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Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers
09.17.2009
12:07 am
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Despite its Jason Pierce score and Werner Herzog subplot, Mister Lonely, Harmony Korine‘s feature film from ‘07 left me bored and disappointed.  Its opening moments had a sense of poetry and provocation (see here), but all that was quickly squandered as Korine, striving to broaden his film’s appeal I’m guessing, attempted the distinctly non-Gummo feat of “establishing his characters.”

Korine’s new film, Trash Humpers, premiered this week in Toronto and, fortunately, it looks like he’s left very far behind him the burdens of character development.  The trailer follows below, but I’m finding even more intriguing this Variety review which opens thusly:

Pity the festival-going fool who stumbles unawares into Harmony Korine’s patently abrasive, deliberately cruddy-looking mock-documentary “Trash Humpers.”  All others—that is, those familiar with Korine’s anti-bourgeois oeuvre and know what they’re in for—will have a glorious time.

Named for a band of cretinous vandals in old-folks masks who favor gyrating against garbage cans (and worse), “Trash Humpers” is a pre-fab underground manifesto to rank beside John Waters’ legendarily crass “Pink Flamingos.”  Theatrical distribution is virtually inconceivable—though, in part for this reason, any fest devoted to maintaining its rep among cult-film completists will simply beg for it.

 
In Daily Variety: Trash Humpers

Trash Humpers @ The Toronto Film Festival

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.17.2009
12:07 am
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Amusing Willem Defoe Moments from “The Boondock Saints”
09.16.2009
09:55 pm
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Kinda makes me feel like river dancin’.

(via Why, That’s Delightful! )

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.16.2009
09:55 pm
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Gordon Gekko: A Man for the Ages
09.15.2009
03:01 pm
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Wall Street villain Gordon Gekko is planned to return in a new sequel, entitled, er, “Wall Street 2” and set to follow Gekko as he is released from prison just in time to get involved in the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. Hopefully he’ll get a new cell phone. Unfortunately, he’s also getting a new sidekick… Shia LaBeouf. Groan.

Wall Street is, in my opinion, Oliver Stone’s best movie, and a critical text of American literature and film. Watch it back to back with “American Psycho” to understand the sociopathic mentality that drives the axle of America’s wheel. Screenwriter Stanley Weiser took an incredibly complex world and made it seem storybook-simple; probably the kind of thing Americans need now to make sense of the “what the f—- just happened??” factor.

One thing that struck me, in reading about the original Wall Street, was multiple quotes from Stanley Weiser saying how many people had approached him over the years telling him that Gordon Gekko had inspired them to go into investment trading. Having known a few real-life Gekkos, and also more than a few people (of the younger generation) who took Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho” as their own personal life paragon, it seems that, well, people love bad guys… and also seem incapable of understanding satire.

Weiser says:

Stanley Weiser, screenwriter of the original film, has complained that real-life traders looked on Gekko as more of a hero than a villain.

“After so many encounters with Gekko admirers or wannabes I wish I could go back and rewrite the greed line to this: ‘Greed is good. But I’ve never seen a Brinks truck pull up to a cemetery,’” he said last year.

I wonder how many of the people who f’ed the country this time around were living out their own private Oliver Stone fantasy?

(Telegraph: Wall Street 2: Michael Douglas and Oliver Stone reunite for sequel)

Posted by Jason Louv
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09.15.2009
03:01 pm
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Stunt Rock
09.11.2009
05:07 pm
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New on DVD, Stunt Rock. This film mixes footage from an Australian stunt man with onstage performances of an awful, idiotic heavy metal rock band called Sorcery.

Here’s a description:

Australia’s premier stuntman, Grant Page, is on a mission: filmmaker Brian Trenchard Smith has sent him to LA to work on a TV series. Here he meets up with fellow daredevil Cutis Hyde, who does stunt work for a theatrical rock band called Sorcery, and Page impresses the rockers so much with his daredevil antics that they hire him as well. While his first stunt lands him in the hospital, the reckless Page defies his doctors orders, escaping out of the ward’s fifth-story window to get back to the band. Page soon finds himself the focus of the ladies, attracting both a newspaper reporter (Margaret Gerard) and a television star (Monique van de Ven). Featuring non-stop action, a killer soundtrack and a bit of romance on the side, STUNT ROCK is an adrenaline-filled, cult classic that is sweeping the midnight circuit!

The good vs evil heavy metal number is really something to see. Once. Or as Harry Knowles would have it: “Stunt Rock is not a very good film, but sometimes a movie doesn?

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.11.2009
05:07 pm
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A Basterds Antidote: Kobayashi’s The Human Condition
09.09.2009
05:40 pm
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Although I found parts of Inglourious Basterds entertaining (especially the acting), Quentin Tarantino’s rewriting of World War II’s end days left me, as a whole, both confused and disappointed.  I can understand film as wish-fulfillment (that’s why we go to movies).  I can also recognize the appeal of what-if scenarios (The Man In The High Castle, anyone?).  But fighting genocide with genocide, and showing it triumph, over Hitler and History, strikes me as infantile, and reduces to cartoonish dimensions the very real horrors of the time.

And if you’re of the camp that thinks QT’s commenting, like, ironically on this stuff, that would mean you could detect, amid all the gunshots and carvings, a trace of regret here and there—even some ambivalence.  Well, you can’t.  Not in a single, gleeful frame.  It would also presuppose some recognition on Tarantino’s part of life beyond film—of film as a reflecting pool that’s capable of bouncing back at us something more than the shards and slivers of other films.  I’m not sure he’s that self-aware.  I’m not sure he cares to be.

For me, the war film, or, more specifically, The Nazi War Film, best conveys its horror when its full dimensions haven’t yet been realized.  As something approaching on the horizon, dark and inevitable for the film’s participants.  I think that’s why the below clip from Cabaret chills far more effectively than anything in Basterds or Downfall; why a Weimar-era Aryan youth singing as he salutes freaks me the fuck out far more than the table-banging Hitlers of Wuttke and Ganz.

 
So, with all this in mind, I read with great interest Grady Hendrix’s Slate piece about this week’s Criterion release of Masaki Kobayashi‘s The Human Condition:

Deep where Basterds is shallow, expansive where Basterds is puny, and profound where Basterds is glib, Kobayashi’s humanist triumph is finally getting the Western exposure it deserves.  Based in part on a six-volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa and, in part, on Kobayashi’s own wartime experiences as a pacifist trying to survive in the Japanese army, The Human Condition is as grand in scale and scope as that other anti-war classic, Gone With the Wind.  Like the South, Japan lost a war and can’t stop talking about it.  Every great Japanese director has a movie about the traumas of WWII under his belt, but none is as ambitious as The Human Condition.

Before you rush to queue this up, though, Hendrix also warns that the movie runs nine-and-a-half hours (albeit spread over three films), and is so “monumentally painful to watch, that it stands as the Grand Canyon of despair.”  Well, for those of you willing to commit yourselves to only, say, the San Fernando Valley of despair, the following trailer for Part I clocks in at just under 5 minutes.

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.09.2009
05:40 pm
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Spike Jonze’s Harold And The Purple Crayon
09.08.2009
06:59 pm
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Fascinating read in Sunday’s NYT Magazine charting the ups and downs of Spike Jonze, and his efforts to bring to the screen an adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are that didn’t feel studio-diluted.  It’s been a long, difficult march, but even before Wild Things (and before, for that matter, either Malkovich or Adaptation), Jonze was preparing to tackle another children’s classic, Crockett Johnson‘s Harold And The Purple Crayon.  He didn’t get far with it, but his efforts did yield a little-seen film test, which, thanks to YouTube, you can now watch below:

 
Official site for Where The Wild Things Are

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.08.2009
06:59 pm
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Nollywood Presents “Baby Police”
09.08.2009
12:09 pm
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Wow!

 

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.08.2009
12:09 pm
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How to Smoke a Joint: Taking Off (1971)
09.06.2009
11:38 pm
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(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.06.2009
11:38 pm
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Meet Coffin Joe: Brazil’s Freddy Krueger
09.05.2009
11:38 pm
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Jessica Harper, Superstar
09.04.2009
03:29 pm
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In Part II in what’s shaping up be my ongoing series devoted to underpraised American women (Part I here), today brings us Jessica Harper.  Familiar to many as “Suzy Bannion” in Dario Argento‘s Suspiria, and “Daisy” in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, it’s her “Phoenix” in Brian De Palma‘s Phantom of The Paradise which compels my (all too) frequent revisiting of that film. 

For those of you who’ve yet to see it (queue it up, already!), Phantom’s an updating of the Faust tale, where composer Winslow Leach (played by early De Palma muse William Finley), seeking to have his great “cantata” realized, sells his soul to a devil-in-disguise Swan (played, with Sterling Holloway slipperiness, by the film’s composer Paul Williams).

Typical for De Palma, the film offers up an art-versus-commerce parable that’s as bleak as it is unsparing.  But beyond its easy, showbiz cynicism, it’s Harper’s wonderfully committed performance that elevates Phantom into the realms of tragedy and heartbreak. 

Harper plays muse and soulmate to Leach.  But then, as these things happen (though less so, these days), Leach is horribly disfigured in a “record pressing mishap.”  Newly reborn as “The Phantom,” he makes an agreement with Swan to audition singers for his cantata.  This is where Harper slips in, and pretty much runs—or struts, really—off with the movie.

Beyond the forgettable Inserts, Phantom was Harper’s first feature role.  And in this clip here (newly added, raw footage outtakes—the actual clip has been scrubbed from YouTube), you get a definite sense that she’s not just auditioning for Swan, she’s auditioning for the rest of her life.

In fact, as the song goes along, you can actually see Harper finding her voice, as an actress, a person.  Maybe that’s why I keep coming back to this film—this clip.  It doesn’t seem like Harper’s acting at all.

Fortunately, after Phantom, Harper found her way to not just Allen and Argento, but into the relatively secure (by Hollywood standards) arms of Tom Rothman (co-chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment), where she’s now a wife, mother, children’s book author, occasional actress, and, of course, still special to me.

 
Jessica Harper Audition Scene: Special To Me

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.04.2009
03:29 pm
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