Published October 18, 2016
Tags: Art, Paul Thomas Anderson, Pop Culture
In my late teens, early 20s I had a love/hate relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson. At the time I was an aspiring filmmaker and I couldn’t get over how ridiculously young Anderson was when he, not only wrote, but directed flicks like “Hard Eight,” “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” (all released before he turned 30). I desperately wanted to find some way to dismiss this dude’s immense talent. My wish was granted when the Jealous, Ambitionless Wannabes Who Get Off On Calling Out The Derivative Qualities of Contemporary Works of Popular Art hipped me to “Raging Bull,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Short Cuts.” Turns out this so-called ‘wunderkind’ was merely riffing on old shit?! Sometimes even lifting entire scenes from these old flicks???!!! I was so relieved; like a fat slob who thinks that if he could just get his hands on some steroids he would be just as good as Barry Bonds, but then something hit me…
PTA, early in his career, was like a virtuoso hip hop producer. His movies (most notably “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia”) were like those breathless Oscar montages where a fleeting staccato blur of the more evocative moments of several well-known movies is presented over a sweeping orchestral score. He wasn’t ‘stealing,’ he was sampling, re-appropriating the imagery of artists like Scorsese, Altman and De Palma, while adding a flavor all his own.
I really dig the groove he has settled into lately. His recent flicks feel like the kinda films an ‘extroverted’ Terrence Malick would make.
Published August 25, 2016
Tags: Art, Wolf Children
It has been seven years since the events of the last movie, and Ame—who was living in the mountains (he’s basically the new Sensai) until his pack and the rest of the animals were forced out by a logging company—is leading a “Planet of the Apes”-style revolt against the company’s employees and the surrounding town (their end goal is to reach the CEO’s estate). Yuki—who has been living ‘exclusively’ as human for the last seven years (only her mom, her husband Sōhei and Ame know her secret)—gets wind of what’s going down and puts her political career (possible twist: her campaign is being funded by the logging company’s CEO) on hold to go reason with her brother.
One thing I found really intriguing about the new Star Wars flick—other than the aggressively visceral and ‘tactile’ nature of it (which took me a minute to adjust to; “You mean ta tell me that’s ‘real’ dirt they’re walking on?!”)—was how it was a winking ‘meta’ remix of the original trilogy; much in the same way “Super 8” (another Abram’s flick) was a ‘meta’ remix of early Spielberg. In “Super 8” the wink-and-a’nod came via the group of ‘inspired’ young filmmakers and their monster movie within a monster movie; in “The Force Awakens” it’s Kylo Ren being a kind of whiny surrogate for the ‘whiny’ fanboys who have—over the last decade and some change—incessantly (and maybe rightfully) bitched about the Lucas-helmed prequels1 not being ‘like’ the films that comprised the original trilogy. Kylo wants to be Vader2 just as much as the fanboys wanted the prequels to have invoked the spirit of episodes IV-VI.
In a way this ‘Kylo’s Planet Rock to Vader’s Trans-Europe Express‘ dynamic ‘excuses’ the film’s liberal sampling, as a Vader analog would NO DOUBT have similar intentions, wear similar garb, don a similar helmet and have a similar super weapon at his disposal, as well as inspire a similar response to his actions. What’s really hip about this is how—for new fans—it acts as a kind of ‘if you like this you’re gonna LOVE the first three’ greatest-hits introduction to the franchise. Gets ’em excited and eagerly anticipating—not just the next ‘new’ one (which will likely present a ‘more unique’ story), but the original trilogy as well3.
Continue reading ‘Some shit about the new Star Wars flick…’
Published January 8, 2016
Art , Comedy , Politics , Pop Culture , Race , Religion , Sexuality , Some Shit About US
Tags: Art, Comedy, Political Correctness, Politics, Pop Culture, Race, Religion, Sexuality
An ‘offensive‘ joke that references race, religion, sexuality or any other ‘sensitive’ is like a fragrant, impossible-to-resist hunk of cheese that attracts identity fetishists; brings them out into the light and then SMACK!!! traps ’em. Now we can all gawk at ’em; see just who among us is ADDICTED to their superficial identities; see who is fighting tooth-an’-nail to keep their heads above the surface; the ones afraid to dip below to that unifying regardless-of-‘who’-you-THINK-you-are-love-is-love-and-fear-is-fear place. That ‘bloody truth’ that comedians trade in.
The great thing about a (good) ‘offensive’ joke (not talkin’ about that hacky “look at me saying ‘nigger’ without any context just for a cheap unfunny thrill” shit) is how it exposes the diversity of our fakeness. I think some comics avoid mining this territory because they fear people who—simply because the comic doesn’t look like them—may feel ‘obligated’ to protest, which (given the vociferousness/notoriety/level of ‘victimhood’ of the protester) could result in the comic getting labeled (read: ceremoniously ‘branded’) a Racist™, Sexist™, Homophobe™, etc.
But you know what?
Continue reading ‘A Fag, a Nigger and a Spic walk into a trap…’
The following is a treatment for a Batman v. Superman flick that I dumped unsolicited style in an FB comments section a few years ago. Quick note: I wasn’t considering “Man of Steel” when I wrote this. It was a standalone thing. All right, no further adieu, enjoy.
Gotham has become overrun with criminals. The aging Batman is overwhelmed. Gotham’s citizens, just becoming hip to this new ‘super man’ in Metropolis begin to publicly wonder if he can come save their crime-ridden city. This is a blow to Batman’s ego. He is jealous. He feels inferior. Tries to deny the feeling as it is causing him immense shame (he’s not ‘supposed’ to feel this way). After an unsuccessful battle with one of Gotham’s new criminal leaders he falls into a deep depression, questions himself, wonders if he should just hang it up. At the same time Superman logos begin appearing all over Gotham, usually paired with messages pleading for the Man of Steel to come to Gotham. Batman becomes a jealous, inferiority complex-riddled mess.
Now for the ‘controversial’ twist…
Continue reading ‘“This isn’t canon!!!”’
This is an album (among others) that I turn to whenever I need to feel doper than I actually am and I think that’s hip hop’s greatest ‘virtue’ (no matter how vulgar, misogynistic, homophobic its lyrics). Its infectious, gut-rattling beats (composed of I-don’t-give-a-fuck-I’m-using-that-break-by-any-means-necessary hijacked sounds) underpinned by (absurdly) hyperbolic, singsong-y braggadocio has helped everyone from suburbanites to athletes to politicians to Fortune 500-ers to college students preparing for a final exam (of many different racial, gender, sexual and ethnic stripes) get in touch with their (respective) inner baller/boss/whatever-new-epithet-it-will-probably-pioneer-that-will-be-used-as-a-descriptor-for-bad-ass-muthafucka-who-ain’t-got-time-to-worry-about-no-bitchmade-shit.