Monthly Archives: July 2009

Week in Review 07.31.09

The best cinephile news of the week came via Twitter, when blogger extraordinaire David Hudson resurfaced, transposing his indispensable Daily format to Twitter via @theauteurs.  Now we don’t have try so hard to keep up because Mr. Hudson will do all the work for us!

Kung Fu Cyborg

We’ve just now begun to follow the germination of Kung Fu Cyborg, Jeffrey Lau’s HK take on Transformers. As The Guardian implies, it appears more Michael Bay than Hasbro in its blockbuster-ness. What the world needs now: a Japanese filmmaker to reclaim the franchise and put all these other jokers to bed.

Ryuhei Kitamura, Shinya Tsukamoto, Takashi Miike, Hedeaki Anno, where you at?

Freak of the Week: Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

Something wonderful about Internet video is how it has democratized cinema to the point where the plebes can make art (and then be criticized for it in comments sections).  Something wonderful about many American shopping malls are Lego stores.  These places have no doubt helped many a puppet animator working on a shoestring and without proper rights clearance, including the creator of this detailed music video for Wu-Tang Clan’s classic joint, “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’.”

This “freak” is a little different kind for us.  Like old school Wu-Tang, it operates outside mainstream commercial arenas, righteously wearing its creative, DIY energy like a medal of honor.  It’s that same kind of energy that begat online video communities before Brookers, LG15, and Andy Milonakis spoiled it for everyone.

Tim Lott and the Rise of Lowbrow

by Lewis Manalo

Despite my naturally foul disposition, I’ll be generous and take it on faith that Tim Lott is an intelligent man.  He did win a Whitbread Book Award after all, so he at least knows how to read.  I wouldn’t notice his article on the Worst Best Films Ever Made, printed in the Guardian last Friday, as anything more than passing wind had he limited his criticism of canonical films to Steven Spielberg’s, about whose Schindler’s List he says:

“This film is actively offensive. To watch a group of cringing Jews gather around the ‘good German’ during the Holocaust is bad enough.”

Even if he’d kept his criticism to the French New Wave, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.  Like a member of the peanut gallery, he says of Jules and Jim:

“High concept? It’s a nouvelle vague buddy movie, set in France before the first world war. . .  Despite its historical setting, it is a film anticipating attitudes of the 60s by people who have an absurd, privileged and conceited idea of what the 60s should or will be.”

I might’ve just pointed out that Truffaut‘s craft was quite inventive for it’s time, and if he didn’t think so it was because that film, like so many other French New Wave films, is so influential.  If he thinks the plot is that of a love triangle, he doesn’t remember the film properly, and if he thinks the film “anticipates” the 60’s, then he’s forgotten his history.  People explored polylandry in your grandparents’ time, Mr. Lott, and the Great War did affect people, including the Dadaist artists whose lives inspired the amazing original novel.

But in Mr. Lott’s thoughtless venture into polemical film criticism, he decides to talk shit about The Searchers, and for all the Duke’s faults, I don’t let anyone talk shit about John WayneContinue reading

Two Weeks in Review 07.24.09

It’s been a slow two weeks for us in terms of online reading, what with catching up on the print version of Film Comment and moping about not attending Comic-Con.  Here are the highlights:

Freak of the Week: Japanese Harry Potter Fangirl

A.k.a., Freak of the Week: Comic-Con Editon.

What happens when a young Harry Potter otaku wins a chance to visit the UK and interview the movie’s cast?  Eyelash touching, essence sniffing, and a piggyback ride straight out of a video for schoolgirl fetishists.  Once again, a Japanese game show succeeds in melting the faces of gaijin everywhere.

Below is Exhibit B, the girl interviewing Daniel Radcliffe.  The best part happens around 3:10, when Radcliffe describes the experience as “surreal” but the subtitles translate it as “this girl’s feelings are so real.”   


Pushing Daisies in the Culture Industry

by Lewis Manalo

If I don’t watch a lot of TV, it’s because all the shows I like get canceled.  My wife roped me into watching Pushing Daisies, and I’m not complaining.  With it’s bright production design, verbal acrobatics, and impromptu musical numbers, this show about a baker (Lee Pace) who can raise the dead – and the murders he and his friends solve – flirted with a verfremdungseffekt (or at least epic theater’s techniques) and was something unique on the airwaves.  But of course, the ruling class controlling the culture industry had to suppress it for its uniqueness, and the show got canceled.  Perhaps season two should have featured more of the pig.

But now, you can purchase the show and watch it at home, placating your dissident taste and settling into an unrebellious docility that will never lead to a popular uprising.  Here’s one of my favorite scenes of the series, featuring Kristin Chenoweth.