Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mad Peck, Bloody Sam

Director Sam Peckinpah died 25 years ago on December 28th, at the age of 59. His too-soon departure was due in no small part to a life of drug and alcohol abuse, and his last years were typified by illness. Peckinpah was a man who lived hard and, at his finest, that was evident on the screen. Not all of his films are great, but his great ones are uncompromisingly brilliant. Graphic violence, rapid edits, and gorgeous slow motion made the pictures of Bloody Sam their nihilist best.

Even Peckinpah's The Getaway, which is often dismissed as a picture done for a paycheck, looks and feels cutting edge by today's standard almost forty years after it was made. If you haven't seen it yet, treat yourself. Catch Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw at their best and find out where Steven Soderbergh got all his moves. Paul Schrader has said that Peckinpah "chiseled the gravestone" of the Western, but what a beautiful stone it was.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still Out West

Downtown Edmonton is lousy with hand-painted signage on the sides of old brick buildings and I love it. I am sure their continued existence has more to do with the expense of painting over or removing them rather than any interest in perserving the heritage of this old craft, but I appreciate them nonetheless. While many of these signs advertise long dead products, names like Crown, Eaton, and even the Brit-owned Cunard evoke a certain Canadianess that I love terribly.

I also noticed several businesses utilizing new hand-painted signage on their buildings, but these new signs owe little to tradition, instead going to typical route of black and white Helvetica monstrosities advertising even worse nightclubs. But fuck that; let us take a moment to doff our hats in rememberance of What Was.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jeff's Favourites of the 00's

Reading all of the end-of-the-decade lists in Eye Weekly on my way to work today, I got the urge to write up a Top 20 list of my own. There's obviously stuff that should probably be on the list but isn't for various reasons, but so it goes. The reason No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood aren't on the list are because I feel like I'm due for a re-watch of both, and didn't feel confident enough in my love for them to include them. They probably belong on it though. Lists are unimportant but fun. Here's mine (in alphabetical order):

All About Lily Chou-Chou
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
The Brown Bunny
Chuck & Buck
The Host
A l'interieur
In the Mood for Love
Kung-Fu Hustle
Nurse Betty
Punch-Drunk Love
The Royal Tenebaums
The Squid and the Whale
Still Walking
Wild Zero

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lee Marvin, Private First Class

Image by Michael Patterson.

Lee Marvin was born February 19, 1924. During World War II he enlisted with the United States Marine Corps and fought in the Pacific theatre. Marvin was awarded a Purple Heart and the Navy Cross for his service, which included participation in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Before his sudden death by heart attack in 1987, he appeared in over fifty feature films and many, many television programs. Though his biggest commercial success was his role in The Dirty Dozen, Marvin was vocal about the movie being little more than a paycheck and denounced it for not being a true reflection of war, preferring his work in Sam Fuller's Big Red One instead. He also turned down the title role in Patton because he felt the story was a glorification of war. Marvin is buried in Section 7-A of the Arlington National Cemetery, but he will live on forever as the coolest white haired motherfucker to ever grace the screen.

Check out Roger Ebert's 1970 interview with Lee Marvin for Esquire magazine, "Who's Gonna Get Me A Beer?"

Family Time

I am currently enjoying some Family Time in the West. Though I live in Toronto, I spent my youth equally divided between Saskatchewan and the wilds of northern British Columbia. My family is still anchored over those provinces and has stock in Saskatchewan going back over one-hundred years, and spent time in the Dakotas even earlier than that. They homesteaded on the banks of Turtle Lake and in the area of Livelong, on land broken by oxes and spaded by hand. In those days, one had to stay on the same land for six weeks and have it completely fenced in to "prove up" the homestead as their legal land. I am thankful that much of the family's history has been dutifully recorded. Living in mud brick and log homes during a Saskatchewan winter is not something I hold much romance for, but that history reflects an endurance, a closeness, and an entrepreneurial spirit I am happy to have in my blood.

Pictured above are my uncle's forearms. It's how we do.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

TSADT Podcast Episode 07

Download | MP3

In which we discuss our favourite films of the year, we each declare our choice for lone favourite movie of the decade, and I make very liberal use of the words "great," "amazing," and "smart," like a true professional know-nothing idiot dummy. The podcast may be redundant at this time of the year, but at least its long.

Subscribe | iTunes

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I Love The Bammer

And she loves all of you! Recently, comedian Maria Bamford recorded a one-hour Christmas special available for free download on her site. A little gift to you, the people. Unlike your typical stand-up act, this video features Bamford running through her full routine while seated on her couch next to her two pugs and allowing occasional time-outs for attacks of self doubt. It is really remarkable, disarming, and most importantly, hilarious. You can download One Hour Homemade Christmas Special in the "News" section here.

That lack of pretence has come to typify Bamford and why fans are so attached to her work. The same style was a feature of the aptly titled Maria Bamford Show which originally appeared on the defunct Super Deluxe website. It was a remarkable semi-autobiographical comedy about Bamford's move back to her parent's home in which she played every character, by herself, almost entirely in close-up, in front of a consumer video camera. When Super Deluxe was purchased by Adult Swim, much of the site's original content vanished, including episodes of the Maria Bamford Show. Luckily, some wonderful soul took it upon themselves to upload as much (all?) of the show they had saved to their YouTube channel.

The above image of Maria Bamford was taken from her appearance on Byron Allen's Comics Unleashed, the least leashed show in the history of comedy. Her expression of awe is likely the result of one of Sinbad's "riffs."