Friday, April 29, 2005


Movie City News turned me onto this moving piece about cinematic obsession (or more specifically, Jonathan Coe's three decade love affair with Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes).


After Ebert dropped this, I might just have to Netflix XXX: State of the Union:

"Oh, and later, in his new State of the Union speech, our nation's leader quotes Tupac, although he doesn't know he does. Well, you can't expect him to know everything."

Tivo alert.

Variety's review of the made-for-TV movie Riding the Bus With My Sister:

"The response to Hallmark's latest just-in-time-for-Mother's Day greeting will surely hinge on how one views Rosie O'Donnell's performance as a developmentally disabled woman, which from my couch sounded way too much like a Pee-wee Herman impersonation to allow for the requisite suspension of disbelief."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The minor fall, the major bitch.

S/FJ pointed out this super-best list of Leonard Cohen factoids. I was taken aback by this one:
60. In 1995 Cohen's manager, Kelley Lynch, put together Tower of Song, a set of his compositions sung by bigger stars including Sting and Bono. She asked Phil Collins, who turned her down. Cohen himself sent Collins a fax, saying: "Would Beethoven refuse the invitation of Mozart?" Collins faxed back: "No, unless Beethoven was on a world tour at the time." Cohen understood: "It's kind of a pain in the ass, to think about somebody else's dismal songs when you're not even in the studio."

1. Leonard, I know you're old(er). That does not excuse the fact that you compared Phil Collins to Beethoven.

2. Don't you love that Phil Colins manages to be an ungracious douche in any circumstance? Seriously. Leonard Cohen has asked you to cover one of his songs. Jesus Christ, be honored and humbled that Mr. Cohen had such an appalling lapse in judgement, cut "I Can't Dance" out of soundcheck, duck into a recording studio in Helsinki, and fucking do it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Back to the future.

Given my recent raving obsession over Wong Kar Wai and 2046, I'm not sure how I missed this
excellent, sprawling piece that was published in the NY Times Magazine back in September. A sample:
Leung came in and the camera rolled: Wong's cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, a wiry 50-year-old with bright blue eyes and a shock of mad-scientist hair, simultaneously zoomed out and moved the camera for a kind of reverse corkscrew effect, from closer in to a stopping-point near the ceiling. Leung exhaled and Wong called ''Cut,'' critiquing the shot in a stream of Mandarin that concluded with a pronouncement in English: ''Not. Creative. Enough.''

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

“I’ll be the hardest, most bangin’ cracker you’ve ever seen.”

My Jon Brion fixation has been pretty mum as of late, so let me throw this out: Rob over at The Village Broadsheet has an excellent, rambling interview with Mr. Brion. Among the topics covered: how Dylan and the Beatles destroyed music ("I guess I should say, God bless that fucker and those fuckers"), his work on the upcoming Kanye West record, and why L.A. is better than New York.

Maybe there is hope.

Every year, the LA Times gets a group of teens to critique a bunch of summer trailers. This year's posse isn't nearly as funny as past years, but this exchange made me hopeful:

[During the Herbie: Fully Loaded trailer]

Gabe: "I'm just sick of seeing Lindsay Lohan in every other movie made for a young audience."

Alex: "And Hilary Duff in the other one."

I guess her leg wound is kinda hot.

Taschen has always slooooowly added to their excellent collection of film books, but lately they're working overtime. They just dropped the mouth watering/wallet breaking Stanley Kubrick Archives. They've added Paul Verhoeven (gulp) to the director series. And they've prepared an overview of sex in the movies called Erotic Cinema.

The book is going to start with the first filmed kiss in 1896 and work up to the present by looking at unsimulated sex in the indies. This is what caught my eye: the book features in depth studies of the ten most erotic films ever made. The ten films are:
  • Last Tango in Paris
  • Betty Blue
  • In the Realm of the Senses
  • Romance
  • Law of Desire
  • Kids
  • Basic Instinct
  • Crash
  • The Night Porter
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien
Am I missing something? Isn't Kids proudly unerotic? Isn't Crash more a clinical deconstruction of a particular fetish than a genuinely erotic movie? (Ditto The Night Porter.) Obviously these films should be discussed in the book... but in the top ten, most erotic films of all time? Uh no.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

This is how it goes (and lovin' it).

Driving back from the grocery store, I happened upon an NPR interview with Neil LaBute. The interview wasn't too remarkable, but whilst driving and listening, I happened upon a revolting McDonalds ad (something about the way the cheese looked on the Quarter Pounder-- bleh) and was reminded of Mr. LaBute's Slate diary. It should come as no surprise that without really trying, Mr. LaBute makes eating a McRib far more sinister and disturbing than Morgan Spurlock ever did.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Get it while it's hot: new Kanye track. I've not been the biggest Kanye fan in the past-- but it's impossible for me to resist this one, what with the Bond sample, the dumb/great Outkast ref, the sheer scope of the thing?

Skort story.

Because it's hidden away in the comment section of one of my old posts and you'd probably miss it, I feel compelled to point out Josh's skort story. Go read that shit. Like hip-hop Janet Reno, it'll make your day richer.

Quote of the day.

"It is easier to focus on new and exciting forms of genocide when marching in a Nazi Youth rally than it is when you're humming along with Ashlee Simpson's 'Autobiography.' It should be noted though that Hitler also frequently had stains on his T-shirt, but, he was not the biggest flirt. That honor was firmly held by Goebbels. Or so I've heard."

--Tim, responding to The National Review's Daniel P. Moloney and his observation that "It’s just as easy to forget about God while dancing to an iPod as while marching in a Hitler Youth rally."

Hit parade.

Currently in heavy rotation:

  • Ryan Adams - Let It Ride: I'd written Mr. Posey off after the double blah dose of Love is Hell and Rock N Roll--sorry, lloR N kcoR. But then this little tune shows up on the iTunes store and it's one of those effortlessly catchy Whiskeytown rambles that Ryan used to specialize in.

  • Garbage - Why Do You Love Me?: Yes, yes, they're old and probably past their prime. I get it. But dammit, I'm addicted to the way "Why Do You Love Me?" starts and stops and switches tempos without warning while the Manson works herself up into a lather and the guys recycle the riff from Collective Soul's "Shine" without a hint of guilt or shame or irony.

  • Michael Penn - Mary Lynn: An Irish-stomper with subtle electronic shading from Michael Penn? Hell yeah!

  • Karen O - that song from the Adidas commercial: How weird is this track? All plucky piano and bells and strings and her odd vocal delivery. If Carter Burwell scored films in the '60s, it'd probably sound like ths.

  • Incredible Bongo Band - Apache: Michaelangelo Matos has a lengthy essay on his blog about the various incarnations of the song "Apache." It turned me on to the Incredible Bongo Band version that's currently looping on my iPod. The track has been sampled by so many hip-hop and electronic musicians that it's a novelty just to hear it in its original context. And bongo solos are always a plus. For serious.

Dance party.

Make your Thursday a richer and fuller one by heading over to Fluxblog and downloading Anquette's "Janet Reno." The world is better place with a hip-hop track recounting (folkloric stizz) Janet Reno's pre-Attorney General days. Pay up, deadbeats.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Why I love DanaStevensLizPenn...

She watches shit like Trippin' so I don't have to. Funy thing is, after reading the following exchange, I might just have to start.
[Drew] Barrymore is a 30-year-old woman, and [Cameron] Diaz is 32 -- a fact I mention only to contextualize such dialogue as:
(During a canoe trip after a campout):

Barrymore: I took a poo in the woods hunched over like an animal -- awesome.

Diaz: (laughing) I'm so jealous right now. I'm going to the woods tomorrow.

Barrymore: It was awesome.

After the two return from separate guided hikes:

Diaz: Did you learn so much?

Barrymore: Oh my God yeah. So intense -- with the loving and feeling and tree-touching and the learning.

Revel in the richness. In recreating that scene in my head, I had a hard time conjuring the real Drew Barrymore as opposed to Kate Hudson doing her SNL impersonation of Barrymore.


Hey, why did that Minnesota flight instructor warn the FBI about that Zarcarias Moussaout feller before 9/11?
"I knew he wasn't pilot material, because he'd actually read his manuals and he didn't talk about pussy."
Good to know. Good to know.
(via ye Wonk.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Modest Madge.

"It starts out being a film about me and my life on tour and ends up being a story about humanity."

--Madonna on her upcoming tour doc. I think she's serious.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

I got nothin' to say, yo. I know. Hella weak.

Go read Tim's appreciation of Elizabeth Berkley, it's excellent. It makes me want to go on a B (of C or D)-movie binge. Doesn't that sound nice right now? A little Skyscraper*, mayhap?

* A most impressive factoid from the IMDb regarding Skyscraper: "The helicopter taxi company Anna Nicole's character works for is called 'HeliScort,' because the drivers all wear skirt-shorts, or 'scorts,' on duty." Yowza.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Burnin' Love.

I love the email I get at work. An excerpt:

A chance to see 'Burning Passion' in a real, live theater

Dear Ben,

A lot of people have asked me when they can see 'Burning Passion' on the big screen. Sorry for the short notice, but how about next week?
'Burning Passion' is my film about the guy who ejaculates fire. The film has done pretty well in film festivals...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Dull like a spork. Or something.

Have you ever read music reviews from the Associated Press? They're hilariously bland and incompetent. Check out this bit from the AP's review of Garbage's new album Bleed Like Me:
The troupe of former Blue Oyster Cult members — save glamazon frontwoman Shirley Manson — has been infused with the edginess of a Ginsu knife, lavishly exposing old wounds and new ones with potent guitars riffs and brawny drums. “You should see my scars,” former self-mutilator Manson whispers on the album’s paramount title track.

First: how bad is that Ginsu knife bullshit? Second: how awkward is the phrasing of"the album's paramount title track"? Third: gotta get that People Magazine factoid about Manson's status as a cutter in there. Fourth: er, the dudes in Garbage were never in Blue Öyster Cult. (And it's Blue Öyster Cult, AP Dude. They worked hard for the umlaut.) Where'd they get the bogus BÖC notion? My guess is the chimp who wrote the piece misread David Fricke's Rolling Stone review: "The density and detail of the charging guitars in 'Bad Boyfriend,' 'Right Between the Eyes' and 'Why Do You Love Me' make you wonder if, in another life, Vig, Marker and Erikson were all members of Blue Oyster Cult." Oops. Fact-checking, what?

Bonus beats:
"The electro-rockers' torrential stabbing on 'Why Don't You Come Over' slices the cranium enough to force a listner run for cover."
--Also from the Garbage review.

"And while Beck once sang — or better yet, rapped — about getting crazy with cheese whiz, 'Guero' finds him singing about matters seemingly too serious for a someone who has posed with an acoustic guitar while wearing a gas mask."
--From the AP's Guero review.

"There’s not much happening after the first half of this disc, when [producer Linda] Perry brings more of a punch-the-clock mentality to the collaboration.

By then, turn to the liner notes for entertainment value, particularly where Presley effusively thanks everyone who was involved. Perry’s buddy Pink stopped by to add some vocals and Presley recalls, 'I fell in love with you the minute we connected. I believe it was at around 4 a.m. one night, drunk on the floor barking at each other.'

Oh, to be a floor sweeper for that recording session!"
--From the AP's reivew of Lisa Marie Presley's new disc.

Quote of the month.

"Jim, you think he's with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds."

--Larry King to Jim Caviezel re: the Pope's death. (As quoted by Time.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Well, I think that explains it.

You might recall that I loathed Antonioni's segment in Eros. After reading this, I think I better understand why it, uh, was incoherent:
"It was very fascinating," explained [producer Raphael] Berdugo, who was present on the set. "[Antonioni] was in a wheelchair, and he couldn't really talk. He could pronounce a few words, mostly yes or no, but as he is Italian he can speak with his hands."

I still think the segment's a piece of shit, but now I feel bad.

Monday, April 11, 2005

My weekend drive through PopCultureville.

  • All the buzz you hear about Eros is dead-on. Wong Kar-Wai's piece is an immaculately crafted bit of longing and desire (what else would you expect?). Sodey delivers one of those exercises in goofball filmmaking that he perodically returns to (see also Schizopolis, Full Frontal, et al). And Antonioni drops one of the most embrassing and banal pieces of sub-Skinimax soft-core that I have ever seen. It made me long for the wit and depth of Shannon Tweed's oeuvre.

  • Powell & Pressburger's Tales of Hoffman proved to be too much for me. The Archers' film about an opera/ballet within an opera is almost painfully beautiful and sensual (that Technicolor!), but, truth be told, the score is shrill and the pacing is... off. (Full confession: I made it 45 minutes in and decided to save the rest for another day.)
    I did walk away from the film with this observation: Lemony Snicket might just be a fan of the film.
    Here's Coppelius, a mad professor-type, from Hoffman (notice the eyes on the jacket-- and you can't tell in this picture, but dude's got crrraazy eyebrows):

    And then Mr. Snicket's evil Count Olaf (via Brad Silberling):

    Bitched at Swirth*? Methinks.

  • I had no problem making it through my first viewing of Kubrick's epic Barry Lyndon. What can I say that hasn't alread been said ad nauseam? Brilliant cinematography/that natural lighting? Check. Sublime composition? Check. Ryan O'Neal is somehow tolerabe? Check. Kubrick (like Altman) is one of the only directors who can make the zoom work? Check. That it's a deft tightrope walk between being the greatest BBC costume drama evs and a complete farce of said genre? Check. Shrug. It's great. That's that.

  • If you haven't heard Nina Simone's "Lilac Wine" as remixed by The Album Leaf, do yourself a favor and pick up Verve Remixed 3 or download the single at iTunes. It's a perfect slice of bittersweet electro-pop.

    *= Bitched at Swirth (c) 2004 The Thigh Master.

Good for something. gossip hound and full-time Miramax hack Roger Friedman drops this little pearl in today's column:
"Jeremy Irons was also at Giorgio, eating with publicist Sally Fischer and three other ladies. Irons is in town working with director David Lynch, who's writing a new screenplay for him. Don't know if this is the film in which Lynch will feature the music of Julia Fordham, but I sure hope so."

How veddy interesting.

Friday, April 08, 2005

What a lovely way to burn, part the second.

I am an evil person for laughing at this and linking to it. See y'all in Hell.

What a lovely way to burn.

Hitch just can't stop hatin' that man. And--shocker--it amuses me. Especially this bit:

"Seeking to cloud a difficult situation with even more of the fragrance of obscurantism, the pope also resorted to an almost wholesale appropriation of the cult of the Virgin. He openly announced that the bullet that hit him was prevented from taking his life not because of the skill of his physicians, but because its trajectory had been guided by Our Lady. She let the assassin fire and hit, in other words, and only then took action. (This reminds me of Bertrand Russell's comment on the practice of placing covers on the baths in convents so as to avoid offending the sight of God. The creator can see through the roof of the convent, and down into the bathrooms in the basement, but is hopelessly baffled by a sheet of canvas.)"

Oh and I'm pretty sure he'll be joining me in Hell for his conclusion to the piece:
"For us, this day is only the interment of an elderly and querulous celibate, who came too late and who stayed too long, and whose primitive ideology did not permit him the true self-criticism that could have saved him, and others less innocent, from so many errors and crimes."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

April 6 ≠ April 1.

People, April Fools Day was last Friday, I'm getting sick of being yanked around. First, there's all this Maynard James Keenan finds Jesus news.
Now Page Six wants us to believe that they spoke to Britney Spears' PR hack and were given this quote (to explan why Brit and K-Fed are living in a hotel, in different wings of said hotel, and why there was an "emergency family meeting" in said hotel):
"Britney and Kevin were at the hotel to celebrate [sister] Jamie Lynn's birthday. An emergency meeting was called, but only because Britney was afraid her dog, Bit Bit, was pregnant by [brother] Brian's dog, Porkchop — and that would be incest. As for Britney and Kevin, they are still together, happy and gearing up to do press on the new show. There will be a magazine cover involved."
Wrong. Wrong. Nope.

That's the truth, Ruth.

"If you went out on a Saturday night to catch a new Werner Herzog film and then His Girl Friday, and you happened to be seeing both of these films by yourself--which I admit wasn't unusual for me--then you might as well have been wearing a T-shirt that read, 'I'm going to this movie instead of getting laid.' Somehow, though, that made it part of the crusade, the holy cause of film fanaticism."

--Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman in a free-wheeling and surprisingly entertaining interview over at the film section of The piece is overflowing with great anecdotes and snark and wrong-headed-but-witty opinions that I can't resist posting some other highlights:
  • "[Pauline Kael's] favorite word in the world was 'whore,' which she applied to so many different people that you sometimes had to think for a moment about whether she was using it literally or metaphorically. I think in Pauline's eyes, there really may not have been much difference."

  • "True, I can't swear in my copy, but most critics who make a point of doing so, like Peter Travers, sound like sixth graders straining for street cred."

  • "Growing up, it never seemed remotely odd to me to love Chic and the Spinners and Donna Summer and Sylvester, and also the Sex Pistols and the Ramones and Iggy Pop (my hometown boy!), plus ELO, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, the Velvet Underground, and the Carpenters. To me, the Velvet Underground's 'What Goes On' is one of the greatest songs of all time, and so is Supertramp's 'Take the Long Way Home.' Is that a contradiction, or is it simply not being a lame music fascist?"

  • "I think Wes Anderson, gifted as he is, represents a virus that could kill movies. He's all irony and mockery and stylization. It's my belief that he's the first major filmmaker--I'm not counting TV hacks--whose aesthetic is derived from the spirit of television commercials. Rushmore, which I've seen twice, I despise beyond description. I don't believe a minute of it, and the way that the movie celebrates (ironically, of course) its hero's terminal smugness is, to me, the worst sort of poseur solipsism. It's canned vengeance with a great soundtrack. I did think that Anderson showed growth in The Royal Tenenbaums, though the big "sincere" moment at the end, when Ben Stiller decides that he wuvs his daddy after all, fell absurdly flat. To me, Anderson paved the way for Napoleon Dynamite, which is the virus to the fourth power. I'm genuinely depressed by that movie's success. The name of the virus is attitude. It shouldn't be--it can't be--a worldview."

  • "I had mixed feelings about Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate, a movie that seemed to believe that pointing the finger at Halliburton-style military-industrial corruption was a daring stance, instead of just a variation on the same old corporate villainy we've seen in bad thrillers for 20 years."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Just the fax, ma'am.

Remember that whole Jon Brion is producing/working on the new Kanye album story? I went to my people in the know and got the scoop. Jon isn't producing it, but is... uh... sorting out musical ideas with Kanye. Apparently, Mr. West asked Rick Rubin to hook him up with an unlikely, off-the-wall musician to help him bring the hottness. Enter the Jon Brion.
As for the Largo appearance, I heard some tape: Kanye freestyling over Jon's recreation of Prince's "Pop Life." Not the sickest shit ever, but solid.
And that's my story.

Stirrin' shit up.

Drudge is at it again, trying to create a huge non-controversy:
He forgot to mention Sin City's pedophile rapist subplot. Oh wait, if he brought that up, then we'd have to talk about His Holiness's involvement in covering up the work of pedophile rapists and we sure wouldn't want that to cloud the lovefest.

Friday, April 01, 2005

You Live in a Houseboat.

As part of the April Fools festivities, Scott Stereogum switched up his "Rockin' the iPod" feature to include such treats as Amy Grant and Chris Gaines, etc. He also included a band that I've nevin heard, but now I need to. That band? Anal Cunt. I mean, how can I resist [a] a band with that name, [b] an album with 52 songs, [c] an album with 52 songs with titles like "Jack Kevorkian is Cool," "You've Got Cancer," "You Are a Food Critic," "Pottery's Gay," "You're Gay," "You Have Goals," "Being a Cobbler is Dumb," " René Auberjonois," and my personal favorite, "You Went to See Dishwalla and Everclear (You're Gay)."
How can you go wrong?

Still haven't heard any Anal Cunt, but am sorely disappointed by the lyrics. Here are the complete lyrics to "Dishwalla/Everclear":
"you went to see dishwalla and everclear, you're gay you're a fucking queer [x2]."
That said, there is something (to quote Ms. Paglia) vivacious about the lyrics to "René Auberjonois":

"[chorus:] rene-auberjonois,is gay-auberjonois [x2]
you were on benson,you were in m.a.s.h.,you're french you're gay and you suck
you were in police academy 5,now you're on deep space 9
you were my best friend the vampire,i wish you would fucking retire

Sea change.

I keep a list locked away in my brain of movies that was I entirely unfair to and completely wrong about. The first time I watched Being John Malkovich I was sorely disappointed and unamused. After my first viewing of Election, I thought "Eh, it's cute, but nothing special." I could go on. You get the point. There are times (though few and far between) when I'm totally off base and wrong.
I've got a confession to make. I was way off the mark in regards to two of last year's biggest controversies: Passion of the Christ and Brown Bunny.
Now, hear me out.
I rewatched the former this past week and have been reading a lot about the latter and... well... I was wrong in my knee-jerk rejection of the two.
Regarding Mr. Gibson's epic-- I'll always find his motives... mildly dubious. But how can you deny something that beautifully crafted? It's such thunderous, grand filmmaking in the tradition of Murnau and DeMille, that it's just impossible to deny. Call me a sucker, but I got swept up in it.
As for Mr. Gallo... Well, look, lately I've been obsessed with unconventional, tone-poem-y cinema (Gerry, I'm looking your way) and I think I was in the wrong zone during that initial Brown Bunny screening. I still need to watch it again, but I think this time I'll be better prepared for Gallo's bold, stripped-down take on isolation, manhood, guilt, and redemption. Credit Liz Penn's nuanced understanding and passionate love for the film for shaking me up.
So there. I was wrong and I'm owning it. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.