Monday, April 21, 2014

Double-Bill: Snatched

Slither and The World's End

Friday, April 18, 2014

After Midnight

Any film lovers out there remember the brief "Fake Criterion" craze? While most of these covers consisted of crappy MS Paint renditions of what a Criterion cover for Freddy Got Fingered might look like, some of them were downright beautiful. This is how I discovered Midnight Marauder. Among all the rest, his pieces for films like Mulholland Dr. and True Romance had an immediacy to them that grabbed your attention right away. His choice of images and treatments was always impeccable. Gradually his work has expanded into incorporating images other than film stills, and for his recent work on Midnight Cowboy and Point Blank he has even started including original drawings. His work is also featured on the posters for the Terrence Malick produced film The Better Angels! Getting to watch an artist's work evolve over time is a unique pleasure. I'm grateful to have witnessed this progression and am eager to see where it goes next.

If you love cinema and art (which you should if you're reading this blog) I highly encourage you to check out Midnight Marauder's online exhibition of posters for the films of Robert Altman entitled "It's Okay with Me". Beautiful images for beautiful films!

Friday Quote: Liberty Heights

"Life is made up of a few big moments, and a lot of little ones. I still remember the first time I kissed Sylvia, or the last time I hugged my father before he died. And I still remember that white-bread sandwich and that blonde dancing girl with the cigarette pack on her thigh. But a lot of images fade, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get them back. I had a relative once who said that if I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to remember better."

Liberty Heights (1999)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nymphomaniac Vol. II (2013)

More than any other filmmaker I know, Lars Von Trier loves to work in trilogies. There's the Europa Trilogy (Element of Crime, Epidemic and Europa) The Golden Heart Trilogy (Breaking the Waves, The Idiots and Dancer in the Dark) and the incomplete USA: Land of Opportunities trilogy (Dogville, Manderlay and the un-produced Washington). Nyphomaniac has been described as the culmination of a Depression Trilogy following the director's 2007 breakdown. Yet, while the other films of this trilogy (Antichrist and Melancholia) are content to wallow in the morose muck of a depressed state, Nymphomaniac seems to be about emerging from that mire with perverse humor and playful provocations.

After his breakdown, Lars was quite literally Joe laying bruised and beaten in some forgotten alleyway. Fortunately audiences/critics were there to play Seligman and sympathetically listen to his tales of woe (ie: the other films in the trilogy). At first Lars/Joe was receptive to our kindness, but gradually he came to resent it and started to kick back against the compassion with tiny verbal barbs and cinematic provocation. By the end of Volume II we have a fully recuperated Lars Von Trier who is back in fighting form and itching to bite the hand that feeds...even if it kind of shoots his own film in the foot. So then why do it you ask? I guess the best way to describe that is with a Seligman-esque digression:
A scorpion asks a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is reluctant as he fears the scorpion will sting him during the trip. The scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, they would both sink and drown. Reluctantly the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks, "Why?" the scorpion can only reply, "It's my nature!"
Vol. II is running at The Frida Cinema through April 24th.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979)

I think I saw this movie for the first time back in middle school. I know it was around the time that all my friends and I were “discovering” punk rock. We’d been blown away by Green Day’s Dookie album and instantly started plundering the genre’s back catalogue. Suddenly we were all taking a crash course in The Clash, The Exploited, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and of course The Ramones and Sex Pistols. For some reason I’ve still never seen The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, but boy oh boy have I seen Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. I distinctly remember my friends hating it for being cheesy and “not punk”, but I secretly loved it. It was funny, it had cute girls, a kicking soundtrack and was about rebellion. How is that NOT punk rock? THEY BLOW UP A SCHOOL! As I’ve learned more about the “Corman School” of low-budget filmmaking, my love for this film has only grown. The cast and crew is a who’s who of awesome: Allan Arkush, Joe Dante, Paul Bartel, Clint Howard, P.J. Soles, Mary Wornov, Dick Miller, Dean Cundey, Don Steele, and Rodney Bingenheimer! Though it might not be high art, this film is a load of fun and makes me feel young again. Do your parents know that you're Ramones? Hey ho, let’s go!

Double-Bill: Boys Will Be Boys

American Psycho and The Wolf of Wall Street

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Quote: The Ten Commandments

The city that he builds shall bear my name. The woman that he loves shall bear my child. So it shall be written. So it shall be done.

The Ten Commandments (1956)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nashville (1975)

Though Robert Altman certainly didn’t invent the idea of a large ensemble film with intersecting characters and plotlines (see: Grand Hotel), he certainly was its master. Off the top of my head there is MASH, Nashville, A Wedding, Short Cuts, Prêt-à-Porter, Gosford Park and A Prairie Home Companion. Sure some were more successful than others, but that’s to be expected with a career that spanned multiple decades and dozens of films. Yet even at their most mediocre, there was still always something special to be found there. Something rough and jagged that another filmmaker would have certainly smoothed out. Need proof? Just look at the poor facsimiles that Gary Marshall has attempted with Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Even the great imitations like Dazed and Confused or Magnolia miss the mark slightly by tying things up a little to nicely in the end. Altman wasn’t afraid to leave some threads dangling because - that’s life man. Life is messy and unpredictable. The good guys don’t always win, the bad guys don’t always lose and sometimes we’re not sure how we’re supposed to feel about an outcome. While this might fill some with anxiety and anger, Robert Altman calmly replied with, “It don’t worry me.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Favorite Drag Movies

Sooo I'm a little bit obsessed with "RuPaul's Drag Race" and I spent all the time I should have been writing a blog post watching the show instead.  My oh-so-smart husband suggested I do a post featuring men in drag, so here it is! And no, I'm not going into the whole drag queen vs transvestite vs transsexual vs everything. These are just movies featuring blokes dressed as women Whether playing actual female characters, drag queens, or disguising themselves as women for some other reason, they're all favorites of mine, and they're all fabulous.

Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
What is there to say about this film? It's moving, the music is great, and it leaves you smiling. 

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot (1959)
A comedy classic! These two are hilarious as men hiding in an all-female band to hide from mobsters who want them dead.

Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
"I see you shiver with antici..........pation!"

Divine in Hairspray (1988)
Okay, okay...let's make that Divine in every movie he did with John Waters. R.I.P. you twisted fabulous individual!

Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
There's GOT to be a less creepy way to visit your kids, right? Right?? Oh well, without this movie we wouldn't have gotten this.

Nathan Lane (and shhh, spoiler alert, Gene Hackman) in The Birdcage (1996)
Nathan Lane is great as the drag queen Alfred/Starina, successfully convincing staunch Republicans that she was their future son-in-law's birth mother. And I'm surprised at how pretty Gene Hackman looks in drag too, I must say.

Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie (1982)
Can't get work as an actor? Try disguising yourself as the opposite sex! OK, that sounds crazy difficult, but Hoffman's performance is great and it led to this awesome interview where he gets emotional about his feelings making this film. We love you, Dustin Hoffman!

Remember, in the words of RuPaul, you're born naked and the rest is drag! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Enough Said (2013)

Nicole Holofcener might be the most consistent filmmaker out there. Each of her (to date) five feature films has been an absolute joy to watch. She writes people that feel believable and is not afraid of depicting us at our worst. And despite the awful things some of her characters say or do, you still find yourself feeling for them at least a little bit because you see a little bit of yourself in there. Despite the duplicity of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' character, you still want things to work out for her because on a level you know you would likely have made some of the same choices. And despite all of Gandolfini's annoying habits, you let it slide because down inside you know that you can be just as difficult. Add to this the fact that both leads are charming as all get-out and the deal is sealed. It's a shame that we lost James Gandolfini so young because I would willingly sit through a whole second film, even if it was nothing but these two wonderfully human lovebirds just sitting across from each other.