Jamaican Kung-Fu Street Videos: Ridiculous & Sublime

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The fact that Jamaicans are posting up hilarious little tributes to kung fu film online should come as no surprise. As in most countries, Jamaica always had its share of young men enthralled by martial arts cinema, which crested in terms of both prolificacy and popularity during the mid-’60s, soon after the rugged island nation became independent. Reggae producers like Lee Perry, Keith Hudson, Augustus Pablo, and Prince Jammy folded martial arts influence into their music, sometimes in the lyrics, and in other instances by simply titling their dubs “Exit The Dragon” or “Shaolin Temple.”

The global digi-video age now opens up possibilities for Jamaica to explode the kung-fu spoof genre. Below you’ll find the possible first bamboo shoots, starting with Prezzi909’s footage from November of some brilliantly awkward kung-fu kombat street theatre, replete with the sound of cackling and screaming onlookers. But wait til a pro gets a hold of the concept…
 

 
After the jump: watch the kung-fu kraze refined with actual scripting and wicked effects!

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Au Revoir Claude Chabrol, pioneer of the French New Wave

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Our knowledge of French New Wave cinema of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s is generally limited to the names of innovators and auteurs like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Goddard.

But although less well-known outside of France, director Claude Chabrol—who died earlier today at age 80—started the movement with Goddard and Truffaut, and became one of the most prolific filmmakers of his time, averaging a film per year until his death.

A Hitchcock acolyte like his compatriot Truffaut, Chabrol played a key part in mainstreaming La Nouvelle Vague. Although he smoothed out some of the genre’s signature styles—improvisation, quick cuts and scene changes, characters stepping out of roles or addressing the camera—Chabrol retained the sense of alienation that imbued Paris as the Algerian War was coming to its pathetic end.

Dealing in class, desire, and compulsion, Chabrol brought a new view of film to the masses. Check out this scene from his fourth feature, Les Bonnes Femmes (The Good Time Girls, 1960), which follows the travails of four angst-ridden shop girls, each dealing with their drab existences in order to follow their obsessions, whether it’s the city’s nightlife or that mysterious motorcycle man.
 

 
Get: Les Bonnes Femmes by Claude Chabrol (1960) [DVD]

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Psycho at 50: Zizek’s Three Floors of the Mind

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Today marks the half-century anniversary of the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which—along with Fellini’s La Dolce Vita opening earlier the same year—used the artform of cinema to hold up the cracked mirror of compulsive desire to Western civilization.

Movies, of course, would never be the same. Who better to drive the point home than our friendly neighborhood Lacanian critical theorist from Slovenia, Slavoj Žižek, from his excellent 2006 documentary, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema?

 
Get: The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema Pt. 1-3 [DVD]

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Dennis Hopper: American Dreamer (NSFW)

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In 2006, the late Dennis Hopper confessed to Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes that he thought his career was a failure. This despite revolutionizing American cinema by directing Easy Rider, and becoming an icon via characters like the lost American photojournalist in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and the sinister Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. He likely wasn’t otherwise convinced by the star he received on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a couple of months before he died.
 
These clips from Lawrence Schiller-directed 1971 documentary The American Dreamer find the Dodge City, KS-born Hopper in a reflective and quietly desperate place. Shot while he completed post-production on The Last Movie—Hopper’s convoluted, Peruvian-filmed follow-up to Easy RiderDreamer follows the scraggly and bearded director as he wanders,  parties and babbles around his Taos, NM ranch.
 
You’d think that triumph of Easy Rider would somewhat make up for Hopper’s emotionally damaged childhood, career troubles, two divorces, and the trauma of his good friend James Dean’s death. But Hopper here is deep inside his alcoholism, musing on his alienation, and treating the filming as a sort of therapy. As you’ll find in the second clip below, part of that therapy involves what he termed a “sensitivity encounter” with about a dozen variously undressed groupies who the mad director harangues with some group-psych babble before disrobing himself. Hopper would eventually hit bottom, wandering literally naked in a South American jungle, before being hospitalized, rehabilitated, and eventually redeemed in the later phase of an enviable “failure” of a career.
 

 

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion