Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vegetables Suck

[Satan's favorite food.]

I hate vegetables (just clarifying, in case you didn't understand the title of this post or the caption underneath Satan's favorite food that says Satan's favorite food). Always have. Never was much you could do to these abominations unto taste that got me to like 'em. Sorry. That's just the way my tastebuds feel.

But then a funny thing happened. I started getting older. Or, should I say, I started feeling older. Now, being in my early thirties, I've still got some years ahead of me before I really feel old; but I've definitely started feeling creaky as time has gone by. And, of course, as Louis CK has said before, it just keeps getting worse; it's not like you're body magically just starts getting better at some point. So I decided to give my body a fighting chance against time; I decided to get healthy.

Sure, a few years ago, I started to stop drinking so much and also began to refrain from shoving as much bad shit into my body (fried chicken binges notwithstanding), but I still never put too much healthy in my body. Vegetables were the final frontier. I had to start taking vegetables. As I said before, I wanted to get super fucking healthy.

Not that I turned into Rob Lowe on Parks and Rec or anything.

[Although I would like to be Adam Scott.]

But I'm definitely more conscious of this shit than I used to be. Of course, It's not like I was previously unaware of the healthiness of vegetables; I just chose not to think about it. The biggest reason I avoided vegetables for so long was a very immature one: I hated the smug attitudes of those who loved vegetables. "What? You don't like vegetables? But they're so delicious."

"Actually, most of them make me wanna throw up."

"Oh you don't know what you're talking about. Once you have some—"

"I have. Like I said, I can't stomach 'em. It's involuntary—the gag reflex kicks in. I can't control it."

"Oh I'm sure once you start eating them, you'll love them. How can you not?"

When people love something, it's hard sometimes to fathom that someone else might not. I get that, but it was always hard for me to get past it. Yep, it was mostly spite that led to my avoidance of vegetables. What can I say? I'm just really childish sometimes.

Anyway, I decided a few weeks ago to start taking as many vegetables as I could stomach. Now, seeing as it's mighty hard to fight the gag reflex, I decided to just eat and swallow that shit as quickly as possible. Most vegetables haven't been a problem—except Satan's favorite food (see above).

Since broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables out there—and one of the most puke-inducing—I knew I had to figure out a way to get this shit into my body. After trial and error, I figured out what to do. I now have a daily routine of dicing broccoli into a fine powder, measuring out 3/4 of a cup of the shit, and swallowing spoonfuls with water. Why, you are now asking, do I take such a specific amount of broccoli? What's so important about 3/4 of a cup? Well, as I mentioned before, I take gulps of water with each spoonful, and I've come to realize that 3/4 of a cup is the most broccoli I can take without getting waterlogged.

(And yeah, it's pretty much impossible not to sing this song every time I go through my routine.)

A little while back I told my writing partner Roger (listen to our podcasts, please, and subscribe on itunes) of my new broccoli routine. After laughing at my foolishosity, he asked me why I didn't run a lifestyle blog. Not that he thought (nor wanted) I should try to initiate others into my newly healthy (funny) lifestyle; he just thought the shit humorous. And so I wrote this piece. Mostly, I just felt like writing a little something about me—not movie related.

But since I brought up movies, I guess I can tie it in somehow.

This whole vegetable thing, and my specific reason for avoiding vegetables, made me think of the smug attitudes some movie connoisseurs have as regards the so-called cultural vegetables of the movie landscape (if you haven't already, just read the New York Times article I linked to for a better understanding). I'm not gonna lie; if you're not into movies, there's no reason to watch Antonioni or Tarkovsky movies. I sure as shit love 'em, but that's just me. As I said before, movie addiction is my OCD of choice; so I watch every damn thing I can get a hold of. And my tastes are pretty far-ranging. If yours ain't, ain't nothing wrong with that.

If, however, you want to write about movies or make movies, you damn well better know your shit. I'm sure there are plenty of would be movie critics who've avoided such vegetable movies because of an annoyance with the smug attitudes of those who sing their praises. I'm here to say, just ignore the smug people; watch these movies because—even if you don't like 'em—they'll round out your cinematic diet.

And, honestly, I ain't gonna lie; you may very well hate these art flicks. But you do gotta take these cinematic vegetables if you want any kind of a background on the subject of movies. If you have to cut the taste of these movies by washing them down with some mindless action flicks, then so be it. Do what you gotta do to make your cinematic diet as varied as possible.

And to the smug people who can't understand why everyone wouldn't love glacially-paced art films (though I do, but that's just my taste), I just wanna say, cut that shit out. You're not helping anything.

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Thank God It's Friday (1978)

dir. Robert Klane

"Last Dance" - Donna Summer

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Man Godfrey (1936)

dir. Gregory La Cava

I guess, technically, I should have included My Man Godfrey in my Blind Spot Series. Yes, I did see this movie as a kid, but after rewatching it I realized I hardly remembered a lick of it. And happier I couldn't be. It was like seeing the movie for the first time all over again. This Depression-era screwball comedy is every bit as clever and, well, funny as I vaguely remembered.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before (but can't bother to look up in my blog history), rare was it that Depression-era flicks actually dealt with, you know, the Depression. After all, as we all know from Sullivan's Travels, folks suffering through this ordeal didn't want to be reminded of the shittiness of their condition; they instead sought escapist fare. But every now and then, some Depression-era flicks would deal head-on with the realities of the time—though, rarely did they in a depressing manner. (Those that did, like Make Way for Tomorrow, were doomed to not make money.)

So, it isn't surprising that Gregory La Cava's Depression-tinged satire My Man Godfrey—though more biting a social commentary you are not likely to see—was at its core a light-hearted romp.

By the way, before delving into the plot, I want to point out that, for this piece, I hired a crack team of young coolness scientists to like totally enable my blog to be like more totally hip and cool for the youngsters. Seeing as I'm always eager to appeal to the coveted 18-49 demographic, I thought I'd youngify this review and make this old movie like totally relatable to my groovy young readership.

That being said...

The wealthy Bullock family at the center of My Man Godfrey is a member of that all important (and completely necessary) leisure class, a group all too often derided by people who are probably just jealous. These vacuous socialites take special pride in cruelly mocking—both by the shameless flaunting of their grossly undeserved privilege and the very fact of their pointless existence—those unfortunate enough to not be born into their social class, as well as the notion of a just universe. Here is an artist's rendering of what they would look like today:

[I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my blog for injecting evil into it.]

The father of the clan is none too pleased with the way his wife and daughters wantonly spend money and flaunt their uselessness. But the unfortunate-faced sap has no other recourse than to be equally useless himself. Here is an artist's rendering of the modern version of this man:

[And the integrity of my blog continues to plummet.]

With an aim to achieve complete despicability, the Bullocks join other members of their social class in engaging in a jolly fun scavenger hunt. What's so despicable about that, you ask. One of the objectives of the scavenger hunt: find a forgotten man (euphemism for hobo) and bring him to the Waldorf for to be mocked. (Yes, it's a notch above bum fights but the sadism comes from the same place.)

Flighty daughter Irene (Carole Lombard) finds the perfect forgotten man in the form of erudite Godfrey (William Powell). And after becoming smitten with the man, Irene takes him on as the family butler.

Here's an artist's rendering of what Godfrey would look like today:

(throat clearing)

I said this is an artist's rendering of what Godfrey would look like today:

(more throat clearing)


OK, apparently my website-groovifiers didn't do enough research to find a modern corollary to William Powell's character. No worries. We'll just leave that blank for now.

Anyway, try as she might, Irene just can't excite the interest of her homeless butler Godfrey. So as a way to to make Godfrey jealous, Irene pretends to fall in love with a moron of a man, eventually getting engaged to the sap. She takes advantage of this dim-witted young boob; and the dim-bulb is certain the socialite has fallen for him. Of course, she callously dumps this dumb dumb as soon as he is no longer useful to her. Here is an artist's rendering of what this man would look like today:

[And now my blog has hit rock bottom.]

And then other stuff happens: secrets are reveleaed and funniness ensues.

Now, obviously, being as My Man Godfrey was made like a billion years ago, it is hardly relatable to today's audiences. Nevertheless, it ultimately leaves us with a message that is as true today as it was back then: Rich people are assholes.

But, fuck it all; who cares about my review. You gotta check out Carole Lombard and William Powell swearing:

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

dir. Amy Holden Jones

...but with Amy Holden Jones' slasher picture The Slumber Party Massacre, the—

What's that you say? ... Why yes, this slasher picture was directed by a woman. ... It depends on your definition of destroying the misogynistic underpinnings of this male-dominated genre. ...

Well, let me show you.

["Hey remember a few seconds ago when that woman was—and still is—being attacked in that van behind us? What's up with that?"]

[This totally necessary ass shot works to subvert the objectification of women in cinema. Because I said so.]

["Hey, gals, isn't being naked awesome?"]

["Hey, remember when we were naked a few minutes ago? Why aren't we that right now?"]

... Well, I think that's a little harsh. ... No, I don't think it's even more mindlessly misogynistic than the typical—

Well that's your opinion. You may think that not only has the camera's typical male gaze not been neutered, but strengthened—basically assaulting all of the unfortunate women in this movie; but I think—

No, I don't know why I just repeated everything you said, verbatim. Look, listen, that doesn't matter. I didn't even get a chance to get into all the plot type stuff here. If anything, you should raise a ruckus over this film's staunch anti-denim bigotry. ... Well, if you'd just give me a chance to speak, I'd tell you. ... Thank you. You see, the killer in the movie, he uh...ah, I'll just show you.

["Nobody tells me too much denim is too much denim. It's the source of my power."]

[In an actual scene from the movie, the killer counts the corpses in this car's trunk and then gets upset when he realizes there are only four. He needs five in the trunk. Yes, he's the OCD killer.]

[Instead of getting an iconic masked killer, the folks in Slumber Party Massacre are stuck with this bargain basement "Just For Men" killer.]

Oh shit, I forgot to mention—going back to your male gaze argument—this movie actually takes time to objectify men as well. ... Well, one of the gals in the movie ogles a Playgirl magazine.

[Like any wholesome all-American gal, she's going to get her nut off to pictures of Stallone. If only she could see him now.]

[I don't know how long Stallone has been holding those veins hostage but clearly they've been trying to escape for some time.]

Yes, I know you're not impressed but I think you should at least give the film credit for some clever shots and staging.

["So that's a no on corpse? Just the coke then?"]

No? Fine. Whatever. Your opinion doesn't even matter, anyway, because you completely missed the point. Slumber Party Massacre is so over the top in every possible stupid way that it almost acts as a parody of itself. I honestly can't say if this was the intention or not, but the outcome don't lie. Wait, you know what...I'm gonna check something.

OK, so I just looked it up and feminist screenwriter Rita Mae Brown did intend Slumber Party Massacre as a parody of the slasher genre. So there. Kudos to me for figuring that out.

[OK, I found a couple different trailers. I think this one is probably the actual trailer for the picture:]

[This one added some funny narration. And also boobs, lots of boobs. NSFW, obviously. Unless you work someplace really really rad.]

Dave's Rating:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Feb. 20)

Hey, folks, it's the end of the week, so you know what that means. Here's some of my favorite pieces from around the blogosphere.

Lauren at Man, I Love Films wrote an intriguing piece on the tendency to over-psychoanalyze directors based on their work.

Max Urai at Anomalous Material wrote a list of his 30 favorite movies of the 1990s.

Over at Kid in the Front Row, a great piece on Robert Downey Jr.

Over at Ferdy on Films, Marilyn Ferdinand wrote a piece on etiquette, and Roderick Heath wrote a great piece on De Palma's The Fury.

From Self-Styled Siren a great piece on actress Linda Darnell.

And finally, at tdylf a piece on movie communities with dirty secrets.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trailer Time: The Raid (2011) [NSFW, if you're lame or a chicken]

dir. Gareth Evans

OK, this is likely old news for everyone else, but I only recently became aware of the Indonesian action flick The Raid. (What do you want? I'm behind the times.) And I have my awesome writing/podcast partner Roger Snead to thank for bringing this—what's sure to be, if the trailer's any indication—awesomatastical action flick to my attention.

Directed by Welshman Gareth Evans, The Raid centers on an elite crime force's efforts to take down a yadda yadda yadda. You don't care about that shit. I don't care about that shit. What do we care about? Does shit happen? Oh boy does shit happen. And then some. This barely two-minute trailer contains more action than the entirety of most action movies. I can't wait to watch the shit out of this movie—even though the American release of the film has been tainted by a Linkin Park soundtrack.

[Warning: After watching this trailer, you'll have to put your pants through two wash cycles to completely get rid of the cum stains.]

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949)

dir. Preston Sturges

Before anyone says anything, let me counter with: fuck you, I think alliteration is awesome; and if Preston Sturges wants to give his Betty Grable-starring comedy-western the alliteratious title The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, then, by God, he's certainly earned that right. (Also, using such a title was a wonderfully thoughtful gesture toward the poster designer—the man only needed to put one "B" on his advert.)

Although I haven't, thus far, devoted much ink to Preston Sturges, please know that the man is one of my comedy heroes. Truth be told, I actually have tdylf blogger John LaRue to thank for reminding me of the man's genius. You see, LaRue recently reviewed Sturges' brilliant The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, and it revitalized in me a love for Sturges. You see, in addition to crafting witty dialogue and directing side-splitting physical comedy, Sturges also had a love affair with pissing of the Hays Office. He never met a movie premise he couldn't inject with as much objectionable (for the time) material as possible.

How awesome was Sturges? His otherwise run-of-the-mill (by Sturges standards) The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend opens with a toddler firing a gun:

[Why don't more toddlers shoot guns in movies? Also, hells to the motherfucking Preston Sturges yeah. (Note: Although this random of string of words begins with a capitalized letter and ends with a period, classifying it as a sentence seems a bit of a stretch.)]

Betty Grable stars as Freddie, the titular (tee hee) pistol-packing tough-as-nails saloon singer who can't keep herself out of trouble. And by trouble, I mean her no good louse of a man Blackie Jobero (Cesar "the only Joker I will ever acknowledge" Romero) keeps getting himself mixed up with strange tail. Freddie, arriving at the only reasonable reaction to such douchery, grabs her six-shooter and chases down her man, with an aim for to put a hurt on his ass. Oh but if only his ass were the one she continually hit. No, the hot-tempered Freddie keeps a-accidentally plugging the keister of the town judge.

So she hightails it to a safe-town where she takes up—under a stolen identity—the odious task of teaching kids. Here she gets herself all afawned over by Charles Hingleman (Rudy Valee—basically reprising his mega-nerd role from The Palm Beach Story). But, of course, it ain't long before Blackie learns of her whereabouts, and tries to win her back. Hijinks/shoot-outs/near-fatal hangings ensue.

Again, as I said before, if The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (I will never tire of writing this title) ain't nothin' too special—as far as the oeuvre of Sturges is concerned, at least—but it sure is a hoot.

Dave's Rating:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trailer Time: Marihuana (1936)

dir. Dwain Esper

I don't know why Reefer Madness wound up getting all the attention. It doens't even come close to achieving the inspired, reactionary lunacy of the superior marijuana-scare movie Marihuana. Maybe it was the title: Reefer Madness is far more catchy than the obvious Marihuana.

("What'd you name it?"


"You made a movie about marijuana and you called it Marihuana."

"What do you want? I was on a tight schedule—no time for clever. They said, 'quick, give us a title for our marijuana movie.' I gave them the first thing that popped into my head: Marihauana."

"That's another thing. Why'd you change the "J" in marijuana to an "H" for the movie title."

"What do you mean? That's how we spell it in these olden times. I told— Wait a minute. How would you know that? I never showed you the poster."

"I can see letters when you talk."

"I could'a told them to put that in the movie. I didn't know that marijuana did that to people."

"Who said anything about marijuana?")

Where was I? Oh yeah, you should watch this trailer for Marihuana. Also, check out the movie; it's a hoot.

[The trailer:]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trailer Time: Glen or Glenda (1953)

dir. Edward D. Wood Jr.

"Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window."
-William Faulkner

I only recently discovered this Faulkner quote, but a more apt sentiment could not be stated as regards as my reading habits. Of course, as you know from reading my blog, this is also true of my movie tastes. I search all over the spectrum, quality-wise, for movies to devour. Being a movie addict—having seen so many movies I damn near think in movie terms—I'm bored by the conventional, by formula. I always need something new, something different, something to jar me out of stasis. Which is why the only films that excite me tend to fall on opposite ends of the quality continuum.

I've said many a time before that one of my favorite things about "bad directors" is that these filmmakers will, because of naiveté and inexperience, make the kind of revelatory mistakes a master of his craft would never allow. And yet, these mistakes can be just as interesting as the conscious choices of a true artist.

And so, although most people count Plan 9 from Outer Space as Ed Wood's crowning achievement in crapitude, my favorite Wood picture will always be Glen or Glenda. If you enjoy a director for his non-talent, why hail a later movie, one marred by an impure deviation from complete non-potential. With Glen or Glenda, Wood's crap came straight from the tap, unfiltered. He hadn't learned from his mistakes yet; because this movie contained his first mistakes. He had no where to go from here but up. Yes, he didn't learn a whole lot by the time he made Plan 9, but he did learn to construct, however flimsy, a story. No divorced-from-the-context-of-the-movie stock footage or "pull the strings" Bela interludes here.

But Glen or Glenda—my God, this one came straight from the imperfect heart. The sincere Wood meant this picture to act as an exploration of his own cross-dressing proclivities. And in an odd way, perhaps because of the bizarre non-structure, this dream-like (by design or mistake? Who knows) picture acts more as a window into the psyche of its creator than any well-intentioned Oscar picture.

The trailer, though slightly more logical than the picture, follows the same spirit. The first images are accompanied by the following narration: "Then comes the major surgery: the removal of the man and the formation of the woman. A woman born at the age of 24."

Now, of course, the advertising arm of the production company is usually divorced from the filmmaking "talent," but this trailer nevertheless speaks to what I love about trash movies: an ineptitude bordering on the avant garde. You could argue that beginning the narration at the midpoint was an intentional act meant to jar the square 1950s viewer, forcing him to plunge head-on into new, potentially unsettling territory. More likely than not, however, this decision was arbitrary and hastily achieved.

[The trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: 8 Mile (2002)

dir. Curtis Hanson

"Lose Yourself" - Eminem

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 30 - Not Quite Hollywood/Stone

Not Quite Hollywood (2008)
dir. Mark Hartley

Stone (1974)
dir. Sandy Harbutt

Roger Snead and I discuss the entertaining documentary Not Quite Hollywood, as well as the cult Australian biker flick Stone. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blind Spot Series: Last Tango in Paris (1972)

dir. Bernardo Bertolucci

I don't know how to write about sex. Not that I'm a prude; I'm just not mature. Anytime my writing veers anywhere close to the territory of fuck-town—which, surprisingly or not, is not too infrequent an occurrence around here—I can't fight the urge to thrust my dick...jokes into the welcoming, moist, tightness that is my writing (OK, this doesn't even qualify as a double entendre).

Maybe my whole love affair with fuck humor is just a security blanket, a way to compensate for my lackluster sexual history. Now I ain't exactly a newb, but I ain't a Don Juan either. As far as sexual prowess/knowledge goes, I land somewhere between this guy:

and this guy:

[After doing some calculations, I figured out that Wilt must have banged two pairs of twins right before this picture was taken.]

I think I'm just worried that were I to attempt to discuss sex in any meaningful manner, I'd come off sounding like this:

[Again with the 40-Year-Old Virgin reference?]

Then again, it could just be that fucking is fucking funny, and I like my fucking funny fuck writing.

Anyway, regardless of the reason, I knew my shortcomings, writing-wise, and so decided to enhance my abilities, writing-wise, and review Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci's erotic exploration of blah, blah, blah. When choosing movies for this Blind Spot series, I purposefully picked some films I knew would be difficult to write about. I didn't want any easy tasks. After all, the only way to get better at whatever it is you do, is to practice that aspect of it that you suck at the most (technical talk here, of course). And I suck at being mature when it comes to writing about fucking.

Now this don't mean, of course, I'm averse to serious, adult pictures about fucking. Far from it. The biggest reason I avoided Last Tango in Paris for this long is quite simple: The prospect of seeing a middle-aged Brando getting his fuck on, for some reason, never enticed me in the slightest. Of course, Brando sex ain't the only thing that kept me from this movie.

As you know from my previous Blind Spot post on A Streetcar Named Desire, I kind of have mixed feelings as concerns the ego machine that was Brando. Yes, in his prime (the 1950s) the man was an unstoppable acting machine, firing on all cylinders, with nary a false note nor incoherent acting choice among his plethora of vaulted performances; but by the time the nineties came around, he, well...

['Nuff said]

And so, Last Tango in Paris, existing as it does at about the midpoint in Brando's career, left me worried. Would I see some early warning signs of the Brando that was to come? He would, after all, destroy the otherwise flawless Western The Missouri Breaks, less than half a decade later. Last Tango would be iffy territory.

Good news first: Brando delivers a compelling, believable performance. Although he indulges in the kinds of seeming batshit improvisations that would mar another movie, his choices here ring true for the most part. Also, most of the sex scenes in this movie, as well as the pillow talk, felt surprisingly real.

And now the bad news.

Before I get into any plot description (Brando begins an anonymous affair with a young Parisian woman [Maria Schneider]) let me just state this upfront: In perhaps the most infamous scene from Bertolucci's picture, Brando ass-rapes his ostensible sex partner. I'm sorry; I can't think of any more genteel way to state it. This scene is as brutal as it sounds. In every scene before this, we are led to believe that Brando and Schneider are both willing partners, feverishly exploring every sexual desire. But here, in a savage act, he horribly violates her. And so, despite any of the film's virtues, I couldn't look past this despicable act by Brando's character. It was hard for me to see him as anything other than, well, despicable (I don't know; maybe that was the point of the movie).

And after doing some research on the movie (yes, Wikipedia counts as research—fuck you), I found out that Maria Schneider's tears in this scene were genuine. The scene was improvised on set, and she did not want to take part in it. Schneider, like her character, felt violated. This knowledge, in retrospect, made my viewing of the movie an even grosser affair. I just can't condone that kind of exploitation of a performer, no matter the quality of the final product.

Yes, I'm sure there's probably a whole bunch of intricate sexual politics kind of stuff—and meaningful symbolism and whatnot—a'happening in this movie that I could write about; but I guess I'm just none too smart or sophisticated enough to get stuff writ about such things. (So much for my stated purpose in writing about this movie.) I couldn't get past the wrongness of that one particular scene; which, for me anyway, lent an air of wrongness to the whole movie—yeah, like I said, that may have been the point, but I wouldn't feel right recommending this film.

And so, because my review lacked the insightful dissection of sexual material that was my aim when writing this piece, I thought I'd close with some of my lame jokes on the pull-quotes used in the trailer for this movie.

"A landmark in movie history" (Because there's so much fucking in it)
-The New Yorker Magazine

"The greatest acting performance of Brando's career" (Now brace yourself for the rest of his career)
-Newsweek Magazine
International (Fancy) Edition

"This must be shown" (This is the best you can do, pull-quote-wise?)
-London Evening Standard

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:
Fuck if I know how to rate this.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Feb. 13)

Hey, y'all, first of all, I just realized that I have yet to thank (in blog form) the folks who showed up to my first movie night last week. It was a real hoot, and I can't wait for future movie nights. Worry not; I'll keep you informed of the schedule and upcoming movies as soon as I figure everything out—which should be relatively soon.

In the meantime, here's some of my favorite work from around the blogosphere this week.

John LaRue at The Droid You're Looking For wrote a cool piece about the movies filmed in places he's lived and worked.

Mark at Where Danger Lives wrote a typically thorough and well-researched piece on the life and death of actor Alan Ladd.

Joanna at Man I Love Films wrote about the state of the high-impact TV kiss.

Over at The Velvet Cafe, a discussion of filmed-theater type movies.

And over at Bonjour Tristesse, a great piece on the early Dario Argento movie The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Film Characters Getting Their Freak on [NSFW]

Ok, what with Valentine's Day having been a few days back, I'm obviously getting this clip out late to y'all; nevertheless, I thought I'd post it anyway. I did really mean to post this on Tuesday, really, I did; I just plum forgot. (You still love me, right?) Also, I am well aware that this video, which the fine folks at FilmDrunk put together about half a year ago, is old news to most of you. But I only discovered it this week, so there. If you haven't already seen it, or did not read the title of this post, this video features film characters getting their freak on.

Your what the folks at FilmDrunk would say, because they're the ones who actually put this together...from clips from movies that other people made. But yeah, this is awesome.

[Again, if you didn't read the title—or don't understand what it means for one to get one's freak on—this video is incredibly NSFW]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trailer Time: Eraserhead (1976)

dir. David Lynch

And so continues, apparently, my midnight-movie theme this week. Whereas yesterday's movie, Pink Flamingos, was advertised to the party crowd, Eraserhead was strictly for the heads (see what I did there? Eraserhead. For the heads. Get it? Get it? Well, you see...ah, nevermind). And where the trailer for Pink Flamingos was noticably devoid of any actual footage from, you know, the movie it was advertising, today's trailer is nothing but images—well, that is, images set to Eraserhead's signature industrial background noise, soon to be a staple in Lynch's oeuvre. (Unrelated to anything but I don't think I've ever spelled oeuvre correctly on the first try. I was dumber'n three piles of dog-shit afore spell check; I can tell you that much.)

I should point out that it's also fitting I discuss Eraserhead so soon after Pink Flamingos in that, whereas I struggled to make it through one sitting of John Waters' breakthrough hit, I cannot even begin to count how many times I've seen David Lynch's feature-length debut. Well, that's not entirely true; I think there's only been but one time I've seen Eraserhead all the way through. You see, back before Netflix, when my paltry DVD selection had already been viewed multiple times, I was always at a loss for what to watch. Inevitably, before falling asleep I would usually choose Eraserhead—or 2001 or Tarkovsky's Solaris, if I was in the mood for one of those. The goal with these multiple viewings, however, wasn't to immerse myself in study of the film, but to fall asleep.

Now I'm sure most people who've come into contact with Eraserhead have had the same reaction to it that I had to Pink Flamingos, and are now scratching their heads as to how in fuck I could be lulled into slumber by this bizarre mindfuck of a movie. Well...uh, I don't rightly know. Maybe, it was the slow pacing what done me in. Maybe Eraserhead's bizarre trippy logic and imagery were so dream-like that they tricked my brain into thinking it was asleep, causing me to fall asleep. Maybe...maybe....

Or maybe I'm just weird.

[The trailer:]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trailer Time: Pink Flamingos (1972)

dir. John Waters

"I think it's the future of city living."
-Person in trailer

I don't love Pink Flamingos. I respect the hell out of it, but I don't love it. Regular readers of my blog are no doubt aware of my deep and abiding affection for all things John Waters. Pink Flamingos, however—one of the films most synonymous with the king of filth—is the only picture in Mr. Waters' oeuvre I have never seen more than once. Yes, I absolutely love the demented, filthy spirit of the fucking thing, but I'm a little too weak-stomached for much of this picture. Of course, Pink Flamingos is nauseating by design. Waters meant to rile up the squares with this picture, and for that I am ever grateful.

I also respect this film for its status in the midnight movie canon. As we all know from such recent midnight movie revival hits as Troll 2 and The Room, the midnight movie is as much, if not more, about the the communal experience as it is about the movie itself. Yeah, back in the midnight movie heyday of the seventies, you may have wanted to see how shocking or absurd such and such picture was, but you also just really dug getting loaded and stoned on primo grass (my slang dictionary tells me this is modern speak for mischief) in a theater filled with rowdy freaks.

And so it's no surprise that the trailer for Pink Flamingos played up this aspect to the nth degree. As John Waters states in the trailer's intro—made, I'm pretty sure, for the nineties video release of the movie—no actual footage from Pink Flamingos was shown in this trailer. And with good reason: ain't much in this proudly filthy movie you could show in a general audience trailer. So, as I said before, why not play up the communal midnight movie experience.

Honestly, the trailer style employed by Pink Flamingos is one you've all grown accustomed to, by now. Everyday folks exit the theater showing the movie the trailer is advertising. Camera in face, the person on the street raves about the movie. With this trailer, however, we are treated to some decidedly mixed reviews. And that's the point: It's a shocking movie; that's the draw. You go to a movie such as this as a litmus test for your filth cred.

I should also point out that, unlike the standard trailer of this type, the folks interviewed for Pink Flamingos are of a decidedly mixed set—the hoitiest of the toity, art-house types, bearded hippies, suit-wearing types, gay folks, straight folks, and cowboys (well, one cowboy to be exact). This is a wide swath of the American public you're not likely to see represented in movie advertisements. Most shocking, the first person in the trailer is a middle-aged, well-to-do type who, beaming a smile, states that some of her friends thought the movie absolutely marvelous. There's no accounting for taste.

[The trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

dir. Taylor Hackford

"Up Where We Belong" - Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 29 - Hardware

dir. Richard Stanley

On today's episode, Roger and I discuss the killer robot flick Hardware. We also try to wrap our heads around the cult status this cyber-punk-flavored film has attained. You can listened to the episode here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Parents (1989)

dir. Bob Balaban

(My apologies straightaway for the douchily ill-informed, pseudo-profound, pseudo-intellectual nature of this "review." I didn't mean to do it, I swear; my writing just got out of control. Here's a box full of puppies to atone in advance for the horseshit you're about to read.)
["Love us."]

Years ago, John Waters said something that has always stuck with me: “Irony is what I deal in from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. I am weary of it, though. To me, irony is snobbery in a way. There’s no irony in Bangladesh. What’s so-bad-it’s-good if you’re hungry?” Seeing as irony is my bread and butter here at the ol' KL5-FILM, I can't help but feel at least a twinge of guilt every-time I snarkily take down the lesser works of artists—the oeuvres of whom, mind you, not a goddamn person gives a lick about—who've decided to devote their lives to an art form that requires they film people pretending to be other people. It's just one of the many luxuries I enjoy as an American.

Although irony has snaked its tendrils into the mindset of many a modern nation, it has always, to me, seemed a particularly American luxury. And, hell, as mentioned many a time before, it's not even as if I grew up among the privileged in this country. I grew up extremely poor; but, extremely poor in America is still a fuck-ton easier than poor most any other damn place. And I'm damn thankful to be this lucky. So, of course, I am reminded of Waters' quote every-time I start to take this shit for granted. Among the many modern comforts we Westerners take for granted is the ability to stake out positions and passionately argue over subjects (like movies) which are, let's be honest, of little to no importance in the grand scheme of things.

You could say that this peculiarly modern mindset was given a boost by the American suburbia of the 1950s. It was in this era that the US experienced some of its most dramatic demographic changes, and achieved a theretofore unknown level of stability. A combination of forces—the GI Bill, an expanding social safety net, the continued public funding of primary education, the ascendancy of the automobile, the highway system, the emigration from crowded cities to the welcoming bosom of safe suburbs—allowed Americans (if they were white and non-poor) to achieve the sort of shared success that civilization had long sought to progress toward. It was in this era that all Americans (except for the poor and non-white) were moving further and further from the harsh realities of life.

The flip-side to all this physical safety was a certain mental instability. With all of the time previously devoted to scraping by and surviving freed up, people were now left to tend to their own thoughts, to ponder existence. The more advanced, the safer we became, the more dour and cynical became the mindset. The life of the mind had now gained primacy.

It was no coincidence that the art of so many boomer directors was marked by a detached, cynical outlook. So many of these folks—John Waters, David Lynch, Tim Burton—sought to expose and lay bare what they saw as the hypocrisies of 50s suburbia. The era of white picket fences, the Cleavers (yes, Leave it to Beaver was a product of the early 60s, but close enough), and Levittown, was but a front for darker desires, more sordid shenanigans.

Less exalted in this pantheon of boomer films,though no less masterful, is the Bob Balaban-directed feature I had only recently discovered, Parents. And character actor Bob Balaban, well hell, you know who he is. Before you start saying, "but Dave, I don't know who this Mr. Balaban is. What are you talking about?" here's a picture.

["Oh shit, that guy. I love that guy."]

Although Parents bears some of the marks of a first time director—excessively "lookitme and what I done did here" filmmaking—it is nevertheless a remarkable revelation. (By the way, Balaban directed a few TV episodes prior to this, but Parents was the actor's first feature-length film.)

It is probably no surprise that Balaban’s feature-length directorial debut would bear such striking stylistic resemblance to such Boomer contemporaries as the Coens, Tim Burton, and David Lynch. He did come of age in the same era, of course; he was of the same stock.

I would even argue that Balaban one-ups his peers' take-downs of 50s suburbia. In Balaban's stylized film, told from the point-of-view of it's precocious protagonist Michael (Bryan Madorsky), a young boy comes to grips with the fact that his middle-class parents are actually cannibals.

I would critique the film but I already wasted all that reviewing space with a bullshit intro. Just know that Parents is a darkly humorous satire that takes a turn to straight-up creepy-town as it progresses—proving Balaban a master of tonal shifts. In lieu of a conclusion I just wanna say that I would love to learn the acting secret that enabled star Randy Quaid to turn in such a believable performance as a man crazier'n a shit-house rat.

(Sorry again for all the pseudo-intellectual bullshit in this review. I am well aware that I was talking out of my ass for most of that. I really shouldn't have posted this. I'll try to stay away from this sort of thing in the future. What the hell—here's those puppies again.)
["Why aren't you loving us yet?"]

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Feb. 6)

It's the end of the week, folks. That means it's time once again to share with you some of my favorite blog posts from around the blogosphere.

Sati at Cinematic Corner wrote about all the hidden imagery in Black Swan.

Simon at Man, I Love Films wrote an in-depth review of Antonioni's classic film Blow-Up.

Over at The Droid You're Looking For, an insightful piece on Barton Fink.

A funny piece at Kid in the Front Row about pitching a movie to a friend.

And finally, Corey Atad at justAtad wrote about documentaries about movies.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You Should Totally Buy This

That's right, I finally got my copy of Slashers 101, the slasher history mini-comic by Stacie Ponder, owner of the best gosh-dang horror blog on the planet, Final Girl. If you're not already a fan, do yourself a favor and get your butt over to Final Girl right now. And then come back here. Because my blog needs attention too.

Regular readers of my blog are no doubt confused that it took me a whole three sentences to turn this post me-related. Well, as I mentioned in my New Year's resolution post, I've realized that the world don't revolve solely around me. And so I made a decision to become more active in the blogging community, highlighting worthwhile work by folks who aren't me. Now, for me—

But hey, speaking of me, I just wanna remind all my faithful New York readers (Sorry non-important-areas-of-the-country-residing readers, I gotta devote this paragraph to New Yorkers...while I sip fancy-ass wine and daintily chew fancy-ass cheese...and laugh haughtily at what fools these mortals—non-New Yorkers—be)... Where was I? Oh yeah, New York readers. Yeah, I just wanna remind y'all that tomorrow night I'll be kicking of my inaugural movie night at The Way Station. As I said before, I'll be showing Wild in the Streets and Phantom of the Paradise. Be there or something that's not awesome.

I'm sorry, where was I? Oh that's right—something not me-related.

Now, as Stacie states in the intro to Slashers 101, this is not a comprehensive guide. But it's a fun overview of an oft-derided genre. I've long been a fan of slasher films and I found Stacie's light-hearted, though extremely knowledgeable, approach to the subject a real hoot. A really enjoyable read.

The regular edition of the mini-comic is $5, but for an extra $5, Stacie will draw for you whatever Slasher-themed image your heart desires. Did I get the personalized drawing? You better believe I got the personalized drawing. I'm not gonna tell you what it is, but it's from this scene from The Burning:

[Hint: You'll know it when you see it. Also, there's no way in hell this is SFW; but it's Saturday, so fuck it.]

The drawing what I got drawed up for me, like the rest of the mini-comic—and, hell, The Burning, for what it's worth—is rad as fuck.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Trailer Time: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

dir. John Landis

Woods. Night sky. The moon. Reflection of the moon in a stream. Blood infects the stream. Moon is subsumed by the blood. Eerie music builds. Red Moon. Blood moon (no, not that Bloodmoon). Werewolf paw destroys all. Movie title: An American Werewolf in London.

I probably give too much credit to the teaser 'round these parts, but I can't help it. "Sure," you may say, "slap a little eerie music on some mysterious footage, and you'll be happier'na pig in shit." Well...I can't say you're entirely wrong. I don't know what it is about teasers but I can't get enough of them. Maybe I just dig the fact that the filmers (fuck you, spell check, I'm making that a word) of the teasers usually have to up and film up some new footage. And as I'm sure I've said before, I dig unnecessary work.

After watching the teaser for Landis' masterpiece An American Werewolf in London, I was pleased; but part of me felt like my bluff was called, like my date caught on to my coy routine. This trailer was all like, "Oh I know this is all a game; everyone knows you're coming home with me. Let's not fool anyone." It knows I'm easy. It doesn't have to try as hard.

Of course, it could just be that I've watched so many goddamn teasers and trailers of late that I don't know down from up anymore. I've lost all perspective. Part of me doesn't want to give this too much credit because my readers already see me slober over this kind of shit all the time: I want to appear objective. But then the other part of me digs the hell out of this teaser, and wants to profess my love from the rooftops. How should I approach this? I just don't know.

Anyway, this teaser's pretty cool, but I don't know if I'm the best judge of this. Who am I kidding—this is fucking awesome.

[The teaser:]

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Give to Film Preservation

As you probably noticed, I have a new banner on my sidebar—which I also posted above this sentence. In case you missed it there, here it is again:

"Well, what's all this about?" You're likely asking. What this is about is film preservation. More specifically this is a little teaser for the annual film preservation blogathon hosted by Ferdy on Films, Self-Styled Siren and This Island Rod. For last year's blogathon (the theme was noir) I reviewed one of my favorite movies, Sunset Blvd. This year, in honor of the discovery of The White Shadow, a British silent film Alfred Hitchcok had a hand in, the theme will be something Hitchcok-y or British silent film-y. But as you can see from the banner— Wait, did you see the banner yet? If not, here it is again:

But as I was saying, as you can see from the banner, this year's blogathon isn't until May. "What can I do in the meantime, Dave," you're now asking. "We wanna read your thoughts on whatever movie you happen to choose for this blogathon, but it's not time read your post yet, because you haven't posted it yet."

Worry not, readers, there is something you can do in the meantime; you can donate to the cause of film preservation. Just click on the banner in the sidebar to donate to the National Film Preservation Foundation.

"But Dave," you're now saying, "The money I set aside to spend on charity each year goes to feeding starving children in third world countries. Do you want all those kids to die just so you can watch some old movies? Why do you hate children?"

Well, that's not what I'm saying. That's not what I'm saying at all. Please, please keep sending money to those much-more-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things charities. What I'm saying is, think of some frivolous purchase you are likely to make in the coming year, forego that, and instead use the money to help preserve our quickly deteriorating film history. As much as you may want to get your hands on that ultra rare German edition Boba Fett action-figure—you know, the one with the retractable penis—you should probably think twice: Is it really necessary?

Answer: No. You know what is? Film Preservation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Trailer Time: Monty Python's the Meaning of Life (1983)

dir. Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam

Ah, the refreshingly funny comedy trailer. Is it any wonder that the Pythons would produce anything less than brilliant—even when just advertising their upcoming picture?

In this trailer for Monty Python's Meaning of Life—though containing some of their greatest individual sketches, the Pythons' weakest movie—Michael Palin reads, for about a minute, witty copy concerning their upcoming feature. He states that the Pythons will, in an unprecedented move, use telepathy to convey to the audience the awesomeness of the Meaning of Life. Then, the Pythons, in costume, emerge from a jungle and telepathize: They stare intently at the camera, focusing all their mental energy at the viewers. When we return to the black screen, Michael Palin apologizes to any audience member for whom the experiment did not work.

Silly concept, clever execution—the Pythons at their best.

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Wall-E (2008)

dir. Andrew Stanton

"Down to Earth" - Peter Gabriel

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 28 - Tales from the Quadead Zone

dir. Chester Novell Turner

Roger Snead, Matt Simpson and I wrap our heads around the amazingly bizarre feature from mysterious auteur Chester Novell Turner, Tales from the Quadead Zone. (Fuck you, spell check; if Chester Novell Turner says Quadead is a word, then, by God, it's a word.) You can listen to the episode here.