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Comics-inspired Criterion movie posters by Daniel Clowes, R. Crumb, Ralph Steadman & more


A 2010 movie poster for the 1968 film ‘Head’ by Wayne Shellabarger.
 
Back in 2010 Criterion had the fantastic idea to have director Jim Jarmusch select a number of notable artists including Daniel Clowes, R. Crumb and Hunter S. Thompson’s pal Ralph Steadman to design movie posters for various Criterion releases. The posters made their debut during an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival which Jarmusch curated in 2010.
 

A poster for the 1963 film ‘Shock Corridor’ by Daniel Clowes.
 
If you’ve not seen the artwork that Clowes created for two films in Criterion’s collection directed by Samuel Fuller—1963’s mental hospital fever-dream Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss—you are in for a treat. I’ve assembled a number of the posters done by a wide range of artists that pay homage to films by Wes Anderson, Hal Ashby and David Cronenberg just to name a few. In 2014 Criterion published a massive book Criterion Designs that features a collection of artwork created for films in their catalog including many of the ones featured in this post.
 

‘Crumb’ by R. Crumb.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Ben Wheatley’s amazing storyboards for ‘High Rise’

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Film director Ben Wheatley tweeted his storyboard drawings for High Rise over the weekend. Based on the dystopian novel by J. G. Ballard, High Rise is a brilliant and astounding movie. Its cinematic quality again confirms Wheatley’s status as one of the most talented and original film directors at work in film today. As a director Wheatley stands in direct lineage to the likes of Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, John Boorman and Stanley Kubrick. He is an auteur of exceptional brilliance.

Wheatley plans his films meticulously. He works in partnership with the multitalented screenwriter/editor Amy Jump—who is also his wife. Before filming, Wheatley storyboards the entire film scene by painstaking scene. As evidenced by the selection of drawings below, Wheatley considers everything from shot size and angle to action and camera moves within a sequence. These storyboards will may make better sense if you have seen High Rise—which I recommend you do. It stars as Tom Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Laing, Jeremy Irons as Anthony Royal, Luke Evans as Richard Wilder, Elisabeth Moss as Helen Wilder, Sienna Miller as Charlotte Melville, and Keeley Hawes as Ann Royal. The film takes place in a luxury tower block (designed by Royal) during the 1970s. The block is split into three class structures—with the poorest at the bottom. As the tenants become removed from the outside world—chaos and violence unfold. High Rise is now available on Blu-ray.

The ever industrious Wheatley has just finished his latest film Freefire which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month. Freefire is “a real time shootout” action thriller starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer. Martin Scorsese is the executive producer and I, for one, am certainly looking forward to that…
 
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Ben Wheatley director selfie on the set of ‘High Rise.’
 
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Laing finds Digby the Dog.
 
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Morning.
 
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Morning—High Rise.
 
The rest of Ben Wheatley’s storyboards for ‘High Rise,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Vintage driver’s licenses once issued to Alfred Hitchcock, Johnny Cash, James Brown & more!


Johnny Cash’s California driver’s license issued in 1964.
 
Back in 2013 my Dangerous Minds colleague Tara McGinley put together a post containing images of passports once used by David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin (among others) which I found very entertaining. Mostly because the celebrity subjects look less than thrilled to in their photos—with the exception of Joplin who is grinning from ear to ear. Perhaps the result of an unplanned acid flashback, who can say? At any rate, while conducting my ongoing “research” for my “job” here at DM I came across one of Cash’s old driver licenses from 1964 and that discovery led me down a rather intriguing rabbit hole that was full of other vintage driver’s licenses—some with equally intriguing backstories to go with them.
 

Robert De Niro’s taxicab licence from 1976.
 
Cash’s California state driver’s license (pictured at the top of this post) was sold in an auction in 2014 for $4,480 and even made an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman along with the man who had acquired it, Rick Harrison (the star of the reality television show Pawn Stars) who purchased it from an individual who brought it into his store in Las Vegas. Not one to be outdone by the Man in Black, a license once belonging to Alfred Hitchcock (which you can see below) sold at an auction for the tidy sum of for $8,125. Whoa

Then there’s the coolest one in the lot I dug up belonging to a 33-year-old Robert De Niro (pictured above) issued by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in 1976. Known for his commitment to getting as “method” as possible when it came to his acting roles, De Niro prepped for his role as Travis Bickle the aspiring vigilante about to go off the rails in Taxi Driver by spending a number of weeks driving a New York City yellow cab. According to folklore associated with De Niro’s time behind the wheel, when he was recognized by one of his passengers they actually believed that De Niro was still working as a taxi driver after winning an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in The Godfather II for his impeccable portrayal of young Vito Corleone. Who knew?

When it comes to the story behind Manson’s alleged driver’s license things are a little sketchy. In the 1971 book The Family author Ed Sanders was able to substantiate that Mason lived at the address noted on the license in Santa Barbara—705 Bath Street—along with Lynn “Squeaky” Fromme and Manson Family member Mary Brunner (the mother of Manson’s son Valentine) sometime during 1967—two years prior to his participation in the brutal slayings of director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate and four others at Polanski’s home in Benedict Canyon. The license notes Manson’s date of birth as November 11th—which is a point of contention between historians and criminologists alike as Manson’s date of birth has also been said to fall on November 12th. So while the jury is still out on the actual authenticity of this creepy artifact, it’s still nothing short of chilling to actually see a mundane personal document belonging to the one of the most notorious criminals in history.

You can see Manson’s maybe driver’s license as well as others that once belonged to Davy Jones of the Monkees (RIP), Joe Strummer, Dean Martin and a beaming James Brown all of whom look about as happy as we all do (with the exception of Brown of course because, cocaine) in our DMV photos which proves that the DMV does in fact hate everyone.
 

California driver’s license allegedly issued to Charles Manson in 1967.
 

Back in 2008 this driver’s license once belonging to Alfred Hitchcock sold at an auction for $8,125.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The rise and fall of Tower Records and how the music industry screwed the pooch in the late ‘90s
08.26.2016
08:33 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Tower Records


 
I just finished watching Colin Hanks’ impressive documentary on the rise and fall of Tower Records, titled All Things Must Pass.

While I’d recommend the film to anyone who was ever a frequent Tower shopper, I’d say it’s a must-see for anyone who has ever worked music retail, particularly those who worked during the late ‘90s to early ‘2000s, which saw the decline of physical media sales.

The film centers on Russ Solomon who founded Tower Records in Sacramento, California in 1960, and traces the path he took in building the Tower brand from a single “supermarket of music” to a worldwide mega-chain. The documentary does a fair job at assessing the “perfect storm” that caused the ultimate collapse of the chain, culminating with the closing of their last company-owned store in 2006.
 

Tower Records head-honcho, Russ Solomon
 
Interviews with David Geffen, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and the obligatory Dave Grohl documentary appearance (is there some rule that says Grohl has to appear in EVERY music-related documentary?) give some insight to Tower’s cultural significance, rounding out the insider interviews with Tower’s top brass who detail the company’s rise and fall.

While the film offers a poignant homage to the Tower concept, brand and its larger-than-life captain, Russ Solomon, where it really shines is in its deconstruction of how the music industry as a whole dropped the ball in the late ‘90s. It was interesting to see Geffen offer his theories on how the industry screwed the pooch, leading, along with over-expansion, to Tower’s eventual demise. 

In the ‘90s I worked at a regional chain record store that modeled itself after Tower and I watched a lot of this stuff go down first-hand. Though the industry likes to point to the advent of Napster as the magic bullet that killed retail music, it was, in many ways, their own greed and shortsightedness that worked in conjunction with “illegal” downloads to kill retail. All Things Must Pass highlights the fact that the industry intentionally killed the single in order to force consumers into paying fifteen dollars for a full-length CD. I worked during the “golden age” of the CD single and “cassingle,” and those were beloved by a die-hard customer base. When the singles disappeared, we lost many customers to GAS STATIONS because the gas stations sold pirated “mixtapes” that contained all the songs our customers wanted without having to buy a hundred bucks worth of other songs that they didn’t want. Soon thereafter, these very same customers would be downloading those very same songs.

I can remember working at the shop in 1993 when Garth Brooks became the voice of major labels looking to crush the used CD market. Brooks had pledged to withhold his latest release from any record store that sold used merchandise. He eventually backed down and WEA, UNI and Sony Music Distribution were investigated by the Federal Trade Commission and were the target of several antitrust lawsuits related to their policies against stores that sold used CDs. The labels had attempted to withhold co-op advertising dollars from shops that sold used CDs, asserting that those sales were unfairly cutting into their profits.

I remember when one major electronics chain started its nation-wide expansion and its strategy was to open shops near existing record stores, and to sell all of their CDs for ten dollars each—and to stock damn-near everything. In many cases, they were selling CDs below actual cost as a loss-leader to get people in the doors to buy washing machines and refrigerators. But what they were also doing was destroying their competition by offering CDs at a price that could not be matched. When they effectively ran the other record stores out of business, they stopped stocking all of the deep-catalog titles and only reordered “the hits.” And then the prices magically went up—a shrewd business practice that destroyed several mid-sized music retail chains and made it impossible for music fans in many markets to buy anything, outside of the mainstream, locally… pushing them to search for music—ahem—online.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
This ‘Street Trash’ diorama of the infamous toilet ‘meltdown’ scene can now be yours!
08.25.2016
11:44 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Movies

Tags:
diorama
Street Trash


Behold the one-of-a-kind ‘Street Trash’ diorama based on the famous toilet ‘meltdown’ scene.
 
Available for sale over at the aptly-titled Curious Goods (via Big Cartel) is this eight-inch-scale diorama depicting one of the most memorable (or impossible to forget) scenes in cult movie history—the infamous toilet ‘meltdown’ scene from the 1987 “film” Street Trash.
 

 
Standing fifteen-inches in height the DIY diorama shows “Wizzy” (played by actor Bernard Perlman) taking his last dump after guzzling a bottle of “Tenafly Viper” and was hand painted using the various dayglo colors that were used throughout the film to enhance its gore. The unapologetic, decadently gross film was to be director J. Michael Muro’s film school thesis but was rejected for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has seen Street Trash. And as if this isn’t enough good news for anyone who adores this flick, this one-of-a-kind piece of cinema tragedy is currently ON SALE for the low-brow price of $150.

The film (which has been praised by horror directors Wes Craven and George Romero) was also the subject of a two-hour documentary in 2006 which you can get in a specially packaged Blu Ray from 2013 Street Trash: Special Meltdown Edition.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Remember when David Lynch used to do weather reports on the Internet?
08.25.2016
08:57 am

Topics:
Media
Movies

Tags:
David Lynch


 
A few days ago the BBC released its list of the top 100 movies since the year 2000, representing the consensus view of a whopping 177 (!) working film critics. Such lists are made for carping, and I’m not going to do that here, but a point of primary interest here is, What finished first? And the answer to that is David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which came out in 2003. Not bad for a movie that the director openly admits was two entirely separate project yoked together for no good reason…....

Be that as it may, let’s stick with David Lynch here. I’ve never lived in Los Angeles but I’ve heard multiple times over the years that you used to be able to get David Lynch’s weather report on the radio there every day or most days or something. I did a little poking around and it seems that Indie 103.1 was the station that presented this. Can anyone confirm? Was it really every day? How often was it? Please do chime in with your reminiscences.

On his website in the mid- to late 2000s, Lynch used to present an occasional video weather report for Los Angeles, which is quite hilarious if you stop to think about it. Few would dispute that weather reports are useful things to have—even Angelenos with their samey weather—and yet the utility value of a weather report delivered on the Internet for a specific location and updated irregularly—that’s pretty near useless and obviously part of Lynch’s whole Eagle Scout deadpan dada shtick.

All of the videos were shot in some workspace used by Lynch. A video would start with Lynch intoning the date and then looking out the window and describing whatever was there to observe in a meteorological sense, after which he would sometimes deliver the temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius as well. They’re all well under a minute long.

The mini-project gave Lynch an opportunity to engage in a blockheaded poetry of sorts. Here, for instance, was the weather report for March 12, 2009: “Mostly blue skies, some white clouds floating by, muted golden sunshine, very still, 52 degrees Fahrenheit, 11 Celsius.”

There were occasional variations. In one early instantiation of the form, Laura Dern is sitting next to him holding a piece of paper that reads “FEB 1”—for that was the date—but you can tell that Lynch hadn’t quite gotten the kinks worked out yet.

No dummy he, Lynch himself made fun of the fact that he was doing this, as evidenced in this tweet from 2010:
 

 
Several of Lynch’s video weather reports, after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Baba Yaga’: The best ultra-stylish, sexy mid 70s lesbian witch cult film you’ve never seen


 
If you find yourself endlessly clicking through the entertainment fare being piped into your home by Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Now before ultimately deciding that—to paraphrase something Bruce Springsteen once sang—there’s 57,000 channels and nothin’s on, have I got an amazing, little-heralded practically unknown cult film for you!

1973’s stylish Italo-French quasi-giallo Baba Yaga—there’s very little blood or violence so let’s call it instead a “supernatural erotic thriller”—stars American actress Carroll Baker (best known for her younger roles in Giant and Baby Doll) as the oddly named Baba Yaga, a sexy lesbian witch who wants to take control of Valentina (Isabelle De Funès), a Milan-based Marxist fashion photographer and photojournalist, both body and soul. Their apparently fated meeting occurs when Valentina, walking home alone late one night after a party with some left wing intellectuals, saves a stray dog from being hit by Baba Yaga’s Rolls Royce. When Baker—who was then still an absolutely stunning 43-year-old beauty—steps out of her car and the camera pans up from her boots to her incredible pasty white face, well, it’s quite an entrance.

The plot, which comes from Guido Crepax’s “Valentina” fumetti—one of the first instances of the modern graphic novel—has been called confusing, but I don’t think that’s true at all. There are some weird artsy avant garde dream sequences throughout (complete with naked chicks in leather bondage gear and Nazis) intended to indicate how Baba Yaga was haunting Valentina’s dreams with images of sadomasochism and perversion, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward stuff, scarcely more complicated than an episode of Scooby-Doo or a story on Night Gallery. Basically Baker’s eerie sapphic sorceress casts a murderous spell on Valentina’s Rolleiflex camera so that wherever she points it, bad things happen. There’s also an amazing doll that’s dressed in something like Cosey Fanni Tutti might’ve worn in 1973, but I don’t want to spoil that bit for anyone.
 

 
Aside from Baker’s unique female villain and commanding onscreen presence—-there are many, many reasons to recommend Baba Yaga (aka Kiss Me, Kill Me as it was retitled for VHS video release in the US). First off, it looks freaking amazing. Gorgeous eye-candy from the first frame to the last. The director, Corrado Farina—who died last month at 77—had previously made a documentary on the “Valentina” comics and used not only comic panels drawn by Guido Crepax but also “animated” black and white still photos to keep his adaptation very much in sync with Crepax’s highly stylized vision of Valentina’s fashionable world. Isabelle De Funès, a French singer and actress, is large-eyed and totally foxy, not unlike a young Liza Minnelli and her goofy but memorable hairstyle comes straight from the comic character’s coif (which was based on Louisa Brooks). She’s the perfect “Valentina” in the flesh (and we see a lot of hers in it).
 

 
Farina really knew how to move a camera and his framing (and fantastic use of color) recalls Jean-Luc Godard; the claustrophobic interiors remind one of Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell’s moody Performance; and the overall “mod” production design puts it closer to a film like Danger: Diabolik or Modesty Blaise—even the Batman TV series—than a Dario Argento film, but fans of his movies would most certainly enjoy Baba Yaga, too. Another way to describe it is like Antonioni’s Blow-Up meets Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers. Baba Yaga straddles quite a few genres nimbly, and for this reason I’d rate it a “crowd pleaser” (among certain very specific crowds, I suppose).
 

 
Baba Yaga is not a particularly erotic (or violent) film but it’s tres creepy, extremely atmospheric and genuinely gripping. The film wasn’t a success upon its initial release—the production company went bankrupt—and was simply dumped on the VHS market at some point in the 1980s under various titles. I can’t imagine such a visually appealing film coming across that great with a VHS “pan and scan” cropping on an old TV set, but lemme tell ya, on Blu-ray and a large flat screen, Baba Yaga is pretty spectacular (and big fun). And the soundtrack! The ultra “modern”-sounding jazz soundtrack (heavy on the Hammond organ) was a product of the remarkable Italian composer Piero Umiliani (best known for writing “Mah Nà Mah Nà”) and adds much to the proceedings.

It’s been said of Carroll Baker that she was simply just too sexy for her own good and that this held her career back in the US forcing her to base herself in Europe if she wanted to work. Make no mistake about it… how do I put this tastefully: she is inspiring in this role. The biggest let-down about Baba Yaga to my mind is that Baker—who got naked quite a lot in her films—doesn’t get naked in a film full of gratuitous nudity (although they did shoot a full frontal nude scene with her, it was sadly cut from the final edit).
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Golden girl: Racy images from the famous ‘Goldfinger’ title sequence
08.19.2016
12:15 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies
Sex

Tags:
1960s
Goldfinger
Margaret Nolan


Golden girl Margaret Nolan covered in gold paint on the set of ‘Goldfinger.’
 
Pin-up model and aspiring the dangerously curvy actress Margaret Nolan was only twenty-years-old when she landed a the gig of the girl that the Bond visual and graphic artist Robert Brownjohn got to cover in gold paint for the racy opening title sequence in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.
 

Margaret Nolan being used as a canvas for a projector for the title sequence of ‘Goldfinger.’
 
Earlier this week I posted about the title sequences from many of the Bond films (sans credits) that both Brownjohn and the primary title sequence artist behind the rest of the Bond films up unitl 1989, Maurice Binder, created, and got caught up in the various folklore associated with the franchise. Specifically when it came to Brownjohn’s work on Goldfinger. His subject matter for the title sequences to Goldfinger seemed so suggestive the it was the first title sequence in the history of film to require an thumbs-up from a film censor. Clad in a gold leather bikini Nolan says that in all that the shoot took two to three weeks to complete. As part of her agreement to pose for the risqué segment she received a part in the film playing a brief role as “Dink,” a masseuse. Since I’m sure you’re curious Nolan said that while she found Sean Connery “lovely” he was more interested in getting busy with her identical twin sister. Because that’s how James Bond rolls. (Why not try to shag both of them, Bondy?)

The actual “golden girl” in the movie, “Jill Masterson” was played by actress Shirley Eaton who appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine painted gold. Her character’s death—caused by skin suffocation from being painted head to toe in gold pain—led to the “urban myth” that the actress herself had died during the filming. Eaton appeared in an episode of MythBusters to disprove the rumour.

The Goldfinger title sequence cost approximately $6,500 and the hard-partying Brownjohn used every last penny to create one of the most memorable moments in cinema history. The images you are about to see (some of which are slightly NSFW) were taken on the set by Herbert Spencer (the founding editor of pioneering graphic design journal Typographica) and were shown back in 2013 at MoMA as a part of the exhibition Goldfinger: The Design of an Iconic Film Title. As I mentioned previously I’m a huge James Bond film junkie and I had never seen any of the images in this post until just recently and they are utterly impossible to look away from. Unless you find the image of a beautiful woman painted gold in a barely-there bikini unappealing of course—which seems highly unlikely.
 

 

 
More of the golden girl who “knows when he’s kissed her….” after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Nico stars in gloomy, depressing 1976 French art flick ‘Le berceau de cristal’
08.19.2016
09:17 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Nico
Philippe Garrel


 
Dark, dark, dark. Stéphane Delorme, currently the chief editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, writes of Nico’s face in this movie: “If it does catch the light it’s only to give it back to the darkness.”

Le berceau de cristal (Crystal Cradle, 1976) is director Philippe Garrel’s fifth or sixth consecutive film starring Nico, his compagne during the 70s. None of their collaborations are what you’d call pulse-pounding thrillers; they tend to unfold at the pace of a dream, or a ritual, or a junkie tying his shoes. But this is a special case. Making it to the end of this picture requires a kind of yogic discipline, like slowing your heart rate or raising your body temperature at will. Yet, if you can master your animal nature long enough to dig its glacial pace and scry its black mirror, you’ll discover that Le berceau de cristal is really a completely empty and depressing experience.
 

Dominique Sanda in Le berceau de cristal
 
As background for your fantasy goth or junkie death trip, however, it’s great. Dude: Nico’s in it. Some parts are even set to a gorgeous soundtrack by Ash Ra Tempel—Manuel Göttsching says Garrel asked him for “music to make you dream”—though much of it is as silent as the grave. When Nico’s voice finally does appear on the soundtrack, deadpanning an interior monologue that turns out to consist of the lyrics to “Purple Lips” and other songs from Drama of Exile, it’s been run through a reverb box set to “stony crypt.” French actress Dominique Sanda is also “in” it. So is Rolling Stones consort Anita Pallenberg, who is seen shooting up on camera.

Watch ‘Le berceau de cristal’ (for as long as you can stand to) after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck’: Herzog’s doc on auctioneers & ‘the poetry of capitalism’


 
Recently a massively pretentious man-baby posing as the world’s One True Cinephile expressed his concern over the fact that people are amused by Werner Herzog. The bulkily titled National Post article, “The memeification of Werner Herzog: Why the respected director should be respected for his genius, not regarded as a joke,” bemoaned the fact that Herzog’s voice and name are not only incredibly well-known, but are sometimes imitated or referenced for comedic effect—never mind the fact that Herzog has had some hilarious cameos on comedies like Parks and Recreation and Rick and Morty. Calum Marsh, the very serious author of the piece (who nonetheless unironically wears pocket squares), had this to say:

Of course, reduced to meme form Herzog seems comical in a way that doesn’t serve him. Oh, yes, it’s very amusing to hear him talk about Pokémon Go, or whatever other trending topic hack journalists see fit to ask him for his opinion on; that’s how Q&As go viral. On the other hand, it’s a fairly abhorrent way of treating one of our major living filmmakers. Werner Herzog isn’t Christopher Walken. He ought to be valued for his genius, not regarded as a joke. My advice: plunge into the retrospective and enjoy the films qua films.

Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo are great enough to transcend any memeified punchlines.

Now I do not at all agree with the utterly humorless Mister Marsh on a number of things. I don’t think asking Herzog about Pokémon Go makes a journalist a hack—especially when it elicited such an interesting answer. I don’t think good interviews with legendary artists should simply be a series of ass-kissing softball questions, either. I also don’t think that anyone laughing about Herzog regards him as a joke—and I believe his genius isn’t really in question when he is made a figure of fun.

I do agree that everyone could stand to watch a little more Herzog though, so instead of whining in Latin about how no one sees his films, I present to you, How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck, Herzog’s brief but charming 1976 documentary on auctioneers—you know, the ones that talk really fast. The German title of the film translated to Observations of a New Language, as Herzog had a great deal of respect for the auctioneers and their “beautiful” but “frightening” language, referring to auctioneering as “the last poetry possible, the poetry of capitalism.” I assure you, there are parts where you might laugh, and that is absolutely okay.
 
Watch the film, after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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