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Friday, Jul 14, 2006

My latest column is posted elsewhere on PopMatters today. Please check it out. I promise it’s not a retread of previously blogged material.

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Thursday, Jul 13, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

You, Me and Dupree

Releasing: 14 July 2006 (wide)
Cast:  Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Michael Douglas, Amanda Detmer
Director: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo

Little Man

Releasing: 14 July 2006 (wide)
Cast:  Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Kerry Washington, Tracy Morgan
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans


Releasing: 14 July 2006 (limited)
Cast:  William H. Macy, Julia Stiles, Joe Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon, Mena Suvari
Director: Stuart Gordon


Releasing: 14 July 2006 (New York)
Cast:  Isabelle Huppert, Pascale Greggory, Thierry Hancisse, Claudia Coli
Director: Patrice Chereau

The Groomsmen

Releasing: 14 July 2006 (New York/L.A.)
Cast:  Edward Burns, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Donal Logue, Jay Mohr
Director: Edward Burns

Mini’s First Time

Releasing: 14 July 2006 (New York)
Cast:  Alec Baldwin, Nikki Reed, Luke Wilson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Nick Guthe

The Oh in Ohio

Releasing: 14 July 2006 (limited)
Cast:  Parker Posey, Danny DeVito, Mischa Barton, Paul Rudd, Miranda Bailey
Director: Billy Kent

Time to Leave (Le Temps Qui Reste)

Releasing: 14 July 2006 (New York)
Cast:  Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Jeanne Moreau, Melvil Poupaud, Daniel Duval, Marie Riviere (II)
Director: Francois Ozon

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Thursday, Jul 13, 2006

One of the first jobs I ever had was as a video store clerk, so perhaps I should be sad that video stores are in danger of becoming extinct. But this post by Tim Cavanaugh from the libertarian journal Reason‘s blog reminded me that there’s nothing positive you can say about them—they inhibit choice, they are inconvenient, they sometimes surreptitiously edit what you see, they subject you to the scorn of clerks (like the young me) judging your choices in entertainment (adult or otherwise). Cavanaugh writes to refute the idea floated on the Boston Globe Ideas page that indie video stores were like indie bookstores, places where nonmainstream folks could share their tastes, and with their disappearance we lose another place for“underground empire” impresarios to hang out. But as Cavanaugh points out, any tips you might have yielded from the video store, you can get online much easier, with the extra bonus automated efficiency. And the things video stores process—the videocassette or DVD—aren’t romanticized. No one will ever rhapsodize over the feel of having a DVD in the palm of one’s hand, the way some revel in the objecthood of books. There’s nothing about the medium itself that lends itself to preservation; no one makes coffee-table tomes of video box art they way do with album covers (Though Cavanaugh points out that video-box blurbs constitute a poetic genre all their own, with its own unique relation to truth.) The video store for many people is a place associated with decision-making paralysis and relationship tension—Netflix makes such choices faits accomplis.

What we will lose is the video-store clerk as icon. Video store clerks, for some reason, held a special place in shorthand language of film, where it was a convenient job to assign to the character who was meant to be a hipster nerd (as in Scream or Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking or even Egoyan’s Speaking Parts). It gives movies a chance to be self-referential, which seemed an irresistible trend. Glamorizing the video-store clerk was a way to glorify the idea of knowing a lot about films—it was good publicity for the industry as a whole to suggest that encyclopedic knowledge of movies was a way to build meaningful cultural capital. (I think this a main reason why the culture industry went postmodern in the 1990s; maybe if I ever finish reading Jameson’s book, I’ll know for sure.)

My time as a independent-video-store clerk was decidedly less glamorous then the Boston Globe or 1990s films make it out to be. In my patch of suburbs, there wasn’t much underground empire culture; the store’s foriegn-film section consisted of maybe 35 titles, some of which were American films set in foreign locations. I was a nerd, for sure, but not a respected or knowledgeable one (unless you count my thorough knowledge of dialogue from such films as Stripes, Just One of the Guys and Fast Times at Ridgemont High as knowledge). There were no rap sessions with customers about Godard and Trauffaut; no discoveries of obscure Asian directors or exploitative genre films; no script writing with my clever clerk pals. Instead, much time was spent figuring out how to get away with watching movies in the store that had profanity and nudity in them and answering questions from irate customers about why all the copies of Dirty Dancing were always already checked out. I remember fighting with coworkers about who got to take which movie posters home: I really wanted Room with a View—that’s the kind of nerd I was—but ended up with a choice between Romancing the Stone and Fright Night. This seems somehow representative of my entire experience of youth.

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Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Strange Fruit Project
podcast [MP3] for their new album The Healing feat.
special guests Erykah Badu, Little Brother and more.
multiple songs [MySpace]
multiple songs [streaming]
PopMatters interview: In the End We All Want Balance

The Rakes
“Open Book” [video]

Aberdeen City
“God Is Going to Get Sick of Me” [MP3] From the upcoming album – The Freezing Atlantic – in stores 8/8.

“Two/Three mix” [MP3]

“Advice to the Graduate (Silver Jews cover)” [MP3]

Sufjan Stevens
“Jason” [MP3]

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Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006

Even though he had been in seclusion for over 30 years now, the death of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett was still a shock to many rock fans.  He had been off the radar for so long that any news about him was a surprise.  Unfortnate then that this had to be the news we would hear now.  While many obits will rightly toast his wonderfully unique songwriting style that spawned many imitators, I’ve actually been more fascinated by what he did after his musical career.  To many people, he said nothing but they couldn’t be more wrong.

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