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Abbas Kiarostami is an Iranian film artist. If you love cinema and are unfamiliar with him or his work, it would be a great idea to check him out. I tend to think of  Kiarostami as a sort of softer and more gentle Michael Haneke. However, the need to categorize people and art is usually to short-change both the artist and the work. Kiarostami is probably best known to us in the West as the writer/director of CERTIFIED COPY (Copie conforme) — both an intelligent and intellectual cinematic puzzle about two people who are either doing some hardcore role-playing or who share a love torn past. The puzzle of that film is never fully resolved. It is left to the audience to draw a conclusion.

In 2012, Kiarostami released a French-Japanese financed experimental film called LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE. It was greeted with critical acclaim but received almost no distribution. This masterful film has found its way to DVD/Blu-Ray via Criterion. I had seen all of his work excepting this film. I should have known better to approach this movie with no expectations, but I did. As I started watching it I was preparing myself for the story of a young prostitute and a hook-up with an old man. This was what I had come to understand regarding the synopsis of LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE.

Rin Takanashi as Akiko

Rin Takanashi as Akiko

But after the opening scene I found myself being pulled into the film in a rare way.  This entire film is shot on video and Katsumi Yanagijima’s cinematography manages to use this medium as a positive vs. a negative. The entire film has a sort of hypnotic pull. As with Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, I often found myself turning my head or leaning to the side to try and see more of the picture. This is a very clever cinematic trick.

As I would expect, I was slightly confused at the start. The camera is still. It is, at first, unmoving. The viewer is the camera and we are seated in a cafe of some sort. We hear a frustrated young woman on her cell phone. Characters walk around, toward and in front of us as this conversation continues. The viewer comes to realize that we are actually seeing from the perspective of the character we hear frustratingly chatting on the phone. The character speaking into the phone is Akiko played with stark realism by Rin Takanashi. Her voice and tone are predictable. She sounds like a slight girl. A man works his way toward her. This man has some authority and very little patience with Akiko. The viewer begins to understand that this man is some sort of pimp and no matter her excuses he has arranged for her to meet an important client just outside of Tokyo that evening. The conversation is almost passively muted. When the pimp takes a quiet but firm stand and informs Akiko that she will go and please this important client, the almost quiet atmosphere is shattered by a very angry and adult-sounding female voice declaring that she will not go. I am not quite sure how to articulate it, but the second I heard that voice and the camera perspective shifted to reveal that Akiko has been speaking with purposefully-tuned little girl voice — I knew Kiarostami was about to lead me into a very different story than I was expecting.

Tadashi Okuno as the important client.

Tadashi Okuno as the important client.

There will be no spoilers here. Suffice to say that what often feels like a passive and quiet little film is actually running with a paradoxically aggressive and raging undertone.  And, as we meet the three main characters we begin to think we have each one figured out or “appropriately labeled” — but by the time the film comes to its conclusion we realize we never really fully knew much about any of them. This, of course, is the power of LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE. There is so much more going on than we realize as it is going. Once again, Kiarostami has crafted another sort of cultural puzzle. And, I do not mean that this film is a study of Japanese culture. It is not.

Ryō Kase gives yet another memorable turn as the boyfriend.

Ryō Kase gives yet another memorable turn as the boyfriend.

This is an almost sociological study of the human condition and factors that can often lead us to something unexpected. In fact, both the “john” and the prostitute have ties to the study of Sociology. The competition between this film’s passive tone/pace and its aggressive underlying tension is deceptive. As the credits rolled I was absolutely floored by how surprised I felt. I found myself retracing the steps of the film in my mind and began to think of the minor clues we were given by the actions of each character. While some of the actions were obvious — such as the angry, suspicious jealousy of  Akiko’s boyfriend played with the charismatic skill for which Ryō Kase is quickly becoming known — in hindsight it was the smaller gestures and comments that really factor in as clues to where the filmmaker leads us.

Watching her sleep...

Watching her sleep…

Lending her a helping hand...

Lending her a helping hand…

Confronting her...

Confronting her…

In the end, this is an exceptional experimental bit of film art that is an interestingly passive and profoundly disturbing glimpse into humanity. Once again, Abbas Kiarostami has created a potent and unforgettable cinematic work.

"...Sometimes the things I do astound me, mostly whenever you're around me..." -- Ella Fitzgerald

“…Sometimes the things I do astound me, mostly whenever you’re around me…” — Ella Fitzgerald

This is a movie you will want to watch carefully. You don’t want to stumble over things or miss out noticing something. I mean, you don’t want to watch this film like someone in love.

Werner Herzog  Photograph | Bil Zelman

Werner Herzog
Photograph | Bil Zelman

I spend far too much of my time walking the beach and The Haight.  In fact, in recent months many of the folks who work at Amoeba Records in San Francisco have come to know me and my tastes. Today, I was looking through their blu-ray art film selection. As I was examining a rather suspect used David Lynch blu-ray of ERASERHEAD when one of the Amoeba dudes said, “Yo, man. Did you know that Shout Factory is releasing a blu-ray box set of Werner Herzog film?”  I did know this and the two of us began to chat about Werner Herzog and the upcoming box set of classic movies.

Shout Factory's Limited Edition of Herzog: The Collection

Shout Factory’s Limited Edition of Herzog: The Collection

I adore Herzog’s work and I never pass up an opportunity to read or listen to him. An extremely gifted and unique artist, Herzog is also that rare person who appears to be both intellectual and intelligent. He is also just to the left of sane which always makes for a fascinating perspective on any topic he might drift into. From eating shoes to health clubs, Werner Herzog is always entertaining and informative. The man is a natural storyteller and would seem to have absolutely no fear.  He has also crafted some of the most intriguing films of the 20th Century. Like many film artists of his generation, while he is a cinematic genius — he is also prone to wallowing in his own obsessive interests. Of course, this is a part of a filmmaker’s charm. It can also be something that often drags his work down to the point of tedium and excess.

In my opinion, he is the only filmmaker who ever managed to tango unforgettable and powerful work from Klaus Kinski. He even re-examined their notorious relationship in a strange documentary.

Herzog and Kinski in the middle of one of their infamous on-set battles.

Herzog and Kinski in the middle of one of their infamous on-set battles.

1999′s MY BEST FRIEND is a brilliantly entertaining exploration not only into his dear friend/enemy, Klaus Kinski, but also a revealing self-examination. Whether or not everything he tells us is true or exaggerated is not important. That is all a part of Herzog’s cinematic ride.  This film is included in the massive Shout Factory box set. The only point I would make is that this was not a film that really needed a remaster to hi-def technology. Nor, like many of Herzog’s films, it is something I would imagine watching again. Once was enough. For me, the same can be said of nearly every film he has made.

There are three exceptions:

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD – A masterful and stunningly beautiful trip of a movie that I could watch over and over again.

FITZCARRALDO – Once again, a meditative and intense glimpse into obsession and man vs. nature. This I have seen a couple of times. However, it does tend to go a bit too long.

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE – Now, this is my personal favorite Herzog film.

I know there will be people who will mention GRIZZLY MAN. And, I completely agree regarding the power and brilliance of that documentary. However, it was upsetting enough the first time I viewed it. I don’t think I’m up for watching that tragedy again. Besides, it is one of the few films missing from the box set.

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE is the perfect storm of a Werner Herzog film. Released in 1979, I did see it with my father. I was 13 and I was immediately drawn into the screen, imagery and sounds.

NOSFERATU: The Vampyre Werner Herzog | 1979 Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein  Cinematography

NOSFERATU: The Vampyre
Werner Herzog | 1979
Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
Cinematography

Despite critical acclaim, I suppose this film was just a bit too “artsy” and surreal to work for the American Box Office at the time. I remember my father bitching that there was no fucking, no nudity and no gore. My twisted father was not happy with it. However, I loved it. At some point in the early 1990′s I was able to catch a screening of this film at The Harvard Film Archive. I was probably about 25 years of age and not only did I still love it — I understood what I was seeing.

Bruno Ganz & Isabelle Adjani gothically walk the shore...

Bruno Ganz & Isabelle Adjani gothically walk the shore…

The role of Nosferatu was perfect for Klaus Kinski. Being a rather deluded method actor, Kinski was forced to subdue himself to the movements of the despairing living dead afraid of the sun. Kinski is hypnotic in the role. He is also the creepiest Count the cinema has seen. At once painfully human and an equally reptilian-like monster roaming the dark. Isabelle Adjani is actually more walking dead than Nosferatu but impossibly beautiful in the most disturbing of ways — under Herzog’s command, she is really little more than a gothic porcelain doll waiting to be a victim. And, this was the last time we would see Bruno Ganz still looking kind of hot. Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein captures every movement with incredible light and scope. All the while, Werner Herzog is pushing the limits of his story to create atmosphere and metaphor within the limitless boundaries of his dark imagination and the Art of Cinematic Surrealism.

Adjani, Kinski & Herzog  Delft, The Netherlands On Set | 1978 Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein Photograph Credit

Adjani, Kinski & Herzog
Delft, The Netherlands
On Set | 1978
Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
Photograph Credit

Luckily, The Shout Factory, had the insight to know that not all of us would be willing to spend $160.00 for 12 disc set to own one movie. They are issuing NOSFERATU: THE VAMPYRE separate from the box set. It is retailing for $24.99. And, I can’t wait!

Of course, there will be many cinephiles who will rush to secure the full box set. And, who can possibly blame them. Artists like Werner Herzog appeal to those of us who are to the left of center and a bit obsessive. It’s just this isn’t the artist that would drive me to watch his work repeatedly. Now, give me a properly re-mastered box set of Ken Russell, David Lynch, Claire Denis, Luis Buñuel, Claude Chabrol or David Cronenberg — and I will be first in line!

Isabelle Adjani waiting for Mr. Kinski's bite...

Isabelle Adjani waiting for Mr. Kinski’s bite…

Meanwhile, I have been putting away $5 a week for a month now to reserve my copy. Being unemployed and on Disability is no fun, kids. But this is $25 purchase will be worth it! But I raise my glass of Diet Coke to those of you who will be purchasing the full box set. …Better order now because The Shout Factor is a Boutique Label that does not exaggerate.  It is a limited edition. Word on the street is that they are only pressing one thousand box sets.

Nosferatu coming out of the dark to leave an imprint on your cinematic memory.

Nosferatu coming out of the dark to leave an imprint on your cinematic memory.

 

Ken Russell  1927 - 2011 Photograph | 1988 ©Vestron Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Ken Russell
1927 – 2011
Photograph | 1988 ©Vestron Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

When I think of British film director, Ken Russell, a number of words immediately come into my mind. The words or phrases I associate with Ken Russell are as follows:

Brilliant, British, Pushing The Envelope, Anti-Repression, Classical Music, Eccentric Artists, Obsessive, Auteur, Bombastic, Surreal, Genius, Avant Garde, Anger, Anti-Religion, Dark Eroticism, Carnal , Crass, Experimental Artist, Cultural Critic, Sardonic, Brutal, Human Lust, Lavish, Cinematography, Creative, Imaginative, Drug Culture, Transgressive Artist, Controversial, Intellectual, Form, Style, Orchestrated Chaos, Excessive, Angry, Provocative, Shock-Master, Sexually-charged, Kicking Against The Pricks, Unhinged Cinematic Master and An Original – in every sense of the word.

Ken Russell's GOTHIC, 1986

Ken Russell’s GOTHIC, 1986

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Ken Russell’s artistic career is the fact that all of these aspects of the artist seldom blended to create that special alchemy that can form a masterful film. It seems as if these aspects that formed The Great Ken Russell also hindered him from being remembered as the Cinematic Genius he was. With the possible exception of only a few films, one has only to watch one of his films to see his genius at work. And with the exception of only a few, one only has to view one of his films to see how he most often undermined his own work.

There can be no question of the magic and inspired work found in such films as WOMEN IN LOVE, THE DEVILS and TOMMY. All three of these films capture almost every word or phrase that came to my mind, but all three of these film work beautifully on almost all levels.

WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

Women In Love will always remain Ken Russell’s most accessible and commercial film.

The cast of WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

The cast of WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

A brilliant adaptation of the infamous novel by Larry Kramer, Ken Russell conjured a stunning cinematic experience.

The erotic eating of a fig. Alan Bates as Rupert in WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

The erotic eating of a fig. Alan Bates as Rupert in WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

Glenda Jackson and Alan Bates were never better or more sensually attractive as they are in this movie. And the mix of Billy Williams’ cinematography, the music of Georges Delerue, the fine performances, sensual eroticism and Ken Russell’s obsessive care form a brilliant cinematic experience which fully captures D.H. Lawrence.

Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed, WOMEN IN LOVE

Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed, WOMEN IN LOVE

Eleanor Bron, WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

Eleanor Bron, WOMEN IN LOVE, 1969

Oliver Reed and Alan Bates' infamous nude wrestle.

Oliver Reed and Alan Bates’ infamous nude wrestle.

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However, THE DEVILS may be a bit too brutal, angry, avant-garde and shocking to suit the tastes of many.

Vanessa Redgrave, THE DEVILS, 1971

Vanessa Redgrave, THE DEVILS, 1971

THE DEVILS retains a major place in Film History and Film Theory. It also features the very early genius of Derek Jarman who served as Set Designer and contains one of Vanessa Redgrave’s finest performances. It is also impossible to see this film as Ken Russell intended. Though, there is a bootleg DVD out there that comes close. This film caused such controversy in it’s depiction of an actual historic event that it remains condemned by The Vatican. The infamous Rape of Christ sequence earned the film an X rating and outraged many. However, this motion picture remains a powerful - albeit convulsive, view of Vatican hypocrisy and the culture dangers of State and Church merging. THE DEVILS is a raging, bold, theatrical, surreal, repulsive, operatic and intentionally blasphemous indictment against not only The Catholic Church but organized religion.

Vanessa Redgrave's Sister Jeanne love for Christ goes far beyond the appropriate scope. THE DEVILS, 1971

Vanessa Redgrave’s Sister Jeanne love for Christ goes far beyond the appropriate scope. THE DEVILS, 1971

And, then Russell’s most commercially successful motion picture, TOMMY.

Your senses will never be the same. Ken Russell's TOMMY, 1975

Your senses will never be the same. Ken Russell’s TOMMY, 1975

Though this film is very much a sort of 1970′s Glam Rock Time Capsule moment — it is a brilliant cinematic rock opera. Far ahead of the cinematic curve, it is hard to imagine the concept of the pop music video or the existence of MTV without Ken Russell’s TOMMY. The film was the perfect storm for a mid-1970′s hit.

Tina Turner as The Acid Queen about to rip his soul apart. TOMMY, 1975

Tina Turner as The Acid Queen about to rip his soul apart. TOMMY, 1975

Tina Turner is The Acid Queen about to apply the first of many injections. TOMMY, 1975

Tina Turner is The Acid Queen about to apply the first of many injections. TOMMY, 1975

Acast filled with the coolest and most talented pool of rock musicians along with the Sex Kitten purr/roar of Ann-Margret.

Ann-Margret is The Mother. TOMMY, 1975

Ann-Margret is The Mother.
TOMMY, 1975

In addition, TOMMY captures a great deal of the time in which it was filmed: cult religion, rebellion, sexual freedom, a growing understanding of the impact of trauma on children, the power of drugs for insight, the sexual revolution and the general unrest and anger seething in Wester Culture as the 1970′s moved to the mid-point.

Elton John is The Pinball Wizard. TOMMY, 1975

Elton John is The Pinball Wizard.
TOMMY, 1975

That blind, deaf, dumb boy sure plays a mean pinball. Elton John, TOMMY, 1975

That blind, deaf, dumb boy sure plays a mean pinball. Elton John, TOMMY, 1975

The story of The Who’s Tommy is given a whole new perspective from the 1960′s concept album. Ken Russell’s love of opera and all of eccentricities of his imagination were the perfect match for a rock opera. And, Ann-Margret was the perfect leading lady for him. Ann-Margret has always been a talented beauty, tommy6

but has also also always come on a little oddly strong and theatrical. Her tempo and seething eroticism matched every turn of Russell’s camera. Her delivery resulted in an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a leading role. A nomination that shocked as many as it pleased. In my opinion, TOMMY was Ken Russell’s finest hour as a filmmaker. It adheres to his aesthetic / style and offers him a chance to be commercial to the mass public. TOMMY was the perfect “trip” for the mid-1970′s.

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And, while it is now a bit dated, there is no way one can watch it without feeling the power of the film itself and note the ways in which it has been copied over the years.  And, it is also impossible not to note that Ken Russell was inspired and enchanted by the physical / erotic presence and glam rock star look of Roger Daltrey.

Roger Daltrey is Tommy and a new muse for Ken Russell. Iconic and Erotic. TOMMY, 1975

Roger Daltrey is Tommy and a new muse for Ken Russell. Iconic and Erotic. TOMMY, 1975

One can’t help but suspect that it was his interest in Daltrey’s charisma and pop star status that moved him to make one of the most curious, strange and truly bizarre major Hollywood productions to ever find itself not only “green-lighted” but released to a world of mainstream movie screens…

Uh, oh. Roger Daltrey is Franz Liszt. Ken Russell's LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Uh, oh. Roger Daltrey is Franz Liszt. Ken Russell’s LISZTOMANIA, 1975

There was already a very positive buzz surrounding Russell’s production of TOMMY.  In the US, Columbia Pictures was already certain it had a massive hit coming their way. For the first time in his career, Ken Russell was truly being evaluated as a major player in the film business. Before he even finished filming TOMMY he knew he wanted to return to one of his favorite subject matters – the challenges and obsessions of the great classical composers. It has also been rumored that his perception of creating film had greatly been altered by his experience of working with The Who and interacting with the superstardom surrounding the band and the other rock musicians he had been able to cast in the movie. It is not surprising that he came up with the idea of what would become LISZTOMANIA. However, what is surprising is that Warner Bros. was so eager to get the movie made. What would have made the Big Warner Bros. “Suits” think that Russell’s script could ever be anything but a confusing mess is a cultural-head-scratcher. This is especially true when one thinks about the woes that their previous funding of Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS had caused them. True, that film was highly praised by some — but it is also true that it spurred equal amounts of anger. Audiences either loved THE DEVILS or hated it. One can argue that a work that can cause such extreme reactions is most likely a very valid work of art. But, this does not usually spell “blockbuster” — and, as with THE DEVILS, it resulted in being banned all over the world. But whether it was some sort of frenzy over the fact that TOMMY was destined to be a huge hit, or the drug-out culture pervading Hollywood at the time or just the simple idea that “the kids” will pay good money to see anything with the lead singer of The Who, rock music and the “weirdness” of TOMMY — Ken Russell’s next infamous feature was approved and set quickly into production. It is perhaps the biggest budgeted example of Experimental or Surrealism ever made by a major Hollywood studio.

Roger Daltrey is Franz Liszt and he is enjoying one of his groupies.  LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Roger Daltrey is Franz Liszt and he is enjoying one of his groupies.
LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Ken Russell’s concept for the movie is not a bad one. Combined with his love of classical musical history, the creation of art, the cultural rebel and his new found interest in 1970′s Glam Rock Pop Culture — the basic idea of LISZTOMANIA is a seemingly valid and interesting cinematic idea. Anyone familiar with classical music history knows that Franz Liszt enjoyed a whole new sort of popularity during his lifetime. In the classical music “scene” of last quarter of  18th Century Europe, classical composers / musicians normally performed before a hushed audience who were there to take in the pleasure, power and essence of the music and “to be seen” — but Franz Liszt was inspiring something totally new in the world of performing arts. He didn’t just appeal to the wealthy. He appealed to almost everyone — particularly women. Reports of young women following him just to steal a tossed cigar or to catch a glimpse of their favorite composer.

Roger Daltrey in the prime of his Erotic Superstardom as Franz Liszt. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Roger Daltrey in the prime of his Erotic Superstardom as Franz Liszt. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

And, many reports on record state that patrons often had a hard time concentrating on Liszt’s music due to the noise of the young women who would scream and push forward to the stage. Though, the word did not yet exist — Franz Liszt had a loyal fan following. And these fanatic “fans” would swoon and be totally swept away by his playing as much as his mere presence.

Heinrich Heine first coined the term, “Lisztomania” in 1844. Heine saw the reaction of Liszt’s following as becoming hysterical and falling into a “Liszt Fever” — audiences literally going crazy as he took to the stage. Swooning, dazed and applauding throughout his performances. Franz Liszt had “groupies” and apparently enjoyed the pleasure of their company.

LISZTOMANIA, 1975

LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Though, modern scholars would most likely warn that this was nothing like Western culture experienced in the early 1960′s with The Beatles. But, a valid argument can still be made that Franz Liszt may have been the first “Pop Star” — with one of compositions we now refer to as “Chop Sticks” being a signature piece he would perform to the delight of the young women.

Princess Carolyn rests on a somewhat oddly yonic bed while enjoying a joint as Franz serenades her with his magical music…  LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Princess Carolyn rests on a somewhat oddly yonic bed while enjoying a joint as Franz serenades her with his magical music…
LISZTOMANIA, 1975

No doubt, Ken Russell saw the correlation between what is known about Franz Liszt and the 1970′s rock star. A rock star like Roger Daltrey. And, Ken Russell appears to take great joy in the meshing of costume with 1970′s Glam Rock fashion.

Franz Liszt about to leave the wife behind as he heads on to another lengthy tour. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Franz Liszt about to leave the wife behind as he heads on to another lengthy tour. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

LISZTOMANIA movie promotion, UK. 1975

LISZTOMANIA movie promotion, UK. 1975

Unfortunately, Ken Russell didn’t stop with the Rock Superstar metaphor / allegory. After the creative energy and sheer delight of creating outrageous set pieces for TOMMY, he wanted to push his idea even further. Suddenly, the story of Franz Liszt was an opportunity to illustrate the hipocracy of The Vatican and the vile politics of The Pope.  Here, Ken Russell had the “inspired” idea to cast Ringo Starr as The Pope. Religious icons were replaced with Pop Culture Icons such as modern rock and movie stars.

Ringo Starr is The Pope. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Ringo Starr is The Pope. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

And to examine the evil of humanity that would spawn Fascism and The Third Reich.  Oddly, there is a valid connection here to the story of Franz Liszt. His daughter, Cosima, would go on to marry Richard Wagner – both were vehement anti-Semites and were part of an idea that would eventually lead to the creation of The Third Reich. An idea that would corrupt German culture and plant a seed that would grow into The Nazi. All of this historical information fueled Russell’s imagination and pulsated into a comic book re-telling of the horror of The Holocaust — featuring Richard Wagner as the Ultimate Evil Villain vs. Franz Liszt as The Ultimate Super Hero to fight and beat down the Oppressive Nazi “Superman”.

The Creation of Wagner's Evil Nazi. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

The Creation of Wagner’s Evil Nazi. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

On top of all of these strained conceptual ideas, Ken Russell wanted to create a world of cinematic pop culture. A Surrealist take on both history and the creation of art. And, of course, where their is a pop star there will be sex. Ken Russell’s LISZTOMANIA Is obsessed with sex and the erotic. It is also obsessed with cartoonish takes on phallus symbology. One can hardly keep up with the number of penis substitutes in the set and costume designs.

Are those columns or is she just happy to see Franz. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Are those columns or is she just happy to see Franz. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

The movie is also quite intent on pursuing yonic symbols. From simple heart shapes to a literal giant vagina that sucks Franz Liszt in to a swooping ride.

Franz about to be sucked into the tunnel of wet love. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Franz about to be sucked into the tunnel of wet love. LISZTOMANIA, 1975

And, one of the strangest musical numbers involving the invoking of “Liszt True Muse” — his penis. …And, then chopping it off to free him of his ties to the carnal.

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Uh, oh. Franz is getting turned on… LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Uh, oh. Franz is getting turned on… LISZTOMANIA, 1975

The historical figures / groupies are seeing Franz's "genius" grow...

The historical figures / groupies are seeing Franz’s “genius” grow…

Taking a ride on the "genius" of Liszt… LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Taking a ride on the “genius” of Liszt… LISZTOMANIA, 1975

The musical boner...

The musical boner…

Oh no! Time to chop it off!

Oh no! Time to chop it off!

In the end, once we come to the conclusion of Ken Russell’s film, Franz Liszt must die. And, only in death can he truly beat The Evil Wagner Monster. Surrounded by his lovers, muses and even Cosima — he leads his ladies in a rock ballad and then they all zoom off in a rocket back to earth to defeat Wagner’s Nazi Demon and rid the world of Evil.

In Heaven, Franz leads his lovers in a rock ballad...

In Heaven, Franz leads his lovers in a rock ballad…

Before heading in a rather phallic "Organ" "Rocket" to kill the Evil Wagner Nazi! LISZTOMANIA, 1975

Before heading in a rather phallic “Organ” “Rocket” to kill the Evil Wagner Nazi! LISZTOMANIA, 1975

The camp factor is notched up to “13″ by the time Ken Russell’s film comes to a close.

One of the few truly inspired ideas of Russell’s in this movie is the musical score. Rick Wakeman brings his electronica conceptual musicianship to the film and “reconstructs” Liszt compositions into the form of mid-1970′s rock. While not always creating radio-friendly tunes — the idea is inspired and well worth a listen. However, no amount of promotion could push this soundtrack into a hit recording. The soundtrack, along with the movie, has developed a hardcore fan base.

The Rick Wakeman / Roger Daltrey soundtrack album.

The Rick Wakeman / Roger Daltrey soundtrack album.

The soundtrack itself has an interesting back story. Worried that the music Wakeman and Daltrey had created would never sell, Warners sold the rights to A&M Records who quickly pushed Wakeman to tone down the music actually used in the film in hopes of making it more “commercial” — the result is an uncomfortable mix of classical music and middle of the road rock.

Close to thirty years later, Rick Wakeman, issued a more proper soundtrack of the film via digital version.

Rick Wakeman: The Real LISZTOMANIA soundtrack recording, 2003

Rick Wakeman: The Real LISZTOMANIA soundtrack recording, 2003

This version preserves the more intense and insane concept of the musical score.

Erotic Exotic Fantastic - It out Tommy's Tommy.  LISZTOMANIA promotion, Restricted, 1975

Erotic Exotic Fantastic – It out Tommy’s Tommy.
LISZTOMANIA promotion, Restricted, 1975

The really odd thing about this horrible film is that it is actually so bad it is entertaining. A jaw-dropping cinematic experience if ever there was one, Ken Russell’s totally unhinged and unhindered vision results in a true cinematic curiosity that can only be considered a massive cinematic error. However, the off-kilter balance of Yuk-Yuk Vaudville jokes, music, Avant-Garde sets and waked-out visuals are truly mind-boggeling. It is hard to not enjoy this film and it does enjoy a strong cult following. A couple of years ago a pristine DVD was issued in the UK featuring a commentary from Mr. Russell himself recorded about a year before his death. Sadly, while his sense of humor is strong — his memory seems to have faded and he offers very little insight into what was going on in his head when he crafted this film. Sadly, the DVD was only released in the UK. However, Warner Brothers Archive had made a remastered and letter-boxed DVD version available on its website. They print it by order — as they do with several Ken Russell titles. Tragically, Warners still refuses to officially re-issue any version of THE DEVILS. That film was released to VHS briefly in a severely censored version in the early 1980′s.

I can’t help but feel a great deal of love for this misguided movie. I am filled with wonder and inspired by the simple fact that a mainstream Hollywood studio not only financed this movie but pushed it forward with a great deal of fanfare. If you get a chance, you might just find yourself enjoying the absolute insanity of Ken Russell’s LISZTOMANIA.

As a side note, while he did promote it at the time of its release, Roger Daltrey has refused to ever publicly discuss LISZTOMANIA since a week after it’s initial release. I find that odd, but then again — not as odd as the movie itself.

It's a wrap! And, Roger Daltrey is proudly carrying off a prop which was missing until a fan of Ken Russell met the director and confessed that he had the giant cock in his backyard. He would not tell Mr. Russell how he came to have it.

It’s a wrap! And, Roger Daltrey is proudly carrying off a prop which was missing until a fan of Ken Russell met the director and confessed that he had the giant cock in his backyard. He would not tell Mr. Russell how he came to have it.

And, who knew Franz Liszt spoke with a Cockney accent?!?!!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Postman Always Rings Twice | 1981

The Postman Always Rings Twice | 1981

The Postman Always Rings Twice
Jack Nicholson | Jessica FUCKING Lange
Bob Rafelson | 1981
Sven Nykvist | Cinematography

Next month, the infamous and controversial remake of Tay Garnett’s 1946 Film Noir classic will be issued on Blu-Ray.

In 1981 I was I was 14 when my father took me to see Bob Rafelson’s gritty and darkly erotic take on an Old-School Hollywood movie. I was fascinated by the film. I remember thinking I would be bored, but it drew me like a moth to a flame. I remember thinking that I had never seen an actress so charged as Nicholson took her on that dirty kitchen table.  And, I remember thinking it odd that I found myself rooting for the drifter and the sultry wife as they attempted to get away with murdering her immigrant husband. And, I recall being so shocked when Nicholson’s character beat Jessica Lange up to aid in their “cover” for the murder. I also remember feeling conflicted about the way the film ended.

At the time, I had never seen the original 1946 movie. But it wasn’t too long after I saw Rafelson’s take on it that I caught it on that “thing” we used to call “The Late Show” –

The Postman Always Rings Twice | 1946

The Postman Always Rings Twice | 1946

— and I was so very bored and disinterested with it.  John Garfield seemed kind of gay to me and I thought Lana Turner looked sort of like a drag queen. There was a lot of style to it as this was classic Hollywood Film Noir, but it just bored me. There was no heat. And, I know I felt that it didn’t have that interesting look that, as I became older, realized was the style of Sven Nykvist. The lighting and the camera angles were so interesting to me at 14. Nykvist’s work still fascinates me.  The difference is that now I understand why. I think I even told a friend that the old movie seemed flat and that everything about the lust or desire seemed like a bad play.  Where was the passion? Where was the heat? Where was the frenzied obsession?

Nicholson and Lange hit it on the table...

Nicholson and Lange hit it on the table…

Years later, I attended an Art House Cinema screening of the Tay Garnett movie when I lived in Boston. Seeing the film in my late 20′s was an entirely different experience. It still felt fake, but the style of the camera work and the lighting was amazing. Garfield and Turner were beautiful to me.  But I was still unable to “buy” in on their supposed erotic attraction. It felt as fake as the backdrops. The glam of it all seemed to get in the way of the story.

John Garfield & Lana Turner about to hit it??!!?

John Garfield & Lana Turner about to hit it??!!?

I saw this screening with a pal of mine at the time and mentioned the remake I had seen with my father.  He was about ten years older than me and had seen it when it came out as well. However, he saw it with the eyes of a newly graduated college dude. He told me that he liked the remake but found it transgressive and borderline soft-porn. I didn’t remember it like that.  He laughed and told me I was a kid when I saw it and then led me into a discussion about why would a father take his 14 year old son to see a movie like that. Blah, blah, blah…

Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange most definitely about to hit it...

Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange most definitely about to hit it…

I have not seen the Bob Rafelson remake since I was 14.  I’m quite curious to see if it lives up to my memories of the carnal obsession and lust I seemed to literally feel. I wonder if I will, as middle aged man, believe the desire gushing from Jessica Lange. Or, will it feel fake? Will it feel like a movie trying to be edgy as cinema moved out of the free-range 1970′s into the more controlled and restrained 1980′s?

Will it feel as staged and phony as the 1946 movie? Will it be as cinematically beautiful as the 1946 original film? Will late 1970′s cinematography trump 1940′s Hollywood Film Noir?

The Postman Always Rings Twice | 1981 Lobby Card

The Postman Always Rings Twice | 1981 Lobby Card

I don’t know. But, I can’t wait to secure a copy of that Blu-Ray and find out!

 

 

 

Goldfrapp / Tale of Us Photograph | Annemarieke van Drimmelen

Goldfrapp / Tale of Us
Photograph | Annemarieke van Drimmelen

For those of us who have followed Alison Goldfrapp and Wil Gregory on their journey as “Goldfrapp” from the very beginning , the one thing we know is that we can always expect the unexpected. For those who have only paid attention to the few “hit singles” the sonic career of Goldfrapp is often problematic. I’ve had friends complain that they either miss the Electronic / Ambient sounds of  “Felt Mountain” or they want the Cerrone / Moroder hedonistic lush disco of “Supernature”  – or a mix of the two as was the case with their second full length album, “Black Cherry”.  Others, still, fell into love with the sensuous electro-folk / art vibe of “Seventh Tree”  — I’ve heard only a very few non-FrappHeads lay a claim of love for the somewhat strange lapse into the retro-early 80′s synth pop of “Head First”

Alison Goldfrapp & Wil Gregory | Head First Photograph by Mat Maitland

Alison Goldfrapp & Wil Gregory | Head First
Photograph by Mat Maitland

But the endlessly fascinating joy of Goldfrapp is the unpredictable sounds that they come up with next. I was in Montreal when I first heard “Felt Mountain” and I will never forget the allure of it as my brain was literally pulled into the album from the opening track, “Lovely Head” to the very close. I actually curled up into one of those cushy chairs that one used to find in the record stores of the 1990′s and listened to the whole album while sipping my tea.

And, then being jolted into the perverse world of “Black Cherry” — at once beautiful and then erotically disco saturated in a way that Trent Reznor could have only tried to imagine. One would be hard pressed to find a better example of groin thud inducing Post-Industrial drive of “Train”

And, then they gave us “Supernature” which is probably the closest they have ever come to capturing the ears of the mainstream. This album was pure and unabashed 1970′s down and dirty synth disco inspired. Goldfrapp took inspiration from the sounds of Cerrone and Moroder and made it their own. Stylized and fun, this album soared as did their tour. And, their live shows are always amazing.

But, then we were really thrown off what felt like a steady course to the throne of Dance Club Musicians to the netherworld of “Seventh Tree” which is still, in my opinion, Goldfrapp’s finest moment. “Seventh Tree” was unique unto itself and fit easily into any life situation. Lazy afternoon alone, romantic evening with a lover, spring-cleaning the house or just chilling with a smoke in the living room. “Seventh Tree” was stunningly beautiful and about as organic as Electronica can ever hope to be. But, this was when I noticed many of my pals uncomfortable with the fact that they could not categorize Goldfrapp. Some adored “Seventh Tree” and others were bummed to not continue that retro disco-drenched path that was now starting to be led by the likes of Lady GaGa.

And, then, in 2010 – “Head First” landed on my iPod. Not that I could complain. I liked it. It was very Olivia Newton-John-ish work out music with a tad of experimental electronica. However, as catchy as some of the tunes were — the album felt uninspired compared to the previous work. And the normally fantastically odd video art to promote the album was just not up to par. About a year or so after the release of this album Alison Goldfrapp admitted she was not really satisfied with the result of the album and was wishing they had given the songs to other artists to record.

Goldfrapp is not so much a band or “duo” as two distinctive musical and visual artists creating sonic art. This is not your Mom’s pop band. And, I love the honesty and the experimentation with sound. You either follow along or just stop.

On September 7, 2013 “Tale of Us” officially arrived.

Alison Goldfrapp | Tale of Us Photograph | Annemarieke van Drimmelen

Alison Goldfrapp | Tale of Us
Photograph | Annemarieke van Drimmelen

 

The above photograph is a collage edit by Mark Wallis.

The credit for the above photograph should be Lisa Gunning/ Mark Wallis/ Annemarieke van Drimmelen

I had already heard three leaked tracks. I knew we would be receiving a sort of rebirth – a sort of full circle return to the original “Felt Mountain” Electric Ambience.  However, once I had an official copy of the full length work I discovered the Goldfrapp threw another curve into the mix. This is not a rebirthing or even a full circle — this is something new. Taken as a whole, “Tale of Us” could almost serve as the soundtrack to the art sculptures of David Lynch or to scenes from some of his film work. While these songs are most certainly Electronica in style — they go deeper. There is a fusing of  Folk and Movie Score elements twisting into the sound.

“Tale of Us” is a lush Folktronica Cinematic Soundscape. It starts with the first track and sends you on a sonic journey to the final notes of the last. I love it.

Goldfrapp_Drew

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Alison Goldfrapp Photograph | Annemarieke van Drimmelen

Alison Goldfrapp
Photograph | Annemarieke van Drimmelen

The packaging, art design and photography by Annemarieke van Drimmelen all combine to make this more than “product” — you are holding art.  The care and devotion paid to the way everything about “Tale of Us” has been done should be appreciated. It reminds me a bit of the work that accompanied “Seventh Tree” only this time it is a bit darker and deeper. This time we have moved into a sort of lush and sensual Gothica Sonic Noir.

goldfrapp

But, it is unlikely that this album will satisfy the majority of listeners. There is an interesting problem for Goldfrapp’s “Tale of Us” — what makes it interesting is that this would not have been a problem back in the days of vinyl when Art-Alt Rock work was appreciated in full. Back in the day when you actually put on a Patti Smith Group or Kate Bush album with headphones and listened from start to finish.

We now live in a world where everything seems to want to boil down to the minute. In other words, everyone seems to need a hit single. There are singles here, but oddly the first official single from this album is not so impressive when heard alone. However, when one takes in “Tale of Us” from beginning to end – the power and the beauty of the album capture you. However, this album is not truly “ambient” – it is more moody. The compositions demand to be heard. And when taken in together they form a whole that make it all worth while.

But do consumers have the patience for such an artistic work? I hope so. This is a sonic treasure. And, as always, Goldfrapp has taken an unexpected turn into new musical waters. I am more than thrilled to float along.

Ms. Goldfrapp Photograph by Annemarieke van Drimmelen

Ms. Goldfrapp
Photograph by Annemarieke van Drimmelen

The two videos I’ve seen so far are sensual. However, on the down side, the video for “Drew” feels a bit dated. It reminds me of a Calvin Klein fragrance advert. But, it is still lovely. Too bad it was not a striking as Annemarieke van Drimmelen’s photography of Alison Goldfrapp. As per usual, Will Gregory seems happy to stay hidden away in the background somewhere. The second video for “Anabel” is far stronger. This video is even a bit provocative and cinematic. A young boy seems to be mourning the loss of his mother and ends up dancing in the woods in an old dress that must have belonged to her. This far more fits the Gothic / Neo-Noir mood of the compositions.

Goldfrapp-Annabel-584x584

So, if you love Goldfrapp, you will love the new album. If you only care for some of their work — you will most likely only like this latest work if you loved the first two albums. If you loved “Supernature” and “Seventh Tree” only — you might not want to go on this ride. But, if you ask me, you’ll be missing out. Sadly, in the world of music, it is getting harder and harder for true artist to get their voices heard. Goldfrapp are two artists who have a platform and they are delivering original and masterfully mature Prog-Rock work.

1015081_10151403493166261_1290674108_o

Matty Stanfield | September. 2013

It never fails to fascinate me how photographers project his/her own individual eroticism on to the models each chooses to photograph.  When female or males are photographed for his/her own body form, a reflection of the photographer’s own esthetic or concept is forever captured.  From models to movie stars to musicians – photographers turn the focus.

And, when an artist explores themselves via “Self-Portrait” it sheds an additional layer of meaning or depth. I find the self-portraits of Walt Cessna to be particularly powerful, dark, sensual, erotic, sad and beautiful all at once. While the self-portraits by Tony Ward reveal some comic and oddly unaware. Ryan Pfluger’s self-portraits reveal something altogether different – a sort of neo-geek embrace.

These images are sometimes sensual, often erotic and illustrate certain fetishes. I have selected these images for a number of reasons ranging from composition to perspective and from my own tastes in eroticism to my individual preferences regarding the art of the esthetic eye.

What is “trash” to one person is “art” to another. This is all subjective. I intend to pull together a collection of female form study photography soon.

” The only difference between porn and art is the lighting.” — Tony Ward

Photograph by Sylvain Norget

Photograph by Sylvain Norget

Photograph by Jameel Odom

Photograph by Jameel Odom

Photograph by Roy Blakey

Photograph by Roy Blakey

Self-Portrait by Mr McSquishyface

Self-Portrait by Mr McSquishyface

Self Portrait by Walt Cessna

Self Portrait by Walt Cessna

Antony by Merri Cyr

Antony by Merri Cyr

Norman Reedus by Terry Richardson

Norman Reedus by Terry Richardson

Photograph by Karl Axon

Photograph by Karl Axon

Kenneth Branagh by Donald Christie

Kenneth Branagh by Donald Christie

Kenneth Branagh by Donald Christie

Kenneth Branagh by Donald Christie

Scooter LaForge by Krys Fox

Scooter LaForge by Krys Fox

Photograph by Krys Fox

Photograph by Krys Fox

Photograph by Brett Lindell

Photograph by Brett Lindell

Self-Portrait by Damien Cox

Self-Portrait by Damien Cox

Photograph by Cameron Lee Phan

Photograph by Cameron Lee Phan

Benjamin Fredrickson by Walt Cessna

Benjamin Fredrickson by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Dimitris Theocharis

Photograph by Dimitris Theocharis

Photograph by Jeremy Lucido

Photograph by Jeremy Lucido

Brendan Healy by Drasko Bogdanovic

Brendan Healy by Drasko Bogdanovic

Photograph by Judy Dater

Photograph by Judy Dater

Photograph by Mr. Elbank

Photograph by Mr. Elbank

Hank III by Tara Israel

Hank III by Tara Israel

Photograph by Luigi and Luca

Photograph by Luigi and Luca

Photograph by  Peter Hujar

Photograph by Peter Hujar

Eric Ladin by  Joan Allen

Eric Ladin by Joan Allen

Photograph by Eric Martin

Photograph by Eric Martin

Photograph by Bell Soto

Photograph by Bell Soto

Justin Chatwin by Emmy Rossum via Instagram

Justin Chatwin by Emmy Rossum via Instagram

Photograph by Arno

Photograph by Arno

Photograph by Jody Rogac

Photograph by Jody Rogac

Photograph by Chris Phillips

Photograph by Chris Phillips

Photograph by Evgeny Mokhorev

Photograph by Evgeny Mokhorev

Photograph by  Ulrike Biets

Photograph by Ulrike Biets

BUTT Magazine Photograph by Javier Guerrero

BUTT Magazine Photograph by Javier Guerrero

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Self-Portrait by Adrian Thaws / Tricky

Self-Portrait by Adrian Thaws / Tricky

Huang Xiao Ming by Santiago Ruiseno

Huang Xiao Ming by Santiago Ruiseno

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Photograph by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Photograph by Rainer Torrado

Photograph by Rainer Torrado

Photograph by Cedric Buchet

Photograph by Cedric Buchet

Lee Byung-Hun by Mitchell Amundsen

Lee Byung-Hun by Mitchell Amundsen

Photograph by Kemuel Valdes

Photograph by Kemuel Valdes

Photograph by David Wagner

Photograph by David Wagner

Tom Hiddleston by Jason Hetherington

Tom Hiddleston by Jason Hetherington

Photograph by Matthew Brookes

Photograph by Matthew Brookes

Photograph by Maggie Lochtenberg

Photograph by Maggie Lochtenberg

Tom Hardy by Alasdair McLellan

Tom Hardy by Alasdair McLellan

Self-Portraits by Joshua Seven

Self-Portraits by Joshua Seven

Photograph by Mikel Marton

Photograph by Mikel Marton

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Joseph Gordon-Levitt by Matt Hoyle

Joseph Gordon-Levitt by Matt Hoyle

Photograph by Sergei Vasiliev

Photograph by Sergei Vasiliev

James Ransone by Ryan Pfluger

James Ransone by Ryan Pfluger

Self-Portraits by Ryan Pfluger

Self-Portraits by Ryan Pfluger

Self Portrait by Brian Oldham

Self Portrait by Brian Oldham

Photograph by Justin Violini

Photograph by Justin Violini

Photograph by Ren Hang

Photograph by Ren Hang

The White Buffalo by Adam Fedderly

The White Buffalo by Adam Fedderly

Rikki Crowley / Rica-Shay by Jeff Silverman

Rikki Crowley / Rica-Shay by Jeff Silverman

Photograph by Arte Nhum

Photograph by Arte Nhum

Marlon Brando by Valentin Jeck

Marlon Brando by Valentin Jeck

Matthias Schoenaerts by Thomas Vanhaute

Matthias Schoenaerts by Thomas Vanhaute

Koortwah by Jason Rodgers

Koortwah by Jason Rodgers

Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe

Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe

James Franco by Inez & Vinoodh

James Franco by Inez & Vinoodh

Photograph by Ryan Pfluger

Photograph by Ryan Pfluger

Scooter LaForge by Walt Cessna

Scooter LaForge by Walt Cessna

Self-Portrait by Walt Cessna

Self-Portrait by Walt Cessna

Self Portrait by Tony Ward

Self Portrait by Tony Ward

Tony Ward by Dimitris Theocharis

Tony Ward by Dimitris Theocharis

Tony Ward, Again by Mariano Vivanco

Tony Ward, Again by Mariano Vivanco

Mark Rylance by Spencer Murphy

Mark Rylance by Spencer Murphy

Photograph by Lope Navo

Photograph by Lope Navo

Photography Collage by Emily Callahan

Photography Collage by Emily Callahan

Josh Charles by Howard Schatz

Josh Charles by Howard Schatz

James Blake by Fabrizio Raschetti

James Blake by Fabrizio Raschetti

Tom Waits by Anton Corbijn

Tom Waits by Anton Corbijn

Ewan McGregor by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Ewan McGregor by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Photograph by Walt Cessna

Rikki Crowley by Walt Cessna

Rikki Crowley by Walt Cessna

Scooter LaForge by Walt Cessna

Scooter LaForge by Walt Cessna

Jared Leto by Terry Richardson

Jared Leto by Terry Richardson

Joseph Gordon-Levitt by David Sims

Joseph Gordon-Levitt by David Sims

Self-Portrait by Walt Cessna

Self-Portrait by Walt Cessna

 

 

Matty Stanfield

June 27, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCOOK_KooKoo

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AN14522669The-enclosedattac

AN14528789The-enclosedattac

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Debbie FUCKING Harry
Koo Koo | 1981
Art Direction / Design | HR Giger
Photograph | Brian Aris
Rockbird | 1986
Art Direction / Design | Andy Warhol / Stephen Sprouse
Photograph | Guzman

Book of Love | Love Bubble

Book of Love | Love Bubble

Hey, Club Kidz!

It’s 3am, the lights are bursting, my heart is racing, everyone is moving so slow and fast at once and I love everybody!

“Hunny Hunny” is blasting through my skull like fucked-up brain candy.

Who needs that fucking water?!?!?

These platform shoes don’t hurt anymore! 

What’s my phone number?!?!? Move! 

Fuck Off and dance!

Glitter! Glitter! Thump! Thump! Fuck you, Man – - How did YOU get in here?!!? 

We all fall down.

Wait! Dude!?!?

It can’t be stopped. He pulls me and we roll through vomit and piss. Is he kissing me now?!? 

Dance! Just Dance! 

And, now, dancing down some alley.

…dancing to some odd adventure at a grocery store.

Disco groceries?!?!?

The glitter trails behind us as we stumble-dance our way around the aisles. 

Is that noise real or is it in my head?

Is that your hand? 

Can you turn down the lights here?

Thump! Thump!

Tripping out onto the street…

Well, this is just a brief memory from a somewhat forgotten and misspent  youth. 

Matty Stanfield | NYC | 1993

There are still a couple of movies scheduled for release this year, but I don’t hold very high expectations. However, one can’t close his/her mind.

Thus far – these have been my favorite films of 2012:

Lee Daniels’ transgressive The Paper Boy

THE PAPER BOY/Lee Daniels

Rian Johnson’s brilliant puzzle of a movie: LOOPER

LOOPER/Rian Johnson

Todd Solondz’s surreal DARK HORSE

Dark Horse/Todd Solondz

Haneke’s gut puncher: AMOUR

Amour/Michael Haneke

Paolo Sorrentino’s unexpected THIS MUST BE THE PLACE

This Must Be The Place/Paolo Sorrentino

Ridley Scott’s beautifully flawed and thought provoking PROMETHEUS

Prometheus/Ridley Scott

The Queen of Versailles/Lauren Greenfield

Timur Bekmambetov’s Lincoln: Vampire Hunter so earnestly silly that I loved every over-the-top moment.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter/Timur Bekmambetov*

Colin Trevorrow’s SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED seemed to come out from nowhere and managed to work on all levels.

Safety Not Guaranteed/Colin Trevorrow

*(I know it was incredibly stupid, but the absurdity of it all made me love it!)

Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson almost made my list, but it somehow just felt too slight for me. However, it was worth the price of admission.

Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM almost grabbed me, but all those great cinematic moments just didn’t add up to much more than a trifle.

Thus far, the two performances by actors that totally blew me away were:

Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz

Michelle Williams fills the screen with heartbreaking power in Take This Waltz

and

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

Joaquin Phoenix delivers an unforgettable and transformative performance in The Master.

(tho, I didn’t really care for either of those movie — those two actors wereAMAZING in them!)

Looking back, 2012 was one of the worst years I can recall at the cinema. However, there were a few gems. Thus far, these are the ones that most glowed for me. 

WHITE MATERIAL

Claire Denis/2009

Isabelle Huppert, Christophe Lambert and Nicolas Duvauchell

Isabelle searing the screen with strength against all logic in Claire Denis’ quietly powerful WHITE MATERIAL

Destined to go down as one of the best films of the early 21st Century. I think it just takes time for great art to be understood and viewed from the correct perspective. 

The threat of death is ignored for the struggle for what is perceived as hers… Isabelle Huppert in WHITE MATERIAL

As the white woman holds on to the bus filled with hostile Africans, she is determined to claim her rights as a fellow native. …Lost and out of place, but refusing to let go.  She simply cannot fathom that “her” country is no longer – nor has it ever really been – hers.

Nicolas Duvauchelle as the lost son in WHITE MATERIAL

…or that of her family. 

 

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