28 August 2008

Omnibus at the movies: The Last Mistress, Traitor.

Here's a quick catch up of what I've been seeing lately that's opening in Nastyville this weekend.

Here's my thoughts on the new Catherine Breillat, Une Vieille Maitresse.

And the Don Cheadle terrorism drama Traitor.

At the movies: Mirrors

This one was a catastrophic disappointment. I've been on the Alexandre Aja train ever since Haute Tension, and I maintain that it's a work of damned near genius. His The Hills Have Eyes remake was a bloodthirsty and brilliant rethinking, and I'm eagerly anticipating his 3-D take on Piranha. But this effort, a julienning of the Korean film Geoul sokeuro and Poltergeist III, is just not up to snuff.

Kiefer Sutherland, sidelined as Jack Bauer due to the writer's strike, is an alcoholic cop recovering from accidentally killing another cop. His family life is in turmoil, and he's crashing on his sister's couch and working as a night watchman in a creepy burnt-out edifice of a department store that was once a hospital.

Anyway, there's something evil in the mirrors. The explanations are ridiculous, the dialogue is just awful, and even Kiefer is in over his head. Some of the effects are great, but the gore is often too CG-based and the final confrontation is just stupid. The only part of the film that actually feels like an Aja movie is the opening pre-credits sequence, which uses the cinemascope frame and incidental reflections in a way which remains stylistically of a piece with his amazing work on Haute and Hills. The rest feels like something some studio execs stepped on (20th Century Fox, I call you out), and the main musical theme seems to be ripping off the same bolero that The Doors' "Spanish Caravan," Jam & Spoon featuring Plavka Lonich's "Right in the Night," Fantastic Planet's "Carry on Columbus," and the main theme to Don Coscarelli's Phantasm films all rip off.

The film is thirty minutes too long by far, and surprisingly boring, especially for an R-rated horror film. What really strikes me as odd is that for a film that rips off so much of Poltergeist III, it doesn't angle for any of the really creepy mirror stuff in that film.

I will give full credit for the remarkable set work that Romania's artisans helped craft- in particular, the edifice of the Mayflower department store is a marvel. But that doesn't make up for just under two hours of shock stabs and creepy light phenomena. There's some good moments and two really gory deaths. That's about it. I still have hope for Piranha 3-D, though.

26 August 2008

A question of grammar: "Why Me"

Queen of pageant songs Irene Cara. Synth god Giorgio Moroder. Don't forget Harold Faltermeyer and Keith Forsey. Put them together and you have absolute freakin' magic.

The chorus is where things get a bit tricky.

Why me? Why me?
Why me when I was the one who could set your heart free?
Why me? Why me?
Why me, you took all the love I gave up selfishly.

Now, does she mean that she, as the narrator of the song, gave up her love in a selfish manner, perhaps as a passive-aggressive means of controlling her lover? Or is that concluding adverb meant as an indictment of the lover (which would best be visually represented as "You took all the love I gave up, selfishly"). Either way is intriguing, though I'm guessing it's meant more as an indictment of the lover..

23 August 2008

"Bubba wouldn't hurt me."

There's been a lot of gloom and doomery about how DVD is already a dead format. But then you get news like this.

And everything seems just a little more right with the world.

21 August 2008

So I read this: Skinema by Chris Nieratko.

Loosely tied into the Jackass/Big Brother guys, Chris Nieratko took an ostensible porn review column and turned it into a Joe Bob Briggs-Proustian venting of his subconscious and drug-fuelled and sex-laden adventures. I admire what he accomplished, and I dig his style and utter disdain for what criticism truly requires, but I feel like there could have been more to it.

I mean, he's got a flair for picking stuff with great titles, but he jettisons an sense of giving a shit about the material, and in turn he comes off as a total asshole. He's got some wit and can tell a good story, but it can be deadening if you read it like a book. File it with your diaries, and it'll fit just fine.

My main hope after reading Skinema is that someday I will have the opportunity to publish some of my own rambling and tangential stuff. Sort of like here...

"Am I the meanest?"

Character actor Julius Carry died two days ago from pancreatic cancer. I had the fortune of seeing a 35mm print of The Last Dragon last month, and his performance as Sho'Nuff, The Shogun of Harlem, stands the tests of time. I didn't realize that he was also Lord Bowler from The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. So I'll take that as a sign to rewatch Brisco County for the first time since it initially aired, back during my first year at NYU.

True story: I was in the midst of an intimate moment in my dorm room back in the day while an episode of Brisco County was on in the background, and the guy I was with caught a glimpse of the TV and was like, "Is that Ash?"

Which is very funny if you happen to be naked at the time.

Anyway, RIP Julius Carry. Truly you were the meanest. Truly you were the prettiest. Truly you were the baddest mo-fo, low down, around this town...

So I read this: Adverbs by Daniel Handler.

I didn't really know all that much about Lemony Snicket when I was given Daniel Handler's first novel The Basic Eight, which is exceptional- like Fight Club for girls. I also dug his novel Watch Your Mouth, which was written as an opera, which isn't that much of a surprise considering Handler is an occasional Magnetic Field and you know how good ol' Stephin Merritt is about operas and such.

But it makes me ecstatic that the success of the Lemony Snicket books has allowed Daniel Handler to experiment with the form under his own name, and Adverbs is a humdinger. I don't know if it completely works, but when it hits, it does so beautifully. Adverbs is a sort of rondelay that explores love, birds, and disaster, in many different varieties.

This isn't an easy book to get in to, and at times things seem deliberately difficult. The connections between stories and characters seem arbitrary and elliptical throughout, though when everything does in fact get brought together, it adds the kind of thematic and narrative urgency that makes you want to go back and reread all that you've experienced, so that's a recommendation.

So I read this: Hack/Slash: The First Cut by Tim Seeley.

Conceived in the spirit of Carol Clover and Misty Mundae, Hack/Slash is the ongoing story of Cassie Hack, an alienated girl whose mother was the slasher "The Lunch Lady." Now, along with her misshapen compatriot Vlad, she's made a life out of taking down slashers, those killers whose sprees extend from beyond the grave.

The First Cut, a birthday gift from the overmind at Safe in Heaven Dead Films, collects the first three Hack/Slash stories together, and it's pretty entertaining. The characterization is minimal, and occasionally dips into some predictable cliches, but things move quickly and Cassie and Vlad make for a good team.

Word has it that there's going to be a Hack/Slash film in 2009, and it's perfectly geared for that sort of thing. The second of the three main stories in The First Cut, "Girls Gone Dead," is perfect for the big screen. There's a little of everything that horror fans can dig on, and I look forward to seeing how the story of Cassie Hack continues to evolve.

Shameless promotion of things I wrote.

Here's some stuff I have in the newspapers this week.

A review of Tell No One (Ne Le Dis a Personne). Please note: The photo is miscaptioned, as Kristin Scott-Thomas and Francois Cluzet are not the central lovers of the story. K S-T actually plays the wife of Cluzet's character's sister.

A review of The Rocker.

A review of Hamlet 2.

And an article about keeping cool during the summer that I helped contribute to.

"Penis Power" with Alexyss K. Tylor.

There are words for this, but I don't have them.

Her matronly sidekick is my favorite.

15 August 2008

Forgotten dance classics: Revolting Cocks - "You Often Forget"

Because not all dance classics are pretty and frothy.

I don't really like any of the studio versions of this song, but this Live version, from their 1987 Cabaret Metro show that produced their "You Goddamned Son of a Bitch" live album, is probably my favorite industrial track of all time.

"You Often Forget" Live
Revolting Cocks

I first heard of it in John Peyton Cooke's novel Out for Blood, where it was bandied about in the same context as Rick Astley, which is my kind of sensibility, let me tell you.

14 August 2008

People who inspire: Julia Child.

I always knew that I liked her for more than just cooking.

Julia Child, in addition to teaching the world the value of wine, butter, and a sense of humor in the kitchen, was a spy for the Allies during WWII.

You learn something new every day.

I've never been much for cooking, but thanks to Dad and Stepmomma Jim's tireless devotion to the culinary arts, I've appreciated the hell out of her timeless work.

13 August 2008

A veritable Whitman's Sampler of stuff.

Here's where my mind is at:

The latest on the Georgian front.

Some good news regarding the evershifting balance between common sense and belief in the world of academia.

The lineup for this year's New York Film Festival is up.

Much in the way that Madonna's "Sky Fits Heaven" worked in spite of using lines from a Nike commercial, R&B phenomenon Chris Brown combines trance-rap synths, Timbaland beats, and a DOublemint slogan and makes pop gold.

Detroit sets what must be some sad new kind of trend.

12 August 2008

At the movies: Tropic Thunder.

Any discussion of Tropic Thunder must begin and end with Robert Downey Jr. He plays Kirk Lazarus, an Australian multi-award winning actor who undertakes a controversial surgical process to darken his skin to play a black soldier in a war film. Thematically and semiotically, he’s like a one-man boxed narrative focusing on performance, race, and the fluidities of identity with each line he delivers. I foresee dissertations focused exclusively on this performance popping up throughout academia over the next decade or so, and even if there had been nothing else worthwhile in Tropic Thunder, it would have been worth it just for this.

Fortunately, though, Tropic Thunder is kind of great. It’s an overblown spectacle about overblown spectacles that’s meant to read as a Hollywood insider movie. These kind of films are usually excruciating to anyone not in the film industry, and are often tonally confused as to what kind of message they are trying to convey. But Director/co-writer/star Ben Stiller finds the razor-sharp balance of the material, using the structure of the action event film as the perfect scaffolding on which to layer all of the horror and hilarity of big-budget filmmaking. Take the opening of the film; displaying an understanding of the contemporary moviegoing experience much deeper than anything seen in theatres in years, we are hit by a commercial and trailers set within the universe of the film. We are given context, backstory, and metatextual action before the film even properly starts, but it works, and beautifully.

Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise do great supporting work as two sides of the Hollywood coin, both relaxed and trying something different to an impressive yield. Know at least that no one will ever be able to hear Flo Rida’s “Low” again without thinking of Tom Cruise dancing his way into the dark heart of the human soul. Similarly, there’s a relaxed and breezy interplay amongst the entire cast that deflates the unspoken yet near-palpable tension that comes from making (and watching) a big summer blockbuster, making this the most effervescent 100 million dollar-plus action flick since Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 masterpiece Starship Troopers. Stiller has made something truly unique in the realm of the event movie: a film that rewards knowledge. You don’t have to know anything about the movie industry or semiotics or action films to enjoy Tropic Thunder, but if you do, you’ll find a film with as much hardcore arthouse truth-telling as it has big summer action.

If Pineapple Express is the quieter, scruffy egghead takedown of the action genre, then Tropic Thunder is the amped-up, Senior Varsity takedown. Just as funny, just as smart, but in completely different ways. It’s been long overdue, this expansion of the action film, and it bodes incredibly well for moviegoers.

A conversation with Guy Maddin.

I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to genius/stylist/ecstatic visionary Guy Maddin on the occasion of his latest film, My Winnipeg, opening in Nashville. The actual commissioning magazine for the piece could only use about three hundred and fifty words, so I'm damned if I'm going to let the rest go to waste.

With that in mind, I present to you thirty minutes with Guy Maddin.

JS: My Winnipeg is the third time, following Cowards Bend The Knee and Brand upon The Brain!, you’ve had Darcy Fehr serve as your onscreen alter ego. What sort of working relationship do you have with someone who is basically your cinematic self?

GM: Darcy is very willing- he’s like a couple of my other favorite actors that I always use. He’s willing to do anything, and he’s a little bit insane in a loving way. He kind of looks the way I always wanted to look, he’s twenty years younger than I am, so he’s the weight I was twenty years ago, and he doesn’t have the male pattern baldness that I did, so I can sort of plug him in in my little revisionist reenactments of my own life, while hopefully getting them right this time. The relationship is great, and he’s willing to do anything, even set himself on fire or jump out of a window-

JS: That’ll be for the next one.

GM: Actually, if you gave him a quarter, he’d probably do it.

JS: And how did you get Ann Savage for the film?

GM: I was willing to do whatever it took. It ended up being not too much of an effort, probably about two or three months of phone courtship and an exchange of movies. Her part within the movie is sort of a meta- part, playing someone who’s playing someone. But she’s sharp and she wanted to make sure it wasn’t wanking too much. I know she’s been turning down parts from American independent films for decades to come out of retirement, but almost all of those supplicants came bearing Detour pastiches, and I think (with My Winnipeg) she liked the fact that she was playing someone her own age and playing someone who wasn’t Vera, although definitely someone who still has all the power of Vera.

And all the power of all mothers, actually. I was very determined to get her. I mean, my mother herself would have been good, but she’s getting a bit too old and she hasn’t had a good year, she’s ninety-two, and I find Ann Savage is the only actor living or dead that could play my mother. She has to play the uber-mother- the mother that must represent the hometown which we all have. Oddly enough, she was never a mother herself, but she still has a lot of that maternal terror-force.

JS: And how have The Powers That Be in Winnipeg been responding to the film?

GM: It first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year, and the mayor who was in power when the Winnipeg Arena was demolished (a very important event in the film) was there, and I ran into him afterward and he sort of looked at me in a way that was kind of – well, I walked away feeling like my pocket had been picked. The actual city fathers have been fairly silent, but the local press, since the premiere in late June, have been really great, and for a couple of weeks I had my own section in the daily newspaper. I t felt good to me, and I didn’t expect that.

I expected a more grumbly and cynical response. But I was very touched. At the premiere, my mother, my real mother, she showed up and got a standing ovation and her own spotlight- she was glowing like a bioluminescent creature- her skin is transparent, her hair is platinum, and she is immaculately coiffured at all times, like Ann Savage, but she got a two-minute standing ovation, and it was very lovely. I think they felt like I was in cahoots with them. “I’m your friend, I’m your ally in this thing.”

JS: I love the film because it’s equally shocking and educational at all times.

GM: Thank you. I won’t rest until this is compulsory viewing in all Kindergarten classes in Winnipeg. Or even in all of Canada.

JS: One of the adjectives I would toss out in description of the film, and I swear I’m not saying this just to be pretentious, is Proustian. In the way that the historical is experienced in details, each of which trigger the personal and individual response. Was that frame of expression part of your shaping process for the material that became My Winnipeg?

GM: I figured that a lot of people wouldn’t be interested in just Winnipeg, so I just knew if I just spilled my guts and was honest and passionate as I really am that somehow it would make all that superspecificity would overcome itself and it would be about everybody’s hometown and all things associated with town. I was hoping that it would play in Peoria

JS: If anything, that specificity makes it more universal. Every town has its weird little secrets and its fascinating customs, buried below.

GM: So everyone, in watching, can make their own analogies. It’s good to hear that.

JS: My sincere hope is that the film triggers more filmmakers and artists to provide similar exigeses on their own hometowns. I can’t even imagine what it would take to tackle Nashville.

GM: More of what Herzog called the ‘ecstatic truth’ of each town. I can’t imagine doing Nashville in anything less than sixteen hours. Nashville Alexanderplatz. I mean, the music and history alone... There are a few movies that emboldened me in the making of this one: Berlin, the film by Pabst, the movie Camera, which is a remarkable portrait of Kiev, and there’s a film from the early nineties that I liked called London. I like walking literature, those Rousseau confessions and the kind of books where you go for a ramble and start daydreaming and mythologizing…

JS: While you speak of mythologizing- I have to ask you. Is “If Day” real? It just seemed, of all the things presented in the film…

GM: A little bit unlikely? It actually happened. The most interesting of all the events, and I didn’t even hear about until halfway through shooting this movie, and it sort of confirmed to me why I needed to make this movie. It proved to me that Winnipeggers and Canadians are such lousy self-mythologizers compared to Americans. One of the reasons is that we’re smaller- There’s not enough difference for us to define ourselves other than that we’re not American, so we don’t boast or exaggerate. We consign potentially mythic figures to oblivion in human, life-size form.

It happened just four years after Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast, which was completely mythologized immediately, with possibly apocryphal stories of people committing suicide and crashing their cars out of fear and panic, and If Day was completely forgotten. My parents were both alive during If Day, and they never even mentioned it. It took an American to tell me about it, and the only coverage of it were from the Fox Newsreel shots that we used in the movie. I had to pad it out with some reenactments, but If Day is mostly made form actual Fox Newsreel footage. So it illustrates a point that I didn’t make in the film but that I hope to correct in that Canadians should mythologize themselves. And the best way to mythologize something is to put it on emulsion or videotape.

JS: Because that way, it creates its own historical context. For better or worse.

GM: And that’s been the most acceptable form since the invention of motion pictures. But everything in the movie is purported to be a fact, with a couple of errors that I put in… Winnipeg isn’t the coldest city in the world, but it is the coldest city in North America; Ulaan Bataar and some other Mongolian cities are colder, but I always grew up reading stats that said we were the coldest. Maybe it’s more accurate data, or global warming, or the Iron Curtain coming down, but the movie’s 1/3 fact, 1/3 lamentation, and 1/3 legend. And legends aren’t facts, but they’re sort of more true than facts. I like to think the movie is 100% true, but lawyers could have a heyday with that.

JS: Do you think that any cinematic representation of hockey has gotten it right?

GM: There’s a John Wayne hockey movie that has a great poster online that’s the one I want to see most of all. Slap-Shot is the one that comes closest, but I’m not a minor league hockey fan. I like the NHL.

JS: Nashville’s actually in the midst of some NHL drama right now. Some sketchy business loans, and weird owners, and city money. It’s all a rich tapestry of deceit. But what do you think about the big controversy over changing the theme to Hockey Night in Canada?

GM: They should just pay this woman. The CBC is a mass bureaucracy. They’re a Kafka castle of labyrinths. The money is really not that much. They should have just paid it already- they just end up looking really stupid. It is our national anthem. I remember reading the initial response, and one of them was “What are we going to do, change the name of our country too?” It really should be our national anthem, anyway. It’s a better one.

JS: In addition to educating audiences about hockey and the Oedipal drama, you’re also quite the master of the homoerotic display. I’ve heard tell that you’re planning a live-action Sissy Boy Slap Party for this year’s Toronto Film Festival? What all will that entail?

GM: I don’t think that’s going to happen this year. I’m just too tired this summer to go searching for the perfect stage replicas of Sissy Boy. It will be done sometime. We just couldn’t quite agree- the directors of the Festival wanted it to be a touring production where they went out in the street, slapping each other, but I wanted to do it in marriage to the film, perhaps an extra long cut of the film… Foley artists with big Vaseline-coated open fists and a bunch of sailors onstage arranged from tallest to smallest like a glockenspiel, and then go at them while the movie unspools. It never really got past a certain point…

JS: That’s truly a shame. But given your success with Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary, have you given any thought to directing a theatrical, operatic, or ballet production?

GM: If someone offered… There was some talk a few years ago from The Magnetic Fields who wanted to put on an opera, but I guess I didn’t respond with enough interesting ideas, and I think they just dropped the idea. I wouldn’t mind- I’d love an invitation from any opera house or ballet.

JS: After helping drive an artistic rebirth for Isabella Rossellini with My Dad is 100 Years Old, have you ever thought of trying something similar with Liza and Vincente Minnelli?

GM: I guess it would be too late with the centennial, but I love the idea. I was photographed with her once at TFF. I was coming out of the theatre behind her, and she stopped because of the paparazzi, and the flash of their bulbs was blinding, and I would love to find that twenty year-old photo someday.

JS: Given that so much of your expression of the fantastic is expressed in production design, exposure, and character attributes, I wanted to ask you about the physically monstrous. Do you like a good monster every now and then?

GM: I like the old Universal movies and the Val Lewton movies, Frankenstein and Dracula. In literature, I certainly do. I tend to approach everything like a fairytale, but I don’t have a budget for proper special effects, so I always try and write away from them, like Val Lewton did.

JS: And in that way you take characteristics and personae that would easily fit something shambling and horrifying, but you bring those back into creations which are noticeably human.

GM: They’re also a little more interesting to me that way. The great monster movies are like that, I just can’t afford to make them. You find those things and then put them back into people.

JS: Do you find that perspective a specifically Canadian approach, or do you see it as more universal?

GM: I’ve noticed that Canadian protagonists are often donut holes. They watch as things happen around them, and maybe it was just an artifact of filmmaking in its infancy, or maybe it’s something self-deprecating. Unlike American protagonists who always make something happen, Canadian protagonists are always watching things happen to them. That may be typical of Canadians who are used to sitting and watching things happen to Americans.

At the movies: American Teen.

A frustrating and intermittently fascinating experience that shows us just how deeply Reality Programming concepts of character have become ingrained in our culture, American Teen is exactly the slice of modern life one would expect from the post-Real World youth of this country- media-savvy, solipsistic, and with archetypes imprinted at the genetic level. Warsaw, Indiana is portrayed as the absolute center of the U.S., but what it serves the viewer could have (and would have) originated the same regardless of filming location.

Megan, a sociopathic rich girl who rules with an iron fist and wantonly flouts the law when she doesn’t get her way, is one of the film’s two engines. The other, Hannah, is an outsider girl with dreams of artistic achievement and a future in filmmaking that is nearly derailed by a bad breakup and an emerging psychological disorder. The two couldn’t be less alike in temperament, but the message we get from the way the film sees them is that divas run the show, and interest in others is apparently uncinematic. The three male characters who complete director Nanette Burstein’s quintet of the modern American experience, two jocks and a socially maladjusted introvert, all explicitly deal with issues of relating to peer groups and struggle with finding the best fit for the individual in society. They provide occasional spice for the story, but are minimized to pack in more of the girls’ exploits. Is this really all that Burstein could get? There are so many untold stories here that I have to distrust the film- there is no new ground broken here, merely reiterations of the same kind of solipsistic celebrity worship that comprises the majority of our nonfiction television programming.

What of Alli and Geoff, Megan’s adjuncts who break free of her power and find their own thing? They exist in this film only to be defined by Megan. Similarly, the Hannah/Mitch romance is the most fascinating thing in the whole film, and is allowed to go nowhere because of Burstein’s investment in Hannah. We’re not allowed to see things from Mitch’s perspective, which in and of itself could have been remarkable; imagine the navigations a popular kid has to make when trying to break free, and the sanctions brought down on him by his own peer group that compel him to break up with her (via text message; harsh). Instead, he practically disappears from the film once he can no longer be defined in terms of Hannah.

Colin, the star basketball player, is going through a very interesting process (headed either for a basketball scholarship or the Army, as his father puts it), learning to stop hogging the ball and to become more team-oriented. We’re meant to believe that the film, and metonymically, society, approve and feel this approach worthwhile, but instead we’re treated to more “Me Me Me” from Megan and Hannah. Mixed messages thus define American Teen.

Maybe Burstein was aiming to accurately represent what she saw in the modern teenage experience, but even so, she and her crew are complicit in the commission of several violations of the law. If this were a hands-off documentary à la the work of Frederick Wiseman, that would be one thing, but the monstrous amount of backstory on this whole project that’s been bubbling up ever since Sundance has been painting a very different picture indeed. What American Teen does do, though, is hold the attention of contemporary High Schoolers, and that is no mean feat. The audience I saw the film with was around 95% High School-age students, and they were held rapt by this vision of ‘their own’ stories. I don’t know what to think of it- whether it’s an empty portrait of empty lives, or if it genuinely wants to raise consciousness and get at the heart of the contemporary teenager. Either way, I can’t move past it or assign it a simple qualitative rating.

11 August 2008

At the movies: Beer for my Horses.

So, here's my review for the new Toby Keith film Beer for my Horses. It is more or less exactly what you'd expect, though I feel this may be another Chronicles of Riddick or Corky Romano, where I look back a few weeks later and feel uneasy at overrating a film (though better than underrating them, as I initially did in print for Pootie Tang in 'Sine Yo Pitty on the Runny Kine' and Mulholland Drive).

10 August 2008

Crack money.

This actually explains a lot.

I wonder if the fact that I handle money at all my day jobs has something to do with my stress levels...

09 August 2008

"You don't understand; I ain't scared of you motherfuckers."

I was just wrapping my mind around Estelle Getty, and now Bernie Mac? That's what we call hardcore. He was a notable presence, even if he didn't always make the best choices in movie roles. I've got respect for anyone who can get sampled on a Prince record (It's called "Pope," and it's pretty good), and if I have to be 100% honest, I'll cop to being dismayed by his death because I always wanted to cast him and Grace Jones as a couple in a movie. But here's to you, Mr. Mac. It's a testament to your talents that I was willing to let your homophobia and pro-child beating ways slide, and I hope there was "some milk and cookies" waiting in the next life.

How it all sounded from inside.

I'm still recovering from the big to-do last night physically, and I know I'll be recovering from it mentally for another week or so (reverberating shockwaves, that sort of thing). But here's the playlist, because I'm that persnickety about such things.


“Your Kisses are Charity” – Culture Club & Dolly Parton
“Wow” CSS Mix – Kylie Minogue
“Nur Getraümt” – Nena
“Two divided by zero” – Pet Shop Boys
“Say It” – Saliva Commandos
“Rock to the Rhythm of Love” Murk Boys’ Ride – The Beloved
“She’s a Beauty” – The Tubes
“Run to Me” – Tracy Spencer
“Bitch Betta Have My Money” – AMG
“Touch My Body” – Boy Toy
“Break the Ice” Doug Gayson Remix – Britney Spears
“Electric Chair” – Chrome
“Thru Ya City” – De La Soul
“Ass and Titties” – DJ Assault
“From Here to Eternity/Utopia, Me Giorgio” – Giorgio Moroder
“U Don’t Know” – Jay-Z
“Since U Been Gone” Rex the Dog’s Photographic Mix – Kelly Clarkson
“This is it” – Kenny Loggins
“Hero” – Kleerup
“Trial Time” – The Last Mr. Bigg
“Galbi” Played Out Remix – Ofra Haza
“I Need a Lover” – Pat Benetar
“Ooh Nuthin” – Project Pat
Rex the Dog Minimix
“The River” – Stacey Q
“No Aloha” – The Breeders
“Thief on the Loose” – Toni Basil
“Wonda Why They Call U” – 2Pac
“When all is said and done” – Abba
“Magic” – America
“Blaring Speeches” – Blank Dogs
“Rave the Rhythm” – Channel X
“This is Acid” Original Trax Version – Maurice
“Get Ur Freak On” X-Press 2 Muzikizumix – Missy Elliott
“Xtra Loveable” – Prince
“Disco 2000” 7” Version – Pulp
“Prostitute Laundry” – Sifl and Olly
“Dad I’m in Jail” – Was (Not Was)
“Behind The Wheel” Lexicon Avenue Remix – Depeche Mode
“It Came in the Night” – A Raincoat
“Love, Truth, and Honesty” Balaeracidic Mix – Bananarama
“Shrimp and White Wine” – The Beaver Boys
“From a Whisper to a Scream” Love Theme from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – Bobby O and Claudja Barry
“All We Need is Love” Out of Office Remix – Da Groove Doctors featuring Tommie Nibbs
“Special Star” – Dead or Alive
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” – Edie and The Eggs
“Corcovado” – Everything But The Girl
“Monkey” Extended Remix – George Michael
“Tainted Love” – Gloria Jones
“Ball and Chain-93” Primitive Dub – Janis Joplin
“Let’s All Chant” – Michael Zager Band
“Another Man” – One 2 Many
“The #1 Song in Heaven” – Sparks
“I Love You Too Much” – The Human League
“Heartbeats” Rex The Dog Remix – The Knife
“Rebirth of the Flesh” – Camille
“Hay” – Crucial Conflict
“White Rabbit” – David Diebold & Kim Cataluna
“No Cause for Concern” – Dead Virgins
“The Calling” Mk II – Death in June
“U Stink But I Luv U” – Deathtöngue
“That’s Good” Disconet Edit – Devo
“The Night” – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
“Flashrunner” – Grandmaster Vangelis
“Soft Velvety ‘Fer” – MC Honky featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh
“Freak-a-Zoid” – Midnight Star
“Major Tom-94” Elaste – Peter Schilling
“Fashion Victims” – Real Man
“Sylvie” Trouser Enthusiasts Single Version – Saint Etienne
“Stripped” Highland Mix – Depeche Mode
“Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston
“Friends” – Whodini
“Pink Thing” – XTC
“Flesh” Thee New Beat – A Split Second
“Songs Remind Me of You” – Annie
“Southern Cross” – Crosby, Stills, and Nash
“Love Bites” – Def Leppard
“Lillian” DJ Metalhammeremix – Depeche Mode
“Modernaire” – Dez Dickerson
“Jet Boy Jet Girl” – Elton Motello
“Glamorous” Hunters Tribal Mix – Fergie featuring Ludacris
“Just Can’t Get Enough Pills” – Freelance Hellraiser
“Lovers Lane” Afterhours Club Mix – Georgio
“2wickysleep” DJ Nomi Multimix – Wu-Tang Clan vs Hooverphonic
“The Picture” Renegade/AOM Mix – Hubert KaH
“3AM” – Kleerup featuring Marit Bergman
“Cars with the Boom” Bootyclash Mix – L’Trimm
“The Belle of St. Mark” Dance Mix – Sheila E.
“I Just Wanna Spend Some Time With You” – Sinitta
“Pure” – The Lightning Seeds
“Voices of Babylon” – The Outfield
“They Don’t Know” – Tracey Ullman
“Lost Again” – Yello
“Relax; Take Notes” XL Dubstep Remix – 8Ball & MJG featuring The Notorious B.I.G.
“Big Balls” – AC/DC
“Boyfriend” Pete Hammond retro Remix – Alphabeat
“Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol
“Loverboy” U.S. Dub – Billy Ocean
“Beat of Love” 12” Version – Chris Thompson
“Time after Time” Planet Rock Audiobass – Cyndi Lauper
“Party at Loney’s” – DJ Nomi
“Jump in the Line (Shake, Shake Señora)” DJ Pino Remix – Harry Belafonte
“Talking with Myself” Beloved Mix – Electribe 101
“Mutter, der Mann mit dem Koks ist da” – Falco
“Be Black Baby” – Grady Tate
“Voyage to Atlantis” – The Isley Brothers
“Life’s Been Good” – Joe Walsh
“Never Electric” Cut Copy Mix – Like Fleetwood
“Waves of Fear” – Lou Reed
“Heartbeat” – Madonna
“À L’Autre Boût du Monde” – Mitsou
“True Love” Sexual Version – N.O.I.A.
“Sex as a Weapon” – Pat Benetar
“Reality Used to be a Friend of Mine” – P.M. Dawn
“Mountains” – Prince & The Revolution

08 August 2008

Much Love for Guy Maddin.

Unconventional stylist.

Visual historian.

Gifted filmmaker.

Master of the homoerotic display.

Guy Maddin is all of these things. I'm just coming off the high of interviewing him, and I feel practically like a giggling schoolgirl. The interview will follow sometime this weekend (tonight's the Dirty-Third Birthday Party) both in print and audio form. Just a glorious experience, truly.

So I read this: The Midnight Hour by Donald Bacon.

This book is kind of a mess. It's pretty much equally split between ancient evil/unspeakable pagan rite horror, reincarnated woman-in-jeopardy suspense, and Stokerian boxed narrative, with a leavening patina of graphic sex that feels out of place compared to the rest of the book.

Caroline Enders is an up-and-coming banker in New York City who, despite still attending banking classes, is finally making enough to get a place of her own and move out from the walk-up she's been sharing with her longtime friend Beth (and, more recently aplpha male Harry, the kind of brusque male presence who you know will eventually get hammered and honed down into the principal love interest).

Unfortunately for Caroline, she gets the apartment that used to belong to insane art historian Mondrian de Kuyperdahl, whose been the keeper of an ancient pre-Druidic relic that is the only thing keeping a demonic 'messenger' (the book's terminology) from decapitating the world and tormenting their souls forever while their heads are stored in an ominous wooden cabinet.

We've got a human follower of the messenger whom we know is evil because he messes up library books, lots of excerpts from de Kuyperdahl's diaries, which provide all the context, important information, and sex that we get in the story, and a couple of lengthy drives upstate to either get away from or sew the seeds of evil. Unfortunately, this has an inconsistent worldview and the most anticlimactic ending I've encountered in a while.

If you're at all into 80s-career-feminist horror or Druidic/Celtic history/mythology, there are some interesting moments within. But this isn't essential reading, and even as a devotee of 80s/90s mass-market horror paperbacks, I'd have to call this effort middling. The cover looks awesome, though.

07 August 2008

At the movies: Pineapple Express

Director David Gordon Green has been making great films since his 2000 debut George Washington, and he’s been crafting a thoughtful and distinctive career making smaller, contemplative films about American lives that we don’t often see. So it’s intriguing to see what happens when he, having already hewn out a distinctive approach to character and visual mood, joins forces with the armies of current comedy godhead Judd Apatow. The end result is a scruffy and beautiful stoner amble through genres past, capable of combining bleary-eyed 70s guffaws with car-chasing, property-exploding 80s-styled thrills.

It’s a remarkable achievement as a film, if for nothing else than letting James Franco be funny again. Everything since Freaks and Geeks has found our man James stuck in brooding mode (one of the pleasures of the overly-maligned Spiderman 3 being Franco’s turn during Harry Osborne’s goofy amnesiac scenes), so to find him let loose with comedic gold like drug dealer/future civil engineer Saul Silver is pure pleasure. Star Seth Rogen gets to work his flusterable everydude thing, and that’s all well and good, but the film belongs to Franco and costar Danny McBride. As Red, a middleman who ties Saul to shot caller/murderer Ted Jones (Gary Cole, looking like he’s ready to file some TPS reports on the world’s ass), McBride hearkens back to his bigscreen debut (as Bust-Ass in Green’s 2001 masterpiece All The Real Girls) and banishes all memory of his near-unwatchable ‘comedy’ The Foot Fist Way from earlier this summer.

Pineapple Express is literally the specific strain of marijuana that ties process server Dale Denton (Rogen) to the scene of a murder. The plot, courtesy of Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg (who wrote last year’s Superbad) is a meandering thing that spans seventy or so years, a lazy-assed conspiracy, and a small-scale drug war, but one that nevertheless ranks with 2003’s Shaun of the Dead in its insights into the vicissitudes of male friendships. The ace in the hole with this film, though, is the visual grace that Green and his ace cinematographer Tim Orr bring to the proceedings- this is easily the best-looking film that has ever emerged from Apatow Productions. Here’s to more fruitful collaborations along this line, and much respect to all involved parties for maintaining their respective integrities.

"All I wanna do..."

Well, this is a House of Leaves of links, but it's provocative, fascinating, informative, and stuffed to the gills with much of what makes modern media writing fascinating. Make sure to explore the associated and featured links (especially the Christgau piece). Being informed is a good thing.

06 August 2008

So I read this: Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons

Pretty much everything you've heard is true. This really is the grandaddy of the postmodern comic book. It haunts me to no end that this came out back when I was a serious comic reader and collector and it completely passed me by. Though, truthfully, a lot of Alan Moore's more meta conceits would have gone right over my head. Certainly this was aiming higher than anything else at the time, but it still took Elektra: Assassin to bring me into the world of adult comix, and I still stand by that. You can take Frank Miller's hypersexed reactionary fever dreams of statuesque assassins and the grotesque violence they deal and respond to that from the perspective of a twelve year-old, which I was. But I worked my way through its fragmented and experimental narrative and found it rewarding. I would probably not have been able to appreciate anything about Watchmen had I been reading it back in '86-'87.

But I will say this, and it's the damned truth; Dave Gibbons' art is kind of boring. Perhaps that is intentional- a way to get some of the more baroque narrative touches across without triggering to many warning lights until Moore's ideas get their hooks into the soft grey matter. But if you could have had Moore working with Bill Sienkiewicz on Watchmen- holy shit. I mean, that would have been a work of art that society couldn't withstand. It would have been amazing.

But Watchmen on its own is something unique and well-worth exploring. The forthcoming (if you can call March of next year forthcoming) movie adaptation by Zack (Dawn of the Dead remake "yay," 300 "boo") Snyder has got interest in the title up, which is good. But it's not a particularly cinematic work, and I don't think that this movie will work. But it's good to have some of the concepts in Watchmen resonating throughout global culture.

This is rumor control. Here are the facts.

I have not had a regular internet connection for two weeks now. It is annoying as hell, and I am trying to get everything in order and taken care of and get some stable wireless service in my life.

I'm looking into trying to shirk the yoke of Comcast and its hegemonic tendrils, so I'm looking at alternatives.

I will do my damnedest to keep things update and going strong, but all I ask of y'all is some patience.

It will be good. Better, even.

So I read this: Whores of Lost Atlantis by Charles Busch.

An interesting and gossipy roman a clef from drag diva Busch, fictionalizing the circumstances behind his 80s-Off Broadway smash Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. Fans of underground theatre and delicious dialogue should delight in this offering, even if it at times seems a little too glowing with regards to its author/subject.

Ideally, I'd love for someone to lay out who everyone's real-life counterpart is in the story, because there are some juicy tidbits that are crying out for an expose of some sort. But still, this was a pleasant read for a sweltering summer.