Amoeblog

Spotlite on Paul Anderson

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 27, 2008 09:04pm | Post a Comment

Background

Paul Anderson is a prolific Generation X filmmaker with a trademark style and five Academy Awards under his belt. He's also made music videos for everyone who's performed at Largo. In addition to his film-making, he's dated models turned singers, singers turned models, daughters of singers and models who only sing in the shower.

Style

Paul Anderson's films are notable for their flashy style and complicated, interweaving story lines. As one of the video store generation of filmmakers, he employs a large bag of cinematic tricks, including quick cuts, constant camera movement, stunning scenery, dutch tilts, low angles, high angles and revolving pullback shots-- tricks gleaned from growing up with a VCR rather than film school learning. He frequently employs female-led ensemble casts drawn from a stock of trusted actors. Making up that group are such players as Julianne Moore, Sean Pertwee, John C. Reilly, Colin Salmon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeremy Bolt, Melora Walters, Jason Isaacs, and Luiz Guzman, to name a few.

Themes

Anderson's ostentatious style is frequently used to elevate the seemingly mundane to epic proportions. Sometimes the point of this ostentatious streak seems merely like showing-off, perhaps an effect of Anderson's high level of film exposure but probable lack of theory. He frequently revels in the seedy underside of outwardly blissful environs. Other frequently recurring themes include constructions and examinations of makeshift families, the role of media, divine acts, secret governmental organizations and the unintended consequences of technology run amok.

Films

He made his first film while still in High School. It was The Dirk Diggler Story. It was a short mockumentary inspired by the teenage Anderson's voracious appetite for porn.

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The Strangers

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 4, 2008 01:56pm | Post a Comment



The other night I went to see The Strangers with my favorite person, Ngoc Nguyen. The film begins with a caveat, "The horrifying events that took place in the Hoyt family's vacation home at 1801 Clark Road on February 11, 2005, are still not entirely known." We are also told that the film is "inspired by actual events." Those inspirational events most likely included watching Helter Skelter and maybe Fatal Vision. But the "based on actual events" gimmick is a tried and true one; and one indicative of The Stranger's formula-following strengths and weaknesses.



Is there anything scarier than hippies?


One guy went to the trouble of mapping the address given in the film and many others have taken the opening claim as truth. I'll try to help by adding that I heard the cry of a Great Horned Owl at several points and I've included this handy map of their range so that we can narrow it down further.

      

Retribution 叫 sakebi (2006) dir. by 黒沢 清 Kurosawa Kiyoshi -- Touching From a Distance

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 2, 2008 09:33pm | Post a Comment
 

A grizzled police detective named Yoshioka investigates a murder in a muddy waterfront in Tokyo. The victim, although drowned in a puddle, has lungs full of saltwater. As Yoshioka investigates, all of the clues all seem to point to the him.  In the process, he grows more unhinged and defensive whilst troublingly remaining unable to write himself off as a suspect. His violent, murky memories seem to implicate him as well, and he suffers from insomnia and possible hallucinations.


Soon afterward, more killings occur with the same under similar circumstances. Yet they're easily explained and, in doing so, fail to exonerate Yoshioka in the first case. Kurosawa uses twists and turns not merely to keep the audience guessing about the true nature of the crime, but also to take the viewer somewhere unexpected-- into a feeling of loneliness and a state of guilt about ignoring the plight of others because of our collective societal embrace of insensitivity and deliberate emotional isolation.


Although the cover of Lion's Gate's DVD suggests that the film is merely another "scary hair" ghost story (and in some ways it is), it's mainly an atmospheric mood piece that has more in common with Antonioni and his ilk than horror directors. The title, Sakebi, literally means "Scream," which makes a lot more sense than the English translation of "Retribution," which seems chosen to mislead potential viewers into more false expectations. Anyone expecting horrifying vengeful ghosts will likely be disappointed by the glacially paced and contemplative film, although there are (mostly startling) moments of horror.

Sissy Rappers - Tell me what a sissy know

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 3, 2008 04:42pm | Post a Comment
In hip-hop circles, you often encounter self-appointed arbiters of hip-hop taste who decry certain supposed negative trends in hip-hop. One frequent target for these musical Taliban is the prevalence of "bling," which is regarded as a new corruption of the scene (conveniently ignoring Gucci-clad, Rolls Royce-flaunting, "paid in full"-singing Eric B and Rakim or the massive gold ropes that adorned every rapper from Big Daddy Kane down the alphabet to Yella.) These paternal advocates of fiscal responsibility feel that rappers should be saving their money, I suppose, and not spending on ostentatious jewelry.

These conservative cultural watchdogs usually then go into an oft-repeated, well-rehearsed diatribe about meaningless, party-centric lyrics, the lack of reliance on DJing, the importance of being real and other things that place them ideologically in the traditionalist camp alongside their trad jazz forebears that griped when jazz moved beyond its Dixieland roots, the guy that yelled "Judas" when Dylan plugged in and prog-rock fans who decried the lack of humorless, showy, technical proficiency when glam began took over the charts and hearts of rock fans in the 70s.

But music evolves, regardless (and sometimes in defiance) of the griping and sniping of those stodgy snobs who stand scowling and motionless with arms folded whilst the masses keep on getting down. In 1968 Nik Cohn virtually created rock criticism with his book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of RockAs the title suggests, Cohn viewed the meaningless, shallow, fun music of rock's dawn in higher regard than the pretentious progressive rock of his day.  Another genre of music that haters love to hate is Bounce music. I felt like my love of this despised genre was validated, in a way, when the same Nik Cohn moved to New Orleans and worked with Choppa, an under-rated rapper from Algiers on the West Bank who had a big regional hit with "Choppa Style." Choppa dubbed Cohn "Nik the Trik" and Cohn wrote another book of criticism about his experiences, Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap.

The Seabiscuits

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 15, 2008 07:16pm | Post a Comment
  
It's award season, which can only mean one thing: It's time for the Amoeba's 5th annual Seabiscuits! Let me back up for a second. For those who have never worked at Amoeba, our jargon can sound (in my Mr. T voice) confusing, confounding and sometimes downright curious. As a customer, you may have found yourself being told by one of our helpful staff to "check the 'hat' adjacent to the 'blueline waterfall' while I go check 'Wally',"  leaving you scratching your buzzing noggin in psychedelic wonder. Well, one of those jargon words we use is "evergreen" which, somewhat counter-intuitively, refers to titles that will always be in demand (and not to titles that will only sell on "the Green Tag Island," where we exile bargain titles to.

When Seabiscuit came out on DVD, right before Christmas of 2003, there was an audible buzz (or "nicker," in horse language). It was released in widescreen and fullscreen, a sign of its broad appeal to both film-lovers and people who "don't like it when they cut the heads off with those black bars." Several films attached themselves like filmic remoras to Seabiscuit's celluloid whale shark, hoping to feed off of the crumbs of interest -- or maybe to be purchased by the confused and functionally illiterate. There was, as there often is, debate about whether or not the film would be an evergreen. It didn't prove to be ... But let's go merrily back in time to the early oughts, back to 2003. It was the year a second space shuttle blew up, SARS was discovered, Bush landed on a ship flying a banner reading "Mission Accomplished," the last vocho rolled off the assembly line in Mexico, Gary Ridgway (the Green River Killer) admitted to killing 48 women and Jacko was charged with being a chester (again). And in the dream factory the year of the Sheep proved, in fact, to be the year of the horse.

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