Goin' to the Philly Folk Fest. You should, too. I'll be back someday. Right now I'm off to dump the milk before it goes bad.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Friday, August 20, 2004
The Strangest Movies in the World
I just saw the strangest movie I’m likely to see this year. It’s a film by Guy Maddin called Cowards Bend the Knee, and it’s playing at the Film Forum now. If you see it, it will be the weirdest movie YOU’LL see all year.
Cowards is shot like an old crank nickelodeon peep-show – it was originally meant to be viewed through peepholes at an installation; consequently, it’s been split into 10 different chapters. It’s in jumpy, weathered black and white, and all the dialogue is done on cards, like a silent movie.
The story concerns a young hockey player named Guy Maddin (but played by someone else), so it may be a bit autobiographical. But just a bit. After all, any movie with captions like “Guy tries to stop the ghost from having an abortion” can’t be completely fact-based, can it?
Essentially, Guy is drawn away from his girlfriend Veronica while she’s on the operating table in the back of a bordello. (Well, hair-stylist by day, bordello by night. Back-alley abortions any old time, it seems.) There, he falls in love with the madam’s daughter Meta, who – as they frolick on a mound of hockey gloves, convinces him to kill her mother and her boyfriend, Guy’s close friend Skippy. She wants revenge because THEY killed her father and chopped off his hands.
She has the hands. They’ve been dyed blue with hair styling chemicals (Skippy had thrown them under the sink), but they’ve been preserved in a jar. And…
Meta drugs Guy, and tells the doctor to give him an involuntary hand transplant. Unbeknownst to anyone, he simply paints Guy’s hands blue, and calls it a day. Guy, thinking his “new” hands want revenge, goes on a killing spree. And, in one odd shower scene, a butt-buzzing spree. Don’t ask – I’m not even sure I could explain.
There are plenty of other odd things in the film, and you can discover them for yourself. There’s also plenty of nudity, some of it startling– it is a peepshow after all.
Then again, this may not be the strangest film I’ve seen, since right beforehand were three shorts, two by Madden and one by the Quay Brothers. The Quay Brothers’ "Phantom Museum” is the most unsettling of the bunch – it’s a wordless tour through a museum of medical instruments. Parts of it are quite haunting.
The Madden shorts are silly, disconcerting fun. In “Sombra Delarosa,” a mother must wrestle death – “El Muerto!” in a mexican wrestling ring to prevent her daughter from committing suicide after her husband dies. And then there’s “Sissy-Boy Slap Party.” The name really does say it all – but it still has to be seen to be believed.
It really does.
(“I turn my back for five minutes, and there you go—slappin’ each other!”)
Thursday, August 19, 2004
This started out as a post I intended to add to a thread at the Pulse about independent comics, but I decided to put it here, instead, where hardly anyone will see it. (I guess I'll post it over there, too.)
I read a fair bit (and a wide variety) of independent comics – Berlin, Age of Bronze, Optic Nerve, Colonia, Girl Genius, among others – but there are plenty of books that I don’t read. And so, while this question isn’t really aimed at me, I thought I’d take a moment to think about what keeps me from reading Indy books I might otherwise like.
1) Don’t even bother with superheroes. I might pick an indy superhero book up on a lark, but look at who you’re competing with. DC 7 Marvel have huge marketing power, and they’ve already got my interest in their respective universes. If I’ve got extra superhero money to spend, 19 out of 20 times it’ll go to a big-two comic I’ve heard good things about. But if I want a Western, space opera, slice of life drama, historical fiction, romantic comedy, where do I turn? Independents, that’s where. And don’t bother putting a cape on it. Give it to me straight.
2) As a corollary to that, I’m sure there are exceptions that prove the rule, but superheroes ain’t superheroes in black and white. I’m willing to read just about anything else in b/w, but if I’m reading superheroes, I want to know what color the costumes are.
3) Poor lettering. There’s plenty of computer lettering fonts available now, so there’s really no excuse for bad lettering in a book. (No need to get to fancy, though—make it EASY to read, rather than pretty to read.) But balloon placement is also part of lettering, and there’s no program that’ll help you with that. If you don’t have a good idea of how the eye flows across a page, I won’t trust you to tell me a compelling story. Because NO story is compelling when you’re trying to figure out what word goes where.
4) If I see a typo on the page or two I pick up to read in the store, I’ll think you don’t care enough about your product. So why should I?
5) Subject matter. I’m sick of elves and vampires and shadowy government conspiracies. Plenty of people aren’t, and I’m not saying you won’t make money – you just won’t get MY money.
So what are ways that an indy comic can get my dough?
6) Trade paperbacks. If I don’t know your work, a trade paperback will make me take it more seriously. It’ll make me think you have staying power. Hopefully, you do.
7) If you’ve got an introduction by an author I like in your trade paperback, I’m more likely to give it a look. Depending on the writer, it’s almost as good as a recommendation from a friend.
8) Make your first issue satisfying. If it’s all setup for part two, it’s wasted time, because I’m never going to read part two unless you knocked my socks off. And you can’t count on that – I wear tight socks. It doesn’t have to be a complete story, but it does have to be a satisfying chunk.
9) Give me suspense. That’s the best way to keep me from waiting for a trade – make me curse the wait.
I’ll probably think of more, but that’s what I’ve got now.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Out of the mouths of babes. Or doofuses. Or whatever has the equivalent IQ to a baby doofus...
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we," Bush said.
You're tellin' me...