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A Moment of Lost Elegance: Radley Metzger’s ‘Naked Came the Stranger’
05.03.2012
07:31 pm

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Art
Books
Literature
Movies

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nakecamethestrangerposter
 
There are eighty thousand topics under the sun that can inspire great filmmaking. Out of that ocean of inspiration, the world of literary hoaxes, is not the first thing that comes to mind. But a handful films have come out of this weird wellspring, including Radley Metzger’s Naked Came the Stranger. (Directed under the cinematic equivalent to a purple-prose pseudonym, Henry Paris.)  Originally crafted as a sarcastic response to the lurid and highly popular works of bestselling writers like Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann, the book, “Naked Came the Stranger,” featured twenty four writers coming together to create one tawdry tale of marital infidelity in late 60’s America.

Now, leave it to a maestro like Radley Metzger to take this lovely bit of salacious NY Times chart topping pulp and turn it into a funny, sexy and whimsical film. A din of television noise begins the proceedings, all set in a bedroom riot of early 70s florals and crayola colors. A well executed shot reveals a slow sweep of the room, as an announcer intones “Immortal film classics to fall asleep by!” Speaking of which, an old fashioned alarm clock, with its face displaying a photo of legendary cinematic goddess, Marlene Dietrich, goes off, waking up Gilly (pronounced J-i-l-l-y and played by the woefully unsung Darby Lloyd Rains). Slipping off her sleep mask, she tries to rouse her hubby, Billy (Levi Richards) up with some well intentioned hanky panky before being stopped in her tracks as he calls out the name “Phyllis” in his sleep. Yes, something is afoul in marital Denmark, which is all too apparent to Gilly, from her husband’s bad bluffing about his dream to the comically flirty looks Phyllis (Mary Stuart) keeps shooting his way while the couple prepare for another installment of their radio morning show.

Phyllis and Billy, our two illicit lovebirds, carry on their affair with all the subtlety of a meat hammer, with Gilly finding solid evidence after she follows him down to his mistress’s (nice) NYC apartment. Hanging out on the stairwell, she listens in on their dirty talk, which is undoubtedly the worst kind of its stripe. I’m not talking Barry White, Big Daddy Kane or even Black Oak Arkansas, here, I’m talking the dreaded cutesy baby talk. They literally refer to each other as “love bunny,” much to Gilly’s horror, though it doesn’t stop her from having some manual fun.

This incident ends up being a catalyst for Gilly, feeling that to better understand her husband, she must depart on a series of her own little affairs. No love bunny nonsense here, just a grown woman exploring herself through the willing partners in her life, ranging from a high-strung “ineffectual creep” who is momentarily transformed by Gilly’s transgressive gift to a beautifully shot “silent film” encounter with one suave friend. (How suave? The man invites her to “capture a moment of lost elegance.” Bryan Ferry just swooned.) But the real question remains-will our heroine be able to better understand her husband or realize the grass is greener and move on? (Seriously, “love bunny”??? Grounds for divorce RIGHT THERE.)

Naked Came the Stranger is a perfectly polished and funny film. It’s definitely one of the more whimsical efforts of Radley Metzger, with the tone being very light and cheeky. Taking a book that was critically maligned and making a legitimately good movie out of it is a borderline alchemical move, but one that, in the hands of a master like Metzger, feels like a piece of cake.

The cast is terrific, with Rains taking the lead as the plucky and adventurous Gilly. She brings a likability and a strong sense of confident femininity to her role. This is a great contrast to the girlishness of Stuart’s Phyllis. Rains is alternately very funny, beautiful and sexy. The image of her in top hat and tails, Ala Marlene, is a striking one. Darby Lloyd Rains has the kind of powerful gravitas to pull it off without seeming like she is aping Dietrich. Stuart is also good as the cute but love happy annoyance mistress, making this a 180 from her role in Gerard Damiano’s masterful Memories Within Miss Aggie. All of the male actors are good too, but this is really the ladies’ show. (Though, Marc Stevens’ cameo during the costume party sequence is a huge highlight.)

With being a Metzger film, everything looks good. Paul Glickman, who was also responsible for the cinematography for Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, did an equally wonderful job here, with even the urban jungle of NYC looking a bit dewy and pretty. There is also an assortment of fun touches throughout, including a reference to Metzger’s serious Camille 2000, with the film playing on the television, prompting Billy to remark, “Why don’t they show the Garbo version?” There is also a brief mirror shot, as you see the reflection of Gilly gently remove a wig off of Phyllis. Mirrors and reflection itself tend to be a trait of Metzger’s work, whether it is his softcore work with Camille 2000 and The Lickerish Quartet or his latter works, like Pamela Mann. This all gives further proof that you can have depth with beauty.

Distribpix has once again done right by both Radley Metzger’s work and the viewer by presenting this film in a gorgeous restoration of the original 35mm print. Artists like Metzger deserve to have their work preserved with the level of detail and love that companies like Distribpix provide. In addition to the restoration, there is also a bounty of extras, including a Director’s commentary from Metzger himself, a split-screen featurette comparing the “hot” and “cool” versions of the film, a “film facts” subtitle track, deleted scenes, trailers, ephemera gallery and much, much more. There’s also a photo card and a 40 page booklet, detailing the origins of the book, the movie and even the soundtrack. It does not get much spiffier than this.

Naked Came the Stranger is a fun and sweet-natured film featuring good visuals and a pitch-perfect performance from Darby Lloyd Rains. It would make a fun, couples-stepping-out double bill with the previous year’s Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann.

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Yes, psychedelia lives: Getting high on Baby Woodrose
05.03.2012
06:18 pm

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Drugs
Music

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Danish band Baby Woodrose explores psychedelia with a sure sense of what makes it sound and feel right. This particular track, “Down To The Bottom,” from their sixth studio album Third Eye Surgery, could be a lost track from Love’s first album. Yes, it’s that good. Vocalist and band mastermind Lorenzo Woodrose delivers a vocal that has the the big, beautiful, sardonic snarl of Arthur Lee.

Fans of The Seeds, Music Machine, Thirteen Floor Elevators and good old fashion head music, should find this track sonically fulfilling. And the video gives you something trippy to look at.

If you like what you hear, do what I did and download Third Eye Surgery here.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Wild new anime from Japan: The Visible Man on shrooms
05.03.2012
05:10 pm

Topics:
Animation
Idiocracy
Movies

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Coming this summer to theaters in Japan and eventually to the rest of the planet, After School Midnighters looks like one of the freshest animated films to hit the screens in some time. I’m not a big fan of anime, but this I could get into.

The film’s producers describe After School Midnighters as…

[...] an original computer-generated animation film by a young and spirited director with a skillful VFX/CGI crew who has a lot of experience in movies and TV commercials. The main character ‘Kynst Lijk’ is a human body model that stands in a science room of an elementary school. Kynst Lijk also reigns over the school after midnight. One day, when a naughty kindergarden trio accidentally meets him, his ordinary life changes. The scariest and craziest after midnight adventure begins…

Imagine this on the big screen:
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Sir Richard Branson, now an ice cube!
05.03.2012
04:20 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

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Nope, that’s not the face of Jesus (or an evil Leprechaun, either) that’s staring back at you from your Stoli and tonic, it’s the face of zany Virgin Airways owner Sir Richard Branson.

Via Virgin.com:

The new ice innovation means all passengers will be able to enjoy some chill out time with Mr Branson at the new bar – the longest of any airline - which has been designed to provide additional space and comfort for those keen to socialise while flying. The bar will also incorporate a raft of additional innovations including the fabulous new champagne coupe glass, enhanced mood lighting and a new seating system to facilitate the most comfortable social experience in the air.

The ice cubes have been created using the exact measurements of Sir Richard’s head and feature an impressive level of detail. The mould for the ice cubes took a team of four skilled designers a painstaking six weeks to create using detailed photographic techniques and laser scanning technology to create the perfect likeness of Sir Richard.

Sir Frosty the Billionaire must’ve thought this idea up when he was high. When you’ve got your own air fleet, apparently the sky’s the limit for even your wackiest ideas.

The bespoke “Little Richard” ice cubes will only be served in the Upper Class Cabin on Virgin flights. The hoi polloi in coach will just have to satisfy themselves with regular ice.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Henry Rollins: Advice to a Young American
05.03.2012
03:43 pm

Topics:
Punk
Thinkers

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Henry Rollins’ advice on self-confidence, self-reliance, coming from a poor background and overcoming obstacles.

This is one of the best Rollins spoken word pieces ever. Might be the best.
 

 
Watch the original version at Big Think

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Yellow Submarine’ posters that will make your eyes shiver with delight
05.03.2012
03:40 pm

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Animation
Art
Drugs
Movies
Music

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A collection of 10 different limited edition Yellow Submarine posters (in two box sets) by artist Tom Whalen are going on sale on May 29th at the Dark Hall Mansions’ website.

The posters are officially licensed from The Beatles’ Apple company and they’re stunners. They’ll probably sell faster than Kraftwerk at MOMA tickets, but scoring a set would be sweet. I’m in.

The posters release seem to be timed to coincide with the June 5th release of the newly-restored Yellow Submarine on DVD and Blu-ray. Having recently seen the restored digital version on the big screen, I can testify to its mind-altering beauty.
 

 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Night Tripper: Father John Misty’s mischievous, apocalytic ‘Fear Fun’
05.03.2012
02:58 pm

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Music

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Art by Dimitri Drjuchin

Fear Fun, the album by “Father John Misty” that I’ve been raving about to everyone who I’ve had a conversation with about music, on this blog—and in the pages of this month’s PAPER magazine—since last fall, is finally out on Sub Pop Records. The “Father John Misty” moniker is a deliberately curious pseudonym for Josh Tillman, better known as the former drummer for Seattle-based folk rockers, Fleet Foxes.

“Misty,” he told me, “is a horny, drunk, shamanic drifter character offering you a cup of his home-brewed ayahuasca tea.”

Trying to describe music in words is like doing a sketch of a novel, but in a nutshell, here’s what you get with Fear Fun: Blenderize Physical Graffiti, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Nilsson, Loudon Wainwright III, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and the Rollings Stones with Hermann Hesse, Charles Bukowski and Richard Brautigan.  That’s what it tastes like.

Fear Fun is a striking, often inscrutable obelisk of a album, a multi-layered work with clever, sardonic “literary” lyrics. It’s something that deserves to be listened to all the way through, as if you’re reading a novel or watching a film. Fear Fun has a dramatic arc and a certain resolution of tension by the end. The album was produced by the amazing Jonathan Wilson and engineered by Phil Ek on analog tape, so it sounds great. It’s a unique piece of art to unleash on an OCD world carrying iPods, but one that can be enjoyed in that context, too.

If this sounds intriguing—and I hope that it would—you can order Fear Fun via Amazon or pick it up at your local record emporium. There’s even a limited edition pink vinyl version. The amazing cover painting is by talented New York-based painter, Dimitri Drjuchin.

Aaron Frank writes in the LA WEEKLY:

As we arrive at Tillman’s Econoline van parked a few blocks away [to smoke a joint], he explains his decision to release Fear Fun under the name Father John Misty, as opposed to J. Tillman, the moniker under which he’s released his previous solo albums. “In my mind, this J. Tillman person is a far more romanticized, fictionalized person to the world than this ridiculous name, Father John Misty,” he says. He goes on to explain how he felt distanced and trapped by his songwriting persona as he matured in his personal life.

“I wanted to bring my conversational voice and my musical voice in to alignment. The ridiculous name is about satisfying this morbid sense of humor I have that says ‘Maybe the most honest thing you can do is to just call yourself something stupid and say something real.’”

The name Father John Misty is partly a reference to cocaine, as in “Misty Mountain Hop,” and partly a reference to Tillman’s life-long exploration of religion and spirituality, which started with his evangelical upbringing in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Out of despair, Tillman considered becoming a pastor for a brief time during his youth. “I wasn’t good at sports. I wasn’t good at school. I didn’t see anything outside of Christian jobs,” he says. After becoming unglued from religion in his teens, “I was so angry and terrified that I’d been raised that way that, at some point, my number one mission became to make as big of a joke out it as I could.”

Father John Misty performs tomorrow, May 4th at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Father John Misty: The Misguided Ayahuasca Tea Session

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stunning movie posters for Martin Scorsese’s film restoration project
05.03.2012
02:48 pm

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Art
Current Events
Movies

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As if there weren’t already enough cinematic goodness in Austin, Alamo Drafthouse has just announced a mini-festival of restored classic films from Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. Here’s the good news:

Mondo & Alamo Drafthouse have partnered with The Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese’s film preservation organization, for a very special screening & poster series of eight classic films this May & June at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in Austin, TX with beautifully restored 35mm prints.  The Film Foundation is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation and has worked with the nation’s archives to save over 560 titles. The foundation provides public access to the restorations and educates future generations about film language and history. 

The Film Foundation and its partners have provided pristine 35mm prints for King Kong, The Night of the Hunter, The Old Dark House, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Rashomon, Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, The Unholy Three and Film. The films will also get the Mondo treatment with an original, stunning work of art available for sale at each of the screenings

The posters by Mondo Tees are quite beautiful, with King Kong (artist: Laurent Durieux) and Shadow Of A Doubt (Alan Hynes) being my favorites so far. For info on tickets for the screenings and to purchase posters visit The Alamo Drafthouse’s website.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
On the interstellar radio: Capsula
05.03.2012
01:58 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

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Argentinian garage rockers Capsula are in heavy rotation on the interstellar radio station in my brain. I’m digging their Iggy/Bowie/Velvet Underground vibe big time.

Currently residing in Spain, Capsula are Martin Guevara on guitar and vocals, Coni Duchess on bass and drummer Ignacio Villarejo. They’re about to embark on a tour of the States and their first three albums are scheduled to be released in re-mastered form on May 17th. Check out their website for more info.

Here’s “Hit N’ Miss” from Capsula’s album In The Land Of Silver Souls. Play it loud!  And stick around for the interview.
 

 
Thanks to Handsome Dick Manitoba for the turn-on.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Mona Lisa chillin’ in a field of weed air freshener
05.03.2012
01:38 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Drugs

Tags:


 
Japanese clothing / novelty online shop Black Store is selling this fun air freshener with the Mona Lisa pictured chillin’ in a weed crop, holding a doobie.

I wonder what it smells like?

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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