Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Black Moon Rising (1986)

With an experimental jet car, a craggy wisecracking anti-hero (Tommy Lee Jones as Quint), and Robert Vaughn acting creepy, Black Moon Rising has everything one could ask for in an 80s action cheapie. Released by the scrappy New World Pictures in 1986 (after Roger Corman sold his stake in the company that made Death Race 2000 and Rock 'n' Roll High School), it's a multi-tiered techno-thriller where a filched computer file ends up in the NASA designed dragster, and half of the country's black ops descend upon it, each with their own nefarious design.

Carpenter's touch can be seen in Quint's character, who maintains a preternatural calm throughout, always ready with a dry witticism in the midst of chaos. It's the kind of nihilist Hawksian lead that Carpenter perfected with his series of Kurt Russell films. Director Harley Cokliss doesn't have the same gift for eliciting nuanced performances - Jones seems a touch too distant, almost comatose, even when he's getting his head smashed into a car door or romancing professional carjacker Linda Hamilton.

The punch here isn't in the characters (although there's strong work from Bubba Smith - "Don't fuck with the government"), but in the hurtling plot lines, which contort to fit themselves into ridiculous positions, the speed of the reversals and face-to's shuffling them into some kind of dream-like coherence after a rooftop flight lands smack dab into a mafia shakedown and a nonchalant government spook intervention. As Dave Kehr asked, "Is this the first cubist thriller?"

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Shaquille O'Neal, Twitter Poet

Shaq has a Twitter feed, and he's a lyric genius. Some samples:

"Terrorizing Coach Ivaroni's bigs tonight. The Sun will rise in Phoenix. I am The Big Frodo."

"Grizz in town. Oza dropped Vitamin C at my door. I am Osama bin Shaq."

"I am Superman. And the only thing that can kill Superman is Kryptonite. And Kryptonite doesn’t exist."

"Voted Obama. Barak [sic] told me I can guard the nuclear football codes"

"Money just text me, said he wants me in his next ad with Seinfeld..told him The Big Cactus rocks a MacBook Pro"

If I were a painter, you’d be calling me Shaqcasso"

I suppose it could be an impostor, but I choose to believe. And to savor.

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YouTube Art: James Bond Gun Barrel Sequences

I love the ritual aspect of Bond movies. And this is the most time-honored ritual of them.

I'm quite certain there's an excellent article in studying these clips (there's some fine background work on the gun barrel sequences' Wikipedia page). Their 45-year evolution could be used to explore all sorts of things, from the advances in special effects, opening title design, and aspect ratios, to trends in men's fashion (Bond wears a hat in the first several versions) and music (though the Bond theme remains, its instrumentation changes in nearly every picture).


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

YouTubeArt: The First Black President

Via Ta-Nehisi Coates

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YouTubeArt: Videodrome's Awesome Trailer

Can you believe THAT was the real trailer?!?


Monday, November 03, 2008

Great Line of the Day

Luc Sante on Manny Farber:

"In the egghead press of the ’50s and ’60s, such writing must have sounded like an avalanche of belches and trombones."

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