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brian

by Sam Juliano

My weekly post as always is a “diary” and as such my own seven day report is one of unspeakable grief, the worst I have ever experienced in my own life.  My brother Joe’s beloved oldest son Brian, who lived several years with my father, shockingly passed away mid week at age 35 (he never woke up after complaining of chest pains) as a result of a long period of on an off drug abuse.  Many efforts were made to remedy the problem, and he was in rehabs, but in the end the abuse affected his heart.  This unspeakable tragedy leaves us all shaken to our cores.

On the other grief-stricken front I do speak to Allan everyday and almost always for long online conversations.  His attitude has improved greatly and he has been immersing himself in movie talks and all the new releases.  His treatment begins Wednesday, and I call on everyone to send on their best to a successful negotiation of the chemotherapy.

Thanks to all for the very kind words.

I honestly have nothing more to say at this time, other than to note I have been trying to divert by watching a bunch of discs Allan sent – mostly Japanese classics, and have been sharing my findings back with him – a practice that gives him some pleasure.

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by J.D. Lafrance

Repo Man (1984) was part of a fascinating trend during the 1980s of foreign filmmakers seeing America through the eyes of an outsider and making films that identified with marginalized figures hanging out on the fringes of society. Some of these directors included German director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas), Czech Ivan Passer (Cutter’s Way), the Franco-Swiss filmmaker Barbet Schroeder (Barfly), and Liverpool, England-born Alex Cox. Teaming up with legendary Dutch cinematographer Robby Muller, Cox offered a fresh perspective on Los Angeles, a sprawling metropolis that has been the setting for countless films and television shows, by picking locations that hadn’t been seen all that often – “dirty, dingy locations in East L.A. and downtown” with all sorts of abandoning buildings and vacant lots, as the Los Angeles Times observed, naming the film one of the best set in the city in the last 25 years.

Repo Man came out at the height of the Reagan era and was notable for how it proved to be a sharp contrast to the prevailing trend of rampant commercialism with its generic branding of food and drinks and a protagonist that openly rejected material items and a traditional job in search of something else. The film follows the misadventures of a white suburban punk named Otto (Emilio Estevez) who we meet stacking cans of food in a supermarket while co-worker Kevin (Zander Schloss, who’s look and demeanor anticipated Napoleon Dynamite by two decades) sings the jingle for 7-UP to pass the time. For Otto this is the last straw and he quits his job after being confronted by his boss for not properly spacing the cans. He’d much rather party with his punk rock buddies until he catches his best friend Duke (Dick Rude) having sex with a girl he was just about to get with himself before going to get her a beer. Not only rejecting his crappy job but also his punk rock friends, Otto ends up wandering the streets aimlessly until he meets Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), a veteran repossessor of cars, and who unwittingly gets the young man to help repossess his first car.

Continue Reading »

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by John Greco

Frank Sinatra was never shy about expressing his political beliefs. As far back as 1945, he made The House I Live, an eleven minute short film with a plea for tolerance. By 1960, Frank was back on top of the entertainment world. He was one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. Still a political liberal, Sinatra wanted to produce and direct a serious film. He chose William Bradford Huie’s non-fiction book, The Execution of Private Slovik (1954), the story of the only American soldier executed since the Civil War. Sinatra hired Albert Maltz, who coincidently happened to have written the The House I Live In script to do the adaptation. Maltz was one of the original Hollywood Ten blacklisted in Hollywood. By 1960, HUAC and the witch hunts were over, though remnants of the stink it created remained. Many writers still could not get a job, at least under their own name.

After it was announced that Maltz would adapt the controversial novel, a political storm began with the winds blowing from both the left and right, all heading straight at producer Frank Sinatra.  John F. Kennedy was running for President and the Kennedy family feared a backlash would hurt JFK’s chances. On the right, Eisenhower was in his last year as leader of the free world with his lap dog Nixon anxiously waiting to take the throne. While researching the story of Eddie Slovik, author William Bradford Huie discovered that Eisenhower had given approval for the execution to proceed after turning down a direct plea from Slovik for clemency. The Republicans did not want to stir up old wounds fearing it would hurt Nixon’s chances of reaching the White House. The pressure kept mounting on Sinatra and he eventually dropped the project.[1]
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by Anuk Bavkist

Survivors take refuge in a museum cellar-turned-underground bunker. Lit by flickering light bulbs, they resemble the waking dead. Their daily routine finds them manually pedaling to generate electricity, digging their own graves and philosophizing the end of times. The surface above them is nothing more than an industrial wasteland littered with decomposing bodies and architectural ruins.  Other survivors, equipped with heavy hazmat suits to shield themselves from an endless nuclear winter, still navigate the remains of their former city while an authoritative presence keeps watch in the form of patrolling helicopters and military raids. What caused the nuclear holocaust that left their existence in such disarray is never made clear, but is theorized to be the result of a computer error that launched a war missile (possibly an alternate future where Stanislav Petrov had actually responded to Oko’s false alarm in 1983). Our guide through this post apocalyptic nightmare is a grizzled old man referred only as “The Professor.” He spends much of his days caring for his sickly wife while going through the daily minutiae with the rest of the survivors under the museum. A Nobel Prize laureate and man of science who’s only real defense mechanism to the harsh reality in front him is mentally writing letters to his dead son, Erik. Continue Reading »

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by Jaimie Grijalba

This is the second essay on this series on Richard Kelly films. That means there’s only one left and we all know which one is. Coincidently, the films are in the countdown in the order I’d put them, this being my second favorite Kelly film and ‘The Box’ (2009) being my third favorite. I’ll use today’s essay to respond to the chapter of a book that I read a couple of years ago. Read on.

The second film directed by American director Richard Kelly is a visionary work that rings true today more than ever. In the current context of United States politics and technology, it becomes more and more telling regarding the vigilance, the violence, the crime, the police and everything else that has flooded the news of the past days, weeks and months. I don’t think even Richard Kelly would’ve prevented half of the stuff that he crammed into this masterpiece would even become real, but here we are, living our own version of Armageddon, the only thing missing is a deep voice going through speakers, asking us how we are and then wishing us a happy apocalypse.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of a book for review purposes. The book was ‘Approaching the End: Imagining Apocalypse in American Film’ written by Peter Labuza, a film critic that I had read lots about and had interacted with on the world of Twitter. I read it and I wrote my review for what was at the time TwitchFilm (now ScreenAnarchy) and here’s what I had to say about the final chapter of the book: Continue Reading »

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by Robert Hornak

I saw Dr. Strangelove for the first time in my mid-teens. This was the ’80s and my number one preoccupation in life was to not get blown up by a nuclear bomb. It was inevitable as far as I was concerned, the only question was when. The fear may not have been as palpable as, say, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or during the years following, when the psychological terror of coming so close to nuclear winter was metastasizing into the permanent background of daily life. For me, it wasn’t the news so much as it was popular culture that stoked my nerves, buffeted as I was on all sides by the latent nuclear threat in movies like WarGames (1983) and Red Dawn (1984) and, especially indelible, the terrifying, too-close-to-home imagery of The Day After (1983). I was more than once thrown into a homework-defeating panic over being incinerated where I sat. Alongside that, quite salvific given my dark imagination, was my burgeoning love for comedy – Abbott & Costello gave way to the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks gave way to Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis gave way to Jacques Tati, and all of it cinched together with the constant drumbeat of nose-thumbing meta-media like SNL, Letterman, Mad Magazine, and Looney Tunes, all of which encouraged the embracing of an already-sarcastic approach to culture and authority. Into this mix of legit fear and un-won adolescent mockery came Dr. Strangelove… and it was the greatest, most sophisticated, out-of-reach piece of art I’d ever laid eyes on. Continue Reading »

 

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By Stephen Mullen

Plan 9 From Outer Space is the poster child for a lot of things. Worst film of all time? So bad it’s good? Or more positively, as a piece of 0 budget filmmaking, and all that can go into that. But today, I want to write a bit about it as the poster child for the Limits of Intention.

Sorry that sounds so pretentious. But this is the point: that it is a hugely entertaining film, and while a lot of the entertainment value comes from mocking it, it’s not just ineptitude that makes it fun – there are some surprisingly clever ideas in there, though you can’t always be sure if they are supposed to be there. The film, even in a so-bad-its-good sense, holds its entertainment value. It is strange – see it a few times, and it might occur to you (it certainly occurs to me) that if you took the film as being deliberately made the way it is, as a parody, or as camp, or even as a low budget, slyly raw art film, it wouldn’t look much different than it does. Think about parodies, camp, art films – films like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra or Sleeper, or Killer Klowns from Outer Space – or films by John Waters, Luc Moullet, Guy Maddin: what makes those good films in themselves, and Plan 9 not? Knowing what the filmmakers had in mind, basically. How different would Plan 9 look if it were intended as a deliberate parody? If you ignore the fact that Ed Wood was a real guy with a real career who made films as he did without that kind of explicit parodic intention – if you just accepted that he knew exactly what he was doing – would it be better? even that much different? Continue Reading »

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