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Archive for October 28th, 2013

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by Joel Bocko

Movies are motifs and moments as well as stories – individual, isolated campfires flickering in the desert dusk and not just landscapes strung together by a stretch of lonesome road. Perhaps Westerns more than most other narrative films rely on this identification with details rather than plot development. Indeed, often the plots exist as clotheslines over which to string the details: the kids playing in the dirt staring up in awe at the outlaws riding nonchalantly through town, the bedroom sequence in which a lonely drifter becomes loquacious with a local whole, the banter over whisky at the bar (nobody drinks beer in saloons, it seems). Audiences go to Westerns – or went to Westerns when they were more popular – less to experience surprise twists and turns in a novelistic story than to gaze with affection and curiosity at a portrait of a time and place both familiar and foreign.

“Revisionist” directors like Sam Peckinpah may have upset and upturned conventions, but they also honored and expanded upon those conventions in the first place. Watching films like The Wild Bunch today, their once-groundbreaking violence no longer shocks; one is struck instead by the ways in which they feel nostalgic or old-fashioned. They exude a sense of affectionate camaraderie which one seldom finds outside of buddy comedies (albeit sans stoicism) in 2013. Perhaps no Western more acutely captures the passage from warm if rough camaraderie into brooding, suspicious isolation than Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973). Even stylistically, the film – particularly when comparing its various incarnations (three have been released over the years) – is torn between a sense of long, lingering (perhaps excessive) attention to detail and a relentless march toward an inevitable outcome.

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The immortal Divine in new documentary about his/her life.

by Sam Juliano

Halloween is around the corner, and those festive for the day have been getting a head start by displaying their unique garb on local and city streets, and at night club parties.  There seems to be more costume stores open than ever before, though one wonders what they do for business for most of the year.  In the metropolitan area leaves have finally began to turn, what with frosty evenings and a slow evacuation of the elements that have conspired to keep some summer residue hanging around.   The family paid a visit on Sunday to Clinton Place in Hackensack, New Jersey, an enclave where residents have faithfully maintained a Halloween tradition, decking out their homes with awesome decorations for many years. The WitD sidebar is properly adored, courtesy as always to the incomparable Dee Dee.  The World Series is shaping out to be a real humdinger, with the Cards holding a 2 to 1 edge as of this writing.  Game 4 is set for 8:00 Sunday night.  The football fans who root for the Giants have a glimmer of hope, as the team has now won two games after losing the first half dozen.

My very good friend, filmmaker and musician Jason Giampietro sent me an IM this afternoon with the sad news of the passing of Velvet Underground icon Lou Reed, who died in Manhattan at the age of 70.  Reed (I know, a racist label has maligned him) was a singular talent, one of the true geniuses of the rock era.  Giampietro, who went as far as to tell me that he thought Velvet Underground were his second favorites behind the Beatles, was in a melancholic mood, and clearly like so many, was deeply moved by this lamentable news. (more…)

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