Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wally Wood's Dirty Disney

I recently stumbled upon a monochrome 1970s print of Wally Wood's Disneyland Memorial Orgy piece available from dealer Steven Sclaroff. The original poster has been bootlegged high and low, including colour versions intended for black light and furniture-less apartments, but none of the older bootlegs come up very often.

Wally Wood was an artist for many, many comics, including EC horror titles and Mad Magazine. Wood originally illustrated Disneyland Memorial Orgy to appear in the pages of counterculture magazine The Realist before the publisher decided to print it as a poster, as well. Though Disney never took legal action against the original creators, they later sued one of the poster's bootleggers. Wally Wood himself long denied drawing the piece.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Land Ho

Today the Drawn and Quarterly blog published some landscape images from Zach Warton's forthcoming comic The Klondike. There's only a couple more months to wait for this beaut and my appetite has been sufficiently whet! More pages can be viewed here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

Julien Nitzberg | 2009 | 86 min | US

This is a documentary that makes Winter's Bone look like Oceans Eleven. Dancer and gasoline-enthusiast Jesco White has been the subject of both a prior documentary, The Dancing Outlaw, and a fantastic narrative feature, White Lightnin', but we've seen only a hint of his larger family until now. WWWWV is the film that shakes the family tree to see what falls out (spoiler: mostly pills).

Jesco still has a large presence in the documentary, but it's the women of his family who take centre stage this time. They are very gruff, very entertaining, and tell the story of not just the Whites, but the large number of disadvantaged living in West Virginia. A wealth of threats and drug annecdotes are tossed about as the Whites' explain how they have crept into the wider world of entertainment through their unique brand of dance. Their history is riddled violence and death, but music and dance are always a constant.

The county officials whose commentary is scattered throughout the film like to blame the welfare state and a perceived sense of entitlement on the part of the Whites as the cause of their dysfunction. However, repeated comments by the Whiles betray a total lack of agency felt by the family. Their dialogue is permeated with the conservative religious traditions of West Virginia. They believe they are cursed and continue to be punished for their sins. Where does such a deeply ingrained fatalist view leave a family? Snorting crushed Xanax in hospital rooms and hillbilly bar toilets as though they have no other choice, apparently.

It can be difficult to keep track of who is who and how they are related, but it doesn't really matter. The family is a legend and an archetype whose lifestyle has inspired and entranced musicians and friends. They are very charming in their self-destruction. Obviously the filmmaker was charmed as well, because WWWWV is a very romantic take on their lives.

The documentary ends on a hopeful note which feels out of place and slightly insincere. The feeling one is left with is not that they are going to pick themselves up and meet great success over the rest of their lives; it is that they are going to keep doing what they've been doing for generations and continue being a force in Boon Country. It is not the happy ending the text would like you to buy, but it is a fascinating tale nonetheless. Authentic outlaws are a rare breed. Watch the trailer after the jump.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Aaron's Top 11 Films of 2010

I will also readily admit to large gaps in my viewing this year, so this is really Best Movies of 2010 I Have Seen, With Glaring Omissions. Hopefully I will be filling those gaps over the coming week. Meek's Cuttoff and Our Day Will Come should be seeing wider release in the coming year. Now in no order. . .

Our Day Will Come (Roman Gavras)

Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)

Winter's Bone (Debra Granik)

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)

Cyrus (Jay and Mark Duplass)

A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)

Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)

The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)

Four Lions (Christopher Morris)

And honourable mention to a quiet little indie called:

Inception (Christopher Nolan)