Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My New Hero

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Youth of the Beast (Seijun Suzuki, 1963)

Man, how to describe this movie? Like a violent-as-hell gangster flick that takes place in the world of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Technicolor ultraviolence. This is the first of Suzuki's films I've seen--first real Yakuza genre flick I've seen, for that matter--and I'm impressed, to say the least. It's not like I've been intentionally trying to seek out the films that may have influence Kill Bill, but every old genre flick I watch lately seems to be a source, probably because KB absorbed practically every old genre flick in existence. There's a great nightclub scene with a fantastic set that seems to be the inspiration for the House of Blue Leaves set. During a very well-set scene near the end, the hero is trying to escape from being hung upside down, swinging back and forth in an effort to grab a gun from a table, and my wife commented "I'm surprised Quentin didn't steal this scene." But even more than the individual elements, Suzuki has that eye for the perfectly framed scene that QT is so good at. Every shot could be a great still photo. With all this foolishness, I'm making it sound like the only reason to watch it is to compare it to Tarantino's work, which of course is not the case. This thing is wild. Highlight of the extras is an interview with the director, in which he admits that he doesn't know what the fuck the title is supposed to mean either.

Speaking of wild, Spread the Good Word definitely has the mp3 of the day (well, yesterday), with this rockabilly version of Mule Skinner Blues, complete with mule impersonation.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Good stuff from the Internets

This week's This American Life, following the theme of "Know You Enemy," features a pretty funny story about Jello Biafra making friends with the former prosecutor who brought obscenity charges against him in the Frankenchrist trial. There's also a meeting between the Israeli defense minister and a failed suicide bomber, and a great story in the prologue about how Superman helped take down the Klan.

The Pre-War Blues Blog has an all-Stagger Lee post up. Really impressive look at many of the near-infinite recordings of this classic American folk ballad. I especially liked hearing The Rulers' Stagger Lee song "Wrong 'Em Boyo," which the Clash cover on London Calling. Makes for an interesting comparison, the former lazily bouncing along as Jamaican ska does, the latter furiously pogoing in the style of British ska c.1980.

Finally, let me point out this L.A. Weekly piece on carnies which I keep starting to read and then getting distracted from. Interesting stuff for all carnie enthusiasts now jonesing from lack of Carnivale.