Posts tagged review

Sep 13 2014
watched both vols of nymphomaniac over 2-3 days.  it was like surprisingly ….sentimental ?
i mean shouldnt have rly been that surprising since its been common for von trier for psychological / emotional fragility to underlie spectacular violence / devastation , but for some reason i just thought he was going human centipede or sth with this .
it was cool but for real , is gratuitous ‘shocking’ sex / nudity and shallow fibonacci number proxies for esoteric profundity STILL where arthouse cinema is in 2014 ??  literally asking i dont rly pay that much attention.  every undergrad student filmmaker prob thinks ‘yes’ but comeon son .  theres gotta b some new or less exhausted devices lurking out there somewhere ?

have some more thoughts but gets a lil spoilery n a lot long as fuck:
i think it was prob a lil more complicated than it seems on the surface , and not the bullshit fly-fishing analogies / esoteric numerology 101 ‘complexities’ von trier force-feeds the audience , i kinda think those were head-fakes or part of a larger decoy
like , ok , all the somewhat tedious exposition and pontificating of the main ‘present day’ plot line scenes between charlotte gainsbourg and elder skarsgard were obviously the foundation , the main conceptual apparatus of the film.   and it seems obvious at least on ample occasions that gainsbourg was basically a stand-in for von trier and a medium / platform for him to ‘say his piece’ (esp after his ‘vow of silence' after 'im a nazi-gate’).   that being the case i couldnt help but to read skarsgard as symbolic of ‘the audience’ or public at large.
gainsbourg / von trier tells their story , asserts their perspective while skarsgard fumbles desperately and sometimes impotently (c what i did) to relate these foreign experiences / ideas to his own frame of reference — interpreting , rationalizing and ‘solving’ the parables as best he can from his own naive , literally virginal vantage .  (and gainsbourg eagerly accommodates him by tailoring her stories to his ‘world’ , like any story-teller hoping to captivate an audience)
this meta-commentary is itself kinda complex because it functions simultaneously as the literal , concrete meta-commentary thru which the surface level story-in-a-story is told (i.e. this convo in a bedroom is the actual , diegetic vehicle for the narration of the antecedent stories/scenes that make up the bulk of the film) , while also performing this conceptual meta-meta-commentary im trying to describe.  these multi-tiered nested narratives create at least a formal complexity where all levels of diegesis are fulsomely engaged , and further complicated by trying to deduce who-represents-what at each level of the narrative (von trier [level 1 / extradiegetic] pulling the strings of charlotte [level 2 / diegetic] who is in turn pulling the strings of the rest of the characters [level 3 / hypodiegetic] - except skarsgard, who is also directly von triers puppet but of course opposed to him as symbolic of the audience etc).  and this is made even worse by the creeping suspicion that we are probably dealing with unreliable narrators at each level.  
there r a few moments where gainsbourg & skarsgard pretty nakedly (u see) refer to this dynamic , of course with the plausible deniability that they are referring to their own sub-narratives.  the first and most jarring to me was impeccably timed just as the accumulated implausibility / preposterousness of the narrative was reaching a breaking point.  i had been ready to abandon any & all fuck-giving a few times when shit was just too outlandish to keep me invested , but i would pull back and b like ‘just treat it like horror/sf , suspend ur damn disbelief this is obviously a more ‘poetic’ work than Shame's more social realism take on sex-addiction’ , von trier obviously has not been bound by realism in any recent film.  And then bam , he helpfully if heavy-handedly hand-feeds that very insight to the audience: skarsgard interrupts gainsbourg , complaining that theres too many dubious coincidences in her story for it to be plausible , and she answers ‘which way do u think you’ll get the most out of my story , by believing in it or not believing in it ?’ and skarsgard relents because she ‘might have a point with all this’.   This isnt the last time we hear von trier lecturing us thru gainsbourg lecturing skarsgard. 
The next most standout instance is also the dumbest / adolescentest / entitledest : when skarsgard chides her for using the ‘non politically correct’ term ‘negro’ , and she goes on a stilted diatribe about how in her ‘circles’ its a ‘mark of honor to call a spade a spade’ and some dumb shit about ‘every time a word is removed from a language a stone is removed from the democratic foundation’ which seems like a strange concern since a second later she’s proclaiming that ‘people are too stupid for democracy’ so not sure why shes worried about its foundation.  (here its easy to hear von trier evoking another n-word).  skarsgard dutifully plays the liberal naif and affirms his belief in ‘the human qualities’.
and this sets up nicely the ‘shock’ ending , to the extent that its a shock because it makes no sense and doesn’t follow plausibly from anything in the foregoing 3+ hours of narrative (but ah , he ‘might have a point with all this’).  his point seems to me to be to indict the supposedly ‘decent’ ‘altruistic’ ‘humanistic’ ‘politically correct’ skarsgard (i.e. the audience / public) as being ultimately as capable and prone to evil as the ‘straight-talking’ gainsbourgh/von trier have been trying to convince us that they are — except worse , because hypocrisy   
now , im no stranger to casual misanthropy , but i dont make a grand philosophical statement out of it or make it the bedrock of my worldview cuz ultimately it relies on a boring archaic simpleton-ass notion of ‘human nature’ that makes about as much sense as ‘sea horse-nature’ or ‘computer-nature’.  we all have designs , evolved and learned tendencies / reflexes etc but these are so complex and chaotic and in flux (as are the environments within which they operate) that trying to reduce our (or sea horses’ or computers’) behavior to a simplistic model that can be reliably predicted projected or perimetered now and for all time is like … nah . we invented , built & programmed computers and we cant get these fucking things to reliably do what we think theyre gonna do more than most of the time .  we got dogs sniffing out cancer and squirrels eating snakes and shit but we got it all figured out ?  fuck out of here 
know-it-alls from all epochs have been declaring human nature as this or that , most of the sour adolescent angsty archetypes coming to the same brave / brilliant / precognizant conclusion that ‘its our nature to destroy ourself’ or whatever.  well ok i mean we clearly do that but if its our nature to do everything that we do then 1) this tells us nothing because its a tautology and is meaningless and 2) it must also b our nature to decode the human genome and discover the higgs-boson and figure out how to take pictures of the beginning of the universe n make sounds that give us feelings and cure smallpox and the bubonic plague and invent tiny rectangular slabs that fit in our pocket and connect us to every place and time and all the information ever recorded and build machines THAT FLY THRU THE AIR AND OUTER SPACE and figure out that if u take the seeds of the coffee plant and then roast them and then crush them and then force boiling water thru them in very specific ways it creates FUCKING COFFEE etc etc
im not saying we’re NOT too dumb for democracy or NOT all capable of perpetrating every imaginable evil upon each other or NOT going to exterminate ourselves and obliterate all our accomplishments , im just saying we’re too dumb to possibly know all the brilliant shit our dumb asses might eventually do , prior to or in lieu of exterminating ourselves

so yea the point of this movie just seems infantile.  but it was arrived at pretty tightly , tons of great performances and gnarly shit , beautiful visuals
it was great to see christian slater , fuck the h8ers and also i thought the idiot shia labouf was good except his accent sometimes.
but yea i dont think this gainsbourg-as-von-trier / skarsgard-as-us dynamic is the WHOLE picture but i think its a part and a bit complicated to unpack but ultimately not that insightful cuz the movie aint rly about shit , so we get a lot of sensational graphic shit and some flaccid (u see) entry level sacred geometry bs and thats basically it but rly nice package (……..)

[ppps feel obligated to point out that i do generally find tremendous value in expressions of unnuanced relentless single-minded pessimism of all kinds (more on this l8r) but feel like this wasnt rly that]

watched both vols of nymphomaniac over 2-3 days.  it was like surprisingly ….sentimental ?

i mean shouldnt have rly been that surprising since its been common for von trier for psychological / emotional fragility to underlie spectacular violence / devastation , but for some reason i just thought he was going human centipede or sth with this .

it was cool but for real , is gratuitous ‘shocking’ sex / nudity and shallow fibonacci number proxies for esoteric profundity STILL where arthouse cinema is in 2014 ??  literally asking i dont rly pay that much attention.  every undergrad student filmmaker prob thinks ‘yes’ but comeon son .  theres gotta b some new or less exhausted devices lurking out there somewhere ?

have some more thoughts but gets a lil spoilery n a lot long as fuck:

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May 9 2014

finally saw cosmopolis couple weeks ago, wanted to since first heard it was in the works.  

A+++++++ would do business again

srsly like early to early-mid period body-horror / ambiguated reality / techno-socio-political theorizing Cronenberg is my lifeblood , middle-late period more personal problematized identity / interiority Cronenberg less my thing , but this emerging late period more explicitly analytical / ideological turn is bringing me back to Cberg.  

all the exposition / pseudo-theory blather will bum out some ppl and idiots that cant deal w plotlessness / inaction (& so prob dont have much of a grasp on life) will not b down.  but i m , + theres always some cogent analysis lurking around in the babble, as has always been the case with cberg imo. 

Cosmopolis in particular , exceptionally plotless + blather-driven , due to the Delillo derivation .  Weak points like , a lot of the cast could not withstand the austere minimal , affectless ~ semi-autistic ~ dialogue , typical of late Delillo prose [where all ‘voice’ n ‘tone’ and even pov is like collapsed into a stark molecular singularity , or like sandblasted / stripped of all idiosyncrasy and personal affect down to a common atomic denominator , characters turnt transparent so the author/narrator’s puppeteering / ventriloquy is obvious].  but for the cast that could inhabit that personality vacuum , n find some naturality or organicity [subjectivity?] in the superficial undifferentiatedness , the performances were all the more jarring + impressive. 

robert pattinson fucking thrived. Nvr saw vampire shit or whatever but he is established as serious / scarily good dramatic force imo [sidenote: pumped].  Giamatti also slays as per ush - juliette binoche , sarah gadon , emily hampshire , patricia mckenzie and whoever plays his uncle also dominate.  

as an imagining & visualization of a near future potentiality of accelerationist capitalism where cyber-capital and technological advance continue their ascent toward hegemonic logical conclusions , the digital-divide and general wealth gaps become evermore stark and yawning [and piketty is perhaps vindicated ?] , the film has its own peculiar rewards and catharses.

if i lived a life where i had time to read thousands of words on thousands more pages i’d prob read the book at some point. 

weirdly , the hook to this k’naan track from the ost also kinda rules in its madchestery indebtedness to shaun ryder  [or , by degrees of separation , MIA ?]

(spoiler alert around 2:30 in vid)

Dec 27 2012


a skeletal, severely abbreviated fraction of autobiography. reading more like excerpted annotated outlines of a memoir, barely stretching just over a hundred pages padded with ample textless chapter divisions etc.  worth it for the inimitable Chet Baker deadpan —near catatonic— stoicism that somehow, in its seemingly para-human indifference and detachment, conveys such an elevated sensitivity, psychic fragility and diffuse air of melancholy and portent that only such impassivity could delicately enough carry.  and also for vignettes like these:

[of his experience aboard a troopship bound for Germany after enlisting in the Army illegally at 16] There was vomit everywhere, you could not escape the smell of it no matter where you went on the ship. Since there wasn’t anything alcoholic to drink, some of the guys mixed Aqua Velva with fruit juice. Everyone was getting loaded and fighting. Some went blind from the noxious aftershave mixture. Altogether, it was a trip I could not easily forget.

I spent a couple of weeks at her apartment, but unfortunately some joker ripped off the door of her Corvette when I was using the car. He didn’t even stop. We had a few words about that, and fought about some other things as well. It all ended in my telling her to get fucked.

[of being brought to court on drug charges in England] I really couldn’t take the whole thing seriously. All those seemingly pompous fools with their white wigs. Needless to say, I was found guilty by his lordship.

despite its brevity, a satisfying, shimmering glimpse into imo one of the top 5 most compelling voices in all recorded music (and pretty standard mid-century jazz-genius-junkie archetype).  for a longer look, a couple biographies are supposed to be good, but u prob cant do better than this

Aug 8 2012

Nocturnes for the King of Naples (Edmund White)

i just. really loved it.

somewhat slow-going and hard to read cuz of the mercurial, impressionistic prose, but for the same reason prob the most unique and enthralling reading experience i can remember.


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May 26 2012

the hallucinatory quality of his visionary projections & the insight of omnipresent dysfunction in all levels & generations of tech, make the difference

Dec 26 2011

i love lana del rey.


i love her for all the reasons ppl r ambivalent about/h8 on her: deeply problematized/unchartable authenticity, tranny-chic appearance, lack of any sort of totality, desperate & severe ‘omega point' hauntology without being as egregiously ‘retro’ as amy winehouse or adele, so i can actually stand her music.

(i honestly prefer the ‘pre-video’)

stevie nicks growl, cinematic melodrama, amenability to epic remixes, narcotic melody, doom, fatalism, whorishness, paz de la huerta. 

Video Games (BALAM ACAB Remix) - Lana Del Rey by BALAM ACAB

im also not paying that close attention, which always helps. 

Jul 3 2011

its like antony meets arthur russell meets fever ray meets the mortal coil meets planningtorock meets jamie woon meets ________ all in a google+ ‘hangout’

really like 2/3rds feeling these Danes.

first i heard from them i wasnt sure how i felt. i think 2/3rds is pretty good.  mostly looking forward to remixes.  the Nicolas Jaar (embedded above) is fan and the dOP is tite.



this vid is kinda a bummer

May 26 2011



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Apr 11 2011


especially bc according to everything about it I should have loved it. NOPE. terrible. 

like 3 moments i enjoyed.  hot mess and not in any of the good ways. im so mad about the time i wasted finishing it that im not gonna waste anymore justifying my reaction to it.  suffice to say its not any of the things its jacket blurbs claim it to be. it is not pervy, unhinged, visionary, or exhilarating.  its mundane other than how exceptionally amateur it is. again not in any of the good ways.

the only thing i can attribute the various rave reviews to is that maybe it makes boring old people feel ‘young and edgy’ the same way listening to atmosphere or whatever made suburban kids feel ‘urban’

an episode of fashion police with joan rivers is more transgressive.

Feb 10 2011
a dick-cringing good time. 2 severed phalli up. 

a dick-cringing good time. 2 severed phalli up. 


Jan 2 2011

the pre-twitter aphoristic urge

after the schtick (vulgar-parables-of-pomo-truisms / porn-derived ontological insights / cheap ‘jarring’ juxtapositions / violent erotic fantasies about Wendy) is well established, the shock-value wears thin. a dearth of original ideas or insights weighs it down and what profundity there is is mostly precocious-highschooler-with-a-predilection-towards-drugs-and-perversity profundity. but it def has it’s moments.

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Oct 16 2010

Maggie Nelson, ‘Bluets’


Bluets by Maggie Nelson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

click below for mad wordz

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Oct 9 2010

is ur brain ur brain? (or, ‘u have nothing to ____ except your ____’)

fuck yes i love when my random vhs buys turn out amazing.

had myself a little home style double feature the other night, courtesy of two (out of approximately 3 million) VHS I picked up @ Pop Fuzz in Williamsburg over the weekend…

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