Girls and Her

When I first heard of the Girls…I was appalled. And that is putting it lightly. My self-loathing was tangible, palpable oozing so bad I had to work over time and two extra shifts to deny it. It felt like I was looking in a mismatched mirror of my own desperate past, that was now for all to see, objectify, ridicule. It was like self-loathing on super speed. I refused to watch it. One time, out at dinner at a semi-chic (read; not so good and overpriced) then-new restaurant in Bed-Stuy (so Girls) my friend told me that I reminded her of Lena Dunham. Not, her alter ego Hannah, but the real LD herself. I almost died. I had not yet seen Tiny Furniture or Girls, but still, it was like a kick to the lady parts that made me want to flip my gourmet macaroni slider ball covered table and storm out to wait 45 minutes for the G.

Anyways, there was a lot of weird self-loathing slash overall annoyance with the show…before I actually sat down to watch it and TF.  Of course, I LOVED. IT. because obviously how else would that story end.

Not only do I love the show-not my favorite in history but-hilarious and uncomfortable nipple showing half shirts and all, but I deeply admire Lena Dunham. She REPRESENTS. She OWNS her shit. She basically has a mini Bey thing goin on, not as fabulous of course, no one could be, but we can all aspire. Perhaps most importantly, she is a boss. She runs the show, writes it, produces it, and doesn’t give a damn what people think. Especially of how she looks, which by the way makes her a fucking hero to like millions of women. Not saying she is perfect, and I kind of wish she would write Hannah to be more like Lena, but whatever. The point is, I was way wrong.

Now, when I saw the trailer for Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix I literally barfed in my mouth a couple of times over and over again, then once for real on the floor. Then I saw this article in the Atlantic; why it is THE BEST film of the year… Oh congratulations you mega douche. You love your phone. Novel concept really…oh wait, have you ever met ANYONE before?! If only your character was a little bit more like your “character” I’m Still Here, then I think things could get for realsies interesting. Remember how much you hated women in that movie? It’s almost like you could make them disappear! Which is exactly what has happened in Her. Ahhh, sweet relief. A womanless world.

Which brings me to my next point. Another character who made a lady disappear, Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones.

Can I get a Hello?!The whole PDA with your PDA (who happens to be Scarlett Johansson, I mean are you kidding me Jonze) joke is like MADE with the movie though, thanks for that at least. But, just like with Girls maybe I should watch it and it won’t make me want to die so much. Except, Girls is all about, well…it’s in the title…girls running their shit. Her, on the other hand, is just that…the objectifying, commodifying, empty, perfect, AI girlfriend any hetero-normative mustachioed tool can ever hope to Google.Congrats to you on that.

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the number…isn’t my phone number…

Last night I saw David Holzman’s Diary at Anthology Film Archives. The director, Jim Mcbride, was there and spoke afterward with Jonathon Demme in tow.

The film, a pioneer in American cinema verite, is at the same time cinema parode…oui, pardon, je suis amerikawn, parody. The moderator mentioned that the film anticipated youtubiness of such diaries like lonelygirl15–the title which Demme had to remind him of. The talk made my skin crawl. But first the film.


Every time Holzman quotes Godard in the film (maybe 2 or 3x) saying “truth is 24 times a second”, all I heard was Laura Mulvey barking “death 24 times a second!” in my ear.

My mother also lived in the upper west side in 1967, when she was a sophomore in college. I loved that and upon telling her about it she said ‘maybe i was in it!’, I laughed and thought how much she would have liked to seen her old neighborhood on film, and how I’d like to hear what she thought, if it represented the neighborhood accurately, if it was a portal to the past, if she even liked it.
But I know if she saw it she would be reminded of the clamor and arrogance with which she often vaguely describes her memories of that time, of New York, of the men she knew or didn’t. After all, on the columbia campus you learn real quick “never date an engineer!!”, a star point which has remained one of her best pieces of advice.

Although she has never told me the full story of her experiences in NYC, being a student in 1968, and bizarre run-ins with the law, her past remains to me more like a mosaic, a pastiche of moments, fragmented, kaleidoscope like, but inevitably straying far from ever sounding like the lamentations of a nostalgic hippie, something she never identified as. But that’s neither here nor there.

But I still want to hear what it’s like. So bad. From someone who has feelings. That’s why it’s a damn shame that ‘Holzman’ never let a woman get a word in. There was Penny, who was “dirty”, literally, caked in dirt, which we know because Holzman pushes a picture of her towards the camera saying “look closely at the ring of dirt under her chin”. Her character was a model who didn’t like to be filmed. the horror! Then there was the neighbor woman, who we only knew from a far, a lame play on Rear Window. Finally, there was the transgender woman in the car, who Demme later referred to as “half woman”. Sadly, neither of the two idiots on stage knew she was not she by birth until long after the film was made. The story goes that Mcbride’s friend later “fucked her and she had a very muscular back.”

The film was like a blunt punch to the kidney, and the discussion following a foot to the jugular of a baby bird. On the stage were dudes, a dude introduced them, most people asking questions were, shockingly, dudes. One woman asked about the role of women in the film, which was a relief, but Mcbride’s answer was jaw droppingly naive.

Mcbride mcresponded to the question of Penny (Eileen Dietz) that in the film she was a model for work, but didn’t like to be filmed because she can only reveal herself on a surface level, but never reveal her soul. Which explains why, tempestuous as a rabid child, leaves her loser boyfriend. The real Penny eventually tracked him (Mcbride) down, got the film, and never gave it back. I wouldn’t have either.

marcelines flower

But, I ask you, oh lords of verite, oh film school egos, oh kim’s employees, oh anyone so short-sighted to think a woman cannot overcome her vanity and truly reveal her soul to the camera: consider Marceline. Marceline Loridan Ivens that is, from Jean Rouch’s Chronicle of a Summer. The picture above is a her hand holding the flower and cigarette, carefully concealing her tattooed number from the Holocaust. Its a still from a still before one of the most beautiful scenes in history; Marceline walking slowly around Paris, a small suitcase in hand which must have been holding her mic equipment, she reflects on her past and the seemingly tangled promises it had offered her. She was given the chance to speak and so she spoke poetry.


This is the scene before that scene of just Marceline, which I couldn’t find.

Is Benjamin Button the New (Old) Jack?

“Good-morning,” Mr. Button said nervously, to the clerk in the
Chesapeake Dry Goods Company. “I want to buy some clothes for my
child.”

“How old is your child, sir?”

“About six hours,” answered Mr. Button, without due consideration.

“Babies’ supply department in the rear.”

“Why, I don’t think–I’m not sure that’s what I want. It’s–he’s an
unusually large-size child. Exceptionally–ah large.”

“They have the largest child’s sizes.”

jack

Now, substitute Robin for Brad and F Scott Fitzgerald for Francis Ford Coppola, mix it up, fwd and resend. Although Capn. Button has received good reviews , I can’t help but think of Robert Downey Jr.’s controversial lecture to Ben Stiller in Myopic Blunder on going “full retard”, and maybe in terms of blockbusters which boldly confront mortality a la some sort of dude aging crisis, the “fullness” of one’s character depends on the direction or reverse direction of the age/body in which they are growing/shrinking.

brad pitt robin michelle williams baby child movie geriatric experience opens on  (surprise) Dec. 25th.

dancing with the fucking lunatics

*because i’ve been away. does contain spoilers no one cares about, if you make it to the end (threat and promise)*

tony manero

Pablo Larrain’s 2008 Tony Manero is a film which coolly reminds you that art isn’t dead and war isn’t over. Manero is Larrain’s second film after his debut in 2006 with Fuga which portrays a pianists decent into madness. We meet Manero in the depths of the madness, where cruelty is so quotidian it is passe, adding insult to injury the insanity is veiled with sequins and polyester leaving you the same as a thief on the streets would- abandoned, cut up, and chuckling with disbelief.

The film premiered at this years Cannes amidst a slew of other films from “the subcontinent” as The Guardian’s Xan Brooks describes “Are things really as bad as that? Latin America is supposed to be the success story at this year’s Cannes”. Latin American film has been perpetually fertile ground for unknowing critics to cry ‘film ho!’ and plant a flag down declaring the next big thing. However, this time there may be something to talk about.

Manero, is played by co-writer Alfredo Castro because, as many auteur critics know, there probably is no one who could have played him better, it seems as though his vision was so specific, so obtuse, the casting could only lead circuitously back to the writing.  The approach to creating a dialogue regarding readership of Latin American cinema dances a precarious line between appropriation and praise, which makes Tony Manero reflecting it right back, such a hot subject.

The film usurps poetic license to recreate the Pinochet era, known as the Chilean reign of terror, feeling more like a mental flashback than a picture perfect time machine. The film openly covers the ramifications of what happened after the 1970 socialist candidate Salvador Allende was voted president with a small margin of victory. However, in 1974 after years of intervention from the United States CIA, the Chilean parliament was overthrown, Allende committed suicide and the military commander Augusto Pinochet seized power. And following suit of important historical events, in 1977 Saturday Night Fever was released.

During the Pinochet reign there existed a “Caravan of Death” which existed solely to incarsirate, if not eliminate, any opposition or threat thereof, against the government. Larrain may have been referring to the Caravan in the scene where an unidentified character is approached by the police in a van (which we had previously seen Manero hiding from) and shot after they discovered political fliers in his bag. Our hero Tony aptly hides, and after the execution is executed, he takes the man’s watch and admires it on his own wrist, an eerie reflection of the timelessness this film encapsulates.
The film gauzily points to sticky international relations on the final game show, as the announcer introduces an Argentinian model they had hired as some sort of tacky olive branch. The commodification of the female body in terms of creating a literal bardering chip is nothing new, but Larrain applies the concept with a vintage chic flavor reminiscent of newness.

Larrain, well aware of his expectations as a Latino director, toys with tokens and symbols of machismo and the spicy flavor of otherness, and tosses them out the window. Mangey dogs, talk shows and skeletol cities, oh my. The motley pack of dogs from Inarritu’s Amorres Perros are bribed with a specific bone of foresight as they soon become collatoral for another one of Manero’s victims.  Almodovar’s love/hate relationship with the Spanish talk show is overlooked with the black humor as Manero loses the competition. Santiago as a city, barren, underdevloped could almost be Rio de Janeiro or Mexico City, but alas Larrain marks it as his own, specifically Chilean as the roaming Manero becomes a vicious, dynamic extension of the cities isolation, violence and neglect.

And then there is Manero himself, the most colorful examination of machismo ever before seen in Latin American film, with the only exception being Roberto Cobo as La Manuela in Arturo Ripstein’s 1978 El Lugar sin Limites (A Place Without Limits) Manero is oversexed and yet entirely impotent, machismo manifest. Manero’s obsession with Travolta surpasses homoeroticism, surmised perfectly when his girlfriend says “you can only get it up for that floor of yours” referring to the GLASS FLOOR he is crafting to perform on.

Manero kills for a TV possibly to watch Travolta on, he kills for the floor he needs to dance like Travolta on, he kills for the copy of the film and possibly out of sheer anger it is no longer playing, and he lets die to perform.

The irony is palpable. The humor and awkwardness with which we now know the halloween-costume version of the seventies is juxtapposed with the serious, death dealing attitude which Tony Manero lives them in. Like the narrative, the film itself is veiled. Stylistically dark Tony Manero is hard to see, literally. Not to suggest that the darkness implies a mysterious metanarrative , rather it challenges the eyes and builds a screen between the viewer and the subject. Manero can’t be had, he must be discovered, learnt, dreamt and lived as the specter of a character he is.

“It has all come true…If you take the icons of US culture and you go to Chile you will see them everywhere. We have a very unsettled and fragile structure. Everything is imported from America.” Says Larrain. It seems in the time of what could be a Latin American film identity crisis, Larrain is buying back what he has been sold with the ultimate “shit on your white suite” bargaining chip- Tony Manero.

my top ten plague movies

Since the dawn of film Biblical narratives have been interwoven with cinematic experiences, including the ten plagues. The Ten Plagues cursed not only the Egyptians of the Bible, but have carried on in celluloid variations to sicken movie goers as well. According to the Book of Exodus, God deployed ten plagues on Egypt to convince the Pharoah to let the Israelites go. With this plaguely plethura and Hollywood’s ability to endlessly tweek formulas, some scripts almost (miraculously) write themselves.
Although some of these films may not have been the most contagious, they just go to show that the Bible and other mythological disaster stories seem forever relevant to pop culture. If you have ever wanted to experience the plagues first hand perhaps it’s time to pop in one of these old favorites — consider it a less traditional Bible study.
neddy

1. Water to Blood
One of the more spine tingly plagues- the turning of the Nile river into a blood bath for all the fishes and farmers alike- sounds like a thriller flick already. This plague has appeared in supernatural and horror films time and time again in such family favorites as Nightmare on Elm Street and the Amityville Horror II: The Possesion.

2. Frogs
The second plague occurred when Aaron called all the frogs to congregate in Egypt before all being killed by the Pharoah. Problem solved right? Not quit yet. In 1972 George McCowan made the film by the same title- Frogs- the second curse on humanity with an amphibic name.

3. Gnats
The third plague happened as Aaron struck his staff to the sands of Egypt and all of that dust turned into irritating gnats. If you have ever wondered how annoying those gnats would be, I suggest William Friedkin’s 2006 Bug . Although we never see any actual bugs, there’s enough fly paper to plaster a lunatic’s bedroom and we’re pretty sure our main characters are plagued with…something itchy.

4. Flies
Similar, but slightly more annoying than the previous plague Flies is number four. This proved to disappoint after thinking the pharoah had finally let up, only to have the plagues continue. This sentiment may have been shared by David Cronenberg in his 1986 movie The Fly.

5. Beasts killed
We meet the fifth plague of pestilence and the killing of livestock in a particularly unforgettable scene in The Godfather. When one Hollywood executive, Jack Woltz, wakes up with an unexpected guest in his bed, that is if a decapitated horse can be considered a guest.

6. Incurable boils
Another dust induced plague, boils or skin disease, seems like a really bad fate. But the news gets worse with unknown director ‘Rusty Nail’s’ 2005 Acne. This is a rare instance where the actual plague may be preferred to its filmic counterpart.

7. Storm
In Egypt there was fire and thunder, in Wolfgang Peterson’s The Perfect Storm there was one tiny boat and one really big wave. There’s also a really good storm in Jan de Bont’s 1996 Twister if you don’t have your sea legs.

8. Locusts
Don’t let John Schlesinger’s 1975 Day of the Locusts fool you into believing it would be about locusts; it is in fact a tale of young Hollywood love. The only movie to include locusts is obviously Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 favorite The Ten Commandments. This may in fact be hitting one bird with ten commandments.

9. Darkness
The choice film to feature darkness, the ninth plague, is inconspicuously Pitch Black. David Twohy’s 2000 sci-fi action thriller (with the tagline “Fight evil with evil”) The Chronicles of Riddic: Pitch Black. Bon appetit.

10. Loss of the First Born
Curtis Hanson’s 1992 The Hand that Rocks the Cradle reflects just how devastating this final (Thank God) plague can be, and why one should always background check their nannys.

Whatever Forever

The Guggenheim’s new show “Anyspacewhatever”show opens tomorry the 24th.  Art Newspaper claims that the shows title is based on Deleuzian cinema speak “any space whatever” but I think that it really just comes down to the cool factor.

Por Ejemplo: Case study 1. Sifl & Olly

Case Study 2. Garrison Keillorin his podcast from October 14th talks about mid-life crises and how one may be apt to buy “skinny jeans and an oversized t-shirt that says WHATEVER on it”

Is this the Guggenheims version of Garrison Keillor’s version of a mid-life crisis?

What I am looking forward to24 Hour Psycho Back and Forth and To and Fro Gordon’s new iteration of the work 24 Hour Psycho (1993) slows down the 1960 Hitchcock thriller to a full-day cycle on a split screen installation, running the film both forward and in reverse.”

What I am not looking forward toweird (and rentable!) hotel room that spins. “Revolving Hotel Room” to you I say- Ikreepa. Annnd, so ok it spins and people rent it at night then we get to watch it in the day time. whooooo. it’s like, wow experience the art as design AS we interact with it as participants and voyeurs. can it get any more Norwegian?