Sunday, January 31, 2010
To quote Jason Levian, owner and operator of Floating World, my fav comix spot in Portland, "Pete Toms is the shit." And after finishing "Pink Tombs of Youth," I'm quite in agreement. Pete Toms is the proverbial "shit."
Another book I'd rank on my "best of" comix list from last year, "Pink Tombs" is a pleasantly meandering tale about a man of the hippie variety circumnavigating a world fraught with wayward youth, dead civil war soldiers, aliens, and an elderly Will Oldman-resembling drug-dealer. The book is a hoot and quirky in the best, and least-annoying, way possible. While brandishing a strong stream-of-conscious vibe, "Pink Tombs" is mitigated by a charming script that still manages to beg the eternal question, "Who am I?" Most importantly, the artwork is what retains the final knockout quality of the book. Drawn in a precise "clean-line" manner with vibrant colors, it's supremely easy on the eyes. And with an easy-going pace, Toms never overburdens the reader with his multi-paneled approach.
So grab this sucker while you still can:
Sunday, January 24, 2010
..is garbage. But it's also my favorite comic of 2009. I have to thank Rusty Jordan for turning me onto this gnarly book. It's total trash and yet completely lovable. Featuring a rotating cast of strippers, their loyal bodyguards, seedy club management, street pervs and a knife-wielding, masked psycho, it's a throwback to the media produced in good 'ole 1980's pre-Guiliani NYC. I'm talking films like Lucio Fulci's "Night Ripper" or William Lustig's "Maniac." As pastiche, Benjamin Marra's "Night Business" is violent and fun, complimented by the antiseptic drawing that really reinforces its ties to the deluge of black and white independent comics of the era. Even minor details, like the cheap paper stock of the book are represented. From a story aspect, "Night Business" is gaudy and over-written, but ultimately who cares? It's all about the experience. And if you love the tawdry luster of early-80's horror, or pulpy comix, then you should make "Night Business" your business. Grab the latest issue at Benjamin Marra's webpage:
And I could be totally shooting through the roof with the above-mentioned references ("Maniac" for example, also "Basket Case"), but there's a similar vibe about NB that I find compelling. So for shits and giggles, here's the trailer to New York Ripper:
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Jay and Mark Duplass are the current, reigning kings of independent cinema. If you've seen "The Puffy Chair" or "Baghead," then you're most likely in agreement with me. At this year's Sundance, not only will audiences see the premiere of their latest offering, "Cyrus" but the 2010 festival will also feature three films produced by the brothers, all playing in competition: "Lovers of Hate," "The Freebie" and "Bass Ackwards."
Hands down these guys are the cream of the "mumblecore" crop. (Surfacing in 2007 at the SXSW film festival, it is a loose appellation used to define an aggregate of filmmakers with a similar lo-fi, ramshackle, relationship-based approach. see also: "Slackavettes") Whereas the trend is to assemble a narrative with a focus on the sometimes harrowing nature of human interaction, usually from the perspective of a group of twenty-something, white individuals, the Duplass bros take the simpler road: tell a good story. Their plots are creative and hilarious, without the common trappings of preciousness that so often accompanies films of this variety. And they're aces at spotlighting the inherent comedy within human emotion, while deftly avoiding a complete humiliation of their subject. I had the same reaction watching "The Puffy Chair" as I did seeing Wes Anderson's "Bottle Rocket" for the first time, noting the arrival of a singular, formidable talent.
Anyway, here's the trailer for "Cyrus." It looks great.
Friday, January 22, 2010
For those looking to the future of "indie" filmmaking, (personal, message, documentary or otherwise) this interview conducted on Elvis Mitchell's radio program, The Treatment, is particularly illuminating:
Speaking with John Cooper, the new director of the Sundance Film Festival (currently running until January 31st), Elvis discusses the focus that the festival is taking this year, especially in the guise of a new competition with an emphasis on "no-budget" filmmaking. While not entirely a return to the hallowed days when Sundance did signify independent film (circa: the early-90's), those at the festival are now at least acknowledging modern developments in the realm of cinema, perhaps in contradiction with their more recent reputation as being a minor-leagues to mainstream film. This collection of newer work appears to be a nod towards the SXSW aesthetic which has spurned a renewed vitality to those who seek a personal, idiosyncratic type of film. What has been cultivated at the SXSW film festival since the late 00's is an approach in line with current technological advances, (the advent of digital video primarily) and an admission that these developments can be used to accommodate work more in line with personal, reality-based filmmaking. Granted, talent and effort are certainly factors as well.
This interview points towards a trend, but more importantly, a direction. If anything, it depicts one side of the coin, basically the increased accessibility to filmmaking options and forums. However, there is still the subject of distribution to be addressed. Principally, I'm speaking of new avenues that might be possible through grass-roots distribution. I have some ideas, but I'm still working them out. For a later date....
Monday, January 11, 2010
I just found out Eric Rohmer is dead, and while not entirely stunned (he was 89), I was definitely saddened by the news. A true king of cinema, he helped foment the French New Wave in the early 60's with his accomplished filmmaking as well as his critical work with Cahier Du Cinema. Because of an emphasis on dialogue, usually focusing on moral or philosophical dilemmas, and realism, he was a clear-cut influence on filmmakers like Hal Hartley, Henry Jaglom, up to the current "mumblecore" generation. I highly recommend seeking out his work, starting with the lavish "Moral Tales" boxset available through the Criterion collection.