Podcast: Karina Longworth on Old Hollywood

Categories: Film and TV

Karina Longworth
On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Amy Nicholson of the L.A. Weekly and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice interview film critic and author Karina Longworth, who's just launched a fascinating new podcast on the history of Hollywood called You Must Remember This.

The Leftovers: Things Get Metal

Categories: Film and TV

Let it never be said that HBO doesn't know how to ramp up a show in the opening.

This weeks' episode begins with a member of the Guilty Remnant guilt getting duct taped to a tree and stoned to death in a gruesome and explicit manner. It's a horrific seen, even for someone that just watched Eric Northman ripping faces off the Yakuza just an hour earlier. It's especially painful as the GR cultist gives up her vow of silence at the end to plead for her life just as a rock shatters her skull.

In any good post-apocalyptic story you've got your new demographic. Bioshock has splicers. The Last of Us has the fungus zombies and the new authoritarian military. It's not really important what you pick as long as you pick something to define the new world paradigm.

The Leftovers has picked the GR, and they are wonderful for reviewing the world where so little had to change to drive it insane. Again, only two percent of population was taken on the great departure. That's all that was needed to make us lose our grip.

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Club King Goes Bare and Bold, But Not Deep

Categories: Film and TV

Jon Bush's documentary Club King is a fascinating look at the life of New York and L.A. club and party promoter Mario Diaz. There's no denying it's a wild and flamboyant ride through the underground gay nightclub scene of the '90s and '00s, but more often than not the film blinds with flash while failing to really show a depth or struggle. It's a party, sure, but whether the audience comes through having learned something is up for debate.

Diaz as a subject is immensely likeable. Here is a man who realized there was money to be made in gay events, and attacked that with an undeniable professionalism, gusto, and sincerity. Having spent more years than I care to admit to backstage at concerts, go-go dance nights, fashion shows, and other performances, it's invigorating to watch Diaz as he carefully crafts looks and styles for each and every portion of his night.

That he takes partying to such serious lengths, even when incorporating impossibly silly things like a Big Piss contest (Yes, you're imagining it correctly) is probably the most engaging aspect of the film. The peripheral is nicely filled out by the outrageous commentary of colleagues and contemporaries like Jackie Beat and Justin Bond ("Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'I think that guy is dead,' and HE WAS!"). They make for the circus, after all, but Diaz is both ringmaster and quiet competent business man. The dichotomy against the glamor and the drag is gripping.

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Reviews for the Easily Distracted:

Title: Lucy

Would You Take A Drug That Allowed You To Use 100 Percent Of Your Brain? If you did, you probably wouldn't be allowed to live in America anymore.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One-and-a-half Brains from the Planet Arous out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Woman unlocks vast potential of the human mind, allowing her to solve both the secret of NIMH *and* the secret of the ooze, probably.

Tagline: "The average person uses 10 percent of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100 percent."

Better Tagline: "Even if that were true (it isn't), you'd still only need one percent to watch Lucy."

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Reality Bites: Dating Naked

Not to worry, someone already made the blow job joke.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

"Naked television" indeed.

When it comes down to it, dating shows aren't any better or worse than shows about flipping houses (Flip This House), staged cooking competitions (Celebrity Cook-Off, or the embryonic version of Ow My Balls! (Wipeout). Select a handful of attention-starved dimwits, preferably with visible abs and/or D-cups, and set them loose in an "unscripted" environment while letting cameras record the ensuing shenanigans.

You're probably familiar with the metaphor of the boiling frog: put a frog in a pan of boiling water and it'll jump out, but put the frog in cold water and gradually heat it to a boil, and the frog will die without complaint. VH1's new reality show is called Dating Naked, and if you feel like it's getting hot in here, it's probably not because of the blurred-out genitalia.

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An Indisputable List of the 20 Greatest Movie Posters of All Time

Our esteemed editor sent me an email last week that included the poster for Kevin Smith's upcoming movie, Tusk. Whatever your opinion of Smith's filmography -- or your views on the potential entertainment value of a horror movie based on a SModcast bullshit session about a mock Gumtree ad -- the poster is pretty outstanding.

But the purpose of this entry is not to debate the merits of the Askewniverse, but to finally, once and for all, provide a definitive listing of the greatest movie posters OF ALL TIME. The only criteria being that I could find jpegs of them online, that the movie in question was in a theater at some point in its existence, and the posters were used for the theatrical release (no Criterion or Mondo editions).

I also tried to limit any given artist to two entries, otherwise this would be nothing but 20 Saul Bass posters.

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The Leftovers: Everything Is Broken

Categories: Film and TV

For my money, The Leftovers is currently the best thing on television.

Last week was an examination of Father Matt (Christopher Eccleston) and just how strange and far his fall from grace since the Great Departure was. It was television at its best, and I was a little scared to return to the show proper after it. How could it be topped?

The theme this week is what it means to be broken. The overall theme of the show is that the disappearance of just 2 percent of the world's population apparently at random was enough to fatally damage every aspect of civilization as we know it. Not immediately, but the cumulative affect is akin to when someone just doesn't maintain his or her car. Eventually, the wear and tear adds up.

The big player this week is the ever-widening cult of the Guilty Remnants. They continue on a terrifying path of recruitment and on their particular spiritual mission. Though not much has been revealed, this week a bigger part of their mind-set is shown.

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7 Texas Drive-In Theaters That You Can Still Visit

Photo by Andrew Dupont
The Starlite in Brenham still stands as a reminder of the halcyon days of drive-in theaters

The Starlite Drive-In Theater lies abandoned just off of Highway 290 in Brenham, looking like a dead monument to a time long gone. Anyone taking that route between Houston and Austin will have seen the back of its single screen and a tall metal fence around the perimeter.

Scattered around America, there are many old drive-ins. Most are lifeless husks, either abandoned and slowly being claimed by the elements, or having been repurposed into something entirely different. In other cases, they're simply gone, demolished so the land they sat on could be redeveloped into something more profitable.

Those that have disappeared entirely are relegated to the memories of locals who can still remember going to see movies there, but as time goes on fewer people are around who went to movies when they were open for business. There's a definite ghostlike quality to those old, boarded up drive-in theaters. It seems that most of the ones still standing are usually scattered on the outskirts of small towns where land is plentiful, and not in high demand. There's no rush to buy the theaters, and in those cases they simply stand vacant, as a reminder of a long gone era of American entertainment.

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Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
The Purge: Anarchy

Title: The Purge: Anarchy

Anarchy In The USA? What a windfall for the travel industry: "Don't get caught stateside on Purge night: book your Vancouver getaway now!"

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a-half Johnny Rottens out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Come on, let's purge again/Like we did last summer.

Tagline: "Welcome to America, where one night a year all crime is legal."

Better Tagline: "In other words, an average day on Wall Street."

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Podcast: The Mystifying World of Planes With L.A. Weekly Film Critic Amy Nicholson

Categories: Film and TV

On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, we hear from L.A. Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson, who's intrigued by the bizarre universe of Pixar's Planes movies. We also hear about the film critic's background and how she became interested in the movies by way of subliminal advertising and photography.

See also:
Here Are the Most WTF Moments of Kid's Flick Planes: Fire & Rescue
Planes Raises Intriguing Questions About the Implications of Airplane Sentience

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