Cleansing the lens of cinematic perception... until the screen is a white glaring rectangle

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Fall Issue of ACIDEMIC, Journal of Film & Media. Special SPOTLIGHT ON THE SPOTLESS MIND issue now online!

This is a very special edition of Acidemic, as we focus on the themes and implications of Michel Gondry's endlessly fascinating cinema masterpiece, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: time travel, love, memory, color, desire, adaptation, amnesia, and the blurry twilit crossroads between fiction, belief, and reality. Our French correspondent, Severine Benzimra catches us up on the state of Gallic cinema (which she notes is "not just Gondry"); emerging writer Jonathan Doughty kicks things off with a look at Winslet's changing hair color; abstract artist Audra Graziano contributes the SUNSHINE-inspired piece, "Forget." Noted film historian David Del Valle brings an in-depth look at Carpenter's IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS via the lens of Lovecraft adaptations through the ages.

From me you get an in-depth look at the time travel/amnesiac aspect of Jess Franco's 1967 trash-art classic, SUCCUBUS, and a comparison of SUNSHINE with reincarnation stories from the 1930s, like THE MUMMY, LOST HORIZON and SHE. Also a deep look at the Lacanian implications of the "did she or didn't she" aspects of Elia Kazan's BABY DOLL.

Last but not least I added the full collection of five short "promo" films made for the Josh Furst book, SABOTAGE CAFE, starring Mandy Richichi. A chronicle of a runaway teenage girl, the five films show what appears at first to be a rapid descent into hell but may in fact be something else entirely. Can our perceptions as spectator of an event change it from bad to good for those involved? Who knows? The Shadow knows... and maybe Gondry.
-Erich Kuersten

One Man Dracula

By popular demand: Erich Kuersten in "Ten Minute Dracula" recorded live on an East Village rooftop in fall of 1999 before a drunken audience.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Art of the Snivel

The powers that be have been unusually miserly with their classic film DVD releases in the last five or so months, but this week we at least get some really good, weird film noirs, MOONTIDE and the incomparable ROAD HOUSE. A fine showcase for Ida Lupino (she gets to croak out a bunch of numbers in her frail, smoke ravaged voice, and you understand why she packs the house and everyone stays quiet, almost nervous lest they break the spell of her world-weary reverie), ROAD HOUSE is slam bang quality "rustic noir" - the hybrid of guns and fatalistic romance with the big outdoorsy cabins and lakes that American audiences seemed obsessed with in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The big show stopping performance here isn't from Lupino, though, it's Widmark--who slowly burns his way from lovable swine to full-on homicidal lunatic, sneering and cackling like his KISS OF DEATH killer cranked to 11. Never before has craven sniveling been made so damned sexy.

I'd never seen ROAD HOUSE--not even the Patrick Swayze remake--until last night and I'm fairly blown away. It's rich in atmospheric detail, with the titular house--a bowling alley/tavern deep in the Northern moose country along the Canadian border--brought to detailed, thriving life. Twenty minutes into the film and we feel like we've been working there; we know the playboy boss, Jefty (Richard Widmark), his Rock Hudson-ish fall guy (Cornell Wilde), the bartender, the waitress (Celeste Holm), the newly arrived torch singer (Ida Lupino), their good and bad sides, the way you can only know someone by working with them. The road house itself feels lived in, cozy. The plot runs along the same lines as Douglas Sirk's WRITTEN ON THE WIND, with Wilde's poor but virile right hand man (a very good bowler) falling in love with the torch singer, whom Widmark has imported for himself. Widmark doesn't take well to the news, and begins a rapid descent into giggling homicidal rage, in the Widmark tradition!

(for the rest of this piece, go here)
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