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The Original Twilight (Zone)

November 30th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Back before vampires sparkled and Native Americans were thinly-veiled racist caricatures (well, that’s not really a recent thing), there was a little television show that gave mainstream American television the sort of mind trips and thought experiments long enjoyed in the realm comic books and pulp fiction (and even higher brow stuff). And what better way to enjoy and celebrate the pop-culture landmark of a bygone era than in a movie theatre on an obsolete format! That’s right, 16mm baby! The NW’s king of 16mm and GI mainstay Dennis Nyback is gonna wow you with his collection of 21 classic episodes, split over seven days in three episode chunks. 90 minutes of televised bliss! Buy a pass, skip the Hulu Plus membership this month! Our screen is better than yours anyway.

I know this is the same image as the main page, but nothing says it better than this!

And with the perfect segue into our repertory run of IAWL, join us on Friday the 7th for a good old fashioned Nyback Christmas special. Culled from his mighty collection and ripened with age, truly a wonder to behold. Perfect for getting you in the mood for another smash year of VHSXMAS, coming at you Saturday night the 8th! I’ll be there, you better be too!

—a short blog about shorts, dan

Ornette and Ornate

November 16th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Got time to squeeze off a quick one here this week. Normally I got time to dawdle about on Fridays and get the gospel of the GI pounded from the pulpit of my iMac, but not today. That’s ok! Cause what I got to say about our landmark music doc film about a landmark musician, well, it came easy to me.

If you know anything about 20th century jazz beyond Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong, you know about my boy Ornette. An absolute genius composer/performer, he comes across in the film as just the sort of thoughtful, introspective sort of man who’d have the sort of headspace to come up with these killer jams. The film starts and ends with symphonic accompaniment in his hometown of Fort Worth, TX. The moans and strains of the orchestra juxtapose brilliantly to Ornette’s band “Prime Time.”

this man can make the saxophone do things undreamt of

Having spent a great deal of time at concerts and having watched more than a few music docs/concert films, I was struck by how many of my own favorites took a note from this film in style and presentation. It feels like equal emphasis is placed on music and musician, time and place, like some of my favorites: Sigur Ros’ “Heima” and Wilco’s “Ashes of American Flags.”

Ornette’s music continues near unabated throughout the film, and there is achieved a stream-of-consciousness poetic flow (notably Burroughs is present in the film) with intertitles spliced in via a mass transit ticker sign. Everything is in motion in this film, even talking heads are cross cut in rapid succession. Those sensitive to seizure beware! At least you can close your eyes and surrender yourself to Ornette’s music.

It’s a new print for goshsakes! Come and be counted among those in the know, come see the show! Witness a true marriage of experimental filmmaking to experimental music, in glorious 35mm.

—Ornette: more outlandish prog than even Mars Volta?, dan


They’ve come to break your heart and eat your food (a.k.a. Anarchy in the C.R.)

November 9th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I’ve only had the opportunity to get snidbits (new word, congrats me) of this landmark Czech New Wave film in film history classes. I’m happy that 1966 seems to have been the watershed year for Czech cinema, that year seeing us “Daisies” and my personal favorite, “Closely Watched Trains.” Trains are also a motif in “Daisies,” but while “Closely Watched Trains” is one of the masterpieces of the driest, subtlest humor ever to grace the screen, “Daisies” is full-blown in-your-face and over-the-top.

If you want a taste of what you’re with “Daisies,” just know that you’ll be joining two of cinema’s original bad girls as they break down societal conventions left and right until they’ve exhausted themselves of ideas. Follow them as they wine and dine their way through their town’s octogenarians and take food experimentation to the level of fetish (and some rather overt male genital mutilation metaphors, steel yourself gentlemen!). The film climaxes with an Alice in Wonderland-style hot seat buffet at a table of such opulence you wonder if the entire movie’s budget was used on that scene alone.

Shame to see such a spread go to waste. But no meal is a waste when paired with Johnnie Walker!

This film is not without its moments of sheer experimental genius. There are a few montages that not only pushed the boundaries of taste in the 60s but remain impressive to this day as paragons of pre-digital editing and mis-en-scene. One of the most famous images from the film, the disembodied floating heads, is not even the most interesting part of that scene. There ensues a flurry of scissors and the image fractures into a kaleidoscope of prismatic chaos, genius I say!

I’m excited that a new print is being toured around by our friends at Janus Films, because that can only mean a Criterion release isn’t far behind. Now Chytilova’s textbook classic will have the opportunity to join film libraries with the other Czech New Wave luminaries, namely Menzel and Forman. Have I mentioned how much I love “The Firemen’s Ball?” Seriously, there a scarce few societal farces that come close.

—Czech ’em out, dan

Ninjas and Trannies (not necessarily in that order)

November 2nd, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Halloweened out? The GI has got a double dose of hilarity, love and friendship coming at you this week (triple if you count “VHS for President,” which I surely do). Bromance and brothers (in arms and blood) and straight up romance explodes off the screen in our week-long and weekend late night features, “Frankie Go Boom” and “Miami Connection.”

“Frankie Go Boom” stars the inimitable Irish rising actor Chris O’Dowd, known for his perfect line delivery but also being a randomly out of place Irishman in films full of very American sounding actors (see the implausible yet hilarious roles in “Bridesmaids” and “Friends With Kids,” where he steals otherwise unfunny scenes). It has brunette hottie (I can get away with saying that, my GF has a girl crush on her) Lizzy Caplan, less naked than in “True Blood,” but still hot. And as the coup-de-grace, my boy Ron Perlman as a lady! An interesting ensemble cast, should be just the thing to cure the November grey sky blues.

“Frankie Go Boom!” They loved it in Austin!

What is an even bigger treat is our late night “Miami Connection,” rediscovered and distributed by our friends at Drafthouse Films. With the best song about friendship to come out of the 80s, and some hardcore bromance between our Taekwondo loving bandmates (they’re all orphans! or are they…), they find themselves up against the enemies of love and peace (i.e. ninjas, drug dealers and jealous brothers). What seems to further lock-in the odd bromance and homoeroticism of this movie is four out of our five heroes can’t seem to land a girl, and when all else fails, they frolic in the water! Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

The only character in the movie keeping it from Bromageddon! It comes from Austin!

The main draw of “Miami Connection” is its star, writer and creator of the film, Y.K. Kim. He would go on to be a motivational speaker, teaching you how to be successful with the power of Taekwondo. He ends the film with an intertitle imploring you to achieve world peace through the elimination of violence. After seeing all the gory dismemberments in this movie, you’re left wondering if this guy isn’t a little bit off his rocker. Sure, Dragon Sound doesn’t go around looking for a fight, but they have no qualms killing people and even laugh when thugs get beat up. Maybe Y.K. Kim is sneaking in a little P.S.A., a “don’t try this at home kids” sort of thing. Anyway, the songs are top notch, the villians truly villainous, and the martial arts action dialed up to 10. Its dichotomy of visual message and stated message make for an entertaining exercise in “edutainment.” Truly one of a kind and not to be missed!

—ever see “Surf Nazis Must Die”?, dan

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