Sunday, February 27, 2011


Greetings Cinematic Militants,

My name is Karl Starkweather, I'm out in Hollywood for a couple months to analyze the on the ground situation of mainstream cinema. I'm also building a West Coast army, situated in the belly of the beast, as a means of last resort.

As comrade Joshua does in Philadelphia, weekly I will propagandize significant film screenings in the Los Angeles area. I will try to make most of these, in-which we can meet and discuss recruitment. And if I missed a movie, let me know (

Monday, February 28th:
Kazan's East Of Eden 8:00pm @ Bay Theater

Wednesday, March 2nd:
Stroheim's The Wedding March 8:00pm @ Cinefamily

Thursday, March 3rd:
*Hitchcock's Shadow of A Doubt 1:30pm @ Bowers Museum
*Altman's Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean 7:30pm @ Billy Wilder Theatre
*Kazan's East Of Eden 8:00pm @ Bay Theater

Friday, March 4th:
*Cukor's Camille 8:15pm @ Old Town Music Hall

*Beautiful Dreamer: The Early Films of Catherine Deneuve:
Buñuel's Belle Du Jour 7:30pm @ LACMA
Polanski's Repulsion 9:20pm @ LACMA

Saturday March 5th:
*Cukor's Camille 2:30pm & 8:15pm @ Old Town Music Hall

*Double Feature 7:30pm @ Billy Wilder Theatre:
Sirk's Sleep My Love
Mann's Strangers In The Nigh

Sunday, March 6th:
Cukor's Camille 2:30pm @ Old Town Music Hall

Theatrical runs:
Jee-woon's I Saw The Devil 1:30, 4:45 & 8:00 Fri, March 4th – Thurs, March 10th @ Nuart

1. Cinefamily is doing a month of Cassavetes
2. New Beverly Cinema is doing a month of screenings handpicked by Tarantino himself for his birthday. Also, they are doing a full version of Kill Bill!


Greg Araki's newest outing is a fun B movie. Lacking the nihilistic heart of the of The Living End and the dramatic beauty of Mysterious Skin, Kaboom is more towards Araki's John Waters end of the spectrum. Obvious influences for Araki are b-movie filmmakers like Waters, but he has more going on than that. At the premiere I attended, the director said this film is one of his most auto-biographical. When any viewer of his previous works, after seeing Kaboom, would question the validity of that. 

Araki came to me via Mysterious Skin and I then ran out to see his other works. In films like The Doom Generation or Nowhere we are getting what a Paul Morrissey or a Pier-Paolo Passollini might of created if they grew up in the age of Act Up and 'The End Of History.' He is definitely someone to check out, but it seems he might of been effected by the dramatic emotionality of Mysterious Skin. Or possibly Araki's rage, apparent in his films of the 1990's has alleviated? That put him into a conciliated realm to make the strong and controlled Mysterious Skin? But his lack of rage ultimately yields, after Skin, a mediocre stoner comedy Smile Face and a wannabe midnight movie Kaboom? 

Rating: SHIT. If you're into wasting your time, Kaboom is part Donnie Darko, part David Lynch, and part Joss Whedon, but hardly amounts to any of those things. It produces laughs, like most modern b-movies do, but instead go watch The Living End, The Doom Generation, Nowhere and Mysterious Skin. Then, instead of watching Kaboom, go make movies like Araki's previous output. Express your rage! It's fun! 



I have not seen Triplets of Belleville or any of Chomet's other work, so I got some help.

Brendan Rastetter 
The animation in Triplets of Belleville is clunky, thick lines, and has a heavy color palate. The Illusionist is more refined, elegant, more easy on the eyes, and geared towards a more youthful audience. Story line in Belleville is too bizarre and trying for most. Would have been stronger if just about the triplets. Belleville contains a darker humor than The Illusionist's sophisticated and simple humor. It also contains a relatable story line, which is emotionally affecting and inspires nostalgia.

Karl Starkweather
Jacque Tati is one of my favorite directors, while Chomet created this film, The Illusionist is a Tati film. Tati's tramp, Mr. Hulot, finds the beauty in the smaller things of life, even when hardship comes upon them. I personally find his films life affirming then. While the main character in this film is not of Mr. Hulot, the illusionist character in this film moves and operates in the same fashion.
The film beings with an homage to the Nouvelle Vague and Mr. Hulot's Holiday. Then it ascends into a beautiful testament to who the Cashiers guys put into the same pantheon as Chaplin, Keaton and Linder. It has the same camera aesthetic as a Tati film, with Tati's preference for the WS long take, but it has the Chomet's animation style. That, as Bredan stated, is not akin to Tati's high speed film pop-art style established in Mon Oncle and Playtime, but in Traffic the vibrancy was lost (see below). Other than the shot composition being almost 100% Tati's, all the other visual components is a more "refined" and "elegant" version of his past "clunky, thick lines, and heavy color palate" style. In short, the 'acting' and visual style is so similar, it as if we are in the time of Tati, able to go see one of his films in theaters.

From the autuer perspective, this film brings us deeper into Tati's art. This film, like his others, contains an older gentleman bonding with the youth. On the surface there is the political comment about the stifling nature of modernization, which comes into the contention with the eternal innocence of youth. In this film, the illusionist gets a short term gig at a bar with Alice, who finds his old style magic tricks enchanting and the idea-scary to most children-of just running away from your family as exciting. She embodies a youthful spirit, but is also captivating by what she can't have when she gets to the city where the illusionist acquires a steady job. This element, of Tati trying to please a youth, especially a younger lady, was apparent in his other films. As only Tati scholars would now and this film informs you at the end, that Tati had an estranged child, which we're informed by a dedication to Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel at the end of the film. This is a new development in the biography of Tati, for most Tati adherents would assume this was about his regret of not properly raising Sophie Tatischeff. Helga, his other daughter, was supposedly conceived in WWII and Schiel's children petitioned and won to get her to be the dedication at the end of the film, which originally was going to go to Sophie who passed away in 2001. Controversy aside, this film plays more on his altruism towards a younger gal, which we realize is a sad apologia produced out of immense regret about his treatment of Sophie and also possibly Helga. Why Tati was a poor father is a question that will only open new pathways into Tati's art. 

Chaplin's Limelight was one of his best films, this is in many ways is Tati's Limelight.  Chaplin in his film played Calvero, a stage clown from the vaudeville days. It is one of the best films about comedy and performance ever made. It parallels The Illusionist with the sense that both films are about dying arts. Chaplin was a stage performer who turned filmmaker at the time of stage's demise, the mime Tati fell into the same boat. This film about a stage magician in a age of movies and rock music is about those who exist under the radar, doing their craft, just getting by. The illusionist's fellow stage performers in this film are depressed and impoverished. A ventriloquist has to sell his dummy and in a surprisingly comedic scene, a clown attempts suicide. For as Calvero jokingly states in Limelight that many a stage performer engaged in substance abuse and/or committed suicide, especially the comedians. Tati must of seen the same demise of several a fellow stage performer, so this is also a testament to his past.

Aside from the aesthetic difference in color and contrast, this film is not akin to his futurist Mon Oncle and Playtime. Yet, most accounts state it was written around the same time as Mon Oncle. The world established in this film, of small villages in England and a city not as futurist as Playtime, has more of an affinity to the pre-pop-art futurist absurdity mise-en-cine of the  Mr. Hulot's Holiday. Then some could could argue then that since this film was never made, maybe the guard put up by Tati with his Hulot character was to protect the personal. That since this film was never made, maybe he opted to never blatantly expose himself? I personally do not find the less cartoon aspect of the illusionist character to be offensive. There is still a lot of Hulot in it, still a lot of purposefully distance from what had to be personal, which means Tati fanatics still will have the pleasure of exploring this artist.

Rating: GLORIOUS. I feel it is a perfect film, in line with Playtime and Mon Oncle, which are true masterpeices. A beautiful testament to Tati.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

James Franco and The Environment of Celebrity

James Franco recently made this experimental film with Anne Hathaway to promote the Oscars:

I think it's fair to say that in style it resembles the work of Jonas Mekas:

He also recently starred in this Gucci commercial:

The latter most video is the most appropriate venue for James Franco: the world of complete artifice and admiration of his beauty. There is something seriously worthwhile in the reoccurring shot of Franco's head slick with water, held back in a white sky slowly falling towards us. His angular features have never looked better or carried their real meaning in anything else I've seen him in. In a commercial that could go either way between being art and just a commercial this is the moment that redeems it, a meaning that the director seems to realize giving it enough care to find the right image to collide with it: a white, broken statue whose form is obscured by the frame - all we see are shadows and muscles. From every other angle with James Franco we're waiting for something more. He's a man of many promises. But here is the man - when you can't see his eyes, when time is too slow for a sly smile to form, when you take away his voice and ideas...the angles of this man's face - just the lines - complemented perfectly by light and shadow in HD.

The former most video is the other side of James Franco. Not the physical fact but the end of the expression of perfect will. I don't know what Franco's actual intention was. It looks like he thought it would be fun to take a movie like Grease and restage it as if it were shot by a bunch of kids with a Super 8 camera and those kids just happen to be Hollywood stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Part of the joke is probably also that this film is not actually going to help promote the Oscars. Mekas is a different animal with a different sense of humor but the basic approach is the same: shooting like amateurs with amateur equipment from the 60's and finding the poetry that usually belongs to nonprofessionals and children.

This works great for Mekas especially given that all he needed was a Bolex and a circus ticket to make a poetic film. Indeed a lot of Mekas's charm is how cheap his method was especially with his use of fast motion. While I don't necessarily begrudge Franco for starting out with an amateur medium that belongs to another era, his own or the Oscar's millions to spend on actors, an amusement park set, and probably some sort of crew or creature comforts for Anne Hathaway at least, we're starting to approach what the problem is - that James Franco can't be whoever he wants to be.

The film at the top of this post is a denial of the hyper real environment that is James Franco's world. The last video is him completely in sync with that world. One resonates and the other is the worst kind of counterfeit. James Franco is the place in which we see the forces of our society toward a will that conquers all and ideal of fine art for everyone produce a human being we should all be warry of. A man who seems most alive with his eyes closed. Not a man but a line drawing.

It seems like we're all being asked to pay attention to James Franco and I think we should obey that directive. There is something about our moment in him, his face, his acting, his artwork, and probably his fall from grace.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Upcoming Films

Greetins Soldiers and Cinephiles,

Below are some upcoming film events worth checking out:

International House:

Wednesday Feb. 16, 7pm: The Films of Alina Marazzi
Thursday Feb. 17, 7pm: Sullivan's Travels (1941) by Preston Sturges
Saturday Feb. 19, 7pm: Smiles of a Summer Night (1956) by Ingmar Bergman

Opening at the Ritz:

The Housemaid by Im Sang-soo

Chestnut Hill Film Group:

Tuesday, Feb. 22: Woman in the Dunes (1964) by Hiroshi Teshigahara

At Wooden Shoe:

Sun, Feb. 20 at 7pm - Germany in Autum by Alf Brustellin, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus, Maximiliane Mainka, Peter Schubert, Bernhard Sinkel, Hans Peter Cloos, Edgar Reitz, Katja Rupé, and Volker Schlöndorff. An omnibus film by some of New German Cinema best filmmakers concening the increased political violence of Germany in fall 1977.


Biutiful finds Inarritu making many of the same mistakes he made with his previous film, Babel. This film, like his last, takes on too much and, in doing so, sacrifices development and audience patience. Inarritu’s concerns are very grand; here is dealing with death (cancer), poverty, family, love, illegal immigration, drugs, sweatshops, etc. If all this sounds daunting it’s because it is. Innaritu is a talented filmmaker and has an eye for finding the beautiful in the mundane, in the dirty, and in poverty, but he needs to edit himself more. The film could have succeeded if he had left out some of the interconnected stories and allowed the main characters and ideas to fully develop. Take for example, the subplot of the gay Chinese men who are running the sweatshop; there is nothing wrong with this story in particular and it would even work well in another film, but because Inarritu is exploring so much here, this plotline is left underdeveloped and, therefore, feels a bit added on and unfinished. In other words, this just doesn’t work. This is similar to the Japanese sequence in Babel, which was actually quite good, but didn’t fit with the rest of the film. This has been my main concern with Inarritu in his last two films: sometimes less can be more. 21 Grams was successful because it jumped between a very small group of people in more intimate settings; it was easier to manage, handle, and develop into a coherent film where all the ideas are fully realized. As Inarritu’s ideas have gotten bigger, however, he has become less critical of himself and tends to favor more rather than a little less. A little less would have gone a long way in making Biutiful a far more successful film. Overall, the film is good and, as I said, has some very beautiful moments, so it is definitely worth seeing. At the same time, it is pretty relentlessly sad and dark and bites off more than it can chew.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fat Girls From Ohio Part 1

"To me the great hope is that now these little 8mm video recorders and stuff have come out, some... just people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to be making them, and - you know - suddenly, one day, some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart - you know - and make a beautiful film with her little father's camcorder - and for once the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed. Forever. And it will really become an art form."
-Francis Ford Coppola

The age of the internet may or may not have made Coppola's dream a reality. If the next Motzart is out there she had better hope that her video is short and funny enough to go viral. Otherwise it will be like she never existed, another piece of flotsam consumed in the great cancerous river of information that surrounds us all.

Unless of course we look for her where no one else would have bothered: In the great, tasteless, uncontrolled, uncontrollable depths of the internet. This series will look more for Fletcher Hanks than Motzart. Spontaneous Harmony Korine than Ozu. But genius none the less. A vital genius that can provide us with a real strength in a time great artistic starvation.

First is the blog Zero Views which collects YouTube videos that, at the time of their posting, had zero views on YouTube. There is some amazing accidental genius to be found here, much of it by actual fat girls from Ohio.

The second link I have to share is this. I have no background information on it what so ever. It's like a Harmony Korine movie where everyone is happy. The page is registered to Graham Burst who lives in the UK. I didn't find any photographers through Google that use this name. I still can't quite believe this site is for real.

"What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you." - Jean Cocteau.
Through the internet we're offered a unique way of not only looking at media but also each other. If we believe that everything that is really wrong about failed works of art is what is most human inside of them we can begin to understand the landscape of the artist in our modern age.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Upcoming Films

Greetings Soldiers and Cinephiles,

Below are some upcoming films worth checking out:

International House
Wednesday Feb. 2 at 6:30 pm - Nashville by Robert Altman
Thursday Feb 3 at 7:00 pm (rescheduled from last week) - The Oldest Profession by Franco Indoyvina, Mauro Bolognini, Philippe de Broca, Michael Pfleghar, Claude Autant-Lara, and Jean-Luc Godard
Saturday Feb 5 at 7 pm - Our Beloved Month of August by Miguel Gomes

Flux Gallery
Thursday Feb 3 at 7:30 pm - The Thin Man by W.S. Van Dyke

Opening at The Ritz Friday Feb 4
Biutiful by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Chestnut Hill Film Group
Tuesday Feb 8 at 7:30 pm - Wages of Fear by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Andrew's Video Vault at the Rotunda
Thursday Feb 10 at 8pm - Intolerance by D.W. Griffith

Wooden Shoe
Our friend Ben Webster will be curating the Sunday movie nights in Feb at The Wooden Shoe. The films are all going to be revolving around Germany in the 1970s; there will be some choice screenings, including Margarethe Von Trotta's not available on dvd in the USA Marianne and Juliane. The full list is below.

Sunday Feb 6 at 7pm - The Baader Meinhof Complex by Uli Edel

Sunday Feb 13 at 7pm - Marianne and Juliane by Margarethe Von Trotta

Sunday Feb 20 at 7pm - Germany in Autumn by Alf Brustellin, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus, Maximiliane Mainka, Peter Schubert, Bernhard Sinkel, Hans Peter Cloos, Edgar Reitz, Katja Rupé, and Volker Schlöndorff. An omnibus film by some of New German Cinema best filmmakers concening the increased political violence of Germany in fall 1977.

Feb 27 at 7pm - The Third Generation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder