Friday, November 7, 2008

Anal destructor

Leave it up to Dead Prez to say what no one else is saying on the Obama shitz (from their website):

"When the axe entered the forest, the trees said, 'Look, the handle is one of us!'
Yoruba (Afrikan) proverb

What is real will remain to be seen. I mainly wish people wouldn't just get all carried away in the idea of something. People forget their history too quickly, if only in the mind of 'wanting more,' which to me defeats itself. I honestly hope 'change' is real, but at this point, I'll believe it when I see it.

Shilled out money I won from betting people Georgia wasn't going to be blue this year to see Clint Eastwood's latest hunk of shit CHANGELING. I'm not sure what made me forget that I hate Eastwood's movies enough to go see it, but we thought with the title CHANGELING there would be some kind of magic to the story or something at least remotely otherworldly about it.

This film employs a lot of 'violence' but explains away or cute-ifys any angle that might get the comfortable crowd out of their box for too long. Which maybe should have been expected, but some reason near the end of the way-too-long movie I went from 'duh' to pissed off. Too many jokes at the right time, Jolie tits covered over with vague mists in showers, the true stroke of something awful happening 'saved at the last second' by John Malkovich looking like a scruffy golden retriever, serial killers who might as well been brought in from the Hannah Barbera school of theater, etc. This film will likely be touted for its presence simply because of the notes that are being used, when really, what's being offered here could not only not be more warmed over and 'safe,' but sold in the shell its in, actually becomes a weapon against something bigger.

Of course, there are plenty of people out there who want even their 'violence' to be understandable, 'connected,' a thing they can then contextualize and sweep away and feel ok about. It's the same kind of tendency that extremely narrative writers use in their fiction, to make any loopholes of the inexplicable into exploitatively 'heartwarming' 'HUMAN' tales.

I should insert here (from comments):

'I am preaching to the choir maybe, but there's something in fiction and poetry that seems parallel here, i definitely think there are more working in the Eastwood-sized camp than there are in the true violence camp, even in 'indie press circles,' which is a parallel I don't think I hit on the way I meant to in this post'

It's the 'what is human here' question that really fucking makes me want to just shit in paper and mail it to all the right magazines. Maybe the way I fold the paper will make it make a pretty design.

'This is a pretty design! But I'm afraid we're going to have to pass.'

'Want to order a subscription?'

There is a lot of supposedly progressive whitewashing, in all realms, I think, right now, which actually makes it more scary to me than when shit is all right out there on the table.

To counteract the sonic sinkhole that is Eastwood, here is a list of films you should see instead, if you haven't, off the top of my head, films in which violence is portrayed as a thing with that IS, in which no shitty childhood, no explanation is needed, because humans are what humans are.

Most of these are foreign, well, because when Americans do get violent films spouted on us it's either in the Eastwood camp, or it's campy fratboy shit like 300 or Quentin Tarantino hurrah-ism.

I highly recommend the following:

both of Gaspar Noe's films, IRREVERSIBLE and I STAND ALONE (both totally disconcerting even when the violence is not on screen, which is most of the time)

STRAW DOGS, Peckinpah, with the infamous rape scene in which the woman suddenly begins to get 'into it,' an incredible film, with one of the most nerve-wracking endings ever

Herzog's COBRA VERDE & AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, a lot of people talk about the latter but I think CV is my favorite Herzog film

Errol Morris's THE THIN BLUE LINE (which contexualizes, I think, a truer impetus for violence, in that at one point the perp here says, effectively, that he killed people simply because they'd been hanging out, and then they stopped hanging out, and left him hanging.)

FIRE WALK WITH ME & BLUE VELVET, for obvious reasons

THE THIEF THE COOK HIS WIFE HER LOVER, Greenaway is the insane master of stylizing, this film is gorgeous and bizarre

IN A GLASS CAGE, saw this recently, a Polish film, incredibly beautiful and absolutely brutal film, though there is some background haunting, it becomes a beast unto itself

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, duh, but still incredible

CREMASTER 2 & 3, the scene in 3 where the cars in the bottom floor of the Chrysler building beat each other into a mash in a small room, all moving around in tight quarters, systematically crashing until there is nothing left, is one of the greatest images I can remember

ICHI THE KILLER, Yazuka violence, brutal, though most Japanese directors offer 'background history' to contextualize violence, which always annoys me, though sometimes still works

In recent, funny movies, I think BURN AFTER READING did a good job with it actually, semi-contextless violence as humor, yes

That's not enough but I can't think right, I will list more later maybe, when I have my movies in front of me

You can now preorder Shane Jones's LIGHT BOXES, and should. While you are at it, check out his two new pieces on Sleepingfish. The nightmare excerpt is one of my favorite things I've read in a while, it's one paragraph.

Forthcoming reviews: Lily Hoang's PARABOLA and CHANGING & Brian Evenson's LAST DAYS (all three of which are incredible monsters, each in their own new ways)(and a film version of LAST DAYS made by someone who knows what they are doing would be true-made violence of the best kind).

I am really behind on reviews. Like my review stack is up to my waist I think. Time to take break soon.


Keith said...

That's the vibe I got from CHANGELING too, so I'll wait for the DVD maybe, if I see it at all.

Interesting you threw Greenaway on that list with COOK THIEF, a great movie and one I wouldn't have thought of.

I'm in the AGUIRRE camp over COBRA VERDE, but any of the 70s Herzog flicks (though CV was 80s), despite their mostly lack of violence, are amazing. I just wish more wannabe film nerds liked Herzog instead of being forced to talk about him as if they have to. He's becoming that way now unfortunately.

I saw two movies recently you may want to check out, DONKEY PUNCH and EDEN LAKE, both British films, both filled with violence in weird ways. They don't really do anything too new, but it was interesting to see what the directors were doing. I'm probably going to mention them in a blog post.

I do think, though, that you're kind of preaching to the choir with CHANGELING in a way. I'm with you, but why did you spend your money on that when a few 6-packs of Colt 45 and 40s of Hurricane probably would've done you better? I don't know if I've ever seen an Eastwood movie that I've liked.

I just think saying all the Hollywood studios are pussies is basically someone everyone knows.

However, you described it very well.

Most people can't watch something like IRREVERSIBLE because they want to be stuck in Candyland, and I suppose that's fine.

Then again, if you look back at my 100 movies list, there's probably a ton of movies that others would hate.

I don't know.

What about BULLY and FUNNY GAMES (original)? Some of Larry Clark's movies are unapologetically violent.

Anyway, good post.

This response is too long I think, and goes nowhere.

Maybe I'll refer to your post in my post and we'll talk about some violence, bitches.


preaching to the choir, maybe, but i know lots of people who actually like eastwood

plus, there's something in fiction and poetry that seems parallel here, i definitely think there are more working in the Eastwood-sized camp than there are in the true violence camp, even in 'indie press circles,' which is a parallel I don't think I hit on the way I meant to

brit violence almost always irritates me, but i'll check those out

Gene said...

The British have been sucking it up with everything lately. What's up with that?

Keith said...

OK, so I think THAT is the problem: too many people like Eastwood.

I think you can say that for everything about a lot of fiction and poetry though, not just with violence, but with the bigger life-esque things.

Take war for example.

Or even love.

All that shit.

But I liked what you said about the fiction writers going toward the "heartwarmingly human," as if that's how many are programmed and can't get out of that mode.

But even in their brevity sometimes that happens with poems. I'm sure I'm guilty of it too.

What do you mean about Brit violence? Like who?

That was not meant to be combative; I just don't know who you're referring to, and this conversation is intriguing me way too much to not ask.

OK I'm officially going to the store now, 30 minutes after I said I would be.


yeah i dont know, i just cant think of a good brit violence movie, guy richie and that shit kills me, its all so 'cutesy' and cartoonish, i dont know, like all post-tarantino or something maybe i haven't seen the right shit, but etc.

Keith said...

Also, got HOLY LAND by Klassnik. I know you dig the book. I liked it a lot too. Plus Black Ocean does beautiful books just as objects.

Look for an interview with him down the line...

Keith said...

See, but legitimate violence like IRREVERSIBLE and STRAW DOGS doesn't compare to anything Richie does.

I don't even think they can be considered in the same camp.

Just like THE RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP, where people admire the different kill scenarios, for fun, for newness, for hilarity.

And yeah, the hipster violence...

OK, seriously off to the store.

Damn you and your posts.


i havent seen return to sleepaway camp, ill have to check it out

good on klassnik interview, that guy is the real deal i think

Darby said...

I don't think I've ever seen an Eastwood movie all the way through.

I watched Standard Operating Procedure last night, Morris's thing about Abu Ghraib.

I didn't think Changeling was about violence. I thought it was about a missing kid and the government was trying to suppress the story or something. I won't actually go see it so I don't know.


its not necessarily 'about' violence, though there's a lot of violence in it: a killer, 'bad cop' tactics, emotional aggressive trauma, etc. it 'uses' the violence to 'illicit a response'

Keith said...

RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP is pretty goddamn horrible, in a good way, but kind of in a bad way.

I just wanted to see it for all the delays and shit, meaning it was filmed in like '03 or '02, and CGI was fucked up and all this other stuff, so they had to push it back.

But all these decent actors are in it, acting purposely badly.

Bradley Sands said...

The movies that Sergio Leone did with Eastwood are the shit (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in particular) and Leone's Once Upon a Time in America is one of the greatest movies of all time in my opinion (although no Eastwood). See it. See it.

Can't think of any other Eastwood movies I liked. Enjoyed Pink Cadillac when I was young. Been meaning to see The Unforgiven. Haven't seen the Dirty Harry stuff or the movies where he hangs out with a monkey. Those look kind of appealing, but I am not running to the video store.

Darby said...

Also, I agree with your sentiment re: obamafanaticism. It tends to get translated into unmeetable expectations. Fanaticism of any kind is dangerous, I think, but unhelpable too, and mestastasizable when applied to a mass scale. I was glad Obama won, I voted for him, but I'm not going to pretend the man is infallible, or that the inherent infallibility of the office of the presidency is suddenly going to 'work' for him. But, we probably could have elected a cockroach and set it next to Bush and felt relief.

jereme said...

ichi the killer is good violence with no real purpose. the japanese know perversion like no other.

i am glad others are finally watching this stuff. i used to order all my dvds from hong kong and had no one to talk with about them.

miike is the god of inexplicable violence. check out fudoh and dead or alive 1/2.

baise-moi is a great violent film from the french.

straw dogs is good but i thought 'the wild bunch' surpassed it greatly.

the end scene where there is just a look instead of a speech and the march to their destruction is fucking majestic.

old boy from korea is another great violent movie.

sonatine from takeshi kitano (one of my top 3 directors) is absolutely epic in its dead pan violence. sonatine is on my top list of movies. boiling point from him is another good one.

branded to kill from seijun suzuki is great for its time period.

i could expound this list if I were at home in front of my dvd collection. I have about $5-7k worth of dvds most foreign or out of print.

many of the blaxploitation movies of the 70's were highly violent.

blake, have you ever watched any of the movies classified as 'psychotronic'? i recommend the genre if you haven't.


i like many of those also yes

oldboy is righteous

what is psychotronic

jereme said...

psychotronic is the genre the hipsters are trying to imitate with movies like grind house.

from the psychotronic video guide to film:

Book Description

How to know a Psychotronic Movie:These films can commonly be identified by their use of exploitation elements and their interest in humanity's lower common demoninators.They occur throughout the world, but are particuarly common at midnight movie festivals and in video stores' cult sections, they are especially frequent at that beloved and dying institution, the drive-in.Their packaging is commonly deceptive. They almost always appear on videocassette.Among their kind are biker films, sci-fi series, quickie biopics, gimmick films, teen sex comedies, blaxploitation films, stalkers, slashers, snoozers, shrudderers, and anything starring Lynda Blair, david Carradine, Shannon Tweed or Drew Barrymore.

jereme said...

hershel gordon lewis is a great psychotronic director

imdb profile


i'm not usually a fan of camp or 'so bad its good'

bad usually just to me seems bad


why do i feel so angry today IDK

jereme said...

there is some good shit in the genre.

but yes 'campy' is attributed to a lot of the films categorized as psychotronic

fulci is a dark motherfucker. in particular this movie:

Non si sevizia un paperino

you are angry because your soy intake has increased thus skyrocketing your estrogen.

it is okay, we can cuddle the loneliness away.

Darby said...

I'm going to have to watch the cremasters again. 2 is the one where he shoots the guy in the gas station? I can't remember 2.

I don't think much about violence in fiction, or maybe I don't think about violence much in general. I think it's interesting if it's purposeless and can carry surreal effect, but I don't know if that happens often, because even saying it's an inexplicably human desire still feels like a purpose. I am having ideas I will write maybe about.

If you are angry, then tell someone, fuck you.


2, yeah, is the gary gilmore based one. norman mailer is in it looking fat, as is the dude from morbid angel.

i dont think i'm missing violence in literature, that's not the issue, as much as just the raw.

ken baumann said...

good post.

i agree on all eastwood films: too expository and obvious.

life is ambiguity. kubrick knew this, he left out all the right details. i think he does violence really well, sometimes it's 'movie' violence, but it's all reasoned.

i really dislike the movie BULLY. just a 50-50 for you. i can only take so much 'dumb people', that movie blows my daily quotient away.

write about movies more often.


when i saw bully i remembered thinking 'this is a shitty movie but i know i won't forget certain things about it'

the girl at the beginning in some shirt, i dont know why that sticks out

the shot going around them when they are talkingabout something

larry clark is a fuck


i dont know what about larry clark makes me think he is a fuck

ken baumann said...

'this is a shitty movie but i know i won't forget certain things about it'


BlogSloth said...

I am SICk of movies. ANY movie. Why do I always leave depressed?

Pan's Labyrinth is the last movie I have left without wanting to slit my throat.


BlogSloth said...

Also, in general, blake is full of shit.


each time i make a post i think about how long it will take sean to reply sassily, and what element of the post will be sassed.

i said 'sassily'

i agree though, i am mostly shit

Laura Carter said...

"There is a lot of supposedly progressive whitewashing, in all realms, I think, right now, which actually makes it more scary to me than when shit is all right out there on the table."

Dude, me too.


hi laura, i am glad there are other atlantans who feel the same

chris said...

While doing research a while back on Noe's Irreversible, I learned that he used a particular audio frequency in that opening sequence (where the camera rolls and rolls) which triggers the sensation of nausea in the listener. It was one of the few examples I could find of aggressive audio-cognitive manipulation in which the desired outcome was to make the audience literally sick at their stomachs.

That, to me, is badass.

Another title to check out is Miike's Visitor Q. Of all the Miike films it is hands down the most disturbing...for example, there is a scene towards the end of the film where a guy attempts to rape a corpse, but while in the process rigormortus sets in and he can't get his penis out of her.

I am told Pasolini's Salo is also most gruesome, which I would tend to believe given that it is a visualization of the work of Marquis de Sade.

Keith said...

larry clark rules.

you all suck.

just kidding.

but not about larry clark.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity then, do you consider violence a human desire on par with all the other ones? Love, sex, hunger, creative expression, etc. Is it something only desirable by the one inflicting or also by the one receiving?

Shane Jones said...

thanks blake.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean that last comment to come off condescending, just trying to understand the framework of thought. Suffering, in general, is a core feature of existence, so I tend to think about it.

Re: Eastwood
He jerks off the audience so they don't realize he's fucking them up the ass.


salo made me ill the first time i saw it, i went to wendy's and ended up throwing my chick nuggets out the window, it's pretty brutal at parts, but more so just the general glaze of the film, there's a lot of scenes that are just storytelling that are mental worms. its a pretty rough one, but i left it off the list because its not violence as much as psychotropic.


anonymous, i dont think about 'what are human desires' i look and eat and watch and listen and think and talk

i think some people are naturally evil


and i cant agree that anything eastwood has done has been hidden 'anal destruction'

more he is an ass kiss

though part of that one with the girl boxer are a little edgy, its still pap if you ask me


noe does a lot of that kind of subliminal shit with light and sound, which is why his movies nail so hard for sure i think

visitor Q, yeah, definitely an addition to the list