Monthly Archives: March 2010

Freak of the Week: YATTERMAN

by Tony Nigro

Men in tights.  More importantly, women in tights.  A sexy supervillainess to boot.  Takashi Miike’s wacked out superhero flick YATTERMAN features all that plus a shot of live action anime style with a 1980s TV show chaser.

Miike’s career more or less defines Freak of the Week for me, so I’m proud to include him here.  YATTERMAN premieres in Los Angeles with a one-time screening on April 10 as part of the Japan Film Festival Los Angeles.  Pre-order tickets here.

DVD: Take Your Pick

by Tony Nigro

We like our fetishes here, and this week’s DVD batch plays into them two-fold.  High Kick Girl is just what it sounds like, plus a Japanese schoolgirl uniform.

On the other hand, Behind Convent Walls is straight up nunsploitation.

If you’re classier than all of that, today also marks the release of Criterion’s Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa, which feature the Portuguese filmmaker’s Ossos, In Vanda’s Room, and Colossal Youth.

If you’re not that classy after all, a movie directed by some guy named Guy Ritchie is also out.

DVD: Fantastic Mr. Fox

by Tony Nigro

You know things are busy in my real life if I completely neglect mentioning one of my favorite movies of last year, Fantastic Mr. FoxWes Anderson‘s foray into animation only further shows he’s been making cartoons the whole time.  His camera moves, character uniforms, deadpan humor and proscenium composition translate work as well here as in The Royal Tenenbaums.  What you get is stop motion Wes Anderson that’s charming, perverse, and dare I say, acceptable for kids.  But I mean acceptable in the way Ghostbusters was for me when I was eight. It’s funny enough for a kid to follow, and there are new layers for viewers to peel off through adolescence and adulthood.  Mr. Fox has generational lasting power — better than, say, The Wiggles do for anyone over age three.

And it’s real stop motion, with minimal digital interference, allowing for a tactile beauty that’s missing from so much of today’s CG animation — even the most amazing looking, best told stories by Pixar.  When Mr. Fox’s fur ruffles unnecessarily from frame to frame, that’s the touch of a human; when you see a lens flare in WALL-E, it’s a filter applied to mimic that touch.

It’s out now on Blu-ray and DVD.

T’was Brillig!

by Lewis Manalo

Back in my day movies were called “books.” . . Okay, that’s a total lie, but we still read them. Now, we just watch the movie adaptations.

For those who miss being read to, click through to hear Christopher Lee read “The Jabberwocky” from Through the Looking Glass.

Split Decision: Anti-Realism

by Tony Nigro

Another sample of the digressions Lewis and I get into via email…

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Lewis: This book Reality Hunger is making a lot of noise in the literary world. He’s saying shit like the novel is dead, that there’s a growing aesthetic towards reality.  One of his main arguments seems to be that the novel is dead, but much of the work he cites in the excerpts seem to point to reality being dead.

Is that too old an idea for a Split Decision?  It seems real postmodern, but it’s not entirely invalid for Split Edit given current popular cinema: The Blind Side is a true story, The Hurt Locker‘s “hyperbolic realism,” the shaky camera of The Pacific, Saving Private Ryan, any war film, and then there’s Werner Herzog‘s documentary re-enactments.  It’s not a new idea, but accepting that “reality is dead” forces a creator to actually think about his aesthetics.  And as I’ve said before, opting against a realistic style usually results in a work that can actually relate to reality.

Tony: I like that, although I tend to agree with you so I’m not sure how split the decision will be.

“A growing aesthetic toward reality” sums up that it’s not reality he’s talking about but our understanding of what reality is or can be.  I’m not sure how that relates to novels — they’re just words on a page, right? — but cinema, demanding more of our real senses, certainly leans toward a version of reality whether it’s trying to or not.  That is, what you see in the real world is real, therefore what you see in a movie is real.  That’s some Bazinian shit, I think.

At least, what you’re seeing is a real movie.  That’s some quasi-Godardian shit, maybe.

“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.”  That’s some Bob Dylan shit. Continue reading

1,003 Words: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Health care reform.

DVD: Dillinger is Dead

by Tony Nigro

What?  You don’t know il cinema di Marco Ferreri?  For shame!  He’s the maestro behind La Grande Bouffe, better known in English as Blow-Out, though not the Brian De Palma one you’re thinking of because, being an Italian film, it has more to do with eating and hookers than anything else.  Ferreri also co-wrote and directed Dillinger Is Dead, a groovy curio about a man in a room that comes to DVD today courtesy of the fine people at the Criterion Collection.

I could watch that trailer all day.  The only thing that could improve it would be a score by Piero Umiliani.