Friday, December 31, 2010

Kat's Top Films of 2010

There are some really notable gaps in my 2010 film viewing (for example, I haven't seen either Greenberg or Cyrus, both films by directors I've loved in the past, which seem like they'd be sure bets for my 'best of' lists - I hope to get to both very soon). Some of these films have only been screened at festivals so far, and will hopefully receive theatrical or DVD releases in 2011, but since I saw them this year, I include them here.

With all that in mind, here are my top 11 of '10 - listed in alphabetical order.

22nd of May (dir. Koen Mortier)

A Horrible Way to Die (dir. Adam Wingard)

Beyond the Black Rainbow (dir. Panos Cosmatos)

Curling (dir. Denis Côté)

Fubar 2 (dir. Michael Dowse)

Monsters (dir. Gareth Edwards)

Our Day Will Come (dir. Romain Gavras)

Piranha 3D (dir. Alexandre Aja)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (dir. Jalmari Helander)

Stake Land (dir. Jim Mickle)

Winter's Bone (dir. Debra Granik)

Honourable mention goes to the terrific short film The Legend of Beaver Dam.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jeff's Top 13 Films of 2010

Meek's Cutoff (dir. Kelly Reichardt)

Police, Adjective (dir. Corneliu Porumboiu)

Curling (dir. Denis Cote)

Cold Weather (dir. Aaron Katz)

NY Export: Opus Jazz (dir. Henry Joost and Jody Lee Lipes)

Confessions (dir. Tetsuya Nakashima)

Stake Land (dir. Jim Mickle)

Daddy Longlegs (dir. Benny and Josh Safdie)

Four Lions (dir. Christopher Morris)

Machotaildrop (dir. Corey Adams)

Down Terrace (dir. Ben Wheatley)

La Dance: The Paris Ballet Opera (dir. Frederick Wiseman)

Fubar 2 (dir. Michael Dowse)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Straight Outta LA

Ice Cube | 2010 | 51 min | US

The evolution of gangsta rap and the Los Angeles Raiders football club were intertwined, from their aesthetics and thug personae to the stormy alliance with their home turf. Straight Outta LA looks at that relationship through the eyes of one of the people most responsible for stoking it, and the embers of gansta rap as a whole: Ice Cube.

The documentary features a very abridged history lesson on hip hop and a considerably more in-depth look at the beginnings of NWA. The flashbacks are told with black and white animation created by No Mas in a style reminiscent of Raymond Pettibon's artwork. It is a great style for the stories and a welcome break from the talking heads that tend to dominate this kind of doc. There are still talking heads aplenty, however, but they are culled from a very wide swath. Significant figures in hip hop are given equal weight to the stars of the Raiders' past. Commentaries from reporters, Raiders staff, politicians, and cultural critics are also included. Most of the offerings are worthwhile, but Snoop could stand a little less screen time. That guy is as un-insightful as it gets, even when speaking about rap. My apologies if that's a spoiler. Though only a television hour in length, the film provides a fairly comprehensive look at the LA years of the Raiders. Solid viewing for fans of football or hip hop.

The film was made as part of ESPN's "30 for 30" series, in which 30 different filmmakers expand on significant stories and events from the world of sports. The only other of the series I've seen is Jeff Tremaine's Birth of Big Air about the career of BMX innovator Matt Hoffman. That film also had a great style with a lot of personality. Other filmmakers involved in the series include Barbara Kopple and Albert Maysles, so I will definitely be looking into at least a couple more instalments.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Found abandoned in the parking lot of a Value Village. Regina ain't all bad.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lexicon Devil

Darby Crash in his Ants phase.

Crash in white, front row centre for Rock n Roll High School.

As long as we're remembering dead assholes, how about Darby Crash? Before The Germs had even coalesced, lead singer Darby Crash had the Story of The Germs in mind. Among his plot points were a female member, booking shows before having songs, and only five years for the band to make it. Whether Darby knew exactly how The Germs would end is unknown. What is known is that he stuck within his timetable.

Crash killed himself with a purposeful overdose of heroin on December 7, 1980. It was four days after a sold-out Germs "reunion" show and Crash was only twenty-two years-old. The overdose was part of a suicide pact with friend Casey Cola, who dosed with him, but survived. The next day John Lennon was killed and Crash quickly lost the battle for column inches.

On the twentieth anniversary of Crash's death in December of 2000, Exene Cervenka remembered:

It was like Darby was saying, "Hey, guys, look, I'm immortal." Then John Lennon died. "Oh, wait. You're not." X was leaving on our first U.S. tour. Everywhere we went we heard "Imagine" or a Beatles song. Every truck stop, every diner, that's all anyone was talking about. It was really annoying. Of course I listened to the Beatles--I'm an American. When you're a little girl and you hear the Beatles for the first time, you're transformed forever. But my focus was on my friend. Not to put down John Lennon, but someone we loved had died.

Adato, A. (2000, December 3). Crash and Burn. Los Angeles Times.

Darby Crash never an easy go of it. He grew up with an absent father, an abusive mother, and an older brother who also overdosed (or was murdered by his dealer? There are conflicting reports). Crash was also deeply conflicted about being queer. The hardcore scene likes to wear progressive politics on its sleeve, often literally, but can be deadly conservative when it comes to real acceptance of racial and sexual difference. In 1980 Los Angeles, how would Crash's fluid sexuality have been greeted by the macho boys and cooing girls in the clubs? Crash knew the answer, so he hid as a public junkie rather than an out gay man until his early death.

Crash was a mess, unmistakenly, unrepentantly. He was also a hell of a poet and was constructing vocal rhythms and performances as a teenager that were vital to the genesis of Los Angeles punk.

Meanwhile, John Lennon was a wife beater who abandoned his child.

Check out here (Angelfire?!) for the full text and original images from a 1977 Flipside interview with The Germs. The page also features a couple live tracks. Tracks which are set to auto-play and can't be turned off, but are great.

Since 2006 The Germs have been sporadically performing the original songs with actor Shane West taking up vocal duties. West played Crash in the 2007 biopic What We Do Is Secret. I liked the film, actually, but those shows cannot be pretty.

Live video and interview with Crash after the jump.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

1500 Dead in Hawaii

Bike messengers race out of the White House on December 7, 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Barricades of Hamburgers Divide the Nation

Voina protests the dull routine of menial labour by whipping cats into a McDonalds in Moscow, May Day, 2007

Last week two members of Voina (meaning "War") were arrested for overturning police cars as part of an action back in September. In the piece Royal Overturn, a child kicked a ball under a police car and Voina overturned the car to free the ball. What choice did they have?! The charges of "aggravated hooliganism" against Leonid Nikolayev and Oleg Vorotnikov carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison. Likely harsher than the level of punishment that would be meted out to apolitical soccer hooligans for the same actions. Voina routinely takes aim at government and police authority, so it is not surprising that one of their organizers would be targeted in selective arrests two months after the group carried out the work.

A recent English language interview with Voina is available at rebel:art and for more info, photos and videos of Voina actions, check out the tag on Animal New York.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Klondike

Old pal and super talented artist Zach Worton will finally be seeing the release of his historical comic on the Yukon gold rush this spring. It's been a long time since he first told me about this and showed me some drawings. The book's contents have been researched in depth and promise to be gorgeous. This is his debut with a major book, and with Drawn and Quarterly behind him I'm sure it will make a big splash. Maybe after he breaks I can sell the remaining copies of our ten-year-old garage rock CDs I still have kicking around my apartment. Congratulations, Zach! Can't wait to get my hands on this.

Image and info ripped from Chris at Comics212. He has the full solicitation and release details over there.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You Don't Own Me

Lesley Gore was a singer-songwriter of the girl group era. Even if you know nothing about Gore you probably know her 1963 song "It's My Party" well enough to sing it. That tune was recorded when she was only sixteen-years-old and it has become part of the canon of girl group music. "It's My Party" is also noteworthy for launching the career of Quincy Jones, who signed Gore to Mercury Records and produced that first single for her when he was thirty-years-old.

In 2005, Gore came out of the closet and revealed she had a partner for over twenty years. Certainly this added a new dimension to Gore's lyrics, but even before the admission, Gore's tunes were proto-feminist "fuck yous" to anyone who dared do her wrong, man or woman.

This story of Gore as closeted pop princess was threaded into Allison Anders' film Grace of My Heart, a fictional history of American pop music starring Illeana Douglas and John Turturro. Although it wasn't too well received at the time, I find the movie to be one of the lost treasures of the 90s indie film boom. Hey, a modest treasure is still a treasure.

Hit the jump to see Lesley Gore performing a searing live version of "You Don't Own Me" for The TAMI Show, a 1964 concert film.

Lookbook: The Baxter

"Sometimes I miss the sun, but I love the crazy people."

Michael Showalter's 2005 romantic-comedy gem The Baxter remains little-seen despite featuring Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, David Wain, and Elizabeth Banks, with Showalter and Michelle Williams in the leads. Lucky for you it is a new addition to Netflix so you can do your part by watching it today.