Soon after the start of “Paris, Texas,” Harry Dean Stanton appears in an astonishing gorge called the Devil’s Graveyard. He’s playing a lost soul, Travis, who will spend the rest of the film getting found. Right now, though, surrounded by rock formations that evoke the westerns of John Ford, Travis is an enigma. On foot and wholly alone save for a watchful eagle, wearing a red cap and an inexplicable double-breasted suit, Travis looks like a former cowboy or maybe a businessman who took a wrong turn. He looks like someone Dorothea Lange might have photographed during the Great Depression. He looks like the American West, all sinew, dust and resolve. [Read more…]
Reviewed by Kristy Puchko
Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! is his Mona Lisa. Maybe a masterpiece, but most definitely crafted to capture the public with its mystery. Following its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the art-horror offering has ignited furious debate over its meaning, and even basic plot points. Sure, the trailer suggests this is a creepy cult thriller about a married couple whose happy home is unsettled by some unexpected–and sexy–guests. But the truth is something more complicated and far trickier to define. [Read more…]
Vacation-starved New Yorkers could nonetheless repair to David Zwirner gallery this summer, on West 19th St. and view James Welling’s short film Seascape (2017). The film provides an ingratiating encounter with the storied, rock-festooned Maine coast, accompanied by an audio of accordion and taped ocean sound. There is no narration, just image, sound and elegiac music, as ocean waves endlessly and variously crash upon the rocks, the sun becomes clouded then bright again, and water and sky ever change hue. America “grew up” with landscape painting of the Romantic era, beginning effectively with Thomas Cole, and, continuing in the dramatic seascape narratives of the Maine coast by Winslow Homer. Welling’s film adds yet another iteration of aesthetic and method to this tradition [Read more…]
In Alan Moore’s superb and baroque graphic novel From Hell, Jack the Ripper is quoted as saying, “One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the 20th century.” If such bloody and fevered characters can be set to frame a century, then Heath Ledger’s incarnation of The Joker in The Dark Knight is the cinematic icon that frames the 21st century thus far. Christopher Nolan returned to theaters over the summer with yet another big, loud opus, the World War II epic Dunkirk. Yet his most successful film has not only aged well but has gained a potent and disturbing relevance. [Read more…]
by Alci Rengifo
Madness grips the airwaves like a deafening transmission, and the overlords of the earth seem to speak in terrifyingly grim visions. Thank the gods that every age produces its own soothsayers. It is fitting, then, that just as a surreal state of affairs takes hold, David Lynch returned to us with Twin Peaks: The Return, a continuation of his landmark cult 1990s series that combined melodrama with the director’s brand of surrealist imaginings. But not only did Lynch return, he also shows himself to be fully in tune with these new dark ages. Episode 8 of the revival in particular goes beyond television or even cinema — it is one mad flow about our civilization’s communion with dark forces to unleash absolute destruction. [Read more…]
by C von Hassett
The new Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) finds David Lynch working in fresh and sublimely haunting domains, ones that pleasurably flirt or unnervingly skirt the spectral drop-offs of some charged and sinister abyss. This seems no visional or evolutional change of tack, nor does it appear, at least in these early episodes, Lynch is newly surveying unmapped terrains. Rather, there is something more elevated in this late-career landscape, and something far more intimate as well. One senses, when viewing this new series, particularly his excursions into Lynchian Other-Realms, that his articulation of these doppelgänging worlds feel more experiential than conceptual, more occupied than conceptualized.
Less dream (or dreamy) than earlier movements into surrealist expression, the first quarter of Episode 3, for instance, shows Lynch, in an extraordinary way, to be as clear-eyed and sure-footed as he’s ever been in these ghostly yet thoroughly gripping realms. It’s as if, rather than imagining, some doppelgänger of himself now inhabits these realms, sending in return faint coordinates and word; or Lynch, figuratively, has set foot in them himself, excursioned through them in a near-corporeal way, and now with intimate familiarity he is able to speak cinematically to their airy constructions, and he does this with such nuance that they feel like alternate extents of consciousness and being: expansive, elusive, wholly mercurial states of mind-borne self.
Thanks to such dazzling and deeply dark films as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, Mother, and I Saw The Devil, South Korean thrillers make cinephiles worldwide drool in anticipation of stories as twisted and electrifying as they are gut-wrenching. It’s an intimidatingly high bar, but writer/director Jung Byung-gil deftly clears it with The Villainess, a revenge thriller that chases a fascinating female assassin through fragile love and shattering heartbreaks. [Read more…]
Imagine a world where a seemingly all-powerful political party has seized control of America, upending our democratic system of checks and balances. A malevolent dictator slowly strips the rights away from underserved and marginalized groups, particularly women and people of color, under the guise of providing “stability” for the nation as a whole. And radical protest groups led primarily by Black women march through the streets, broadcast over the radio waves, and find themselves harassed, wrongfully detained, and even murdered by police. [Read more…]
While most of the republic’s cinema-goers flock to local theaters to indulge in the new incarnation of Stephen King’s It, your local RedBox is harboring a deliciously wicked and original work of cinematic viscera, Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016). This cannibal parable created quite the stir at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where audience members were reported to have fainted due to the movie’s bloody moments. As with most movies of this type, the gore doesn’t do justice to the hype. The film’s power resides in what it has to say as opposed to what it wants to show. Like all good satire, it knows that showing too much ruins the effect. Like American Psycho, Raw gets under your skin by casting a mirror. Ducournau is essentially putting on display a civilization eating itself, like Goya’s painting “Saturno devorando a su hijo (Saturn Devouring His Son).” Raw is art as splatter, capturing in its own special way those moments when youth, sexual awakening and finding one’s place in the social labyrinth all crash together. [Read more…]
There was a time when the term ‘summer blockbuster’ meant an original, thrilling ride. But as Transformers: Who Gives a Shit and Spider-Man: Yes, Another Reboot attest, nowadays those words tend not to be worth the promotional material they’re printed on. Which is why it is nothing short of a small wonder to have received a glimmer of hope this year in the form of British director Edgar Wright’s homage to heist films, Baby Driver. [Read more…]
1973. David Lynch had been shooting Eraserhead for roughly one year when he ran out of cash. The film was suddenly and indefinitely on hold. It was, he says, “a depressing time.” It was also this time that the American Film Institute asked a friend of his, Fred, to shoot a test using two different black and white video stocks to determine which stock was best, because, as Lynch tells it, “they were going to buy a bunch.” Lynch says when he heard AFI was buying video tapes, “it gave me a sadness, and I worried they were going to have to change the name of the place” (from American Film Institute to American Video Institute). “So I looked at Fred, and I got an idea, and I said, um, ‘Fred, does it matter what you shoot?’ And he said, ‘Well, what are you talking about?” And I said ‘Could you shoot anything you want? Twice. One with one stock and one with the other, and go like that, for the test?’ And he said, ‘Well, I don’t see why not.’ So I said, ‘Could I write something and make something for tomorrow?’ And he said, ‘Okay.’”
That evening Lynch wrote The Amputee. The next day he shot this video:
Directed By: Phuong-Cac Nguyen
Produced By: Alfredo Ritta
South American Cho-Low is a short documentary that examines the meeting point between cholo style and lowrider culture in Sao Paulo. The film features interviews with major personalities and icons from the movement such as photographer Estevan Oriol, Christopher “Duel” Hall, Antonio Carlos Batista “Alemão” Filho, Luiz “Gordo” Teixeira, Mariana de Paula Martins and Leandro Vinicius Pimenta Cabellos, who take viewers through the world of lowriders, tattoos, religion and cholo style as they recount why they’re so passionate about Chicano and lowrider culture, and why they relate so much to those living the life in East Los Angeles. South American Cho-Low shows that despite the violence associated with gang culture, the Brazilian interpretation — where violence is noticeably absent — provokes the deeper question of what it means to truly be a lowrider and maintain a Brazilian identity.
from the LA Times
Though his name was largely known only within the industry, Loren Janes appeared in “Spartacus,” the “Magnificent Seven,” “The Ten Commandments,” “How the West Was Won,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Graduate,” “Planet of the Apes,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Back to the Future,” “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “Spider Man,” hundreds of movies and television shows in all.
He doubled for Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Charles Bronson, John Wayne, Debbie Reynolds, Yul Brenner and McQueen over and over again.
The car chase scene in “Bullitt” — a jarring 10-minute adrenaline rush across the streets of San Francisco — became such a classic that it spawned its own subculture, websites, Google forums on where the scenes were shot, and an overlay for Google Maps that lets motorists retrace the chase route. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal even rented a Ford Mustang — albeit not the 1968 Ford Mustang GT used in the film — and took Janes on a slow-speed reenactment of the chase.
“Steve was a great driver, but he was only behind the wheel for about 10% of what you see on screen,” Janes confided during the reenactment. “He drove in scenes that required close-ups — but not in the ones that could kill him.”
–excerpted from Steve Marble’s LA Times obit
Cracked Actor (Live, Los Angeles ’74)
Sweet Thing/Candidate (Live, Los Angeles ’74)
In honor and in celebration of Cracked Actor, the new live release from David Bowie’s infamously depraved yet musically stellar ’74 tour (the new album narrows in on one evening, his September 5th show at Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheater, which I had the blearied pleasure of attending!), Riot Material scratched up a BBC documentary from that same tour, titled Cracked Actor: A Film About David Bowie. The 1975 film, viewable below, is directed by Alan Yentob: [Read more…]
The Bad Batch (2016) is a stark and stunning new film by Ana Lily Amirpour. And timely too, considering every effort by our current regime to cast those of seeming naught into the desperate oblivions of a world only slightly less unhinged than the one depicted in this film. With a nod to the current depravity of our day, the film opens (forgive my indulgence) in the wet dream of said regime whose spooging head is our ever-ranting, ever-pissy Child-in-Chief — let’s call him Boy — he who nightly wets his bed and in the dreamy slosh fingers blindly for his own plundered asshole. Were the Boy blessedly in this film, he’d be swiftly on a sizzling spit: fatted swine for its flesh-hungry natives.
We first meet our protagonist, a wordless Arlen May Johnson, aka Inmate 5040, as guards walk her to desert’s edge, to the kingdom’s unceremonial gate (American chain link), to literally lock her away from fair society. She stands, indifferent to her plight, with only a backpack, a burger (which she promptly eats) and a half-filled jug of water. Ignored is the wooded post which reads:
Warning: Beyond this fence is no longer the territory of Texas. That hereafter no person within the territory beyond this fence is a resident of the United States of America or shall be acknowledged, recognized or governed by the laws and governing bodies therein. Good luck.
There, she is loosed into a blistering landscape of sand and sunbaked clay, and she walks straight in as would a schoolgirl through a noonday park, though there is little question here of her arrival into something far more suspect. Arlen’s first encounter is with a tribe of desert body builders — a brutish, body-ripped band in need, naturally, of good supply of protein. Stray travelers seem their sole course, and these luckless lie chained and limbless in what unremittingly comes as another feed, one body part at a time. Arlen, freshly snatched from the feral barrens, no sooner meets with a hacksaw than she wiles a witting escape, and face-up to the blazing sun, a snapped up skateboard as her ride, she pushes into a fevered dream one foot, and only one foot, at a time. What follows is a love story.