Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 DVD “Best Of“...


or 13 movies that came out on dvd in 2011 that you might not have seen, but really should have.

The one thing each of these films has in common is that they each are outside each unique in use of story structure, symbolism, and movie cliches. In my opinion each one has aspects that would turn some viewers off altogether (violence, non linear narrative, or simply no "action". ) In my opinion though they all are interesting takes on familiar genres, stories that work better than any of their more famous cousins being all nominated for things and whatnot.

Also ignore the imdb ratings. those people are even less reliable than the dummies on rotten tomatoes.
Listen to me. I know what's good :p Maybe....


One of those movies that morphs from family drama to Crime film in all the best "Loachian" manners you could think of. Would make an awesome stage play in fact. The honeyed tones of British crime sing across your brain as the fim twists it's climax in between your ribs. Subtle and preposterous at the same time. England is harsh.


This year's winner of the "Free Range Kids of Yore" award. Leaving your precocious kid alone with her Auntie who's oh so likely to run off with any hoodlum who strolls past the farm isn't a good idea in any era apparently. But the kid muddles through, with help from some locals, she manages to survive a kind of horrific all summer "Home Alone" situation. Some amazing performances from young Swedes in this flick, and a strong story that embraces it's tropes rather than trip over them.... The Auntie for instance isn't just some floozy prop, in her brief scenes, there's an entire family history on display. Genius picture.


If The Cohen Brothers were Norwegian, this is what we might be seeing from them... Stellan Skarsgard plays a Stone faced career petty crook, who's finally had enough of the Jail after a long stint. The genius of this picture lies in every single figure on screen being somehow tragic and sympathetic, despite their on screen assholery. It includes the funniest sex scenes on film since Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblums "Tall people sex destroying small bedrooms movie" - The Tall Guy", Skarsgard's deadpan expressions alone are worth the rental.

This film is from another planet called Turkey where a dad is just a wee bit overprotective. It has a story that will shock mostly due to the banality of the evil laid bare. It has humor that makes you ashamed to be laughing, (and again on my list this year performances that are of the most intensely nuanced that I've seen in ages. ) The ending is one of my favourites of the year.


Is quite simply the best documentary I've seen all year. One of those docs that sucks you in so quickly and fluidly that you forget it's a documentary. The narrative is that strong. Marwencol is the name of a town of toy soldiers set during WW2. The creator is a brain injured artist recovering from a small town bar ass kicking. As his story unfolds, he heals his physical and emotional trauma through stunning photos of his town of army dolls. Great story, great care taken not to exploit a very damaged, vulnerable person who as the film progresses becomes a fuller, more functional person than you could have imagined at the beginnings. See it now!


Was actually made a few years ago, but never got much of a release anywhere because Jim Carrey's character is "gay". Sad that an actor's best performance ever can be overshadowed by a bunch of bigots. But that's how the world works. Carrey is in my estimation pitch perfect as the bigger than life/real life con man Steven Russell. Knowing this is a true story makes it an even whackier tale. It's both a crazy comedy and a heart warming love story at the same time.


Speaking of films with well drawn queer characters, Rivers Wash Over Me is a very low budget Queer Indie film that needs to be more widely seen. It takes a few minutes to get past the initial shaky cam stuff and let the tensed up characters unwind and get comfortable with each other. A fish out of water story as the young proud black kid goes to the small hick town his parents came from when he's suddenly orphaned. He encounters the racism, homophobia you might expect, but he also finds love and friendship that is genuine and understanding. a very real story, if you get my drift.


Is a Thai film that casually follows Uncle, and other family members as they chat with and catch up with various ghosts, demons from their past (and past lives maybe) Another film on my list where hardly anything happens, yet somehow you (well me at least) are riveted. "Best film of the year that I almost fell asleep in, not once but twice"... is the category I invented for it.


Film making factory Takashi Miike strikes gold (for the first time in quite some time in my estimation) with his best effort since "The Bird People In China" . A straight up (mostly) Samurai picture of the "Old School" (mostly) ... 13 Assassins has the usual cast of weirdo Ronin/Samurai who come together to save the country from the current Evil Shogunate, so they can install their own. All the Chiches are hit with a gorgeously cast silver hammer. The end chase through a village is one of the best choreographed sequences I've seen in any Samurai (or any other violent chase scene genre) picture, ever. And I've seen a lot of them. Bloody Greatness.



Director Kelly Reichardt has composed yet another Genius film about people and how they act. Old Joy explored the world of hot spring Bros trying to re-kindle their Bro-ness. Wendy & Lucy is the best Girl & her Dog movie of all time. Meek's Cutoff is again in Oregon, but this time back in Wagon train days. Michelle Williams and the rest of the cast give Oscar (or any other acting award out there)  quality quiet performances... People stuck in their traditional roles seek a new life, and get it despite their best efforts at self sabotage. My other fave ending of the year. 



In an era where the alien invasion movie has kind of petered out, Attack The Block is a refreshing kick in the crotch. Aliens travelling by meteorite drop into the wrong end of London, and get a right kicking. Okay maybe the aliens are a bit tougher than that. But so are these South London kids. Played by mostly non-actors, the kids bluster their way through levels of face saving machismo, and eventually figure how to take out the very cleverly thought out Aliens. Good tension, great pace. unlikable characters that become people you like almost sort of by the end. Ripping flick!


Trolls are very real in this other great film from Norway. Apparently Norway is hilarious. Some annoying college kids are making a docu about poachers in the North. they come across someone they think is the "big poacher" of the area, but it turns out he's Norway's version of MIB. (small country, really only need the one guy) ... I keep saying how I hate the mockumentary style, but sometimes, like this time it's done right, and all you can do is laugh your ass off.


Easily "The Citizen Kane" of movies about old car tires. I went into this expecting it to get stupid fast... it does but in all the right ways. Again with the kinda sorta mockumentary style, but again it works, in such a way actually, that giving plot points works against spoiler-ing the flick. Look for wings Hauser to steal a few scenes, though, and some great editing that gives the old tire more depth that it deserves. Clever without being precious or too naive about the stupid story being told. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Glib Movie reviews: Mega post


A few more old movie reviews while I mull over my next personal life post.





"The Killer Inside Me" Directed by Michael Winterbottom, starring Casey "Mumbles" Affleck carrying the momentum of his last few nice roles, here. Great seething performance as a nice guy sociopath deputy sheriff in this very good adaptation of the Jim Thompson novel. some smaller performances are uneven, but Affleck, and Ned Beatty make up for those. Katie Holmes- unrecognizable to me. Jessica Alba has made the successful  transition to hooker with a heart of gold roles in this film.

oh, and um ouch. You shouldn't hit girls. It makes me squeamish.



"Me & Orson Welles" directed (with workmanlike competence, but not much else) by Richard Linklater. Kind of laborious movie actually wherein Zac Efron plays an emo "I am so entitled" modern youngster who travels back in time to do the second most popular Time travel riff after killing Hitler - being in an Orson Welles play.

okay not really... but Efron seems so not of the era, it's my explanation for watching it. The actor who played Welles does a great turn as Welles actually, nailing the voice and delivery much better than most. The scenes with Efron haphazardly being naive and young are dull and boring, simply because he doesn't fit in with all these other actors actually portraying people of another era. Even Zac's lines are in a modern patois that few other characters get.


Rush - Beyond The lighted Stage. good doc on Canada's most successful band (in many ways) Lots of cool stuff on the great early to mid years. Lots of "caress of steel" jokes, and some still kinda bitterness about Geddy's "synthy period" from the other guys. They are the more well adjusted human being versions of Anvil (if you've see Anvil: The Story Of Anvil).... anyhoo, well worth it for fans or people who have to watch it because their Boyfriend is a Rush Nerd (which is any Rush fan really), it's funny and interesting enough as it really humanizes these very average dudes who happen to be Rush, quite well, indeed.



Michael Jackson: This Is It. a bit underwhelming after all the hype I heard from people who've returned it to the video store. It was very well done, and that would have been a pretty cool concert tour, that I would never have gone to, anyways. I was starting to fade in and out by the time it was ending. The best part was the including a heavily lipstick'd Michael as  Rita Hayworth's favourite gay friend watching her sing Mame in "Gilda". Better than Astaire hawking vacuums at any rate.




When You're Strange : a doc about the Doors, directed by Tom DiCillo, narrated for some reason by Johnny Depp. The narration is mostly ludicrous Jim worship. But there is a lot of cool candid footage that I hadn't seen before of the band who I still love despite everyone around me now discounting them.  Sure The Doors were a mess but for me the music is as important as anything else from the era. It's part of the soundtrack of the time I was pre school age. Everything around me at that time was Doors, Zeppelin, Creedence, or old school country. I've heard Riders on The Storm more times than I could even think of counting and still get goosebumps for some reason. worthy of a viewing by Doors fanboys, otherwise there isn't much going for this doc other than nice use of stock footage, and editing. I didn't like the "ghost Jim driving down the highway" stuff much.






A Prophet - Nothing but crime films outta France these days it seems. Not that that's a bad thing. A prophet was very well done... Though I don't get "The Godfather" comparisons. This is much more of a modern film than that, in mostly good ways. It could have been like many modern films, a bit tighter, shorter, but overall a very solid movie with interesting characters and a decent story.



Pusher  Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Danes  do often make great movies. is there a correlation between the super fucked upness of so many good Danish films and real life in Denmark? I don't care, as long as they keep making cool freaky movies like Pusher. From the dude who recently brought the world "Bronson" and "Valhalla Rising" (which is playing in NA soon, I believe.) 
typical dumb criminal movie really, some dealers have a really really bad week of getting their shit and money stolen as they try to pay off a huge debt to their supplier (Zlatko Buric, who last year was a popular/regular customer at our store, while in town shooting something) Things get ugly before, no wait they never really take a turn for the better.

drugs r' bad m'kay



Ghost Writer - Polanski may be a horrible person, but he sure can direct a movie. Great sense of forboding in every single perfectly composed frame of this film. Story does lack some edge, and Kim Cattrall is out of her depth with all these movie actors, luckily for her she's mostly there as Cougar eyecandy. Not a Great Polanski film, but a good one.



Terribly Happy. Dir. by Henrik Ruben Genz is this year's "Adam's Apples"... Those wacky Danes are at it again as a "Big City" (Copenhagen) Cop is demoted to the boonies (think a Danish Roysten Vasey) where he immediately captures the attention of the local battered wife. Hilarity ensues! Ok not so much with the "haha" funny as much of the "um ew" kind of funny. Some bravura camerawork, masterful direction at work here, this movie hums along disturbing you further as it careens around oddly. Eventually it ends, and you stare at the blank screen for awhile. 



"Inception" Directed by Christopher Nolan....  While very slick and well done, the story felt stale, flat very predictable. The actors were fine, set-pieces cool, if a bit on the video gamey edge.  If you want to see it, see it in the theatre, but beware the hype in either direction. The only thing I don't get about this movie is the Hype/Hate thing. It's well done, a lot of people in the theatre seemed to be more into it than me. My co-worker found it "confusing". I think he was high.



Mother - directed by Joon-ho Bong (of "The Host", "Memories of Murder") is  a return to the world of small time crime in Korea. Obsessive mother can't believe her mentally challenged son could have killed a young girl, and sets out to solve the case after the cops spend about 30 seconds getting a "confession" from the son. Creepy and weird is this film and most of it's characters. Outstanding performance by "Mother" (Hye-Ja Kim). great little movie not as fast moving as some of his previous outings, but not worse for it. 





Night Train To Munich. (1940 Sir Carol Reed) Rex Harrison chews all kinds of scenery in this ripping yarn about Nazi/OSS agents infiltrating either side at the very beginning of ww2. Paul Henreid is a Sudetenlander, Well paced, lovingly rendered models are used for much of the countryside stuff. Nice Criterion restoration of Reed's 1st film. Jolly good fun!




Great punk rock with a glossy lipstick kinda movie. Great performances that were wholly unexpected by me, I was hoping for "not  cringe worthy" minimum, but was instead charmed by actresses I've previously not thought much of. Stewart and Fanning got the trashy loveliness of the era's best most kickass chicks. Good flick. Nice double bill with "...The Fabulous Stains". Is Kristen Stewart this generation's Diane Lane? We can only hope so.




 has nothing to do with either vampires or werewolves, but there are some ghosts. That big Irish actor (Ciarán Hinds) who reminds me a bit of a latter day Bob Mitchum plays a widower who helps out at a small writers' fest somewhere in Ireland (Cobh?) who starts seeing the ghost of his father in law who's actually not quite dead.  He also runs afoul of Aidan Quinn playing a successful novelist who's a big asshole (get out, really?) and a lady writer (Iben Hjejle) who's actually very nice and writes of her own ghosty encounters... they eventually have a very light and realistic umm romance.... It's all done in a very quiet way and clocks in at a svelte 83 minutes. It has some really nice performances, and a taut story, nice scenery, and a few really decent old school creepy scares.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First post with my new iPad

so, yeah. I bought an IPad Well I will have bought it in about two months when I've paid off the visa for it. I chose now as opposed to wait two months, saving up. Same difference, gratification, sooner... Win win in my mind.

The verdict? It's awesome. I got an ipad2 of course. For once I'm briefly on top of the tech. Usually I'm a few generations of computing behind. The main reason I got this thing though is for doing things like this, sitting on my sofa and blogging, making the little movies I like to make, that kind of thing. Photos. There are a lot of great photo apps. I'm really happy with that.

I've only got a few paid apps on it so far. GarageBand, being a bargain at 4.99, iMovie not as robust, but still useful in tandem with some of the cool super8mm apps and so on. I feel inspired using this little machine. I have already made a bit of media, a short corky movie and some experimental pics etc. I don't mind the onscreen keyboard either, though I may get a little wireless one down the road,

Things are going fairly well I guess otherwise for me. I still feel like I might want to move to Toronto next year or in the next few, depending on how things play out here. My work is pretty healthy, but it's an industry in rapid decline (video store). What I've gleaned from the navel gazing I've been doing since my return from the Toronto vacation is that I need to find a way to comfortably get out more and be a bit less of a homebody, any small ambitions I have as a poet, artist of whatever kind it is that I am, need to be networked and nurtured a bit more.

I let myself get distracted by my issues, previously written of aplenty if you scroll down, or peek back into my archive of occasional posts here on this blog,(and for that matter every blog I've evr had.) and the stuff I like to sit in my room and do, like angry birds, d&d stuff,reading comics, watching tv and movies;all of which I do a lot of, it's kind of amazing I get the really good amount of sleep I do, given how much time I waste, not that all my time is spent unproductively mind you. I'm still plugging away artistically, though the writing has been of a more editorial thing recently, doing more little movie, photo taking than writing. I plan to have this iPad as a tool to help balance all these interests of mine.

To quote Travis Bickle's wall: "one of these days I'm gona get organized.". ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And one month Later

Another post. wow. I keep starting blogs with the best of intentions to keep piling on the content. Goofy pictures, videos I make or like, or pour my guts out, daily. Well that hasn't really happened has it?  Maybe i can redouble my efforts. I can try, but seemingly not much more than that.

Anyhoo. I have actually been pretty busy, having just come back from a vacation in Toronto. I stayed with my cousin Tina , whose awesome and inspiring blog I follow here on blogger.

I really enjoyed my more than two week vacation in Hot Hot Hot Toronto. Killer sunshine, which if you've been to Vancouver recently, you likely missed out on.

Had the Parking Lot Experience on Canada Day, saw/heard really:  Weezer (1st time) and The Hip (13th time).  Partied with many a cousin, over my two weeks in the big smoke. I felt like i got to know a few of them somewhat well as we hung out so much.

Also saw some friends, acquaintances from days of Yore (00s, 90's) Cruised around downtown Trawna, up & down Yonge, etc. I really can't say how much I liked being in a biggish city again (I miss that about Tokyo, the huge City-ness that it has.) It made a big impression on me, did Toronto. Vancouver has it's work cut out for it if it wants me to stay here.

Any "Decisions" are far off...  but I'm thinkin'

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June's only post so far

Yes as it turns out I'm lazy. No posts in like a month on here. Fairly indicative of how I'm faring lately actually creativity wise; I'm in a bit of a stall. Most of my creative pursuits recently have been Dungeons and Dragons related. Coming up with interactive narrative for my campaign has been fun, and rewarding, but it's just practice for the writing life.

I guess I'm sort of keeping my hand in. But still, still like I have for the the last couple of years, feel like I'm at the crossroads.There's nobody offering me wicked guitar skills for my soul however. Whatever happened to Ralph Macchio anyways?

My biggest news is that I'll be taking a vacation starting in exactly a week from now. I'm flying into The Big Smoke (Toronto for us Canadians) on June 30 and staying until the 18th. I plan to play tourist as much as possible while seeing friends and family who live in the area. My cousin Tina is letting me crash on her sofa most of the time, which I'm very grateful for.

What I realized was weird, or at least struck me as odd is that I've never actually spent any time in Toronto as an adult. I spent a few summers there in High School working for my Uncle Mario. But never explored the city much. I've only ever passed through in my various travels "Back East" from Winnipeg, Vancouver, or Tokyo.

My biggest expectation of any vacation though is simply to spend some time being inspired by old friends/family, reconnecting with them, and seeing some new things, taking some photos. I haven't done a "photo jaunt" in a couple of months. Toronto has some great architecture and sights to see.

I take a lot of pleasure in being able to not have to think about job, daily stresses for a while. we all need the odd time out. I'm taking my for a couple of weeks, soon!.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Glib Reviews of not so Random Movies #1

Drive Angry

... um actually was kind of a hoot. Nic Cage's magic 8 ball script choosing system finally hit on something in his wheel house. Modern Grindhouse, less Machete, more Death Sentence though for certain.  I really enjoyed the cheeky straight ahead no winking at the audience tone of this flick. they slow it down in bits but come back slamming with a Sidek(CH)ick who's nobody's fucktoy, and kicks a lotta douchebag dude ass her ownself. refreshing. any action flick that can forgo the love interest but also have a gunfight fought while never stopping fucking the barmaid from the previous scene in the movie needs to be seen. funny shit. worth a rent

Monday, May 9, 2011

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #11

 I've been super lax with updating this blog, mostly through sheer laziness. So I'm throwing some ready made content out there with some of my glib reviews of random movies from a forum I post on. I haven't actually been doing much in the way of new reviews, lately.

I'm tired of the same old whiny rants about how much I suck, can't get my shit together. I don't want to get into political ranting, though I'm extremely disappointed in the 40% of eligible voters who can't see beyond all the fear being spread by the aptly named Cons. (There are no Tories, dead party get over it... do we call the NDP The CCF? No. Cause they ain't the CCF nor is Harper and his pack of goons Tory. Fiscally responsible? Warplanes in this country are the opposite of that. Getting rid of planned parenthood? Yeah why would you want to plan something like parenting?


Sad fucking way this country is going. At least the Canucks won, barely. Actually Kesler won. So yeah don't get me started.

Here's some olde reviews of random flicks...


Flicker 

an interesting if a bit dull doc about Brion Gysin, who with Burroughs invented "the cut-up" and really is responsible for mashups of all sorts online now.  Informative but not in a juicy gossipy way I was hoping for. The Dream Machine is central to the doc. I'd love to have one. I may make one.

Hunger

(Steve McQueen) no not the dead one, that's zombie Steve McQueen. Young patchily bearded Irishmen go to Prison. British prison. Ow. British Prison hurts. a lot. But. You get to have great "My Dinner with Andre" style conversations with a priest sometimes. Margaret Thatcher does some V/o work. Does not come off sympathetically at all. nope. There's some unintentional laughs during the harrowing denouement - The actual hunger strike, as a series of plates with distinctly British cuisine sit uneaten by the hunger striker. British food is a great diet aid it seems.

Ed Brubaker's Angel Of Death.

Much better than it should be... all based on Zoe Bell's awesome kickassitude, and Bru's fun Noir-y, very comic booky script. totally cheesy and predictable, yet fun and satisfying if your expectations are appropriate.

River Of No Return -
Dir. by Otto Premminger. Starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. A great In-Studio mostly Western with some great Matte paintings and real vistas. Mitchum plays his stock and trade a manly Man who is trying to settle down in Injun territory with his son, when Marilyn and her swarthy boyfriend (Rory Calhoun!) come in and steal his horse and gun. The Injuns chase them down the river as they chase Rory. Marilyn sings a lot of cheesy songs in her breathy hypnotic style. Everyone does what is expected in this likely kinda grim for the era Oater.

My Dinner With Andre

(Malle)  on Criterion DVD. Holds up well as a film, though Andre's ranting comes off as a bit dated. His conspiracies are kinda olde hat compared to even the most average interweb thread on such things. Still his performance, and Wally Shawn's are still awesome. The movie is still a clever take on theatre people and their idiosyncrasies.

London To Brighton.

Grim as fuck movie about a hooker and the young girl she tries to save from bad men (geezers)... Both London and Brighton seem like desolate sad places in this film. super predictable ending kinda ruins it, despite the fact they don't wrap it all up in a neat little conclusion.

Obscene

a doc about Barney Rosset and Grove Press. Very interesting story, and guy. There's someone who never took any guff, pretty much did what he wanted, was hoisted by his own hubris, and is annoyed, but has distance on it and understands that his demise (as a publisher) was mostly his own fault. Lots of interesting very off the cuff interviews with Barney & many notable authors, etc from over the last 50 years.


Quantum Of Solace.

Surprisingly bad (but not terrible… still better than several other Bond films) in the exact same way the previous Craig/Bond was surprisingly good. It does have some good tongue in cheek bits. But the Villain was dull and the whole exercise seems duller the more you think about it.

What Just Happened
Directed by Barry Levinson It was OK. DeNiro was fine, Hollywood stuff ok... but not great. mediocre effort from some great people.


Changeling Directed By Clint
Re-fucking-lentless movie. Beautifully shot and the 1920', 30's LA was sumptuous. Angelina and her lips were good, the bad guys, oh so bad. Very well done flick.

Re watched Sexy Beast
Holds up well. great acting from everyone in this picture and an interesting take on the "just one more job" genre of heist film.

The Collector by Willie Wyler

Great film making. Stamp is uber creepy and Samantha Eggar lovely as ever. Awesome film I can't believe I hadn't seen til last night, especially since the book was a fave of mine back in Uni. Though I can't see myself going back and re-reading any Fowles.

Slumdog Millionaire

was neither as bad or as good as I had heard. The pace was not consistent, some of the vignettes were a bit too long. Shoulda cut 20 or 30 minutes or so, and it would have been a good roller coaster.

Georgia Rule 

Lindsay Lohan goes to Idaho and gives a Mormon a BJ, in a boat. Also stars Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman as Old Bitches.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

RIP Sidney Lumet

RIP Sidney Lumet

My top Lumet Films.

1. Network (one of those perfect movies, as fresh or fresher in message and tone since the day it debuted.)
2. Dog Day Afternoon (First off it’s one of the “Cazales” or films with John Cazale which are: Godfather & Godfather 2, Dog Day, The Conversation, and The Deer Hunter. Secondly it’s one of the films that defines the best of that 70’s style of film making. Gritty, socially conscious without being overly preachy, and seriously well performed.)
3. The Pawnbroker (it’s all about “The Steiger”. One of the all time great film performances, easily)
4. 12 Angry Men (perfect casting, tone… again, kind of perfect)
5. Serpico (my sentimental favourite, probably the one I’ve watched the most often, probably 6 or 8 times at least)

some under appreciated Lumet gems include:

Garbo Talks (1984) is one of the nicest melancholy films about dying that you will ever see. It’s a lovely film. Smart, canny, and somehow melancholy without too much pathos. A deft light touch from Lumet, Ron Silver, Anne Bancroft et al…

Family Business
The unlikely family of Grandpa Sean Connery, Dad Dustin Hoffman, Son Matthew Broderick works far better on film than as an idea. A tribute to both Lumet and the abilities of the actors. It’s one of the most re-watchable heist comedies out there. Very underappreciated little picture in my humble opinion.

Running on Empty, with River Phoenix and Judd Hirsch at the height of their respective powers. Nice little film about hippie terrorists on the run. Great ensemble cast. another great “little film” by Lumet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Book Launch

... is next Friday.

At The Prophouse Cafe at 1636 Venables st. Vancouver.

The Facebook Page

My "Author" FB Page

So I'm preparing for that. have some new books ordered in to sell at the show. Also two local legends: Rodney DeCroo & Wyckham Porteous will be opening the evening for me with their own unique brands of wordsmithy. It's going to be a fun gig. I'm pretty excited. And I must confess, a wee bit nervous. I haven't "Read" in a few years. But I've been rehearsing, and most of my old standbys like say "Like Bukowski In Drag" seem to come pretty easily. Muscle memory. Like riding a bicycle. mmm Poetry Bikes.

Otherwise, I really do feel like self publishing is the way for me to go, at least at the moment. I live a fairly simple existence: Job/Commitment wise specifically so I can have the downtime needed to write and develop my craft. Am I vigilant in this? Not so much. But I've never been a fast starter with anything. I prefer the slow burn method. My methods of learning are much more sponge like t I think, than most. When I was in school, I never took much in the way of notes. I read, casually, but thoroughly, mulled and most importantly discussed (in classes, and out) the things I was absorbing.

This I am only realizing now has served me better in the long term than it did in the short term (mediocre transcript etc...) The main thing I got from University was that I was a writer. A poet.

Which is kind of weird, as until I started writing poetry, it was low on my list of forms I enjoyed. I learned to read from Spider-Man Comics (and Sesame St (1st gen Sesame St. kid thankyou.) and moved through Hardy Boys etc into Fantasy & SF. I still read a lot of genre fiction. Mostly actually. But I also read as much Canlit as I can also. But I'm getting all auto-bio again, when I do in fact have a point to get to, eventually.

(Maybe you can tell ? I like to blog without editing. It's a public diary, right? Well it is for me. )

What I'm saying is that when I was young if I ever thought about being a writer, it would have been as an author of probably both SF & Fantasy stories. I played a lot of D&D and loved Comic books, and whatever other nerdly pursuits I found. This is still pretty much my life.

So why am I not an SF writer? I'm going to have to give that a try. I have some ideas. I'll let you know when they are read-able.

But back to Poetry.... I still don't read a lot of poetry to be honest, other than my own that is. But I am now also a poetry nerd, as well as a comic book, SF nerd.

I think we all need to have some kind of creative outlet, mode of expression that is communicative, not just typing or writing &/or drawing... for some it might be dance, a sport, or walking, talking, conversing, for many it's all these things. Of course, right?

I find though it's easy to get into a non communicative rut of working, home, relax
 alone, sleep, repeat, repeat repeat.... So I'm forcing the issue a bit by getting my work out there and getting back to a bit of performing and that kind of relationship building that happens between you and a crowd.

Phew.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #10

The Hitchhiker

Directed By Ida Lupino should be shown to everyone who ever wants to make a movie on little or no money. Genius little noir that seamlessly mixes noir cliches, homo-erotic subtext, (Interesting that this movie directed by a woman had no women to speak of in the movie) clever editing, guerrilla locations, great lighting and set design to create a real sense of the "malaise upon manhood" that the 2nd world war had wrought... The Villain is almost literally a Steve Ditko drawn villain come to life with his paralyzed eyelid. Steve Ditko meets EA Poe meets Hubert Selby Jr.

Quick Change

Bill Murray and some other clowns outwit Jason Robards. A gem of a Heist comedy highly enjoyable... nice cameos.

Green Lantern: First Flight.

An animated feature from DC... These movies might be the best thing DC has going right now. Highly entertaining re-telling of Hal Jordan with Sinestro, Kilowog, the old Jewish Tailor version of the Guardians, and I tell ya what Victor Garber was born to Voice Sinestro. Kick ass. Some great Cosmic battles. Well animated, voice-acted.

Black Widow

(Bob Rafelson) Oh so 80’s very low budget, but with the great Connie Hall behind the lens it looks really nice. Teresa Russell is marrying (slightly) older men and then killing them, it's her hobby. a very very young and nerdy looking Debra Winger is an old school IT nerd crunching secret data collected by spying on The American citizenry. She only has circumstantial evidence as Teresa ups the ante by marrying and doing away with Nicol Williamson (Merlin!) in quick order before Debra can get to her. Eventually Winger goes undercover in Hawaii and gets her spider. I won't give to many details other than to say that if palpable sexual tension between two women (and an oddly placed "pride" flag) does what is supposed to, you will quite enjoy the last half of the picture.

Dick Tracy

(Beatty). Much better than my memory of it, but by no means perfect. Out-Burton's Tim Burton tho if you compare it to his Batman. geat look to it, which my HDTV only makes better looking. There are maybe 2 too many long montages to show weeks (or is it days or hours it's hard to tell) going by etc... otherwise very faithful to the spirit of the comic (much better than "The Spirit" movie btw)... The female characters have a lot of Moxie, which is required. whatever happened to Glenne Headley (Tess Trueheart, also the gal in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels... she married a friend of mine then I never heard of either of them again) oh and BTW I think this may be the role which started Al Pacino on to the "voice" that he now uses all the time: Screaming. It's a great performance, but it may have ruined his acting career.

Calvaire.

another movie warning about the perils of travelling alone through rural Europe where everyone you meet is either clinically insane, or just undiagnosed insane. A cheeseball Frenchie Lounge singer breaks down in the fog and ends up beaten, raped, tortured and forced to sing horrible chansons d'amour and given a bad haircut. Creepy as hell. Great camera and mise en scene. a short sharp shock to the system and a warning to never wear a cape, unless you are a superhero.

I love you, Man.

Frickin hilarious, annd no Man-crying from Segel. Good buddy flick for the modern age. Not deep or anything. light clever fluff.
It's actually something of a Nerd-mance as well as a Bromance as neither lead buddy really has the required social skills for new friend making.

Wolfhound

... billed as Conan meets LOTR... in reality it's mostly Conan-esque... in a good way. Good battle scenes and very very D&D in terms of narrative. Lots of hints in the exposition, that the characters figure out when they need to. great vistas, very decent CGI.

Edison & Leo

a steampunk-ish and very macabre stop action animated feature, billed as the first such feature from Canada. Powers Boothe has a lot of fun voicing the  inventor "George Edison". It all takes place in a fictionalized Manitoba where Amazonian all female warrior native tribes are the norm. cheeky, very dark, clever stuff co-written by one of my old Profs from film school.

The Mutant Chronicles.

Stylish, well acted, good action... weak story. But, entertaining. Thomas Jane and SF stalwart Ron Perlman kick a lot of mutated butts. sometimes the green screening looked a bit suspect... But I dug the steampunk design of all the post nuked world equipment.

Voodoo Woman (no imdb link :( )

an autobiographical  doc about a closeted trans (who was quite femme too start with) who went to Cuba ostenibly to do a doc about Santoreia or Cuban Voodoo. As a practicing Buddhist monk, she was both open minded and skepytical of all the chicken entrails and whatnot, but via the rituals discovered that she had no course left in life other than to actually live as a woman. The voodoo rituals and exploration of that aspect of Cuba was just as interesting as her own story and they melded together nicely. At the end everyone stayed to hear her talk, as it left you wanting to know more about both aspects of the story.

The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela -

a slightly fictionalized true story of Raquela Rios - a Phillipino "ladyboy" who wants to get off the street and have a semblance of regular life. Through friends she eventually hooks up with a porno webmaster/total douchbag from NYC who exploits her to make a lot of money (she was paid well also) She also gets a working visa and goes to Iceland where she works in a fish factory, and cleans an old lady's house (very philipino foreign employment) The douchebag flies her over to Paris, where he spends his time deriding France in a very Languish way that made me think the real webmaster guy may have been a poster here.) Eventually she goes back home and ends up back on the streets, and the douchebag heads for Brazil where the "asses are amazing". Really really well filmed fake doc, starring the actual person all the shit happened to.

Her Name was Steven (no linkie :( )

a doc about that Fla City Manager who had a highly publicized sex change. She got some inner peace, and her kid was very cool about the whole thing. Everyone else in her life seemed to be an asshole, and she was thrust into the spotlight as a spokesperson for the trans community, without actually being very informed on what she was doing. Out for just a few months and she was expected to be the voice of people she was only just starting to identify with, or as. It's amazing she didn't kill herself. Now managing a different FLA city after getting more well adjusted, and surgeried... she passes really well now.

Cowards Bend The Knee -

a silent film from Guy Maddin. clever, cheeky and fun. Great old school B&W filmed with more vaseline on the lens than a Doug Sirk movie. A member of The Winnipeg Maroons leaves his Girlfriend for an evil Asian girl while the girlfriend is having a backstreet abortion in the back of a beauty parlour. Eventually the Asian girl chops off his hands and the ghost starts dating his Dad. Very Maddin. Very.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Like Bukowski In Drag, Again... is ready

I received my first batch of my latest self publishing effort... "Like Bukowski In Drag, Again". It's a3rd edition of my first Chapbook, called "like Bukowski In Drag".  I have copies for sale at $10 CAD, and copies on blurb.com which you can order for 10$ a pop also... They ship it right to your house. (or wherever you want)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Buddha Rhubarb’s Ongoing Confidential Report

Buddha Rhubarb’s Ongoing Confidential Report: 3 Fragments from the last few weeks.

Fragment: 1
Like a hamster on a wheel in a cage is how I sometimes feel in regards to those few precious issues of mine that seem to be the superglue on the bottom of my ballet shoes. Or something. I am lately given to think that my inability to firmly commit to anything bigger than a fairly menial job, or renting a small apartment has much more to do with my  creative procrastinations,  gender dysphoria, and lack of any real intimacy, etc… than those things themselves have any momentum/inertia. My inherent passivity and (what is called by most people who aren’t me) laziness though help keep my ambitions low.

I was saying to a friend just yesterday how when I look at some new Canadian poetry published recently in magazines or anthologies, I often find much to like, and stuff I deem better than, some not as good as my own stuff. I do have some ego about it. But I still have a hard time imagining that the editors of whatever it is I’m reading would be interested in “my stuff”. I’m not doing what the writers there are doing. Or am I ? I really have no idea. It’s easy to write this off as fear of failure, but for me it’s actually a bit more of an example of me putting distance between myself and my goals. I do this with the gender issue also, I realized yesterday while talking with this same friend, that often my “gender issue” reared/rears it’s head for me around the same time I would develop a crush on some unobtainable girl, (or boy, but more often girl, oddly enough) who I would befriend, and unburden my gender woes upon, thus insulating that crush from the world even further.

The gender issue reaches into the writing as well, often in very beneficial ways, as being two spirited opens up poetic possibilities as heartbreak is one of the driving forces of poetry as a force of nature/culture. Gender ambivalence like mine is nothing if not marginalized. Lots of room for twists on old stories. But, it also sometimes feels like I’m being gimmicky with the gender ambivalence, within my writing, and sometimes in my life.
 
Fragment 2
It’s too bad that one of my main super powers is being invulnerable to brainwashing, if I could just tow one party line, I’d fit in somewhere rather than sort of fit in everywhere. 

Fragment 3
Been thinking a lot in the last few days about where I really stand on the big issue: my gender dysphoria. The hardest thing for me to do really, is explain to someone who doesn’t suffer the same feelings exactly what those feelings are. Well to be blunt it’s the background buzz, the white noise of my life. The volume of this noise fluctuates quite a bit depending on many factors I imagine, and thus have a hard time making choices around it.

I do mean constant in terms of there is never a day goes by that it’s not in my thoughts at least part of the day. It’s also about 50% of my dreamscape, Depending on how busy I am with other things I’m either being productive with (Creative pursuits) or distracting myself with (Gaming, Internets, Comic books, Movies, etc) it varies how much it all bothers me… I mean sometimes it’s the only thing I think about all day, but mostly it’s another diversion in the day, something that is informing a poem, or story I’m writing perhaps, or I might indulge in a bit of home alone cross dressing, which can really take the edge off, and I recommend it as a valve if you are bent that way. Nobody is judging you when you are home alone.

And I guess like many people judgement is one of the big reasons I try to maintain the dyshoria as a sidebar, something to experiment with… It’s kind of therapy actually. Maybe I should write a self help book…”Cross Dress Your Way To Success”. But then I’d have to be successful? :p Yikes. Maybe not. I also have a pretty good sense of humour in regards to this issue. Which may or may not be apparent in these blog posts. I understand that were I to go forward as a public CD or Transperson or whatever you want to categorize it, that I would still be stuck with the body I’ve got for the most part. It’s amazing what can be changed, it really is, everyone’s seen the documentaries and the 90’s daytime talk show Tranny Surprise” episodes… sometimes you can “pass”.

I don’t know that I would, could, or even really want to, to be fair.  I’ve blathered on and on about it so much with people, and in my creative work, that I’m starting to (just now at 44) become cynical about it all. What am I getting out of it? What do I really want to do about it, if anything?

I’m really not sure (which irritates me more than anything else)

But, I feel that in my thinking on it and writing here I’ve come to feel like I need to explore these more therapeutic aspects that I mentioned above. For example when I see a Lady whose look really appeals to me, I tend to imagine myself as her walking down the street. I have a very vivid imagination as you likely know if you know me at all. I know I don’t really know what it feels like to really be a lady, but I can imagine that I am, and that most days is all that I need. A little fantasy.

That, and apparently some kind of “confession fetish” that I’ve developed on this blog, and well all the other blogs I’ve ever had actually, and friends’ ears (more in the pre-blog era though) etc. Ah well. I feel much lighter, and ready for the day now. More therapy. Thanks for being there, whoever you may be.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New edition of my old chapbook

I've recompiled my old chapbook: "Like Bukowski In Drag", and am calling this edition (the fourth version of the book by the by) "Like Bukowski In Drag. Again." And yes it probably is kind of weird that you are staring at my cleavage. :p

Monday, January 24, 2011

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #9

Spirit of the Beehive

Holds up well. deep, literate film yet simply told story of two young Spanish girls in the late 30's with broken disaffected parents, and healthy imaginations. Gorgeously shot, paced.

The Insect Woman.

1963 Shohei Imamura. Back in tha day Imamura was a bit of a bad boy director... this was his comeback film after the awesomely titled "Pigs & Battleships" went way over budget (though did well theatrically) and the "system" chose to make him take a sabbatical - during which he wrote several scripts and a play - The script for this movie being one.  It's the most conventional (despite it's dated use of freeze frame etc) social history of Japan in the 20th C. that you will see from Imamura... he tends to stick to smaller scope stories. There are flashes of his later brilliance, and overall this is a very enjoyable picture. It has a circular structure and reinforces the old japanese adage about the nail sticking out, being pounded back down.

Intentions of Murder

1964 by Shohei Imamura... continuing to work my way through the new Imammura Criterion/Janus boxset of Imamura early films. This picture is where he really starts to get his groove going. You also cannot heap enough praise on his collaborator Shinsaku (credited as Misahasa iirc) Himeda... who was like a Japanese Gregg Toland! The visuals are truly stunning. It's still a very typical Japanese postwar tale of a young woman trapped by her low social class and antlike lifestyle. A dude breaks into her house, beats her up steals her savings, rapes her, then keeps dropping by for similar, eventually she tries to break free. It's a big very literate melodarama. I woke up with images from the film rattling through my brain.

Pigs & Battleships by Shohei Imamura.

It's the movie that got him noticed as an up & comer and yet briefly stalled his career as it went way over budget etc. Great film though about a gang of really small time yakuza and prostitutes, who live off scraps and black marketeering at Yokosuka US base in Tokyo Bay. There are a few Battleships, and lots of pigs. not quite as audaciously photographed as the last two of his films I detailed here above, but beautifully shot nonetheless. more traditional, less hand held, and camera trickery.

Coraline

3-D on DVD. The 3D is underwhelming compared to what they can do in a theatre these days. The story though is awesome and lifts this scary and beautiful fable above the need for 3D or any gimmickry at all, actually.

Wise Blood

John Huston from that Flannery O'Connor story you read in Uni. No not that one, the other one: "Wise Blood". Great Huston from a period that was fruitful but forgotten due to the films being hard to find for so long... Fat City being another that needs to get into a DVD pressing asap. Thank You Criterion. Gorgeously shot, realized adaptation of a great story. Brad Dourif is revelatory.

 Pontypool 

(Bruce McDonald) 
a nice twist on the Zombie tale. about a zombie plague caused by... well that would be a spoiler... so I'll just say it was well done, with some snappy camera work and good acting. Solid adaptation as well by Tony Burgess (no relation afaik) from his own novel "Pontypool Changes Everything".

The Friends Of Eddie Coyle

(1973) By Peter Yates. Starring Bob Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco, etc. great looking early 70's Heist-y picture with a bit of a rambling Nashville feel, set in Bahsstann. loose story, great characters, dialogue. Mitchum constantly talking utter nonsense but in a scary way so gets to mostly do what he wants. clever and yet bleak. Great unheralded/legendary flick. brought to glorious DVD by Criterion. Now they need to get on that Fat City release asap. Oh also Farewell My Lovely. speaking of Mitchum. that'd be an awesome Criterion release. oh ps some great actual Hockey footage from a 72' Bruins/Blackhawks game. Bobby Orr and etc looking great not a frickin helmet in sight.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Favourite 25 Albums of Oughties

~ These are the albums I listened to the most throughout the ‘00’s … Some I listen to far less often these days (Gwen Stefani, the Streets, White Stripes, for example) but they occupied significant roles on my playlists,ipods over at least a few years periods in the ‘00’s.~

~ It is kind of eclectic, yet not really.~

The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come For Free ~ Totally blew my mind, and kind of still does, best concept/story album in decades. Could be a movie, but already kind of is.

Levon Helm - “Farmer Duology”  2 albums Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt ~ are both eminently re-listenable… great catchy band-esque, but not really-ish tunes from Helm and lots of guest artists.

Regina Spektor - Soviet Kitsch
~ a great album from Spektor, who is one of the most interesting singer songwriters in ages. She deserves bigger success yet!

Grey Album - Danger Mouse
~ maybe my mind is too easily blown, I am a sucker for covers and decent mashups, This is the Codex for  successful mashups that feel like  decent covers. Very re-listenable.

Johnny Cash - the Man Comes Around
~ Cash covering again, some genius cuts on this one. I love that late in his career Cash kept up his great re-interpretations of great songs.

White Stripes - Elephant ~ is the album that turned me on to the twosome of Jack & Meg. I still think it’s the most White Stripesy of their White Stripes albums, and to me that’s a good thing.

Black Keys - The Big Come Up
~ These guys rock me to my core with each album. I chose this one at random, but all their albums have been in my rotation since I discovered them while in Japan.

Lady Gaga - The Fame ~ I didn’t want to love Lady Gaga when I first heard about her, but after listening to this album, I changed my mind completely.

Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir - Fighting & Onions
~ another stomping kicking album from these guys. Great party music, gets me all revved up. With William Eliot Whitmore, these guys helped bestir my re-interest in old-timey mountain music & old country.

A.C. Newman - Get Guilty ~ best non-Pornographer work by a New Pornographer in my humble opinion, sorry Neko, & Dan. One of those albums you have to always listen to all the way through.

The Gossip - s/t EP ~ Short sharp blast of what Beth Ditoo & the boys are best at: punching you in the face with their songs.

Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic
~ The former voice of one of my favourite 90’s bands (Soul Coughing) continues to make catchy pop music, he’s gone to a less sample-y keyboard approach to a more guitar driven indie vibe without missing a beat. this album is full of songs that should be hits.

Hymns For The Hopeless - William Eliot Whitmore
~ I found Whitmore through one of those music blogs where they link a couple of myspace tracks of various artists that the blogger is into. The track “Cold and Dead” has become one of my all time favourite songs, and rivals “Amazing Grace” as far as A Capella goes in my personal Canon. It will be played at my funeral.

Various Artists - I’m Not There Soundtrack
~ Some great covers of songs by a guy who gets covered only slightly less than the Beatles; Bob Dylan. Aptly enough the covers are from a movie where several actors “cover’ Dylan, aspects of him, at least, which is what a good cover is, a re-interpretation.

Live In London - Leonard Cohen ~ My only compilation/Greatest Hits album of the decade. Best Cohen comp, as it’s all him now near the end, givin’ ‘er as only he can.

Naturally - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
~ Totally sublime throwback stuff… I can listen to this album anytime.

Gwen Stefani - Love Angel Music Baby ~ gayest album on my list as it’s completely silly and even more ludicrous than any Gaga, Xtina, Britney mashup you could hatch. great bubblegum music for dancing with cute boys to.

Scissor Sisters - S/T album
~ Also pretty gay, but like the Gaga album & The Stefani, it also has a lot of gravitas and real musicianship, and geniusly crafted pop.

Rodney DeCroo - Queen Mary Trash
~ A long time friend of mine has made an awesome foot stomping country rock roots whatever album of trashtalk. Oft compared to Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, my pal Rodney is meaner than either ever thought to be, but with tongue firmly in cheek.

Senor Smoke - Electric Six
~ Dorkiest album/group on my list. Their songs almost all make me laugh while I’m dancing.

Stop Drop And Roll!! - Foxboro Hot Tubs
~ Easily the best Green Day album since back in tha’ day, is not a Green Day album. Catchy hooks abound.

StreetCore - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
~ Joe Strummer came completely back from the dead with this his best album of any kind since London Calling, then he died. :( RIP Joe!

Devotchka - Una Volta
~ Tons of people do this “Devotchka” sound these days, but I first heard it here on this album, which still is one of my all time favourite albums.

Johnny Cash - Unchained
~ Has so many great cash Covers including my fave, “Rusty Cage” ‘Nuff said.

Shiina Ringo - Shōso Strip
~ Japanese Lady singers are not all Ayu clones as the ever individual Shiina Ringo has proven by stepping sideways everytime she is about to break outside her loyal fanbase. This is the first album of heres I heard at a friend’s house when I was in Japan. Great ChickRock!

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #8

The Karl Malden helmed "Time Limit": starring Richards -Widmark & Baseheart. OK drama about North Korean Prisoners of War and the after affects of their Major, seeming to "go over" to the commies. Turns out he was trying to do the "right thing" but failed. Not enough action in this talky drama.

Dear Zachary -  Doc about an apparently awesome guy who gets murdered by the woman bearing his unborn son. Things get worse for his family from there. heartwrenching and messed up. If you don't think there's evil in the world. Look no further than the shores of Newfoundland.

Filth & Wisdom purportedly directed by Madonna.  It's ok.. has that Gogol Bordello guy in it, giving it a bit of a Borat tinge. Basically he plays himself, (annoyingly talking to the camera occasionally) living with two single gals, has the hots for one, hires himself out between gigs as a role-playing Man-Whore in the funniest sequences in the movie. Richard E. Grant has an oddly blah turn as a blind self loathing poet. The whole thing plays like an 80's brit comedy by Bill Forsythe or someone. worth a larf or two, nothing more. Weirdly (and better for it) Un-ambitious first film for Madge.

The Fountain

by Darin Aronofsky. I heard all these crap reviews, and The customers who dug it were assholes. Yet I was always enticed by the trailers. Turns out I quite liked it. The visuals are stunning in and out of HD. The story is really easy to follow, despite seeming tough in the first part. It all comes together nicely in a very literate way. Almost more of a novel than a film... with the parallel storylines in different times.  Also I thought Jackman & Weisz had really great chemistry. Good romance with trippy visuals. Just what I was in the mood for.

It's Not Me I Swear

Beautifully shot in rural PQ is this great paean to growing in the late 60's early 70's. A young boy's home is "broken" by separation, usual family strife. He does many "bad" things in reaction. most silly, some grave. Great child acting from kids who in a few years will become crappy teen actors. wonderfully dark yet comic realistic portrayal of small town life. Except for everyone speaking french, it echoes my own childhood very closely. Highly recommended.

Tokyo!
3 shorts directed by Gondry, (Eternal sunshine...) Carax, (Pola X) & Bong (The Host) that take place in Tokyo. All very different, fairly insane, and yet plausible visions of that city.

Dreams With Sharp Teeth.

fun long long in the making doc about the Last Great American Cranky Man - Harlan Motherfucking Ellison. The best parts are when they just let him rant. You do see some nice bits of Ellison's human side. Great bit when he watches some video of his dad, who died when he was 12 or so.interesting that he's been chums with Gaiman since before Neil even wrote "Sandman" and became "The Neil Gaiman" Both tell some good stories in the extra feature where they eat pizza and yak about Hollywood assholes. oh and there's a clip of a friend of mine getting ripped a new one at a booksigning, for incorrectly using the word "awesome".