Friday, January 28, 2011

They Say Spain is Pretty

I'm heading to Spain tonight on a plane. Perhaps you can see the red tail lights.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Makes Me Happy

This really makes me happy. I'm up to the letter H in my copy of Destroy All Movies and I am having a blast reading it. Being paired with this book on Amazon is quite an honor.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top 20 Movies Not Available on DVD (in the U.S.)

First off, I want to thank everyone who participated in my earlier survey about movies that aren't available on DVD but should be (see here). In all, over 300 titles were suggested. It's nice that even in the last few months that have been announced as coming to DVD in the next few weeks (Killer Party and Carnival Magic). Saying that the titles spanned a wide range of genres, years, and countries is an understatement. That probably stems from the diverse group of people who answered (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Steve Puchalski, Greg Goodsell, Rich Osmond, etc).

Why did I ask about movies not on DVD? Simply, I wanted company on my soap box. Coming back from Toronto last month, I had a mission. I wanted to help director John Paizs get his Crime Wave out on DVD. That film, and too many others, are in dire need of their proper due. I don't know what I can do for a lot of these films except kvetch and hope that the right people can secure the rights and release. But, these days...

More than anything, the complete list will serve as a treasure trove of movies that I'm going to now have to look up and watch. Luckily, though most of the films haven't been released on DVD in the U.S., a lot of them have come out on DVD in other countries or there are TV or VHS-rips available on various bootleg/torrent/rapidshare-type sites. There are very few "lost" movies on the list and, frankly, one of the things I was hoping for was that people would vote for movies they love that really need more respect. I mean, it'd be great for The Day the Clown Cried to get a deluxe release but that's really for kitschy reasons. No one believes that it's really going to be a masterpiece, do they? Meanwhile, great films like Get Crazy, Hellzapoppin', and Chickenhawk languish in obscurity.

Of all the titles, only 20 had two or more votes. Here they are (in alphabetical order):

  1. Bed Sitting Room
  2. Celine and Julie Go Boating (IMDB
  3. Crime Wave (IMDB)
  4. Decline Trilogy (IMDB)
  5. Demon Lover Diary (IMDB)
  6. The Devils (IMDB)
  7. The Dion Brothers (IMDB)
  8. Distant Voices, Still Lives (IMDB)
  9. Face to Face (IMDB)
  10. If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (IMDB)
  11. Johnny Guitar (IMDB)
  12. Laws of Gravity (IMDB)
  13. 92 in the Shade
  14. Possession (IMDB)
  15. The Reflecting Skin (IMDB)
  16. Rolling Thunder (IMDB)
  17. Sonny Boy (IMDB)
  18. Unholy Rollers (IMDB)
  19. The Woman Chaser (IMDB)
  20. World's Greatest Sinner (IMDB)

A few of the above titles are available as video-on-demand releases (via Amazon, Netflix, OnDemand, etc), some have been shown on TV (thank you, TCM Underground!), several on non-Region 1 (outside the US) releases, and others have only ever existed as bootlegs.

As an aside, not all of the movies that I want to see available on DVD in the U.S. made the final list. Since this is my barbecue, here's my full list of picks:

  1. Burglar, The (IMDB)
  2. Trap, The (IMDB)
  3. Broken Mirrors (IMDB)
  4. Crime Wave (IMDB)
  5. Daddy Cool (IMDB)
  6. Die Laughing (IMDB)
  7. Dinner for Adele (IMDB)
  8. Dorothea's Revenge (IMDB)
  9. Finger Man (IMDB)
  10. Flight to Fury (IMDB)
  11. I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (IMDB)
  12. Lost One, The (IMDB)
  13. Magnet of Doom (IMDB)
  14. Money Maker (IMDB)
  15. Pastoral: To Die in Country (IMDB)
  16. Pilots in Pajamas (IMDB)
  17. Simon (IMDB)
  18. Static (IMDB)
  19. Tomorrow I will wake up and scald myself with tea (IMDB)
  20. Two Men in Manhattan (IMDB)
  21. Without Warning (IMDB)
  22. Woman Chaser, The (IMDB)
  23. World's Greatest Sinner (IMDB)

The state of the media business is not good. Rampant bootlegging, the skirmishes between formats (can't really call it a war), streaming, mail-order rentals; all of these factors have got the DVD market on the ropes (like everything else in our swell economy). This goes double for the boutique DVD companies where the above titles would best make a home.

Why aren't the these movies out on DVD in the U.S.? Some of the common reasons include murky rights, missing source materials, and--sadly--lack of interest.

I won't say that the above flicks are the most important, earth-shattering films ever were. However, I will vouch for a few of them as being wonderful, entertaining films. My point is, these films need release on the latest format(s).

Maybe lists like this help get the word out about movies that should be seen. I know I'm on the prowl for a few of them (though I once drove 30+ miles to rent a copy of Unholy Rollers to copy for Rich Osmond, I've never actually seen it). But, wouldn't it be nice if I could just walk into my local indie media store and pick up a legitimate DVD release where, hopefully, the people that made and starred in the movie would get their residuals?

What can you do about it? For me, I'm working hard at getting at least one of the above titles released on video. I've been pitching it around to different video companies (Facets, CultEpics, First Run Features, Fantoma, VCI, Zeitgeist, etc) to see if anyone would be interested in fighting for the rights.

Are you up to doing the same for your favorite Not on DVD movie?

2011 Resolution

My resolution for 2011 is to avoid using two words: literally and actually. Even when people use the term "literally" correctly, I find that it's being overused. Perhaps we deal with hyperbole and sarcasm too much as people have been peppering their sentences with literally and actually to stress that they're being serious. I actually don't need to literally hear these words every twenty minutes to actually know that they're literally a plague (incorrect usage noted).

Consider this a one person protest against these two words.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cinekink Cool? You Betcha!

Big congrats to the folks at Cinekink for recently being named as one of the 20 Coolest Film Festivals by Movie Maker magazine. This is well-deserved recognition.

Be sure to keep up with Cinekink for this year's festival (March 1-6, 2011) and their touring program.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Philly Leads Book Sales!

I'm happy to see that Philadelphia is supporting the cause with lots of sales of Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection. Let's hope the rest of the country picks up some slack soon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tarantino's Mix Tapes Get Award

From today's Hollywood Reporter:

Quentin Tarantino will be honored with the first ever Critics' Choice Music+Film Award.

The inaugraual(sic) award was created to honor a single filmmaker who inspires moviegoers with cinematic storytelling, but also heightened the impact of film through the use of source and soundtrack music.

Tarantino was cited for his mix of music and film in Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2, and Inglourious Basterds.

And that's all HR had to say. There was no examination of how ludicrous this news is. While I'm a big fan of the soundtracks for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino lost me when it came to Jackie Brown with the opening sequence (a visual lift from The Graduate) set to the title track of Across 110th Street. Since then he's just been absolutely shameless with his use of other films' music in his own movies.

The Graduate


Across 110th Street


Jackie Brown


When Jackie Met Benjamin

You can call Tarantino one of the most environmentally-friendly filmmakers of our age due to his visual and audible recycling. You can say that it's wonderful he's throwing a spotlight on older films via his "sampling" of soundtrack music from older films. Or, you can say that he's a lazy filmmaker who doesn't employ a composer to score his film but just leaves the "temp track" on his movies. The real shame is that there are people I've talked to -- people who claim that they're film fans -- that have no idea that "that great song in Inglourious Basterds" was from another film.

The Big Gundown

Even the tune most-associated with Kill Bill, Tomoyasu Hotei's "Battle Without Honor Or Humanity" was the theme to, you guessed it, Battle without Honor or Humanity.

Battle without Honor or Humanity
Kill Bill Trailer

So, I'm a little taken aback by Tarantino getting acknowledged for his inspiring use of soundtrack music. If anything, it seems a little uninspired.

Twisted Nerve
Kill Bill

Now, now... I know I shouldn't get so bent out of shape. I mean, Quentin Tarantino does so much to give back to the film community. After he rifles through all of these films, biting his favorite bits, including songs, he does a great job of getting them put out on deluxe DVDs via his illustrious company Rolling Thunder, right? I mean, look at that lovingly restored version of The Grand Duel, the controversial The Losers disc, and that deluxe box set for Twisted Nerve and, of course, the movie his company was named for -- Rolling Thunder -- has been flying off the shelves since it had the huge DVD and revival house screenings it enjoyed... Oh, wait....

Rolling Thunder released just a handful of films before it closed up shop. It never released Rolling Thunder, its namesake, nor did it release (m)any of the films that, eh-hem, inspired Tarantino. Instead, it became just another ill-conceived vanity project that lived for a while in the VHS age and never translated to DVD.

And, what's worse, he continues to get lauded for his so-called contributions to the movie and music world. Critics' Choice is even making up an award for him, the Music+Film Award. Let's not talk about how music's been used through the ages -- even repurposed -- to work with film.

And what about Stanley Kubrick and his use of classical music for films like A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey? In the case of 2001, Kubrick had a full score done for his film with the intention of utilizing several classical pieces regardless. While these pieces may have been used in the past (I won't make any claims to knowing in "The Blue Danube" had never made an appearance in a movie before 1968), Kubrick's visuals and the content of his story recontextualized these songs to give them additional meaning. Though some may think that Elvis is about to go on stage when they hear "Also Sprach Zarathustra", the piece was given this new life as Elvis's theme music due to 2001.

The same can be said about A Clockwork Orange with the additional facet that the music here was given a new life via the machinations of composer Wendy Carlos Williams. "Ode to Joy" and other classical pieces are given new life via Williams's use of electronic music to reinterpret the classic pieces into a dystopian future. And, let's not forget Alex (Malcolm McDowell) recasting "Singing in the Rain" as his song of happiness as he commits atrocious acts. If Tarantino had made A Clockwork Orange he'd have set the action against Motown recordings and had Alex sing "Tears of a Clown".

There are so many songs that I can't hear without picturing the images that went with them in various films; when I hear "Layla" by Eric Clapton I can only think of the montage from Goodfellas. Or, to continue with Goodfellas, whenever I hear "Sunshine Of Your Love" by Cream I think of the slow push in on Robert DeNiro as contemplates his situation. All of the acting going on in his face while that music just brings out the darkness in his heart.


Now, I'll completely agree with the way that Tarantino worked with '70s songs in Reservoir Dogs (I can't hear Stealers Wheel without picturing Mr. Blond doing a little boogie to it before he goes to work on Marvin Nash with a razor blade. Or hear "Little Green Bag" without picturing the cast walking in slow-mo during the opening credits. (Reservoir Dogs wasn't mentioned in the above Hollywood Reporter quote). And his use of surf music as "modern day spaghetti western music" worked wonderfully in Pulp Fiction. But, since then, it's been downhill with his pilfering of other films' soundtracks for his own. And, for that, he gets lauded and an award from his peers. Shameful.

Special bonus track:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bright Lights

Fundraising for CdC #16

Despite doing this as lo-fi as possible (think copy machine and staples), there's still expenses that are going to some expenses for Cashiers du Cinemart #16.

There's postage, materials, and even a UPC to be purchased as well as a lot of other things I've forgotten since the last issue (back in 2007).

I don't plan on doing much of any advertising for this issue. Not sending out post cards. Not buying ads in Cineaste. If you know about it, you're in an elite group.

That said... I started a fund over at IndieGoGo to pay for these expenses. Of course, I'm not asking for something for nothing. If you've got a couple bucks that you feel like giving away (and, hey, who doesn't in this economy?) then please check out the Cashiers du Cinemart 16 fundraiser.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Voy a Espana en enero

I'm excited and anxious about a trip to Spain that Andrea and I are taking at the end of January/beginning of February. Neither of us have been to Spain. We'll be staying in Barcelona at the Hotel Gran la Florida.

I've been looking at old episodes of "Bizarre Foods" and "No Reservations" as well as documentaries on Gaudi. I'm hoping to talk some of the guys from the Sitges Festival up to Barcelona tener una cervesa con elles. I've also heard about a new screening series called Phenomena and a festival, DocsBarcelona that should coincide with the trip, though I'm not sure how many movies I'll be up to seeing. Here's hoping I can catch up on a lot of reading and maybe some writing as well as movie watching while on the long plane flight.

If you've any suggestions on things to do or see, please let me know.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Cashiers du Cinemart #16

Okay, folks. I'm doing it. In 2011 I'm going to dive in head first into the Quimby's, Atomic Books, Xerography Debt, Zine World project "Revenge of Print" with a sixteenth issue of Cashiers du Cinemart.

I'm thinking I'm going to make two versions. One that can be easily photocopied and distributed and another that's going to look a little nicer and be available via "print on demand." I've been making a list (and checking it twice) of all the articles I've wanted to write and have been reaching out to some of my old writers to get on board. If you've got requests or want to write for this last hurrah, give me a shout (or leave me a comment).

I've got two celebs I want to interview (Sam Raimi, Paul Schrader). Going to try to look them up on my own but don't be surprised if I blog a plea for contact information...

Other things I want to write: pieces on Dusan Makavejev, Oldrich Lipsky, Jean-Pierre Melville, BDSM in mainstream movies, BDSM documentaries, reviews of Phase IV, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Mars, Earthling, Mr. Nobody, and more. Contributions from Mike Malloy, Chris Cummins, Mike Sullivan, and more (?).

And... it looks like we're going to have cover art from the one and only Stephen "Bad Music for Bad People" Blickenstaff!

2011 Goals

My goals for 2011:

  • Cut down on social networking -- it should be safe to un-ignore me now
  • Contribute more to Mondo-Video
  • Write up proposals for a few more book ideas; submit to publishers
  • Keep my pimp hand strong
  • Get the audio version of Impossibly Funky complete. Might have to grab a bottle of gin and do a marathon recording session with just me and a microphone to get the stories read that have yet to be done.
  • March - Bring in Greydon Clark to the Horror Hound convention and sell a bunch of books
  • June - Second leg of the book tour from New Jersey to New York to Rhode Island to Massachusetts to Quebec
  • September - Cashiers du Cinemart #16

Other hopes:

  • Get John Paizs's Crime Wave out on DVD
  • Visit Austin, TX -- maybe for Fantastic Fest? -- to do a book event
  • Visit Memphis, TN -- maybe to Black Lodge video? -- to do a book event
  • Contribute more to Paracinema