Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 1987

Monday, August 06, 2007

Ride, Kamikaze Girls, Ride!

A rather drab weekend of movies, including covering UNDERDOG for another "ahem" employer. At any rate, I figured since I need cheering up I'll write about the movie that rocked my world awhile ago, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, recently screened at the Asian Film Festival.

I mention all this because KAMIKAZE GIRLS has given me the strength to keep climbing as an artist, which is a weird thing to say in regards to a manga-based pop art comedy about the friendship of two rural Japanese oddball teenager chicks. And this isn't I, may stress, one of those Japanese biker chick movies geared towards "ahem" Japenese businessmen whose level of repression demands maximum transgression, if I may coin a phrase. No, very little violence (except a few very unsexy beat-downs) and no sex and only one ripple of failed romance... not even hints of frustrated lesbian desire... NOTHING like that, and it's sooo refreshing... this is a story meant for teenagers about staying true to your eccentricities and your friends above all, but it also reaches out to all us freaks in the world of art, writing, video, fashion, etc., who are continually at odds with making money vs. compromising, or working behind the dream machine apparatus and therefore losing half the magic of the dream vs. keeping it all as a sacred hobby.

One of the girls is a fashion plate dancing to her own "French Rococo Period" drummer, the other is a cycle punkette. Rather than forming a clique to fit in, the girls stay iconoclasts to the end; they ride alone, together. They come across as titans of genuine female teenager characterization in a cinema so utterly bankrupt of same that when a movie that makes a halfway effort, like MEAN GIRLS, it reaps decades of accolades. The artistic rescue sequences play like slow poison to the viewer’s artistic insecurities. You leave the theater realizing you have just been given the courage to go on and so your vices suddenly seem very uncool (neither of these girls drinks or does drugs. “Not even solvents?” one of her biker friends asks, surprised).

Not even solvents, man. Did I mention I quit smoking?

Off they ride now... off to new adventures in fashion and bicycle chain beating. Ride, Kamikaze Girls, Ride!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Sabotage Cafe

So I finished the series of films I did for Josh and his Sabotage Cafe, now available at L'amazon and al libre store nearst thee. There are 5 videos total, each about 3 minutes in length, snapshot video letters home to mom from a runaway street punk/urchin in Minneapolis.

Mandy Richchi plays la punkette and her performance is riveting in a way I hope people will appreciate; I hope it won't slip by them because it is so natural. We've been so worn down by the reptition of certain styles of characterization that when a true original comes along it burn us. You can hear and feel between the cracks of infinity when you gaze into the glistening light reflection on her eyes- and in the way her voice chokes down the pain and anxiety of separation from mom and home with the bravado of booze and youthful exhuberance. Richichi is a student at Pratt, part of a gang of young writers who read Proust and Pynchon the way lasers cut through buttered souls; they make my spine tingle when I'm at their semi-monthly readings and I feel the connection their energy is making to great literary eruptions that have gone on in the 1970s and 1950s and 1940s in dank basement bookstores and caffeine-shuddering coffee shops in Brooklyn and the Bowery. These guys and girls are all on equal footing, all fucked up and furious and fantastic. A few of these cats are in the videos, and the Swing Heils, a screaming, raging, tear your throat open in brotherly catharsis sort of thing. It's beautiful.

In case you are wondering why I'm rambling on like this, I'm attempting to write a back of a Blue Note jazz LP cover for the videos. If you've ever read a Blue Note jazz LP back cover, then this will ring a ding your bell. If you haven't read one, go do so. Blue Note's been reissuing a lot of their catalog on vinyl, but wait, who am I working for here? Right, Sabotage Cafe... Thanks to the man Joshua Furst, who wrote the book and asked me to do the project, and to Knopf for helping make it happen and putting the book out there and trusting me with total creative freedom. Thanks and shouts and love and mad respect for Mandy, for her man Gabriel Sorell, and the love pilotlight that kept the whole project blazing, Lucette Blodgett -- who even slathered in sad clown punkette greasepaint shines with holy light and who also anchored me as assistant director. When there was just two footprints in the sand, that was her holding the string while I flew o'erhead ala Marcelo in 8 1/2. Most ESPECIAL thanks to the Gates crew, Christopher "Red" Martiny, Chris Sweeney, those other cats. They let their pad disintegrate into ruin just for the shoot and it couldn't have been better and they rock; thanks to Kathleen Parker, and if I forgot anybody else, I'm sorry, I quit smoking and my hands are greasy from popcorn.

The thought here is to upload one of the videos a week, a sort of weekly video letter home from this runaway punk chick to her mom back in Plymoth, MN. It's tough to say if she grows up or the world grows down or what happens over the 5 weeks. What's in the film's not necc. in the book or vice versa. My style is different from Joshua's, and neither of us were gonna stand in the way of anything Mandy and Lucy wanted to do - in other words all of us respected each other's thing... and so it all just worked. I think. Or you tell me. Buy the book, too, and visit