{fv_addthis}

Latest Blog Posts

by Diepiriye Kuku

5 Oct 2009

Cute. Comical. Slapstick funny. These are just some of the tricks Hollywood abuses and exploits to mask the sexual harassment of women and appeal to the male gaze. And since men control the beat, tenor and tune of the industry, women’s roles are as thin now as they were then. This is the beauty of checking out old flicks—they help us unmask the new tricks of the trade.

Check out this scene from Which Way is Up, a flick seen by many modern bloggers as kids on cable way back in the day, since the film debuted in 1977. It was on regular rotation on the movie channels in the early ‘80s, and probably never registered as sexual harassment—a term that genuinely came into the American lexicon via the Senate’s confirmation hearing of Uncle Tom. Anita Hill stuck her neck out, but the nation’s leaders failed to go the distance, which is unsurprising given the tacit harassment of women in pop culture. The sitting president could not even bring himself to correctly pronounce the word harassment, as most Americans do, instead rebuffing something more akin to “harris-mint”.

 

by Ashley Cooper

5 Oct 2009

The Gate is a 1987 classic horror film, and is distinct because it is one of the most well-known examples of horror that focused on children, not just as characters but also as a core audience. The film tells the story of a young boy Glen (Stephen Dorff), his sister, and his best friend who have to deal with demons that are using the hole in their backyard as a portal from Hell. Oh, and the parents, as I’m sure you guessed, are out of town for the weekend, leaving the kids to deal with the emergent demon threat. Throw in some of the older sister’s friends who are looking to party and some very poor judgment calls, and it’s easy to see why this film is a classic.

The DVD, which is known as The Gate: Monstrous Edition, will be released October 6th.

by Bill Gibron

5 Oct 2009

Apparently, success is merely a matter of serendipity. For over two decades, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, founding members of the heavy metal group Anvil, were plugging away in obscurity, releasing albums to little commercial return and touring the world to smaller, if still devoted, audiences. At one point, they were the toast of the hard rock world, influencing acts as diverse as Pantera, Slayer, and Metallica. But as the brilliant documentary on the band by Sacha Gervais illustrates, Anvil got lost in the hair band hoopla of the ‘80s - bad management and a three year gap of non-activity allowing their ship to sail - without them onboard. So when the remaining vestiges of the group played a music festival in Italy in 2005, they could never have imagined that the casual mention of one of their former groupies would lead to a late in life resurgence.

“It was insane”, Lips said in a recent roundtable interview to promote the 6 October DVD release of the masterful Anvil: The Story of Anvil, “we were hanging out and someone mentioned Sacha. Then Tiziana contact us about a European tour. Next thing I know, Sacha is coming over talking about a movie. Before we know it, we’re hitting the road with our old friend in tow.” Indeed, Gervasi was listening to some music in his Los Angeles home when the idea hit him of contacting his former friends. Even after two decades, they reconnected almost immediately. There was no preplanned arrangement regarding a documentary, no early discussions about bringing Anvil to the masses in motion picture form. With five months of the reunion, they were filming. “It was fate”, says drummer and lifelong friend of Lips, Robb Reiner. “What’s happened here is revolutionary. It’s unique and very special.”

Indeed, when you think about, Anvil’s story, it’s the stuff of some manner of sublime synchronicity. “All the elements were in the right place,” director Gervasi, a successful Hollywood screenwriter turned filmmaker, confessed. “The guys were ready. The tour was set. We had a crew prepared to hit the road. Everything just came together like magic.” The result is one of the greatest documentaries about pursuing your dreams and overcoming your doubts ever made. Set within the always frantic - and fair-weather - music business, and providing a very personal glimpse into the lives of Lips and Robb, Anvil: The Story of Anvil transcends the trappings of the typical documentary to become a primer of perseverance, optimism, and staring down defeat with good cheer and a whole lot of guts.

“We were the band with bad luck,” Robb adds. “Someone once said Anvil was always too early or too late.” Lips sees a more practical reason for the lack of initial success. “We had a choice,” he explains. “We could have gone with the management (that later discovered and spearheaded Metallica), but we chose to sign with (the man behind Aerosmith). As a result, there was a major gap - three years, where we were idle. They were the crucial years. We missed out.” Indeed, after amazing albums like Metal on Metal and Forged in Fire, the record companies wanted the group to modify their sound to be more like Bon Jovi. The resulting stand-off saw an entire subgenre of rock take over the airwaves, leaving Anvil off the radar during a crucial time in their career.

Oddly enough, there are few hard feelings. “It’s better now”, says Robb, suggesting that the resurgence the band’s currently seeing is more satisfying than any early, flash in the pan fame. “We’re living the dream.” Lips is far more practical, even if he is the certified cheerleader of the entire Anvil overview. “We’ve worked hard, and we deserve it”, he says in his typically sunny manner. But he also understands that there’s an ethereal quality to what’s happening now that just can’t be explained. “When Sacha came to us and started talking about a film, I cried, man. I knew it would be successful”, he says. “I predicted it - everything that’s happened - I predicted the success. I knew it was going to be majorly important. I could just see it all.”

And now audiences can too. Anvil: The Story of Anvil is truly one of 2009’s treasures, a brilliant distillation of how the fleeting flicker of the limelight just can’t destroy the hard work and determination of two incredibly dedicated and legitimately likable guys. In Gervasi’s genius undertaking, we get to know these middle-aged men: Lips works for a Canadian caterer supplying meals to school children. Robb dabbles in construction while pursuing a personal passion for painting. Both have families that are supportive but specious. After three decades and 13 albums, they’d hope the boys would see more mainstream acceptance. Balancing these beliefs with other individual insights, we get a true, more telling Behind the Music portrait of greatness struggling to survive.

Some critics have suggested that the film is more or less a real life Spinal Tap, the Anvil antics we see onscreen almost mimicking the definitive mock documentary by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner. “How could we avoid it?”, Gervasi laughs. “Our drummer is named after Tap‘s director!” Indeed, the crew chose to embrace the similarities, making sure visual cues (an amplifier stack that, indeed, “goes to 11”) and satiric situations (the funny/sad sight of the group playing to an audience of about five) stood out. “We knew people were going to compare the two,” Gervasi continues, “there was no way to avoid it. So we didn’t. Besides, Lips is a funny guy. I mean, come on, this guy’s wearing a bondage harness onstage and playing guitar with a (vibrator). People can’t help but laugh.”

But there is more than Anvil: The Story of Anvil than a sometimes cruel comedy of expectations and errors. As the DVD commentary points out, the time captured by Gervasi was crucial, a crossroads for the group that can be heard interwoven into every conversation between Lips and Robb. Throughout the film we see the men sparing about their future, each one determined to stay the course and not let the other down. It makes for a hugely emotional experience, one where your own sense of fairness and dreams deferred overwhelm your more practical concerns. Soon, all you care about is seeing Lips and Robb rewarded, to somehow metaphysically move the narrative along so that failed European tours and troubled recording sessions lead to universal acclaim - or at the very least, a sell-out crowd at a Japanese rock festival.

For those who’ve seen the film - and if you haven’t go out and buy the DVD on 6 October, that’s an order! - Anvil: The Story of Anvil actually ends on a beginning. Indeed, since its release a little less than a year ago, the group has played to packed houses, toured along with the movie, opened for AC/DC in front of over 60,000 screaming fans, and is finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve. So naturally, there is talk about a sequel, “but it would have to be a real story,” Gervasi explains. “We are definitely working on something, but it has to have the same narrative appeal. We don’t need to do a “where are they now” follow-up. That’s happening already. There will definitely be something, but it has to a real film, like the original.” “We’ve done failure,” Lips laughs. “I think it would be interesting to see what happens once ‘success’ hits Anvil. Does it change us?”

One thing’s for sure, it’s been a hard and sometimes painful row to hoe. “I tell the boys it’s like a prize fight”, Gervasi explains. “They’ve being going twelve hard rounds. They’ve taken all the punches and body blows. They’re against the ropes and they’re on their last breath. And just then, someone walks up to you and whispers ‘you’ve won’. That’s how it is.” Lips and Robb both agree. “It’s so satisfying”, the laid back drummer confesses. “This is the best time of my life.” It’s awesome,” adds Lips. And with one of the best movies of the year under their belt, as well as a newfound lease on life, Anvil has finally made it. They’ve won - and film fans couldn’t be happier.

by Rob Horning

5 Oct 2009

Over at Generation Bubble I have a post up about using complexity to intentionally sow confusion in markets. This NYT article about meat inspection and a woman’s paralysis from eating a tainted burger seems relevant to the issue too—the issue being what the government can do to ensure that the products we rely on are “safe” within some reasonable margin. Something about the way the meat of the E. coli burger was cobbled together in the industry reminds me of complex financial securities.

The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.” Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.
Using a combination of sources — a practice followed by most large producers of fresh and packaged hamburger — allowed Cargill to spend about 25 percent less than it would have for cuts of whole meat.

by Tyler Gould

5 Oct 2009

The new Los Campesinos! album doesn’t have a title yet, but its first single does have a music video. You will be able to procure a 7” recording of this song at any of their upcoming U.K. shows (dates after the jump), which will also be a coming out party of sorts for new member, Kim Campesinos!.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

I Just Murdered My Sister, and It Was Kind of Fun

// Moving Pixels

"The Deed makes murder a game, a pretty fun game.

READ the article