Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MEDIA BUKKAKE




Now that summer school's over (all A's, no big deal) I've been spending the majority of my days being assaulted from all sides by a variety of visual, audio and mental stimulation of my choosing. In the interest of forcing my own unreasonably impassioned and surprisingly uneducated opinions onto others while saving enough of my own free time to pursue the much more pressing issue of reading a book by the river all day long, I've decided to spit out some fly-by-night reviews in short, controlled bursts. Aliens - style.

CINEMA (Netflix & otherwise):

"The Hurt Locker"
Kathryn Bigelow has long been a queen of uneven yet solidly entertaining genre films. "Near Dark" is cowboy-vampire-noir that takes itself seriously in a refreshing way and features the greatest barroom massacre ever. "Point Break" is the first buddy-cop film to stare its own inherent retardation directly in the face and willfully force it into the realm of almost respectable Zen surreality, and the foot chase scene is exemplary. "Strange Days" combines well-worn sci-fi tropes with the mysterious allure of the snuff film and almost makes mini-discs seem cool. As much as I love all three of those movies, they really can't measure their dicks with the same ruler as her newest gut-punch of tension-stiffened celluloid. It's not so much a storytelling process as an experiment in fully realized immersion. Neither a glorification of the adrenaline rush of battle nor a simple reactionary anti-war piece, it's a magnified look at one particular tier of combat existence and how it affects different people in varying ways. The second time I saw it, I went with a friend who recently finished his military service. He said that he liked it and spent the rest of the day in silence. So I assume Bigelow pulled it off.

"Waltz with Bashir"
It might have been a mistake to watch this one totally stoned. But probably not as big of a mistake as it would have been to hang out anywhere near Lebanon in 1982. The visual ascetic is certainly a bold choice, and for the most part it works (esp. stoned). My only complaint about this movie is the fact that it seems a bit repetitive in its gradual build-up to the revelation of the "whole story." My g/f argues that the repetition is an important aspect of the narrator's journey of remembrance. I dunno, I guess she has a point but I was just staring at her tits. But seriously, this is a good film and probably even an important one. The final scene is a little bit unfair (ESP. STONED) but it'd be a lie to say I'm not a huge fan of movies that kick you directly in the nuts and then walk away slowly, while you just lie there curled up in a painful little ball and watch them disappear.

"Yeelen"
The above link is not a trailer, but rather the first 10 minutes of this under-the-radar oddity from Africa. I included this scene both because a) I can't find the trailer anywhere (if there even is one) and b) because your reaction to the first 10 minutes will dictate your overall enjoyment of this film as a whole. The pacing is deliberate to a challenging degree and audiences weened by traditional Western structuring and convention may find it difficult to grasp onto this movie, but I would urge anyone with an open and eager cinematic palette to give it a shot. Once you have accepted the fact that this story requires not only your patience but also your complete acquiescence to the magical realism presented, you may discover a not-too-unfamiliar tale of familial loyalty in direct conflict with retributive justice. It's a pretty standard Good Vs. Evil setup really, just seen through the unique lens of one particular tribe's belief system. The visuals are stark but stunning, and I'll eat a shoeful of shit if you don't at least think it looks really cool when sorcerers make stuff catch on fire.

"Sorcerer"
I bought the soundtrack for this before I even knew what the movie was. The cover of the LP was amazing and yeah, I can get down with some Tangerine Dream (see above: "Near Dark"). I didn't even realize it was directed by the phenomenal William Friedkin. This one never received the recognition of his masterpieces, but don't let that deter you. It's a fine example of white-knuckle suspense mixed with a healthy dollop of existential dread. Some critics poo-poo the lack of in-depth character development, but I sort of think that adds to the overall feel of disorientation and eventual jungle madness and that those critics need to try using their goddamned imaginations every once in a while. I won't divulge too much about the plot, because I myself knew jack-shit about it when I put in the DVD. Just rest assured that the bridge crossing sequence and the scene where the tree is in the middle of the road are two remarkably well-done set-pieces. Plus, Roy Scheider!! It sucks that he's dead, but it's pretty awesome that they had to build an entire second casket just to bury his gigantic balls.

"Blue Sunshine"
Holy shit! Jeff Lieberman is officially one of those criminally underrated American badass filmmakers, among the same caliber as Larry Cohen and Bob Clark. What could have been served up as a yawn-inducing dose of made for T.V. anti-drug paranoia instead comes across as a mind-bending horror film that is probably best enjoyed while under the influence of multiple substances. Zalman King (of softcore erotica infamy) gives the most unnecessarily weird performance that I've probably ever seen, rivaling even Torgo from "Manos, Hands of Fate." This is some seriously good shit. Those highbrow schmucks at Criterion could certainly learn a thing or two from Synapse, and you can quote me on that.

"The Beast"
UHHHHHHHHHH WATCH THIS MOVIE.

*sorry about all the links to trailers. I just really enjoy them.


LITERATURE:

"Skinema" by Chris Nieratko
If you've ever read any of Nieratko's "porn reviews" then you already know exactly what to expect, because unfortunately this collection offers little variation from his established pattern of never even mentioning the film being reviewed and instead going off on booze-and-pill influenced tangents of his seemingly endless misadventures. Don't get me wrong, he is a very funny guy. And his stories can almost always maintain your interest, even if it's just in the same way that a highway traffic accident also does. But his rambling tends to get a bit stale if you try to read more than 8 or 9 entries in a row. I would recommend looking up some of his interviews from the pages of classic skateboarding magazine Big Brother to really experience his comedic pranks at their finest. At its best, this collection can offer up surprising moments of clarity and almost mystical wisdom from a man who has seemingly seen and done it all. At its worst, you may just put it down feeling guilty for having wasted your time on the words of someone who really is nothing more than a total asshole.

"The World's Most Dangerous Places"
by Robert Young Pelton
Pelton has apparently been everywhere sketchy. And he seems to always have access to the pulsating nucleus of sketchiness in all of these places. And he's a pretty great writer. I've been reading this one on-and-off for about the past 2 years, usually either while at work or sitting on the toilet. Sometimes while sitting on the toilet at work. It's a good primer for the how's and why's of some of recent history's most notorious (and some of its most secretive) conflicts, as explained from someone who is privy to an exhaustive wealth of insider information and experience. And luckily for the uneducated boob such as myself, Pelton presents this info in a non-assuming fashion that even the most geopolitically ignorant layman can grasp. You'll probably never go to Algeria, but wouldn't it be nice to fully understand why not?

"2666" by Roberto BolaƱo
I'm only 275 pages into this 900 page beast, but I already am salivating over every other piece of writing done by the late Chilean modern master. I don't know any other way to do this thing justice than to say that this is the kind of book that makes you want to write books.


MUSIC:



Cult Ritual
This band fucking slays. Probably the first band that has ever legitimately reminded me of Born Against, with a little bit of golden-era Black Flag thrown in for testosterone's sake. I missed my chance to see them a few weeks ago, which is probably for the best. Bands always seem to disappoint me these days.

Burial - Untrue
I don't even know what this kind of music is called. Space-dub? Drum-ghost? Club-a-rub-a-dub? I also have no idea why I like it. But if you're into getting high and sitting at the bottom of a pool with goggles on (just chillin' down there) or wearing a hoodie and walking around in the rain and just feeling indiscriminately sad whenever a train goes by, then you'll probably be into it, too.

Indian Jewelry
I've been pretty into everything by this band recently. Tribal drum patterns, broken stringed instruments, spaghetti western attitude, drugs, drugs, drugs. Cool video.





Hmmmm. So much for short, controlled bursts.

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