I Writes ’em, They Likes ’em

Tonight I hung out with Ari Rosenzweig and his crew at my favorite Japanese restaurant Edomasa. Not only did I write the article on Ari’s company for the News-Press, but I wrote a review of their Thursday night performance for the same paper. It’s exceedingly rare that I get to meet the artists that I review, but Ari had many nice things to say about my writing, all of which I’m too modest to repeat here.

I’m more than happy to feed these hungry people who have been in America for over a week and have yet to find the sushi they crave. Sushi, man? They’re mad for it, ‘as it ‘appens. Tagging along was fellow performer Fernanda, and their lighting guy Michael, who I hadn’t met before as, well, he’d been in a booth working on lights. While eating we talked about…food! And some of my travels in Asia…and more food! I like people who like food, yes indeed. And beer.

Talking about food, and because Ari and co. are from Denmark, I should have mentioned my love of Havarti cheese. Mmmm, Havarti.

Your Friends and Neigbors

Dir. Neil LaBute, 1998
A depressing bit of cynicism from one of America’s main Miserablists
(Todd Solondz being the other), my friend Olivia lent me this one to check out (all she would say at first was “Well, Catherine Keener kisses Nastassja Kinski in it, so watch it.”). In the Company of Men left me cold, despite the huzzahs from critics (as if feeling “bad” after a film is aesthetically better than feeling “good”). YFAN takes six characters with varying degrees of unlikability, and watches them fuck each other, then fuck each other over, with nothing decent in any of them to grab a hold of or of which to mourn the passing. If you can get past the foul language and the mood, which surprised middle America, the characters aren’t even written well. Ben Stiller’s “intellectual” is of course too “wordy” and “thinks too much;” Keener’s bisexual character is icy and unpleasant. And Jason Patric might as well have “asshole” tattooed on his forehead (of course he tapes himself talking dirty during sex; of course he calls women cunts; of course he goes off in rages; of course his “best fuck” was anally raping a boy in high school, etc. etc.) And to have Amy Brenneman’s character to end up with Patric in the end is completely forced, a writer’s conceit.

Naqoyqatsi

Dir. Godfrey Reggio, 2002
Gentlemen and good ladies of the court, I present to you Exhibit A
in this capital punishment case against Postmodernism.
Godfrey Reggio is, based on this film and 1991’s Anima Mundi, almost completely artistically bankrupt. I got the sneaky suspicion after watching the latter last year at Philip Glass’ “Shorts” concert, that Reggio is not even a filmmaker, but an editor, and not a coherent one. The third and perhaps final installment on the “qatsi” series that never needed to be a trilogy is a dull hash-up of stock footage and iconography. You could take a random assortment of famous 20th century people, places, and things, apply random After Effects filters to them, string them all together and play some Philip Glass over the top and you’d have this film. If, as Greil Marcus says, MTV is “the pornography of semiotics,” then this is a Red Shoes Diary marathon, not even offering a bang for your buck.
I know it’s a lot to even expect a message or even an idea from a Reggio film, but at least Powaqqatsi was visually interesting. The cheapness of the effects are apparent, and any shot that looks nice is the work of somebody else.
My friend Jon has never liked Reggio, and disagrees with me that at least Koyaanisqatsi is good. If Reggio makes any more films, I may have to give Jon his due.
(And what’s up with the poster: “America Is Test Driving the Future”? Perhaps the marketing department thought that the film was just a collection of commercial footage. Oh, wait…)

Manji

manji

Dir. Yasuzo Masamura, 1964
Nicely rediscovered and released by Fantoma DVD, this is a tale of whacked-out obsession based on author Junichiro Tanizaki‘s novel. I’ve seen another film based on a book of his: “The Key,” which came out around this time, directed by Kon Ichikawa.
Kyouko Kishida plays Sonoko, a upper class housewife who begins an obsessive lesbian affair with a fellow student at her art college, Mitsuko, played by Ayako Wakao. Two complementary men (Mitsuko’s creepy fiance and Sonoko’s wimpy husband) provide the complications, though Mitsuko is the stormy center. From the get-go, the acting is set on level 10, and the action is reduced to a series of claustrophobic chambers, similar in feel to the anti-social level of “In the Realm of the Senses” and any number of S&M films from Japan (like the most wonderful “Wife to Be Sacrificed”). With the constant refrain of lover’s suicide, there’s no way this film could get translated for the west. And while death is a usual way out for lesbians in most films pre 1980, Manji’s lunacy goes beyond that, and in fact, Masamura has little to say about lesbianism per se.

Sonoko has an attachment to Mitsuko more along the lines of “Death in Venice”–Mitsuko as unobtainable art object and beauty personified, who attracts (and destroys) men and women alike.
Pretty funny all the way through, and I’m not sure how much was intentional.
The DVD transfer is okay. Full Toho-scope ratio, but there’s a strange blue-green pall to the film (though reds and whites look fine). There’s a brief 30 seconds where a really awful print has been used to, I assume, fill in the gap missing from the original negative.

So Fresh, So Clean

Another classic from Jack Chick. This one features two worrisome examples of “yoof culchur” learning to fear Jesus and the “Lake of Fire” that they’ll be tossed into if they don’t tow the biblical line. Apparently, where the artist is from, scary teens wear (stolen?) National Park Ranger hats. By the by, there is no link; this is from a Chick pamphlet given to my dad in a park. And the Jack T. Chick site seems to be down. Could it be….Satan?

So I guess they “brought it on”

Ten soldiers wounded already. Maybe the Chimp will issue more challenges. Sorry, but “I dare you to blow up a Humvee” is taken.

At least 10 American soldiers have been wounded in attacks on Thursday in Iraq, according to U.S. military officials.
Three U.S. soldiers were wounded and an Iraqi civilian was killed Thursday in what officials believe was a drive-by attack in the Iraqi capital.
Around 10 a.m. (2 a.m. EDT), a Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) on Haifa Street in central Baghdad, a U.S. military official on the scene told CNN. Witnesses said the rocket was launched from a vehicle that immediately sped away.

“Please kill our troops,” says Bush. “Come on!”

Buzzflash leads off with this today, but I have to post it. No doubt the fascist monkey’s advisors will say he was taken out of contest, but while soldiers, who now just wanna go home, are dying every day from ambushes and solo assassins who melt back into crowds, this is one of the most irresponsible statements, er, this week from Commander Bunnypants. Will anybody go after him for this?

‘Bring Them On,’ Bush Says to Iraq Attacks
Wed July 2, 2003 11:33 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush on Wednesday challenged militants who have been killing and injuring U.S. forces in Iraq, saying “bring them on” because American forces were tough enough to deal with their attacks.
“There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there,” Bush told reporters at the White House. “My answer is bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.”