Mattress Rolls Holocene

  • Posted by
  • on June 24, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

Instead of attempting to navigate the haze of genre-identification in the realm of music I’ll drop Portland duo Mattress into the sub-genre of Gnarly. The tunes, capsule full of atmosphere and off-the-rails confidence, endocrinologist can’t adequately be lumped into a one-line description. And this  is a principal reason why I’m so smitten.

Case in point: this video, medications recorded from Starfucker’s latest CD release party at Holocene. The projected footage is a direct feed from a second camera (manned by Scott Carver) that we were using to help shed a little light on the frame. Sound by Matt Huiskamp. The song is ROLL ROLL ROLL though, if given all-I-can-eat druthers, I’d rename it RAD RAD RAD.

J.C. Rises: The Return of John Carpenter

  • Posted by
  • on June 18, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

PREAMBLE: John Carpenter has been so influential to my life and has entertained and engaged me to such a tremendous degree that I’ll attempt to merely relay this bit of news without allowing myself to elaborate my love into a dissertation-sized jerk-off piece.

Another day.

jc

A couple of  “Masters of Horror” episodes not withstanding, viagra 40mg John Carpenter has been A.W.O.L. since 2001’s The Ghosts of Mars. That was his last foray into feature filmmaking and it was not met with kind eyes by the general public or the many pinky-fingers of the critical establishment. I might be one of the few people in the lower 48 to have seen it at least three times.

As a result, endocrinologist most yucksters have not spent eight long years lamenting the lack of fresh Carpenter. I sure have. So, today is a good day.

The casting process has begun on The Ward (or as I’ll call it: John Carpenter’s The Ward). He has been rumored to be at the helm of a dozen or so projects in the past five years but none have got as far as casting, so this announcement actually has an air of legitimacy to it.

The plot follows a young girl who encounters creepy-creepy at a psychiatric ward. Amber Heard (Pineapple Express) will employ the many “say what?” faces the plot will likely necessitate. While the plot synopsis doesn’t sound the most gung-ho original, I do enjoy Carpenter when he touches insanity (see: John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness) and I will gladly plop down a whole paycheck if it means I get more Carpenter widescreen images.

I wonder if he’d find it endearing or alarming if I quit my job, hitch-hiked to the shoot and hobo-begged for a production assistant job.

Black Lips + King Khan & BBQ = The Almighty Defenders

  • Posted by
  • on June 11, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

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Rare is the case that I feel a bit of news is aimed at me and only me. It’s selfish and arrogant to think a single human can warrant an entire news piece  in an age when the same information has been digested a few million times by the time I react to it. But, side effects all the same, now is most assuredly one of those instances. You can read the following and you can be excited about the information. I won’t stop you from that. But I will have to reinforce the notion that this news is aimed at just me.

Not you.

The noteworthy facts: two bands (King Khan and the BBQ Show, Black Lips) have joined forces for a side project entitled The Almighty Defenders. A tour and album will follow.

I have failed on numerous occasions to hide my devout love of both of these bands. In fact they are right up there as far as you’re-my-favorite! My itunes playcount can back that statement. In the realm of “above and beyond” KK and BBQ were also kind enough to lend my brother and I a few of their songs for a film we made a few years back. I make a point to see both acts whenever they come through town and they always exceed my already-high expectations. If you check back a few posts Scott wrote-up the latest King Khan and the Shrines show.

Just to give context to how excited I am, I’ll change realms. The cinematic equivalent of two such favorites of mine merging would be a movie co-directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and John Carpenter. It would star Kurt Russel and William H. Macy as two best buds who have have to hold fort in a casino against a gang of mutant porn stars. Somehow the fate of humanity would be at stake. This scenario will never happen. But! I do get to legitimately and eagerly anticipate The Almighty Defenders.

kkbbq

Jared Swilley, bassist/vocalist for the Black Lips, had this to say: “It’s kind of gospel-influenced, but it’s more evil gospel. It doesn’t have anything to do with God, unless we’re talking about beating him up.

Forget roses and chocolate, in order to forge through the cold rock and gain access to my heart all someone has to say are two words: evil gospel.

Portland Art Museum Offers Mindfuck Tutorial

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The Portland Art Museum recently opened an exhibit called “Virtual Worlds: M.C. Escher and Paradox” which features a gallery filled to the brim with prints and drawings by Maurits Cornelis Escher (his best buds called him Mauk). He was one of the preeminent artists in the Dutch school of mindfuckery and flunked the second grade.  As renowned as he is, more about his talents are often ridiculed by pinky-finger-up artists and jerked-off to by mathemeticians. Both should be viewed as compliments.

Think back to grade school and the poster of the hand drawing the other hand.  Or remember David Bowie, case Jennifer Connelly and a baby crawling, sick chasing and dancing their way around a room that had upside down stairways and no north star. Remember this animal changing into that thing? Or that thing changing into this animal? That’s our boy Mauk!

He toyed with perspective, the process of change, the notion of infinity and our hearts. The exhibit runs through September 13th and is covered under the museum’s general admission price.

Away We Go: Earned Emotion

  • Posted by
  • on June 4, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

Sam Mendes’ new film is billed as a comedy but it plumbs the depths of melancholy as much as it pursues the funny bone.  The presence of melancholy shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s built his career around the emotion (American Beauty, sale Road to Perdition, recipe Jarhead, Revolutionary Road). The surprising part is that he’s making a comedy of any kind.

Summary taste: John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are having a baby and they decide to fist-fight flux by searching for the right city to raise the child. The journey is composed of chuckles, cringes, belly laughs and, at least in my audience, sniffles.

The streetfight between somber and plucky could place a wet blanket directly on top of the demographic that seeks the sort of plucky that is only accompanied by superficial emotional turmoil.  The scathing, close-to-bone,  tone Away We Go adopts to deliver its portion of sadness offers a valuable juxtaposition to the moments of beauty and hope it also offers.

A question: does the fuzzy, singer-songwriter, veneer offered by the trailer accurately represent the film or does it just attempt to cling to a vibe that is readily-identifiable as hip?

The danger that comes with the commodification of “indie” films is that the independent spirit is often lost in the factory mechanisms of studio filmmaking. As a result you end up with something resembling a product, not a film.  This conveyor-belt process is summarized below:

PARTICULAR FRINGE ART FORMS → PARTICULAR FRINGE ART GAINS STEAM → STUDIOS RECOGNIZE AND EMBRACE THE FRINGE → FRINGE IS NO LONGER FRINGE → NEW FRINGE ART FORMS TO REPLACE FALLEN BROTHER

And then the snake eats its own tail for the next couple hundred years.

What should be taken into account when dealing with a film that first-urge wants to dismiss based on the above-mentioned circle of pain and hellfire, is that the quality of the film still is still relevant.  To disregard a work based on its often-unavoidable partnership with the hype-machine and marketing gurus is an insult to a process which, despite thousands of variables, still holds the potential to produce something fantastic.

So, at first glance, the gut might suggest to the brain that Away We Go falls ever-to-conveniently into the post Garden State wave of woe-is-me-set-to-kickass-music films. The difference between this film and many of the other lost-in-my-generation types that have come out in the past five or so years is that this emotion feels earned.

The episodic manner in which the narrative unfolds offers perspective, both good and bad, for the many different ways a family can operate. It doesn’t offer a clear-cut “this is the way it’s done” but the problem with a number of films like this is that they attempt to offer cure-alls to problems that are more complicated than can be adequately addressed with 90-120 minutes of film. Away We Go comes to terms with this and offers these varying perspectives as productive alternatives. Snippet here, snippet there. If this works, take it. If it doesn’t, leave it.

It was a crafty move by screenwriters Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida to offer a narrative that, while always moving along, rarely treads into obvious emotional growth by the leads. Almost as though the main characters merely serve the function of the control while the people they meet are the variables. To further accentuate this dynamic Mendes cast two non-leads. John Krasinski might be the anchor of a television program but he is an unproven talent in feature filmmaking. Likewise, Maya Rudolph can pull off the subtlety of everyday-woman because she is not commonplace on marquees and I haven’t had the privilege of being assaulted by her face in the tabloids.

That is not meant to be a slam on either of their abilities, in fact they had a very believable routine-like chemistry which I didn’t expect to be so impressed by. My mentioning their relative lack of exposure was meant to be a compliment on Mendes’ savvy understanding of audience’s expectations. Alexander Payne, one of the baddasses on cinema’s corner block, pulled off a similar feat when casting Sideways. George Clooney wanted desperately to be cast in the second banana ex-TV-actor role. But writer/director Payne wouldn’t agree. Despite the healthy box-office boost Clooney’s name would have garnered the film Payne understood that the distracting elements of SUPER MOVIE STAR Clooney in the role of a failed actor wouldn’t be worth the box office boost and would have likely come off as more gimicky and less believable than Thomas Haden Church’s performance.

You might not find an answer to your unidentifiable worry by watching Krasinski and Rudolph navigate a particular path of adulthood, but you might exit the theater with means to appreciate a side of things that was previously obscured by the fuzziness that comes with close-proximity.

Verdict: he likes it!

The fantastic supporting cast should be noted, as they carry much of the weight: Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Jim Gaffigan and Allison Janney.

Opens in NY and LA on June 5th.

Herzog Unlocks Cage: Crack Pipes at the Ready

  • Posted by
  • on May 28, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

I always have trouble sitting idly by as the masses ridicule Nicolas Cage. I think it’s the consistency at which he headlines the most godawful shit to hit the multiplexes that really gets people’s collective goat. If he made one clunker every couple years it would be harder to maintain such an active level of hatred for the man. But, this web unfortunately for him, he is a prolific garbage man.

All the same, when people go to town on the fella it still rings foul. He’s the same man who gave me Raising Arizona, Adaptation, Wild at Heart, Bringing out the Dead, Con Air and The Rock (irony is not being employed in the last two selections, just tender love for an oft-maligned genre).

A friend and I started assembling a theory a year or so back. It basically detailed Nicolas Cage as a man with a truly manic energy that, if channeled correctly, can be Nirvana at 24 frames-per-second. If you give the wrong director or project this energy then a void the color of every child’s nightmare opens up and the spirit of a theater full of people can be sucked to nothing and replaced with venom before the director’s credit appears on the screen.

So, when I heard Werner Herzog was directing Cage in a remake-but-not-remake-more-like-reboot-that-borrows-the-bad-lieutenant-brand-if-you-could-actually-say-bad-lieutenant-of-all-films-has-a-marketable-brand I was giddy. I had just forged deep into Herzog’s filmography in the past year and it became apparent that Herzog was THE master of harnessing madness.

After watching the just-released trailer it suggests, if nothing else, both men went bug-fuck crazy together and that sort of fraternal insanity is a guaranteed wallet-emptier for me.  Enjoy the trailer and wait till the appropriate moment to bust out your lucky crack pipe.

ICING ON CAKE TERRITORY: Val Kilmer, a man who deserves a similar-in-praise column, is also holding fort in this redemptive clusterfuck.

Muppet Muppet + More Muppet

The Northwest Film Center knows what the rest of us don’t. They know that in tumultuous times the masses need a rally cry. A man has to step up and remind us how life should be lived. We as a people need a moral compass. And that man should most assuredly be Jim Henson.

Before leaving he put together a prolific collection of media that laid siege to even the most hostile imaginations. The NW Filmcenter brings us “Muppets, nurse Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy” to celebrate these feats. It’s a retrospective featuring many favorites (Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Movie) and a slew of lesser-known bits of gnarliness like Dog City (1940’s film noir populated by wise-cracking dogs).

Confused? Advanced tickets can be purchased online or day-of can be had a half-hour before showtime in the coat check at the side entrance of the Portland Art Museum (the museum’s Whitsell Auditorium host’s most of the Film Center’s screenings).  More info is clickable: Film Center.

Gauguin: GET SOME




The Portland Art Museum just nabbed a big, epilepsy
fat, juicy Gauguin. A fella named Melvin “Pete” Mark had the funny idea to be generous in these times of woe and he donated the museum an 1884 piece entitled: Vue d’un jardin, Rouen (Garden View, Rouen). It is now sitting pretty in the Impressionism collection on the first floor of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. 

For ticket information and museum hours visit: http://portlandartmuseum.org/

Gauguin: GET SOME.