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by Jennifer Cooke

13 Sep 2009

Sitting in a coffee shop the other day, I heard “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” by Camera Obscura, and while I knew the song, I couldn’t immediately recall if it was from a recent listen or something from high school. The song put me in mind of the female vocalists of my youth, all the Clare Grogans (Altered Images), the Hope Sandovals (Mazzy Star), the Margo Timminses (Cowboy Junkies). And I was suddenly seized with a fever to run home and listen to some Shelleyan Orphan Thankfully we live in the age of the internets, so I can just Google them rather than trudge through the milk-crates of vinyl in my mother’s garage, which have no doubt fallen prey to spiders and mildew and Mom’s random Goodwill donation sprees.

It has been 20 years since the release of no-hit wonder Shelleyan Orphan’s shimmering and beautiful album Century Flower. The Bournemouth, England-based duo of Caroline Crawley and Jemaur Tayle made fanciful and complex pop music in the 1980s and ‘90s, and brushed up against more famous shoulders (the Cure, This Mortal Coil) on their road to eternal obscurity. 

Contemporaries the Sundays have “Here’s Where the Story Ends”, Mazzy Star have their “Fade Into You”, but Shelleyan Orphan can’t even hang their hats on a song that might turn up on a show like Nina Blackwood’s New Wave Nation.  It’s a shame, too, because the music more than holds up against any of the floaty, ethereal dream-pop that girls like me listened to back then.

With vocalists like Camera Obscura’s Traceyanne Campbell and even Arcade Fire’s Regine Chassagne sounding so much like Caroline Crawley, I don’t think I’m the only one who has Century Flower lurking in their collection.

by Katharine Wray

13 Sep 2009

It’s been a 10-year wait for fans of the cult classic The Boondock Saints, but the saints are coming! The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day hits the theaters October 25.  Judging from the trailer, this sequel has all the right ingredients to please fans, and make new ones. With original writer and director Troy Duffy at the helm, and repeat performances from Troy Duffy, Sean Patrick Flannery, and Billy Connolly, purists will be satisfied. Rounding out the cast of colorful characters are Clifton Collins Jr., Juliet Benz (who looks to be filling the role of Willlem Dafoe’s detective character), and Peter Fonda. There is plenty of Irish accents, Catholicism, and ultra violence, too.

by Evan Sawdey

11 Sep 2009

Back in 2007, a young folk-artist named Will Stratton released a stunning little powerhouse of a record called What the Night Said, a post-Nick Drake kind of lo-fi masterpiece, the barely-21 Stratton showing a wisdom far, far beyond his years and making for one of the best records of ‘07. 

Since then, Stratton has been primarily focused on finishing up college, and even with his new album No Wonder coming out on November 3rd, it seems that Stratton just can’t seem to keep his excitement to himself, and just a few days ago decided to release his


album of unreleased non-album songs online, for free.

by Allison Taich

11 Sep 2009

By the early ‘60s twin brothers George and Mike Kuchar pioneered and lead New York’s underground film scene. They were known as the “8mm Mozarts” for their command of “low-fi” filming, and unconventional storylines and plots. Between the two they are responsible for directing over 200 works including: The Thief and the Stripper (1959), I was a Teenage Rumpot (1960), and Confessions of Babette (1963).

Director Jennifer M. Kroot documents the lives, relationship, craft and impact the Kuchars have on underground film in It Came from Kuchar. Through interviews, archived footage, and humor, Kroot offers insight to the bizarre world of brotherhood and film with George and Mike Kuchar.

Upcoming Screenings:
September 15: Sydney queerDOC09
September 24: Cambridge International Film Festival
Kuchar retrospectives: September 24th at 11:30pm/Friday, September 25th at 9pm
September 24: Atlantic Film Festival

by Bill Gibron

11 Sep 2009

A slasher film is only as good as its slice and dice. That’s a given. It also needs a compelling killer that instills a sense of monstrous mystery within the narrative and a group of victims that are interchangeable without being totally vacant. Oh, and there must be blood - lots and (c)lots of blood. Find a way to make all these elements work in some sort of plausible proportion and you’ll give an already suspicious fright film audience their basic money’s worth. Earlier this year, My Bloody Valentine 3D and Friday the 13th 2009 brought the aging horror format back from the commercial dead. Both films found a compelling way to sell their systematic slaughter. Now comes another remake, this time of 1983’s House on Sorority Row, and while it remembers to address the basic tenets of terror, the uneven way it gets there eventually undermines its effectiveness.

Senior sisters Cassidy, Chugs, Ellie, Claire, and Jessica are the queen bees of the Theta Pi house. Along with fellow fembot Megan, they reign supreme over their particular plot of the on-campus clique community. One night, during a massive party, the girls decide to pull a prank on Chugs’ unstable brother Garrett. Fast forward a few hours and things have gone horribly wrong, requiring the disposal of a body and a strong arm vow of silence. Eight months later and it’s time to graduate. Just one more blow out shindig and a year of death, decisions, and deception will be forgotten forever - except, there’s a hooded figure roaming sorority row, and it has only one thought on its mind…revenge. That’s right, someone is targeting the gals for their part in the awful events of that long ago night, and they won’t stop until every last one of them has paid…in blood.

As long as you understand what Sorority Row is, as long as you don’t go into it expecting some snarky reimagining or straight forward shocker, you’ll survive. You won’t always enjoy the experience, but the overall effect remains solidly stuck in the ‘80s. Director Stewart Hendler, a clear student of the Greed Decades defining genre subcategory, does his best to inject a kind of snide cynicism into the mix, making his uptight college gals as bitchy and belittling as a TMZ byline. When these proper young ladies deliver an insult, it’s bound to sting - and badly. But he is also considerate of the cinematic shorthand mandated by this kind of movie. We get the typical cat and mouse moments, the false scares and preplanned shocks - and when necessary - the cruel and heartless hacking that gorehounds have come to love.

But don’t get the wrong idea - journeyman efficiency is not the same thing as outright entertainment value. Like a celluloid seesaw, Sorority Row rocks back and forth between fun and forgettable, drawn out moments of catty character interaction dulling the otherwise razor-sharp ripping. In order to maintain the proper victim to red herring ratio, the script by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger keeps introducing new characters, including a bunch of meatheaded frat boyfriends, a politically ambitious Senator, a sexually perverted psychologist, a suspicious collection of ancillary sisters (one who actually pays for her shower stall eavesdropping), and the arrival of a spectral sibling whose only purpose appears to be out witching the already established campus coven (SNAP!). They provide a diversion, but not the kind that keeps you invested in the mystery.

In fact, a lot of Sorority Row feels superficial, fashioned out of pieces that will trigger thoughts of excitement in the viewer’s head without actually sparking any real enthusiasm. This is especially true for students of the fear format, those long haul horror mavens who’ve championed the style ever since Christmas went Black and Halloween turned even more terrifying. Granted, it’s easy to appreciate the combination of humor and hacking - it’s been a long standing tradition in the slasher film. It’s just too bad then that more attention was paid to the jokes and personal put downs than the means of dispensing death. A retrofitted tire iron, complete with a bowie knife, is a rather limited means of dismembering and while our killer uses a couple other devices to get his (or her) murderous point across, this is not an exercise in unique methods of maiming.

As for the acting, no one is earning their scream queen mythos from this group of good looking ciphers. Only Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce and Demi) leaves an impression, and that’s mostly because she’s a one note blubbering idiot most of the time. Looking for misplaced emotional outbursts? The former power couple’s kid is ready to weep like a wounded war widow. Elsewhere, The Hills’ Adrina Partridge is typecast - as a personality free corpse - while Margo Harshman turns Chugs into every father’s binge drinking, drug taking, boy screwing, future porn starring nightmare. Only Leah Pipes seems locked into her character’s ripe royal smarm, delivering her cruel criticism with a wicked wink toward the audience. And Greg Evigan’s daughter Briana is deliberately dour as vexed voice of reason Cassidy. For the most part, however, everyone here is interchangeable, the kind of ill-defined mannequins that have you questioning individual and importance time and time again.

Still, for anyone who spent a dateless Saturday night perusing the bevy of b-titles malingering along the bottom shelf of their local Mom and Pop video store (remember those?), Sorority Row will be a pleasant bit of nostalgia. Sure, the girls are far more “fake” in their various forms of undressed physicality and Hendler has a ways to go before he can be called a master of macabre, but for the most part, this film promises little and then delivers. Nothing fancy. Nothing forward thinking. And sadly, nothing very frightening either. Perhaps because of its status as an overused commercial gimmick to get ‘80s adolescents into movie theaters, the slasher film has lost most of its luster. Sorority Row won’t restore it, but it also won’t tarnish it further.

//Mixed media

Tibet House's 30th Anniversary Benefit Concert Celebrated Philip Glass' 80th

// Notes from the Road

"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.

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