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Nico stars in gloomy, depressing 1976 French art flick ‘Le berceau de cristal’
08.19.2016
09:17 am

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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’
08.18.2016
04:36 pm

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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
‘Divine decadence, darling’: Photos from behind the scenes of Bob Fosse’s ‘Cabaret’
08.18.2016
09:41 am

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In the right circumstances of time, place and imagination—it is possible to time travel. This was firmly impressed upon me in my teens while reading Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin. I had just moved to Glasgow as a student and was renting a room in an apartment owned by a birdlike lady who whistled music hall songs and sniffed pecks of snuff from the back of her hand. She was retired. Renting a room supplemented her meagre state pension. Now here’s the connection: she had once been a furrier in Berlin during the 1930s and had witnessed at first hand the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. She had seen the Jewish shops vandalized and some of her Jewish friends disappear to who knew where?

It wasn’t just the fact this dear old lady had an experience of the events which I was reading in Mr. Isherwood’s book—but the flat in which I was a lodger had been untouched since the 1930s. The whole interior decoration, the heavy furniture, the coal fire, the carpeting and rugs, the cast iron bed, the wooden mantlepiece, the dressing table with vanity mirror—everything in the apartment was as it had been in the days before the Second World War.

Only in the kitchen was there any capitulation to modern technology. A 1950s fridge and an electric cooker unused—still wrapped in its protective polythene. I cooked simple meals off a bunsen burner gas ring—a blackout cooker as my landlady called it. It was winter. The apartment was cold. At night I could hear, like Isherwood’s central character, the men outside whistling in the dark. Except these men were not calling to their lovers to come to the windows but to their dogs in the small misty park nearby. In such circumstances of place and time and imagination, it was all too easy to find myself transported to the decade of Goodbye to Berlin.

That snowbound Christmas I watched Cabaret on television. A multi-award-winning film version of the musical inspired by Isherwood’s Berlin novels. I must have seen that film about thirty times since. It is an almost perfect movie—story, character, sex, politics, and a powerful overarching narrative. Not to mention Liza—with a “Z”—Minnelli at the very height of her talents. Based mainly on the short story “Sally Bowles” from Goodbye to Berlin and John Van Druten’s adapted play of the book I Am a Camera, Bob Fosse’s film Cabaret captured the mood of Isherwood’s writing.

The film starred Michael York as Isherwood’s alter ego—named here Brian Roberts, Liza Minnelli as night club singer Sally Bowles, Helmut Griem as rich playboy Maximilian von Heune and the incomparable Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub.

Apparently director Bob Fosse wanted to play the MC himself but the studio insisted on Grey. The film was shot at the Bavaria Film Studios in Germany—well out of Hollywood’s reach. One day the studios cabled Fosse to say he was spending too much money on smoke for the nightclub scenes. Fosse read the telegram out to the assembled cast. Then he ripped it up and threw it over his shoulder. That was the end of Hollywood’s involvement. Fosse had been considered a risky choice as director. His previous film Sweet Charity had flopped disastrously. Away from the studio’s interference, Fosse was able to achieve what he wanted. Cabaret swept eight Academy Awards from ten nominations.
 
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Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies.
 
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More photos from the making of ‘Cabaret,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Girls Bite Back’: An early nod to women in rock with the Slits, Nina Hagen, Siouxsie and Girlschool
08.17.2016
04:46 pm

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Feminism
Movies
Music

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VHS Cover
The VHS box cover art

Girls Bite Back (aka Women in Rock, 1980) is an ahead of its time document acknowledging female rock musicians. Directed by Wolfgang Büld (who also directed Punk in London, British Rock and Lovesick) the movie opens with a photo slideshow of many pioneer musical greats including Bessie Smith, Debbie Harry, Joan Baez, Cher, Dolly Parton, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt, Cass Elliott, Wendy O Williams and many others while Nina Hagen performs. After this we see a segment of interviews by some of the featured performers (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Slits, Girlschool, Lilliput, Zaza and Mania D.) and I’m amazed at how relevant their answers still are today. The women are asked what it’s like being female musicians, their overall answer is that they’re just musicians. Being female is not the important thing about what they’re doing. A young Viv Albertine is quoted saying, “We are fucking women making music—that’s all there is to say about it.” Unfortunately even with that badass mentality, 36 years later there is still a need for Viv Albertine to deface a punk exhibit for not acknowledging these important women and their impact on music.
 

The Slits

The most relatable thing about the women in this movie (at least for me) is a segment where they discuss their desire to be recognized as musicians and how they don’t want to be categorized as feminists or anti-male. It’s become a strange world where feminism is sometimes taken too far, as if it means hating men and wanting to be the superior gender, when really it’s all about equality. Girls Bite Back really captures this idea.

An indifferent Siouxsie Sioux is interviewed saying that if it was four years earlier she wouldn’t be playing in a band. She says, “It’s too easy. It’s the thing to do if you’re bored. It used to be more of a risk.” Siouxsie actually seems quite depressed in this footage. That’s probably the saddest thing about the film, as she seems entirely over her music career almost as it was beginning. However, she builds up more enthusiasm by their third live song “Jigsaw Feeling.”
 
Girlschool
Hard rockers Girlschool

Wolfgang Büld did a great job of picking out the bands featured in the film, I mean really his band choices were on point. It’s an awesome range of bands with rare footage of live shows and intimate interviews. There is something nicely raw about it as well, no captions to tell you who each band is, no subtitles when Mania D. is interviewed (they speak German). These imperfections, while a bit frustrating because you want to know what they are saying, make the film feel low budget in a labor of love, intimate kind of way. If you’re a die-hard Nina Hagen fan, you will be disappointed. She’s only in the very beginning and end, no interviews. However, the concert footage of her is pretty rad.

Girls Bite Back is a film female musicians should see. It’s poignant, witty and a great little rockumentary. If nothing else, it’s worth it alone to watch see the live performances by Girlschool and The Slits’ interview segments—they’re so fucking cool.
 

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
Gorgeous images from the opening sequences of James Bond films (without the text)
08.17.2016
12:38 pm

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A shot from the opening sequence for the 1964 film, ‘Goldfinger.’
 
Back in 1961 visual artist Maurice Binder (who got his start creating department store ads for retail giant Macy’s) presented an idea to Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli that would become an intrinsic part of their James Bond movie franchise—the famous title sequence that featured naked girls, guns and of course Mr. Bond caught in the sights of a gun barrell.
 

The famous ‘gun barrel’ shot originally conceived by Maurice Binder. This one taken from 1969’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ starring George Lazenby.
 
According to Binder his pitch to Saltzman and Broccoli was put together on the fly after he had been contacted by the studio when his title sequence for the 1961 film The Grass is Greener caught their attention. Binder was asked to adapt some similar ideas for the opening sequence for Dr. No. The storyboard that Binder brought to the fateful meeting was cobbled together with white price tag stickers that served as a means to convey gunshots floating across the screen. Needless to say Saltzman and Broccoli dug his pitch and Binder’s overall original concept—that included the image of a Bond viewed through the scope of a gun—became an important part of the films’ success.

When it comes to how later Bond titles sequences would come to be realized, we have Robert Brownjohn to thank. As a student at the Institute of Design in Chicago Brownjohn studied under the tutelage of Hungarian-born artist, painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy. Moholy-Nagy, a former professor of the Bauhaus School helped influence a technique used by Brownjohn of projecting in-motion footage onto the bodies of his subjects (which Moholy-Nagy used in his early films in the 1920s) when he created the title sequences for From Russia with Love in 1963 and perhaps the most memorable Bond title sequence in the franchise’s history, 1964’s Goldfinger. Brownjohn was also the brainchild behind covering model Margaret Nolan in gold paint. Shortly after Goldfinger’s success the artist’s relationship with Saltzman and Broccoli became contentious and Binder returned and would go on to create every Bond film title sequence until 1989’s Licence To Kill. He too often used the technique of projecting films onto the models.

I can’t lie—I’m a sucker for the Bond franchise especially the ones that star Sean Connery (and the dashing George Lazenby who briefly took over for Connery for 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). When I was recently watching yet another James Bond marathon I became focused on the opening sequences. What struck me was the gorgeous placidity of the images when you got to gaze at them for a moment without the credits popping up. Which sent me off in search of finding said images sans credits—and I wasn’t disappointed. And I’m sure you won’t be either. Check them out below and a video of what the opening sequence looks like without the help of text for A View to a Kill.
 

‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ 1977.
 

‘Licence to Kill,’ 1989.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The owls are not what they seem: Intimate photos taken on the set of the original ‘Twin Peaks’
08.16.2016
10:58 am

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Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) having fun smashing glass with his head on the set of ‘Twin Peaks.’
 

I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.
Agent Dale Cooper

 
Many of the photos in this post captured while the cameras weren’t rolling on the set of Twin Peaks were taken by actor Richard Beymer (who played ‘Benjamin Horne’ in the series) after the photographer hired to take promotional shots for the film quit (you can still buy a few of Beymer’s beautiful photos here). Others are what appear to be candid photos including an amusing polaroid of director David Lynch yelling into the ear of actress Grace Zabriskie (who played Laura Palmer’s mother Sarah in the original series) with a megaphone.
 

Deputy ‘Tommy Hawk Hill’ (played by actor Michael Horse) hanging out with a deer head.
 
As pretty much everyone on the face of the earth has been following along with the drama that has surrounded the return of Twin Peaks to TV (predicted to occur sometime in 2017) after Lynch said sayonara to the folks at Showtime via a series of Tweets to his “Twitter Friends” noting that he had himself began to notify the cast that he was no longer attached to the shows revival. Thankfully for lovers of the Log Lady about a month later the one-of-a-kind master of cult films decided to come back as did pretty much every one of the members of the original cast. And if that’s not enough for you to get excited about the fact that television is about to get really fucking weird again the show will start shooting scenes in location around Washington State specifically North Bend—the home of Twede’s Cafe that still serves up “Twin Peaks” signature cherry pie and of course “a damn fine cup o’ coffee.”

Loads of cool behind-the-scenes shots from 1990 series follow.
 

Actress Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer) and David Lynch on the set filming one of the last episodes of ‘Twin Peaks’ on March 13th, 1991.
 

‘Caroline Powell Earle’ (played by Brenda Mathers), David Lynch and ‘Annie Blackburn’ (played by Heather Graham).
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Like a demonic Stephen Hawking: Cenobites scene from ‘Hellraiser’ performed by speech synthesizers
08.16.2016
09:45 am

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Science/Tech

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DECtalk was a text-to-voice speech synthesizer popular in the 1980s. This nifty little piece of technology came with a variety of built-in voices which enabled people who had lost the power of speech to communicate. Its best known user is Stephen Hawking who communicated with the voice “Perfect Paul” (DTC 01).

The DECtalk was also famously the voice of the US National Weather Service on radio and supplied the message to many a telephone answer machine.

In 1939 the Voder was the first attempt at synthesizing human speech by breaking down words into acoustic components. It was the “first device that could generate continuous human speech.”

All well and good, but the one that tickles my fancy was the first time a speech synthesizer was successfully used over a phone to order pizza. This happened at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Michigan State University in 1974, when Donald Sherman who suffered from Möbius syndrome—a facial paralysis—made his order using a Votrax voice synthesizer and a mainframe computer.
 

 
Now you may have seen the recent clip of Monty Python’s argument sketch recreated with speech synthesizers by Per Kristian Risvik. Well here’s another little film he’s made using speech synthesizers to recreate a classic scene from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. It’s a perfect fit and far, far more creepier.

Here’s the dialog as performed:

Lead Cenobite: The box… you opened it, we came.
Kirsty Cotton: It’s just a puzzle box!
Lead Cenobite: Oh no, it is a means to summon us.
Kirsty Cotton: Who are you?
Lead Cenobite: Explorers… in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, angels to others.
Kirsty Cotton: It was a mistake! I didn’t… I didn’t mean to open it! It was a mistake! You can… GO TO HELL!
Female Cenobite: We can’t. Not alone.
Lead Cenobite: You solved the box, we came. Now you must come with us, taste our pleasures.
Kirsty Cotton: Please! Go away and leave me alone!
Lead Cenobite: Oh, no tears please. It’s a waste of good suffering!
Kirsty Cotton: Wait! Wait! Please, please wait!
Lead Cenobite: No time for argument.
Kirsty Cotton: You’ve done this before, right?
Lead Cenobite: Many, many times.
Kirsty Cotton: To… to a man called Frank Cotton?
Female Cenobite: Oh, yes.
Kirsty Cotton: He escaped you!
Lead Cenobite: Nobody escapes us!
Kirsty Cotton: He did! I’ve seen him, I’ve seen him!
Female Cenobite: Impossible.
Kirsty Cotton: He’s alive!
Lead Cenobite: Supposing he had escaped us, what has that to do with you?
Kirsty Cotton: I… I can… I can lead you to him and you… you can take him back instead of me!
Female Cenobite: Perhaps we prefer YOU!
Lead Cenobite: I want to hear him confess, himself. Then maybe… maybe…
Female Cenobite: But if you cheat us…
Lead Cenobite: We’ll tear your soul apart!
Asian Merchant: What is your pleasure, sir?
Lead Cenobite: We have such sights to show you.

Risvik used a DECtalk Express for the central character Kirsty (“Rough Rita modified for higher stress level”). A Dolphin Apollo 2 for the voices of Pinhead and the female Cenobite (“Heavily altered versions of voice 2/3”). And an Intex Talker (Votrax SC-01A) for the Asian Merchant.
 
Listen to eerie sound of the Cenobites via a speech synthesizer, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Highly detailed action figures of King Diamond, Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Mad Max & more!
08.12.2016
01:57 pm

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A custom figure of Lemmy Kilmister by ‘Elvis 1976’ (or Sébastien Bontemps’ if you prefer…)
 
If you read Dangerous Minds on a regular basis then you know that from time to time myself or one of my intrepid colleagues enjoy spotlighting various action figures based on bands like Crass or perhaps a poseable version of Al Pacino’s portrayal fictional cocaine-gobbling drug lord Tony Montana from Scarface. If you dig these kinds of posts then I’ve no doubt that you will soon be coveting the custom action figures by Brussels-based artist Sébastien Bontemps who works under the moniker “Elvis 1976.”

Bontemps’ interest with action figure customization started with a Joker figure released by DC Comics in the late 2000s and though his exceptional creations are generally “one-offs” it does appear that the talented artist sells his figures from time to time. You can find out how to purchase one by contacting the folks over at One Sixth Warriors for more information.

If you’re more of a movie memorabilia kind of collector I’ve no doubt that Bontemps’ highly detailed take on the most famous mohawked member of Lord Humungus’ Marauders from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, the completely badass crossbow-wielding Wez will make your head spin. Images of some of my favorite inhabitants of Bontemps’ ultra-cool world follow. 
 

King Diamond!
 

Super Duper Alice Cooper.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Is ‘Sesso Matto’ the greatest 70s Italian sex comedy disco soundtrack ever recorded?
08.11.2016
04:03 pm

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It certainly gets my vote!

When I was in Tokyo in the mid-1990s, there was a dance-floor craze for the soundtrack of Sesso Matto (“sex-crazy”), a silly, sleazy 70s Italian sex comedy romp starring Giancarlo Giannini and sexy screen siren Laura Antonelli in multiple roles. It was released as How Funny Can Sex Be? in the rest of the world. I’m pretty sure that this was the direct inspiration for Cibo Matto’s name. Almost any hip Japanese person of a certain age would definitely know it.

I brought a copy home with me and it has occupied an honored position in my record collection ever since and is a front line choice for inclusion on most of my (coveted!) mixed CDs and to this day it’s my secret weapon when I’m DJ’ing. But don’t tell anybody.

The 1973 comedy film is nothing great, but the awesome soundtrack… OMG is that soundtrack freaking sublime. An absolute revelation.
 

 
Composer Armando Trovajoli’s memorable score featured horn sections, an especially funky drummer and bass player, Mini-Moogs, the sounds of a female in loud orgasmic bliss and bongo drums. What could be more perfect than that? It’s a weird and groovy pastiche of sounds that shouldn’t work together, but DO. The Sesso Matto soundtrack album even has a Rossini number played on the Arp synthesizer, a kissing cousin of Switched on Bach by way of Looney Toons.

In 1976 West End Records put out a 12” disco mix of the title theme which was well known to New York DJs and heard in places like The Loft and Studio 54. “Sesso Matto”—which was clearly influenced by Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa”—is part of hip-hop’s DNA, heard in many of the earliest rap hits thanks to Grandmaster Flash’s frequent use of its several clean break beats.

Have a listen to the ‘Sesso Matto’ soundtrack after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Family Entertainment’: The Undertones blow the roof off BBC’s Belfast studio, 1979
08.11.2016
08:23 am

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Movies
Punk
Television

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Ad from ZigZag Magazine, 1979
 
In November 1979, BBC Northern Ireland aired the premiere of Green Rock, a six-week TV series devoted to Irish groups. The first act on the show was not, pace broadcaster Mike Edgar, Celtic rockers Horslips, but Derry’s mighty punk five-piece, the Undertones.

Captured mid-hurtle between their 1979 debut and 1980’s Hypnotised, the ‘tones blasted through their lovesick juvenilia with maximum pain and pleasure. The set includes two of their “girls talk” songs (“Girls That Don’t Talk” and “The Way Girls Talk,” though not their cover of the Chocolate Watchband’s “Let’s Talk About Girls”) and the single I personally find more affecting than “Teenage Kicks,” “You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It).” All that’s missing is “Male Model.”
 

At Creggan in Derry, 1977 (via Aural Sculptors)
 
The reunited Undertones—minus their original tremulous voice, Feargal Sharkey, who says he only sings to annoy his children these days—have UK dates booked through November. A remix of “Get Over You” by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine will be released as a seven-inch in October.

Watch the Undertones after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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