MMC! readers will know by now my soft spot for classic East Coast animation pastiche, so needless to say I’m currently awestruck by Jay-Z and Mark Romanek’s stunning video for “The Story of O.J.” Sampling Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” “The Story of O.J.” unpacks the unavoidable consequences of blackness’s various shades and the place of capital as a potential countermeasure. It’s a cool and canny track whose video takes as its reference point the racist stereotypes of early animation such as the Censored Eleven. Blogs like Cartoon Brew, Birth. Movies. Death., and Dazed have provided excellent accounts of the works referenced in “The Story of O.J.” and of the transtextual subversions being made by Jay-Z in this retrofitted homage, but I’m particularly struck with how the artistry and creativity of those problematic cartoons are merged with hip hop music video conventions and the issues addressed in conscious rap – the way an MC in direct address is situated with Fleischer-style backgrounds and vanishing points, how chipmunk soul vocals are fittingly located in a cartoon cabaret or how wacky surrealism is used to draw a shortcut connection between historical exploitation and its consequential products, and the way Jaybo’s matter-of-fact, unruffled skepticism reflects on the three-fingered cool of Bugs Bunny. A welcome companion to Beyoncé’s stunning Lemonade from last year, “The Story of O.J.” is a daring and ambitious work, sure to be one of the best of 2017.
Designed for the film lover in mind, SHOUT SELECT shines a light on films that deserve a spot on your shelf. From acknowledged classics to cult favorites to unheralded gems, SHOUT SELECT celebrates the best in filmmaking, giving these movies the love and attention they deserve.
All happy-go-lucky convict Jimmy Dworski (James Belushi) wants out of life is to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series and so he promptly breaks out of prison after winning tickets to Game Six on a radio show. When he finds the day planner of ultra-organized executive Spencer Barnes (Charles Grodin), Jimmy assumes Spencer’s identity and proceeds to get the most out of both their lives, all expenses paid! Lost without his credit cards and contacts, Spencer’s frantic efforts to save his beloved book and stave off career suicide puts him on the wrong side of street gangs, cops, and county clubs. Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman), Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Anne De Salvo (Arthur), and Mako (Conan the Barbarian) also star in this hilarious take on mistaken identity and go-go careerism!
- NEW Being Spencer Barnes – Interviews With Charles Grodin And James Belushi
- NEW Straightforward And True – An Interview With Loryn Locklin
- NEW Don’t Be Afraid To Call Me – An Interview With Anne DeSalvo
- NEW It’s A Tough Prison – An Interview With Hector Elizondo
- NEW Put On Your Togs – New Interviews With John de Lancie and Thom Sharp
- Theatrical Trailer
Thoughts of the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal (just underway) and various other fantastic film festivals still to come has me reflecting on cinematic weirdness and my attendance to the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival back in October. Among my favourites were Daniel Moshel’s two bizarre shorts, MeTube: August Sings Carmen ‘Habanera’ (2013) and MeTube 2: August Sings Carmina Burana (2016). The former is a hallucinatory tribute to awkward YouTube performances. Featuring Swiss tenor August Schram as a nerdy opera wanna-be and Elfie Wunsch as his grimly attentive mother, the short transforms a reserved and amateurish rendition George Bizet’s Habanera from Carmen into an EDM-infused, pan-sexual bacchanal, and it’s weirdo-glorious. Moshel’s crowd-funded sequel takes MeTube‘s classical mindfuck to the streets with a flash-mobbed carnival of “Opera on Acid.” For more by Moshel and a peek into the making of the films, check out his YouTube and Vimeo pages!
I’m working on our next proposal (an underappreciated comedy for the Shout Select label) so hopefully that will arrive soon. TCB, baby!
Certainly the most prominent of the last ten films I’ve watched is Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s reliance on musical conventions create some potential shortcomings – his characters are rather simply drawn, his romantic performances tend toward the syrupy, and the film’s early suggestions of a traditionally integrated musical (at least with regard to its main character Baby) sit uneasily with the rest of the movie – however Baby Driver‘s musically choreographed driving and action sequences (which makes up the majority of the film) are wonders, expertly constructed around a superb soundtrack and thrilling all the way to the movie’s edges. It’s essential summer movie-viewing, sure to be a mainstay on second-year film studies syllabi on the movie musical, and making for a very interesting ride home from the theatre.
- Oh, Hello: On Broadway (Alex Timbers and Michael John Warren, 2017)
- The Graceful Brute (Yuzo Kawashima, 1962)
- Psychout for Murder (Rossano Brazzi 1969)
- The Creeping Garden (Tim Graham and Jasper Sharp, 2014)
- Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)
- A Report on the Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec, 1966)
- Never Too Young to Die (Gil Bettman, 1986)
- Taking Care of Business (Arthur Hiller, 1990)
- Blue Demon vs. the Infernal Brains (Chano Urueta, 1968)
- Jour de fête (Jacques Tati, 1949)
For those looking for quality international cinema, we recommend Yuzo Kawashima’s The Graceful Brute (about a family of con artists defending their ill-gotten lifestyle while their various embezzlements fall in around them) and Jan Nemec’s A Report on the Party and the Guests (an allegorical tale of totalitarianism set amid bucolic picnics and celebrations). Those looking for something more frivolous might consider Blue Demon vs. the Infernal Brains (where legendary luchador Blue Demon occasionally appears to do battle with nonsensical, super-science brain collectors).
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Incident.
As cynical and despairing a view of New York as you’re likely to find, Larry Peerce’s The Incident is a bitter pill clipping along a Bronx train line, gathering unsuspecting passengers and transforming them into the victims of two young thugs fresh from mugging a helpless old man. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen star as a pair of hoodlums who bait, taunt, and terrorize a melting pot of late-night commuters that includes a husband and wife with a sleeping child, a pair of young lovers, two soldiers recently returned home, an irritated Jewish couple, a bitterly anti-white African American man and his peaceful wife, and an introverted homosexual. Featuring performances by Beau Bridges, Ruby Dee, Jack Gilford, Brock Peters, Thelma Ritter, Donna Mills, and Ed McMahon, The Incident captures the social dissolution of late ’60s New York in the longest, tensest commute ever made between Mosholu Parkway and Grand Central.
- Restored 2K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interview with director Larry Peerce
- New interview with actor Martin Sheen
- Ride with Terror, a 1963 teleplay for The DuPont Show of the Week written and adapted from by Nicholas E. Baehr and starring Tony Musante, Vincent Gardenia, and Gene Hackman
- PLUS: A new essay by Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at New York’s Film Forum
Video Camera Demo Tape Fred Meyer (—, 2017) is 26-minutes of footage taken by a Washington State Fred Meyer superstore’s floor model VHS camera in the spring of 1992. Discovered by Kellie Rogers among her father’s old camcorder tapes intended for DVD conversion, this footage of early ’90s consumerism is oddly compelling and extremely watchable. Katie Rife of The A.V. Club calls it “2017’s most avant-garde documentary” and Sophia June of Willamette Week cites it as “the greatest time capsule ever.” Hyperbole aside, the footage offers plenty of grist for the theoretical mill – the independent and foregrounded presence of the apparatus (notice those autofocus corrections), the manner of its smart device-less, unconnected subjects, the transient and incidental quality of captured footage with the rising convenience of personal recording, the footage’s online success and the current culture’s thirst for nostalgia. For those disinterested with the philosophical implications of Video Camera Demo Tape Fred Meyer, there are plenty of fascinating period intricacies to take in – the early packaging of CDs in long boxes, the ubiquity of sweatshirts, commercial transactions actually paid with paper money, and the lamentable rise of fanny packs. Good times.