Film Essent Archive for November, 2009

I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night with KISS

Image064.jpg Just got home from the KISS concert, and it was even more awesome than I’d anticipated. Seattle’s Key Arena was pretty packed with rock fans (where but a KISS concert would I overhear in passing a conversation starting with, “So the old lady and me were on the way to the Tacoma Dome to see AC/DC, and then the cops pulled us over and we’d been working through a couple 12-packs of PBR on the way down …”). When my daughter Neve and I arrived at the Key there was a long line waiting to get through security, and a stern recorded female voice was lecturing us about the Key’s security rules (no cameras, no weapons, no outside food or drink, we might, perhaps, be cavity searched if we looked suspicious).

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Hey, You! Go Make Out with Violence

Yo, LA folks.
There’s this great little horror film called Make Out with Violence. I wrote a little about the film< in my wrap-up of the Oxford Film Festival earlier this year, where it scored the Best Feature Award. I know, I know, you’ve seen lots of zombie movies, why do you want to see another? I hear you. But trust me on this one. It’s not your ordinary zombie film — it’s more of a twisted tale of love, lust, possession and objectification with the zombie bit as the wrapping.
This an awesomely shot and produced film, particularly given what had to be a shoestring budget (hell, maybe only half a shoestring), and moreover, the Deagol Brothers, the guys who comprise the writing/producing/directing team behind the film, have worked their collective asses off to promote it. It’s hard out there for an indie filmmaker, bu these guys have been nose-to-the-grindstone doing some excellent publicity work on behalf of their baby, and I believe that smartness and savvy deserve to be rewarded.
So. Make Out with Violence has a FREE (yes, that’s FREE) screening in the LA area. This is a once-and-only-once event, so even though it’s in Alhambra, you should get a group of your best horror movie-loving pals together and carpool out there to support these guys and see a great little film. Also, the soundtrack rocks, so even if you hate the film you’ll probably like the music. Screening details are after the jump; help spread the word for these great guys, and best of luck to the whole Make Out with Violence team.
And if all that hasn’t convinced you to go out of your way to see and support this film, check out this video interview I did with them at SXSW this year. Don’t you just want to hug them and give them a lucrative distribution deal?

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Ghosties

I don’t watch or write about television shows much, but right now it’s 6:30AM and I’m sitting here wating Cartoon Network’s The Othersiders with my 10-year-old son. He totally digs this show, but his younger sibs wouldn’t let him watch it last night, so I promised to watch it with him today.
The Othersiders is a kids’ reality show about a group of teenagers who investigate places reported to have paranormal activity. I actually really like this show — not just because of the paranormal stuff, which is occasionally kind of cool, but more for the way in which it presents the teens on the show.
As a mom of a pack of kids, one of whom has already navigated her teen years, and the other four who are heading that way, I feel like teenagers often get a bum rap. Yes, they can be loud and annoying, particularly when they run in packs. They can me mouthy and rebellious and slam doors and roll their eyes spectactularly. Guess what? So did we when we were teens. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I was a real pain in the ass. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. Just ask my mother.
On The Othersiders, though, the teens are presented not as irritating creatures to avoid, but as intelligent beings who have smart things to say. The teens have “jobs” on the show — webmaster, technical manager, etc. They go into creepy, dark places — haunted camp grounds, haunted houses, Alcatraz — in search of proof that ghosts and such exist. Honestly, some of the places they go creep me out just watching them on TV. I don’t think I would be as calm and rational as some of these kids are.
At the end of each episode, the whole team gathers back at their headquarters and reviews all the evidence they gathered, and then votes as a team on whether they think the place they’ve investigated might actually be haunted. This is my favorite part of the show, because I like seeing how carefully these teens peruse their evidence. Zack,the nerdy-but-cute technical manager, and team leader Riley are always the hardest to convince. They don’t actually agree as a group very often that a place really is haunted.
On a recent episode at a haunted campground, though, the team gathered evidence ranging from unexplained thermal “hot spots” to ghostly voices recorded on their high tech recorders. In that case, when the team analyzed all the evidence, they voted unanimously that the camp was haunted – rarely do they all agree that way.
On the Alcatraz episode, KC and Riley just clearly heard banjo music from the shower … that’s the place where for years there have been rumors that one-time Alcatraz guest Al Capone, who reportedly went insane in the prison, used to play his banjo. Creeeeeeepy. Is Alcatraz haunted? Jury’s still out, we have to watch the rest of the episode to find out.
These are smart kids who will later be able to apply their gig on The Outsiders for grown-up jobs. Imagine a future job interview: “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” “Well, I was in Alcatraz and heard Al Capone’s ghost playing his banjo ….” Groovy.

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“When books become a thing, they can no longer be fine.

“Literary people get mad at Knausgård the same way they get mad at Jonathan Franzen, a writer who, if I’m being honest, might be fine. I’m rarely honest about Jonathan Franzen. He’s an extremely annoying manI have only read bits and pieces of his novels, and while I’ve stopped reading many novels even though they were pretty good or great, I have always stopped reading Jonathan Franzen’s novels because I thought they were aggressively boring and dumb and smug. But why do I think this? I didn’t read him when he was a new interesting writer who wrote a couple of weird books and then hit it big with ‘The Corrections,’ a moment in which I might have picked him up with curiosity and read with an open mind; I only noticed him once, after David Foster Wallace had died, he became the heir apparent for the Great American Novelist position, once he had had that thing with Oprah and started giving interviews in which he said all manner of dumb shit; I only noticed him well after I had been told he was An Important Writer.

“So I can’t and shouldn’t pretend that I am unmoved by the lazily-satisfied gentle arrogance he projects or when he is given license to project it by the has-the-whole-world-gone-crazy development of him being constantly crowned and re-crowned as Is He The Great American Writer. What I really object to is this, and if there’s anything to his writing beyond it, I can’t see it and can’t be bothered. Others read him and tell me he’s actually a good writer—people whose critical instincts I have learned to respect—so I feel sure that he’s probably a perfectly fine, that his books are fine, and that probably even his stupid goddamned bird essays are probably also fine.

“But it’s too late. He has become a thing; he can’t be fine.”
~ Aaron Bady

“You know how in postproduction you are supposed to color-correct the picture so everything is smooth and even? Jean-Luc wants the opposite. He wants the rupture. Color and then black and white, or different intensities of color. Or how in this film, sometimes you see the ratio of the frame change after the image begins. That happens when he records from his TV onto his old DVCAM analog machine, which is so old we can’t even find parts when it needs to be repaired. The TV takes time to recognize and adjust to the format on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Whether it’s 1:33 or 1:85. And one of the TVs he uses is slower than the other. He wants to keep all that. I could correct it, but he doesn’t want me to. See, here’s an image from War and Peace. He did the overlays of color—red, white, and blue—using an old analog video effects machine. That’s why you have the blur. When I tried to redo it in digital, I couldn’t. The edges were too sharp. And why the image jitters—I don’t know how he did that. Playing with the cable maybe. Handmade. He wants to see that. It’s a gift from his old machine.”
~ Fabrice Aragno