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by John Bergstrom

15 Aug 2011

In the mid-to-late 1980s, lots of bands popped up that sounded like Echo & the Bunnymen. On the surface, the Wild Swans were one of them. But their story was unique.

The band’s debut album, Bringing Home the Ashes, didn’t appear until 1988. But the Wild Swans had already established their reputation for starry-eyed guitar pop magnificence with the “Revolutionary Spirit” single in 1982. release was actually produced by the Bunnymen’s Pete De Freitas. Both the Wild Swans and the Bunnymen were signed to Bill Drummond’s Zoo label. The two bands were contemporaries.

Wild Swans leader Paul Simpson is set to release the band’s first album since Space Flower in 1990. The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years is released August 1 in Europe and the following day in the US. Simpson’s always-fluid band now includes ex-Bunnymen bassist Les Pattinson as well as members of Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spiritualized. Here, via Slicing Up Eyeballs is a free download of album track “In Secret”. Thankfully, the band’s windswept sense of nostalgia hasn’t aged at all.

  The Wild Swans, ‘In Secret’ by Slicing Up Eyeballs

by Cynthia Fuchs

12 Aug 2011

“It is curious that homosexuality is a crime [in Iran],” observes Dr. Bahram Mir-Jalali. “Why do they then give permission to transsexuals?” Certainly, gender and politics are complicated here, as revealed in Be Like Others, which begins airing on ITVS’ Global Voices 14 August. The rationale, says Cleric Kariminiaya, a theological expert on transsexuality, is found in Islamic law. For those who are transsexual, or “those that have two genders,” he says, “They need surgery. They are allowed via a sex change operation to become either a male or a female.” The problem with homosexuality is its violation of this one-or-the-other order. Homosexuals are evil; transsexuals merely need to adjust themselves to fit the established order, to “be like others.” The gender opposition that drives such efforts to conform is hardly unique to Iran or Islam. It is, after all, the ground for sex change in all cultures, that a “wrong body” can be fixed to match a soul or being trapped inside it. The premise allows no ambiguities, no mixing of male and female characteristics within one body. Tanaz Eshaghian’s excellent documentary explores the struggle such opposition poses for two young men as they “operate,” that is, prepare for and have the reassignment surgery. As they look forward to lives that seem more “natural,” they also accept the social restrictions on women: as long as they cover and submit (and carry their legal papers with them at all times), they can walk the streets in Tehran without fear of being picked up by the morality police.

See PopMattersreview.

by Timothy Gabriele

12 Aug 2011

One of the most established voices in cinema, Canadian-born David Cronenberg is perhaps best known as the father of “body horror”. It’s this that will always define Cronenberg the adjective (though it has yet to be established whether this is Cronenbergian or Cronenbergesque), despite the fact that much of his work deviates wildly from the narrow constraints of what these descriptors commonly mean. Even his most mainstream films though involve troubled relationships between humans and their bodies, whether  by masking sexual transgression through fantasy (M. Butterfly [1993]), brandishing tattoos as an underworld code (Eastern Promises[2008]), or using disfigurement to signify a history of violence (A History of Violence).

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

by Ben Travers

12 Aug 2011

Francis Coppola is a mainstay on lists like these. A member of the Hollwood elite, the 72-year-old director earned his spot during the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s. Obviously, helming The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather: Part II, and Apocalypse Now in the same decade would cement anyone’s legacy in film, but the man just kept going.

Though some would argue he fell off a bit in the 1980s and 90s, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club (1984). The Godfather: Part III, and The Rainmaker (1997) are enduring pictures that lesser directors would likely put at the top of their resumes. Although Bram Stoker’s Dracula was not entirely embraced by critics, the artistic bravado—including Eiko Ishioka’s stunning work on the film’s costumes—is in every frame, popping with vibrancy, just as it was with One From the Heart (1982).

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

by Jer Fairall

12 Aug 2011

Beginning with the acclaimed 1984 thriller Blood Simple, the Minnesota born and NYU educated Ethan and Joel Coen have had one of the most fiercely idiosyncratic careers in the last 25 years of American film, jointly writing, producing, directing and even (under the alias Roderick Jaynes) editing their films, even when the credits may have misleadingly suggested a division of labor. Often working in a small handful of chosen genres, the brothers’ body of work nevertheless suggests some crazed mashup of classic film styles like film noir, screwball comedy and period dramas, all shot through with the post-modern irreverence of film lovers who have absorbed far too rich an array of cinematic history to ever properly color inside the genre lines. 

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

//Mixed media

Tricks or Treats? Ten Halloween Blu-rays That May Disrupt Your Life

// Short Ends and Leader

"The best of this stuff'll kill you.

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