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Friday, Apr 23, 2010

It was perhaps one of the single greatest music-related stories of the past year. In a nutshell, the story of Death includes a family punk band in ‘70s Detroit, lost master tapes, the tragic passing of one of Death"s members, and the subsequent reemergence and release of Death"s musical output after one of the children of Death’s bassist/vocalist heard and recognized his father’s voice on a Stooges-esque record at a San Francisco party.The story was captivating enough to catch the eye of the New York Times and NPR.


The three sons of Death’s Bobby Hackney, Sr. started Rough Francis, originally a tribute band to spread the music and message of Death, but now an energetic rock and roll experience in their own right. Rough Francis have recently released their own album, Introducing… Rough Francis.


As for Death, the story of music and family was enough to reunite the band.  They recently performed at SXSW and are currently the subject of a new documentary titled Where Do We G From Here??? The Story of Death.


Last month, a new trailer for the film was posted…



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Friday, Apr 23, 2010
This hero-worship is some old rehashing of Bible stories- the absent omnipotent father who will act as the ultimate punisher, executioner and maker of the law, while still allowing the privileged kid to grow up in heavenly wealth and luxury.

Twenty-ten’s Cop Out is chock full of age old western mythology told through the same bunch of modern consumerist stereotypical figures: the loud Negro side-kick, the estranged hard-working dad, the well-positioned step-father, the wife who still loves the guy…and his defeat of some random enemy that somehow proves his love for his daughter. How many times have we seen this movie? Ever notice how little agency women have in these films- just pawns. Indeed, this could describe far too many Hollywood blockbusters that I have seen over the past 30 years. So why all the rehashing?


In Cop Out, we see some of the classic stereotypes play out, and here’s why it’s important to speak about race, because it provides a frame to look at how all characters are rendered abstract for the sake of art. But is it really abstract? Not really. These are noticeably thin stereotypes around gender, class AND race, so to pick out any one characteristic would be disingenuous. For example, the caricature of ‘working class white guy’ into which Bruce Willis seems to fit neatly, is always a dumb brute of a dead-beat dad. Further, we’re asked to sympathize with the sacrifices he makes on the job, so we romanticize daddy’s absence. But the explosions and gun shots too often distract viewers from seeing how ridiculously men are portrayed on screen. For example, in this flick, why wasn’t Willis’ man enough to accept the damn money from the rich freak! Is his ego really so grand as to need to ‘give’ away his daughter with his last penny, even if it kills him? Obviously so, since that ego forms the plot of most of his flicks.


And why are we still so tied to gender-roles that few seem to question giving away a young maiden? How can she attain any independence in her conjugal relationship if she has no respect from her own folks!?! Isn’t this really why Alice chose Wonderland? Moreover, (and interestingly, both in the case of Alice as well as Willis’ daughter in this skin flick), this had nothing to do with daddy love. Neither men had the child’s welfare in mind, and the mom seemed to go where the money rules; here, just like in Taken and hoards of other movies, she is effectively Oedipus’ mother Jocasta, a wealthy queen unable to make any real decisions for herself, including the welfare of her own kids. Isn’t that a classic feminine stereotype? This had everything to do with a dick fight, and the women and children were the prizes. Seen 2012? Seen Taken? Seen so many of these flicks, it’s critical.



Tagged as: 2012, cop out, taken
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Thursday, Apr 22, 2010
The latest film from the Amélie director shows a good deal of promise with his signature visuals and a plot to destroy weapons manufacturers.

To quote the official synopsis, “our inspired and gentle-natured dreamer is quickly taken in by a motley crew of junkyard dealers”. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, just watch the trailer for Micmacs, and you’ll quickly remember why anything Jeunet makes is worth watching. Perhaps best known for the amazing visuals of Amélie, Jeunet has delivered solid films, like Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Micmacs follows Bazil, whose bad string of luck with weapons leaves him orphaned and with a bullet lodged in his head. Having found a hodgepodge crew of characters living in a junkyard, Bazil sets out for revenge on the mega corporations who are responsible.



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Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010

After decades of special editions and CGI prequels, the good folks over at Star Wars: Uncut had a solution to all that. They uploaded the entire movie in 15-second clips, and any aspiring film maker could claim that clip and produce a lo-fi version of that scene. The site will then compile the clips and recreate the movie in it’s entirety. It should be kind of amazing. Check out the preview below.



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Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010
The ostensibly real and not-at-all-fake Japanese film Big Tits Zombie might be dismissed by an American audience fed on the "Japan is weird" line as confirmation of their tar-brush beliefs. But surely, a cynical Western perspective must recognize blatant irony when it sees it.

The trailer for Big Tits Zombie (Kyonyu Dragon)—done all grainy and presented by Snobbish International Pictures, no less—is a testament to what irony has done to popular culture. Director Takao Nakano is quite content to straddle the line between genius and insanity, and while he might envy genius, I feel insanity is more his cup of tea.


Look, the concept is simple and one would say, blissfully so. What could an audience want more than zombies and tits? If this was made in the ‘80s, it would be considered the High Temple of Camp—no less than four out of ten hipsters would be carrying an official “20 Year Anniversary Tote Bag”. It has everything that the West has come to expect from “Weird Japan”: nonsensical plots, batshit insanity, gratuitous nudity, cannibalism? Check and CHECK.


But there has to be so much more. The Japanese culture so adored/reviled in the West is not Japanese culture. The truth lies somewhere between the Zen-and-Geisha-and-Tea-Ceremony ideal, and the Anime-and-Neon-and-Schoolgirl-Fetish debasement. And so when a young, irreverent filmmaker makes such a film, a foreign audience might be baffled where a Japanese audience might detect all those digs and jibes at them thar gaijin.


Japanese culture has been expropriated to various ends in the West since at least the rage of Japonisme made Western European artists swoon in fanning adoration. Director Takao Nakano is merely aping that trend. If the likes of Quentin Tarantino can make an homage to old Japanese films based on Western perceptions of Japanese culture, then why can’t contemporary directors make an homage out of that? The hilarious/ridiculous/brilliant Sukiyaki Django did a quite wonderful job a few years back.


And now, we have Big Tits Zombie. It clearly is a joke. The badly narrated English, the misspelled adult model names (Sola? oh, haha, Japanese people can’t pronounce the letter ‘r’), nyotai mori, samurais-geishas-MountFuji-oh my!


There has been a recent-ish trend (of sorts) in Japanese cinema that has been mocking Japanese pop culture. Few other cultures have had the reset button pressed on their national ideas like Japan in the post-World War II period. Films like parody Everything Other than Japan Sinks, Machine Girl, and Big Man Japan can’t be taken at face value: there’s so much misinterpreted baggage left to decipher. You could nearly say, ha ha, that it has been Lost in Translation. Instead, films like this that mock and sneer at the Japanese self should be viewed as one of the pre-eminent forms of national self-mockery—and not as, say, confirmations of those “Japan Is Weird” boo-boys.



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