Archive: October, 2009
Admit it, you want more from this week's Movies section.
Mark Maurer talks to director Tom Quinn about his very Philly film, The New Year Parade, about a family torn apart by divorce set against the Mummers parade:
When Tom Quinn approached the Mummers for feedback on the script for his feature-length debut, The New Year Parade, they reacted with "friendly ball-busting.
"They just wanted to tear it apart," Quinn says, who grew up in Bucks County and attended La Salle and Temple but is otherwise far removed from the string and fancy bands that set The New Year Parade scene. "They know this world so much better than I ever will." Quinn saw value in letting the Mummers retain their own voice, so he encouraged ad-libbing with the mostly first-time actors.
Continue reading here.
Antichrist - B+
Lacking in pumpkin carving inspiration? Your design doesn't have to suck ' unless you want it to.
I'll be trying my hand at an Eric Northman gourd. I'm worried about getting his unsettling stare just right ' check back to see my progress.
Also, these True Blood paper dolls from Andy are amazing.
Writer and director Michael Dougherty's straight-to-DVD horror film Trick 'r Treat is set in Ohio suburbia on the night of Halloween.
Trick 'r Treat is made up of four interwoven, non-linear stories, with characters making cameos in different vignettes for in order to clarify that they're all in the same town on the same night. The best among the Trick 'r Treat stories involve a 22-year-old girl (True Blood's Anna Paquin) donning a Little Red Riding Hood costume looking for 'her first time to be special,' and one where an adolescent prank at the site of a bus massacre goes awry. The remaining two, about a serial killer (Dylan Baker) and an old grouch (Brian Cox), seem arbitrary and confusing in their relation to the collective, yet are gory and suspenseful nonetheless.
Overall, it's about the importance of following (and respecting) traditions, and the consequences that come when these traditions aren't met. To put it simply: If you blow out a jack-o-latern on Halloween night, you'll get your throat slashed by a bitten candy pumpkin sucker.
Trick 'r Treat, 82 Minutes, Rated R, Warner Brother Home Video
Head over to brand-new quirkclassics.com, where our lovable local publishing house has just announced its third Quirk Classics title. First there was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, then there was Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters ' and now '
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadful!
Undead girls in frilly dresses? Sign us up.
From the site:
In this terrifying and hilarious prequel, we witness the genesis of the zombie plague in early-19th-century England. We watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a na've young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. We laugh as she begins her first clumsy training with nunchucks and katana swords and cry when her first blush with romance goes tragically awry. Written by acclaimed novelist (and Edgar Award nominee) Steve Hockensmith, Dawn of the Dreadfuls invites Austen fans to step back into Regency England, Land of the Undead!
Is it too late to change our Halloween costume idea?
Visit quirkclassics.com to pre-order on Amazon.
By selling calendars of retro-styled girls with their pups, the local nonprofit Pinups For Pitbulls raises money to rescue pit bulls and educate the public about the breed. A few weeks ago, we told you about their annual fundraising event in the Agenda section. The ladies told Team Critical Mass that they raised more than $5,000 that day, and hope to sell more with their 2010 calendar, which is going for $20 on their Web site. Look up top for a peek of it.
In this week's cover story, Dead Milkmen frontman Rodney Anonymous gives a small shout out to your fave obscure cinephile and mine, Jay Schwartz, and his Secret Cinema programs. In between bands, Schwartz will screen horror-ific films for concert-goers' own enjoyment. But he also sent out a heartfelt note to his mailing list that I think is worth a read; it explains Schwartz's history with the band and it's a fitting complement to Rodney's diary. From Jay:
This message is not meant to convince you to attend this event. If you are mainly interested in the films, the ticket price might seem kind of high ($18.50 advance, $21 day of show). If you are a fan of the Dead Milkmen, you likely already have tickets (and if not, you might want to hurry and buy some!). Instead, we send this message just to brag and say how happy we are to be supporting our friends...and to reminisce a little. In the "pre-history" of the Secret Cinema, there were a handful of events that were trial runs for what developed into what SC ultimately became. Probably the most prototypical was a screening at Penn's Pi Lam fraternity house, around 1986-7, of the great "Swinging London" feature SMASHING TIME, plus assorted shorts and cartoons. The event was booked by future member of the Wishniaks Jim Moran, and timed to coincide with their weekly "happy hour" (yes, there was a time in America when college fraternities could promote regular free booze nights!). Most of the attendees passing through the doors were only momentarily distracted/confused by the movies showing near the entrance, which they quickly passed on their way to the open kegs in the basement. But sitting and enjoying the movies were a small handful of people, including, yep. the Dead Milkmen.RELATED: The Milkmen Footnoteth
This led, some time later, to another experiment in 16mm film showing. The band was booked at the (now long-gone) Chestnut Cabaret, and asked me to bring my projector and show some of the same short films before their show...this time in front of hundreds of fans. The boisterous audience enjoyed the old cereal commercials, but asking them to get into films of 1940s swing music was probably a miscalculation on my part (though in fact, this very same reel was shown with good results this week at Ursinus College). Our next project together was better received. Joe and Dave from the group had begun to play live in small clubs as "Ornamental Wigwam," a folky duo that actually pre-dated the Dead Milkmen. They felt that this act, which performed seated, needed another dimension to make it entertaining, and they wanted films projected on themselves. They wore white lab coats to make it easier to see the films, and we hung a screen as a background. I have fond memories of the three of us splicing random lengths of educational and industrial films in my kitchen for the set-long reel we pieced together (although ultimately, the parts that worked best with the music were longer uncut films about a river and the solar system). My table still has a mark where someone (I think me) spilled splicing cement on it that night. It was probably one of the last times I used cement (rather than tape splices), and I think it was the only time Dave Blood was in my home. I've come to like that the table still has this scar. My one regret about Saturday's show is that Milkmen bassist Dave Blood will not be present. As many of you know, he took his own life in 2004, several years after the band originally broke up. That said, we're lucky to have them back (and Dandrew Stevens does a great job filling in on bass). Sure, the Phillies are playing and the Spectrum is closing, but you could have no more fun this Halloween than to see the Dead Milkmen at the Troc. Hope to see you there... Jay Schwartz The Secret Cinema
In the spirit of Halloween, we had our senior designer Evan M. Lopez do up a Critical Mass banner that's nice and icky for ya. We told you this would happen, remember? Don't worry ' the robot will be back on Monday. But don't get attached to him for too long. We'll be switching banners up on the reg beginning in the next few weeks. More details on that later.
And while we're on the subject of the best holiday in the world, have you checked out our obsessive Halloween coverage? There's the Rodney Anonymous way to celebrate, and the Agenda way, and the Music way, and the Food way, and the Art Phag way, and all these ways too.
|St. Martin's, 320 pp., $24.99, Sept. 17|
Read a few pages of The Art of Disappearing and you're caught. This may be her first novel, but Ivy Pochoda proves herself a master at weaving her own type of magic, enchanting us into a world both ethereal and grounded, beautiful and gritty. When I first read the description ' it's about a young woman, Mel Snow, who meets and falls in love with a magician named Toby Warring, whose talent is more than just smoke and mirrors ' I was a bit skeptical. Another novel about magic? How many times can we immerse ourselves in the worlds of Harry Potters and Bella Swans before the fairy dust starts irritating our eyes?
But after a few chapters, I realized that this novel takes magic in an entirely different direction. These characters are adults living in adult worlds. Mel is a traveling textile designer ' a random profession for a protagonist if I ever saw one ' and seems to work her own kind of magic with fabrics, able to hear a unique song in each piece of cloth she encounters. She meets Toby in a Nevada saloon, where an instant connection leads them to an abrupt Vegas wedding. Darkly handsome and brimming with real magic, Toby continually weaves his illusions for Mel and for others, but only she knows that his magic is no trick. His skills never cease to fascinate: He changes white wine to red, conjures dancing shapes out of swirling sands, stops a bullet midflight and ultimately finds a way to create alternate realities. But Toby comes to Mel already laden with a heavy past, when one of his tricks went wrong and he made his assistant disappear for good. For a time, the newlyweds forge a happy life in Vegas, with Toby performing his magic shows and Mel designing fabrics; but it doesn't last, and once again one of Toby's tricks go drastically wrong.
This second failure haunts Toby even more than the first, with his demons chasing him all the way to Amsterdam, where he and Mel take up with a secret society of old magicians ' the last vestiges of real magic left in a world now all about trickery. As the magicians encourage Toby to pick up where they left off and delve into his craft, he and Mel grow farther and farther apart, leaving us wondering which is stronger: magic or love, tricks or reality.
One of the strongest draws of the novel is that you never fully understand the characters, from morbid teenager Greta (who follows Toby around Vegas) to Toby himself, in his inability to separate himself from his magic. Even Mel confuses us, both unsure of her hasty marriage and certain in her love for the magician, obsessed with finding her long-lost brother (a somewhat confusing side story within the novel). Though we stumble in the beginning, pieces of the characters' pasts begin to surface little by little, providing us with a patchy understanding.
It's that aura of mystery that glues us to Pochoda's beautiful, eerie writing that paints a world of illusion melting from Vegas to Amsterdam. Her scenes range from greasy Vegas diners and gaudy casinos to windswept desert plains, the strange blue glow of an aquarium at night, and bizarre Amsterdam burlesque carnivals. Her descriptions of textures are so rich they wrap around us like fabric itself. Though Pochoda might lose us a little in the complex threads of her story, especially with the flood of old magicians we're suddenly expected to keep track of in Amsterdam, it actually makes sense that a novel about magic doesn't quite make sense.
Frank Reynolds is a City Paper reader! In the beginning of last night's ep, "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops," the titular gang sits around the bar watching old Hulk Hogan videos while Frank, aka Danny DeVito, flashes Carolyn Huckabay's cover story on trans musician and activist T. Desiree Hines:
She knew that Mississippi would be the death of her.
Which is why, on the morning of August 28, 2001, T. Desiree Hines was leaving. She packed a suitcase full of skirts and dresses, carefully applied her makeup and prepared to take a taxi to Jackson-Evers International Airport, where she'd catch a 6:45 p.m. flight to Washington state by way of Memphis. She'd spent the last 21 years living, uncomfortably, in a male body. She was ready to be a full-time woman.
Leaving the stranglehold of the South may have been the single most significant moment of Desiree's life, but it was only the second most significant moment of that particular morning.
UPDATE: Here's a quick screenshot, courtesy of CP reader Jen Walker/Lucinda Lunacy (thanks!):
Hines is also, coincidentally enough, mentioned in this week's Agenda lead and Art Phag because of her screening of classic horror flick Nosferatu. Unfortunately for those who missed our star turn, Hulu is on an eight-day delay with the episodes, but here's a preview. Along with our solid cameo, it was totally fucked up; one of those eps where by the end, your mouth is agape in horror and you don't burst out laughing until the end credits start to roll. I thoroughly enjoyed. We'll stick up the new episode when Hulu does:
|Courtesy of Haunted Poe|
To get the back story on this haunted house-cum-play, which closes this Sun., Nov. 1, read this.
Let me preface this by saying: I do not like haunted houses.
The idea of scaring myself on purpose has never really appealed to me. I like a moderate level of shock. On par with ' I know I may be surprised, but I don't want to feel like my head is going to be chopped off with a chainsaw.
In this way, Haunted Poe is perfect. Based on Poe's eerie and disconcerting ' rather than terrifying ' tales, this haunted house is more theatrics than thrill, although I did jump once or twice.
As soon as you reach the landing in the Haunted Poe warehouse and you're greeted by two gory characters, the show begins and you're a part of it. Unlike other haunted houses, the goal is not to get through as quickly and as unscathed as possible, but rather to revel in each performance ' to create a relationship. The experience of the show mimics the relationship between reader and story ' you become immersed without having to commit to the action.
And while that may sound rather intellectual, the result of this is actually a lot of fun.
Like a good frock, the seams of Haunted Poe are well woven. As we proceeded from room to room throughout the house, the players juggled our group of 13 with others in front and behind us, managing to always be at the right place at the right time. I think that's what impressed me most ' how well orchestrated the production was. But there were also a few standouts. I don't want to give too much away (lest I ruin the surprise), but the mad tales of the axe-wielding narrator in The Black Cat (played by local playwriting celebrity Bruce Graham) and the impish recount of The Raven by the thoroughly committed Nathan Holt were my favorites.
The production value was superb. From the beautifully crafted and bulbous-eyed Poe puppets (that give a bawdy Poe bio in the beginning), to the real (albeit dead) cockroaches that lined one of the hallway walls, to the room covered with pages and pages of books ' nothing was spared in the creation of Poe's worlds.
I highly recommend Haunted Poe; however, the key to fully appreciating it is to know your Poe. Wiki The Tell-tale Heart, The Raven, The Black Cat, The Fall of the House of Usher, William Wilson, The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado, The Murders in The Rue Morgue and The Pit and the Pendulum prior to venturing through, because without context some of the scenarios fall flat. My two favorite performances were also from two of Poe's works with which I was most familiar.
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