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Mark Hamill will gladly f*ck up your Star Wars card if you let him
07.31.2015
11:50 am

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Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
Mark Hamill


 
Apparently Mark Hamill has a good sense of humor about his Luke Skywalker days and isn’t afraid to crack wise and fuck up some Star Wars‘s fans’ trading cards when signing autographs.

These are pure gold:


 

 

 
He keeps going, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Honey, I Shrunk the Autobahn: Rick Moranis sings Kraftwerk
07.31.2015
07:21 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Music
Television

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Rick Moranis


 
This is good fun, and it’s a damn shame it’s not more widely known—in 1989, comedic actor Rick Moranis released a Kraftwerk cover on his album You, Me, the Music and Me. Moranis became known in the ‘80s as Bob McKenzie in SCTV’s “Great White North” sketch and its feature film Strange Brew, as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, and for damn near movie-stealing supporting roles in Ghostbusters and Spaceballs. In the ‘90s he softened his image to suit the family-oriented Honey, I Shrunk [whatever] franchise before real-life family matters prompted his mid-decade retirement.

Despite having been released on the highly notable indie label IRS Records, the album just doesn’t exist anywhere anymore. For some reason, there was no CD issue despite the 1989 release date, and Spotify, iTunes, et al seem to have never heard of the thing. (I’d bet rent money Grooveshark had it, but sadly, that service and its founder are both gone now.) As of this posting there are zero copies for sale on Amazon, Discogs or MusicStack, so unless a copy happens to find its way into your hands on a digging expedition, the debut solo LP by a beloved performer is effectively unobtainable.
 

‘80s graphic design. Hey, it’s been 30 years, isn’t this style due for a revival?

And it’s kind of a bummer that the album seems to be such a total ghost. I’d like to check it out even just once, even though I don’t have the highest expectations for it. Moranis’ 1981 Great White North LP with Dave Thomas is one of the all time great comedy records, and there’s just no way You, Me, the Music and Me could measure up. Judging by the credits, Moranis seems to be assuming the guise of a DJ, commenting on various musical phenomena—already a played-out premise even then—as well as covering tunes like “A Day In The Life” and “Light My Fire.” Um, OK. Though very little of the album exists in Internetland, one thing that IS available is the “Ipanema Rap,” an ‘80s white-guy rap parody of “The Girl From Ipanema.” You’re groaning, aren’t you? You’re right to be groaning. It’s pretty awful. The video is worth a look, if only so you can marvel at how a video from 1989 looks so much like a video from 1981. IRS was apparently pretty tight-fisted with all that R.E.M. money.

But the album ends on a really high note—Moranis’ fairly reverent cover of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” It’s only four minutes long, which is a mercy, it wouldn’t be very amusing for the full 22+ minutes of the original, but the material actually suits him quite well. The spoken bit at the end is clearly a part of the album’s DJ conceit, and can be ignored.
 

 
After the jump, Rick Moranis turns Japanese…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Watch the insane 1970 satire ‘Mister Freedom,’ featuring Serge Gainsbourg


Mister Freedom on the cover of Evergreen Review #77
 
Meet Mr. Freedom, a shit-kicking superhero employed by America’s largest corporation, Freedom, Inc. He hates blacks, Jews, Communists, foreigners, women, JFK, and everyone else who has been compromised by the dangerous ideology of antifreedomism. Carried through the world on a tide of blood, the hero of William Klein’s French satire beats the snot out of anyone who would thwart his right to take pleasure in indiscriminate violence. Does that sound like American foreign policy to you? Plus ça change…

You’ll recognize Donald Pleasance as Dr. Freedom, Delphine Seyrig as Marie-Madeleine, and Yves Montand as Mr. Freedom’s opposite number in France, Capitaine Formidable. Of course, my favorite member of the cast is Serge Gainsbourg, who appears in several scenes—most of them in the movie’s last third—as Mr. Drugstore, a French partisan of the cause of freedom. Gainsbourg also composed the soundtrack with the help of his arranger Michel Colombier.
 

Serge Gainsbourg, Delphine Seyrig and John Abbey in a still from Mister Freedom
 
Grove Press—the legendary American publisher of Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller and Jean Genet—released the movie in the U.S., hoping to break into the movie business thereby. Richard Seaver, Grove’s editor in chief, devoted a page of his memoir The Tender Hour of Twilight to Mister Freedom:

The April 1970 issue of Evergreen Review had on its cover a fully clothed, futuristic male, looking for all the world like an astronaut-hockey player, complete with shoulder pads, a helmet, a Rangers jersey, gloves, and a hip-holster pistol. In his arms—one hockey glove grasping the midriff, the other the wrist—Mr. Freedom (for that’s who our hero was) held a scantily clad, sequin-spangled red-white-and-blue redhead, whose open mouth could just as easily be construed as a cry for help as a moan of ecstasy. Let the beholder decide.

The magazine cover, intriguing in itself to most, was also a prime example of Grove’s new internal synergy (a word we actually used in our discussions of Grove’s future, God help us all!). Not only did it supply grist for the Evergreen Review mill, it also served as the poster for the U.S. release of the Grove film, Mr. Freedom, a not-too-subtle satire on America as it moved out of the turbulent 1960s. A scathing attack on American foreign policy, especially its “vulgar and grotesque” involvement in Vietnam and the Strangelove notion that democracy had to be brought to the rest of the world, even at the cost of destroying it, the French-made film was written and directed by the ex-patriot (sic) William Klein. It starred John Abbey as Mr. Freedom; Delphine Seyrig (who had been propelled to cinematic stardom as the Garboesque lead in Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad) as Marie-Madeleine, organizer of the Whores-for-Freedom network; Donald Pleasence (whose voice and accent bore an uncanny resemblance to Lyndon Johnson’s) as Dr. Freedom, the mad mastermind behind the movement to save the world from anti-freedom infiltration; and Philippe Noiret as Moujik Man, Russia’s answer to Mr. Freedom.

On the surface it was a perfect vehicle for the Grove Movie Machine: irreverent, sexy, outrageous, politically pointed, a no-holds-barred attack on the establishment. Unfortunately, its script, dialogue, and direction, alas, were sufficiently amateurish to give film critics a golden opportunity to lambaste it.

I’m not sure “amateurish” is the right word. As befits a playful, cartoonish satire, the movie’s politics are a bit crude here and there, and maybe the dubbing is shit in places, but Mister Freedom is expertly made, by my lights. It’s a feast for the eyes and a gas to watch.
 

Thanks to Sam McPheeters and Tara Tavi for jumping me into the freedom gang.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Disney tried to adapt Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks’ into a PG sitcom (and it was soooooo bad)
07.30.2015
06:54 am

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Movies
Television

Tags:
Disney
Kevin Smith
Clerks


 
Kevin Smith has caught a lot of hell for not “maturing” as an artist, but if you go back and watch Clerks, it’s pretty obvious that his strengths have always been juvenile humor with a shot of modern neurosis. And, while Clerks is certainly a product of its time, I maintain that it holds up as a really charming little film about youth, relationships and the absurdity of alienated wage labor under capitalism. Or maybe it’s just about snowballing (hey, six of one...). Highly sexualized semi-intellectual gross-out comedy is arguably the trademark of Smith’s indie opus, which is why it’s so weird that Disney tried to adapt the film for a PG audience. (Spoiler: it is bad.)

It makes sense that Disney would try to capitalize off Gen-X disaffection I suppose, but did they really think Clerks could stand the Mickey Mouse treatment? You’ll notice the 1995 pilot bears no resemblance whatsoever to its source material—Smith wasn’t even told about its development until the actors that played Dante and Randal auditioned for (and didn’t get) their original roles. Smith even tried to help the project by writing a script, but Disney ultimately went with… this. You’ll see no Jay or Silent Bob, just a cast of suspiciously good-looking members of the strip mall proletariat. (They even added a sexy girl who works at the tanning salon next door played by a pre-Felicity Keri Russell).

Needless to say, Smith was not pleased with the end result. Check it out below, if you dare.
 

 
Via A.V. Club

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Robot Monster,’ Lux Interior’s favorite B movie, a bad movie for bad people
07.30.2015
06:44 am

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Movies
Music

Tags:
The Cramps
Robot Monster


“At what point on the graph do ‘must’ and ‘cannot’ meet?”
 
KDOC, the Orange County station that broadcast Wally George’s The Hot Seat, was also home to a wonderful show with even lower production values than Wally’s called Request Video. After school, I would rush to the TV to watch Request Video, hoping to catch another glimpse of the Ramones.

The Cramps paid a visit to Request Video before one of their early 90s shows at the Hollywood Palladium, and their wide-ranging discussion with host Gia DeSantis touched on many things that are still of vital importance to your life, such as the size of Lux’s pumps, the band’s makeup tips, and Lux and Ivy’s favorite B movies. While Ivy picked the classic Gun Crazy, Lux named this appalling 1953 movie about a robot from the moon who looks like a gorilla wearing a diver’s helmet. Its mission, to exterminate all human beings on Earth, doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after you’ve spent a few minutes with the cast.
 

 
Lux expanded on his love for Robot Monster in a 1995 interview with Phoenix New Times:

“I’m interested in Jungian archetypes, what it is that makes people want to see movies about flying saucers and alien invasions. I’m interested why someone would write a film like Robot Monster [a notoriously bad Fifties piece featuring a monster that was essentially a gorilla with a deep-sea-diving helmet for a head]. And why a lot of people would write films that have so much in common—Robot Monster, Plan 9 From Outer Space, you name it, all those old horror movies.

“I think it has something to do with the collective unconscious. I feel like watching these films to be just like dream interpretations. When I see an old horror movie, it really strikes a chord in me, and it’s because I’m connected to the same thing that the person who wrote the movie is connected to.”

Lux pauses briefly, then provides a summation: “I think the reason I do things is a lot like the same reason Johnny Rotten did what he did, or the same reason Marcel Duchamp did the things he did. We’re all connected together in one aspect of consciousness.”

 

Ro-Man’s hideout in Griffith Park
 
Screenwriter Wyott Ordung talks about working on Robot Monster in the book 3-D Revolution: The History of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema. Though he doesn’t shed much light on Lux’s concerns, he does relate that the movie’s reception nearly proved fatal for him and director Phil Tucker:

When I went to see the picture, I was sitting in the Hollywood Paramount [theater]. It’s funny now—it wasn’t funny then—and as I’m walking out of the theater the manager of the popcorn stand says “We should skin the writer alive.” [...] The next thing I know Phil Tucker tried to commit suicide. There was a picture of him in the Los Angeles Mirror on the front page. He was lying there clutching the cans of film. Was it because of the film? I think he wanted publicity. That’s what I think. Young genius thinks he made a great picture for $45,000. People are not going to the movie and so on and he ended up in Camarillo [State Mental Hospital].

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Behold the ‘Star Wars’ rice paddy
07.29.2015
10:54 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
rice


 
A couple of British farmers named Bower and Chorley invented the crop circle as an easy and fun way to spawn a generation’s worth of crazy UFO conspiracy theories. In Japan they’re more showbiz about their version of this, which is to make elaborate tableaux in rice paddies, which are mostly green as opposed to the wheaty amber of crop designs. A small town called Inakadate in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan has an annual event that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to see its rice paddy artworks. They’ve been doing it since 1993 with no sign of letting up.

The most common variety of rice plant grows in bright green stalks, but if you plant strains of different colors in carefully selected positions, you can make lines and shapes, a bit like these awesome examples of LEGO art—including Hunter S. Thompson! In this one you can see a rice paddy mosaic with Marilyn Monroe in her famous subway grate pose from The Seven-Year Itch. It only takes about a month from planting to final fruition, but they disappear pretty quickly too.
 

 
Last month Inakadate unveiled a Star Wars design, featuring C3PO and R2D2 as well as some sort of blobby planet-shaped droid I don’t recognize. (Yes, I’m old!

Here’s a fuller picture—“conceptual art for the final field” (click to see a larger version):
 

 

 
via RocketNews24
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Hype!’: The 1996 documentary that captured grunge’s explosive rise (and immediate co-optation)
07.29.2015
08:46 am

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Movies
Music

Tags:
documentary
grunge
Hype


Vogue’s 1992 grunge feature, “Grunge & Glory,” becasue nothing says “grunge” like Naomi Campbell in Perry Ellis!
 
The “grunge speak” hoax of 1992 may be the greatest youth culture response to unwanted media hype in the history of “shut up, old man!” A reporter for The New York Times was working on a grunge story for its Style of the Times section—a little exposé on the scene’s hip, new slang. Trouble is, there really wasn’t such thing as a grunge slang, so when the Times contacted Sub Pop Records receptionist, she just made up a bunch of silly shit. The result was a comically ridiculous list of phony jargon titled “Lexicon of Grunge: Breaking the Code.” When Thomas Frank over at The Baffler pointed out that no one was calling anyone a “cob nobbler” or a “lamestain,” the Times was so miffed that they demanded Frank apologize before finally realizing they’d been had.

Like the grunge speak hoax, Hype! is a fascinating record of the grunge phenomenon, specifically because it’s about the tension between the scene and the media. The bands themselves tell the story (and I mean nearly all the bands—Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Gits, The Melvins, Mono Men, Pearl Jam, 7 Year Bitch and a host of less famous acts), and though there is a genuine love for the Seattle scene and the community it produced, there is already a bitter awareness of grunge’s fate. Members of 7 Year Bitch point out the sexism of the coverage women in bands receive, Eddie Vedder expresses anguish over the immediate commercialization of the grunge phenomenon and the discomfort of living the shadow of Kurt Cobain looms large for many bands.

Far from the bitter, childish personas so often associated with angry young people and their guitars, the subjects of Hype! are thoughtful and clear-eyed, still professing a genuine love for the music and the organic nature of the scene, despite the obvious reality that Grunge has been thoroughly appropriated for mass consumption.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Recently unearthed ‘Dr. Strangelove’ promo reel with alternate takes—narrated by Kubrick himself
07.28.2015
10:29 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Stanley Kubrick
Dr. Strangelove


 
This fascinating footage was posted about a year ago on YouTube, representing the first time in decades, if ever, that it had been made available for public viewing. It’s a promo reel for Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, lasting roughly 20 minutes (it’s broken up into 2 YouTube videos) that was recorded off the wall from the projection of the scarce 35mm reel with what appears to be Kubrick himself providing a kind of play-by-play for the various scenes that are depicted—many of which have become utterly iconic by this time.

It was the essential blog Cinephilia and Beyond who first spotted this, to my knowledge. The reel includes, as Open Culture’s charmingly Strangelove-obsessed Colin Marshall put it, “the B52s circling constantly, refueling in midair; Brigadier General Jack Ripper’s sudden order to bomb Russia; General Buck Turgidson’s wee-hour departure for the ‘War Room’; the siege of Burpelson Air Force Base; Group Captain Lionel Mandrake’s struggle for the recall code and subsequent confrontation with the ‘prevert’-fixated Colonel Bat Guano; President Merkin Muffley’s bad news-breaking call to Russian Premier Dmitri Kissoff; the titular German expatriate scientist’s plan to restart society after the nuclear apocalypse.”

The footage is undeniably raw—considering it was filmed from a projected image—and some of the takes are unfamiliar. This was a work in progress of one of the most galvanizing cinematic successes of the 20th century, and it’s fascinating to hear the flat, Bronx-bred accent of the master walk the viewer through the movie. It’s not clear what the purpose of this promo reel was, but Cain Rodriguez at The Playlist speculates that the idea may have been “to placate investors since the satirical elements are somewhat downplayed.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa documentary announced: Will be directed by Alex Winter of ‘Bill & Ted’ fame
07.27.2015
01:44 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Alex Winter


 
Alex Winter, best known for his roles in The Lost Boys and the two “Bill & Ted” movies with Keanu Reeves (and this infamous Butthole Surfers “home movie”), is developing a documentary on Frank Zappa, which he will direct from his own script and produce with Glen Zipper. The Zappa Family Trust has given its blessing to the untitled project.

Variety reports:

“There has yet to be a definitive, authorized documentary on the extraordinary life and work of Frank Zappa,” Winter said. “I am beyond thrilled to be embarking on this journey. Our tale will be told primarily in Frank’s own words; he will be our guide through this journey.”

Winter expects the doc to be finished in time for release in 2017.

“This is not an easy story to tell and we trust that Alex truly understands the complex and multi-faceted man that my father was,” Zappa’s son Ahmet Zappa said.

This is excellent news indeed and it’s been a long time coming.

Below, Frank Zappa and the original Mothers of Invention performing “King Kong” in Essen, Germany, 1968:

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Wes Anderson tributes: Because fan art is deep if it’s mopey & twee
07.24.2015
09:54 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Wes Anderson
art show


Martine Johanna, “Oh..Margot”
 
I once heard someone refer to Wes Anderson’s films as “expensive dollhouses,” which, while bitingly pointed, I find a little harsh. For one thing, I think Rushmore is a masterpiece, and even if his later films don’t possess whatever intangible quality I loved most about Rushmore, they’re obviously not throwaways. For another, while the uncannily warm, color-corrected tableaux of Anderson’s later work can be a bit twee, they’re undeniably beautiful and intense—and who doesn’t love a good dollhouse? Nonetheless, there is an aesthetic cult around Anderson’s work that goes way past appreciation and borders on corny. You know the crowd; ukuleles, cardigans, deep in pouty ennui, only know the really pretty Velvet Underground songs (and can play them on the ukulele). They’re not hard to pick out of a crowd, and now they’re featuring their Wes Anderson-themed art in serious gallery shows.

The Anderson-inspired art show, titled “Bad Dads”—I presume in reference to his constant theme of disappointing paternal figures—started in San Francisco in 2010, and was originally advertised as an art show/costume party (imagine a million girls dressed as Margot Tenenbaum trying to look sullen, yet beautiful, ugh). The show proved so popular that it’s now going on its sixth run, this time at the Joseph Gross Gallery in NYC. Below you can see art from the upcoming feature, as well as work from previous events, some of which has already sold for a pretty penny.

I’m torn, because not only is it an interesting experiment to take what is essentially fan art out of the DeviantArt ghetto and put it into the “respectable” art world (and don’t kid yourself, it is fan art), but also, some of this stuff looks quite good! (I’m particularly fond of the Kanye West crossover, since a contemporary sense of humor is a nice contrast to Anderson’s out-of-time pastels.) On the other hand, Wes Anderson? Really? Aren’t their directors who could inspire more exciting and varied shows? What about Kubrick? Truffaut? Kurosawa? How about anyone who doesn’t have a favorite Parisian taxidermy shop?

There’s only so much mopey and twee one can take!
 

JOEMUR, “I’m going to kill myself tonight”
 

Hari & Deepti, “I Wonder If It Remembers Me…”
 

Ivonna Buenrostro, “What’s Wrong With You?”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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