I learned that the movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot existed in May of 2010. I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico visiting some friends and we had gone to a local video rental store and each of us chose a movie to rent. I was careful to choose a movie that was not available at the time on DVD or Netflix (it now is). I chose a Jeff Bridges movie called Against All Odds (if you don’t know the movie, I know you know the Phil Collins theme song which is called “Against All Odds” but it’s the “Take a look at me now” song). I was looking at Jeff Bridges’ other movies on the IMDB app on my iPhone when the title jumped out at me and I made a note to see if I could find the movie. Continue reading
The album version of The Point, Harry Nilsson‘s children’s fable, was an integral part of my childhood. I have many fond memories of listening to that record with my dad, thrilling to the story of Oblio, born pointless in a world where everything is pointed, and his adventures in the Pointless Forest. But I did not see the film version until I was older, and that one time was quite awhile ago. So it was with fresh eyes that I watched the new “Definitive Collector’s Edition” DVD, but I am very happy to report it lived up to all my expectations. Continue reading
I remember visiting SeaWorld as a kid. I grew up only a few hours north of San Diego, so that’s the park where we would go. SeaWorld was never quite as much fun as a trip to DisneyLand or Knotts Berry Farm or Magic Mountain or even the San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park. But it was always a big event. And the entire trip would always center on the orca show – usually ending with a big fight over whether we would be allowed to sit in the splash zone or not (I believe that the kids only won this battle once). The last time I went to SeaWorld in San Diego, I was probably around ten to twelve years old. Continue reading
I first saw Pink Flamingos when I had just turned 14, and it changed my life. There was a sensibility to it and a humor that had existed only in my head before that, and seeing it externalized was a revelation. Its influence on my teenage life was enormous, and has a huge role in my sense of humor and who I am today. It’s also almost singularly responsible for my obsession with movies. Naturally, John Waters was my favorite filmmaker for years, and even now, I’d say no other artist is as important to me. So basically, devoting a month to watching his films (June Waters) was unnecessary because I had already seen them all, most of them multiple times. But it’s good for me to revisit those favorites every few years, and this was an excuse to do so, as well as revisit the ones I hadn’t seen so often, like his last two films (Cecil B. Demented and A Dirty Shame), and Hairspray, which had been too saccharine for me in high school, but I was now able to appreciate as one of his best works. I had also never watched each of his films in a short period of time, in order, which is always a fascinating way to explore the arc of a director’s career. So that’s what I did, starting from the surprisingly entrancing Mondo Trasho, and including every documentary made on Waters, special features, audio commentaries (his are among the greatest I’ve ever heard), and even some movies he didn’t direct that feature Divine or Edith Massey. Continue reading
This year, over the course of Brian De PalMarch (which stretched into Brian De PalmApril), I watched every single one of Brian De Palma‘s films, including those I had seen before, his early shorts (the only two that weren’t impossible to find), and his disappointingly ordinary music video for Bruce Springsteen (the music video that shows up in the middle of Body Double, from the same year, is far more impressive), and I watched them all in order. I also read The De Palma Cut: The Films of America’s Most Controversial Director (which covered his work up to The Untouchables) by Laurent Bouzereau, who also directed the many exhaustive Making-Of documentaries I watched.
De P’s progress as a visual storyteller was fascinating, as was the recurrence of his many prevalent themes and techniques. Many are already associated with his work, like peeping/voyeurism, doubles (twins, doppelgangers, multiple personality, etc.), split-screen, long tracking shots, swirling cameras, and split-diopter (a device, wholly unique to De Palma, that keeps both the foreground and background simultaneously in focus). But there were other little things that would pop up, too. Like, he shoots a TV screen (or film screen, or monitor) in almost every single film. Or that three of his films (Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out) open with a shower scene (Body Double was supposed to as well, but the scene (which now plays over the end credits) didn’t work at the beginning). Also, he’s like really into peeping and voyeurism.
He’s a brilliant director, and a fairly weird one, without a single true mis-step (I didn’t like Dionysus in ’69, but that was more something he filmed and presented than “directed”). His strongest period was in the 70s and 80s (whose wasn’t, when it comes to directors of that period who are still around?), but his later stuff is worth exploring as well, and he has definitely cemented himself as one of my favorite directors. Love you, BDP.
There are the 50 Best Movies I saw for the first time, or practically the first time, in 2011. There are a few I had technically seen before, but either couldn’t remember them at all, or felt that I experienced them in a new way, so those are still included. Please enjoy. Both the article, and all 50 movies.
Last month, I celebrated one of my favorite directors by declaring November Paul Verhovember. During Verhovember, I watched the only feature film of his I hadn’t seen (Business Is Business), rewatched some I hadn’t seen in awhile (Turkish Delight, Flesh+Blood, and Total Recall), watched the only early short film of his I could find (A Lizard Too Much), his TV series (Floris), the episode he directed of The Hitchhiker, watched nearly every one of his films with his audio commentary, and got into a heated argument over Showgirls during Thanksgiving dinner. I still plan to listen to the commentaries I didn’t get to because they’re all fucking great, and they helped me see some of the complexities in his films I had previously missed, and helped me get to know the man himself. Showgirls is the only one he hasn’t recorded one for. Hopefully, this will still happen one day because when he mentions it on other commentaries, he doesn’t sound ashamed of it, so that’s a very good sign.
Two of my favorite things I learned listening to his commentaries are that he “would have liked to have directed My Best Friend’s Wedding” and that he has a hysterical cameo in RoboCop (seen above). Apparently, this is footage of him showing people in the club scene how he wanted them to dance, and they decided to actually include a quick shot of it. It happens right after Ray Wise kicks RoboCop in the RoboBalls.
For awhile, I’ve been thinking that if I ever got a tattoo, I’d like to get “VERHOEVEN” written on my arm somewhere. After Paul Verhovember, I am definitely still considering maybe possibly doing that if I ever decide to get a tattoo, which I most likely will not. In the meantime, I’ll stick with naming my cell phone Ver-phone-ven. Paul Verhoeven is seriously one of the best, most intriguing filmmakers ever, and I encourage everyone to really examine his work. Below are my reviews from his entire filmography.
Randy, Chuck and Bob are at it again — the Residents’ most recent DVD release, Randy’s Ghost Stories is another must-have from the Talking Light project. The Talking Light tour is mostly a greatest-hits type of set with stories interspersed throughout. The stories are all projected on a set of screens behind the Residents playing a live musical backing — each show has different stories from the main set — usually about three out of the set of eight total stories. (For example, mine had “Talking Light”, “The Ghost Snake” and “The Unseen Sister” — I think the first and last of these might be at every show.)
Image via Wikipedia
When I watched The Animatrix, it was because my dad rented it; of course, this statement shouldn’t be taken as meaning that I didn’t want to see it – after all, I was planning on seeing it at SIFF, but it was pretty much immediately sold out. And I like The Matrix. And that includes the sequels. It doesn’t include the games, though, but only because I never played them. I’ve heard they were good, but I got burned before on the computer game adaptation of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Well, and the game adaptation of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, but not nearly as badly as on Bill and Ted), so, y’know, I learned my lesson.
Song-poems are super interesting. They might not always be good (though there are some definite diamonds in the rough there), but it’s such an interesting concept, even if it IS mostly just a way to separate suckers from their money. I’ve wondered about the song-poem model as applied to other media. Though you might not expect it,
Final Flesh by Vernon Chatman (a member of PFFR and co-creator of Wonder Showzen and Xavier: Renegade Angel) is such an experiment. As it turns out, there’s a company, Porn For The People (NSFW, if you couldn’t guess) that does the porn short equivalent of song poems. You write them a script, they shoot it and send a video back to you. The idea seems to be for folks with odd kinks to be able to have their kinks fulfilled. That said, I seriously doubt that Final Flesh is an exploration of Chatman’s sexual fantasies.