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by Sarah Zupko

19 Jun 2009

The Defibulators are a New York group that manage to concoct convincing hillbilly music, or maybe it’s better labeled cowpunk. Anyway, the band is great fun and have a bunch of upcoming tour dates. Here’s a video of “DumDum” live at the Brooklyn Country Music Festival in 2008 as well as a player of four of their songs.

The Defibulators
“Ol’ Winchester” [MP3]

by PopMatters Staff

19 Jun 2009

Releasing: 4 August 2009 (US) / 9 June 2009 (digital) re-issue from this year’s earlier release

01 The Boys Are Leaving Town  
02 Young Hearts Spark Fire 
03 Wet Hair  
04 Rockers East Vancouver  
05 Heart Sweats  
06 Crazy / Forever  
07 Sovereignty    
08 I Quit Girls

“Young Hearts Spark Fire” [MP3]

by Rob Horning

19 Jun 2009

I don’t know if it takes any special kind of refined irony to appreciate dumb movies, like the ones compiled on this “50 Films You Can Wait to See After You’re Dead” list from Kottke. I’ve seen many on the list with relish—Basic Instinct 2, From Justin to Kelly, Glitter, Catwoman to name a few—and Freddy Got Fingered is one of my favorite films ever, if only for the disturbing dinner-date sequence, which seems as though it was shot while the director was on PCP. In fact, I think this kind of film is far more dependably entertaining than middlebrow “quality” films along the lines of The Reader or biopic tripe like A Beautiful Mind or Ray. That could just be because I like “campy” movies—but it seems insufficient and maybe inaccurate to dismiss these as mere camp. The standard definition of camp is an earnestly made work that’s terrible; in laughing at such a work we are showing our appreciation for that quintessentially human ability to persevere without talent. Camp, theoretically, is for those who especially relish the frisson of being in that no man’s land between laughing at and laughing with someone. The Room fits that bill—director Tommy Wiseau is ambitious and incompetent in equal measures, and his film leaves you with a weird respect for his stubbornness, for his evident refusal to listen to anyone who knows better. Few of us have that strength of character.

But the films on Kottke’s list are different. These are not films made by incompetents, but schlock made with a measure of cynicism at least at some level—whether the producers, the director, the studios, or the cast (if not all of the above). There, the overt and inevitable failure tends to be humanizing for all parties involved, reminding us that the hegemony of the culture industry is not quite complete and that its ability to manipulate us in the ways it seeks to is not infallible, not even close. The workaday actors in such films secure our sympathy, palpably muddling through, working on something they must know is garbage but doing what they can to remain professional. And in the best of these dumb movies, the stars themselves are the only people who are entirely clueless, lost in a hubristic haze that makes them think the project is dignified and destined for greatness merely through their sheer presence. And despite everything, the delusion of these stars seems to remain undimmed throughout the otherwise incoherent finished product. All that holds such films together in the end is the stars’ unearned self-confidence—probably we get that quality in a much more concentrated form in dumb movies than in good ones. The earnestness of the marquee names in dumb movies, however, brings them down to our level; the audience can revel in their superiority, fully aware, for once, how dependent the stars are on them, how the fans’ indulgence in fact constitutes the stars’ talent. So in a sense, we celebrate and appreciate ourselves when we sit through an ego-fest movie like Striptease or Blade 2.

by Sarah Zupko

19 Jun 2009

British indie rockers give us a live version of an Arcade Fire-esque “Love You Better” off the recently released in the UK Wall of Arms.

by Rene Rodriguez / McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

19 Jun 2009

Opening Wednesday in wide release:

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (PG-13): This is the big one, the big kahuna, the movie expected to rule the summer box office. Director Michael Bay follows up his surprisingly effective smash hit from the summer of 2007 with the second of an expected trilogy of films about giant robots from outer space that can turn into cars and the befuddled teenager (Shia LaBeouf) who befriends them.

//Mixed media

Measuring Success: The Unsatisfying Notion of "Good Endings" and "Bad Endings"

// Moving Pixels

"Sometimes stories need to end badly in order to be really good.

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