Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Moose-Drunk

Moose becomes tangled in tree in Gothenburg, Sweden while searching out more fermented apples during a bender. Photograph by Jan Wiriden.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bad Fever

Dustin Guy Defa | 2010 | 77 min | USA

The ratio of shitty comedians to good comedians must be 1000:1, easy. But where's their story? The King of Comedy doesn't cut it. It's a daydream. And besides, Eddie, the aspiring comedian of Bad Fever, makes Rupert Pupkin look like Chris Rock.

Eddie is a loner trying to make a go of stand-up comedy. He spends most of his time recording, reviewing, and revising tapes of rambling routines made on a dictation machine. He is prolific, sure, but there is not a punchline to be found among his hours and hours of tape.

Eddie also suffers from a crippling nervousness, and when strange drifter Irene is willing to exchange a few words with him, Eddie quickly falls for her. In an effort to please and get close to her, Eddie is soon participating in bizarre "erotica" videos in an abandoned school which Irene mails to "a guy in Iowa" for income.

Shot over a winter in Salt Lake City, the grey setting is suffocating. Low clouds and mumbling strangers make it seem as thought Eddie and Irene live in a world where air can't penetrate and sound can't carry. Even attempts at small talk are usually stifled by chainsaws, clinking glasses, or cell phones. Eddie speaks as though he is simply unpracticed in commucating, and it's simple to understand his difficulty in having a relationship with anyone else.

Kentucker Audley's characterization of Eddie can feel like a guile-less Crispin Glover character, but with pure anxiety overcoming any canned eccentricities. Fortunately, Eddie doesn't feel mocking or over the top. Anything less than a sensitive, relateable portrayal would kill the film, and Audley steps up to the task.

The term "mumblecore" has been applied so broadly and so thoughtlessly that it lacks usefulness as a real descriptor. Many films that have tripped under the banner require tighter designation so audiences can have some sense of what they're getting into. Bad Fever is one of them. How about "No Light, No Hope, No Reason to Exist-core"? While Bad Fever isn't the choice to make for a pick-me-up, it is an absorbing case study of sex work and the economies of loneliness. If you have the fortitude, I highly recommend it.

Bad Fever will be screening with the short film Pioneer in Toronto on August 31, 2011, as part of the Refocus Film series. The program starts at 8:30 PM at Double Double Land, 219 Augusta, in Kensington. And as with all Refocus screenings, admission is FREE!

The trailer is posted after the jump.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Remembering Jack

Hundreds of messages inscribed in chalk over Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, following the death of Federal Opposition Leader Jack Layton.

Thanks to Jackman Chiu for the beautiful photograph.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gun Girl on a Motorcycle


"Just what dark impulse led this healthy, active young girl, member of a highly respected family, into this tragic situation is yet to be revealed. It has been learned that Cathy was at one time a patient in the mental health clinic operated by the country health department. It remains for the courts to decide the extent of her responsibility for the violence which erupted on a Tallahassee highway on the evening of April 13, 1961."
From Master Detective, September 1961.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Next Andrew Sarris

Marquee for the Rainbow Cinema theatre in Regina, Saskatchewan. This particular marquee resides atop a strip mall facing a main roadway. I can't believe I Rape Dudes 2 got a theatrical release.

Photograph courtesy of Errol West and the Prairie Dog blog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thief

Michael Mann | 1981 | 122 min | US

Thieves should really try to stop at the second-to-last big score, because that last big score always turns out terribly. James Caan's Frank is a perfect example. He's a safecracker doing every job quietly, cleanly, and professionally. He makes nary a ripple until his fencing middle man gets tossed out a window and Frank goes looking for his money. He finds his money in the hands of a syndicate that promises him everything he would need to finally get out of the game and lead a comfortable life in a comfortable family. But trying to get an honest deal out of Megacorp when you're running a local mom and pop isn't so easy.

It is impossible not to root for Caan's thief. He is a talented craftsman (a fact proven through intense, calculated robbery set pieces) and a likeable man. After too many years spent in the care of the state, Frank is trying to carve out his piece of the ol' American dream. His modest goals make him the least corrupt and corruptible man in a world of thieves. His courtship with Tuesday Weld, in which he tries to quickly explain the above through collage art, is one of the finer courtships on film.

The eclectic and remarkable supporting cast includes Weld, Willie Nelson, Robert Prosky, The Belush, and a host of easily recognizable character talent like Tom Signorelli, Dennis Farina, and William Petersen. The movie is stacked with talent from the Michael Mann Players. And while I am not a big fan of Tangerine Dream, this soundtrack sets the perfect mood, often sounding more like discordant Eno than the sonic wallpaper of Risky Business.

Best of all, Thief is not troubled by the interior decorator pretensions that I find bog down some of Mann's other films. But don't worry Mann-purists: Frank runs a Cadillac dealership, offering plenty of shots of light arrays reflected in triple-gloss paint. Thief is set in that New York City which exists exclusively in film, with permanently rain slick streets and street lights that barely illuminate anything. De rigueur for neo-noir, but I'm not complaining. Thief is the complete package, aesthetically, with the emotion and story to back it up.

Though it is a great one, Thief is only a crime procedural superficially; ultimately it is a lesson in capital, labour, corruption, and exploitation. The inevitable shootout ending isn't neatly topped with a True Romance bow. The moment before credits instead marks the beginning of a Man with No Name story, or perhaps a revised vision of The Jungle.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Force Against Gravity





Levitation photographs by Natsumi Hayashi of Tokyo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Babysitters

When's the last time we had a movie review on this blog, hey?

I discovered this little gem on Netflix a couple of nights ago, and was shocked at how great it is, because I'd never even heard of it before. On its surface, the film isn't much different from any other naughty babysitter premise. Shirley babysits for young-ish couple. Cute dad Michael (John Leguizamo) drives her home one night, and they end up making out. When it happens again and they end up having sex, Michael feels guilty and gives her $200 instead of whatever her usual paltry babysitting fee might have been.

At this point, The Babysitters veers off the usual formula slightly, as Shirley (played beautifully by the gangly, long-faced Katherine Waterston, who towers a full head above Leguizamo) embraces her entrepreneurial side and makes a business of it, enlisting her friends to "babysit" for Michael's friends. Madam Shirley operates her brothel through cell phone calls and notes left in her school locker, taking 20% from her girls and maintaining a neat calendar of appointments on her computer. Obviously, this idyllic situation cannot last, and like any good mafia movie, The Babysitters sets Shirley up for a fall.

By far the most refreshing thing about The Babysitters is the fact that the cast of teenage girls looks extremely plausibly teenage. Their mostly make-up free faces, awkwardly developing bodies, ordinary clothes (Shirley seems to live in not-so-tight jeans and borderline-frumpy sweaters) make them seem so real, and so much more like actual children than hot fantasy babes, and this gives the entire film a truly creepy tone.

These girls are, on the one hand, totally in charge of their own mini empire. On the other hand, they are in entirely over their heads and embroiled in a self-destructive and downright depressing misadventure. As Shirley struggles to keep control of the business she's built (battling other girls' rival startups, and the like), Michael starts to have misgivings, feeling more and more guilt about the monster he helped to created. The film treats Michael's love for Shirley as real, but thankfully doesn't give him much sympathy for it - after all, what kind of moral high ground can a father of two who's fucking his teenage babysitter really have, regarding her lucrative prostitution business?

A funny and at times really disturbing plot is elevated to 'awesome status' by brilliantly realistic casting and a pull-no-punches approach to treating everyone as equally bad, guilty, and deserving of some kind of punishment. No one gets away easy in The Babysitters, which is as it should be.

The Babysitter

My week has been very naughty-babysitter themed. First, I stumbled on the trailer for The Babysitter on tumblr.



Then I discovered that our friend Michael from Popcorn & Sticky Floors has a great poster for Weekend with the Babysitter.


What I don't entirely understand is, how did George E. Carey star as George Maxwell, the daddy in The Babysitter (1969) and as Jim Carlton, the daddy in Weekend with the Babysitter (1970)? The babysitter was named Candy Wilson in both films, but played by Patricia Wymer in the first and Susan Romen in the second.

Can someone solve this bad babysitter mystery for me? Also, what was mommy up to?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

HBS

If you're not watching Jon Benjamin Has a Van, you're wasting your life. There. I said it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bluh!

Down for the Count by "poopbear" of Deviant Art.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Room for One, Please






Keasler, M., Slemmons, R., & Kirino, N. (2006).
Love Hotels: The Hidden Fantasy Rooms of Japan. New York: Chronicle Books.

Wonderfully seedy images of Japanese love hotels courtesy of photojournalist Misty Keasler. That last one has a real Spongebob Videodrome vibe happening.

Happily Ever After

From a 1950 pamphlet by the Human Betterment League of North Carolina, a group that promoted the sterilization of "mental defectives" by the state.

The following poem was written by Dr. Clarence Gamble in 1947 and submitted it to the North Carolina Mental Hygiene Society for them to use in promotional materials to rally support for state sterilization. Gamble was heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune and a keen supporter of the Human Betterment League. The Mental Hygiene Society's refusal to use his poem confused Gamble. He wrote to them, “Your unfavorable criticism of the story of the two moron families interested me. It will be helpful if you can tell me the reasons behind this.”

Once there was a MORON, that means
a person that wasn't very bright.
he couldn't add figures
or make change
or do many things
an ordinary man does.
So he couldn't find a job
and the RELIEF OFFICE
had to help him out
for YEARS AND YEARS.
And one day he met
another MORON
who wasn't any cleverer than he was.
But SHE was nicer to him
than anyone had ever been.
And so he MARRIED HER.
And soon there was a BABY,
and then ANOTHER
and ANOTHER
and ANOTHER.
And the welfare department
had to pay the family
MORE of the TAXPAYER'S
MONEY
and MORE
and MORE
and MORE

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Giger x Abdul Alhazred




Giger, H.R., & Barker, C. (1993). H. R. Giger's Necronomicon. Las Vegas, NV: Morpheus International.

This thing is the size of a coffee table.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

And the Feud Begins

This sublime piece is the work of Fred Harper. It was part of an exhibition called "Under the Influence: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" at Gallery 1988 in early 2010. Harper has also illustrated a number of Garbage Pail Kids cards, so he is pretty much living the dream. I bet he has an ice cream sundae bar in his house like Mike Tyson, too.

Via Geek Tyrant and Asylum.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

X-Offender






In a December, 2010 interview Debbie Harry described getting a ride from a stranger in the early 70s while she walked home late one night in New York City.
"This little car kept coming around and offering me a ride. I kept saying no but finally I took the ride because I couldn't get a cab. I got in the car and the windows were are rolled up, except for a tiny crack. This driver had an incredibly bad smell to him. I looked down and there were no door handles. The inside of the car was stripped. The hairs on the back of my neck just stood up. I wiggled my arm out of the window and pulled the door handle from the outside. I don't know how I did it, but I got out. He tried to stop me by spinning the car but it sort of helped me fling myself out. Afterwards I saw him on the news. Ted Bundy."

Cut-Up to Short-Circuit Control

The wonderful UbuWeb has just added the Cold Spring Tape to its streaming archives. The recording consists of interviews and readings by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin discussing the origin and faculties of their cut-up technique, then turned into an audio cut-up/ collage by Genesis P. Orridge in 1989. The original cassette was limited to 100 copies.

Moving With The Times





In the city of Sofia, Bulgaria, an unidentified artist has transformed the official fiction of the town by giving the Red Army heroes a paint job. According to the UK Daily Mail, "The giant monument was built to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Russian 'liberation' of Bulgaria in 1944. It is regarded as the prime example of the forceful socialist-realism of the period."

That caption below the piece reads, "Moving with the times."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bond's Casino







In May and June of 1981 The Clash played a series of shows at Bond's Casino in New York City. In support of their album Sandinista! they planned eight shows at the Times Square venue, but soon discovered that promoters had wildly over-sold the shows' capacity. Fire marshals shutdown the third performance on Saturday night. In response, The Clash decided to honour every ticket purchased and increased their run at Bond's to 15 shows (or 16 or 17, depending on the source). Of the exhausting ordeal Joe Strummer said, "We took a stand and it nearly killed us," but the move stands as a testament to the band's integrity and love of music.

Luckily some of that series was documented, including the June 9th show which was recorded in full for radio broadcast. On the 30th anniversary of the Bond's show this month, the music still sounds every bit as vital.

For more information on the Clash's stay at Bond's check out this great resource for period articles or read what Jonathan Lethem has to say about the boys here. A couple news reports and live footage of the shows after the jump.