Art Appreciation: VHS Box-PLOSION!

lead image

by Travis Vogt

Action is one of the most transgressive movie genres known to man. The only genres proven to be more transgressive are blaxploitation, body horror, revenge-sploitation, New Queer cinema, gothic horror, docufiction, mumblecore, remodernist, erotic thriller and quite a few others. For what we talk about when we talk about “action” is, of course, violence. Man’s basest, most animalistic instincts. Action cinema and the art that it produces emerge not from the head or the heart but from the bowels. But there can be great value in holding a mirror up to the insides of our bowels. A thousand years ago, great masters like Goya and Caravaggio peered deep into the heart of darkness and showed us the truth that lies within the eye of the beast. The artists who created the adornments for the following VHS tapes were similar men, only they got paid in beer. 

Read More

Winners, Losers, The Gift and Donald Trump

trumpthegift
by Nathan Rabin

(Spoilers for The Gift ahead)

Like a lot of Americans, I have had Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump (goodness, that phrase still feels as surreal to write as “Governor Schwarzenegger”) on the brain as of late. The demented jester of American politics used the Republican Presidential debate as a bully pulpit in the truest sense, antagonizing Megyn Kelly for having the audacity to ask him to defend all of the awful, misogynistic things he’s said in the past (and present) and generally being the biggest, most obnoxious and self-absorbed baby onstage.

When Trump’s comments about Kelly got him uninvited from a gathering held by Republican bigwig Erick Erickson, Trump responded predictably, by accusing Erickson of being a “loser.” For veteran Trump watchers, it was a common refrain. Hell, The Washington Post recently ran a lengthy list of all the people Donald Trump has called a loser, a list that includes such luminaries as George Will, Bill Maher, Rosie O’Donnell, Graydon Carter, TV writer and producer Danny Zuker, Seth Myers, Russell Brand, John McCain and pretty much everyone in the world who isn’t enthusiastically onboard the Trump express.

Read More

Chaos and Destruction in Female Friendship Films

flamegirls
by Emalie Soderback

There are certain elements in film, plot and otherwise, that I’m inherently drawn to. Someone could start describing a movie to me and specific key words will make me immediately add it to my watch list. Did you say blood that looks like pink paint? Awful one-liners? Troublemaking teens? Anything at all about 1970s interior design? Girls who get supernatural powers around puberty? A young Drew Barrymore? Count me in.

One especially satisfying subgenre for me is the female friendship film. The type of movie that revels in the world that two female protagonists create with their own imaginations, strange obsessions, and impenetrable bonds with each other. I’m not talking about Mean Girls here (although I also will never renounce it), or even our beloved The Craft (long live Nancy Downs), because those cliques and companionships exist within the confines of social structure and depend on a certain hierarchy, cattiness and rivalry to form the core of these girls’ supposed “friendships”.

The type of films I want to highlight here are the ones that portray the bizarre connections, unspoken loyalties, imagined worlds, and the utter decadence and destruction that surrounds the best friendship of girls. If you’re sensitive to spoilers I’ve bolded some alerts, but I think comparing the endings of these four films is pretty beneficial.

Read More

Cinema Collectibles #2: Actress LPs

LPS

by Greg Carlson

(In this column, I go through the high volume of movie-related collectables that I’ve acquired over the decades, and revisit (or view for the first time) the film(s) associated with the used VHS tape, promotional T-shirt, scratchy vinyl soundtrack album, etc., that have filled my shelves and storage boxes.)

Mae West, “Way Out West” and “The Best of Marlene Dietrich” vinyl LPs.

It’s a sad fact: actors and actresses who venture into the world of music generally don’t get the acclaim, respect, or additional fans they were looking for, and the results wind up looking like one big self-indulgent vanity project. It’s an entertainment-based scenario that’s been around for decades, from Anthony Quinn to Zooey Deschanel.

As a vinyl enthusiast who prefers searching via yard sales and the dusty racks of thrift stores to online bargaining and boutique record labels, I encounter the recorded output of several stars of yesteryear, and weigh the pros and cons of adding their works to my collection. So far, I have resisted the recorded works of Ed Ames and John Travolta, and have come to the conclusion that you only need one Jim Nabors and Jackie Gleason and His Orchestra LP in your collection. Read More