Wednesday, April 28, 2004

SIFF press screenings started yesterday, and I've got dozens of films ahead of me in the next several weeks. I get uncomfortable with swag, I always feel like I'm stealing when I get on a guest list, but yesterday my nerves were salved by the man next to me, who introduced himself as the film critic from "SGN." By god, if Seattle Gay News can earn a free pass to every movie at SIFF, then Resonance belongs for sure.

First up was Saved! A big joke at the expense of Christian teens ... poor kids. I get my hackles up whenever filmmakers make sport of easy targets, and for certain audiences, all you have to do is make a Christian appear foolish and you got yerself an effortless laugh. That's how the thing began, but eventually the characters began questioning their faith without rejecting the idea of religion altogether, and the film moved into a smarter, more human sphere. A simplistic sit-com ending ruined any good will I had brewing, and when the characters erected a giant Jesus statue in the first scene, I should have known it would come toppling down as a climax (cheap symbolism). Mandy Moore was funny, though, and the girl from Ginger Snaps always drives me wild.

After that I was blessed with Godsend, one of the worst big-budget movies I've ever seen. Went nowhere, made no sense, more cheap symbolism (Robert DeNiro smashes Greg Kinnear with a crucifix, then storms out of a church as a fire blazes behind him). The room was filled with inappropriate laughter, muffled at first, but growing stronger as the film progressed and we all started realizing there was no other reaction possible. And that kid! There's one "intense" scene with Kinnear and the kid ... "I see things, Daddy!" "What do you see? What do you see?" I guarantee that four out of five audiences will have one wag who shouts out, "Dead people!"

The free t-shirt did nothing to sway me ... maybe if they had sprung for some graphics or thicker material. Keep that in mind, Hollywood. A red tee with your website address is not going to get a lot of wear.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Permit me to think aloud for a moment ... potential AMG reviews are as follows:


SHELDON ALLMAN Folk Songs for the 21st Century
V/A Just Something My Uncle Told Me

I always love to get ahead of myself. One more list to be ignored ...
weight watchers recipes circa 1974

disturbing books for children

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The Pike Place Market on a late Sunday afternoon is a pretty desperate place ... the weekend tourists are thinning out, drifting away as the metal curtains shut down on the fancy olive oil purveyors and handmade cheese joints. Even the French bakery is closed, and a tired Greek lady is selling a few last sad cups of lemonade to the remaining walkers. The panhandlers are squeezing hard to get just a few more nickles from the dwindling suckers, and they're getting aggressive, watching the lucrative weekend crowd dissolve. Lori and I were accosted by one this afternoon ... wasted, exhausted, he slurred his request for a handout and then fell in step with us after we politely demurred. "Hey porkchops, that look is all played out," he threatened. I'm used to being the target of insults like that on a daily basis, so it didn't offend me, but there was no doubt that this time we had a very unstable follower. We quietly ignored him, held hands and moved a bit swifter, crossing the street as he was still slobbering out his curses and shuffling behind on the other side.

Later we stopped for Manhattans at an outdoor cafe and laughed at the plight of the lowest castes, taking our revenge from a distance and serving it cold.
it's not gonna be ok

Friday, April 23, 2004


This Mexican-made live action adaptation of the classic fairy tale was a big hit on the "kiddie matinee" circuit, a theatrical innovation credited to the film's American distributor, K. Gordon Murray. His M.O. was to purchase a pre-made children's feature from South of the Border, hastily overdub a loose approximation of the dialogue in English, and book it into theatres for exclusive showings on Saturday afternoons. La Caperucita Roja was typical of Kroger's library, a low budget musical fantasy interpreted with a particularly Mexican flavor that will seem odd to American viewers. Maria Gracia plays Little Red Riding Hood as an incandescent child with rosy cheeks and a perpetual sweet smile, beloved by everyone in her little village. Woodsmen carry her on their shoulders, townsfolk celebrate her in song and two grown men engage in a wrestling match to win a kiss from Little Red. So it's no surprise when an evil Wolf from the deep forest begins stalking her, driven by the same uncontrollable desire as the rest of the cast. When several sheep disappear and a local boy is kidnapped, the villagers recall an ancient prophecy that tells of wicked magic and vicious animals causing dark days. A posse is formed to track the Wolf, but many of the brave hunters lose their strength when they come upon the lair of the beast, which is possessed by evil spirits. Because she is pure of heart, Little Red Riding Hood ends up saving the day by invoking the name of Jesus Christ and banishing the demons that haunt the woods. Meanwhile, the Wolf is captured at Grandma’s house and the townspeople prepare to burn him at the stake.

While the original fairy tale is clearly an allegory to teach children about stranger danger, this version is blunt about the Wolf's resemblance to real-world pedophiles and serial killers. It's downright uncomfortable to watch the Wolf peep through windows and drool with lust over the succulent Little Red, and it becomes increasingly vague as to whether he plans to eat or seduce the nine year old girl. Manuel Valdes plays the Wolf in a disturbing fake fur costume with huge fangs and a distended tongue, and constant slapstick pratfalls don't help diminish his sheer creepiness. Extra characters (including a conniving skunk and a mischievous little boy named "Freckles") were added to stretch the brief story to feature length, as was the subplot of satanic spirits and the mystical "Mist Fairy." Even though it was popular during its original American release, La Caperucita Roja is weird enough to upset the very young, and will simply seem archaic and confusing to older children. However, those seeking unusual experiences in cinema will not want to miss it, or any of the slapdash K. Gordon Murray kiddie products. Director Roberto Rodriguez and producer Murray unleashed a pair of sequels featuring Gracia, Valdes and "Stinky" the Skunk; Little Red Riding Hood and Her Friends follows the Wolf and Skunk's attempts at going straight and fitting into the village they once terrorized, and Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters pits them all against an evil witch, a vampire, a killer robot, Siamese twins and Frankenstein.

See also The Wonder World of K. Gordon Murray

Using authentic surgery footage is the cheapest, lowest ploy an exploitation picture can take. Still, nothing gets a reaction from an audience quicker than splicing in a few seconds of a medical training film. They'll either run for the exits or sit stunned and take it in, but one way or another, it won't be forgotten. With this in mind, those who feel squeamish about their eyes being touched (pretty much everyone, right?) should understand that Mansion of the Doomed includes frequent shots of real-life orb surgery, and a little goes a long way. Supplemented by some H.G. Lewis-style sheep eyeball effects, the film never fails to induce a wince or two, and other disturbing flourishes make it memorable despite a hackneyed premise. As the obsessed surgeon Chaney, Richard Baseheart gives a reliably professional performance and little more, but he's perfectly slimy in the film's most uncomfortable scene, which finds him luring a little girl away from a playground with the promise of Disneyland. Any appearance from Vic Tayback is welcome, but he's too subdued as a police investigator to make any impression here. As Chaney's long-suffering assistant and accomplice, Oscar winner Gloria Grahame looks haggard and exhausted; hopefully, that's just acting. The best performances come from the blinded victims, as each confused, terrified "patient" awakens from the anesthesia and realizes their eyeballs have been removed. There's an intensity to these scenes that the bigger names don't reach for, and the interaction between the captives is usually more interesting than the good doctor's furrowed brow and introspective walks along the ocean. Marilyn Joi, best known for Al Adamson films like Nurse Sherri and The Naughty Stewardesses, appears as one of the unfortunates, and Lenny Bruce's mother Sally Marr makes a very brief cameo as a landlady. Director Michael Pataki gives Mansion of the Doomed some eerie atmosphere with bright, distorting light effects, but he doesn't move the film along fast enough to qualify as a true lost classic. — Fred Beldin
this has been blowing some minds

Thursday, April 22, 2004

get fucked, baby

Roy Loney & the Longshots
May 1, the Sunset

Roy Loney fronted the Flamin’ Groovies during the band’s most vital era, 1965-1971, back when the San Francisco ruffians were writing legendary non-hits like “Teenage Head” and “Slow Death,” bumming out hippies with a wild amalgam of slippery rockabilly and gutbucket R&B. Generations of sideburn types have sung their praises ever since. The Groovies’ sound changed dramatically with Loney’s defection, losing a lot of grit in favor of Byrdsy strumming, but Loney kept the faith with a series of solo albums true to his original ethos. The latest is Drunkard in the Think Tank, recorded with his all-star backup band, the Longshots (which has featured a few Young Fresh Fellows in the past). Luckily, Loney hasn’t lost the grease smoke or the bam balam and still puts on a righteous show, so this gig is worth more than just the chance to eyeball a former legend. - Fred Beldin

Artistic as Hell

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Ian MacKaye on Pancake Mountain

"Giant spiders and evil frogmen, they must be destroyed."

The Lime Giants, on a quest for adventure and truth.
Seattle yahoos in a classified ad describe themselves as a "60s and 70s British Rock Band" ... so how old are they, then? And are they really from England? "If you can't sing and play, don't call." Don't worry, dude.

The Stranger wants 150 words on Roy Loney. Not bad, this oughta write itself, right? Right. Well, it's due in 24 hours so it better ...

Thanks to Soren Davis, I now have a copy of Bobby Conn's RISE! lp (on cd) and it sounds good, not as immediately engaging as THE HOMELAND, but impressive nonetheless and certainly deserves a dedicated investigation.

SIFF Press Accreditation is mine! Still don't know what films to expect, nor have I determined if I can bring Lori to any of these events. All I know is I'm gonna wear my pirate eye patch for the whole festival, and pretend that I'm deaf in one ear if anyone tries to talk to me. If I'm going to have to go out into public and start "hobnobbing" (or "knobgobbling") with other journalists, then it is very important that I establish an eccentric persona from the start. Do they already have a blind film writer in Seattle? Well, by God, here he is ...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Not much writing completed today, but lots of architectural, administrative work accomplished, so fuck it. Laundry sorted, emails sent, ideas congealed and wine purchased. It all seems so transparent ... no results. But still not bad.

Monday, April 19, 2004

When no one is listening, the truth can be whispered and given freedom to stretch. Well, I may be alone ... it's a grey day, internally and externally, weak rain, colorless sky and a soft, motheaten anguish in the pit of my chest. I spent six hours performing repetetive tasks at the warehouse, another two in travel time, and make a pointless trek to the Seattle Art Museum. I missed out on seeing SUPER SIZE ME last night and hoped in vain for an encore showing ... who knew they'd sell out? Me? Why would I know anything? Well, I know now ...

Dig me here now and then.