follow us in feedly
Red Meanies, Blue Meanies: The Cold War roots of the Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’
07.13.2016
08:32 am

Topics:
Animation
Movies
Music
Politics

Tags:


 
Yellow Submarine is such a brilliantly fun movie experience and so perfectly in the Beatles’ mass culture, mind-evolving spirit that it takes an effort to recall that the Beatles themselves didn’t really have very much to do with it. It says a lot, perhaps, about the strength of the Beatles brand at that time that Yellow Submarine could work so splendidly, even with most of the artists involved being forced to intuit what jokes and artworks constituted an acceptably “Beatles” and “fun” sort of thing. Not much doubt that they succeeded, eh?

The man in charge of the operation was a Czechoslovak-born German named Heinz Edelmann, an artist with a wide portfolio who seems to have become somewhat chagrined at always being thought of as the “Yellow Submarine guy”—that is, unless Peter Max (who was never involved with the movie in any way) was being called the “Yellow Submarine guy” in his stead!
 

Heinz Edelmann
 
In 1993 Edelmann consented to appear on Baltimore’s Best 21st Century Radio hosted by Bob Hieronimus, a fervent admirer of the movie.

Edelmann explained that he was contacted for the Yellow Submarine project by Charlie Jenkins, the art director in charge of the special effects who was responsible for the glorious “Eleanor Rigby” section of the movie, among other sequences. He also pointed out that Yellow Submarine did not represent the first attempt to “do” the Beatles in animation. Starting in 1965 there were also the series of short cartoons that made up the Beatles TV series. and in fact the producer and director of Yellow Submarine, Al Brodax and George Dunning, had also worked on the more rudimentary television shorts.

Things were moving so fast, Edelmann pointed out, that when the TV series was being made, the Beatles were primarily thought of as a Liverpool phenomenon, with the plots staying more or less true to that, but by 1968, when Yellow Submarine was released, that was no longer the case, they belonged to the world, and the tone had to be more universal.

That may explain one of the more intriguing false pathways the movie might have gone down—but didn’t. According to Edelmann, as hard as it seems for such a thing to be possible, the original conception of Yellow Submarine hewed to a Cold War framework. And it actually might have stayed a Cold War allegory—but someone ran out of red paint. Here’s Edelmann:
 

The point, I think was, what I thought the one meaningful thing about it all was, in ‘68 this was more or less the end of the Cold War. Even in the Bond movies they gave up the KGB as the enemy and turned to self-employed villains. So, one had in ‘67, one had the feeling that (a.) the Cold War’s over, that Russia is changing. But also our world is changing with new values to which, with a new vision of the world in which the Beatles played an important part. So, the Meanies, in a way to me, represented a symbolic version of the cold war. And originally they were the Red Meanies.

...

And only because the assistant who came in to do the coloring, she either did not quite understand my instructions, or deliberately did not understand them, but it also could be we didn’t have enough red paint in the place. So they became the Blue Meanies.

 
Certainly Edelmann’s status as a German, coming from a country that was split in two by the Cold War, half of which was experiencing repression from Moscow, would have had something to do with this—because it’s really rather difficult to derive any Cold War meanings out of the Beatles’ own lyrics, which tended to focus on a specific story or else espoused an adherence to universal values. Obviously a message like “All You Need Is Lovewas in some sense about the Cold War, but—well, suffice it to say that the choice to make the movie more about intolerant conservatives and power-hungry buzzkills of all stripes was surely a wise one.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Did Joan Crawford really ‘gag’ because Bette Davis smelled bad? This 1962 letter says she did
07.12.2016
09:34 am

Topics:
Movies
Pop Culture

Tags:


 
Okay, so there’s this letter floating around the Internet supposedly written by Joan Crawford addressing Bette Davis’ (allegedly) offensive body odor. The letter is dated August 11, 1962, so that would have been during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. The letter is written to “Bob” which is probably director Robert Aldrich. Now I’ve tried to find its provenance and if this thing is actually real and came up empty handed. I couldn’t find anything except for an Instagram account that posted the image.

Could this be an Internet hoax? Absolutely. But I must add, the two were known to have an extremely icy relationship.


 
h/t Mike McGonigal

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Gus Van Sant’s early William S. Burroughs adaptation, ‘The Discipline of DE’
07.11.2016
12:25 pm

Topics:
Literature
Movies

Tags:


 
In Drugstore Cowboy, Gus Van Sant’s breakthrough 1989 portrait of junky culture, the appearances of William S. Burroughs as the older addict Tom inevitably lent a dose of reality to the proceedings. That movie, however, was not Van Sant’s first encounter (so to speak) with Burroughs. A decade earlier, Van Sant directed a short movie called “The Discipline of DE” that was an adaptation of a Burroughs story of the same name.

“DE” here stands for “Doing Easy” and is synonymous with zen practice applied to everyday existence. In the short film (9 mins.), Van Sant respectfully stays very close to the source material. The story, which is from Burroughs’ 1973 collection Exterminator!, actually is scarcely a story at all, it is more like a brief guide to zen practice. Burroughs introduces the reader to a figure that combines traditional values and the methodical military approach to life, 65-year-old Col. Sutton-Smith. After a reverie in his past the Colonel “is jolted back to THE NOW” as the predictable rhythms of some dreary short story suddenly snaps to the crisp how-to imperative statements of a self-help manual. 

Midway through, Burroughs/Van Sant switches to the figure of “an American student” to illustrate the benefits of learning to stop fighting the seeming hostile intent of objects in our daily lives: “You will discover clumsy things you’ve been doing for years until you think that is just the way things are”—eventually you will attain “the final discipline of doing nothing.” The movie has something of the deadpan style of Jim Jarmusch, whose breakthrough feature Stranger Than Paradise came several years after this.

Van Sant’s mentor Ken Shapiro, who later directed the Chevy Chase vehicle Modern Problems, serves as the movie’s narrator—since much of the movie is excerpts from Burroughs’ story, that’s rather an important role in this instance.

In 1991 Van Sant told the magazine LA Style:
 

I believe the properly manipulated image can provoke an audience to the Burroughsian limit of riot, rampant sex, instantaneous death, even spontaneous combustion. ... The raw materials of inspiration include elements as primal and potentially frightening as violence, sex, and death—which have haunted us since we were reptiles slithering on the ground. Only in our dreams can we make the journey back through labyrinthine, DNA-encoded history to our fiery, barbaric origins. But the primitive world of blood and flame is still with us.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ralph Bakshi’s animated assault on racism in America is still an uncompromising gut punch
07.11.2016
11:37 am

Topics:
Animation
Movies
Race

Tags:


 
A subversive and satirical re-imagining of Disney’s Song Of The South transplanted to Harlem, Ralph Bakshi’s incendiary masterpiece Coonskin exploits and eviscerates grotesque American racial stereotypes with a politically incorrect, profane and vicious sense of humor. The film’s hyper energy is emphasized by Chico Hamilton’s percussive score and the mix of animation and live action set the tone for films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Despite its innovative visuals, there’s nothing slick about Coonskin. The movie has the perfect low-budget skeeziness of a Dolemite flick. And casting Barry White as Brother Bear/Samson and Scatman Crothers as Papa Bone adds layers of pop cultural resonance that continue to reverberate even today. (Did Rick Ross cop his fashion sense from Samson?)
 

 
Released in 1975 to a firestorm of controversy, it took Coonskin several years before the film found an audience that could appreciate it as an edgy aesthetic experiment and a powerful social statement. Wu Tang Clan had plans to re-make it and Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, released 25 years after Coonskin, echoes Bakshi’s brutal take on the pervasive, ages-old racism that permeates American popular culture. Al Sharpton and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) went apeshit and picketed Coonskin before anyone in the organization had even seen the film. (Sharpton quipped “I don’t need to see shit to smell shit.”) Bakshi had hired a number of black animators to work on the film and the NAACP felt it was an important work but still Sharpton couldn’t resist the opportunity for some press. New York City theaters were smoke-bombed during screenings of Coonskin. Nationwide theaters panicked and cancelled bookings.The film’s distributor Paramount Pictures eventually freaked and pulled it from circulation. The positive reception from critics didn’t make up for the fact that most audiences, both black and white, just didn’t get it.
 

 
Quentin Tarantino has championed Coonskin over the years and provided some critical insight into Bakshi’s methods. Tarantino describes the film as…

... hands down the most incendiary piece of work in the entire (blaxploitation) genre. Using negro folklore and slave tales of nonviolent resistance, along with the White American/European media’s racist caricatures of the past (i.e., Disney’s Black Crows, Warner Brothers’ Coal Black, every James River pickaninny that smilingly stared back from grocery shelves, the spaghetti benders of Lady and the Tramp, and the Jews of the Nazi Party-produced The Eternal Jew), Bakshi, with zero timidity, challenged his audiences’ sensibilities in ways that made all the other blaxploitation titles seem like the wish-fulfillment fantasies they were.

In fact, the only voice of the time that had a symbiotic relationship to Bakshi’s work could be found in Richard Pryor’s monologues. To discover that the two gentlemen were friends, and Pryor was a huge fan of Coonskin, comes as no surprise. An America that considers Blazing Saddles and All In The Family stinging racial satire is an America not ready for Coonskin.

 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Nostalgic images of drive-in movie theaters
07.08.2016
10:15 am

Topics:
History
Movies
Pop Culture

Tags:


The giant stone ‘marquee’ on the first drive-in movie theater in Camden, New Jersey that opened on June 6th, 1933.
 
83-years ago this week (June 6th, 1933 specifically) the very first drive-in movie theater opened for business in Camden, New Jersey. Originally conceptualized and patented in 1933 by entrepreneur Richard Hollingshead who astutely recognized that despite the failing economy (the Great Depression was in full swing) people were still going to the movies and would cut back on basic necessities such as food for the opportunity to escape their bleak day-to-day existences in a dark theater for a few hours. Hollingshead’s outdoor theater cost only a quarter a car (plus 25 cents for each occupant) and the sound from the speakers broadcasting the films to the 400 car capacity lot were so loud that they could be heard miles down the road.
 

A print advertisement for Richard Hollingshead’s new drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey.
 
According to a historical reference noted by the University of Michigan not everyone was happy about Hollingshead’s invention of the drive-in—and aparently a group of teenage girls actually took to protesting its creation as it put a big dent in the booming tween babysitting business since families were now bringing their infants, toddlers and young children along in the car to see the latest celluloid offerings from the comfort of their car. Drive-in theaters started to proliferate all over the country from Massachusetts to New Mexico and by 1942 there were 95 drive-ins with locations in 27 states. Ten years later there were approximately 5000 drive-in movie theaters in operation across the U.S. When the decade of spandex and neon otherwise known as the 80s rolled around drive-in theaters began their decline thanks to urban sprawl and technological advancements such as cable TV and the cheaper price of that in-home movie machine, the VCR.

These days (and according to an article published in 2014) there are still 338 drive-in theaters in operation including one of my favorite haunts in my younger days, the 67-year-old Weir’s Beach drive-in in New Hampshire. Tons of images of drive-ins from the past follow.
 

West Virginia, 1956.
 

A ‘carhop’ at the Rancho drive-in, San Francisco, 1948.
 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Outer Space International TV broadcasts SubGenius, GWAR, monster, mutant, sex, and space thrills!
07.07.2016
01:18 pm

Topics:
Movies
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:


“We want you to be nostalgic about the future again.”

Even I, a man so tight he wouldn’t buy a pair of shorts for a flea, broke down over the holiday weekend and purchased a $35 Roku streaming stick.

And what, you ask, prompted this uncharacteristic liberality? Some athletic contest to be broadcast on a Roku station, perhaps? A Fourth of July H.R. Pufnstuf marathon? Or was it one of those deals where we only had 24 hours to save the orphanage from the wrecking ball and the whole town came together to peddle stolen A/V gear, raising just enough money to foil the evil millionaire’s plans as the old clock tower struck twelve?

No, it was something far more wonderful: the OSI 74 network. Launched last Halloween, Outer Space International brings together all the late-night TV and VHS-collector weirdness that has been missing from my life since public access vanished and I indignantly cancelled my Time Warner subscription. “We’re channeling the great pioneers of UHF, home video, and early cable,” network host Mr. Lobo says in one of their bumpers, and not a moment too soon! As far as I know, OSI’s only rival in this territory is the resurrected Night Flight, also available on Roku for $2.99 a month. (OSI is currently free, and every show has a virtual “tip jar.”)
 

 
So far, I’ve only watched a tiny fraction of OSI’s goods. A glance at their schedule reveals a massive hoard of fun: episodes of Criswell Predicts, Friday night movies hosted by GWAR manager Sleazy P. Martini (Sleazy Pictures After Dark), a soap opera starring drag sensation Bunny Galore (Pantry Manor), a Saturday morning rock ‘n’ roll monster dance party (Ghoul A Go-Go), a conspiracy show (Paranoia Magazine Presents), the pilot for a new cartoon series (The Paranormal Idiot), Monster Creature Feature, Cult Movies TV, Monster Madhouse, Cinema Insomnia, Midnight Frights...
 

 
But if you want to know what really squeezed the $35 from my wallet, it’s the significant portion of OSI 74’s programming that’s dedicated to the video ministry of the Church of the SubGenius. In addition to classics like the recruitment video Arise, the network’s got deep SubGenius weirdness such as the entire 1984 devival at which J.R. “Bob” Dobbs was assassinated, a compilation of news and talk show appearances called As They See “Bob,” and a retrospective episode of the Dallas public access show The Hypnotic Eye. Perhaps the greatest treasure in the SubGenius collection is The Obvious (Sex and Violence), an absolutely insane one-hour megamix of tits and squibs from 1980s softcore, action, sci-fi, and horror movies that must be seen to be disbelieved. There’s also a weekly feature film chosen by the Church, the “Bulldada Movie of the Weak” [sic]. Recent offerings include Wojciech Has’ The Saragossa Manuscript and The Hourglass Sanatorium and Shaw Brothers’ The Super Inframan.

Some of OSI’s programming is up at Vimeo. If you have a Roku, the station is listed under “Streaming Channels”; alternatively, you can follow these instructions to add it to your home screen. Linked here is a 30-second, very NSFW clip from The Obvious (Sex and Violence)

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Restored version of David Bowie in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ heading for Fall theatrical release
07.07.2016
12:53 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:


 
Nicolas Roeg‘s heady 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth is probably about as close to being a part of David Bowie‘s discography as a movie can possibly be. Biographically, Bowie was in the middle of an adventurous phase that would produce Station to Station and he was about to head for Berlin, where he would make Low and Heroes, he was thoroughly coked up and paranoid and more than dabbling in the occult, and the album art for Bowie’s Station to Station derived from his work on Roeg’s movie. Watching the movie is an essential rite of passage for any David Bowie fan.

How happy, then, to learn that the 40th anniversary of The Man Who Fell to Earth is slated to receive a spiffy new restored version and a theatrical release. The movie will return to theaters in digital 4K under the guidance of the movie’s cinematographer, Anthony Richmond.

In the movie, Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial on a mission to bring Earth’s plentiful water back to his parched home planet—however, distracted by material concerns, he uses his planet’s advanced technology to become a dissolute millionaire.

The Man Who Fell to Earth has already been released as a Criterion edition DVD. A collector’s edition of the movie is due to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD and for download this autumn. The restoration had been in the works since late 2015, predating Bowie’s death this January. StudioCanal’s Vintage Classic line will be handling the home video release.

The Man Who Fell To Earth will commence a theatrical run on September 9 and be available to own on October 10. It should be fun to attend screenings with a crowd full of like-minded Bowie fans—a perfect occasion for pharmaceutical enhancement.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Thief’s Porno: Jean Genet’s existentialist gay smut film from 1950 (NSFW)
07.06.2016
03:07 pm

Topics:
Movies
Queer

Tags:


 
In 1950, the great French criminal, poet, novelist, playwright and homosexual Marxist revolutionary, Jean Genet—one of the towering literary talents of the 20th century—directed his only film, Un chant d’amour (“A Song of Love”), a silent, 26-minute black-and-white short depicting the sexual fantasies of two male prisoners, one young, one older, and a self-loathing prison warden who gets off watching them. In the role of the younger prisoner, Genet cast his then lover, 18-year-old Lucien Sénémaud, who would later leave him for a woman.

Un chant d’amour is one of the earliest classics of queer cinema and the film caused scandal and censorship crackdowns for several years when attempts were made at public screenings. This controversy—and the difficulty of actually seeing the film allowed Genet to put his well-honed conman skills into action as he sold “the only” print to several wealthy porn collectors. Like his books Un chant d’amour kept Genet’s name in the news with near constant censorship battles.

When Jonas Mekas wanted to screen the film in New York, he had to smuggle it past customs officers by hiding the film—cut into several pieces—in his pockets. As Mekas explains in his intro to Cult Epics DVD release of Un chant d’amour, he happened to be seated next to British playwright Harold Pinter who was flying to America for the 1964 Broadway premiere of his play The Homecoming. Pinter’s fame helped him distract a star-struck customs officer as Mekas whistled by.
 

Jean Genet with Angela Davis
 
From an extensive and thoughtful essay about Un chant d’amour at Jim’s Reviews:

When Mekas screened the picture at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative (which he’d co-founded, as he later would Anthology Film Archives and Film Culture magazine), police burst in, beat Mekas, threw him in jail, and sneered that he should be shot for “dirtying America.” The case was later dropped, since Genet was himself something of a celebrity, with two plays running in New York; but Mekas received a suspended six-month sentence for screening another landmark LGBT film, Jack Smith’s gender-bending Flaming Creatures. Déjà vu: more police raids a few months later in San Francisco when Genet’s film was shown to private groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought suit, enlisting the expert testimony of the brilliant critic Susan Sontag, but to no avail. The California District Court of Appeals banned the film, and the decision was upheld by the US Supreme Court.

Unwittingly, Genet had helped narrow the US’s legal definition of obscenity, which had earlier been expanded to include explicit works with “literary or scientific or artistic value.” In the UK, despite a scattering of underground screenings over the years, the film was not even presented to the British Board of Film Classification (i.e., censorship) until 1992. Happily, times have changed – even if it’s taken several decades – and we can now appreciate Genet’s film on its own terms… even if, ultimately, Genet himself could not.

Today, perhaps the most shocking aspect of Un chant d’amour is Genet’s denial of it, beginning around 1975 when he huffily refused a 90,000 franc award from the Minister of Culture, of office which he equated (not unjustly) with censorship: and by the way, hadn’t he made the film a quarter of a century earlier. Edmund White offers some intriguing speculations about Genet’s denunciation: “perhaps because as his sole film it seems a slender accomplishment given his overwhelming lifelong ambitions towards cinema, perhaps it reminded him of a sterile, unhappy period in his life and of his now-dead love for Lucien, or perhaps because it was one more instance of his trafficking between art and pornography in an ambiguous territory he never felt happy about… [And] the extra-artistic reactions to his work – legal, moral, titillated – irritated him. He told Papatakis he didn’t like the film because it was too bucolic and not sufficiently violent. It is also Genet’s last attempt to portray homosexual desire.”

 

Genet marching with two of his revolutionary queer literary compatriots, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.
 
If you look at late 60s issues of The Village Voice and other underground newspapers, there were often small ads advertising screenings of Un chant d’amour along with films like Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks or Scorpio Rising (or Andy Milligan’s Vapors, which mostly takes place in a gay bathhouse) at cinemas with names like “The Tomkat Theater” or “The Adonis Lounge.” These film titles were pretty much code words indicating gay cruising scenes, but in a manner likely to fly right over the heads of the NYPD’s vice squad.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Here’s Johnny!’: ‘The Shining’ cuckoo clock
07.05.2016
10:09 am

Topics:
Art
Design
Movies

Tags:


 
Here’s a neato cuckoo clock that reenacts the famous ax scene from The Shining on the hour. Apparently every hour Jack Torrance breaks through the door—something that seems pretty cuckoo, I think we can all agree—with his axe yelling “Here’s Johnny!” accompanied by the screams from Shelley Duvall’s character. The clock, made by Chris Dimino, is sadly just a one-off. Boo!

Perhaps if there’s some Internet interest, Chris Dimino will make more?

I tried to find some video footage of the clock in action, but unfortunately turned up empty handed.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Angelyne’s pink Corvette is up for auction
06.30.2016
09:30 am

Topics:
Movies
Pop Culture

Tags:


A vintage shot of LA icon Angelyne and her life-sized Barbie car, a pink Chevrolet Corvette.
 
According a listing on eBay platinum-haired goddess of self-promotion Angelyne (the real star of Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise in her role as the uncredited “auditioning singer”) has put her pink Corvette (one of at least ten Corvette’s that Angelyne has owned throughout her reign as the undisputed billboard queen of Los Angeles) up for auction.

The sweet ride comes with a removable top (because, of course it does) and Angelyne herself will even sign this hot pink rocket for the winning bidder. Here’s Angelyne talking about her love of all things pink and the aquisition of her ninth Corvette back in 2014:

I got my first one in the mid-eighties. This is my ninth one, and I’m going to get my tenth next year. I had a special paint made for me. It has a formula that is very hard to get because it uses a toner that they don’t make anymore.

Right now the bidding for the ultimate adult-sized Barbie mobile is at $12,111.00 and according to the listing the reserve has still not been met.
 

 
More images of the infamous LA blonde and one of her equally famous pink cars follow after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Page 2 of 260  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›