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Thursday, Jun 23, 2011
As we remove the veil of privacy around ourselves, as we open up our once secret domains to all manner of technological innovations, we will face the inevitable intrusion that comes from same.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the world of the ongoing conspiracy between the nu-media and post-modern technology. The Alamo Drafthouse turned a well-known policy against texting in their theater into a 24 news cycle rallying cry, taking their clever PSA on the subject and making it the latest lamentation against ‘kids’ and their cockamamie entitlement. Then, critic emeritus Roger Ebert tweets a simple statement on the death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn and faces a soapbox backlash so great that he has to backpedal… if just a bit. In both cases, the meta nature of the current culture has turned cannibal, simultaneously feeding and eating itself in a way that suggests inevitability, or implosion.


I, for one, am ambivalent on the whole Ebert situation. I wrote a reactionary piece on the death of Dunn, and found myself genuinely moved by the outpouring of affection across the social network. I also felt a bit of apprehension, using the tragedy as a springboard for something a little more philosophical and less sympathetic. In the Twitter world, where your thoughts are severely hampered by character length and audience expectations, Ebert merely cut to his own personal chase. My interpretation of the tweet—where I first heard about Dunn’s passing, by the way—was that he was using the well known drunk driving motto with a slightly snarky reference to make a real point about the senselessness of what had happened.


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Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011
How a lunchtime film series in Junior High (circa '73) made me the film fan I am today.

I remember waking up in a cold sweat, body shivering from head to toe. I ran into my parent’s bedroom drenched in anxiety and fear. As the legal guardians of all things supposedly logical and rationale, they told me to grow up and stop whining. My father even attempted a pre-intervention diagnosis, arguing that I was still suffering from a kind of preposterous post-traumatic stress after the pre-release shock oif finding a dead squirrel in the toilet (don’t ask - I’m 50 now and I still haven’t figured that one out). “No,” I shouted, my pre-pubescent diaphragm trying to press out the words, “it’s not that.”  As I starred at them blankly, a wave of confused swept their faces. I could see it very clearly. They couldn’t.


My pathetic panic attack was over the prospect of…nuclear war? Terminal disease? The possible break-up of The Partridge Family? (Hey, what did you want - it’s the early ‘70s we’re talking about) No, I was flush with fear over my first day of Junior High (or Middle School, depending on where you are from), a concept so foreign and alien to me that I just couldn’t wrap my soon to be a Seventh Grader brain around it. Since kindergarten, I had attended an elementary school that was literally a block from my house. I could actually see the building from my bedroom window. Now, suddenly, the Summer of ‘73 was gone and I was being shuttled somewhere almost a mile away. Yes, it was close to my best friend’s house and many of my Edgewood classmates were coming along, but this was JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, one step closer to the human grotesque clique chaos of the real deal.


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Monday, Mar 21, 2011
This film is a case study in style over substance. This is not always a bad thing. Godard, a master filmmaker, made a career out of this concept. However, when the style offered is derivative, the idiom looms forebodingly.

In this series, I intend to revisit certain acclaimed films with inflated reputations. The films I chose will not necessarily be without merit (I feel Chungking Express is a fine film for example), merely ones which are not as masterful as the critical community would claim. I do not intend to review these films, but rather refute the critical consensus of select “untouchable” works of cinema. First up Chungking Express:


Overwhelming critical praise for a work of art gets my attention; and why shouldn’t it? Critics consume art professionally. The impeccable taste of the most esteemed critics lends reliability. This is why Chungking Express’s high placement (#8) on the “UK Critics Top 10 Films of the Past 25 Years List”, published by Sight and Sound (and the word “masterpiece” floated in various reviews) made it a personal must-see. However, reading such hyperbolic raves beforehand has a tendency to saddle a film experience with impossible expectations. Chungking Express was no exception.


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Monday, Dec 6, 2010
Coming up with a Top Ten is difficult enough...but because of such arguably unimportant factors as timing, publicity, legitimacy, and that always persnickety concept of being first out of the online gate, my fellow film writers are constantly pushing for earlier and earlier reveals.

It’s tough being an out of the loop critic. What makes it even worse is being a mere 70 miles away from said cinematic in-crowd. Let me explain. Though I am currently a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the Online Film Critics Society, I am located in Tampa, Florida. Disney hates us. Indie efforts avoid our theaters like rational sports franchise thinking (local in-joke) and, in general, we are the unwanted bastard step-child to Walt’s world over in Orlando, and by 1-75 and Alligator Alley extension, that meaningless metropolis Miami. All flowery prose aside, this means we get fewer than half of the important, noncommercial releases every year. Makes trying to be a voice here at PopMatters all the more complicated.


Thanks to the high profile of the important and influential site you are currently surfing (no facetiousness intended or implied), as well as my years grinding out the content, I get a lot of personal studio attention. Titles that might otherwise never see the light of a Big Guava day (another local in-joke) end up coming to my mailbox or delivered via FedEx. Of course, watching a sprawling foreign epic about an important piece of Eastern European history can be a tad underwhelming on even the largest home theater set up and no matter the level of manufacturing oversight employed, screener DVDs have been known to freeze, skip, and fail to play all together. And let’s not even get started on the whole piracy security strategy, which can see huge studio logos, burned in bugs, and - most annoyingly - the random desaturation of the colors affect the visual aspect of the mainly VISUAL medium you are grading.


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Thursday, Sep 16, 2010
Sure, if you factor in all the NY to LA releases, as well as those things planned by just not panning out, the odds of seeing something good definitely increase. But when zombies, wolves, and owls are your big beginning-of-Fall selling points, the prospects are rather grim.

It’s that time of year again, film festival season, and as usual, I am the proverbial bride’s maid lacking an invitation to my own perceived ceremony. As Telluride and Toronto, Venice and Tribeca gear up, each one prepared to let the traveler and the film tourist in on what’s hot (and what’s hard-up for a distributor) at the end of 2010, I am, once again, a wall flower. You see, as a lowly web writer, someone who Harlan Ellison would shun like a billion other blog writing content whores, I am fiscally incapable of such celluloid star cruises. No outlet is paying—or prepared to pay—my way, and what little cash I do collect goes to much more meaningful endeavors, like shelter and sweet meats.


So I sit in Se7en like jealousy at all the updates and mini-reviews streaming out of these critical gatherings, my fellow freelancers ramping up my aesthetic appetite for the celebrated shape of award winners to come. Beginning with South by Southwest, which usually offers a Spring full of surprises, to Comic-Con and its carnival barking belief in all it surveys, my Facebook page and Messageboard memberships have been blowing up with promises and potential. Of course, living in the rear end of America—otherwise known as the wanna-burn-a-Koran state of Florida—many of these movies will never darken my theater doors. Instead, I will have to catch them as part of a studio screener package sent out in anticipation of my Year End list… if then.


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