Monthly Archives: July 2011

Link Dump: #39

I know how Krazy Kat feels up there. A brick to the head, the absurd July heat—they’re basically the same thing. We’ve been pretty sluggish lately, as you may have noticed, with our summer blogging being “sporadic” at best. But never fear! We’ll be bouncing back with new content in the next month or two. In the meantime, try to stay cool, avoid bricks, and enjoy these links…

We’ve only got one out-of-the-ordinary search term this week and it’s “princess ariel fucks other princesses pussy.” OK, it’s not really unusual for us, but it’s extremely straightforward. It’s like they’re telling Google, “I want Disney porn. Please give me Disney porn.” Different strokes for different folks, right? (Though “strokes” might not be the best choice of words there…)

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Filed under Cinema, Media, Sexuality

Remembrance of Lives Past

By Andreas (500th post!)

If I want to watch a movie that follows patterns I already know, I can find one at any theater. If I need to see movies I can easily understand, ones that coddle me and flatter my intelligence, they’re all over the place. But a movie that confuses me, intrigues me, and shows me something I’ve never seen before? That would be something rare and ambitious. That would be Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s out-of-this-world Palme d’Or-winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2011).

If you’ve read about Uncle Boonmee before, you’ve probably been exposed to a broad plot synopsis. Something like “As he dies of a kidney ailment, Uncle Boonmee is visited by ghosts from his past and recollects his past lives…” But Weerasethakul (also known as “Joe”) is a very playful director, and you won’t get anywhere with Uncle Boonmee if you’re too literal-minded. It’s wrapped loosely around a linear story, but it’s more accurately a series of visually lush riffs on the themes of death, loss, longing, and reincarnation.

Between these vignettes, Uncle Boonmee takes many forms. It’s a video installation, a folk tale, and some fantastic mesh of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. It’s maybe about Buddhism in modern-day Thailand, and maybe about militaristic bloodshed of the 1970s. With its unconventional structure and never-ending ambiguity, the film leaves few options: either marvel at the enchanting imagery, the droll humor, and Weerasethakul’s limitless imagination, or else protest the absurdity and the lack of clarity. It’s an “in or out?” proposition.

But once you step into Uncle Boonmee‘s magical world, you can succumb to its idiosyncratic rhythms. The film starts out at dusk, with a stray ox languidly strolling through the forest, and then introduces the red-eyed Monkey Ghosts, spirits who haunt its margins. With its leafy, gently supernatural milieu, Uncle Boonmee might be an avant-garde cousin of the anime classic Princess Mononoke. Just like Miyazaki, Weerasethakul sees potential friends and discoveries in even every corner of the wilderness.

I’ve only scraped the surface of Uncle Boonmee’s weird, powerful contents. There’s an erotic/comic interlude with a princess and a catfish, a segment consisting entirely of still images, and a finale I don’t think I’ll ever understand. But I don’t need to understand it in order to enjoy it—it’s like listening to a skilled storyteller carrying on in a beautiful alien language. I have little to no idea what literally happens in Uncle Boonmee, but I do have a whole set of powerful impressions and intuitions no other movie could give me, and I wouldn’t trade those for anything.

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Filed under Cinema

Room service at the Great Northern

[The following post includes a few spoilers for Twin Peaks—both the end of season 1 and the start of season 2. You have been warned.]

Does this include a gratuity?

The first season of Twin Peaks ends with an audacious cliffhanger: amidst a flurry of violent events, good-natured FBI agent Dale Cooper is shot repeatedly and left to die on his hotel room floor. You’d expect the second season to continue in the same urgent, melodramatic register… but you’d be wrong, because David Lynch is all about defying TV expectations. Instead, he follows up the show’s most shocking, twisty episode with a scene of subdued deadpan comedy.

The season two premiere, “May the Giant Be With You,” opens with a slow-moving, elderly waiter (John Ford regular Hank Worden) entering Cooper’s room with a glass of warm milk. He doesn’t rush to call a doctor, as Cooper politely requests. Instead, he reassures Cooper that he’s hung up the phone, then bends over so he can sign the bill. Cooper doesn’t freak out, but goes along with the waiter, even making sure that he gets tipped. The previous episode was hysterical and chaotic; this scene, meanwhile, is relaxed to the point of catatonia.

This tonal departure is a characteristically Lynchian joke. It reminds me of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, which begins with wage slave Gregor Samsa in his new insect form, worrying that he’ll be late for work. Cooper’s in the middle of a life-or-death situation, and we’re yearning to find out what happened to all the other characters: did Nadine die? What about Catherine, Shelly, and Leo? But no. Everything’s put on hold so we can focus on warm milk, the bill, and the gratuity. And this is before the giant shows up!

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Filed under Media

Link Dump: #38

Hey, look! It’s the cutest kitty in all of science fiction! Of course I speak of Jones, resident feline of the spaceship Nostromo. He may have led Ripley to risk her life needlessly, but really, look at him. You can’t be angry with that kitty. Now here are some links:

Not much lately in the way of search terms, but I did enjoy “why copy editors are important.” In case you were wondering, it’s because copy-editing makes writing coherent and professional. Hurray for correct grammar and spelling!

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Filed under Cinema, Media

Go Smurf Yourself

By Andreas

Hey, I’m walkin’ here!

The Smurfs trailer offers a lot of reasons to hate this Shrek-like new abomination. We’ve got Katy Perry as Smurfette chirping, “I kissed a smurf and I liked it?” We’ve got Neil Patrick Harris endlessly repeating the movie’s single joke—that “smurf” can mean anything—as if he’s stuck in some hellish time loop. We’ve got voice acting genius Hank Azaria being whacked in the face and hit by a bus.

But the part I despise the most is Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez) referencing Midnight Cowboy in the middle of a busy New York street. I despise this worthless gag for several reasons: first of all, it’s incredibly lazy writing. Not only is it an extremely famous movie quote, but it’s one that’s become clichéd through overuse. It’s not even a knowing allusion anymore; now, it’s just the screenwriters saying, “This movie is set in New York, and we are familiar with pop culture.”

If this is even intended as an allusion, then it’s one of those half-assed over-the-kids’-heads jokes meant to convince parents that The Smurfs has something to offer them, too—that it won’t just be two hours of NPH and Hank Azaria being hit in the face. But (with any luck) this is a self-defeating proposition, because any adult who’s savvy about Dustin Hoffman playing Ratso Rizzo in a four-decade-old, X-rated movie will also know enough to stay the hell away from The Smurfs.

This trailer bespeaks a movie so unimaginative and so formulaic that it almost smacks of self-parody. The Smurfs, please get the smurf away from me, and stay there.

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Filed under Cinema

Recommended reading

By Andreas

This is officially my Anxiety Summer, as it’s the first time in my life that I have to worry about unemployment, paying rent, and buying food. Adulthood FTW! (That glamorous logo you see above was designed by Miles of The Daily Robot.) But thankfully, there’s more to my summer ’11 than just hunger and creative stagnancy. I’ve also been reading lots of sharp, funny, and insightful film writing online…

First of all, we have David Bordwell, the guy who wrote the book on movies. He’s one of my heroes, as well as one of the best, clearest film writers out there. So it stands to reason that he’d add a very valuable two cents to that whole “cultural vegetables” discussion I talked about a few weeks back. His piece “Good and good for you” is essential reading, addressing trends in filmmaking and reception that have led viewers like Dan Kois to give up on austere art films. Bordwell writes:

Why shouldn’t people follow Kois in giving up their vegetables? No reason, except that they’re missing some worthwhile cinematic experiences.

Then he illustrates that contention with visual examples from Ozu, Béla Tarr, and more. This is why he’s awesome. It’s a fine defense of movies that may be resolutely unconventional or inaccessible, but great nonetheless—movies that I’m dying to see more of. Not just as “aspirational viewing,” as Kois calls it, but because these movies are pleasurable, if in a different and difficult way.

If any movie I watch this summer can give me a pleasure matching the end of Stalker, the color palette of Floating Weeds, or the entirety of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, I will be all the happier for it.

It’s hard to follow up David Bordwell, but I got a dual pleasure from these two reviews of Cars 2: “It’s a CAR-TASTROPHE” by Alex of Film Forager and another review by Bryce Wilson of Things That Don’t Suck. Alex, covering both films, ponders the inconsistencies and bizarre logic of the Cars universe; Bryce points out the many appealing qualities of Cars 2 that make its Larry the Cable Guy-centric writing that much more tragic. I haven’t seen a second of either Cars movie, but I enjoyed every word of these reviews.

Finally, Jeffrey Sconce of Ludic Despair gives us the “Zookeeper Checklist.” Genius. You owe it to yourself to read it.

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Filed under Cinema, Personal

Jim Carrey, Part 1

By RF

[Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of personal essays about Jim Carrey written by RF, a friend of Pussy Goes Grrr.]

I was probably five or six years old when I first saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and I haven’t rewatched it – or any other Tom Shadyac movies – for about fifteen years, not until this week in fact, when I watched several of them in a row. I watched the DVD specials, too, and saw Shadyac behind the scenes: he looks like a bearish, wide-faced version of Howard Stern, and his directions are always gentle and mildly self-deprecatory – I would do the scene this way, but then what do I know?

Continue reading

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