Friday, October 17, 2008
Bobbin' and Weavin'
As much as we spend an inordinate amount of time peering through blurry eyes at the television screen, sweating over the next essential choice at Netflix, or tap dancing between the popcorn kernels at the local Cineplex, Culture Vulture headquarters does indeed provide space and time for reading and perusing.
A few dandy magazine pieces have recently caught my attention, including a very intriguing profile of filmmaker P.T. Anderson (who knew his daddy was legendary Cleveland horror TV host Ghoulardi?) by John H. Richardson in Esquire That was 1989, the year Anderson graduated from Montclair Prep. Under his yearbook picture, he had the usual collection of ironic quotes-the hook from “Staying Alive,” a joke from Woody Allen, and a few lines from Robert Downey’s Sr.’s deranged 1960 business satire, Putney Swope. But he might have been the only kid in America who also quoted his own fictional character: “All I ever wanted was a cool ‘78’ Vette and a house in the country”.-Dirk Diggler
Spike Lee also gets dissected by John Colapinto in the New Yorker Scorsese told me that financial obstacles are not unusual for established directors with a personal vision, like Lee or Robert Altman, or Scorsese himself. “Sometimes these things go in cycles,” Scorsese said. “Particularly if your films more subjective, more personal points of view. After The King of Comedy, ‘I wound up going back
to a low-budget independent cinema with After Hours, then ratcheting it up just a little bit more with The Color of Money and then going back to independent with The Last Temptation of Christ and then finally getting back into a kind of a fighting shape with Goodfellas. So in a way you have to go off and explore. Some people don’t come back.” He added, “It sort of separates the men from the boys, the ones who keep going. And he(Lee) has kept going and he’s not going to take no for an answer. Which is great.”
Finally Howard Hampton, the bastard son of Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs and the author of the absolutely killer collection of pop criticism Born in Flames: Termite Dreams, Dialectical Fairy Tales, and Pop Apocalypses, sets out to get a grasp on the popular American political film in Film Comment:/fcm.htm.
Maybe rapprochement between the mockers and the mocked was possible after all; Manny Farber thought that Altman’s “promiscuous” movie was really about “group endeavor” as “the cure for a fucked-up America.” Love it or hate it, Dr. Robert’s zeitgeist treatment could be a mutually validating win-win for everyone: the hip, holistic in-crowd got Gestalt therapy out of it-a deep-dish psyche-of-the-union address with a bittersweet scoop of Neo-Fellini ice cream on top-while the hicks and vulgarians got something else to see the about, bellyaching at Hollywood for its offhand disrespect.
While we are in a state of perusal, I can’t mention a wonderful new web site,The Art of the Title, still in its infancy, that offers a ton of potential. For those of you who (like me) worship at the altar of Saul Bass, among others, this is truly the right stuff. Let me finish by shoving the spotlight over to our pals at The Popcorn Trick for taking us back to the weird and fuzzy days of TV’s recent past and filtering it through a glass, darkly.