Monday, March 30, 2015

positive vibes: a tu(n)esday playlist from curtis rogers!

SAINT WKND - Positive Vibe

Kazy Lambist - Doing Yoga Employee Of The Year Remix

nite swim - Pool Party

fka twigs - Glass & Patron

SoundSnobz - Nuffin

Years and Years - Worship

M+A - Do The Shout

LEA SANTEE - Hopeless

µ-Ziq - XT

Elephante - Temporary Love

Sunday, March 29, 2015

it follows

It's been an up-and-down decade for horror--from a smattering of retro throwback indie gems to James Wan's slick, entertaining multiplex fillers to wimpy forgettable boogedy pics like The Quiet Ones and Ouija. David Robert Mitchell's It Follows fits in this spectrum awkwardly really--in fact, it may appeal less to horror fans and more to some cineastes (its buzz began at Cannes) who may sneer at the horror genre. Though horror fans may relish a lot of the references on display.

Mitchell made his debut with The Myth of the American Sleepover (which I reviewed here)--a languid, late-summer teen movie which was frothy, shallow lake-surface deep but full of indelible imagery and style. In It Follows, Mitchell and his cinematographer Mike Gioulakis harken back to vintage John Carpenter, notably the anamorphic chiller Halloween, in creating a memorable, tree-lined suburban Detroit backdrop to an eerie story of non-supervised cursed teenagers (who are of the gawky, leisurely Linklater-Boyhood's third act variety; not the hyper stereotypes of modern slashers). The actors, led by a striking Maika Monroe (The Guest), solidly deliver. I wish I hadn't known what the curse was before seeing the film, as much of it rides on its surprise and its eventual bizarre, fever dream logic. 

Some clunky plot deviations and false climaxes ensue (an evocative, elaborately set-up swimming pool Cat People-esque sequence concludes unsatisfactorily) but the film often sets an incredible mood (also thanks to Disasterpeace's ominous and mesmerizing score). In fact the music of the film, while definitely Carpenter-inspired, is also its own entity. Whereas John Carpenter's iconic film score for Halloween was tight as a drum in the unusual 5/4 time signature, Disasterpeace goes for sprawling sonicscapes. The scores could reflect the feel of their respective pictures: Halloween is economical, streamlined fright fare whilst It Follows is more Sofia Coppola (particularly The Virgin Suicides--another moody, vintage--to an almost fetishistic degree--suburban Michigan misery piece)--a languid, muddily-plotted nightmare with stabs of slambag horror. 

As with any horror flick, many are already attempting to dissect its potential metaphors (STDs, consumerism, et al). There is much there that likely rewards multiple views. In Myth, Mitchell's teens never texted. Can the title itself be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the primary young adult (and for some, adult) obsession of today (how many followers do you have?)? It can't be an accident that a cute little peach, seashell-shaped e-reader is one of the few items that seems of this time or of a near-future. Otherwise, what most of America has thrown away since the end of the twentieth-century is in nearly every frame of the film (a tulip-shaped lamp, porn mags, outdated bath fixtures, tube TVs, typewriters, landline cord phones, clunker cars and station wagons--not unlike Micheal Myers' mental ward's). ***1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I quite enjoyed Cinema Du Meep and Ben Sher breakin' down 1983 favorites.

Mine by far would be Terms of Endearment with The Big Chill as runner-up. They just don't make dramaedies like that anymore.

Listen here.

Or itunes.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

lost soul

Maybe one shouldn't play with witchcraft. That's one lesson learned the hard way in David Gregory's new doc Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau. Gregory's look is a cheeky, brisk overview of a disastrous slog of a film shoot. The inventive and vibrant (in its heyday) New Line Cinema originally funded oddball filmmaker Richard Stanley (who directed the flawed but interesting cult hit Hardware) to direct a modestly budgeted remake of H.G. Wells' Island of the Dr. Moreau. Original casting choices fell through and the film ended up with notoriously cantankerous actors Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando in the leads. In this doc, Stanley comes off as a sympathetic, genial nerd who tried to make an artistic passion project using vivid, extensive makeup effects (spearheaded by Stan Winston; this doc reminds how awesome and eerie practical make-up effects look compared to the CGI sheen today) but was frustrated by the studios altering of his vision and also couldn't manage the bloated egos and bizarre antics of his two stars. Quickly Stanley was replaced by veteran director John Frankenheimer who stepped in to salvage what was left of the picture and script and who also clashed with much of the cast, including magnetic Fariuza Balk who serves up some great, salty interviews. Dry-humored castmate Marco Hofschneider (of Europa Europa fame) gives some interesting anecdotes on the set and also on Brando and a dismissive Kilmer.

Sometimes bad shoots can deliver solid films but the end result for Frankheimer and co. was a forgettable misfire. The doc made me want to re-watch Island, which I haven't seen since it came out in theaters in 1996 and which I barely remember except for Brando's white makeup and bandage muumuus. Lost Soul isn't really a life-changing picture but a fun little watch for those interested in the pitfalls and difficulties of filmmaking and some behind-the-scenes drama. **1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

tu(n)esday! time

Happy St. Tu(n)esday! This week's playlist celebrates with a cover photo of Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun.

Here lies some new tracks from Braids, Jupiter, and Du Tonc + fun remixes of MJ, Brandy, Kylie, and the BSB!

Monday, March 16, 2015


Another catchy and bright single from Du Tonc has just landed. "Animals" (not to be confused with Maroon 5's ubiquitous record) will surely usher in a sunny spring and summer!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

watercolors by mark hall-patch

Check these adorable watercolors of garmets by Mark Hall-Patch. Some of these are available for sale on esty.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

kumiko, the treasure hunter

In a scene of Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, the titular character protests about the 1996 film Fargo, crying out, "It's not fake!"  In 2001, an urban legend circulated about Takako Konishi, an office worker from Tokyo who was ruled to have committed suicide near the Detroit Lakes in Minnesota. Due to some misunderstandings within the media, a rumor persisted that Konishi had died looking for the briefcase of cash Steve Buscemi in Fargo buries in snow in a fence-lined stretch of field.  In their mesmerizing, playful and haunting new picture, The Zellner Brothers (David and Nathan) take on urban legend as fact in their fiction, following depressed Kumiko (a brilliant Rinko Kikuchi) and her quest to pinpoint and find the Fargo loot after discovering a grainy VHS of the film.

In Kumiko, sometimes the rigors of the character's journey is bracing, especially since Kikuchi is so forlorn and speechless in the picture. Her drab office (where she is sexually harassed by a bullish boss) and tiny apartment life is a depressing sight; the inevitable Fargo escapade is simultaneously feels liberating, frustrating and wrenching. In a difficult role, Kikuchi makes the quiet Kumiko become captivating. There are some interesting presences in the cast including a fantastic Shirley Venard as a naive, lonely woman who, when she learns that Kumiko is from Japan, excitedly drudges up her worn paperback of Shogun. The director, David Zellner, appears as a policeman who hopelessly tries to help.

The script is often darkly-humored and sly. Photographed by Sean Porter, the film has a crisp look. Many of the interior shots are cluttered with stuff, eyesore fabrics and detail (general stores, messy homes, libraries, restaurants) creating a stark contrast to the austere, serene shots of the frosty natural world (the snowy finale is quite a sight). What visual metaphor could be more apt of our changing cinematic technology than spools of film toilet-flushed? ***1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Monday, March 9, 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

anywhere you wanna go

Last month I shouted out the crafty and catchy single from Tear Council.

Here is their video clip for the song "Anywhere," directed by Miška Mandić and photographed by Jon Mark Oldmeadow.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

wcw: the first lady - claire underwood by karen g.

I am unashamed about the fact that I spent my entire weekend indoors watching "House of Cards" - Season 3 on Netflix and binging on Trader Joes snacks. My wardrobe went from soft, comfy pajama pants to soft, comfy “lounge pants” from Uniqlo.

My shame only entered stage left when the immaculately polished Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) was on screen. She, without a doubt, stole the show this season and has never looked better.

Wright used her personal stylist, Kemal Harris to design the looks for the first lady this season and to showcase her evolution in the series.

Harris used classic, tailored lines on Wright’s immaculate physique with soft, liquid fabric drapes for her more formal events.

Harris researched Old Hollywood starlets and watched the movie Adam's Rib which tells the story of domestic and professional tensions between a husband and wife working as opposing lawyers in a murder trial. The court room scenes in this film added inspiration for Claire’s looks when she visits the United Nations.  Harris also collected a selection of vintage patterns from mid-40’s designers like Jacques Fath.

I am not really sure what’s next for me, now that I’ve greedily devoured the entire series in a matter of hours, but a pair of classic Louboutin Pigalle pumps might be the first thing on my “to-do” list.

-Karen G.

you & i & you

Amazingly-photographed film from Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) for The Dig's "You and I and You."

Monday, March 2, 2015

a conversation with jenni olson by justin lockwood

Last month I interviewed Jenni Olson, a queer film historian and filmmaker, about the significance of the Sundance Film Festival to LGBT cinema.  Olson, whose eccentric documentary The Royal Road ran in competition this year, had plenty to say about the topic, only a fraction of which made it into the article.

Olson spoke to me from San Francisco, CA, where she lives with her wife and children, and I found her to be both personable and extremely knowledgeable.  She was understandably excited about being part of Sundance’s lineup: “There’s nothing like that stamp of approval to get people to pay attention to your tiny little movie,” she enthused.  The director’s passion for film started at an early age, when she transposed herself into the personas of male stars.  “I identified with Gary Cooper, William Holden, Buster Keaton, etc.,” she recalls; later she came to identify as a butch dyke, which has been reflected in most of her work.  “I try to express something about what it’s like to be butch,” Olson explains.  “Hopefully, some other people will see that and feel less alone.”

The gay community has a long history of the kind of transposing Olson once did.  Long before "Glee" or even Philadelphia, gay male audiences would watch movies and think, “I’m Liz Taylor, I’m the female character and I’m in love with the male lead,’” Olson explains.  The fact that numerous screenwriters were gay men fueled this tradition of “weird heterosexual replacements,” creating pre-gay films that were ostensibly about straight people but revealed aspects of the queer experience.

When pre-gay cinema gave way to out and proud filmmaking, the Sundance Film Festival was at the forefront of the trend.  “The beginnings of the New Queer Cinema all came out of Sundance,” Olson says.  In 1991, Todd Haynes’ Poison and Jennie Livingston’s seminal drag ball documentary Paris Is Burning both rocked the festival, and Sundance has continued to spotlight significant gay films ever since.  Last year’s Love Is Strange, which had its world premiere at the fest, is a prominent recent example.

Unsurprisingly, the presence of gays and lesbians has underlined this tradition.  For the past fifteen years John Cooper has simultaneously headed both Sundance and LA’s Outfest, creating a “cross-pollination” (in Olson’s words) that reflects the wider film festival circuit.  From Berlin to Toronto, “all major international festivals tend to have gay programmers,” Olson shares.  “You always have the sense that gay people are running the show.”

Olson herself has been a festival programmer, starting in 1986 when she was still in college; she came out by co-founding the Minneapolis/St. Paul Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Transgender Film Festival (formerly Lavender Images).  “I’ve always been a passionate evangelist for the power of film festivals,” Olson declares.  “Being a festival programmer saved my life.”

Even in this day of mainstream LGBT characters in media, Olson sees queer film festivals as being as relevant as ever.  “I don’t think there’ll ever be a time when there’s ‘no need’ for queer or identity based film festivals,” feels the director.  “There’s something special about people coming together around things related to our identity.  The films [in these festivals] are simultaneously reflecting our culture and making our culture.”

Jenni Olson blogs at and tweets at @JenniOlsonSF.  She is the author of one of my all-time favorite film books, The Queer Movie Poster Book (2005).