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Reviewed in this entry are a handful of recently-exhumed works from noted Chicago south-side filmmaker Freebus Von Kleinmmanhaust. His hand-held Betamax was the eye through which Freebus' style of personified industrialization was realized, from the rusty iron pipes of Pilsen's Spice Factory to the rugged eight-story brickwork of... Pilsen's Spice Factory to the monolithic blast furnaces of.... the basement of Pilsen's Spice Factory. Shaka Zulu (1995) running time 4:12. An early post-modern historical Joseph Conrad deconstruction and disfigurement. Noted for its use of polyrhythmic bongo rhythms, ethereally dissonant A minor textures, and the zip whistle as a sonic representation of soul vs. heart of darkness. Beer (1995) running time 4:37. Revolutionary as the first of many successes for Freebus in his attempt to inebriate the fine line separating film subject, viewer, AND director. Established the catch-word "greenie" as popular slang in Pilsen's Sandinistaist subculture. Frozen and Thawed (2000) running time 1:16. A short, yet volatile and scathing gut-punch to American post-Cold-War culture. This film sparked lawsuits and numerous court room showdowns between big tobacco and infant rights activists.
UPDATE (June 27, 2011): Success! Though scores of Kleinmmanhaust devotees over recent years fell desolate and resigned to despair over the lack of artistic output created during his Loftington Essex period, the Freebus Archaelogical Recovery Team has tirelessly persevered to unearth such material. While vacationing in the wilds off Auckland, New Zealand, the team struck a gold vein. Upon experiencing profound tears of joy, the team cashed in the gold, got drunk on Foster's, and suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of the Auckland Rugby Union.
Upon hearing the news, Freebus Von Kleinmmanhaust ordered the issuing of select films to a grief-stricken following. Though Frozen and Thawed remains censored by the Freebus Universalism Can Kill! society, Shaka Zulu and Beer, along with Rubbin' One Out (In My Pickup Truck) have been confirmed to be fully intact.
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Two pieces of news here:
September 16... it's a ways down the road. This is the scheduled release date for the Richard Linklater adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. Stars featured include Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey, Jr. I'm excited about this in that the film is being shot in a style similar to that of Linklater's Waking Life, in which animation is sketched over live action footage. Ralph Bakshi was an originator, if not the originator, of this technique; it was called "rotoscoping" back in the day (writer leans back in his rocking chair, puffs on soap bubble pipe, and ponders, as dream sequence reveals Bakshi's noble film failure "Lord of the Rings", way back in... '77, was it?... Jesus!). I loved the film Waking Life, and for this reason I eagerly anticipate A Scanner Darkly.
And the other piece, for fans of Sergio Leone's westerns. A UK website has a release date of April 18 for "A Fistful of Dynamite" 2 DVD set. But hell, that's in the UK. American release has not been stated as of yet, only speculation that it will be here this summer. For details on this, go to:
I'm as equally excited about this release. This one worked for me: as an action film, as a revolutionary film (peasants battling a militaristic state), as a buddy film, and ... excuse me while I turn off my internal "list-o-meter"... it was campy, it was poignant, it was brutal at times (pulling plug out of the socket... whrrrrrr.....). More excited about this release, actually. I am spurred by the arrival in my mailbox of the soundtrack to A Fistful of Dynamite, under the original Italian title "Giu' La Testa", which translates to English as "Duck Your Head", which eventually translated to the original 1971 American release as "Duck, You Sucker". Apparently Mr. Leone thought that this phrase was common across the U.S. hip culture at the time. End digression. This soundtrack is wonderful! As with many original scores, this one contains repeated variations a handful of ... I don't know if they're really called this... "thematic melodies." Any risk of these melodies growing repetitive? Upon many listenings to this CD, I found this not to be the case. The music is composed by Ennio Morricone, and for me to attempt to explain through writing how beautiful the music is would be the same as me (to paraphrase Elvis Costello) playing a bass line in an attempt to explain architecture.
Welcome to blog junior land. This is the 'net, and this is a blog on a cinemaphile website. We are in fantasy land, folks, and in writing this, I intend to exorcise all pretenses of professionalism from my system.
I have not yet seen The Bicycle Thief, On The Waterfront, Patton, or numerous other films that are listed on many a list of "Greatest Films of All Time." I judge from this that I am hereby unqualified to be a serious film critic. Check back in ten years, and if we're all still alive and well, then maybe the conversation here will turn to the finer nuances of Fellini, Kurosawa (The Seven Samurai and The Bad Sleep Well are now under my belt, I'm happy to say), John Ford, and other greats.
So until I take that course in Film Appreciation 301, I will write as a man who enjoys films on a deep emotional level. Films such as The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Seven Samurai leave me awestruck in their majesty. However, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ranks number one on my list of favorite movies of all time. I'm a sucker for (read: I empathize with and feel pain for) the character of Joel Barrish in his dawning realization that ALL his memories of Clementine, good and bad, are gonna get pitched. I get choked up at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when John Connor screams in rage and sadness upon the impending demise of his father figure-slash-killing machine-slash-future governator of California.
My cinematic appreciation, at this point of my life approaching age 40 and all, is more on a basic level of emotion through character identification than the literal craft of filmmaking. I live vicariously through the characters I watch on-screen. It's not just the good-guys (Joel Barish, John Connor), either. Do you have any favorite cinema scuzbag performances? Think: Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs, or Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. I witness the former actor's character, in his groove as a crazed thief who cuts the ear off a police officer who is screaming in pain, and then proceeds to speak into the dismembered organ as if it were a telephone receiver. And I am left in simultaneous glee and horror, wondering what it would take to get me to commit such an act.
I'll end this with an invitation to those of you who are seriously studied in cinema to take me to class, lest you judge my blog to be nothing more than an emo-fest... ahh, screw you, I cried during Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker!, too! No, really. I'm only recently developing my appreciation for photography and continuity in a movie such as The Godfather, notably the spectacular yet naturally unfolding wedding reception scene. An example of quality sound editing is as follows: the camera pans over the gala wedding event, the attendees dance to the sound of a lively traditional Italian song. The action is apparently random. Cut to a scene in the parking lot. The same music heard at this more distant location is mildly audible, and yet that song never misses a beat. It is as if the camera is rendered magical, transporting itself from one location to another in zero time, period.
Overly nuanced description? Or is there something you know that I don't? Novice that I am, I appreciate the work involved in making a film whereupon we are enabled to experience events such as a grand Italian wedding, a space ship docking, or a boulder eight feet in diameter rolling down a hill and touching down in a swimming pool, through the eye of a camera with apparently magical qualities.