Dir: Stuart Gordon
Can you believe I’d never seen Re-Animator until now?
I lived outside of the States for the middle part of the ’80s, and where I lived was far from the cinema, and we couldn’t afford those newfangled VCR thingies. So a lot of “classic” ’80s films have passed me by.
It was my friend Chris S_____ who recommended I see the film in a “you mean you’ve never?” situation. That on top of my Lovecraft reading this week made the screening a must. All spruced up for a 2-DVD set, the film now looks great instead of a “video nasty,” which was always its reputation in the U.K.
So, the film was a jolly lot of fun. I like my horror less hilarious, but I did admire its silliness. But I don’t feel there’s much to say about the film a few days after watching it. Some points:
• Fake cats always amuse–fake, psychotic, undead cats are even better.
• Complete nudity from the lead actress dates this film to that most liberal of eras…the Reagan Administration.
• Dr. Hill (David Gale) looks strangely like John Kerry.
• It’s perfectly fitting that the magic potion in an ’80s film is neon green.
• A great, Hermann-inspired soundtrack by Richard Band–the soundtrack lends a touch of seriousness to the film which a rock band wouldn’t.

Celine Dion Smells Like Monkey Ass

Or rather, her perfume does. Jessica and I were out doing some late night shopping and stopped in Longs Drugs to get some contact lens cleaner. We had spent the day in and out of a few department stores and Body Shop-type places, so I was no stranger to sampling aromas. Jessica had a short spritz of this new perfume from the Screeching Queen of Chest Pounding herself, Celine Dion, and it took one second to realize that this is ONE OF THE WORST PERFUMES I’VE EVER CLAPPED NOSTRILS ON. Seriously. It’s up there with patchouli, a monkey house, and a truck-stop bathroom, as my least favorite pongs. Cloying, sweet, more like an air-freshener from a 99 Cent store than perfume. We couldn’t believe it. Worse,we couldn’t get it off Jessica’s wrist and we drove home in pure suffering. When we got to San Andreas Street, there was the unmistakable smell of a skunk, and you know what? It was better than the smell in the car. When we got home Jessica scrubbed her arm like she was going in to operate on someone, and, because she had wiped some of her arm off on me in the initial panic, I had to throw my shirt in the wash and jump in the shower. Brutal.
However, I did come up with a slogan for the perfume. Celine Dion: “My Fart Will Go On.”
If you think I’m exaggerating, go to your local drugstore and try it.

Towers in the Park

I’m a big fan of righteous rants about bad architecture, and this one over at does me fine. It takes on the awful submissions for the New York City Olympic village, then goes into a general dissing of awful modernism. “Modernism is still with us,” they claim.

Those plazas, so spankingly ‘open’ and ‘clean’ in drawings and models, in practice quickly cracked and stained. Trash, litter and gusts of wind have always liked them better than workers and inhabitants have; real-live people bundle up, shield their eyes against the swirls of grit, and hurry across these immense stretches of abstract nothingness feeling like ants. The rows of towers often turned out to feel crushingly heavy; and glass towers are often temperamental creatures, far more trouble and costly than advertised to maintain.

By way of City Comforts Blog

The Fog of War

Dir: Errol Morris
Robert McNamara loves to tell a story and hinge it on one big “But!”
He does this several times in Morris’ fabulous, unnerving documentary on the man people consider the architect of the Vietnam War. “But!” he interjects, looking right into the camera and holding his index finger aloft.
This habit suggests a lot about McNamara–the “but” marks the flipside of the coin, the opposite viewpoint, the enemy’s POV. It’s business sense, it war strategist’s sense, it’s science.
Morris handles the conflicting strands in McNamara’s story well–a man who helped create the war, but who claims it was so large it was beyond his control. A man who admits the failure of the war, but will not accept any blame or issue an apology (or perhaps he knows an apology will sound facile and too late if he offers one). How mathematics and statistics helped the Americans win WWII. How those abstractions cover atrocities like the fire bombing of Tokyo and the atomic bomb drops. (Morris’ shot of numbers and symbols dropping from the bombbay doors onto a Japanese landscape is a succinct visualisation.)
Charles Taylor’s review in Salon chided Morris for letting technique get in the way of his subject, but I never felt this was the case. Morris enlivens his subjects with his (sparsely used here) use of graphics, but does leave most of the film devoted to McNamara’s onscreen narration. I came away with the feeling that McNamara knows full well what he’s done, but who is still wrestling with how abstract his crimes and his guilt should be.

The Blue Planet: The Deep

Prod: Alastair Fothergill
After watching Finding Nemo,
by chance a DVD I had ordered came in the mail the next day ready to complement Pixar’s fishy fantasy. The Blue Planet is an 8-part documentary miniseries about the ocean, narrated by Mr. Nature Doc himself, David Attenborough. The episode called “The Deep” explores the deep ocean like never before, discovering all sorts of freakish and often unnerving species living in the dark. The depth means that very little animal or vegetable matter is floating around, making the water (when lit by the submersible) as clear as air. On DVD, this makes for some sharp-as-tack photography, and this hour-long episode is pure eye-candy all the way. As the camera crew–in this tiny diving machine designed to withstand the incredible pressures–descend the discoveries become more incredible. We’ve all seen the angler fish, with his little glowing lure and huge teeth, but did you know as some points in the ocean there is a lake at the bottom? Or that around the volcanic vents in the continental shelf there are worms and crabs designed to live in boiling water? This is a DVD sure to astonish anybody and I’m sure will hold up to several viewings. (There’s another episode on the DVD, “Open Ocean,” but I haven’t bothered with it yet!)
Side note: The reason I bought this is, well, for some time I’ve been interested in deep sea fishes and other creatures (among thousands of other interests, but it’s filed away in the brain). The other day somebody posted a selection of astonishing photos on Metafilter, causing me to link to it over on Stone Cold Pimpin’. In Metafilter’s comment section, one poster mentioned this video. I followed his link to Amazon and bought it used. I mention this because there is no way any computer algorithm could figure I’d be interested in such a project. Amazon’s still recommending I buy “Poison Ivy 2” for goshsakes.

Bua-Hima – Chit-tak!

Small Room/Universal Music Thailand, UM054506

A friend of mine from Thailand, who is part of the group nolens.volens sent me a huge care package of CD goodies
in exchange for some mp3-age the other day. I’m slowly going through it all, seeing what I like.
Bua-Hima popped out because of their promising cover art (!) and bizarre title track. Of the groups I was sent, this seems to be the most schizophrenic. The opening tracks are an interesting blend of repetitive cello, twangy guitar, and Moog-like synths. A man speaks over the top of this while a quiet whooshing storm brews in the electronics behind him. Then some breakbeats, and it seems like it’s going to turn into a Buffalo Daughter-like prog jam. It splits up into the old “go through the radio dial” tactic, then settles on a vocal sample and loops it, before returning to the jam again.
Elsewhere, Bua-Hima nick ideas from Point-era Cornelius, has a child singing about birds and balls, gets all lounge-lizard on us, go minimalist and funk-housey, and dabble in bossa-house.
With the exception of a few typical gloppy ballads (track 3 and 4) this is an adventurous outing for what I’ve heard of Thai rock, though still pretty enthralled to its Japanese neighbors. It does seem however, that it put all of its best ideas into the first two tracks.
One website lists this album as a “concept album”–I would like somebody tell me what that is, as I’m sure missing it…