Amoeblog

The Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2017

Posted by Amoebite, December 18, 2017 01:57pm | Post a Comment

Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2018

Has Criterion gone punk?? Based on the top selling Blu-rays at Amoeba this year it looks as if the primo purveyors of classic, foreign, and arthouse films found much of their success in alternative and cult-y titles by such provocateurs as Alex Cox, Terry Zwigoff, and John Waters. Perhaps it's a slight exaggeration, but based on the thin presence of films for Francophiles and classic film buffs, it seems that the prestigious label has gotten more angsty and alternative. Regardless, Criterion, as always, released a stellar collection of films in 2017. Here are the 10 best-selling Criterion Blu-rays at Amoeba.

Read all of our Best of 2017 lists.

Sid & Nancy Criterion Blu-ray Amoeba Music

10. Sid & Nancy 
Directed by Alex Cox, 1986
Released Aug 22, 2017

The long overdue Blu-ray release of Sid & Nancy has been one of the most anticipated Criterion releases in recent memory, and it couldn't have come at a more poignant time in lead actor Gary Oldman's career. Now regarded as a Hollywood mainstay, and garnering Oscar buzz for his recent portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hours, Oldman broke through to audiences in Cox's kinetic cult flick about the infamous, short lived, heroin-fueled relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (played by an equally fascinating Chloe Webb), before her gruesome, unsolved death by stabbing. Packed with extra documentaries, archival interviews of the real Vicious and Spungen, commentaries by the cast and crew, and more, this is the ultimate edition of the beloved punk-classic. 4K digital restoration.
Rebecca Criterion Blu-ray Amoeba Music 9. Rebecca 
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1940
Released Sept 5, 2017

Considered a favorite by many die-hard Alfred Hitchcock fans, Rebecca was the director's first production in Hollywood, after making a name for himself across the Atlantic. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier star is this psychological melodrama, in which the bliss of their new marriage becomes overshadowed by the memory, and possibly spirit, of Olivier's dead first wife. Filled with visual style, atmospheric special effects, and superb performances, Rebecca signaled the arrival of a new master in Tinseltown, and took home the Academy Award for best picture. The new Blu-ray is filled to the brim with special features, including various archival interviews with cast and crew members, three radio adaptations (including one by Orson Wells), screen tests, and a new conversation by legendary film critic Molly Haskell with Patricia White. 4K digital restoration.

Summer Book Blockbusters: New & Upcoming Reads

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 12, 2016 06:10pm | Post a Comment

Summer Book Blockbusters

We still have plenty of summer left this year, which is good news for sun worshipers, stone fruit enthusiasts, and voracious readers. Thanks to summer, we can participate in our favorite solitary hobby of being completely absorbed by a good book in the great outdoors -- and we can do so longer and later thanks to daylight savings time! So many great books have come out this summer or are on their way to bookshelves near you. Here's our guide to some of the highlights we've enjoyed and are looking forward to.

Never A Dull Moment: 1971 The Year That Rock ExplodedMusic:

Kanye West Owes Me $300: And Other True Stories from a White Rapper Who Almost Made It Big by Jensen Karp (out now)
This is the hilarious and true story of Jensen Karp's wild ride as "Hot Karl," the most famous white rapper you've never heard of, who got his start performing at his friend's bar mitzvah and eventually signed to Interscope Records.

Never a Dull Moment: 1971 The Year That Rock Exploded by David Hepworth (out now)
Examines the music scene starting with the day after The Beatles broke up and the world was reshaped by David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Joni Mitchell.

In Love With These Times by Roger Shepherd (out now)
Flying Nun Records founder Roger Shepherd's memoirs reach back to the early days of the New Zealand label, dreamt up in the back rooms of a Christchurch record shop in the early '80s.

The Smiths by Nalinee Darmrong (out now)
This huge collection of photos by Nalinee Darmrong chronicles The Smiths during their peak years, 1985–1986, when Darmrong traveled with the band for the Meat Is Murder and The Queen Is Dead tours. See many previously unpublished photos of the band backstage and onstage, set lists, handcrafted promo materials, letters, clothing, and much more.

Continue reading...

Summer Nights at Oakland Museum of California, Fri. 7/27! Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, & Hippies Too!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 12, 2012 03:00pm | Post a Comment
Summer Nights Oakland Museum OMCA

 

Join Amoeba Music and the Oakland Museum of California for another action-packed installment of Summer Nights at OMCA on Friday, July 27th!


Held on the final Friday of each month from Friday, April 27 through Friday, October 26, Summer NightsRevolution hippies haight san francisco features special evening hours and half-price Museum admission after 5pm! With classic '68 film screenings in Oak Street Plaza, Amoeba Music DJs spinning '60s-inspired sets, and sizzling special activities throughout the Museum, you won't want to miss Summer Nights!

On Friday, July 27th, Amoeba's own DJ Michael Henning will be spinning international and psychedelic gems of the era and you can watch this classic 1968 film under the stars at Oak Street Plaza:

Revolution
Starring Herb Caen and featuring interviews and performances by Country Joe & the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Steve Miller Band.

Obscured by Clowes

Posted by Charles Reece, June 1, 2012 02:59pm | Post a Comment

One of my favorite cartoonists was on Michael Krasny's Forum last Wednesday. Listen below:

Giving up the Ghost: Ghost World

Posted by Charles Reece, April 15, 2012 11:57pm | Post a Comment
   

[This essay originally appeared as part of a roundtable over at The Hooded Utilitarian.]

Reading Daniel Clowes' Ghost World again got me to thinking about John Barth’s nihilist novel, The End of the Road. The latter begins at a bus station; the former ends at a bus stop. And much like Barth’s protagonist, Jacob Horner, Enid spends the duration of the story searching for an identity, but only succeeds in finding what she’s not. Horner is a middle-aged academic type who’s managed to think himself into a hole, not seeing any potential action as better grounded than another -- sort of an infinite regress of self. Thus, he’s sitting in a bus station in a state of existential paralysis, not able to even come up with a good reason to get on a bus and leave his former (non-) life behind. The abiding gloom that pervades all of Ghost World's vignettes -- undercutting Enid’s hipper-than-thou detachment from those around her -- is a sense that she’s headed to the same destination as Horner: nowhere.

I figure there must be some consilience here, since kinukitty’s main reason for not liking Clowes’ book -- that it’s neither real nor funny -- reminds me of Barth’s prefatory defense of his story:

Jacob Horner […] embodies my conviction that one may reach such a degree of self-estrangement as to feel no coherent antecedent for the first-person-singular pronoun. […] If the reader regards [this] egregious [condition] (as embodied by the [narrator]) as merely psychopathological -- that is, as symptomatic rather than emblematic -- the [novel] make[s] no moral-dramatic sense. [p. viii]

I realize that if one has to defend something as funny, it’s never going to make it so to those not laughing. This is particularly true of existentialist humor, since it’s kind of the obverse of prat falls, namely only funny when it happens to me. So I’m going to stick to the reality of Enid’s predicament. The End of the Road is a bit abstract, where Horner goes through a series of fanciful psychotherapeutic treatments in search of a cure (the search is, of course, at the insistence of a psychiatrist). The most relevant of these is mythotherapy, which involves acting in a chosen character role with the purpose of having it stick through habituation -- an irrational solution to a rational psychosis. Clowes treats the identity formation of teenagers in much the same way, but with a recognizant teen who, like Horner, can’t ignore the ontological arbitrariness undergirding the whole process. Just because teens regularly slip into an adult role without much of a hitch doesn’t mean that there’s not a good deal of truth in her depicted inertia.

To be sure, this is a bourgeois dilemma, requiring enough leisure time to reflect on the construction of one’s identity. The working class has to learn their roles quickly if they want to endure. A day laborer in Horner’s place would simply starve. Class division is explicitly drawn out in Enid’s moribund friendship with Becky. Becky just assumes she’ll have to work after high school, whereas Enid’s dad is pressuring her into college. Enid’s intellectual background is alluded to when discussing her dad’s political interests, which she equates to sports. As she explains, since her family would be the “first ones they’d have shot” during a revolution, there’s little point to true political commitment. A choice between academia or the workforce isn’t any more significant. Becky relates to Enid’s views in much the same way that someone who desires the privileges money affords will act towards those who have always taken their wealth for granted. Becky may affect her friend’s class-based despondency, but she begins to be “cured” upon going to work. Meanwhile, Enid continues her search for an authentic self in the same manner that she began the book, analyzing pop culture:


Just like the rest of us, Enid was born into the media-saturated “Society of the Spectacle,” which makes it damn hard to distinguish the real from its image (“spectacle”). There are plenty who’ve given up the fight, claiming that the shadows on Plato’s cave are reality. It’s this crisis that leads to ironic detachment. Consider what R. Fiore calls the Warhol and Anti-Warhol Effects, which Slavoj Žižek suggests, in The Fragile Absolute, are two sides of the same coin. As sublime imagery became increasingly commodified (think a well-made BMW ad), modern artists increasingly focused on holding the place of Art intact (renewing or creating the “there there,” to borrow a reference from the aforementoned kinukitty). This was done, as a way of separating itself from the beatification of crass commercialism, by filling the spot with crud: a toilet, coke cans and the like. It has the (“Warhol”) effect of focusing the attention on the constraints, or construct, of Art, rather than the depicted object. Capital is quick to adapt, of course, so this shock tactic is of diminishing returns. If I’m correctly following Žižek’s Lacanese, this wide-scale commercial co-optation of not just the aesthetic Sublime, but pretty much anything that once gave off a sense of “authenticity,” has resulted in our no longer being able to identify ourselves in relation to these (formerly) Master Signifiers. Instead, the Self has become fractured, its consistency

sustained by relationship to the pure remainder/trash/excess, to some ‘undignifed’, inherently comic, little bit of the Real; such an identification with the leftover, of course, introduces the mocking-comic mode of existence, the parodic process of the constant subversion of all firm symbolic identifications. [p. 39]

Enid Coleslaw, in other words. Her problem is that she can’t give up the Cartesian ghost; she’s looking for the old-fashioned Cogito, while living in a postmodern world. She tries to define herself by attempting paradoxically to establish defining connections through an ironic detachment from pop culture detritus, as if she can divine an auratic dimension to an anachronism like the Hubba Hubba Diner with its long-haired waiter, Weird Al. Or consider how she “authentically” dresses as a parody of 70s punk. These things can only sustain an identity if a person already believes (or acts as if she believes) in their significance, which is exactly what Enid can’t do. All signifiers carry equal weight, which I suggest is hardly a flaw in her reasoning. Hell, it’s not even possible to call her condition “nihilism” without conjuring thoughts of Mike Myers on SNL, or those three phony Germans antagonizing The Dude with a ferret. Mass culture has even detached us from our detachment. Thus, Enid’s one true act (to borrow from the Lacanians again) is to get on the bus, cutting all her symbolic ties: a symbolic suicide. I’m inclined to see all of this as a good deal more than superficial tragedy. But, then again, one might point out that I have the time to blog about a comic book.
<<  1  2  >>  NEXT