Thursday, February 28, 2008

Snow Angels...

I've been fucking around with this here blog, and now the super-cool review I had planned for "Snow Angels" is already out of date. But I'll still post it, nonetheless. Anyway, in my humble opinion, David Gordon Green may be the light at the end of the tunnel as far as American filmmaking is concerned. He might just craft a respectable body of work. I guess he's working on a remake of "Suspiria" which also happens to be one of my all-time favorite flicks. (horror or otherwise) Here's the review:
I barely made it to an advanced screening of David Gordon Green's latest flick, Snow Angels, last week. I got off work (I'm a valet at a hotel in Portland) and hauled ass 7 blocks to take my place third in line for tickets. Pleased as punch to have garnered a ticket, I then noticed a familiar individual standing inside the main hall of the venue. It was a gal I had seen three hours earlier in the lobby of my hotel. I realized she was a representative for the Northwest Film Center waiting to deliver the intenerary for the Snow Angels event and the gentleman I had assisted to the front desk was none other than Mr. Green. Hilarity-core to say the least!
But besides that bit of trivial information, Snow Angels arrived as another laudable effort from the filmmaker. It showcased an expanded scope of vision, finding the director shedding qualitities that previously encased his work. By this I mean, the realiance on placing actors in the foreground of lavishily composed, ethereal shots. If anything, Tim Orr's cinematography was starkly muted, but in a positive manner. Mundane, yet effectively so. Snow Angels certainly might be the best acted of his four films, and anticipates his upcoming film, Pineapple Express, with its emphasis on spontaniety and improvisation.
More or less, Snow Angels is another addition to the cycle of small town/big tragedy genre of films. (e.g. The Sweet Hereafter, The Ice Storm, Affliction) But it stands on its feet as an unique variant to what could have unfolded as a grim meditation. Green bypasses the morbid option through staging sequences of humor as a counterpoint to the bleakness. It's an effictive technique and in some regards a better representation of how life is. I would definitely recommend it."

In other news, I've started preparation on a music video for my pal, Jordan Dykstra which will hopefully be completed in June. The Righteous and Harmonious Fists video is finished and will be posted shortly, along with my short film. (I shit you not....) All in good time, my friends, all in good time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Top Ten of 2007

At long last, my top ten of 2007. I'm going to post the list and then defend certain choices, the unlikely ones, as opposed to summing up each pick. For example, in due part to abundant media saturation, most avid movie-goers are familiar with the merits of P.T. Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" (unless you live a life similar to the first stages of Plato's Allegory of the Cave), so I'll refrain from delivering the corresponding accolades. Also, I'm basing my choices on films viewed in theaters that premiered during 2007. (on a sidenote, this issue begets a dillema regarding the selection process. "The T.V. Set" premiering in 2007 would not make the cut even though I thoroughly enjoyed it, because I saw the film well after its theatrical run, on DVD. The same goes for the elimination of "Werckmeister Harmonies" Bela Tarr's 2003, 3 hour plus opus, though it was one of the seminal viewings I had in the theaters within the last year.) Anyway, without further ado:

1. The King of Kong
2. Brand Upon the Brain!
3. Margot at the Wedding
4. I'm Not There
5. There Will Be Blood
6. Quiet City
7. Paprika
8. Red Road
9. Hostel Part Two
10. Eastern Promises

So here we go...that's right, "The King of Kong" is number one with a bullet. I don't know how many of you caught this flick, but it's a real gem. With ease the film transcends the genre parameters that confine it, (competition doc, quirky character study) and takes on a far more heartfelt dimension. It's about videogames (Donkey Kong), but in the same breath, the movie is a compassionate appeal to the perseverence of the human spirit. It was a complete pleasure viewing, fun, fast-paced, and filled with moments of struggle, collapse, and ultimately, triumph. The King of muthafuckin' Kong, ladies and gentlemen.
I'll give quick credit to Guy Maddin's "Brand Upon the Brain!," for navigating the unenviable task of merging a tightly plotted, personal meditation on childhood with an homage to German Expressionism and early silent film. Shot on 8mm, it succeeds boldy and along with live orchestration, on-stage foley, and a reading of the narration by Stephen Malkmus, it became for me, one of the most engaging cinematic experiences of the last couple of years.
Skipping over "Margot at the Wedding," we arrive at Todd Haynes's "I'm Not There," which for Dylanologists everywhere, was a reason to unite and take over. Chock full of references, (the Bob Neuwirth character tosses out "See Ya Later, Alan Ginsberg" to the poet, which also happens to be a relic from off the expanded Basement Tapes), the film summons a reason for taking mulitple visits to the theater. It's as complex, as it is smart, handing over a feast for those interested in the enigma of cultural mythmaking. Dig it!
Once again, enough has been written about P.T.'s "There Will Be Blood," so we'll pass over that. "Quiet City" by Portland-born filmmaker, Aaron Katz, lands on this list because of its solemn, unpretentious virtue. The film lives up to its title, depicting 24 hours in the life of two strangers meeting and then wandering through the isolated landscape of early-morning New York city. A hallmark of the burgeoning "mumblecore" scene, (which I'm going to write about in full within a couple of weeks) "Quiet City" captures those amazing, glorious moments when genuine human contact is made, regardless of environment.
I'm ditching "Paprika," another great Satoshi Kon piece, and "Red Road" with its Antonioni-esque nuances to channel the wonderful, "Hostel Part Two." "Hostel Part Two," though a box-office dud, delivered, with all its visceral glory, an expansion on the themes of its predessor, making it a satire of even broader focus. Skewering once again (sometimes literally) the American notion of cultural dominance and complacency, it even manages to become a sly take on various Capitalist perspectives. Well-structured, chock full of violence and hilarious, I'll say it bluntly "Hostel Part Two" rules.
And finally, we have "Eastern Promises." Why "Eastern Promises?" It's Cronenberg, 'nuff said. (you wanna fight me?)

Notably absent are:
-No Country for Old Men
-Lust, Caution
-Darjeeling Limited

And lastly, caught in the theater, but from prior years, were:
-Massacre at Central High
-Inland Empire
-Werckmeister Harmonies
-Intentions of Murder
-L'Amour Fou
-Maximum Overdrive
-The Eel
-Vanishing Point
-Let's Get Lost

and best of all,

-Full Metal Jacket (quoting every line, drunken)

That about wraps it up, folks. Hope you liked the list, and feel free to respond. I loves me some debatin'. I'll be working on my friends, The Righteous and Harmonious Fists' music video this oncoming week, which I will post upon completion. And I haven't forgotten about my short film, which you'll be viewing shortly.

sayonara, suckaz

Monday, February 11, 2008

What "What Is It?" is...

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this flick to everybody, it's not for all tastes. If you have a certain affinity for Crispin Glover's extensive body of work, then hell yeah, buy the ticket, take the ride. Plunk your ass down and grab a seat. Prepare to be shocked, stunned, titillated, offended, but primarily, amused.
For the uniniated, "What Is It?" is the first installment of the eventual "It" trilogy, directed by quirky cult-hero, bit-part player extraordinaire, Crispin Glover. I caught the film over the weekend of January 22nd over at the good 'ole Clinton Street theater in Portland. The second offering, "It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine" was playing during the weekend as well, however, I had the misfortune of missing it. ("It"?) "What Is It?" definitely straddles the familiar, at least in the sense of what Glover's directorial sensibilities have to offer. Very much engaged in the oddball circuit of specialized filmmaking, it plays about as fragmented as a Harmony Korine flick, certainly akin to Werner Herzog or David Lynch's weirder output. (in fact, both are thanked in the end credits) 90% of the cast have mental or physical disabilities of some kind, and are depicted in a myriad of unglamourous, socially deviant roles. One could certainly accuse Mr. Glover of exploitation, but I'll get to that in a second. The basic plot takes place within the mind of a mentally-challenged youngster, and centers around the power struggle between two demi-gods(one of whom is played by Glover) buried inside his sub-conscious. Would I have gleaned this information alone from watching the film? Probably not, but like I said, I'll get to that later. Scatological, racist and nazi-inspired images abound during the aforementioned battle, with numerous actors placed in bizzare, uncomfortable circumstances. It sounds like a train wreck, or a moral abomination. Surprisingly, it's not.
The saving grace of "What Is It" is found in its presentation. What's remarkable about the film is that Crispin Glover has provided a framework for grass-roots, independent distribution. Glover has taken the option of being present at each viewing and provides a forum afterword for receiving questions. Basically, he books the film in a series of independent theaters, and tours with it, receiving a larger chunk of the profits. It's a new model for distribution, though Glover definitely benefits from the exposure that his name implies. Not only that, but Glover manages to evade most of the criticism the film generates on the sheer principle of just being present to address the issues. Thus, he articulated his casting of disabled actors as a way of confronting prejudice towards the mentally challenged and how they're generally depicted in film roles. Glover also holds a mirror to our own reactions with regards to racism, sexuality, and violence. He's able to spotlight how sanitized our culture has become, wary of its most brutal impulses, and flaunting a dismissal that they exist at all.
The film ain't perfect, that's for sure. (One could argue that without the moderator option, the movie tanks) But I'll place it a good deal higher over the virulent malaise that conventional filmmaking generally boasts.
Anyway, I soon as I have a chance I'll be posting my first short film at some point in the next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

back again...

Lines of web communication have been restored! Look forward to tomorrow. (don't call it a comeback.......)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

All that technology allows....

Excuse the delay in new updates. I've been dealing with net issues for the last week that have taken on Sirkian proportions of melodrama. But, I assure you, I'll be back in full within a week's time. I'm returning with a review of Crispin Glover's recent presentation of his opus, "What is it?", my top ten of 2007, and then I'll be posting my first short film, Kleptomania. So best of luck to you all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Theory du Cinema...

Welcome to my movie blog. To put it bluntly, I watch a fuckload of movies and therefore, it's one of my favorite topics of discussion. Though often times I wonder if that, in itself, is a negative quality. It makes consider whether or not I'm contributing to the banality of our culture by conversing so frequently about a medium steeped in pop-culture, marketing, aggressive business practices and other ephemera. Those thoughts definitely cross my mind.
Yet on the other hand, I've found that film is a conduit for ideas, well worthy of discourse. Take the works of Tarkovsky, for instance. His films cross the lines of psychology, philosophy, religion and the general "unknown", granting the viewer a visual document to the manifestation of "heady" issues. Film and its endemic qualities can do what other mediums can't, provide the total experience. It sets into motion the abstract as filtered through the physical realm of existence. But I don't want to spark any debates on this topic. I just feel that film is a means to an end, and a potent one at that. It makes me think of the underground filmmaker, Kenneth Anger, who said that his passion in life was the study of magick, with film acting as the channel (or weapon, in his own words) for doing so.
As far as criteria for viewing is concerned, I employ an arbitrary scale. I feel that one of the most consisten flaws of movie pundits are their inability to screen a film in its requisite context. In this I mean, identifying the basic dimensions through which the movie was drafted. For example, I don't believe a movie like Marcel Carne's "Children of Paradise" can be sampled with the same dexterity as "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle." I love both. But in general terms, enjoyment of one means the dismissal of the other. This is an outdated mode of thought. If anything, they both accomplish what they set out to accomplish. In one, the viewer finds a florid depiction of the intransigence of love, an examination of the artist in relation to success, commerce and method, as well as presenting an homage to a bygone era. While the other film operates as a deft satire of American bigotry, yet formulated on the structure of a stoner comedy, with dick, pussy, and fart jokes in tact. "Harold and Kumar" is obviously the more plebeian. But do I withdraw my approval because of this fact? Fuck no. What it requires is a more astute viewing with factors such as context, genre, and approach taken into account.
Anyway, I've blathered on enough. In the oncoming months, I'll be filling this blog with critiques of the current cinema as often as time (and technology) will allow. In addition, I plan on posting some of my recent projects and even some older works from the past. I hope you dig it.