The Ish That Time Forgot

Borrowing from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nadja is the post modern tale of the daughter of a well known vampire, trying to find herself in contemporary New York.

You must understand and become one with the hachimachachamach that is being laid down. A too cool for the room Peter Fonda will be your spiritual guide. Here he plays Van Helsing, desperately trying to prevent his nephew’s fiance from falling under the spell of Nadja( Elina Lowensohn). He’s not above enlisting the help of Nadja’s twin brother Edgar, played by a very crafty Jared Harris.

Music and refreshments are served in abundance, the soundtrack features the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Portishead, and decent usage of a Spacehog tune. If Simon Fisher Turner’s score doesn’t put you under, then Jim Denault’s dreamlike black and white cinematography will.

Director Michael Almereyda coaxes some amazing performances out his cast, he even got David Lynch to crash the party. He did the film festival/art house tour in 1994 and 1995 with Nadja, and even though it impressed all the right people, Nadja never reached the elite level of cult status needed to catapult it into a modest hit.

After checking out these stills you’ll realize that not only is Nadja worth watching…

you’ll want to bathe yourself in it as well.

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Cronenbergopolis

Robert Pattinson onscreen abilities lack depth, and David Cronenberg’s characters always lack a certain human element. Maybe that’s by design, or maybe that is just the best that he can do as a storyteller. His films are interesting and tend to stick with you, but it’s his usual flaws that hold him back from having a cultural hit/financial blockbuster.

Having said that, we’ll see Cosmopolis,

We’ll probably even like it

The Wolf Creek Incident

It was Christmas day 2005, everyone in line in front of us and behind us were eager to see the latest family offerings. Our turn to purchase tickets came up, and with bass in my voice  I project

“Two for Wolf Creek please”.

Looking over my right shoulder I  see a middle aged man with his shirt tucked into his pants giving us a look of shock. So I said to him

“That’s what I’m talking about”.

The man ushered his family into theater and gave me the eye, as if I had just poisoned his lineage.

Wolf Creek man..

Wolf Creek

Punkumentary Pure and True

We can’t even remember what it was we originally rented when some sneaky ass clerk slipped us Man Bites Dog instead, but we do remember the day like a vivid dream. Maybe it was fate. Slowly being enveloped with the unusual musings of Ween during our first college campus excursion damn near sent us to outer space. Then there was our first road trip when someone put in a mix tape of schizophrenic punk rocker Wesley Willis. Within moments of our first listening of the passed around audio recordings of Peter and Raymond, two vile, arguing, aging alcoholics, we just couldn’t wait to unleash the thing on to somebody who was on the precipice of rebellion.

Shut Up, Little Man is the full length documentary of these recordings, and a fine a dandy document it is. “Eddie Lee Sausage” and “Mitchell D” moved into a ran down San Francisco  apartment building in 1987 and soon found that their neighbors, Peter and Ray, were excellent drunks and terrible roommates. The new kids in town got the idea to record their neighbors chaotic and occasionally hilarious rants and share them with friends, which begat there friends sharing the tapes with others, which begat underground credibility, which begat mainstream competitive pursuits and litigation.

The film covers the early years of those recordings making the rounds, there surprising rise in popularity, and even tries to piece together who Peter and Ray really were. Well put together,moving at an excellent pace, and never short on humor, Shut Up, Little Man makes for an enjoyable night at the art house theater with a mandatory pub visit afterwords. A couple of minor issues with the focus and length is all that prevents this film from going down as a classic, but considering it was made by a first time director (Matthew Bate), it wouldn’t be asking too much to overlook these flaws.

The subjects of these raw recordings, the openly homosexual Peter and the homophobic Raymond, were two alcoholic welfare cases that invented dark new ways to verbally abuse each other. When one of them says ” You crucified Thankgiving dinner”, you believe it. There is a jarring enthusiasm to every taunt out of there mouths that invokes something similar to the exact opposite of Oscar Wilde. The title of the film is Peter’s catchphrase/ argument ender, and is used about a thousand times throughout the running time of this doc. That may seem like 990 times too many, and yet at the same time it has an odd duplicity about it. The repetition of this phrase will take you on a pseudo mushroom trip of a journey that can not be prepared for.

Bowery Dish

Making our residence in one of the more unique neighborhoods on the west coast-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteaker,_Eugene,_Oregon we thought the subject of gentrification would be one we could easily identify with. We’ve gone from having neighbors found dead of overdose in their driveway, to intentionally giving the wrong directions to well bred aging hipsters. Remember Otho from Beetlejuice?

It seems as if there’s a new Otho on the block every week these days, but we still make room for the burnouts, weirdos, shut ins, homeless, could have beens, should have beens, beatiful losers, dreamers and inbetweeners.

Such is not the case however, in 2005’s NYC lower east side documentary Bowery Dish. Covering everything from the jobless alcoholic who runs errands for a few dollars to make rent in a flophouse, to the the trendy new Restaurants that require their own publicist, Bowery Dish paints a very heavy picture of this neighborhoods destruction and revival known as gentrification. The question posed is “are we gaining taste but losing flavor?”  It’s that question that leads one to consider what happens when the dust of these trends settles, and economic hardship comes to a point where there’s no clientele to frequent these establishments. These are the issues that are implied, so of course there are no real answers, just theories like the ones supplied by an NYU professor and interview subject.

This film is for anyone who remembers their old neighborhood or enjoys finding treasures at second hand stores.

A Profane PB&J for the Heart

A movie being rated R solely due to the abrasive cursing of it’s protagonist is a testament to something. A testament to what, we’re not really sure of.

I Like Killing Flies is an endearing documentary that gives us a A glimpse of Greenwich Village and it’s characters as seen through the viewpoint of a patriarch run little eatery. The subject of gentrification is touched upon some, as the Shopsins diner must relocate from the eclectic space it occupies into a more contemporary facility. The star of this documentary is Kenny Shopsin, part Woody Allen, part Moondog Rex, and all character.This man has philosophy on tap.

Kenny’s children, who range from ne’er do well to future community college dropout, give a helping hand, sometimes in a very loose sense of the word. He has a loving wife, and loyal customers even though we’re led to believe that Kenny is someone who is more “tolerated” than truly liked. He’s the bread winner of the family and prepares a dank lunch..

what are you gonna do?

Sam Elliott Scenarios

In a fair and just world, Sam Elliott would have long ago been named the National Spokesman for fudgsicles.

Picture this if you will, the smarmy, gravelly voiced, elder statesman posed against a soft toned backdrop, the camera panning in on a treat wielding Sam Elliot.

In mid bite he says

” I don’t know the particulars, of these fudge siculars, but they sho is good”

Sam smirks

Cue the product

 

 

 

The Unconventional Convento

There’s nothing more fun than stealing the best elements of someone else’s subculture. Not all of us can stomach refusing to wash our hair, wearing long striped socks, and playing the accordion 24/7, but it has it’s moments.

Having said that, a little bit of Steampunk’s speculative fiction goes a long way. Enter director Jarred Alterman’s film festival hot shit dynamo, the 2010 documentary Convento. Filmed in Portugal, this is story of avant garde artist Christian Zwanikken, his family, their works of kinetic art, and the 400 year old monastery they live in.  The Zwanikken’s collective works seem to be heavily influenced by Steampunk,while at the same time straying from dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s of that rigid format.

There is a visual artistry and sense of timing on display here that is rarely seen even in top level fictional work.  It was probably no coincidence that Jarred has done more work as a cinematographer than as a director, because with his intoxicating capture of these animated works, this documentary becomes a piece of art.

You can see the 50 minute version of Convento on IFC or the Sundance channel,  and you might be able to get your local art house theater to play the extended theatrical release, which has an extra 18 minutes. Purchasing it outright, sight unseen, wont be any sort of disappointment, as this is one film that will leave the viewer wanting, and wondering, so much more.

What You’re Listening To In 2012: King Tuff

Sometimes erring on the side of cool will leave one feeling just a little bit slutty. The whole damn neighborhood is playing this album, and acting like they’ve seen the face of God. Well damn us and call it personal, but we’re not that impressed. 40 Minutes and twelve tracks long, this collection of jean jacket jamz reaches it’s peak at track five, a bopping ditty called  ‘Bad Thing’. The rest of the album is pretty march harmless. None of the other songs are really iPod material, but they aren’t offensively boring either. It’s peppy and pretty and your girlfriends will all love it. In fact if you can get them to listen to this rather than anything gracing the stage at Lilith Fair, you may have stumbled ass end over teakettle into a win win situation.

Not so much a step back from what should be playing during summer time socialization, but not exactly fashion forward either. The backwards hat wearing crowd has The Eagles of Death Metal, the DIY crowd has King Tuff, and we have a headache.

Name Brand Renegades

Exit Through The Gift Shop is the story of how Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French shopkeeper based out of Los Angeles, tried to capture something that hadn’t been captured before in his document of street graffiti artists.

Despite the the convoluted hype and meta reviews , Exit is a fun film that is easy to keep up with. The pop music score, by Geoff Barrow of Portishead, is a very good fit as they easily could have gone with a much harder edge given what their target audience is presumed to be.

Released in 2010 and nominated for best documentary at the 2011 Academy Awards, chances are Exit Through The Gift Shop had a solid commercial push to reach it audience. We know we’re not going to break ground and introduce you to something new here, so instead we’re going to encourage YOU to persuade someone ELSE, to give it a try.

Could be your grandparents. Maybe you put on a radical demonstration of street art by projecting the trailer to Exit on the walls of public places. Perhaps hold a film night for the bearded folks down at the homeless shelter.We have pretty fond memories of donating a copy of Pootie Tang to our nearest shelter, and hearing the lingo being passed around with enthusiasm during our next visit.

Now get out there and make a memory of your own.