Friday, March 28, 2008

Hot tamales

When my husband finally tires of me and divorces my sorry tail, then I think I'll marry either Gary Oldman (fellow AA attendee, yessir!) or the delicious Sune Rose Wagner of the band The Raveonettes. If you haven't heard the Raveonettes, you're missing out. They are sort of a cross between old Phil Spector '60s recordings and Julee Cruise with insanely heavy reverb and gorgeous melodies layered over superfuzzed guitars.

My ToggleSwitch friend and I saw them play a very odd random matinee show in the middle of the week several years ago and I fell in love. Dude is HOT. I was a drooling idiot, like that old Tex Avery cartoon wolf. And ToggleSwitch was trying keep his toggle in check while checking out the lovely Sharin Foo, the Nico-esque blonde beauty that completes the duo.

Regardless of super sex appeal, their music is terrific and their new album, Lust Lust Lust (my, that's appropriate!) may be their best effort yet.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hey Shawtie!

I'm happy to have another cute and delightful Japanese film to report on. Like Naisu no Mori, this is another Viz Media release (my favorite company for putting out Japanese language films here in the U.S.). Based on a manga and originally titled Lovely Complex, you can find this one here under the name of Love*Com.

The entire concept of the movie is so basic and ridiculous that it's hard to believe they were able to make a full-length movie out of such a simple idea. High school students Risa Koizumi (Ema Fujisawa) and Atsushi Otani (Teppei Koike) are friends. Risa is a tall girl who was burned by a short boy she previously fell in love with. Otani is a short boy whose heart was broken by a tall girl he confessed his love to. Risa and Otani like each other but neither is willing to give their hearts to one another because of their past romances. Will the tall girl get her cute little shortie? This is the entire premise of the film.

It's a silly, ridiculous and utterly frivolous movie. There is not one moment where you believe that it won't have a happy ending. Yet it's so overly saccharine and vibrant that it's difficult not to get swept up in the fun of it all. The kids wear clothes ripped from the pages of Japanese fashion magazines Cutie and Zipper, and they all look unbelievably cute. The music is pure pop confection, including a prominently featured Puffy song, "Signs of Love". Finally, the movie culminates in a climatic basketball duel. It's tough not to like it a little, just for the breezy entertainment it serves.

Like a cotton candy ice cream cupcake covered in colorful little sprinkles, Love*Com may not be the best dessert you ever tasted but it looks cute and sure is sweet!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fairuza update

My favorite Fairuza Balk's got two new movies dropping soon. Her latest direct-to-DVD piece o' junk is Grindstone Road and it will be available for home enjoyment on May 20th. In better news, her latest is called Humboldt County and it fared extremely well upon premiere at SXSW. It also features some great talent in the form of Brad Dourif (yeah, Doc Cochran!), Peter Bogdanovich and Frances Conroy. Click here for a good review from Variety.com

More to post soon about some more cool Japanese films and why I'm slightly miffed about the She & Him album.

Monday, March 24, 2008

If only in my dreams

Funky Forest: The First Contact is my new favorite movie. After a long year and a half wait, I finally got to see it. I had wanted to order the Japanese DVD, but the cost was so exorbitant that I couldn't rationalize it. Thanks to the good folks over at Viz Media, there is now a reasonably priced Region 1 DVD of Funky Forest (the original title is Naisu No Mori:The First Contact) available to you for purchase or Netflixing.

I could write a million words on Funky Forest and still not capture the essence of the film and its contents. In brief, the film is a Japanese surrealist epic meditation on dream states. At a running time of 2 and a half hours (with a polite intermission included), the film requires patience and an open mind. There is no narrative to speak of, the film is a series of somewhat random dream sequences strung together to form a strange cinematic journey. It was directed by not one but three visionary avant-garde directors, Katushito Ishii, Hajime Ishimine and Shunichiro Miki. In this movie you will find elements that will confound and stimulate, intrigue and repulse. There are numerous dance sequences and there's no lack of humor. Characters weave in and out of the movie, disappearing and reappearing under different guises. Popular character actor Tadanobu Asano appears in several different sequences as one of the Unpopular with Women Guitar Brothers (there are three Guitar Brothers, one of whom is a fat white kid with a bad Japanese accent and a penchant for Snickers bars). Academy Award-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi appears as a high school girl named...Ms. Kikuchi. There are so many interesting and wacky characters here that it would take a year to describe them all. Uneven elongated nipple guy is one of my personal faves. Yes, you read that correctly.

For some, Funky Forest will test your patience and leave you with nothing more than a feeling of confusion. For those who want a unique, surreal film experience unlike anything you have seen before, there is no comparison to what this movie can offer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Willie-loving friend...

My talented writer friend Sam over at ToggleSwitch recently interviewed my friend Dee about her wonderful, all-consuming obsession for Willie Nelson. I adore Dee because she's a terrific and delightful human being, plus she's not a tiny bit ashamed of her unabashed love for all things Willie related. She's loud and proud regarding her love for Willie, and for that I admire her so. I am a little envious because I tend to obsess on such a small scale (sometimes I may be obsessed with something or someone for a day or, sometimes it might be longer). I rarely fixate on one single thing. Not that Dee isn't a well-rounded gal! She's a damn fine knitter and crocheter, and she often makes things for charity. She attends lots of live shows, not just Willie Nelson concerts. I met her because she attends so many events at the venue where I work. She's always so kind, always smiling and always considerate in every way.

I must admit that I'm a little excited and proud as I helped facilitate this article, but the kudos really are for Sam and Dee. You can read the article in its entirety here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I want to see this...

I want to see this and I want to see it right now.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Why Hollywood sucks

Dammit. Hollywood sucks, and hard. Evidently there's zero originality left in the industry so they keep remaking old or foreign stuff. The latest travesty is a reported remake of Korean director Park Chan-Wook's masterpiece Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Also known as The Kind-Hearted Miss Geum-Ja, this film is stunning and about as near-perfect as one could hope for these days. I found the 2005 film to be slightly superior to Park's second feature, the incredible Oldboy, which won greater international acclaim but lacked the strange sweetness that carried Lady Vengeance. Anyway, Hollywood bastards want to remake it with Charlize Theron because evidently the original is not good enough for lazy Americans who don't like to read subtitles. GGRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....................

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why Nick Cave is a hero

This past weekend I watched all two hours and thirty-eight minutes of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Even the title is long. It's so long, so long. It beautiful, lush photography makes for compulsive viewing, even if it's dull as sin. The music (by masters Nick Cave and Warren Ellis) is gorgeous and has a lulling effect. This is lovely but doesn't help drive the action. It's such a very long film and could have been so much better if they had cut about 45 minutes off of it (there are several minor plot lines that could have been excised, in my opinion). Poor Mary Louise Parker was relegated to the role of Mrs. Jesse and had almost zero lines and spent her time wiping her hands on her apron. Brad Pitt was fine, Casey Affleck was better than I expected, Sam Rockwell is always awesome, Paul Schneider is actually pretty hot, and Zooey Deschanel is lovely and she sings (she has a truly beautiful singing voice, see Elf for reference).

Nevertheless, despite the performances, music and cinematography, I was bored senseless. Then at the two hour and twenty minute mark, Nick Cave showed up! Nick Cave makes a brief appearance as a folk singer in bar, singing the traditional song "Jesse James" and I was so happy! Just hearing his voice woke me from my near-comatose state brought on by the rest of the film. God bless him. He's so good it's scary.

In related news, Zooey Deschanel is releasing an album with the fantastic M. Ward under the name She & Him. It's titled Volume One, it will be released this Tuesday the 18th and you can order it here. More exciting still is the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! which will be released on April 8th. Go ahead and pre-order your copy here. Now let's all keep our fingers crossed for a U.S. tour!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Buy this right now

Friends, visitors, curiousity seekers...

This is a new item on Amazon.com. Buy this right now. If you already own it, buy another copy. It's very good indeed.


If you would like a hard copy rather than MP3 files, please visit the link below to buy that instead.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Pride, joy and little bit of prejudice

Many, many thanks to Sam at Toggle Switch for his write up on Uglyography's open mic on Wednesday. My husband has been working diligently to put together a one-man presentation of his music, and it worked pretty well. For a first-time effort, Wednesday's open mic was a most excellent start. Please visit this link for the full run-down.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Do I sleep under a freakin' rock?

Today while I was wasting time, I discovered that the Independent Film Channel has published a DVD of their original series, Indie Sex. This "series" is really more of an extended documentary about sex in independent cinema. I discovered this series because of my heroine Dita Von Teese's involvement in the project as both the model for the ad campaign and as an interviewee for the documentary. The program first ran in four parts (thought the DVD info says three parts?) at midnight on IFC, so I missed most of it because I am so damn old and can't manage to stay up til midnight, let alone 1am when the show ended! I fought hard to catch the final episode, Extremes, which was about the more intense stuff (real sex on film, that fine line between art and porn, etc.). It was fascinating and it covered most of the turf I imagined it would. Plus, there was plenty of Dita, Dita, Dita!

The DVD of the series has been out for a while and I had no idea. I thought I stayed on top of these things, but sometimes I miss something. Looks like I'm going to have to place an order! For those interested, you can order it from the IFC store here or on Amazon. com here. It's an interesting documentary featuring interviews with all sorts of familiar faces from the indie scene. It's particularly interesting if you happen to be a bit pervy...like me!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A interesting tidbit for film buffs

Last October I acquired a copy of the Stanley Kubrick DVD box set and have been slowly working my way through that. This past Friday I watched A Clockwork Orange for the first time in over a decade. Commentary or film review aside, here is an interesting tidbit.
There is a brief scene in which Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is daydreaming whilst reading the Bible in jail. He fantasizes about sexy harem women, then imagines himself whipping Jesus Christ. The man who played Jesus is named Jeremy Curry, and he is brother to Michael Curry, my boss.
On Monday I told my boss that I had seen his brother over the weekend. When I explained, he told me of how Jeremy got that part. Michael and Jeremy were living together in London at the time. They were working in a theatre and had returned home for the day. Michael was reading the London Times and saw an advertisement that read "JESUS WANTED". At the time, Michael and Jeremy's other brother Robert was starting off on a big religious kick that would lead him to become a priest. Robert was constantly deriding Michael and Jeremy about their more "theatrical" lifestyles, so Michael immediately suggested that Jeremy try out for the role of Jesus, just to piss off Robert.
Thus Jeremy Curry became Jesus Christ and spent three days being beaten with a whip of ribbons by Malcolm McDowell. That's Kubrick for sure. Three days of whippings, 6 or so seconds of film, and the poor man didn't even get his name in the credits!
***Update***It's now April '09 and I just finished up teaching a brief film course on the films of Stanley Kubrick at the local art gallery. I had the opportunity to show the scene with Jeremy Curry and show photos and e-mail stories that Michael had passed along to share for the class. Everyone in the class so excited, especially the ones who know Michael personally. It was such a wonderful opportunity to be able to share a personal Kurbick-related story.***

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Not your grandma, sucka!

Holy crumbs! I've been slackin'. I just found out that one of my favorite films, the Japanese drama NANA, is receiving a U.S. DVD release on April 8th through Viz Media. For all of you brave souls who don't mind some serious melodrama with a tad bit of pseudo-punk thrown in, be sure to put NANA on your Netflix queue. It's just too bad that Viz usually skimps on the special features.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Graduate

Hooray! Today I officially graduated from my beginning bellydance classes! I am finally finished with my remedial bellydance for spazzes. I begin the Tribal course on Wednesday, so it's all happening rather quickly. This was a scary and exhilarating day, I was so nervous about being scrutinized by the instructors to gauge my ability. I'm so glad it's over, but now I have a whole different class to be intimidated by!