Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best Erich Kuersten Film Writing of 2010

Whether in Bright Lights Film Journal or this very blog, Erich Kuersten's been busy trying to fracture reality through bizarro psychoanalysidelic film analysis. This year he found himself hung up on the ambiguous sexual crosscurrents of feminine desire (in #6 of the Acidemic Film Journal proper) was cited as one of the best film criticism sites by The Film Society of Lincoln Center, and had his mind blown by seeing ENTER THE VOID and BLACK SWAN in a single 24 hour time period, all while sick, and strung out on Robitussin DM!

Do we not, in associating white for virginity and purity, forget that red means the alchemical opening up of that purity into the raw violence of procreation? So what does that third color of the French flag--blue--represent? Naturally, the cooling rescue of death--or rather as symbolized in the 'bloody chamber' where all the previous brides are stored, a suspended animation -- a sleeping beauty status wherein the enslaving agonies of childbirth and old age are forever kept at bay. In short, the blue represents frozen death and timeless decadence, pleasure and a disruption of the natural enslavement process of patriarchy. Bluebeard postpones sexual relations--and life itself-- in order to keep romance forever young... (more)
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No great art actually solves problems or answers question, but instead brings confirmation to doubt, a sense the answer to that question you were obsessed with as a child is still relevant and waiting for you to pick up its breadcrumb trail. To firmly believe in two simultaneously contradictory opinions is to free to be in on the joke of your own enslavement, which is all true freedom is... (more)
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A good myth functions as a natural psychedelic, but OZ also functions, like 2001, as a metaphor for acid itself, and remains a common way to describe the effects to people who've never tried it (...) No matter how many times we've seen (the film), even knowing it's coming after dozens of viewings since childhood, that transition from black and white Kansas to technicolor OZ is a bit of a shock. And the shock just intensifies with the arrival of 'The Lollipop Guild'...  The great Terence McKenna wrote of 'machine elves' as common mushroom hallucinations, positing that fairies, aliens, mythic creatures, all might be tied up into particular, small, elvin beings that exist in alternate dimensions but are nonetheless real... (more).
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... I say this not to belittle Edward or lay down some pseudo-psychological trip. I think this pre-sexual object of desire is very important and incredibly erotic. It's the whole virginity/purity thing that fascinates me about this series and its popularity. The idea of chastity being hot is not just some Mormon conspiracy — it dates back to the age of King Arthur and courtly love. It's not just a mask for fear of sharing bodily fluids; it's a spiritual act, a renouncement... (more)

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I've downward spiraled many times and I can tell you this: she'll either die or she won't, but unless you're a traffic cop and she's swerving down the road; or you're a relative planning an intervention with her crazy family; or a producer who's already paid her an advance on an upcoming role, it's really none of your frickin' business if she wants to drink herself into an early grave, sneak off to Cannes and promote a film barely in the preliminary stages of casting instead of going to out-patient; orblow holes in her car with a shotgun, or set herself on fire like Richard Pryor... (more)

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Isn't it sad to realize the patriarchy has to repress and belittle the feminine, for the very simple reason that otherwise women will realize it's much better to kill men off once they've served their reproductive purpose, or send them off to work in the fields as castrated slave labor than to have to launder their clothes and do their dishes until death? Hasn't anyone seen CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON (1953)? What's the matter with you people? You think this is a joke? A child is missing! Her name is Rowan! (more)
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Their push-pull dynamic is only heightened by the words and melody, making this one of my all-time favorite musical moments. Particularly I love the sudden breaks from singing to speaking: "That's life I guess (sung) / I love... / (spoken) your dress," he sings, the 'love' causing her to look up expectantly. Then he says 'your dress' and she looks down at it, her tears temporarily subsided. "Do you?" (more)
Bigger Than Life
However, the tricky part of a Jekyll/Hyde role like Ed Avery is in first winning audience sympathy as a good, "normal" kind of guy. Remember when Stephen King got all mad at Kubrick for putting Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining? Dude!...
But the thing is, though Jack Nicholson made for a creepy dad, he was the creepy dad that we all know: the kind who laugh at their own jokes, presuming no one else will get his brilliant wit. He's smarmy, but a sexy, earthy, real smarmy that comes from having lived a full and addled life, i.e., a mix of love and hatred for his rich plethora of vices. He lets it all hang out with a sense of a college-educated snob who surrounds himself with unintelligent people and takes jobs lower than his abilities just so he knows he'll always be the smartest guy in the room. By contrast, James Mason comes off more like the child of a very harsh British prep school, all the mischief long since beaten out of him, employing a dry Ronald Colman-ishness as a carpet to cover the wormy floorboards of his megalomania...(more)
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...she slithers between the moral poles of silent film virgins like Lillian Gish and unapologetic, homicidal sirens like Fu Manchu's daughter, Fah Lo Suee. For a prime example, please see BIRTH and play close attention to the sex scene early on, and the long take of her face at the concert...(more)
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Coutard's camera leers over Karina's shoulder, sympathizing with her sadness even as it causes it, never sure what's an act and what isn't Is she just drawing us in to ask if she can borrow 2,000 francs? In a meta way, it's even true that her character's dreams of being a film star are realized, right there in the act of being in the movie you are now witnessing, and yet even that is not enough. Godard is forcing us to realize how we destroy the characters we love by looking at them. Our eye is the real monster here. But whereas the similarly distant Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion reacts to the encroachment of our gaze with delusional homicidal madness, Karina's prostitute just watches, almost bemused, as her freedom and life are crushed up in the jaws of the other's tepid desire...(more)
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Bigelow's unflinching feminine eye shows how much damage the male psyche--man's need to prove himself against real physical danger--has suffered over the years trying to be "nice" in the long twisted, never-ending, ever-more draconian and litigious wake of early 80s PC thuggery and "bare life" fearmongering. No pain, no gain, but while women are born into a cycle of menstruation and the agony of birth,  what do men get to do as far as "taking the pain?" No wonder we men have grown so squeamish, like women we should be forced to take a punch in the stomach at the end of every lunar cycle... (more)
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Valeria's fierce devotion and her beautiful monologue about passing other people in couples in tents in the night breaks our hearts and when Conan leaves her to pursue his quest for vengeance, we understand her sorrow and still understand his quest, because in this case Valeria's reasons not to ride against Doom aren't based on fear of death, but fear of losing this love so soon. Laugh all you want, but this was our Romeo and Juliet, our Titanic! Our Twilight...(more)
When their plane's about to land in Japan, the pair quickly wolf down their coke and pills in the airplane bathroom to avoid trouble with customs and suddenly the film speeds up for the butterfly stomach sweaty-palmed high of being cranked up onstage, twirling under the hot lights, and the slow-downs of first kisses in the dark of post-show euphoria. The big seduction lesbian moment between Joan and Cherie is scored to a slowed, drug-drenched "I Wanna Be Your Dog" that makes you ache in rock and roll remembrance of the first trip on acid, the first trip on ecstasy, while on stage, the blazing red lights in your face as you sing and the flames form a holy funnel around the microphone and your mouth becomes the size of a black hole in outer space, spewing flaming lyrics into the clenched alien insect fangs of the microphone, and outwards in waves of flaming energy that washes over the melting-faced fans...(more)
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The amazing performance by Olga Mironova as a Madonna/whore split personality is alone enough to catapult COME AND SEE into the pantheon of all-time greats. And there's nary a drop of easy sentimentality or preaching, just a savvy truly artistic appreciation for how war turns existence into a literal living nightmare, with all splits between awake and dreaming, interior and exterior, home and abroad, life and death, good and evil, mended into one twirling mad carnival of chaos, starvation and violence... enough to make Von Trier's ANTICHRIST look like a summer picnic..(more)
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From: Film Experience 1/28/2010

Blondell goes from trying to stand up for her beaten-down beau against an unfeeling cop to addressing the audience, and the world, directly, her hands outstretched in a massive, Broadway belt of a plea. Watching Obama last night I was reminded not of Jimmy Stewart's hoarse fillibuster in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, but Blondell, opening her human heart a mile wide to engulf the nation in a surge of compassion as the music marches inexorably onwards. (more)


RUNNER UPS:
Some of these are heavy, some too light, some too just right, some caught me flak from angry feminists:
1. Towards a New Cinema of Castration: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (#67 - Bright Lights Film Journal)
2. X is for Xanax (Acidemic 11/18/10)
3. Katherine Hegl: Infantilization's Poster Girl (Bright Lights After Dark 10/5/10)
4. Book Review: Hammer's Lethal Ladies & Femme Fatale (#67 Bright Lights Film Journal)
5. The Drowned Phoenician Sailor and his Mermaid Muse: HE RAN ALL THE WAY (Acidemic  11/24/10)
6. Let the Right One KILL BABY KILL (Acidemic 10/5/10)
7. Remote in Reach: THE WALL (Acidemic 7/27/10)

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