how does having six directors work? are certain directors responsible for certain parts of the movie? do they work as a committee?

one of the directors is micheal powell. that guy is something else. a technicolor dream come true. one of my favorite things from any movie ever is near the beginning of the red shoes where all the students are waiting in the balcony for the performance to start, eating their sandwiches, arguing with the ballet students about what’s more important, the score or the dance, and 45 minutes later scrolls across the edge of the balcony. and dont forget about the actual ballet of the red shoes in the red shoes. it’s like twenty minutes long and has it’s own credits in the movie. it’s incredible. maybe i should have written about the red shoes. some other time, i guess.

but what parts were directed by micheal powell and what parts by ludwig berger, tim whelan, alexzander korda, zoltan korda (that’s a real name) or william menzies? maybe i wasn’t paying close enough attention to the notice any stylistic differences from shot to shot, but i cant even see how this movie had so many different directors. but i guess it doesn’t matter. all movies are a mess of competing personalities — directors, producers, cinematographers, actors, set designers, costume designers, people funding the movie and on and on. except for maybe like hitchcock and shit. ( i hear, or read, that all hitchcock movies have been psychoanalyzed to death, but are there any psychoanalytical studies on his name?)

i forgot that i was talking about the thief of bagdad.

if you’ve ever seen aladdin, then you’ve seen a remake of this movie that takes out everything cool looking, interesting and funny and replaces it with stupid songs, lazy cultural references and unfunny robin williams improv.

i just found who directed what:

“In the end, no fewer than six directors were involved in the picture. Powell handled many of the most spectacular sequences, including the celebrated scene in which the genie is released from the bottle. American Tim Whelan shot the battle scenes, and Berger was left with a few love scenes, most or all of which were later re-shot by Korda himself. When the production moved to America after the start of the war, Zoltan Korda and William Cameron Menzies shot additional footage there.”

man, i didn’t know that genie scene was celebrated.  i wonder who directed the part where abu smashes the all seeing eye and then has this really weird drug trip where the world stats spinning around and he ends up talking to the king of the golden age.  that part was pretty spectacular.

do you want to know what else was spectacular?  the sets and costumes.

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what’s my first name?

i’ve seen too many good movies lately and i’ve been too lazy to blog about them.

dark star is the best science fiction movie i have ever seen. i like it more than star wars (which is saying a lot for me). actually, i think this movie had as big a impact on the look of star wars as 2001.

speaking of being influenced by dark star, i saw boyle’s sunshine. while it seems to be about humans somehow postponing the end of our solar system, i think it’s actually about how meaningless our lives are on a galactic scale. there are some spectacular deaths and enough dark star references to keep you laughing except during the parts where you’re scared. and the movie is in love with cillian murhpy, but who isn’t?

other great sci-fi films i’ve seen in the last two months? well, there’s robo-cop. i’m dead serious about robo-cop being amazing. it’s like a two-hour commercial for the movie robo-cop. it’s slick and funny and understands how cybernetics and artificial intelligence change what we think it means to be human. and there’s this tv show in the movie called tj lazer which seems like the best cop show imaginable. and i guess it’s also a retelling of the greatest story ever told.

i also saw blade runner in the theater and alien the next day.  i used to hate ridley scott, but he did make one good movie (alien, which is also a lot like dark star) and one spectacular movie (blade runner).  it’s just sad he stopped trying to be interesting 25 years ago.  i blame a negative influence form his brother tony (who made top gun, which is probably a precursor to brokeback mountain).  blade runner is a strange movie.  and i mean that as a compliment.

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The Consumption of Cat Vomit and How it Relates to Film

Sin City

A lot of interesting people like Sin City. People that I don’t think have anything especially sadistic inherent in their nature, and aren’t even overtly misogynistic. Ebert (who is not one of these interesting people I’m talking about) called it brilliant, giving it a full-star rating. I think what’s going on here is that people are dismissing the entire point of the film as modern day film noir, and not giving a second thought about the potential damage inflicted its target audience.

“I’ve watched you for days…it’s not just your face, it’s your figure.”
From the very first frame of Sin City, women are defined by their sexuality. They are either predators or innocents. In need of protection, or figures to hide from. And men are always the ones manipulating these characterizations. The Woman in Red in the first scene of the film is set up as a potential sexual conquest by the way we are introduced to her: male voice-over through the eyes of the assassin. We know she is beautiful, sexy, vulnerable, because we are told so by the Josh Hartnett character. This habit carries through the film, with constant male narration. Nancy Callahan is a helpless victim about to be violated by a man. Goldie is the perfect woman because of her interaction with a man. And Gail is bloodthirsty because of her position as a prostitute in a mean man’s world. Even the one lesbian character is shown topless in a g-string, immediately available for the male, heterosexual gaze. And once she has been threatened, she is suddenly dependent on a male to save her.

Just because you give a prostitute a gun, does not mean you’re a feminist.
gail sin city
Here is Gail, presented in exactly the way one would expect: a figurine. Someone to be manipulated and handled in whatever way suits your fancy, including masochistic manipulation of her gun. I’m going to go ahead and embrace Freud here and claim that if a gun was ever a penis, that gun is the biggest penis of them all. With all the insults involving male genitals thrown around in this movie, I think it’s safe to say that those who hold the phallus are in power for a reason. Might makes right. And the way to throw your might around is through violence and only violence. But never for herself (as is the case with the females habitating Sin City), since there is always a man on the outskirts to fawn over and then depend on. And while Miho the Japanese assassin is assuredly as quick, agile, and viscious as any man int he film, she is also scantily clad and reactionary, achieving everything for male ends.

Lets talk about penises.
yellow bastard
This film is full of the removal of them! It seems like every character in the film (male and female included) would rather die than to have their penises (whether literal or figurative) removed. More than once it is referred to as a weapon, and in this world of hyped-up, violent sex, it is the most dangerous weapon. Without the penis, no one can survive. So females must adopt the phallus and the attitude associated with it in order to even survive. This is what I’m talking about when I refer to the female’s sexuality being manipulated by men, at least in the case of the prostitutes. Because the phallus is such a danger to women, they must have one. There is no choice in the matter. It is either be male or be dead (perhaps by ingestion!). No one is suggesting this is a realistic message for a contemporary world, but there is also no active resistance to the world of Sin City. Hookers with guns are totally awesome! They have been seen as being empowered women who are making an out-of-control-situation their own business. In the case of this film, I’m calling bullshit.

So, yes, Sin City does look cool. It looks fantastic, even. But I am suggesting that making it look this good is only a vehicle for a misogynistic and sadistic message to reach the young adult males the film was marketed for.

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