Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Treat Pt. II

Monkey Town Presents Häxan, Witchcraft Through The Ages

Saturday, October 31st
Admission: $8, $10 minimum
Showtime: 8pm
Reservations are recommended

The 1922 classic documentary in six parts
Live score performed by:

Jeremy Slater
Murder of Angels (Bryin Dall & Derek Rush)
Phil Puleo
Christopher Russo
Maxx Klaxxon
Bradford Reed

Narration by William Burroughs

Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen (also appearing as Satan)

One of the most controversial films of the silent era, “Häxan” is a dramatized documentary of the practice and persecution of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. The elaborate production made it the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever made. Although it was celebrated in its native country, it was widely banned and censored elsewhere for the elaborate images of Satanism and the Inquisition, closely following medieval engravings referenced in the film.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Treat

My film critic friend and colleague Jeremiah Kipp will be screening his short Contact on:
SATURDAY, OCT. 31, 2009
Millennium Film Workshop
66 E. 4th St. / Manhattan
8:15PM / $10

SUNDAY, NOV. 1, 2009
Millennium Film Workshop
66 E. 4th St. / Manhattan
5:15PM / $10

As part of the Sinister Six Fest.

A spooky good time for all!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Un Piede di Roman Polanski" To Screen in Germany!

Our award-winning, G-rated homage to Roman Polanski’s foot fetish will be playing in the Experimental Porn, Short Films section of the Pornfilmfestival Berlin, which takes place October 22-25.

And since these feet were made for walking “Un Piede di Roman Polanski” will then screen at the Fetisch Film Festival, taking place October 29-31.

Who knew our feet would be so big in Europe?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It’s Only A Flesh Wound: In Defense of Lars von Trier’s "Antichrist"

If you’re a fan of cinema with a capital 'C,' you’re surely aware of the buzz surrounding “Antichrist,” the latest from Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier (he of the Dogme 95 manifesto, that phobic and depressive auteur rumored to have driven Bjork to eat her own sweater during the making of “Dancer in the Dark”). The film garnered a Best Actress prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival for its leading lady, Charlotte Gainsbourg, who was upstaged only by her director proclaiming to be the Holy Father himself. Gainsbourg plays “She” to Willem Dafoe’s “He”—they're a couple whose toddler crawls right out an open window while they’re engaged in some hot, slo-mo, B&W-shot sex. Unable to come to terms with her child’s death, She spends an unproductive month drugged out in a hospital before He, a therapist by trade, decides the only cure is to whisk her away to a cabin in the woods called Eden for some intense fear facing. Of course, since this is a von Trier film, things can only get devilishly nasty.

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Coming Plague: Pandemic Paranoia or Reality?

Is the name of the panel I’ll be on at the Doomsday Film Festival this Sunday, October 25th from 7-9 PM at DCTV in downtown Manhattan. Schedule and co-conspirators as follows:

Shivers | David Cronenberg, Canada, 1975; 87 min

• Dr. Marc Siegel, author of Swine Flu, Bird Flu, and False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear
• Vadim Rizov, film critic for The Village Voice
• Lauren Wissot, film critic for Slant magazine & author of Under My Masters Wings
• Steven Boone, film critic for The Village Voice, Time Out NY and RES
• Leo Goldsmith, editor at Not Coming to a Theater Near You and film critic for IndieWire & The Village Voice
• Simon Abrams, film critic for The House Next Door
• Jeremiah Kipp, critic for Slant magazine and The House Next Door

Stop on by!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Yes Men Fix Michael Moore: The Yes Men Fix The World

After Michael Moore’s bland and predictable “Capitalism: A Love Story,” watching “The Yes Men Fix The World” is like inhaling a breath of fresh, unpolluted air. Starring the merry pranksters better known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, and co-directed by them alongside Kurt Engfehr (better known as Michael Moore’s editor on “The Awful Truth,” “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11”), the doc is a thrilling travelogue through the global free enterprise system. That our guides Bichlbaum and Bonnano happen to be both hilariously subversive and downright ingenious in their tactics ("What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like. We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences," declares one of the Yes Men at the start) exposes not just corporate malfeasance but their colleague Moore’s own small-mindedness. While Moore with his one-dimensional thinking is content to point the finger, sit back and assign blame in lieu of doing the tough job of searching for workable solutions, the Yes Men—with their shock-and-awe, 3D-animated fake presentations—are proactive Robin Hoods. And, bouncing about in their “Halliburton SurvivaBall” suits, they’re a hell of a lot more entertaining.

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Community of Fear

With Ti West's “The House of the Devil” hitting theaters, Larry Fessenden's Glass Eye Pix has become one of the most active independent production companies around.

"I've always felt like a lone wolf creatively. I've been forging this odd path of making thoughtful scary movies, more sentimental than they are gory," horror auteur Larry Fessenden told me recently when I met up with him at an appropriately dark and cavernous East Village bar. In fact, the way Fessenden tells it, the horror genre he is most associated with found him, not the other way around. From the beginning of his career Fessenden has telegraphed political, social and philosophical issues in his stories. While they may initially appear to be B movie-styled monster movies, his films invariably evolve into meditations on the role of fantasy and mythology as survival mechanisms and humanity's relationship to the Earth. Appropriately then, Fessenden seems to have more in common with foreign arthouse horror auteurs like Guillermo del Toro, a longtime supporter who is now producing Fessenden's planned Hollywood writing and directing debut (a remake of The Orphanage for New Line Cinema), than he does with the current wave of torture-porn directors like Eli Roth.

Read the rest of the article at Filmmaker magazine.

Titus Andronicus: Shakespeare as Torture Porn

“Titus Andronicus” is the first show in the "Grudge Match: DMT Vs. Shakespeare" series ("in which nearly all of the Bard's great works will be ruthlessly mutilated, bent, battered, cut to ribbons and otherwise manhandled," so sayeth the program) from Danse Macabre Theatrics, the good folks whose critically-acclaimed S&M futuristic fantasia “Bitch Macbeth” likewise played to enthusiastic audiences at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you're not familiar with the Bard's goriest work, which pits the titular Roman general against the queen of the Goths Tamora in a setting in which vengeance reigns king, all the better. Director Frank Cwiklik's multimedia production dispenses with the modern parallel-drawing yawn inducements to do something even more important than simply making Shakespeare relevant to today's world. He's made the Bard's text actually come alive in a riveting and twisting thriller, honoring the playwright through the "mutilation" of his work.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Ferrara on the Rocks: Chelsea on the Rocks

“Some of these people just float in here. They don’t check in, they float in,” an interview subject says in Abel Ferrara’s first foray into documentary filmmaking in over three decades, a home movie (literally—Ferrara moved into his old haunt during production) masquerading as vital exploration of the infamous Chelsea Hotel. This is the place where notable lives were lost (Nancy Spungen in Room 100—no longer being rented; Dylan Thomas of alcohol poisoning) and songs spun (Leonard Cohen wrote about his sexual encounter with Janis Joplin on an unmade bed).

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art, Madness, and Sex Work: An Interview With Director Karen Gehres

In “Begging Naked” Karen Gehres documents her friend Elise, a painter and sculptor and former Times Square stripper, as she succumbs to mental illness and homelessness. What struck me most about this little gem of a film was that it isn't just another journalistic investigation of a crazy artist, but a beautiful, selfless call to save a friend's life and art, rather than a calling card for the filmmaker. (Even the photo montage of Elise through the years at the end, which also sums up in title cards that most of her creations were salvaged and reside in a Brooklyn warehouse, that she's been living in Central Park since her eviction five years ago—and that she continues to work on her art—is astounding in its compassion and humility.) I spoke with director Gehres a few weeks before the award-winning doc's latest screening at the Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taipei.

To read the interview visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.