Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Knievel 1938-2007

God, this guy was huge when I was a kid. Everyone had the wind-up Evel Knievel motorcylce toy. He was like a real-life superhero. I guess there were a few of those back then (Muhamed Ali, Andre the Giant, Bruce Lee).

OK, that's a week worth of posts, right?

Comedy is Queer II

Wrightfest at the New Bev!!!!!!

Heads up! Beginning this weekend, and running through most of December, Edgar Wright (writer/director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) will be hosting a series of his favorite films at The New Beverly Cinema. His tastes run surprisingly close to mine--in fact, very close to my and Bobbie's collective tastes, as he's showing both my favorite film (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), Bobbie's favorite film (Flash Gordon) a big mutual favorite of ours, An American Werewolf in London, and several other favorites. And the double features he's programmed all look perfect (Evil Dead 2 with Raising Arizona! I'd never have thought of that, but those go together perfectly!). Here's the schedule, along with the scheduled guests for each night (courtesy of CHUD):

Dec 2nd - Bugsy Malone, Phantom Of The Paradise. Edgar & Paul Williams. Secret 3rd film at midnight. Vintage trailers.

Dec 5th - Flash Gordon, Danger Diabolik. Edgar, Timothy Dalton, Joe Dante, hopefully John Phillip Law. Vintage trailers.

Dec 7th - Last Boy Scout. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Edgar & Shane Black. Vintage trailers.

Dec 10th - An American Werewolf In London. Edgar & John Landis. Tremors. (Give us Bacon & Ward!) Vintage trailers.

Dec 12th - Top Secret. Bananas. Just Edgar at the moment (David Zucker has had to pull out due to unforeseen circumstances). Hopefully something else equally special. Vintage trailers.

Dec 14th - Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (TBC). Head. Edgar & Mickey Dolenz! Vintage trailers.

Dec 16th - Raising Arizona. Evil Dead 2. Edgar & hopefully some surprises. Secret third free midnight feature. Vintage trailers.

Damn, I can see we're going to miss the Flash Gordon/Diabolik night with the special guests. Maybe we can catch it the next night.

EDIT: Ooh, great stuff happening at the newly revamped Silent Movie Theater, too. Especially this series of hip hop dj docs (a second chance to catch Brasilintime!)

Mohammed the Bear

The take-away lesson from this should be "Seperation of Church and State Good" (or "This is what happens when you let a bunch of religious nuts run your country"). Unfortunately, I think this message is lost on some people.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hairspray (2007)

God, I hated this movie. I mean, I knew going into it I was going to hate it, but I had to see it out of curiosity. I may have hated it even more than I expected to.

Some of that is just my personal tastes and prejudices. I love the original Hairspray. In fact, I'm starting to think it might be my favorite John Waters movie. What I love most about it, of course, is the soundtrack. It takes place in a period of rock history that's often derided or overlooked, the pre-Beatles 60's. Most histories of rock glide over this period of schmaltzy pop, novelty songs and dance crazes. But John Waters obviously has a great affection for that period, and he dug up some great records for the film, from the kooky dance crazes to the hard rhythm & blues played on Negro Night, and including at least one genuine lost classic: "The Bug."

On the other hand, I hate showtunes. Just can't stand 'em. So when you replace these obscure rock n roll songs with cheesy Broadway melodies, you've pretty much lost me before we even get started.

The other big problem is, of course, Travolta. He's not just bad, he's unwatchable. I can't think of a worse case of miscasting in any movie I've ever seen. I didn't even get any trainwreck enjoyment out of watching him clumsily stomp over his last shred of credibility left over from Pulp Fiction. He easily brings the whole movie down a notch (I'd give it a 2, and if there were someone appropriate in the role, I'd surely go a 3 or 4). It wouldn't even have to be a guy--can you imagine Roseanne in that role? Actually, that wouldn't work, because she can't sing, and anyway, she wouldn't be right for this Edna Turnbladt. They've greatly expanded Edna's role, and yet made her much more boring. But really, I can't even judge these changes for themselves, because Travolta is SO FUCKING BAD.

They've made quite a few changes to streamline the story, and I guess most of them make sense for the movie this is. One improvement is that Tracy gets on the Corny Collins show because she's learned dance moves from black kids, which makes more sense to the themes of the story. Also a good idea getting rid of Sonny Bono's character and making Debbie Harry's character more of an active villain. But losing the bomb-in-the-boufant gag? That's the best joke in the movie, but maybe it wouldn't work outside of John Waters' universe. And this is definitely not in that universe, despite the references to flashers and bums in "Good Morning, Baltimore." They are just that--quick references which fade immediately into the background.

Waters' film was a "lesson" movie, for sure, but it didn't really feel like one because it indulged so many quirky ideas. Here they lose the wig bomb, the crazy beatniks (although Tracy still shows up with flattened hair at the end), the psychiatrist, and replace them with MORE feel-good afterschool-special messages. And it sucks.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Tempting to post this with no explanation, but check this out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mighty White

My computer is fucked bad. Some terrible adware virus. Stephen (who now has a job with the Nerd Herd at Buy, I mean the Geek Squad at Best Buy) brought over some program he got from work that takes 4 hours to run and ordinarily costs $400 or something. It seemed to work, but I guess it didn't get the root trojan horse. A week later, and the computer is as bad as it was before. So I've moved everything (hopefully not including the virus) onto an external harddrive, and we'll probably have to just wipe the disc clean and start over, which is such a pain in the ass! And right in the middle of the grad shows, when I have all this editing to do!

This week's This American Life is really great. It's a rerun/update from a show dedicated to the story of Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, and it's a fascinating look at the reality of racial politics in America, which remain so much more vicious than white people (including myself) often want to believe. Coincidentally, it comes the week that the media/blogosphere has entered a long-overdue discussion about Reagan's race-baiting, particularly his 1980 stump speech at the Mishoga County Fair in Mississippi. On the New York Times editorial page, Paul Krugman brought it up, David Brooks responded, Krugman re-responded, and the blogs took it from there. Crooks and Liars has a great piece with lot's o' links, further responses, and even an mp3 of the Mishoga speech. It's really quite amazing the lengths to which people will go to downplay racism.

I'm happy to see anyone challenge the mythology that has been built up around Reagan. As far as I'm concerned, the only good thing to say about him is that he was a better president than Nixon or Bush (ie, neither a raving lunatic nor a totally incompetent boob). Well, and that he inspired some great punk songs. While Brooks makes a reasonable argument against the racial interpretation if the speech occurred in a vaccuum, the pattern of harnessing racism by the Republicans over time is pretty clear. Obsidian Wings also has a thoughtful post taking a middle path on the whole thing.

PS - I just find it funny that Giulliani's ENTIRE campaign staff is white. Every single one of them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

StandUp Academy Showcases

Our numbers look good for tonight and Thursday, but next Monday is looking troublesome, so if you want to come out and support us, that'd be the night. As always, I'll be the guy in the back working the camera.

No Country for Wes Anderson

Saturday night, we went to the Arclight to watch No Country for Old Men. But it was sold out (both the 7:40 and 8:30 shows). I guess I should have gotten tickets beforehand, but it was playing on 2 different screens, and it isn't like a new Spider-Man movie or something...I guess what threw me was that I never go to movies that late, when most people go (I like to go in the late afternoon, like 6:00 or earlier). So we ended up seeing Darjeeling Limited. At first, I didn't want to see it--I was so excited by No Country, and so in the frame of mind for that film, that I had to loiter around the lobby for 15 minutes to get in the frame of mind to see another film, but I figured I'd just be going home and doing nothing otherwise.

As we went in, I was kicking myself over Hotel Chevalier--I downloaded it weeks ago, but never got around to watching it. Fortunately, they showed Chevalier in the theater (an Arclight exclusive, maybe?).

It took me a while to really get into Darjeeling. It was mildly entertaining me, but I was getting annoyed with the characters, and started hoping these assholes would end up in the Hostel. But then there's this nice bit of physical comedy with the pepper spray which seems to wake the movie up a bit, and from that point on I enjoyed it.

I have two competing (although not mutually exclusive) ideas about what's going on with these characters, especially Francis (Owen Wilson). The less charitable one is that they aren't really interested in having a spiritual experience. Instead they're interested in the image of themselves going on a spiritual quest through India and finding themselves. This seems to be supported by the Hotel Chevalier sequence: When Jack's Ex comes to visit, we see him working behind the scenes to assemble his image. He knows exactly what image he wants to project, what song he wants playing (a horrible song, btw), what brooding mood he wants to affect, at what point he will take her to the balcony to see his view of Paris. Taken this way, the story justifies Anderson's beautiful yet overly staged shots: we are looking at the characters through their own point of view, as they picture what a striking scene they're posed in (the scene near the very end, when they climb the mountain and start doing tai chi moves, seems to confirm this as well).

The other way I kept looking at it was that Francis genuinely wants to have a spiritual experience, but he has no idea how to go about it. He's read about people having them, so he sets about an itinerary the same way you'd go about visiting restaurants through France or something. Of course, both of these interpretations are thrown off a bit by the revalation later in the film that Francis has ulterior motives for bringing them on the trip, but I think this second interpretation resolves with that fact. Francis, and his brothers, are searching for something very elusive: a connection with God, with The Universe, with their mother, with their dead father, whatever.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Redd Kross @ The Echoplex 11/2/07

Cover Band
Annette's Got the Hits
Linda Blair
Janus, Jeanie and George Harrison
Frosted Flake
Bubblegum Factory
I Don't Know How to Be Your Friend
Lady in the Front Row
Jimmy's Fantasy
Mess Around
Clorox Girls
I Hate My School
Everyday There's Someone New
Celluloid City*
Blow You a Kiss in the Wind
Not a Lot to Say
Annie's Gone
Afterschool Special
Follow the Leader

Love is You
Staring Down the Poseur
Self Respect
Crazy Crazy World

Yeah, I don't know why they ended with that one (worst song in their repetoir), but it's not bad as a live jam. I wish the last two songs could have been substituted with "Look on up from the Bottom" and either "Elephant Flairs" or "Shonen Knife" or "1976". But still a great set.

My favorite part of the set was "Celluloid City", which on the album (Born Innocent from 1981 or '82) ends with Stephen (the younger of the McDonald Bros., he's about my age) saying "Cuz I've only been alive for 14 years." When they played it this time, he said "Cuz I've only been alive for 40 years." Oh, how time flies. Before the show I was talking to this guy, and he was kinda freaked out because he'd just broken up with the girl he'd been dating for 7 years. I felt bad for him, until he told me he was 21! He'd been dating the same girl since he had only been alive for 14 years! He was asking me about when I'd seen Redd Kross before, and he said "My dad was really into them. He saw them open for Black Flag. It's funny to be getting into my dad's music." I should be like "Oh, God, I'm so old!" but I think it's kinda cool. Hey, I wouldn't trade being (almost) 40 for being a teenager again under any circumstances!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Power of Christ (and the Latter Day Saints) Compels You!

My Halloween costume:

Going to see Redd Kross tonight! Psyched! Check out this interview. Jeff says the best thriftstore in L.A. is the Out of the Closet on San Fernando Road. Is that the one in Atwater? I think that's Glendale Blvd, so maybe it's up in Burbank or something. Anyway, they said they're gonna play one song from each album in chronological order, then start back at the beginning and repeat for the length of the show. I'm crossing my fingers for "Kill Someone You Hate," "Anne" and "Play My Song."

Also: Vintage Beastie Boys Interview on KXLU from 1985 when they were opening for Madonna. Includes rare early tracks from the "Rock Hard" 12" and MCA's "Drum Machine" single!