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Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson discuss the big ‘chicken salad’ scene from ‘Five Easy Pieces’
07.01.2015
10:41 am

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Food
Movies

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Five Easy Pieces is one of the great masterpieces of the New American Cinema that stretched from 1967 to 1979 or thereabouts. Directed by Bob Rafelson (whose sole directorial feature before that was the Monkees’ trippy triumph Head) and written by Carole Eastman, the movie is practically a filmic version of Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” a prescient gleaning of bad vibes in the society at large—in September 1970, when the movie came out, no other movie was within ten miles of its grasp of the unsettled feeling that the country was going through at that moment.

The movie has several striking set pieces that stick in the mind—Jack Nicholson’s Bobby Dupea playing piano on the back of a truck, a long hippie harangue by a hitchhiker played by Helena Kallianiotes, and so forth—the best-known scene in the movie, the one that has the highest likelihood of getting thrown into an Oscar montage, is unquestionably the diner scene in which Dupea, finding himself hassled by an irritated waitress who is intent on enforcing the eatery’s “no substitution” policy, violently sweeps his right arm across the table, upending several glasses and a few placemats.
 

Pupi’s Combination Bakery and Sidewalk Café
 
Criterion has just released on YouTube an interesting excerpt from the extra features of its new Blu-Ray edition of Five Easy Pieces, which was released yesterday, in which Nicholson and Rafelson discuss the origins of the scene. It turns out that Rafelson had been annoying waitresses all over the country with his (reasonable-sounding) substitution requests—indeed, still does—while Nicholson had actually pulled the table sweep at least once before:
 

We all hung out in a coffee shop called Pupi’s up on the Strip. We were actors, so we’d go in there, sit there all day, lookin’ at people, and I came like at the end of the afternoon, and I ordered up my coffee, but they’d been there three or four hours, and I’m sipping the coffee, and Mrs. Pupi came over, and she—she took my coffee! I mean I hadn’t even—I had just got there. “You people have to get out of here” and so forth. And I said, “Oh really?” and I went like this and I just cleared the table.

 
It seems that Carole Eastman witnessed this incident and incorporated it into her screenplay. The restaurant in question was Pupi’s Combination Bakery and Sidewalk Café, and Patrick McGilligan’s biography of Nicholson treats the incident as follows:
 

Pupi’s is where Jack flew into one of his storied rages one night, quarreling with a waitress and threatening to kick in a pastry cart. That is the incident Carole Eastman said she drew on when she wrote the famous “no substitutions” scene for Bobby Dupea. … Maybe Jack actually did kick in the pastry cart. Or maybe he didn’t. It is one of those legends. …

 
If nothing else, Nicholson’s account in this interview is a useful corrective for what McGilligan calls a “legend”—it wasn’t a waitress, it was Mrs. Pupi herself, and there’s no mention of a pastry cart.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Here’s the Manson Family porn movie you’ve been waiting for
07.01.2015
07:13 am

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Movies
Sex
Stupid or Evil?

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Students of Internet culture know all about “Rule 34.” Rule 34 is an adage which asserts that “if something exists, there is porn of it.” 

We can now add Charles Manson and his “family” to the list of things we didn’t expect to see given the porn treatment, but HERE WE ARE.

Adult Video News recently reported on the release of Manson Family XXX, an adult film directed by Will Ryder.
 

 
A TMZ report from last year reveals that Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, called Manson Family XXX “the lowest of lows” and vowed to sue the producers if they dared use Sharon’s name or likeness. As the film falls under the umbrella of “parody,” it is protected speech. Tasteless, but nevertheless protected.

Director Will Ryder stated, “The timing couldn’t be more perfect and we’ve had to put the brakes on this release for a while now due to certain legal challenges that I don’t want to talk about, but NBC is paving the way for us to have a summer blockbuster,” referring to NBC’s recently-premiered Aquarius, a “historical fiction” program based on the events surrounding the Manson Family.

Director, Ryder, claims his film explores “hippie love and intense sexual acts that took place at the Spahn Ranch near Los Angeles back in the late 1960s.”

“We actually shot much of our movie on that very land,” Ryder said.
 

 
Ryder added that his movie is a parody and “not sponsored, endorsed or affiliated with Charles Manson or any members of the Manson Family, the victims, the LAPD, Vincent Bugliosi or the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, NBC Universal or any distributors, actors, producers, writers, publishers, their estates or assignees.”

Best to cover your bases.

We have to admit, the scenes in the trailer seem like they could kinda be historically accurate. Group sex and heavy drug use were undoubtedly facts of “family life” on the Spahn Ranch.
 

 
Ryder seems to have at least convinced himself that his parody porn is a tasteful historical document of the Family:

I have to make myself clear that I am in no way glorifying murder and neither is NBC Television or any of the other mainstream production companies that are in production on Manson related projects.

We are telling parts of the Manson Family folklore just like the writers and producers of dozens of books, movies and television documentaries have told over the years. We’re just going to see them completely naked participating in all kinds of sexual exploration including wild animalistic group sex.

Here’s the pretty-much-safe-for-work trailer for “Manson Family XXX”:

H/T Adult Video News and Die-Screaming.com

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Mel Brooks demonstrates the 12 emotions that every actor must master
06.29.2015
02:25 pm

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Amusing
Media
Movies

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This remarkable gallery of Mel Brooks making the most of his entirely rubbery face appeared in a 1982 issue of Best magazine, a French publication. Here’s a typical cover of Best, also from 1982:
 

 

Anyway, here was the spread as it appeared in the magazine. As you can see, Brooks is giving his impression of 12 core emotions, including fear, joy, astonishment, and sadness. In each case Brooks has supplied a little comment on what the emotion means. If you click on this image, you will be able to see a larger version.
 

 
Here are better views of the panels, with inexpert translations that were enabled in large part by Google Translate.
 

Sadness: Debussy
Hatred: I do not practice it.

 

Shyness: The very big girls
Seduction: I cannot go to the discos without locking myself in the bathroom because the women are so beautiful.

 

Joy: A girl named Sheila, against my expectation, gave me her address.
Love: A good book in the hand of a beautiful naked girl when I’m in a hotel room that she paid for.

 

Provocation: A waiter spills soup on me, I leave without paying.
Ennui: All the Jews who borrow money from me under the pretext that am one.

 

Fear: When there are many people at the table but they bring me the check.
Stupidity: Believing the promises of politicians.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Meiko Kaji and the ass-kicking female gangs of the ‘Stray Cat Rock’ films, 1970-71
06.26.2015
07:10 am

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Movies

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Stray Cat Rock
 
During the early 1970s, Nikkatsu Studios out of Japan released a series of youth films that helped define an era. Very much of their time, the five motion pictures that make up the Stray Cat Rock cycle were inspired by the late ‘60s counterculture. Amidst a backdrop of psychedelic imagery, the characters represent Japan’s wayward youth, juvenile delinquents hell-bent on living life on their own terms, stealing, drugging, and fighting along the way.
 
psychedelic imagery
 
on the road
 
knife fight
 
Two different filmmakers were at the helm for the series. Yasuharu Hasebe directed Delinquent Girl Boss (1970), Sex Hunter (1970), and Machine Animal (1971), all of which focused on gangs—especially the ass-kicking, female sort—and organized crime. Toshiya Fujita was behind the camera for Wild Jumbo and Beat ‘71, films that, while still featuring unlawful and violent behavior, are really about youth enjoying life.
 
Machine Animal
The young women of ‘Machine Animal’; Meiko Kaji, center

The Stray Cat Rock cycle represent the breakout films of Meiko Kaji. She would achieve her greatest fame starring in Lady Snowblood (1973), a film which, decades later, proved to be a major influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003).
 
Beat '71
Meiko Kaji in ‘Beat ‘71’

On July 14th, Arrow Video will release the five Stray Cat Rock flicks as a limited edition boxed set. This will mark the North American debut of all the films in the Blu-ray format.

We’ve selected a clip for you, dear reader, one you’re sure to enjoy. It’s from the fourth installment, Sex Hunter, and features a female gang on a mission to rescue fellow members from a party gone wrong. Led by Meiko Kaji’s character, Mako, the young women show up armed with a surprise for the captors.
 
Sex HunterMeiko Kaji in ‘Sex Hunter’

Preorder the limited edition Stray Cat Rock Blu-ray/DVD boxed set via MVD or Amazon. Probably best to get yours sooner rather than later, if demand for the 2014 UK version is any indication, as its already out-of-print.
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Watch ‘Island of Flowers’ NOW, a Vonnegut-inspired dark comedy short on humans, garbage & freedom
06.26.2015
06:09 am

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Animals
Class War
Movies

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I had seen the brilliant 1989 short film Ilha das Flores (translation, Isle of Flowers) before, but in the original Portuguese with subtitles. The narration is so poetic and coy, I was thrilled to find this wonderful version dubbed in English, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Writer and director Jorge Furtado actually said the piece was in part inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, and you can certainly hear it in the cadence of the narration (and subject matter), but there is also a Pythonesque humor to this absurdist little “documentary,” very reminiscent of the black humor in The Meaning of Life. I mean the opening credits land the first punch with, “God doesn’t exist.”

The “story” of the film begins with a Japanese-Brazilian farmer, who grows tomatoes that are later purchased in a supermarket by a nice middle-class door-to-door perfume saleslady. She then cooks these tomatoes into a sauce for her nice middle-class family—throughout all this the narrator is taking little contextual detours along the way on matters like evolution and the Holocaust. The story spins back and forth with cutting little observations on labor alienation and capitalism, until eventually we arrive at the titular Isle of Flowers, the tragic, ugly side of all our modern conveniences.

I won’t give it away—you just have to watch.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Moe Gets Tied Up,’ Andy Warhol’s ultra-rare 1966 movie starring the Velvet Underground
06.25.2015
07:16 am

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Art
Movies
Music

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A very, very seldom-seen Andy Warhol movie, called Moe Gets Tied Up or, alternatively, Moe in Bondage, is up on YouTube, and it has had a scant 89 views as I type. While this Velvet Underground footage is not quite as much fun as A Symphony of Sound, Warhol’s must-see film of a VU and Nico rehearsal jam—mainly since there’s no music in this one—boy, it sure is seldom encountered. Shot in 1966, it predates their once-despised, now-lionized debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

The “Moe” of the title is the Velvets’ drummer, Maureen Tucker, whose bandmates have tied her to a chair and are now hanging around nibbling on sandwiches and pieces of fruit. It is sure to disappoint the pain fetishists among you. Look at it this way: if you’d never heard “Venus in Furs,” this film might give you the impression that the Velvets’ sex kicks consisted not so much of S&M as benign neglect.

Very little information is available about this movie because so few people have seen it, but the 32-minute version below seems to be missing a large chunk. A Velvet Underground filmography claims that the original is “a two-reel set for double screen projection” and notes the existence of “35-minute unofficial video copies,” one of which is likely the source of this vid. When MoMA screened Moe Gets Tied Up in 2008, the Village Voice reported that it “begins with Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison tying Moe Tucker, quite inexpertly, to a chair.” Since Tucker is already tied up at the start of the video below, and since the Voice review gives the movie’s length as one hour and six minutes, I’m going to bet that this is roughly the movie’s second half. (Incidentally, the review says nothing about double screen projection.) The Voice writer, who is mysteriously identified in the byline as “Village Voice Contributor,” also complains that almost none of the movie’s dialogue is audible, so don’t blame the buzzing soundtrack of this bootleg if you can’t make out what Sterling Morrison is mumbling about sandwiches. If you really need to know what people were talking about at the Factory, you can always read a.

Now if someone could please upload Velvet Underground Tarot Cards...
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Feminist psychodrama ‘Felt’ examines sexism, gender and violence
06.25.2015
06:35 am

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Art
Feminism
Movies

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When I was a university student there was a slogan chanted by the more militant feminists:

All men are rapists.

Their suggested solution to this problem was to “Cheese wire all sexist bastards.” (i.e. cut off all male genitals). It was a provocative response but revealed how many women perceived the world as a hostile place, experiencing sexism, chauvinism and oppression on a daily basis. Move on three decades and little appears to have changed. Today figures were released by the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK that show a record number of prosecutions in England and Wales for violence against women and girls. The figures include cases of rape, domestic violence and honor killing, while figures released by the University of Michigan show that more than 20% of female students experienced “some sort of nonconsensual sexual behavior in the past year,” with around 12% experiencing “nonconsensual sexual penetration.” It’s dispiriting reading to think for all the progressive politics, feminism and political correct agendas, little has really changed in the relationship between men and women.
 
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Amy Everson in opening sequence of ‘Felt.’
 
A new film Felt by documentary filmmaker Jason Banker and artist Amy Everson highlights the issue of endemic sexism and the extreme responses it can inspire. Felt is the story of a young woman Amy (Amy Everson) who is disconnected from the world and finds her everyday life is a “fucking nightmare.” She is (apparently) recovering from some kind of sexual trauma—what this may be is never made explicit—other than her character saying around halfway through the movie that women are brutalized by men and invalidated for not having a dick. To cope with the sexism and hostility she feels around her, Amy designs herself a “man suit”—think Buffalo Bill’s skinsuit, but this one’s made of nylon—in which she parades around her secret hideaway in a local wood—experiencing her new identity and having dreams of being a “superhero.” Her close female friends think something is wrong and try to help, but Amy believes she is just expressing herself—or exorcising her demons—as she thinks best.
 
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You kinda feel this ain’t gonna end well…
 
The men and women around Amy tend to be little more than caricatures: they’re either dumb or douchebags. An emo rambles on about roofies and rape; a Christian woman wants to pray for Amy; a friend’s abusive boyfriend, an engineer, demands respect for being, well, an engineer, a useful part of society and a man; the photographer objectifies women but is disgusted by their bodily functions (farting); and so on. We are dropped into this world without any back story—the man suit appears first appears around fifteen minutes in—or a real emotional connection with Amy and therefore Felt demands the audience bring a lot of understanding/sympathy for Amy and her experience of the world.
 
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If you go down to the woods today…
 
Felt has the feel of a hybrid, which in essence it is. Originally intended as a music video, the film developed into a documentary about Amy Everson and her art, which is inspired by her own sexual trauma, before becoming an improvised film. Being improvised means some of the actors appear to be merely reacting to Amy’s performance rather than presenting real characters.

Everson gives a very good performance, though at times it seemed as though I was watching Everson being Everson rather than Everson being “Amy,” and there is good support from the cast especially by the scene-stealing Roxanne Lauren Knouse. Jason Banker’s direction (and camerawork) is highly assured and very impressive—the opening montage of images is like a short art film. Overall, Felt is a feminist tale for today and has many good things to recommend it. You can judge for yourself as Felt goes on release from tomorrow details here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Blood’: An eerily hypnotic tour through Europe’s largest ‘blood factory’
06.24.2015
05:44 am

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Art
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In my most dire of days, my friends and I could always make a little extra scratch at the local plasma center. Payment would vary, but it was usually $40 for the first “donation” of the week, and $60 for the second, meaning an underemployed dirtbag like myself could make an extra $400 a month for sitting back and just letting the blood flow. It was fairly painless and only took about 2 hours. The machine would draw the blood, separate the plasma, then send the blood right back to your veins—zero actual blood loss. It was nearly entirely automated too, and as we lay in orderly little rows, one got the distinct feeling we were being “harvested.”

If the plasma center was a farm, it was a tiny, sustainable, mom and pop set-up. Compared to Europe’s largest blood center, it was downright pastoral. Photographer Greg White put together this hypnotic little short film, Blood, which focuses almost entirely on the non-human aspect of blood collection, storage and processing. The setting so robotic and industrial, it’s easy to see why White calls the blood center a “blood factory.” That’s inaccurate of course, since the human body is the actual blood factory, but one can’t help but admire the mechanical ballet orchestrating such precious and human materials.
 

 
Via Fast Company

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Two kids in 1993 remade ‘Jurassic Park’ with toys and a VHS video camera—and it rules
06.24.2015
05:27 am

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Amusing
Movies

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Michael Raisch and David Chakrin, Summer 1993. Photo by Raisch Studios.
 
Jurassic World recently broke the record for biggest opening weekend in North America, and the highest-grossing opening worldwide, surpassing The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2,  becoming the first film to gross $500 million worldwide in its opening weekend. Despite its enormous success, many people agree, it totally sucks.

Slightly more interesting, is a recently released video short—a “remake” of Jurassic Park done by two kids (David Chakris and Michael Raisch ) with a video camera back in 1993, using toy dinosaurs, cars, and Kenner action figures.

Their website explains:

In the summer of 1993 inspired by the release of Jurassic Park, Michael and David set out to recreate the excitement and visuals of the hit film. Over a period 6 months in New Jersey they filmed multiple versions of the film until they were pleased with their final version. Equipped with the best VHS era technology, [Michael and David] re-created the movie magic of Jurassic Park with hand drawn sets, action figures and fishing line.

 

Production sketch from “1990s Kid Version of Jurassic Park,” courtesy Raisch Studios.
 
The perhaps not a masterpiece, but nonetheless adorable 2008 Michel Gondry film, Be Kind Rewind, introduced the concept of “sweded” films. In Be Kind Rewind, a struggling VHS rental store loses its entire video collection after being inadvertently magnetized. The protagonists, played by Mos Def and Jack Black, attempt to replace the store’s video collection by recreating films using a camcorder, claiming they are “special editions from Sweden.” These “sweded” films are the centerpiece of Be Kind Rewind, and a (now defunct) tie-in website, SwededFilms.com, was created—serving as a database for sweded movies, both from the film and fan-made. That website contained the rules for creating sweded videos:

1. Must be based on an already produced film
2. Range 2-8 minutes in length
3. Must not contain computer generated graphics
4. Based on films less than 35 years old
5. Special effects must be limited to camera tricks and arts ’n crafts
6. Sound effects created by human means
7. Hilarious.

The 1990s Kid Remake of Jurassic Park was produced before Be Kind Rewind and the concept of sweded movies, but it certainly fits the criteria of and ranks among the best sweded films.  The dinosaur attack scenes, in particular, had us cackling.

Check out the “edited” version here and be sure to hit up the website for lots of behind-the-scenes photos and info.
 
“I think this park has to do with dinosaurs.”

 
H/T It’s Nice That

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Yoko Ono was in a sleazy sexploitation movie called ‘Satan’s Bed’ (and it looks totally bonkers)
06.23.2015
09:35 am

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Movies
Sex

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Devil’s Bed has got to be the most fascinating footnote in Yoko Ono’s career (or at least one of the most obscure). I’m not not knocking the things we do on our way up, but this is some serious grindhouse smut, and Ono was never hurting for cash! The Michael Findlay sexploitation flick features Ono as the innocent fiancee of a drug smuggler trying to turn his life around. The sweet and delicate Ono is subjected to all kinds of sleaze (at one point she is referred to as an “Eastern delicacy”), and of course, she is kidnapped by her fiancee’s supplier. Throughout the movie there is a series of totally unrelated scenes of heroin addicts gang-raping random women. Was it for context? Did they just need more footage? Who knows?!

Three years later, Yoko and John would co-write and co-direct Rape, an experimental film in which a cameraman chases a terrified woman through city streets for 77 minutes before knocking her down to the ground in a metaphor for the invasive brutality of the media. It was obviously more art house fare than Devil’s Bed, but you really have to give those old exploitation movies credit for pushing the boundaries of what you could see on film—even when they were just total trash!
 

 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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