Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 is Already a Year of Repeats

Is it something about the cold that makes reading and watching new things so difficult? Perhaps this cold weather has frozen my synapses. There is something comforting about revisiting old books and films. Some have held up wonderfully to my memories. Others... not so much.

The Lady From Shanghai - 1947

You know a movie is fucking amazing when Orson Welles is the worst thing in it. Yes, his Irish brogue is totally absurd and you can barely figure out what the hell he's saying but believe me, this movie is gold. And not just the last shootout scene (pictured above), the one that all the film students study. The movie is just so creepy. The horrifying, sweaty close-ups of Everett Sloan (Peter Bogdanovich mentions that after the actor got his famous schnoz straightened, his acting career failed... sad!) and Glenn Anders while aboard a yacht to nowhere, give you a real seasick feeling.

Rita Hayworth is so beautiful in this movie, it nearly hurts your eyes. Welles had ordered her long red hair cut short and dyed blonde, which gives her a lost, helpless appearance. Welles and Hayworth's marriage was nearly over by then and there's a longing in Hayworth's performance that just kills me. It's a movie about loneliness about being at sea. From what I've read about Hayworth, her marriage to Welles was a rather lonesome affair indeed.

American Psycho - 2000

I can't believed I actually liked this piece of shit when it first came out. The only thing I can think of is that I was so grossed out by Bret Easton Ellis's novel that I was relieved that the movie was a satire and that I didn't actually have to watch a rat... well, those who read the book know what I'm talking about. My pal Amanda listed this book as one that she wishes she could have un-read. If only, my friend.

The production design is great, the costumes are great. Christian Bale's plastic face and loving tributes to his ass are fascinating to watch. But the tone is completely scattered, the editing totally schizophrenic. There are whole scenes in New York City where there are no people. Bateman, on the run from killing a bunch of women because he's "not human", skibbles through a pre-9/11 World Trade Center at night... and no one is around! He chases a woman with a chainsaw through a CPW highrise and no one sees or hears. Is the film a statement about how cold and lifeless the city is to the sound of suffering? Or the sound of bullshit...

The truth is, I took some Ambien and DVRd this film. I think I liked the movie back in 2000 when I saw it in the theater because it seemed to be a takedown of that whole serious psycho power killer character that a lot of people didn't know that they shouldn't take seriously (says Ellis). At the time, I thought the film should have been even funnier. Now, 10 years later, I think the film, if it must have been made, should have been a straight-up horror movie. It wouldn't have made light of all the carnage and I would have likely avoided it all together.

Ever since (yes, I'm admitting this) Sassy magazine praised the work of Lynda Barry and recommended the all girl comic anthology "Twisted Sisters," my life veered all the "normal, Long Island, Jewish gal to something... weirder and disturbing. And I liked it.

I fell hard for Aline Kominsky - Crumb (I heard of her way before I happened upon the pervish wonder of Robert Crumb. She was just like me, just born 25 years earlier. Oy vey. I nearly vomited from relating to her autobiographical stories about summer camp, crash dieting, verbal abuse, Jewish guilt, nose jobs and failing at being an "ahtist."

Look at this photo, we even looked alike. I guess you'd have to know what I look like.

I loved everything in that anthology but I fell hard for Phoebe Gloeckner. Her semiautobiographical stories are dirty. There are drunk, crying teens kneeling before no-good older men with their cocks out. The life of a teenaged girl is filled with shame, lust, brief desires for purity, loneliness, drugs and adventure. I'd read "A Child's Life" which addresses incest, abuse and struggles for power and wanted more.

It took years but "The Diary of a Teenaged Girl" was worth the wait. I actually went to a small comic convention at the Puck Building in NYC just to meet her. I bought a tee-shirt which a picture of "Kimmie" giving the finger. Treasure! I read it quickly, liked it and then put it away. I just took it out after 5 years. And I now think its one of the best amalgamations of comics and the written word ever. The comics move the narrative along in a way that totally brings out the best of the storytelling. Gloeckner, who seems to be using her own young face as her model for Minnie, shows the narrator brushing her teeth, sneaking through her older lovers things, crying when even her beloved cat Domino rejects her.

Linking to this, but I'm not sure what it is... I guess its at theater piece based on the book. Check it out!!!

Once upon a time, I drew a comic book for my women's studies minor final project. I worked so hard on that thing and I can't find it anywhere. My art professor loved it and wanted to start teaching comics for her "High Art/Low Art" class. She told me that she thought I should go to art school, which was beyond laughable. I really wasn't a very talented artist. When I told her I'd already gotten into journalism school, she dismissed me as though I'd told her I was off to Alaska to do some offshore drilling. I can't fathom what my life would have been like if I had actually gone on to learn how to draw comics. After settling for a such a mainstream career, it just boggles the mind...

Well, not all my posts will be about old films and new films and comic books and my schoolgirl crush on long-deceased actor Joseph Cotton (although many might be).

I should end this post now. My Ambien is kicking in...

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