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Friday, Aug 4, 2006


In his second certifiable masterpiece, John Waters decides to take on the growing cult of public personality by marrying his fixation with classic Hollywood trash (ala Douglas Sirk) with the increasing public fascination with true crime. The result is a movie that masquerades as a melodrama, but actually becomes a truly twisted gem. In this oddball homage to the kitchen sink saga, Dawn Davenport is a juvenile delinquent, who runs away from home on Christmas. She is picked up and raped by a mechanic named Earl, and ends up giving birth to a daughter, Taffy. Living life as a petty thief, Dawn meets a hairdresser named Gator and they marry over the objection of his fag hag Aunt Ida. Gator works at The Lipstick Beauty Salon, run by Donna and Donald Dasher. They instantly see Dawn as their next big “discovery,” They have a twisted concept that crime is “beautiful” and want this eager gal to be their outlaw model. Thus begins a felonious spree that leads Dawn to a decisive day in court.


Female Trouble is Waters first real “film” in every one of the traditional senses. Told in episodic fashion (complete with tacky title cards), it proved that this otherwise underground king of bad taste could work within the confines of the traditional narrative form. Before, his films always had the kind of clothes-hanger plots made famous by porno and exploitation. But Female Trouble relies on its story for its momentum as well as its merriment. Without the rise up and flame out of our heroine, we’d never experience many of the movie’s most hilarious ideals.


This is also the first time when Waters’ main muse, Divine, came into her own as an actress. Before, she was simply sheer shock value, a big blousy man in Elizabeth Taylor tatters hoping to overwhelm the audience with her audacity. Here, Divine is Dawn Davenport. Her exchanges with daughter Taffy (the always amazing Mink Stole) are priceless, and when Divine does a derivation of her infamous stage act for the film—involving a trampoline, contemptible claims, and lots and lots of fish tossing—we feel it is part of Dawn’s demented nature. The entire subplot involving Gator and his overbearing Aunt seals the deal. Edith Massey’s pro-gay rants are out of this world, and she delivers them with such good-natured cheer that you want her nephew to ‘switch’ just to make her happy. Combined with Waters’ own private peculiarities, Female Trouble becomes an outsider opus that deserves mainstream popularity.


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Friday, Aug 4, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

The Descent


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (wide)
Cast:  Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone
Director: Neil Marshall
POPMATTERS REVIEW


The Night Listener


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (limited)
Cast:  Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Rory Culkin, Bobby Cannavale
Director: Patrick Stettner
POPMATTERS REVIEW


Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (wide)
Cast: Will Ferrell, Amy Adams, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Leslie Bibb, Michael Clarke Duncan, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Molly Shannon, Pat Hingle, Jane Lynch and Greg Germann
Director: Adam McKay
POPMATTERS REVIEW


My Country, My Country


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (New York)
Cast:  Dr Riyadh al-Adhadh, Peter Towndrow, Carlos Valenzuela (II), Captain Kris Scarcliff
Director: Laura Poitras


Quinceanera


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (limited)
Cast:  Emily Rios, Chalo Gonzalez, David W. Ross, Araceli Guzman-Rico, Jesus Castanos-Chima


Shock to the System


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (New York / Los Angeles)
Cast:  Chad Allen, Morgan Fairchild, Michael Woods, Sebastian Spence, Daryl Shuttleworth
Director: Ron Oliver


Barnyard


Releasing: 4 August 2006 (wide)
Cast:  Kevin James, Courteney Cox Arquette, Danny Glover, Sam Elliott, Wanda Sykes
Director: Steve Oedekerk



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Friday, Aug 4, 2006

I usually don’t link to my other blog from here but I just wanted to note the death of one of my favorite cult rockers, Arthur Lee: you can see all that I gushed about the great Love man there.  The one thing I’d add is this great MP3 link from the Music for Robots blog—the now-poignant Everybody’s Got to Love.


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Friday, Aug 4, 2006

What do Secret deodorant, Greased Lightning household cleaner, and Game Show Network have in common? All three are eager to sponsor your private and personal secrets online on their websites. BusinessWeek has an item (behind a subscription wall) about this strange trend whereby brands hope to bolster their online communities by inviting people to use their sites as a place to both confess secrets and play voyeur. This nicely collapses the “publicity is personality” movement of MySpace with advertisers growing need to induce audiences into doing measurable activities online in order to get paid. Apparently people are actually doing this—4,500 people at Secret’s site, 10,000 at Greased Lightning. How desperate are these people for attention, even of the anonymous and personally embarrassing variety? Seems this is further proof that people are coming to the conclusion that the only valid form of social recognition available is in tha spotlight of some pseudo-mass-media spectacle—even if your online confession might be seen by no one, the fact that it might be seen by everyone makes it more valid than whispering it to your friend. Elizabeth Woyte, who write the item for BusinessWeek, wonders whether the sponsored confession phenomenon has something to do with the study that revealed that more Americans now report having no close friends. Perhaps it is because of the changing nature of friendship.


Ad-audience measurement is becoming more stringent at precisely the same time that friendship is becoming more open to measurement itself. Coincidence? My thesis is that ad ratings measure influence, and friendship for some has become largely a matter of measuring one’s own impact on others. The two concepts are converging. Friendship is nothing more than a medium for word-of-mouth advertising.


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Thursday, Aug 3, 2006

Ever since the mid-‘80s, pay movie channels like Home Box Office, Cinemax and Showtime have offered Saturday Night premieres of first run Hollywood films—or, at the very least, what THEY consider to be first run Hollywood films. Anyway, as part of the Short Ends and Leader Blog. PopMatters will look at these upcoming debuts, as well as point out other notes of cinematic interest available on the network schedule. For the week of 4 August, here is what’s arriving:



HBOMr. & Mrs. Smith

Okay, okay, everyone is just plain sick and tired of Angelina and Brad by now. They’re really hot. They’ve had a baby. Blah, blah, blah. While deciphering why the public is so fascinated by this couple, you can experience the film that started their fairy tale freefall into tabloid tenancy. Call it a hyperactive War of the Roses, or an overdone screwball comedy, but this he and she hitman saga is a less than perfect offering that still crackles with enough glittering superstar spark that it almost overcomes many of its missteps.  (Premieres Saturday 5 August, 8:00pm EST).


PopMatters review: Click HERE


Cinemax The Island


Gee, another pair of famous faces, another high concept action movie that didn’t really live up to expectations. Godfather of the gauche epic, Michael Bay, may have thought he could fool film fans with his high tech retread of Parts: The Clonus Horror, but by casting the frequently flat Ewen McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, this sterile sci-fi film was guaranteed never to quite take off. Heck, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than with a superficial serving of speculative silliness. Besides, no one knows action better than Bay. (Premieres Saturday 5 August, 10:00pm EST).


PopMatters review: Click HERE


STARZThe Fog (2005)

Signaling the exact moment when the ‘70s/’80s horror remake revival hit the wall, this rotten retread of John Carpenter’s already nominal scary sea shanty offered proof positive that there is nothing frightening about a murky PG-13 macabre. Directorial lightweight Rupert Wainwright can’t match the level of dread contained in the original, and frequently substitutes shoddy CGI for anything remotely terrifying. Investigate this murky mess at your own risk. (Premieres Saturday 5 August, 9:00pm EST).


PopMatters review: Click HERE


Showtime TooCrash

Six months out and people are still clamoring over this surprise Oscar victor. Did it really deserve the Best Picture trophy? Was there something political (or anti-agenda based) in its victory over a certain cowboy drama? Who actually produced this thing, and will they ever see a residual check for the efforts? If you are unfamiliar with Paul Haggis’s interlocking take on racism in America and its seemingly universal effects, perhaps it’s time to pay it a visit and consider its value – not just as an award winner, but as an overall social statement as well. (Saturday 5 August, 7pm EST)


PopMatters review: Click HERE


Turner Classic Movies: August: Summer Under the Stars Month

Leave it to the classic film channel to find novel ways of constantly recycling its catalog of amazing Tinsel Town artifacts. In August, the station will salute several celebrated names from Hollywood’s Golden Age upward, using each day long promotion as an excuse to screen several offerings from the specific star’s catalog. A few of the highlights for the week of 4 August to 11 August are:



5 August – Humphrey Bogart

One of the few true icons of the studio system silver screen, Bogie gets his well deserving due when TCM airs the following films (all times EST):
6:00am: The Racket Busters (1938)
7:15am: The Petrified Forest (1936)
8:45am: Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
10:30am: Action in the North Atlantic (1943)
12:45am: High Sierra (1941)
2:30pm: The Maltese Falcon (1941)
4:15pm: To Have and Have Not (1944)
6:00pm: The Big Sleep (1946)
8:00pm: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
10:15pm: Across the Pacific (1942)
12:00am: Knock on Any Door (1949)
2:00am: They Drive By Night (1940)
4:00pm: All Through the Night (1942)


6 August– Robert Duvall

Moving up to the post-modern Method generation of actors, the quiet intensity of Duvall’s onscreen counterparts is on full display in this set of career-defining films (all times EST):
6:00am: Tomorrow (1972)
8:00am: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
10:15am:Captain Newman, .M.D. (1964)
12:30pm: Tender Mercies (1983)
2:15pm: Countdown (1968)
4:00pm: The Outfit (1973)
6:00pm: The Conversation (1974)
8:00pm: The Godfather (1972)
11:00pm: The Godfather Part II (1974)
2:30am: THX 1138 (1971)
4:15am: Lawman (1971)


11 August – Katherine Hepburn

Another one of those rare Hollywood symbols, this stubborn individualist left behind a oeuvre overflowing with amazing work, many of which TCM will air as a tribute to her talent, and tenacity (all times EST):
6:00am: Katherine Hepburn: All About Me (1993)
7:15am: Little Women (1933)
9:15am: Quality Street (1937)
10:45pm: Stage Door (1937)
12:30pm: Bringing Up Baby (1938)
2:15pm: The Philadelphia Story (1940)
4:15pm: Woman of the Year (1942)
6:15pm: Adam’s Rib (1949)
8:00pm: The African Queen (1951)
10:00pm: Rooster Cogburn (1975)
12:00am: Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962)
3:00am: Spitfire (1934)
4:30am: Christopher Strong (1933)


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