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Violent hippies, punk rock and Patty Hearst: Four movies by Raymond Pettibon
08:52 am


Raymond Pettibon

The SST catalog used to advertise four home videos directed by in-house artist Raymond Pettibon, whose name is now arguably more famous than that of his brother, Black Flag guitarist and SST honcho Greg Ginn. The original VHS tapes are all impossibly scarce, and the DVDs are pricey. Fortunately, you can now watch all four movies for free through the good offices of YouTube user Pat Maher, who has posted them with Pettibon’s blessing.

Actually, “home movies” might be a better term than home videos: it looks like Pettibon shot these no-budget, feature-length films on camcorder at his place. For the most part, the playful, amateurish, often ridiculous videos focus on (big surprise, Pettibon fans) the violent side of the hippie era. The cast consists largely of musicians from SST bands and other figures from the LA punk/art scene. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore play members of the Weather Underground in The Whole World Is Watching: Weatherman ‘69; Judgement Day Theater: The Book of Manson stars Redd Kross shredder Robert Hecker as Charlie; and Citizen Tania, with Pat Smear and Dez Cadena, dramatizes the Patty Hearst/Symbionese Liberation Army story. The exception to the hippie violence theme is Sir Drone, in which Mikes Watt and Kelley reenact the birth of SoCal punk. Dave Markey, the director of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and 1991: The Year Punk Broke, worked on each video in some capacity.

Say goodbye to six hours of your leisure time!
The films of Raymond Pettibon, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Philip Marlowe’s apartment in Robert Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’ is available to rent

Four days ago an interesting listing popped up in the L.A. housing section of Craigslist: “At the end of a cul de sac near the Hollywood Bowl, park your car in a garage carved into the hill. Walk through a gated tunnel to a private elevator where you’ll be taken up 6 stories through the hill to the top of a Tuscan tower. Nestled in a quiet walk street enclave high above the bustle of Hollywood Blvd.”

After some more description comes this: “This is the apartment that Elliot Gould’s character lived in in Robert Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’. A movie worth seeing if you’re not familiar with it.”

Well, well! So this is the apartment from The Long Goodbye, Robert Altman’s marvelous, gauzy, very 1970s take on Raymond Chandler’s 1953 Philip Marlowe novel. It’s a very diffuse movie but still packs a punch. (And it’s the second-ever movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it.) 
The rent is $2,800 a month. If you do rent the place and a guy called Terry Lennox shows up asking for help, tell him to go away. And if you have cats, make sure you stock the cupboards with plenty of Curry—Courry?—cat food.





Here’s the opening sequence, which is probably the best part of the movie and also, you get to see the apartment in it.

via Lawyers, Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Fantastic Polish movie posters of well-known American films
10:07 am


Movie posters

Rosemary’s Baby by Andrzej Pągowski, 1968

I’m really digging these Polish movie posters of American films… especially the one for Rosemary’s Baby which is pictured above. I found a few of them perplexing, though. Like the one for Terms of Endearment. I get that it’s a mom and daughter talking on the phone, but I’m not sure it gets its message across all that clearly. And the Dirty Dancing poster. That one misses the dartboard entirely!

I’ve added the artists names and dates at the bottom of the images in case you gotta have one and want to locate it on eBay or site that sells Polish movie posters. One of these might make a nice holiday gift for that special film fanatic in your life.

Vertigo by Roman Cieślewicz, 1958

Alien by Jakub Erol, 1979

The Pink Panther by Jan Młodożeniec, 1963

Planet of the Apes by Eryk Lipiński, 1968
More posters after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Scatman Crothers scats ‘Stanley (Does It All),’ a ditty he wrote about Kubrick

One of the best things about being Stanley Kubrick would be that people like Scatman Crothers, who played Dick Hallorann in The Shining, would just spontaneously write songs about you and sing them to you. I feel like if that ever happened to you, your life would be complete. And no, you can’t just substitute Kanye in for Scatman or something like that. Biz Markie, maybe.

Anyway, in a 1980 interview conducted by Mick Garris, Crothers discusses Kubrick’s excessive perfectionism (as represented by the unwieldy number of takes) and then essays a rendition of a little song he composed about Kubrick during a down moment on the set of The Shining—it sounds like there were plenty of down moments to choose from.

Even more fabulously, Scatman, true to his name, actually does do some scat-singing in the song. Here are the lyrics to “Stanley (Does It All)”—Scatman was very insistent about the parentheses there.

There’s a man
Livin’ in London Town
Makes movies
He’s a world renown
Yes, he’s really got the fame
Stanley Kubrick is his name
He does it all
He does it all
I’m tellin’ y’all
Stanley does it all

He’s a writer, he directs
He produces his projects
He’s the man behind the lens
And Stanley always wins
He’s a man who looks ahead
Can make you think he raised the dead
It’s and cuts all his flicks
He’s a genius with his tricks
He does it all
He does it all


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Single-sentence movie summary T-shirts
07:23 am



I really like these deadpan shirts with single-sentence summaries of a few popular movies. Not going to mention any movie titles, so you can quiz yourself, but my favorite one reads, “A framed Coney Island street gang must elude police and rival themed gangs on a race back to their home turf.”

It cheers me to learn that these were designed by Mike Joyce of Stereotype Design; he was also responsible for those rigorously 2D Helvetica gig posters that popped up a couple years back. You can get these at Fab. for $28 each.





More awesome synopsis-tees after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Putney Swope: Most under-rated cult film of the 1960s?
01:07 pm


Putney Swope
Robert Downey Sr.

Robert Downey Sr.‘s Putney Swope is an unusual film that splits audiences into two camps without breaking a sweat: those who absolutely love it and think it’s an unheralded masterpiece, and those who utterly loathe it (Check out Amazon reviews!) A third and far larger category would be comprised of everyone who’s never even heard of this odd little gem in the first place. Back in the early 80s, when super rare cheap to license cult films would often appear on some schlocky video label long before some mainstream films became available Putney Swope would often show up in the “Midnight Movies” or cult films section of video rental shops. After that it more or less disappeared until it came out on DVD. Every once in a while it’s on TV, too, but it’s still, sadly, Putney Swope is not a widely known film.

The Coen Brothers, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle and Paul Thomas Anderson are all known to be big fans of the film. Jane Fonda declared it a masterpiece to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1969 and the Beastie Boys have sampled from it and rapped about it. Anderson even lifted a scene from it for Boogie Nights.
The first three times I saw Putney Swope I thought it was an incredible masterpiece. I was stunned by it. I laughed out loud. I sobbed. It was amazing. It was profound and symbolic of everything! Then again, the first three times I saw the film I was ridiculously high on LSD and I watched it over and over again, by myself, three times in the same night!
When the acid wore off I still thought it was a great and profound film, perhaps just not as great. That didn’t stop me from being an evangelist for this weird little movie, which satirized race, how race was portrayed in advertising, race in the workplace, black militants, white privilege and corporate corruption (there’s even a hint of Orwell’s Animal Farm in it), to all of my friends. Man did I force this film on a lot of (grateful!) people. I’ve easily seen it 30 times.
The plot goes something like this: Arnold Johnson (who later played “Hutch” on Sanford and Son) is Putney Swope, a middled-aged black man who works at a Madison Avenue advertising agency with a bunch of corrupt corporate buffoons. When the founder of the agency dies mid-speech, the board holds a vote to find his successor while his body goes cold on the table. Everyone writes down a name on a piece of paper. They are informed that they cannot vote for themselves and so each man tears up his ballot. They cut deals with each other and then all vote for the one guy who they think no one else will vote for either, Putney Swope, the only black guy.

So Swope becomes the new CEO with a landslide. His motto is “Rockin’ the boat’s a drag. You gotta sink the boat!”  He promptly fires all of the white executives (save for one), renames the agency “Truth & Soul” and hires a young, idealistic and politically militant black staff who want to tell the actual truth in advertising. “Truth & Soul” refuse to take accounts from cigarette manufacturers, liquor companies or the war machine. They become so successful that the government becomes alarmed. Eventually everyone becomes corrupted, even Putney himself, who takes to dressing like Fidel Castro.
That’s about it, plot-wise, but a lot of stuff happens in Putney Swope that would be difficult to try to describe here. The film is mainly in black and white, but the commercial parodies are in color. Antonio Fargas Jr. (“Huggy Bear” on Starsky & Hutch) has a memorable role as “The Arab,” Putney’s Muslim advisor and prankster Alan Abel is also seen in a cameo role. Putney Swope has great lines like “Anything that I have to say would just be redundant”; “A job? Who wants a JOB?”; and “Are you for surreal?!” that have been quoted over and over again (at least in my house). The US president and his wife are played by midgets who engage in a threesome with a photographer. There is a Mark David Chapman-type weirdo hovering around. It’s hard to describe, you really just have to see it. I think Putney Swope is one of the great, great, great American counterculture films of the 1960s. One day. I predict confidently, it will be seen as the equal to Easy Rider or Five Easy Pieces. I’m surprised that French cinemaphiles haven’t discovered it yet… but they will. They will.

This probably isn’t the best way to watch the film (grab the Putney Swope DVD on Amazon)  but DO watch the first scene up to the point where Putney takes over the advertising agency. If that doesn’t make you want to watch the rest, I can’t do much for you…



If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Los Angeles next weekend, there’s going to be a Robert Downey Sr. celebration to end all celebrations with the great man in attendance (this is a true rarity on the west coast as Downey refuses to fly) held from 12/5 - 12/8 at Cinefamily. TRUTH AND SOUL INC. featuring special guests Paul Thomas Anderson, Louis C.K., and an intimate conversation with Robert Downey Sr. and his son, Robert Downey Jr. about his film legacy. This event is a fundraiser for Cinefamily, LA’s premiere cinematheque for first-run arthouse and repertory films and who better to represent all that Cinefamily stands for than this maverick filmmaker?


Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’: Storyboard vs. finished film
08:45 am


John Carpenter
Anne Billson

As the film writer Anne Billson has pointed out most critics were wrong about John Carpenter’s The Thing when it was first released in 1982. In general they hated it and damned the film as “too phony looking to be disgusting. It qualifies only as instant junk.” While another reviewer squealed:

“The only avenue left to explore would seem to be either concentration camp documentaries or the snuff movie.”

The reviews were sadly all rather disappointing, more so for the fact these hacks had failed to grasp how Carpenter had created an adult, intelligent and highly faithful cinematic version of John W. Campbell’s source story “Who Goes There?”—the basis for Howard Hawks’ original production The Thing from Another World directed by Christian Nyby in 1951. Unlike the Hawks’ production, Carpenter kept snug with Campbell’s tale of paranoia and a shape-shifting alien. More importantly, his version was also a major progression in cinematic story-telling as the expected tropes of character and motivation were made quickly apparent without having to be overly explained or developed through dialog. A younger audience understood this, the older critics did not, and damned the film for what they perceived was its lack of emotional depth. This is maybe explained by the release earlier in the same year of Steven Spielberg’s grossly sentimental E.T.: The Extraterrestrial which received overwhelmingly positive reviews. However, as Billson notes, some of the opprobrium heaped on Carpenter had been previously dumped on Nyby:

Variety wrote: “What the old picture delivered – and what Carpenter has missed – was a sense of intense dread.” Which is funny, because in 1951, the same paper had said of Nyby’s film: “The resourcefulness shown in building the plot groundwork is lacking as the yarn gets into full swing. Cast members ... fail to communicate any real terror.”

The negative reviews had a deleterious affect on Carpenter, who later said:

“I take every failure hard. The one I took the hardest was The Thing. My career would have been different if that had been a big hit…The movie was hated. Even by science-fiction fans. They thought that I had betrayed some kind of trust, and the piling on was insane. Even the original movie’s director, Christian Nyby, was dissing me.”

Which was a shame, for John Carpenter is a true artist, one of American cinema’s greatest offbeat film directors, whose movies have had considerable influence on succeeding generations of filmmakers.

Film editor Vashni Nedomansky is a fan of Carpenter’s The Thing, describing the film as one of his favorites and going so far as to claim:

The story, characters, score, location and practical visual effects are some of the most memorable in film history.

He also writes that certain of film’s scenes “destroyed” him and “left me cinematically scarred as a child.”

As a fan of the film, Nedomansky recently edited together a comparison between the original storyboards by Mike Ploog and Mentor Huebner with Carpenter’s finished movie. It’s an interesting comparison as it reveals how collaborative a process filmmaking can be, as Nedomansky explains on his blog Vashi Visuals:

The visuals of both the desolate Antarctic and the ever-morphing alien creatures in THE THING were envisioned long before the movie was shot. Extensive storyboards were drawn by artist Michael Ploog and Mentor Huebner so that all the departments of the production were on the same page in their preparation for the shoot. This is nothing new…but the similarity between the storyboards and the final imagery shot by legendary DP Dean Cundey is staggering. Storyboards are often only a guide, but in this film they were so specifically rendered that they became gospel. The detail and artistry of Ploog’s work up front, allowed the crew to have clear and defined goals on those frigid shooting days in both Alaska and Canada.

To demonstrate this point…I’ve taken two scenes from THE THING and laid down the storyboards next to the shots in the final edit of the film. The video below examines the discovery of the alien spaceship and the transformation of Norris in the shocking scene that still haunts me today. Just like Hitchcock worked with Saul Bass to create the famous shower scene in Psycho…Ploog crafted beautiful storyboards for Carpenter so that the time on set was best utilized to tell the story.

You will find more storyboards from The Thing here and Anne Billson’s BFI Classic book on John Carpenter’s The Thing can be found here.

With thanks to Scheme Comix.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Let Charles Mingus help you with your cat poop problems
07:31 am


John Cassavetes
Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus is one of the greatest jazz composers of all time, and he also, it seems, shared some similarities with your typical crazy cat lady. He liked having cats around, and spent a lot of time thinking about the nettlesome issue of feline fecal matter.

On p. 77 of Cassavetes on Cassavetes we find the following anecdote, told by John Cassavetes, about enlisting Mingus to do the soundtrack for his first movie, Shadows. Mingus would only do it if Cassavetes would come over to Mingus’ house and clean up the cat shit—but even that didn’t solve Mingus’ problem:

First we were going to use Miles Davis, but then he signed with Columbia Records and I got so angry I didn’t want to use him. Anyway, someone said there was this great improvisational artist down in the Village who’d cut a few records, so I listened to a couple and oh!—this guy was wonderful! Charlie Mingus. So Charlie said, “Listen, man, would you do me a favor? I’ll do it for you, but you have got to do something for me.” “Sure, sure,” I say. “Listen, I’ve got these cats that are shitting all over the floor. Can you have a couple of your people come up and clean the cat shit? I can’t work; they shit all over my music.” So we went up with scrubbing brushes and cleaned up the thing. Now he says, “I can’t work in this place. It’s so clean. I’ve got to wait for the cats to shit.”

Cassavetes had intended for Mingus to improvise the needed music in a single session, but Mingus demanded to compose it properly. Cassavetes ended up using music composed by Mingus’ saxophonist Shafi Hadi. Meanwhile, two years after the first release of Shadows in 1957, Mingus completed his own soundtrack to the movie. According to Cassavetes, those Mingus compositions are “Nostalgia in Times Square” and “Alice’s Wonderland.” 

At some point Charles Mingus figured out the best method of toilet training a cat, and he felt he had to get the word out. He wrote a short pamphlet called “The Charles Mingus CAT-alog for Toilet Training Your Cat.” You could order the “CAT-alog” directly from Mingus, and it also appeared in a publication called Changes that existed between 1968 and 1975 and was run by Mingus’ wife, Sue Graham. (Interestingly, the officiant at their wedding was Allen Ginsberg.) You can read the entirety of Mingus’ “CAT-alog” at this website, which is administered by Graham. Mingus’ main point is to execute the transfer to the toilet very slowly: “The main thing to remember is not to rush or confuse” the cat. Also, don’t use kitty litter: “Be sure to use torn up newspaper, not kitty litter. Stop using kitty litter. (When the time comes you cannot put sand in a toilet.)”

Recently Studio 360 dedicated a segment to Mingus’ kitty program, even enlisting actor Reg E. Cathey, familiar from such TV shows as The Wire and House of Cards, to read Mingus’ pamphlet in its entirety.

Listen to Mingus’ “Pussy Cat Dues,” after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Blood Freak! The ultimate Thanksgiving gore film (and a true Golden Turkey!)
11:57 am


cult films

For those of you true seekers out there, here is the ultimate Thanksgiving film on so many levels. First thank the universe this was even made, wasn’t burned or left in a dumpster like so many other small weird films and is waiting for you to devour it. From my buddies Something Weird Video, here is the perfect rundown on this, the world’s only marijuana-addict-turkey-monster-anti-drug-pro-Jesus-gore film!

For those that think they’ve seen everything comes Blood Freak, a rampaging turkey monster on a marijuana high!

Finding himself sandwiched between Bible-thumping good-girl Angel and her bad-girl sister Ann, a muscle bound biker named Herschell (Steve Hawkes, star of two obscure Tarzan films) falls under Ann’s seductive spell when she offers him some weed. Quickly becoming a writhing, spastic addict - “I have a feeling I’m hooked!” - the big galoot then gets a job at a turkey farm where he’s fed meat treated with an experimental drug and, like any junkie who eats tainted turkey meat, turns into a man with a giant turkey head. Yes, A Man With A Giant Turkey Head. Who also gobbles like a big dumb bird.

Still hungry for a fix, Herschell-the-Turkey-Man proceeds to attack fellow drug addicts whose blood he drinks with his pointy little turkey beak. In one magical moment, he even buzz-saws the leg off a pusher who holds his stump and howls for what seems like days. All of which is punctuated by philosophical pondering by co-director Brad Grinter (Flesh Feast) before two potheads with a machete decide to go on their version of a turkey shoot…

Wow. A monster movie quite unlike any other, Blood Freak is a jaw-dropping almost legendary milestone in crackpot filmmaking, and the ultimate cinematic turkey. Gobble-gobble!

To top it off there is a narrator who reads from a page on his desk, chain smokes while babbling about the dangers of ingesting chemicals, and at one point has a coughing fit ON SCREEN! This came out on video in the 80’s and it is one of a very small handful of films that still make my head spin.

For those of you who just want a quick dabble, here’s the trailer:

And for the tried and true freaks here is the complete film (with a silly three minute intro by a non-scary horror host)! Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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There’s a Facehugger from ‘Alien’ dog leash
08:36 am



You might have been expecting something closer to a muzzle, but this is not a Facehugger per se, more like an Alien “Backhugger.” Still you have to admire this creative take on a dog leash by Etsy shop GCFX. It’s designed to fit small to medium sized dogs, 15-35 pounds. Big dogs need not apply.

While I dig the idea, I don’t dig the $150 price tag.


via Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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