Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Cloverfield Sucks (Spoilers Alert)

January 26, 2008

SPOILERS ALERT 

cloverfield.jpgOnce again giving credence to the ravings of lunatics as well as the occasional heart-warming personal essay, I went to see Cloverfield tonight. Wow, it’s been some months since I felt that jacked by a movie. The buzz all over the net is that this thing is a harrowing, brilliant thrill ride; in fact, as far as I’m concerned it’s an embarrassing, amateurish piece of crap.

By “amateurish” I don’t mean “lo-fi.” The alternative format is the only thing the flick had going for it. I was excited to see Cloverfield because I thought this handheld camera thing was a great idea, maximizing the storytelling possibilities of democratized media and just generally shaking things up. That’s how I felt about Blair Witch, right until I hurled my cookies around the beginning of Act 2.

With Cloverfield I never even got that far; the flick had me hooked before I ever walked in the door, and managed to completely alienate me in the first 3 minutes. The flat characters of Blair Witch are magnificently sublime and amazingly complex compared to the annoying yuppie fuckbags of Cloverfield. These useless ciphers are right out of central casting, which has led some reviewers to claim that they’re Everyman characters of the sort in H.G. Wells’s original The War of the Worlds. In fact, these characters are just craptastic stick figures drawn by a small child with a crayon. If this was what “Everyman” was like, I would have killed myself years ago. But they’re infinitely more interesting than the even less complex stereotypes that blunder in and out of the movie’s point-of-view — primarily soldiers, who speak in an embarassingly flat military pidgin that makes 24’s worst clunkers seem authentic, and recite Einsteinian news flashes in a staccato parade of “As You Know, Bob”s that seem right out of a GI Joe cartoon or a Mack Bolan novel.

All of that is essentially unforgivable, but the movie still could have been a rockin’ good time if the thrillride had provided any actual thrills. Instead, we get a 90-minute parade of nausea-inducing camera swirls from a chowderheaded cameraman who, whenever anything interesting happens — like, oh, say a giant monster eating Manhattan, for instance — points the camera everywhere the monster isn’t. In story terms, we’re supposed to believe that it’s because he’s scared and confused, but I’m sorry, no one sees a giant monster eating Manhattan and doesn’t stare at it for a second. It’s probably for the better, though, because when we finally get a good look it’s a weird looking lizard thing that doesn’t make physical sense; the creature design is right out of the Mos Eisley Spaceport’s list of fourth-string discards.

Last but far from least, the most eggregious cliches in this movie are lifted wholesale from other movies — from the nuke attack to the baby Godzillas to the devoured-from-the-inside parasitic alien bite; there’s even a moment when the female main character, the camera close to her face, hysterically sobs “I — am — so — scared,” in either homage or theft, but who cares? It’s weak, empty, pathetic, and crazymaking.

If this is the derivative crap America’s movie critics rave about, next time I’ll stay home.

Sean Penn Plays Harvey Milk — Be an Extra

January 26, 2008

milk.jpgSean Penn is playing San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk in the film Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant. And you can be an extra! From milkmarch.com:

BE IN A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE AND HELP RE-CREATE A PART OF SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY
On Monday night, February 4th and Friday night, February 8th, the feature film MILK…will be re-creating three 1970s marches through the Castro.

We are looking for volunteers to appear in the these marches in the film. THERE ARE NO AUDITIONS. IF YOU SIGN-UP …AND SHOW UP, YOU WILL BE USED. All ages, races and genders are welcome. But, you MUST be 18 or over to participate…. Filming will take place from 7pm – midnight on Monday night at Castro & Market and from 9pm – 3am on Friday night at Market & Franklin. Come either or both nights.

As a thank you for participating, we will host a screening for the marchers of the documentary THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK on Monday, February 4th at the Castro Theater at 4:30pm, with introductions by the filmmaker, Rob Epstein, Cleve Jones, Gus Van Sant, and members of the cast. The filming will begin immediately after the screening.

Gay, straight or, you know, whatever, everyone should see The Times, a great documentary about an amazing time in San Francisco history. In case you don’t know (as I’ve discovered a lot of people outside San Francisco don’t), Milk was a Castro neighborhood camera store owner and the first openly gay municipal supervisor in American history. He was killed, with then-Mayor George Moscone, by fellow supervisor and former cop Dan White in a case that created the phrase “twinkie defense.” White committed suicide two years after his release from prison. Moscone’s death meant that the then-President of the Board of Supervisors, Diane Feinstein, took over the office of mayor.

Sean Penn Plays Harvey Milk — Be an Extra

January 26, 2008

milk.jpgSean Penn is playing San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk in the film Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant. And you can be an extra! From milkmarch.com:

BE IN A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE AND HELP RE-CREATE A PART OF SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY
On Monday night, February 4th and Friday night, February 8th, the feature film MILK…will be re-creating three 1970s marches through the Castro.

We are looking for volunteers to appear in the these marches in the film. THERE ARE NO AUDITIONS. IF YOU SIGN-UP …AND SHOW UP, YOU WILL BE USED. All ages, races and genders are welcome. But, you MUST be 18 or over to participate…. Filming will take place from 7pm – midnight on Monday night at Castro & Market and from 9pm – 3am on Friday night at Market & Franklin. Come either or both nights.

As a thank you for participating, we will host a screening for the marchers of the documentary THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK on Monday, February 4th at the Castro Theater at 4:30pm, with introductions by the filmmaker, Rob Epstein, Cleve Jones, Gus Van Sant, and members of the cast. The filming will begin immediately after the screening.

Gay, straight or, you know, whatever, everyone should see The Times, a great documentary about an amazing time in San Francisco history. In case you don’t know (as I’ve discovered a lot of people outside San Francisco don’t), Milk was a Castro neighborhood camera store owner and the first openly gay municipal supervisor in American history. He was killed, with then-Mayor George Moscone, by fellow supervisor and former cop Dan White in a case that created the phrase “twinkie defense.” White committed suicide two years after his release from prison. Moscone’s death meant that the then-President of the Board of Supervisors, Diane Feinstein, took over the office of mayor.

Berlin Porn Film Festival (Event Review)

November 29, 2007

Now in its second year, the Berlin Porn Film Festival screened 150 dirty movies over five days in late October. Think about that for a minute: that’s a lot of porn. As something of a professional porn watcher myself, I saved up my energy and refrained from watching (much) porn before I crossed an ocean to sit in the dark and watch dirty movies with European strangers. Not satisfied with merely screening 25 films a day at three different movie theaters around Berlin, the Festival’s organizers also organized a nightly afterparty at the L.U.X. Nachtbar with a variety of performers — plus, there were workshops, panels, and art shows at venues all over the city. Suffice to say: this was not a wee event taking place in a remote, run-down porn theater with sticky floors.

My boyfriend and I arrived in Berlin on a delightfully overcast Wednesday, and after a nap and shower in an attempt to shake our jetlaggy grogginess, we were introduced to an interesting cast of characters. Joe Gallant, my favorite New York smutmeister, was a familiar face — but Mouse, a performance artist and all around dirty girl from London, and Jimmy Picker, an animator from New York, were strangers. Joe’s films Atomic Skullfuck Orgy and Ave. X, were screening during the festival, Mouse would be performing during the opening night party, and Jimmy Picker’s animated film “The Age of Ignorance” was featured during the short film program.

Read more at Eros Zine.

Photos by Audacia Ray.

Techyum Roundup

November 9, 2007

livingdead2.jpg

Webworm Takeover (techyum)

Tunguska Crater Found. Maybe. (techyum)

King Corn — Movie Review (techyum)

Project Gutenberg Eats Brains, Detonates Nuke, Rotates (techyum)

Image via Wikipedia.

King Corn (Movie Review)

October 30, 2007

From Techyum:
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King Corn is a documentary opening Nov. 2 in San Francisco and Berkeley, and throughout November nationwide (it already played in New York, Washington, DC and Boston). Directed by Aaron Woolf, King Corn follows Ian Cheney and Curtis Ellis, two Yale friends who discover that their great-grandfathers came from the same small town in Iowa. They decide to move to Greene, Iowa to spend a year farming an acre of corn and make a documentary about it, in the process exploring the powerful but largely unseen role corn has in American life.

Raising an acre of corn — a ludicrously small amount in this age of a farm industry dominated by big companies — requires them to learn from a host of earthy characters, which is all very entertaining, but the science facts of the documentary are what’s really interesting. For example, 150 pounds of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer allows their one acre to grow more than four times the corn their great-grandparents could grow on the same acre. Using modern machinery, in 18 minutes they plant 31,000 kernels of Liberty Link transgenic corn. Why is it significant what brand of corn they plant? Because when weeds show up, our charming college-boy farmers use Liberty brand herbicide. Using the herbicide on non-Liberty Link corn will kill the corn.

Read the rest of my review at Techyum.

Halloween DVD Reviews

October 19, 2007

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In case you haven’t noticed, horror fans tend to be pervy, if strangely repressed, and for good reason: having sex gets you killed, especially if you’re 19 and frolicking with six of your BFFs on a beach that happens to be stalked by the Rotary Saw Killer you’re absolutely sure is just a dumb old story, or if you’re, say, an SM pervert who wonders why your gother-than-goth date recoiled from the garlic shrimp during that romantic dinner at Mister Won’s. Allergic? I don’t think so..

Yes, yes, having sex can get you whacked, and that’s why it rocks. Horror was the first, last, best and only refuge of a sexploitative scoundrel and/or scoundrette, until the modern porn industry came along, and now everything’s “6000-ManInterracialGangbang.com” this and “ButtLovingLibrarians.us.” that. Sure, maybe it’s more sex-positive, but where are the dismemberments? Where’s the brain-eatin’ zombies?

Horror films have a long tradition of being the dirty little secret, the expression of a nation’s most awful cravings, and hey, once you’re making a flick about chainsaw murder you may as well throw some other transgressions in there, right?

More importantly, cuddle up on the couch with one of your most vulnerable cuties and pretty soon he/she/s/he/hi/shi/si/ze/zi/I will be forthrightly glistening with a sudden rise in body temperature and/or begging to “Hold me. Just hold me. I’m frightened.” Zombie hookers devouring brains onscreen = you getting some serious boo-tay on your godawful Ikea couch, friend, and there’s no two buts about it. This list of salacious and overwrought horror flicks should give you the opportunity for a posttraumatic cuddle — if you can’t trust Eros Zine, who can you trust? You’ll thank me in the morning.

Read my Halloween DVD Reviews at Eros Zine.

Techyum Roundup

October 9, 2007

sanfrancisco.jpgSaw III Director Remaking Scanners (techyum)

Recorded Bee Sounds Help Manage Kenyan Elephants (techyum)

Wikipedia Moving to San Francisco (techyum)

Landsat7 image via Wikipedia.

Vincent Gallo Says She Really Blew Him (High Five!)

October 3, 2007

As reported by Femalefirst.co.uk, director, actor and quite possibly the creepiest guy in the world Vincent Gallo has attacked a movie critic who claimed he used a fake penis for a legendary sex scene in the indie film The Brown Bunny.

In case you’ve either been living under a rock or just don’t hear all the useless indie film gossip, Chloe Sevigny (at the time Gallo’s girlfriend) performs oral sex on Gallo in the 2003 movie. Both Sevigny and Gallo have claimed that the sex was real, making it an entry in a very small genre of mainstream films that include actual sexual activity.

Read more at Eros Zine.

$3500 Scholarship for Sex Ed Filmmakers

September 29, 2007

Cory Silverberg at About.com writes about a great sex ed filmmaking contest. I have taught sex ed at San Francisco Sex Information for about ten years (with some time off in there while I was in New Orleans, Panama and Los Angeles). Good sex ed media is damned important and actually pretty hard to find.

Five outstanding sex organizations have joined forces for one awesome video contest that I’m seven years too late to enter.

ISIS, Advocates for Youth, RH Reality Check, the National Sexuality Resource Center, and SEICUS just announced the Fresh Focus Digital Video Contest which will award a $3500 scholarship to the youth (liberally defined as 15 to 30 years old) who creates the best video about sex education that’s less than 3 minutes and manages to keep everyone’s pants on. They’re already taking submissions and the deadline is December 31st.

The winner will be announced, and their video featured at Sex:Tech, the first ever conference to focus on youth sexual health and technology, which is happening in January in San Francisco (where else).

Read more at Cory’s About.com Sexuality page.