Archive: October, 2009
A concert a day keeps the doctor away.
Tuesday: Dick Valentine, frontman for Electric Six, is one of the craziest showmen I've ever seen. Last time I saw them, he had worn three different capes by the end of the first song. Bad ass. With The Gay Blades and Millions of Brazilians, 9 PM, $15, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Wednesday: Take Shaun Brady's word for it and see Phantom Limb and Wooley who speak in toungues via their experimental sound. With Sharks with Wings and Sanguine Vessel, 8 p.m., $5-$10, Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St., third floor.
Thursday: Who doesn't love Leonard Cohen? This mysterious motherfucker is 75-years-old and he's been recording for the last 42 of them. He was a poet and an author first, which means quality lyrics. He does dark, grotesque, story-based folk music, focusing on themes like desolation, isolation and the human condition. Really I just wish he was my grandfather. Tower Theater, 19 S. 69th St., Upper Darby, 610-352-2887.
Friday: Eoto is two guys from the String Cheese Incident who decided they were going to do a live electronic project. They don't do recorded studio albums, which means their live shows are improvised on the spot. The String Cheese Incident has been playing together since 1993, so you get all of their talent and you don't have to listen to the String Cheese Incident. 11 PM, $17, World Caf' Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400
Saturday: Sound Tribe Sector 9 is every bit as bad ass as their name. They're an LSD-fueled (I try not to be accusatory, but it's inescapably noticeable in their sound) electronic jam band from California, known and loved for their stunning live performances and their ability to combine any genre you can think of. With Eskmo, 8:30 PM, $25, Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St., 215-627-1332
TLA Video AT 517 South 4th Street, a mecca of indie, arthouse and queer movies since it opened in 1985, closed it's doors yesterday. It's ironic that I found out when a co-worker sent me the link to a friend's Twitter account, with its 140-character eulogy; it's the evolution of the Internet that led to the location's downfall.
"They would have directors sections ' Robert Altman, Martin Scoresese, Antonioni. It was like an education where you would learn about genres or directors. They had this crazy cult section with movies from guys like Roger Corman," says Margit Detweiler, former City Paper managing editor who often wrote about pop culture in Philadelphia during her decade-long tenure at the paper. "It was really a film education there and a cultural hub."
TLA head honchos Ray Murray, Claire Brown Kohler and Eric Moore began TLA Video as a companion to their South Street rep house. "We showed old movies on a big screen and it was a business we were proud of. We saw early on that the writing was on the wall, with the advent of VHS that wasn't a viable business model anymore," says Moore, whose group sold the venue so it could become it's current incarnation of a concert venue. "Video stores had a good run for a quarter century now but the technology is the new writing on the wall. We either have to adapt to and change with the technology or go into a different business."
The store closure not only signals a change for TLA but for South Street as a whole. This marks the first time TLA has no had a presence on South Street since 1981. Moore chalks it up to evolution of both South Street itself and the movie-watching climate, but adds with a note of melancholy, "As I said to a friend yesterday, 'Capitalism is brutal.'"
TLA still operates video stores in Center City, Bryn Mawr and Chestnut Hill. The South Street store itself will reopen on Friday, October 23 and sell off its remaining inventory through Thanksgiving.
Looking ahead, Moore hopes that the TLA will remain an arthouse authority in the form of an online distribution company that will either stream content on their servers or point movie lovers in the direction of another site that can. Moore, who holds the position of chief technology officer, understands that his job is more integral to the company than ever. "This is all riding on my shoulders now. Help!" he says, laughing.
But the closing of TLA Video isn't simply a capitalistic casualty. Like the legions of other video stores that have shuttered their doors, from mom and pop to Blockbuster, it's the loss of a communal space where people with one thing in common ' their loves of movies ' can converse with each other. "That's to me, the single biggest lost as a society ' this place to go where we can talk about movies. I watched the Phillies game last night sitting on my sofa rather than with friends. The way I get my social community while watching the game is posting on Facebook. Does that help or hurt the local bar around the corner?" says Moore. "I wish I was Malcolm Gladwell who could give you something pithy about what's next in our society but I think we just don't know. The human urge to be social will ultimately win out, but we're in a period of transition.
New York Mag's excellent Vulture blog has a hilarious dissection of Dana Goodyear's New Yorker profile of uber-director James Cameron, where they break up the piece a la Chuck Norris Facts. It works surprisingly well. My favorite is this one:
' James Cameron signs all correspondence "Jim out."
I haven't read the New Yorker piece yet, but Goodyear is characteristically excellent and I love James Cameron (he can't write for shit ' hello, Titanic ' but you can't argue with the dude's vision) so I look forward to it. But it all got me thinking about Avatar, Cameron's impending epic, which opens nationwide on December 18, just in time to score that visual effects Oscar (although, Where the Wild Things Are will certainly give it a run for its money).
Cameron is known for essentially creating new technology in order to realize what he sees in his head and I still think Terminator 2: Judgment Day looks amazing, despite being made some 18 years ago.
But what about Avatar? Reports had the budget ballooning to $300 million so Cameron could create the necessary technology but when the trailer was released a couple months ago, the Internet blew up with a lot of "WTF? Cameron's first narrative feature post-Titanic is this?" Judge for yourself below:
I gotta agree with the Internet on this one. What's up with the cat people? Granted, most of us are viewing this on computers and a big screen experience means it will look different but this is no plasma-people like T2 or no epic proportions, like Titanic. In short, it looks stupid.
What worries me most of all, though, is that Avatar seems as if its one of those Cameron movies that lacks his trademark wit (to say it once more, Titanic) and half of Cameron's affability comes from his humor (i.e. the glory that is True Lies). But on the bright side, Sam Worthington was the only reason to see McG's godawful, decidedly humor-less Terminator: Salvation.
Still ' cat people '
What do you think about the Avatar trailer? What do you think about Cameron in general? Hate him and want to go to toe-to-toe with me on it? Love him and want to discuss how you always have to watch True Lies when its on TV (cough, cough)? Post your thoughts in the comments.
Remember this summer's Midnight Madness? The witching hour movie series returns to the Ritz at the Bourse this Saturday with Beetlejuice. Here's the schedule:
Saturday, October 24
(USA 1988) PG, 92 min
Sight gags and puns abound as the diabolically funny title character (played with gruesome wit by Michael Keaton) helps "newlydeads" Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis rid their home of obnoxious new owners Catherine O'Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Winona Ryder. From Tim Burton, director of Big Fish, Ed Wood, Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Edward Scissorhands.
Friday, October 30 & Saturday, October 31
(New Zealand1992) NR, 97 min
If you thought the '50s were all bobby-sox and innocence, you didn't live next door to Lionel. After his domineering mother is bitten by a vicious Sumatran Rat-Monkey, a deliriously funny gorefest ensues, featuring zombies, severed limbs, internal organs, buckets of blood and one mean lawnmower! From Peter Jackson, director of the King Kong remake, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Frighteners.
Saturday, November 7
THE BREAKFAST CLUB
(USA 1985) R, 97 min
A wrestler, a rebel, a brain, a beauty and a shy girl share Saturday detention in a Chicago high school.
Saturday, November 14
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT
(USA 1988) PG, 104 min
In a world where cartoons coexist with humans, a private eye tries to clear a long-eared fugitive of murder charges.
Saturday, November 21
(USA 1968) 6, 136 min
Roman Polanski's adaptation of Ira Levin's chilling novel stars Mia Farrow as an innocent young bride who moves into a New York brownstone with her husband (John Cassavetes), only to be terrorized by a coven of witches. Will the elderly couple next door (Sidney Blackmer and Oscar-winner Ruth Gordon) be her salvation or damnation? Find out in one of the most frightening films ever made!
Saturday, November 28
PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE
(USA 1985) PG, 90 min
When his beloved bike is stolen, Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) sets out on a hilarious cross-country trek that leads him to the basement of the Alamo and the backlot at Warner Bros. Studios. Highlights include Large Marge (the truck-driving ghost) and Pee-wee's Big Shoe Dance ("Tequila!"). Co-written by Phil Hartman, Michael Varhol and Reubens. Original music score by Danny Elfman. Directed by Tim Burton (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Ed Wood).
Saturday, December 5
(USA 1976) R, 113 min
Robert De Niro is absolutely chilling in Martin Scorsese's classic film about a disturbed New York cabbie who befriends a teenage hooker (Jodie Foster) and tries to free her from her pimp (Harvey Keitel). He also begins stalking political worker Cybill Shepherd, just as work in the nighttime jungle gets the best of him. An atmospheric, violent urban nightmare, from the acclaimed director of The Departed, Gangs of New York and Raging Bull.
Saturday, December 12
THE NEVERENDING STORY
(Germany 1984) PG, 92 min
A New York schoolboy escapes into a book about a boy warrior and an empress.
I will so be at Pee Wee's Big Adventure on Nov. 28, which is still my favorite Tim Burton movie ("You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.") although Beetlejuice is a classic for several reasons. Namely this one:
Don't worry if you forget this schedule. We'll always have it up at citypaper.net/repfilm.
Ritz at the Bourse, midnight, $9, 400 Ranstead St., 215-925-7500, LandmarkTheatres.com
In this week's Agenda section, we told you all about Philly comic Todd Glass, a sharply sarcastic, yet genuinely sweet guy who's touring with David Cross. And then we thought: Why not talk to Cross, the silly goose behind Arrested Development and Mr. Show, too? He gave us the scoop on his new book, Mormons and his eventual plan to make a humorous soups line. If you still want more after this Q&A, he'll be at the Merriam Theater (250 S. Broad St., 215-732-5997) this Tue., Oct. 20 at 8 p.m., for $35.
City Paper: What subject do you hate to talk about in interviews?
David Cross: The question about what do I like doing more, if I could only do one ' standup or writing or film, TV or acting ' just because that's based on a hypothetical that will never happen. That was going to be your first question. I'm sorry.
CP: What's taken so long to make Arrested Development into a movie?
DC: We haven't made it, we're waiting to get a script. But everyone wants to make it, I can promise you that.
CP: You're on tour for the newly released book, I Drink For A Reason. What do you think of book tours and the people who show up to say hi to you for 20 seconds? What do you talk about?
DC: It's a good skill to learn that I lacked and I was kind of dreading it a little, but I'm actually really enjoying it. For a long time when I first became successful or recognized or known, I wouldn't even say I was shy, I just didn't want to talk about me or that or whatever and felt awkward, couldn't accept a compliment and stuff like that and this book tour has been really good with helping me learn to be accessible and to step back and go, "Oh, these are really nice people. They're fans of mine ' fuckin' take a minute out for fuck's sake." I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would, just knowing my personality. But I'm also doing these book signings in places I'm doing shows and the tour has been really fun and I'm having a great time, so if I was just doing the book tour it might be a little different.
CP: You've got the comedy, the TV, the movies, the books ' anything you haven't tried that you'd like to get into?
DC: I guess bumper stickers, really funny bumper stickers. And soups, like a line of humorous soups. I'd like to do some themed hotels ' like start off in a region then hopefully they'd spread nationally and then internationally.
CP: Would you plaster your face all over the walls?
DC: Well, it would be bits of my face. What I would do is very, very lightly ' just with a comb ' kind of scratch the skin so I could take little pieces of the skin and embed them into the paint.
CP: Well before that kicks off, we're still glad you're coming to Philly to perform comedy at the Merriam Theater.
DC: I am? No one told me that.
CP: What do you think of when you hear the word "Philadelphia"?
DC: Well, it's tough to get past booing Santa Claus. I have spent a little bit of time in Philadelphia and I like it more than people seem to think I'm going to like it.
CP: How has your comedy changed over the years in terms of how you're received by audiences? Do you find them more tolerant of your offensive humor or do you catch more shit each time you cross a line?
DC: With every tour I do, with every piece of material I release, more and more people become familiar with my point of view. When you're going, 'The thing you believe in is ridiculous,' then people get upset, but you just don't find that now because people have a pretty good idea of [what they're in for].
CP: You played a very animated depiction of the biblical figure Cain in the recent movie Year One. Did you see that opportunity as just another fun way to satirize the foundations of religion doctrine?
DC: For me, acting is a vacation because there are so many less responsibilities, and the idea of getting to do kind of a fun, meaty character in a Harold Ramis' movie with a bunch of my friends ' that's a dream. So it really had nothing to do with "Oh boy, I get to poke fun at the Old Testament," because that's also going to be a much milder take on what my view would be.
CP: It's been a couple of years since you were doing things like Rock Against Bush. Have recent changes in the political climate shaped your approach?
DC: I was never much of a political comic before the Bush stuff. That was a very unique time that we can look back on, but it lacks the drama and the urgency it had. So there's less of that now, plus Obama hasn't been in office for that long so the stuff I talk about tends to be more all-encompassing in general. And with all that other stuff, I've already said all those things, so there's not a whole lot new to say about the Republican party.
CP: With the interview being just about over, what subject do you wish I'd asked you about?
DC: I would love to have talked about Mormonism.
CP: Oh, well we actually have another minute '
DC: I can't, I can't. I'm not givin' any secrets away. Come on down to the show young man, you'll get an earful.
|Vendetta, 1977. Oil, acrylic and magna on linen canvas, 36 x 48 inches|
No exaggeration: Barkley Hendricks, a 64-year-old originally from North Philly, is one of the most talented artists to come out of this city. Though he's worked in many mediums ' photography, landscape painting and jazz, and even plays a bit of basketball, he's eager to tell me ' Hendricks is best known for his lifesize portraits of black people from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Working at a time when abstraction was in vogue and photorealism was largely out, he was an outsider both because of the medium he chose and the community he depicted. And, too, the way he depicted them ' hyper stylish, confident, sometimes aggressive, sometimes cool as can be, always self-aware and introspective. I spoke with Hendricks, who now lives in Connecticut and works as a professor of art at Connecticut College, about his exhibit up at his alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (118-128 N. Broad St., 215-972-7600) through Jan. 3.
City Paper: How many of your portraits were of Philadelphians?
Barkley Hendricks: Some were from Philly, some were from New Hampshire, London, North Africa, Paris. I got some of them from people posing for me, some from photographs and a few were completely out of my head. There's a piece I did called Victory at 23, from a visit abroad, based on a little girl ' 8 or 9 years old, who was wonderfully shy and outgoing. You might ask, "How could she be shy and outgoing?" But she was. So I had her in mind, and imagined her at 23 for Victory at 23, so that was almost completely out of my head. I also did a piece called The Twins, which was actually just one person.
CP: A lot of your subjects are pretty damn fashionable. Do you follow fashion, or does it interest you for other reasons?
BH: I like to think that I'm a fashionable guy. I grew up in a period when style and fashion and the way you expressed yourself was a major concern. One would say that you were "ragged" if you were fashionable. Do you have a pair of Chuck Taylors?
CP: Yeah, of course.
BH: Back in the day, women didn't wear Chuck Taylors. It was a male-dominated shoe.
CP: What I want to know is how Chuck Taylors were a basketball player-dominated shoe. Seems painful.
BH: I worked at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and there was a kid who could really play ball but had some run-down sneaks. People would play humiliation b-ball ' trashing talking, get inside your head ' and they'd get on him for his shoes and his clothes. Philly was a tough city, still is.
CP: You've been working on landscapes lately. In the show, your recent work is portrayed as mostly landscapes ' have you drifted from portraiture?
BH: I love nature, I love being in nature. I used to spend summers in the South with my family, and it was such a nice break from the city streets ' the food, relatives, warmth. And now I love going to Jamaica ' been going back and forth for 23 years now. So it's not a transition that I'm doing landscapes; I've always loved them. There are many other sides of my creative process that are less known, but that I'm drawn to with the same intensity as I am the portraits.
CP: Does that mean you're still working on portraits?
BH: Yes, I'm currently doing some portraits that are like the ones with silver and gold leaf that I did; now I'm using copper, aluminum leaf. They're in an early stage right now. Once I re-group in terms of certain health issues, I'll be working on them more.
CP: You said that there are mediums and things you do that people are less familiar with. Can you elaborate?
BH: I do a lot of photography. Even in college, I hung out with the photographers more than I did with the painters. I was one of the only figurative painters, so the photographers' work was closer to mine in a way. I've done work with jazz musicians, taken pictures of them backstage. I've also played all sorts of instruments ' trumpet, sax, piano, trombone. I play b-ball here and there. I like to rollerblade. I'm a professor.
CP: Can you tell me a little about your teaching methods?
BH: Well, I had a nude model come in for an art class recently, and the first week she was totally nude. The second week, I gave her high heels to wear and a sword ' I wanted to channel that whole Xena thing. We didn't have action women back in the day. I mean, there was Wonder Woman, but this generation has it on a whole different scale. I was tempted to put her in boxing gloves.
Admit it, you want more from this week's Movie section. Yesterday marked the opening of the 18 ' Philadelphia Film Festival. We gave you 14 reviews (plus extras online!!) in the section this week. What are you going to see at the fest? Anything strike your fancy? I'm beyond excited for District B13: Ultimatum and Fish Tank, among others. What about you? Let's discuss in the comments! Black Dynamite ' B
Check out my interview with director Scott Sanders and star Michael Jai White:
CP: So Scott, you starting out working with the Wayans brothers who have made an incredible amount of money on these parody films. So where do you where to draw the line between parody and homage as a filmmaker? SS: My explanation starts in the original pose and photograph. This pose to me is badass but the nunchucks just take it 10 percent too far. But it's still badass. That's kind of the source of our humor, just a light touch with the satire. The original movies are pretty crazy to begin with. A 10 percent extra just makes it really funny and then you don't feel like you're straining for the joke. I read a review on Ain't it Cool, which I really liked that said when black Dynamite goes into the pool hall and closes the gate after they're insulting him, you laugh. But you don't laugh because it's ha-ha jokey-jokey funny. You laugh because you're like, 'Oh my god, this badass is gonna kill this guy.' It's a different kind of a laugh than in something like Meet the Spartans where they're kicking Britney Spears down a hole. That's a different kind of humor.
Law Abiding Citizen ' C-
More Than a Game ' B-
A Serious Man ' A-
Any Monty Python aficionado has to check out this vid from IFC. It's a Q&A with the five surviving Pythons ' John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin ' after the premiere of Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut), the upcoming six hour, mutli-day doc, which premieres on IFC this Sunday, October 18. It's been getting great review and my DV-R is already set.
Check it out, then think about how all you really want to do tonight is curl up and watch Life of Brian.
Sun., Oct. 18-Fri., Oct. 23, 9 p.m., IFC (Channel 96 for Philly-based Comcast subscribers)
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