Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Few Other Things I Watched Recently

Like I said the other day, we watched Spike Lee's Inside Man this weekend. Last night I watched Mr. Lee's commentary, and let me tell you what I love about this guy: He loves movies. This is a bank heist movie in which not only did the good guys and bad guys both take the lessons of Dog Day Afternoon to heart, but also one of the DDA hostages played an old lady being held hostage in Inside, and (mild spoiler) the undercover cop who dropped off the pizzas for the DDA bank robbers played a sniper who dropped off pizzas for the bank robbers here. Tres magnifique! Recommended to all, just don't try and disect every last thing.

I also watched a documentary on a documentarian Stan Brakhage, quite an interesting fellow. Kind of the John Cage of the movies. (Note: If you either don't know who John Cage is, or if you do and you can't abide him, you might want to take a pass on Brakhage. Just a guess.) Here's a quote attributed to him in a profile from the late 60s/early 70s, explaining why he used 8 mm film (which at the time was affordable enough for film buffs to keep at home): A man could own his films, and live with them, showing them when he wanted to see them, examining them bit by bit, the way one can look at a painting until he knew the work. Until it was no longer something esoteric, but something familiar and beloved. That's awesome! Brakhage died in 2003; I'm glad he at least got to see a glimpse of the popularity of the Internet and DVDs. That sentiment reminds me of a Norman Lebrecht article I blogged about last year, which I agreed with for the most part but also took to account on a couple things. Lebrecht excerpt: What this means, in cultural terms, is that film now takes its place beside literature, music and visual imagery as an art that can be owned and bookmarked. Where once you had to visit a cinema or spool through half a mile of clunky videotape in order to access a seminal scene in an essential movie, you now zone into it on DVD as quickly as finding a name in the index of an artist biography. Film has become fact on DVD. It has left the cinema and joined us for drinks, an emancipatory moment for the last of the great western art forms. Books and music have always furnished our rooms, but to have film as a point of home reference, like Oxford English Dictionary and the complete works of Shakespeare, signals a revolution in cultural reception and, inevitably, creation. Much more on Stan Brakhage here, including lots of enlargements of still frames.

Lastly, New York Doll is an interesting and sometimes poignant profile of one of the founders of glam/punk rock who went on to substance abuse (no!), bankruptcy/homelessness, and finally a seemingly contented life as a Mormon geneology librarian. Arthur "Killer" Kane was one of the founders of the New York Dolls, whose work stands with that of Iggy and the Stooges, Bowie as Ziggy, the Ramones, and a few others as paving the way for the punk, glam, gender-bender anarchy of the 70s and early 80s. (For certain bands, that is. That same era produced Air Supply and Foreigner -- Nothing against Foreigner, by the way.)

Long story short, Kane (no relation) got in way over his head when he was 19, had a few years of intense attention and hedonism, followed by about 15 or so years of the gutter, followed by about another 15 or so as a public-transit riding member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The movie has a lot of good interviews with his rock colleagues and his Mormon friends, and shows his participation in the NYD reunion show put on by Morrissey. The end is kind of sad (spoiler: he dies) but these two nice ladies that worked with him at the LDS library put things in perspective. If you are interested in the non-classic-rock scene, check this out.

Pick the future Mormon.

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