Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Stranger (1967) – movie based on Camus novel

So like every young quasi-suicidal disenfranchised intellectual youth, I loved Albert Camus’s The Stranger when I read it in high school.  I felt like the Meursault character was more or less me – isolated, alone, & unsure how humans were supposed to actually act.  I guess finding out I had Asperger’s Syndrome years later makes feeling like that make more sense.  It makes me wonder if being a disenfranchised white guy is a side effect of Asperger’s or just part of who I am, but it doesn’t matter either way.  Anyhow, I had heard that a movie of this existed & I imagined it was some semi-surreal affair based on the cover of the paperback I read.  But I never managed to track it down nor meet anyone who had actually seen it.
By the time I was in my mid-20s I had forgotten about Camus & all the other existential writers of his era in favor of stuff like the Gen-X writers & the American pulp authors of the first half of the twentieth century.  I mean, I would notice when they mentioned Camus in pop media (you see him being read by angsty teens on sitcoms), but it was no more interesting than seeing someone in a Misfits t-shirt or whatever.  Anyway, YouTube somehow recommended I watch this movie.  So I was like, “Yeah, I should watch this, maybe re-read the book & re-live my childhood!”  This movie is pretty awful.  I’m scared to read the book if it’s anything like this.  It’s slow, boring, & pointless – but I guess a lot of people like movies like that anyway.  It actually kind of reminds me of when they made the American Psycho movie & I felt like their interpretation of the book had little to do with the book I read (scenes in common for sure, but some books are mainly about tone & I think American Psycho the film captures more of the director Mary Harron than it does author Bret Easton Ellis – at the very least more Mary Harron than Brian John Mitchell).  Maybe these people got the movie right & I got the story in my head wrong.  Maybe I’ll re-read the book or maybe re-writing it as I remember it (Kathy Acker style?) would be a better way to spend my time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Richard Corben’s The Dark Planet

Okay, so I had absolutely never heard of this.  Someone on Facebook mentioned Philippe Druillet’s Nosferatu comic (which is awesome by the way, my song “10,004” is about that comic) & I Googled it for nostalgia & it brought up a trailer of animated version on YouTube & then a related video was Richard Corben’s The Dark Planet.  Now Richard Corben did Den of Earth which was one of the segments from Heavy Metal The Motion Picture & I’ve always thought of myself as a fan of his even if I didn’t own much of his work.

So this movie is bizarre.  It’s kind of a huge mess of “what the fuck is going on?”  It starts off with a bunch of stop motion animation stuff that I’m sure took some time & then when it gets into live action it gets even more bizarre.  I feel like this movie might be the kind of thing that would happen if I grabbed three of my semi-arty buddies & we went to stay at a cabin for a weekend & said, “Hey, let’s make a movie so we have something to do besides exclusively drinking.”  “What’s the plot gonna be?”  “We don’t need a plot, let’s just do some shit that looks kinda cool & the plot will take care of itself!”  “What are we going to use for props?”  “We can get some shit at the dollar store!”  All that said, there is something undeniably interesting about this movie.  I couldn’t look away from it.  It feels like a dream in the way there are random juxtapositions.  It is probably also worth noting that all the sound is dubbed in & there are no decipherable spoken parts & there is some not particularly sexy nudity.  I’d actually recommend this to some people.  If you are a fan of student films that became cult hits like Dark Star, Bad Taste, & Eraserhead then I’d recommend this.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Carpetbaggers (movie)

I’ve been meaning to see the movie (& possibly read the book) of this for years. Back in 2003 or so when my Grandmother first moved in with me, we got on this kick where we were watching westerns together. There was one movie that stood out to me & I have seen well over a dozen times now. That movie is Nevada Smith. I even wrote a song about it & talked about the movie at most of my live shows from 2003-2011. Anyway, Nevada Smith is a character in the movie/book The Carpetbaggers & the movie Nevada Smith is a derivative work. So I wanted to check this out, but never found it anywhere. Which seemed odd given it’s supposed to be such a popular & high selling book despite it being from 1961. The things I’d found out looking around for it were it was vaguely based on Howard Hughes & it was seemingly more a collection of scenes of sex & violence rather than a novel (which actually sounds more interesting than a novel to me).

Today I was chatting with a buddy of mine & mentioned something about wanting to read The Carpetbaggers & he said it wasn’t really that great & had I ever seen the movie. So I looked around for it on the internet & there it was in its entirety on YouTube. The movie actually stars George Peppard (known to folks of my age as Hannibal from The A-Team) & Alan Ladd & a ton of character actors that any fan of movies from the 1950s & 1960s will recognize. This movie is odd to me as it is strangely lacking in action & of course the sex scenes are so tame by modern standards. It is not a pleasant movie to watch in anyway, it reminds me of The Last Time I Saw Paris as far as it just having a lot of non-likable characters being jerks to each other, but quite a bit clumsier. I still kind of want to read the book.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Saga of the Original Human Torch #1-#4 (1990)

So as some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of the original Human Torch story from Marvel Comics #1 (1939) & I actually think it might be my favorite comic story of all time. I only first read it a couple of years ago & I’m kind of glad for that as I’m sure I wouldn’t have appreciated it as a kid. So I’m fascinated by this character who’s come to be called “The Original Human Torch” (not to be confused with the member of the Fantastic Four). He’s an android who ignites into flame because of some kind of design problems & who abandoned his maker to try to become a human instead of just being used to make money. In the late 1980s he had a revival & became a member of the Avengers right around the time I stopped getting mainstream comics & this series came out in 1990. I actually stumbled across this looking for something reprinting golden era stories of the Torch.

Well, I don’t know what I think of this series. The first issue is just a re-telling of the first story of the Torch & is pretty great, but the three issues afterwards try to bridge the entire fifty year history of the character & reads like what it is – a reader’s digest that makes as little sense as the way they have occasionally ret-conned the character. It’s unfortunate that such a clearly incredible intellectual property has never been thoroughly explored by top young talent in the way so many semi-obscure comic characters have been over the years. Especially now when the machine trying to become a man has become a popular story, it seems like the Torch would be a natural for a basic cable television series.

Monday, February 6, 2012


So I love Joy Division.  Anyone who’s heard much of the music I play knows it.  I’ve loved them since I first found out about them in high school.  I used to take acid & listen to them & then read the books about them (many of which are suspect in the level of hero worship).  Eventually when the Touching from a Distance book by Ian Curtis’s widow came out with all these extra lyrics never placed to Joy Division songs I actually wrote her about putting together a compilation where people wrote songs around the words & she responded saying the only musicians she’d want to do that is New Order.  (I suppose it’s worth mentioning for those that don’t know, that Joy Division’s singer Ian Curtis killed himself & the remaining members went on to become New Order.)  So yeah, I’m pretty much about as big of a fan as you get even if I don’t buy all the stories of them as these visionaries instead of just some blokes trying to play/write some music they like & even though I’m still uncertain about how I feel about their interests in fascism & even though my favorite thing by them is the bootlegs from when the band was still called Warsaw.  So you’d think when the movie Control came out that I’d be chomping at the bit to watch it especially since it was directed by Anton Corbijn who did the music video for their song “Atmospheres”  & actually new the band.  But I’d seen half of 24 Hour Party People & thought it was awful & most of the reviews I read were like, “If you liked 24 Hour Party People, you’ll love Control.”  So yeah, I just let it pass figuring if it was worth seeing I would eventually see it, but it seemed like no one really talked about it a year after it came out.

Well, now I finally watched it about five years later on.  I am not sure I can say I’m disappointed, because I didn’t expect a lot.  As such a fan, some of the factual inaccuracies irked me a bit & to be honest watching it I realized that I am not too interested in the way the story telling works in any of the wave of biopics that came out over the past ten years or so.  & I’m never really impressed by the actors doing a caricature of them with actual singing rather than lip syncing which is what I’d prefer.  I don’t know.  I’m pretty certain that the dudes involved with Joy Division were more just dudes than pretentious tortured artists as I am pretty certain is the actual case with most artists (as opposed to the legends that are later made of them) (maybe this is an attempt to make them seem more like me since I relate to them?), but I know that’s not the story most people want to see even if it is the story I want to see.  I think the way for the story to be told where it makes sense is for it to be a TV show that’s on for five seasons (representing 1976-1980) & maybe a sixth season about the rise of New Order.  In the end I’d advise watching a Joy Division documentary or some live concert footage or listening to an album over watching this movie, but I’m sure that’s not going to stop you if you’re interested in it.
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