Amoeblog

Novelty rap and the harsh realities of adolescence -- Freddy Rap and other strange happenings of 1987

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 10, 2009 10:44am | Post a Comment
Back in 1987 and '88, before Chucky and the Leprechaun came along and divided the loyalties of urban cineastes along racial lines, Freddy and the hip-hop community were hand in metal-clawed glove. It was the year Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was released. Why did Freddy rap occur then and not sooner? There had been a building sense of unease for several years, as evinced in Rockwell's 1984 hit "Somebody's Watching Me" and Dana Dane's 1985 hit "Nightmares." It was the climax of the Cold War, after all. Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was widely viewed as the best entry in the series and was the most successful until FVJ in 2003. It may've just been me, but I also think 1987 was just a weird, wonderful year.

nightmare on elm street

For me, it was full of confusion and mystery. I'd grown somewhat comfortable with my classmates over the seven years of elementary school, but in 1987, I was off to junior high. The air on the school bus was a gaseous psychotropic cocktail of aquanet and Jheri Curl. When the smoke cleared, I found myself at Jefferson Jr High, in the middle of town. The formerly all-white school, my black Social Studies teacher informed us, had been the domain of the devil and his wife (a witch) when he was growing up during segregation. I later figured out her reasons for creating that myth, but it might as well have been true to me at the time. Junior High, in contrast to the relative peace of elementary school, was a trial by fire where violence could and frequently did break out as the pecking order got sorted out. I quickly learned to never use the restrooms. There was tremendous pressure to adopt a sort of uniform with classmates scrutinizing and passing judgment on hair, jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, musical tastes, &c. Brands and styles of (generally tightrolled) jeans (something I'd honestly never thought about) were cyphers that revealed more about their wearer's personality and background than their cracking voices ever could.

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Technophilia, The Trailer Hitch of Realism: Previewing Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Despicable Me, and Alice in Wonderland

Posted by Charles Reece, July 26, 2009 09:43am | Post a Comment
One thought that never crosses my mind when watching a classic Bugs cartoon is how it could be  improved with a richer palette of colors, more shading for 3-dimensional effect and a better use casperof perspective -- you know, so it would appear as if this anatomically incorrect bunny might actually exist in our world. Call me crotchety, but I don't like aesthetics being reduced to technology. Just because the average Macbook now has millions of colors at its disposal, this shouldn't matter a whit to a modern audience watching an old Chuck Jones cartoon. But it does, if the average CGI-toon that dominates production is any indication.

When Casper the Friendly Ghost received the CGI treatment, he became a true monstrosity, a virtually embodied horror, the mishapen spectral remant of a literalized infanticide. Yet, it was in a movie aimed at kids and no one seemed to mind. If he'd been covered in blood, I suspect it would've been a different story. In The Philosophy of Horror, Noël Carroll suggests two major defining features of the monster proper: that (1) the creature be threatening and (2) it be impure. Now, it's probably not much of an overgeneralization to suggest few feel threatened by Casper, not even by his 3D deformity. But he's clearly impure in two ways: First, obviously, he's undead, kind of like a zombie, but one who's rational and apparently takes showers. That is, he violates the cognitive categories we have for what living and dead bodies are supposed to behave like -- mixes the contents. Second, and perhaps less obviously, in the 3D version, he is a violation of the formal abstraction that was part of his 2D cartoon body. This formal impurity wouldn't have existed had the animators decided to go with a realistic form for their adaptation, something like the ghosts in Peter Jackson's The Frighteners.

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Italian Grindhouse @ Egyptian Theatre

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, July 10, 2009 07:15pm | Post a Comment
The Egyptian is hosting a short Italian Grindhouse festival these next 7 days! Yesterday featured the legendary Cemetary Man as well as Argento's Opera. Fortunately for those that missed this double, both are available at Amoeba. Tonight the Cinematheque is showing a Carroll Baker double with Paranoia (Orgasmo) & A Quiet Place to Kill (A Drug Called Helen). Over the next week they'll cover sword and sandal territory, spaghetti westerns, psychedellic giallo & italo-crime. Films featuring Edwige Fenech, John Cassavetes, Klaus Kinski, Steve Reeves, Christopher Lee & many more favorites. Many not on DVD!

Compete Calendar here.

Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Blvd. (@ Las Palmas)







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Up & Down: Up (2009) & Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Posted by Charles Reece, July 5, 2009 09:50pm | Post a Comment
up poster pixar

The Plot. Two things struck me about the celebrated elliptical opening sequence of UP, where the young version of Carl, the protagonist, is shown to age and fall in love with Ellie, who remains dead for most the picture: (1) Despite Pixar's raison d'etre, overloaded digital spectacle, what the company excels at is character portraiture. This tends to be done in the first third of their stories, after which the plot kicks in, and I get bored. Unlike Wall-E, however, UP is mostly about Carl just hanging out in his floating house, talking to this chubby little cub scout stowaway, and befriending some linguistically enhanced canines. All of which makes it the best Pixar film to date. (2) Seijun Suzuki and Pixar know something about generic expectations that Steven Spielberg doesn't. Like all moviegoers, my emotions are mechanized, habituated responses to the levers, pulleys and cables of traditional storytelling. Thus, in abstracto, I'll feel elation on cue when the hero risks it all to save those more unfortunate than he, even if the particularities involve an Aryan saving some Jews (a lesson that can be had from Star Wars' appropriation of Triumph of The Will). These 2 and 1/2 hour-long movies of Spielberg's could be cut down to a few, brief sequences leading to the big crescendo, and we'd all still have the same reaction. Much like Suzuki tends to jump cut over the dramatic cliches in his films, Carl meets Ellie, they share similar interests, yadda yadda yadda, she's dead, now her absence structures our understanding of Carl for the rest of UP. Less flippantly worded: poetic resonance isn't based on word count, nor are genre pleasures.

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Aquanauts - heroes of oceanic exploration

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 13, 2009 08:23am | Post a Comment
Lego Aquanaut

Aquanauts - What Are They?

Aquanauts, as the name implies to anyone with even the most basic awareness of Latin and ancient Greek, are the oceanic equivalent of astronauts, cosmonauts, taikonauts and other nauts. However, there's more to being an aquanaut than wearing a blue blazer with gold buttons paired with white trousers. Nor are aquanauts mere scuba divers or snorkelers. Even donning a Breton sailor's shirt and Greek fisherman's cap, puttering around in a pressure-and-climate-controlled sub just makes you a submariner. If you want to be an aquanaut, you've got to get your hands wet. There's also an implication that you have to be indigenous to land because no one ever described a porpoise or a jellyfish as an aquanaut.

SEALAB I  Inside Sealab

Famous, Real-Life Aquanauts

Although every documentary about the Earth's oceans points out how much more interesting the oceans are than space (and how we know less about it), aquanauts are never as famous as their spacegoing rivals. Whereas everyone knows the names of the first astronauts on the moon, who can name any of the crew who first descended the Marianas Trench? See if any of these "famous" aquanauts' names ring any diving bells:

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