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.