Friday, February 26, 2010

Prodigal Sons Trailer

I'm hoping to see this on the west coast on March 5th. It's in New York City this week. Official site and schedule.

Blurb: In this award-winning personal documentary, filmmaker Kimberly Reed attempts to reconcile with her long-estranged brother Marc, who has seen her as a rival since childhood. Their paths diverged long ago: Marc was permanently debilitated in a car accident, and Kim left their small-town roots on a journey of self-discovery. "Prodigal Sons" travels from high school reunions in Montana to family reunions in Croatia, revealing a surprise blood relationship with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, and other unforeseeable twists of plot and gender that wouldnt be believable if they were fiction. As all the films subjects freely open their lives to the camera, the candid, sometimes bruising footage takes a tender but unflinching look at identity and the past, examining what it means to become someone new.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scopitone Midweek Madness

Scopitones were 60s-era forerunners of music videos. These little musical gems lived in specialized jukeboxes throughout Europe and the U.S. in the swinging 60s but were gone by the late 70s. So hell-bent on entertaining their audience, the singers and dancers look like they're about to pop a gasket at any moment, but that's what made the format so great. And the amount of high-grade speed available throughout the entertainment industry certainly had an aesthetic influence. No doubt. surely has all your Scopitone needs on hand.

CSS Scopitone mash-up - Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above (thanks Tuckers)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Love is in the air

Spring is juuust around the corner. The birds are flitting and twittering like crazy. Squirrels are running in front of my bike at every opportunity and tearing across the back fence with stolen fruit in their mouths. A racoon barreled over our gate the other day and ran by me in the late afternoon, to destinations unknown. A woodpecker has attacked our palm tree with gusto, causing two large fronds to bend and dangle. Maybe with luck, the entire thing will die--I think palm trees look stupid outside of tropical islands. And I found this note in my mailbox, which I think was meant for the teenager who lives a couple doors down.

I never would have had the guts to "mail" something like this to a crush. I was one of those "ride my bike past his house twenty times over the course of a month and hope he notices" types. That never worked out for me. But that was my style. I thought about blocking out the name, but what the hell. Shout it to the rooftops, Jenicka. You're in LOVE.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The 70s were messed up

A lack of boundaries, ramped up television viewership, and fear of being "uptight" led to one messed up society. Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stranger Than Paradise - 1984

I was galumphing around the Internet last week, searching for images of Eszter Balint (for Facebook celebrity doppelganger week--don't ask), but disappointingly, there were only a few shots from "Stranger Than Paradise," none in close-up (there were no close-ups in that film); certainly no portraits. And some more recent shots, promoting her music career, but hardly any from Jim Jarmusch's deadpan masterpiece.

So I'm going to remedy the situation by posting some stills from "Paradise." It's one of those films that shouldn't have worked at all but against all odds it works wonderfully. I hope no one over at Criterion minds. There's a serious lack of Eszter Balint imagery on the Internets. I'm offering a solution right here, right now.

"Stranger Than Paradise" is noted by film historians for mainly one concept: it changed the rules of cinema. Through singular vision, warped humor, bravery, or sheer nuttiness, Jarmusch played around with the basic "rules" of drama: story arc, conflict, resolution, and basically said to hell with that and created a flat, meaningless universe of blight and emptiness. Eva arrives from Eastern Europe to stay with her Aunt Lotte in Cleveland, gets waylaid to cousin Willie's New York City studio apartment for ten days, then is on her way. Ultimate no-good-nick hipster Willie and his clone Eddie make feeble attempts to connect with Eva again and the whole gang ends up in Nowheresville, Florida, repeating the patterns of their lives. It's bleak comedy in grainy black and white. And now...

Welcome to America!

This is the shot continually thrown around the Internet to sum up the film. It's really more opinionated than anything else the film offers though, and although it looks cool and certainly represents the NYC of 1984, it's not what the film is truly about.

The film is about the emigrant experience of the American Dream, a concept that is flattened here, squashed into a ball and tossed into a wastebasket, or more likely onto a pile of trash on the street during a garbage strike. Much of New York resembled this in the 80s. It was fascinating in a warped way.

Doing nothing with nothing on TV.

Eva dances to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You. Her obsession with this song, brought back to life by Jarmusch after decades of neglect, along with her flat proclamation, "It's Screamin' Jay Hawkins and he's a wild man so bug off," plus her fabulous androgynous fashion sense make her the coolest teenager in cinematic history. In my opinion. I've been dressing similarly to Eva for 35 years and have had people tell me I should try to be "more feminine" for about the same amount of time. So I'm biased.

Ah, New York.

It's a road trip film so it's all about the journey. Except not in this film because they're on the road to seemingly nowhere.

Jarmusch in the background, eating a hotdog.

I've always loved the simplicity of this scene. Four people watching a bad film with a ridiculous kung fu soundtrack. We Americans in general spend a lot of time sitting on our asses, watching stuff, but this had never been portrayed so adequately until this moment.


Aunt "I am the vinner" Lotte. She is so my grandmother, except my grandmother's family came here by way of Mexico.


The Lake.


Every motel I've ever stayed in.

And there you have it, the American Dream, Jarmusched.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Haiku Movie Reviews II (the independents)

My friend Laurie and I have accidentally formed a movie-going club of two. We've been lucky and unlucky at the same time as there's quite a lot of good independents to see lately and not enough freelance work between the two of us. Hence: matinees. And Haiku Movie Reviews for you.

The White Ribbon directed by Michael Haneke

The town is rotten
with unfathomable crimes
The town is the world

Crazy Heart directed by Scott Cooper

Jeff Bridges drinks, plays,
sings, crashes, limps, yearns, fucks up,
goes country for real

An Education directed by Lone Scherfig

Jenny--smart, sixteen
falls for shiny surfaces
the dark underneath

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

Y'r fifteen and pissed
Mom's boyfriend is kind and hot
Is he? maybe not

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Have a happy (Valentine's) day

Some people hate Valentine's Day. I may very well be one of them, if not for my seven-year-old. He loves all holidays. Even Groundhog Day holds his interest for the better part of the morning. This year he hand-made all his Valentines for a class of 32, plus two teachers. Our school district fired 450 teachers this year so class size rose by a third. For next year he's mentioned that he might want to BUY his cards for the next big class, and give candy out as well. The consumerism (and a hand cramp from all that drawing and writing) has kicked in. Retailers: be well pleased.

Here's one of his lovely expressions for the day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Take it away, Desmond Dekker

It's been a trying week. The common cold can really interrupt normal life, making it uncommon and uncomfortable. I haven't ventured out much this week and I don't have a lot of sharp observations to make. Enjoy these Desmond Dekker performances while I read books and drink large mugs full of fruit-flavored tea. This is how I know I'm unhealthy: fruit-flavored tea is not even remotely a favored drink of mine, but right now it's just right. Especially with honey. Num. Speaking of num: Desmond Dekker.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What in the Blog?

Yes, the blog looks different. I thought it was time to make some aesthetic changes around here and see if videos will finally show their right margin and text will be somewhat readable to "older eyes." Bear with me as I futz and putter around, and hopefully all the elements will eventually come together into one fantastic Captive Wild Woman electric boogaloo. Feedback is enjoyed. captiveww (at) yahoo (dot) com. Or just comment why don'cha?

P-Star Rising trailer

I missed this the other night on PBS Independent Lens series. I thought I had the date and time right but when I tuned in, it was Frontline on one channel and Masterpiece Theatre reruns on another. This is what happens when I catch a cold: my ability to logically reason out television schedules (not my strong point anyway) goes by the wayside. Turns out it's on at 10:30 tonight on one of my local PBS stations. They make you work for the scheduling knowledge. Try searching here for your area.

P-Star is a teenager trying to make it in the music business. That is NOT EASY for anyone to do. But I say: go for it, P-Star. She's now in the new Electric Company and she definitely has that built-in charisma that stars so mysteriously possess.

Trailer below. The entire documentary can be seen on the Independent Lens video site until February 16.

Blurb: In the early '80s, Jesse Diaz was a rising star in the hip-hop world. Now a broke single father in Harlem with two children to support, Jesse finds a shot at redemption in his nine-year-old daughter Priscilla Star, a precocious and immensely talented rapper. Director Gabriel Noble follows four years of father-daughter ups and downs as they navigate the grit and the glamour of the music biz.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Bedhead - Bedside Table

Bedhead was Texas-based indie band that formed in the early 90s and kept going until around the turn of the century (that always sounds so epic: The Turn of the Century). The Kadane brothers, Matt and Bubba were the center of the band, but they had a third guitarist, Tench Coxe, as well as the required bass and drums (Kris Wheat and Trini Martinez, respectively; everyone in Bedhead has a great name).

If I were to do Bedhead word association, my first thought would be: quiet; getting louder. My second thought would be: obscurity. The band had its following and critical acclaim but for whatever reason, didn't "take off" like a lot of 90s bands. Probably because they didn't sound like anyone else and with the three ringing guitars, sloooow progressions leading to cathartic crescendos, and vocals way low in the mix, you had to work a little to listen to Bedhead. But they made the work so rewarding: meditative, contemplative, accomplished and beautiful all fit the band's sound. Bedhead is no more, but the Kadanes formed The New Year and kept their sound going.

The 1939 vacation footage was beautifully shot by Wallace Kelly, an accomplished writer, photographer and painter from Lebanon, Kentucky. His films are available on the Internet Archive. Several have been preserved by the Center for Home Movies with funds from the National Film Preservation Foundation. His daughter Martha gave permission for me to edit this together--thanks to you, Martha.

Friday, February 05, 2010

STAROCK - Music for the Future (from the near-distant cable-access past)

Back in the mid-80s, El Space Vato spent awe-struck moments, watching the SF CH-25 cable-access show STAROCK. Now I'm a convert too. You can't see the show any more, but you can enjoy the very unique essence that is STAROCK on their YouTube. Roland Grand was the west coast Dave Stewart to Monica West's Annie Lennox. Together they work potent psychedelic magic. As Vato points out, their enthusiasm is only matched by their incredibly high self-regard. I genuinely like this band and their full-throttle go-for-itness. Anyone this true to their aesthetic gets a head-nod from me. Damn catchy too.

Somebody over at STAROCK forgot to hit the "embedding disabled by request" button when he uploaded this one. So at last I can share their supreme presence with the world.

The lyrics are not top-notch. Note:
Making eyes, meeting guys, telling lies...Joy Riding
Hanging out, tearing out, making out...Joy Riding
Breaking up, shakes me up, but making up...Joy--(and so on)

But look at that gung ho performance by Monica West. She believes in STAROCK. And I'm not going to sit here and deny her belief system. The available STAROCK videos shall remain links for now. Do click--you won't be sorry. Really.

My personal favorite, Your A Natural (sic), with its "One, two, three, yeah, yeah, yeaaaaah" finger-count chorus and sparkly attired West doing free-dance choreography in natural settings to bubble-gum keyboard accompaniment, speaks to me.

STAROCK bills itself as the only band in the world to use PROJECTION TV as an ACTUAL BAND MEMBER! Roland Grand is in "Two Places At Once," on keyboards, bass and drums. Technically that's three places, but that only makes him more fantastic in my book. Projection TV does its thing in The Original Scene.

Now dig this: Changing Faces. Monica looks right through you in an asymetrical striped top and futuristic purple eye-shadow. Roland is in full military garb and also in another place, wearing some kind of poncho or cape-like device. There's a gold record hanging on the wall of the studio. That is the mise-en-scène. Take from it what you will. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My video adventures with Scribbler

I got an email a couple weeks ago from a band called Scribbler, asking to make a video for a song of theirs. Since I'm currently completely unemployed and the weather was overcast, I said, yes to that. There wasn't a lot of information on Scribbler, in the email, or on their MySpace page, but I gather they're a group of people from Halifax, Nova Scotia and they're members of a collective involving other Halifaxans called The Radiator Family.

This was an interesting experiment into the unknown. They sent me an MP3 and here's the result:

It's odd, but somehow compelling in its oddness. Then I heard from them again. They wanted another video, this time animated, and set to a song written by their bass player when he was four years old. Actually, I didn't know what they wanted until I received the song--which was obviously written and performed by a very young person.

It's a nice song, but none of the cute animated characters I initially tried worked out. They were so anime-adorable but their body movements were minimal. Their little Hello-Kitty arms could barely reach over their big, round melon heads. It wasn't working. So I used this character instead, who at least is somewhat limber, though creepy. I was sorry to do this to a four-year-old's composition, but the bass player is 24, and I think he'll be OK with it. At least I hope so. I haven't heard anything from Scribbler since I posted this. Perhaps their silence is comment enough.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tom Hanks Pickle Sandwich

Every once in a while when rambling around the Internet, I find something so inexplicable, I can't even attempt a guess as to why it exists. It just is. This is just such a thing.

Tom Hanks Pickle Sandwich - SUPPENDAPO from wreckandsalvage on Vimeo.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I hate you, pop culture

I watched seven minutes of the Grammys. That's pretty good for me. I just wanted to see half-naked and sparkly Pink dangle from the ceiling and spin around really fast while singing a ballad and not lip synching. She got splashed with water and kept spinning upside down and singing, splittering water all around the stage and onto the first three rows of musical trensetters (excellent use of water). No one was electrocuted and she kept singing nicely and on key. Way to wow everyone, Pink.

Then THIS group showed up and I could not turn away. Luckily someone else has said it all for me in this video. Thank you for shouldering the burden, Gladstone.

Note: Counting down the minutes until links will be non-working due to copyright issues in 5-4-3...