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by Bill Gibron

1 Jul 2010

Okay - so you suffered through the first three Twilight films and came away more or less unscathed (unless you are reading this as part of some court-ordered rehabilitation…or in preparation for a five state killing spree). You may have even hit up Rifftrax for a couple of aesthetic-calming audio commentary tracks. Maybe, just maybe, you even enjoyed a moment or two of the recent installment (though it has to be said that the whole “shattering diamond head” concept is a little farfetched, even for this franchise). Still, it’s easy to hear the voice in your head arguing “there must be better vampire/werewolf” movies than this. It’s also easy to hear the other voices compelling you toward violence on anything remotely related to the series - it comes with the Twilight territory.

So, after promising your paramour an infinity of love and then sending them off to bed for dreams of Jasper and any other random, non-famous member of the Cullen/Quileute gang, call up your Netflix account and try one of these superior scary movies on for size. Granted, they might also inspire you to senseless acts of self-destruction, but at least you won’t have to suffer through endless sequences of pale actors making cow eyes at each other. Oh, and one more caveat. This is not meant as some kind of BEST OF list. Don’t get angry if your favorite ginger snapping dog soldier Nosferatu is not represented or that old school Universal shivers somehow got left out. This is your first post-Twilight attempt at righting an artistic wrong after all. We’re going to take it slow before building to the bigger stuff.

by Bill Gibron

29 Jun 2010

Their narrative ineptness is matched only by their performance inertness. Reality is routinely avoided for more manipulative teen angst and lover’s triangle trepidation. If it wasn’t for the fact that thousands of unhappy women and a some complicit males have turned Stephenie Meyer’s strangled stabs at writing into a full blown cultural phenomenon, we wouldn’t have to suffer through several cinematic interpretations of her junk genre interpretation of the romance novel. But this is Hollywood after all, a place where franchises are uncovered, established, fostered and then mercilessly squeezed for every last ounce of commercial potential. Not only will Meyer’s four excuses for novels be turned into five, count them five films, but we will have at least one more tome to worry about (the events as seen specifically from Edward’s point of view).

So how does a Twi-hater survive such celluloid swill? How do they find a happy medium between utter boredom and contempt for leisure time wasted and the need to… say… experience these excuses for entertainment with a potential paramour. The answer comes in the form of Rifftrax, the audio only offshoot of the Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. Featuring the talents of cast members Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett and designed as a comic complement to the many bloated, big budget helpings of tripe Tinseltown delivers annually, this trio of snark specialists can find wit in even the most worn out and worthless motion picture product. Talking over the dialogue and delivering scathing satiric quips, they take the art of in-theater (or in this case, personal sonic supplement) interruption to genius levels.

by Bill Gibron

28 Jun 2010

In the world of Twilight, there are two kinds of competing clans. No, we aren’t talking about the bats and the big dogs, Team Edward or Team Jacob. Heck, we’re not even addressing Native Americans vs. treaty-busting European interlopers. No, if you are in tune with the stunted Stephenie Meyer and her primer on plaintive teen angst and pale complexions, you are known as a “Twilighter” (or on some circles, a “Twi-liker”, “Twi-lover”, or clinically insane). You swoon as lead adolescent Bella burns silently for her vampire hunk, get all hot and twisted as the couple considers intimacy, and gnash your various underthings as the equally studly were-wow with the washboard abs constantly confuses the issue. You probably could care less about the vampire council, the various old vendettas, and the birth of bizarro half-breed babies. Instead, for you, Twilight is all about a girl, an otherworldly dreamboat guy, and the wish fulfillment fallacy of finding never-ending love in someone who can never die.

Of course, for those who aren’t suffering from crushes on creatures from the underworld, we have the “Twi-haters” (or “Twi-WANTSTOWIPETHESHITTYFRANCISEOFFTHEFACEOFTHEEARTH”, or the normal). For them, vampires are blood sucking ghouls, not sparkly diamond draped hotties. For them, romance doesn’t begin or end with the draining of vital fluids. For them, the scholastic experience was not a time to get your supernatural Sadie Hawkins on. For the “Twi-hater”, Meyer has made a mockery of the macabre, turned horror into a Harlequin romance (without Barbara Carlton’s mandatory bodice ripping), and excused introspective pubescent self-loathing as a means of meeting Mr. Paranormal Right. Aside from how utterly crappy the books and movies have been, the “Twi-hater” has to deal with the mindless shrieks of the clearly hard-up, defend their position against the irrational logic of the terminally lovelorn (“Bella loves Edward because he is unobtainable. Their love can kill each other!” Brother), and watch as yet another crotch-oriented fad takes the place of boy bands and bulimia.

by Bill Gibron

13 Jun 2010

When is a child’s imaginary friend NOT an imaginary friend? When it’s the star of Wilson Coneybeare’s woefully misguided coming of age comedy Gooby. Now, if you think that title sounds trite, or terrible, you haven’t seen this bad touch excuse for an ‘uplifting’ tale of believing in yourself and Great White North family values. Indeed, we have Canada to blame for this corrupt bit of kid vid dung, a drippy story about a young boy, a big move to a new house, and the lack of parental love and appreciate he gets from his way too upwardly mobile professional guardians. In order to compensate for the missing Mom and Pop affection, young Willy is visited by Gooby, the physical incarnation of a stuffed toy he played with as a youth. As you would anticipate, proposed warm and fuzzy life lessons ensue. What you don’t expect is how sappy, irritating, and downright creepy it often is.

You see, young Willy (the ‘so slap worthy he ought to patent his whining’ Matthew Knight) is quite the highly strung little boy - and to quote Fawlty Towers, he should be. Living in a fantasy world where his hyperactive imagination envisions aliens in the bushes, trolls in the teapot, and any number of hallucinogenic entities in the woodwork, he has developed a system of personal amulets and defense mechanisms to cope with his constant state of fear. The biggest of these is his comfortable old home - that is, until lawyer mom (Ingrid Kavelaars) and architect dad (David James Elliot) decide to uproot the brood and head out to the wooded suburbs of Toronto. There, Willy is so spastic, so caught up in a Don Knotts level of jitteriness, that it would take a miracle to get him through the day, let alone the dark and often stormy nights.

by Bill Gibron

12 Jun 2010

They say everyone has a story - and, apparently, in the cutthroat world of hip hop, it’s Scarface. The obsession with Brian DePalma’s ultra-violent depiction of Miami in the early ‘80s continues to resonate with rappers in a way few other films could ever match - and the allure is as elusive as ever. Some claim it’s the ‘up by the bootstraps’ determination of Cuban refugee Tony Montana. Others argue over the ‘gansta’ elements of the character’s life. A few point to the drugs and debauchery. But what’s clear is that, for some reason, the fictional tale of a Fidel Castro’s least favorite son inspires almost every street poet in the game to take their own personal life and retrofit it into some manner of cinematic epic.

A good example? Cam’ron’s Odyssey in the making Killa Season. As with many in the urban music scene, the artist alternately known as Cameron Giles grew up tough. He excelled in sports (there are clips early on of his skills as a highly recruited basketball star) but then turned to ‘hustling’ as a way of making money. Soon, if we are to believe the bulky narrative that makes up this two-hour plus vanity project, he became one of the biggest dope dealers in Harlem, moving effortlessly from marijuana to heroin like the gateway given they are. Along the way, Cam’ron’s onscreen alias Flea eludes the authorities, watches his under-age niece get shot over some tacky jewelry and a Papa John’s pizza, argues street ethics with a toddler, busts multiple caps in a myriad of asses, and witnesses drug mules take a dump in order to retrieve their anally smuggled stash. Solid.

//Mixed media

Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.

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