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Behind-the-scenes of the ‘Star Wars’ Cantina bar set
08.27.2014
10:25 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars


 
Raiders of the Lost Tumblr has turned up a trove of behind-the-scenes shots of sets, models, sketches and costumes from Star Wars’ ultra seedy and memorable Mos Eisley Cantina scene. If you’re one of the very, very few living hominids who hasn’t seen the film, that scene was notable for showcasing an abundance of admirably insane character design, which served to underscore the impending over-the-rainbow life change awaiting the film’s naive farmboy hero.

The diversity of species on display even inspired a literary anthology of short stories starring characters from the scene, some of whom appear onscreen for all of two seconds. Sci-fi geeks, I doff my cap to you; you are a breed apart. The scene also boasted some darkly lunatic but indelibly catchy jazz, and served as the setting for the world’s introduction to Han Solo. No insipid “who shot first” debates here, please. It was Han. STFU, George, we have proof below.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
It’s a worthwhile trivia tangent to note that a hell of a lot of these characters were designed by Ron Cobb (seriously cool design and illustration gallery at that link, I urge you not to skip it). Though he’s probably best known as an editorial cartoonist—in fact, I credit him with the creation of one of the single most powerful and durable images in the long history of that form, the man searching for a place to plug in his broken TV set in a post apocalyptic landscape, reproduced below—Cobb played a large role in the design of the films Dark Star and Alien. He’s also the creator of that wonderfully shambolic psychedelic aircraft on the cover of The Jefferson Airplane’s After Bathing at Baxter’s.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
While you’re here, check out this early rough cut of the Cantina scene. This was once findable on the now long out-of-print Star Wars: Behind the Magic, a 1998 CD-ROM. Yes, CD-ROM.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
C-3PO rapping, but don’t worry, your childhood was already dead
12-hour ambient music pieces from ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Alien,’ ‘Doctor Who,’ and ‘Star Wars’
Alec Guinness, a.k.a. Obi Wan Kenobi, kind of hated ‘Star Wars’
Behind-the-scenes photos of prototype Boba Fett costume, 1978

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Behind-the-scenes photos of ‘Barbarella,’ 1968
08.26.2014
11:21 am

Topics:
Fashion
Movies

Tags:
Jane Fonda
Roger Vadim
Barbarella


 
Here are some fun behind-the-scenes of the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella. I’m primarily posting these images because of the amazing costumes and because everyone is just so gosh darned gorgeous. Talk about intergalactic glamor. How could it ever be topped?

Sci-fi babes and boys at their finest.
 

Jane Fonda and director (and then husband)  Roger Vadim
 

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda
 

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda
 
More photos after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
End of an era: NYC’s legendary cinephile paradise Kim’s Video closes (1987-2014)
08.26.2014
09:27 am

Topics:
Media
Movies

Tags:
Yongman Kim
Kim's Underground
Kim's Video


 
For anyone who hung out in the East Village between 1987 and 2010, the various Kim’s Video locations, which would sprout up and disappear depending on the economic vagaries of the moment, constituted an essential cultural landmark. Founded by Korean businessman Yongman Kim, initially when he rented out part of his Avenue A dry cleaning store to a fellow with a large collection of VHS tapes and then opened up a store down the street for him to manage. Kim’s Video lasted through the days when Napster reigned supreme and even after LPs made a comeback. When you stood in a Kim’s Video, it was easy to imagine that you were existing in an idealized community of punks, freaks, and artists, you could watch Stranger Than Paradise, After Hours, The Brother from Another Planet, or Do the Right Thing and know that those movies were shot in this same city and that the filmmakers themselves might walk through the door any minute.

Yesterday, August 25, was the last day of the last remaining location of Kim’s Video, at 124 First Avenue. For a certain kind of scruffy video-literate New Yorker, it was a sad day indeed.

Kim’s was one of the country’s great video stores, part of a community that included such hallowed places as Four Star Video Heaven in Madison and Scarecrow Video in Seattle. If you wanted to watch an Ozu movie or a Kenneth Anger film in the days before DVD, you had to go to a store like Kim’s. Kim’s ordered their shelves by filmmaker—the Godard shelf had a sign that read simply, “God”—and for hard-to-get movies that had never had an official release, they were perfectly content to stock bootlegs (this tendency would eventually get them into trouble). The only time in my life I had a 9-to-5 job in New York City was between 1997 and 2001, and those were also, not coincidentally, my prime Kim’s years (not that I used Kim’s for videos all that much—I lived up near Columbia University, where there were more convenient options). I can remember renting, over a period of a few weeks, the entire oeuvre of Errol Morris as well as selected early masterpieces by Wong Kar Wai. In my mind the quintessential Kim’s movie was Superstar, Todd Haynes’ 1987 movie that used Barbie dolls to tell the Karen Carpenter story and ended up getting withdrawn from circulation after Haynes lost lawsuit filed by Richard Carpenter.

In the late 1990s and into the 2000s it kept getting raided by the FBI for bootlegs, which were often displayed blatantly. I remember visiting one of the stores one day and learning the next day that a serious raid had occurred a couple hours after I left. Kim’s was legendary for its condescending clerks, but my only good Kim’s story involved a considerate and helpful clerk, so whatevs. (I received my share of eyerolls, I’m sure, but I must have shrugged them off.) I was visiting the Kim’s Underground location on Bleecker (formerly the site of both the Bleecker Street Cinema and the Cafe a Go Go), and at the time I was obsessed with the band Spoon, who disappeared for a couple years there after Elektra dropped them in 1998. I made it a habit of checking the CD bins for Spoon releases, and I was invariably disappointed. On this occasion I asked the music clerk (this location emphasized movies more than the others, and the CD section was pretty small) about Spoon, and he indicated that he had a stack behind the counter of perhaps a dozen copies of a newish promo, the “30 Gallon Tank” maxi-single, that Elektra had obviously given up on. The clerk reached back and gave me one, no charge.

Be sure to check out this detailed oral history of Kim’s at Bedford and Bowery. It does a far better job of filling in the blanks than I ever could. I didn’t realize that so many prominent people worked there as clerks—for instance, Todd Phillips, director of the Hangover movies. Here’s a choice quote from Louis CK about Kim’s you can read in there:

“When I first moved to New York there was a place next door to my apartment called Kim’s Video which was a sort of artsy video store. Instead of arranging the videos by title, they had them arranged by director or even photographer, so I educated myself. I went through the Godard section in one week and then Pasolini.”

Today the huge Kim’s video collection is languishing in Italy and the last of the stores is no more. I moved away from New York City last December for related reasons. New York’s still a great city but without places like Kim’s around, I’m not really sure who it’s there for anymore.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Peyote Queen’: Storm De Hirsch, the woman who made movies without a camera
08.26.2014
08:14 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Drugs
Movies

Tags:
Storm de Hirsch


 
Storm De Hirsch is one of those avant-garde goddesses without much name-recognition outside of underground film circles, but her influence and dynamism has always been lauded by peers. Jonas Mekas, for example (often referred to as the “godfather of American avant-garde cinema”), called her psychedelic classic, Peyote Queen, “among my favorites ... beauty and excitement.”

De Hirsch was actually a published poet before transitioning to film, and as such didn’t have ready access to a camera early on. Her first improvisational techniques were innovative manipulations of whatever film was just lying around at the time, making her as much a “sculptor” of celluloid as a filmmaker. The results of her experiments are now recognized as foundational films in avant-garde cinema. In an interview with Mekas, she spoke of her early work, like Peyote Queen, saying:

I wanted badly to make an animated short, but I had no camera available.  I did have some old, unused film stock and several rolls of 16mm sound tape. So I used that—plus a variety of discarded surgical instruments and the sharp edge of a screwdriver — by cutting, etching, and painting directly on both film and [sound] tape

 

 
De Hirsch continued making films into the 1970s, and though she eventually got ahold of a camera, it’s what she accomplished without one that most baldly represents her creative drive. She was dedicated to the work and its preservation, even hand repairing the raw film itself, (which one would assume was left very delicate after her initial artistic mangling). One of her former intern even remembers her hand-coloring the fading frames of Peyote Queen with magic marker in 1973, restoring the splashy, electric feel you see below.

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The return of the ‘Drugstore Cowboy’
08.25.2014
08:26 am

Topics:
Drugs
Literature
Movies

Tags:
James Fogle
Drugstore Cowboy


 
Gus Van Sant’s 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy, based on author James Fogle’s autobiographical novel about his lifelong addictions, adventures, and crimes, was an unexpected cult success. However, it did not lead to the publication (authorized, anyway) of Fogle’s other works or more films. 25 years later there is a sequel in the works, Drugstore Cowboy (Backside of a Mirror), written by Drugstore Cowboy screenwriter Daniel Yost with input from Fogle during his last years.

“The original film is almost all Fogle (though, of course, beautifully directed, acted, and photographed), as it came from a novel he sent me with the story intact and lots of dialogue,” Yost says. “The sequel started with an idea that came to me when I woke up one morning and couldn’t resist. I wrote it, then asked Jim to send me a couple of things, one being the experience of going through withdrawal. On screen this will be harrowing, rivaling what Gene Hackman’s character went through in French Connection II.”

It was Yost who first introduced then-fledgling filmmaker Van Sant to Fogle’s work and he has been an ongoing champion for its publication and development ever since. Over the years Fogle sent Yost several novels and short stories, but prior to meeting Gus Van Sant Yost was unable to get Fogle’s short stories published anywhere, even after editing and tidying them up himself.

Fogle could have become a Burroughs-like anti-hero or even a triumphant artist like Jim Carroll in 1989 upon Drugstore Cowboy’s release. He certainly had the opportunity to makeover his existence and enjoy the rewards of minor celebrity. But despite multiple attempts at clean living, his self-destructive streak remained. Much to the frustration of his friends and family, Fogle became something of a folk hero in the Northwest, with multiple arrests for (of course) expertly robbing pharmacies, with the last two times occurring in Redmond, Washington and Seattle in 2010 and 2011. All of his stories and novels were written in prison, where he spent nearly fifty of his seventy-five years, and he found it impossible to write elsewhere. At the time of his death in prison in 2012 he had been writing another novelized autobiography.
 

            
In an email interview Daniel Yost recently answered a few questions for Dangerous Minds about his experiences working with James Fogle and his plans for Drugstore Cowboy (Backside of a Mirror).
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
David Bowie should be in every video game
08.21.2014
02:46 pm

Topics:
Games
Movies

Tags:
David Bowie


 
While I strive to be a Bowie completest, I feel like I’m constantly coming across some weird little project he did on the side, many of which are more intuitive than others. Somehow I entirely missed that he partially scored and had a small voice-over part in the 1999 adventure game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Frankly I’m a little surprised he never got into video game acting earlier—he has a great speaking voice, and is there a rocker more sci-fi than he? And that face! Those chiseled cheeks are perfect for 3-D animation.

The plot of Omikron even reads like a concept Bowie came up with. The player enters an alternate dimension to investigate murders in a futuristic city, eventually liberating citizens from a fascistic techno-government while attempting to evade demons trying to steal their soul (you know, script number 3). Bowie wrote some decent pop tunes for the soundtrack and played an underground revolutionary. He also makes an “appearance” as a singer for a band that plays illegal concerts. It’s all very much the cyberpunk “vive la résistance” aesthetics à la The Matrix, which came out the same year.

Where it falls flat is the attempt to divine a music video from the not-so-slick game animation—a rare miss from Bowie’s aesthetics. I mean, it’s not “Dancing in the Street” bad, but it’s no Labyrinth either.
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Sleep is for Sissies: Before ‘Repo Man,’ there was Alex Cox’s mind-bending student film ‘Edge City’
08.20.2014
11:30 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Alex Cox
Repo Man


 
Edge City, a/k/a Sleep Is for Sissies, is director Alex Cox’s first movie. Made for $8,000 while Cox was a student at UCLA, the 36-minute picture already includes a number of the distinguishing features of his works. That means a repo man, a Chevy Malibu, and Ed Pansullo; references to Nicaragua and Sid Vicious; class exploitation, absurd violence, and creative sound editing. As usual, characters work at cross-purposes and don’t listen to each other. Jokes are reminiscent of Harvey Kurtzman-era MAD comics.

Cox’s sense of humor is at maximum bananas level. Shots ring out at a crowded LA pool party where a beer commercial is being filmed. A gunman is indiscriminately murdering the guests in broad daylight, but no one notices the shots, screams, or falling bodies. In another scene, when Cox, playing graphic artist Roy Rawlings, answers the phone, a badly overdubbed voice utters the meaningless line: “Hey, baby! Heh-heh-heh-hey!”

Friend, do you like a good yarn? If so, watching this movie might not be the leisure activity for you. Its “trippy, associative editing style,” which Cox says was influenced by Nicolas Roeg and Lindsay Anderson, just about obliterates whatever narrative was there to begin with. “At one point there was a 50-minute version which was sort of intelligible,” Cox explains in Alex Cox: Film Anarchist, “but I was embarrassed by it after a while because the story seemed so mundane. Then I deliberately cut 10 minutes to make it more obscure.”

In his engrossing book X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker, Cox elaborates on the perversity of the film’s final cut:

Inevitably, the film reached a crisis point. The screenplay had been 35 pages or so – the length of a 35-minute film. By the time I’d cut in all the scripted stuff and the improv’d scenes and images from downtown, Edge City was a sturdy 55-minute creature. I only needed to shoot another 30 minutes, and I would attain that much-coveted grail, the independent feature.

This was what all of us UCLA auteurs wanted: a 90-minute feature film. Right? Perhaps not. [...] Colliding with the ambition for a feature was an artistic instinct – imagine that! – which distrusted Edge City. Artistically, aesthetically, the film already seemed too long, in danger of acquiring a familiar narrative. Letting it get still longer would make it more normal. Ambition, routed, retreated without firing a shot.

I pruned the picture back to a 36-minute, weirdo film. I think this was the better option (especially for the viewer). It was also shorter and cheaper, which was a consideration when you were shooting film and paying for it yourself.

“Shorter and cheaper” was also the guiding principle when it came to the music on the soundtrack, assembled from Cox’s record collection. Among other things, you’ll hear Metal Machine Music, Another Green World, Tonio K.‘s “The Funky Western Civilization,” Tangerine Dream’s Sorcerer soundtrack, and Sid’s “My Way.”

Good luck figuring out what’s going on. Headphones are indispensable, as is this synopsis from X Films:

The script – written in a fragmented fashion in the style of the director Nick Roeg – told of one Roy Rawlings, an English commercial illustrator based in L.A. Roy seeks to stay one step ahead of his creditors while (a) getting the girl and (b) pursuing his Big Break. His agent is the sinister Smack Hasty, who pays him in drugs. Roy wants to meet the author of the book he’s illustrating, but Smack keeps putting him off.

Roy meets Krishna, a rich hippy girl, at a party, and invites her to the ruined house he lives in. He promises her ratatouille, but when she comes to the party there is none. However, he does have Quaaludes, which restore her equilibrium. While Roy is at the supermarket, Krishna swallows too many Quaaludes, and drowns in the bath.

On his return, Roy is surprised to find two soldiers, or vigilantes, eating the contents of his fridge. He flees just as Krishna’s body is discovered, and heads out to the desert in his sports car, where he meets the mysterious author, and various secrets are revealed.

 

Edge City part 1
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The 1960s photography of Dennis Hopper
08.20.2014
08:44 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Dennis Hopper


Self-portrait
 
I am a child of the 1970s, so Dennis Hopper really means two things to me, Blue Velvet first and Easy Rider second. For me, Hopper doesn’t have much of an identity before Easy Rider, which goes to explain why I had scarcely any idea of his excellent photography (and excellent connections to the art world) during the 1960s. This information helps inform some of his filmmaking career, for instance his artistic intransigence over The Last Movie—only someone steeped in modernist art and abstract expressionism would ever have made such a stand. Everyday I Show brings us an excellent selection of Hopper’s b/w pics from the 1960s, be sure to click there to see more of them. Hopper wasn’t in the league of a Diane Arbus or a Garry Winogrand, but he clearly knew what he was doing and also had some great subjects in the form of Jane Fonda, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, plus Teri Garr (!).

Three years ago Taschen came out with a gorgeous book dedicated to Hopper’s early photographic work, Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967.
 

Jane Fonda (with bow & arrow), Malibu, 1965
 

Biker Couple, 1961
 

Ed Ruscha, 1964
 

Double Standard, 1961
 

Andy Warhol and Members of the Factory (Gregory Markopoulos, Taylor Mead, Gerard Malanga, Jack Smith), 1963
 

Ike and Tina Turner, 1965
 
More of Hopper’s terrific pictures after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Get hypnotized by the psychedelic slo-mo hula hooping for Bishop Allen’s new album
08.20.2014
08:39 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
psychedelia
hula hoops
Bishop Allen


 
Bishop Allen is one of those indie bands that’s been quietly buzzing around for nearly ten years—I knew about them because they’re a former Brooklyn-based group with the weird distinction of being on Dead Oceans, a label based out of Bloomington, Indiana (my home before all the good bartending gigs dried up). The new album Lights Out is full of the kind of sunny, poppy, electronic-infused tunes one might use to round out the last of days of summer. It’s got a lot of darling hooks and bitter-sweet warmth.

However, I’m well aware that the Dangerous Minds crowd can be a bit… anti-sunny—or at least, anti-Brooklyn Indie Rock. If you feel a curmudgeonly tirade coming on, fear not! There is another component to Lights Out that may yet seduce you!

Perhaps in an attempt to humiliate Beyoncé (we can only speculate, but I believe there is a bitter feud going on between them), Bishop Allen has also released a video to go along with every track on the album, connected as a continuous playlist below. The twist is that every video is some variation on the same theme—their friends hula-hooping, in slow-motion. Now we here at Dangerous Minds would never advocate drug use, but I will say that if you’ve partaken of some “entertainment insurance,” then the videos have a hypnotic effect I’d liken to a liquid light show.

If you want to catch some shimmery synths in person, Bishop Allen just kicked off a big tour. If you are personally affronted by the thought of seeing a sunny Brooklyn Indie band, relax and enjoy the hula hoops.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Sid and Nancy’: The sitcom
08.18.2014
12:52 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Sid and Nancy
Growing Pains


 
Robert Jones created this Sid and Nancy meets Growing Pains mash-up that gets funnier and funnier the longer it plays. You wouldn’t necessarily think it, but even Alex Cox’s downer of a film can be turned into a romantic comedy by that mind-numbing toe-tapping theme song and its insipid, sappy lyrics.

 
h/t Jeff Albers!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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