In Italy, They Call It “Battle Royale with Cheese”: I watch “The Tenth Victim”

Did you know that there's a '60s sunlit dystopia flick about a game show/social control mechanism where you hunt folk? Did you know it's also a romcom starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress? The Tenth Victim is wigged-out, askew, sexy in a PG-13 adolescent kind of way, and the most Roman movie I've ever seen. (I've seen The Great Beauty.)I loved this thing. I loved the interview with the "hunter": "Do you believe in God?" "Of course." "Do you believe in the family?" "A little … [Read more...]

Doomed Queen and Beaten Champion: Concert review, Tristen & the Mountain Goats

A few weeks ago I got a chance to see the Mountain Goats in concert. Let me tell you to do this thing if you get the chance. The Mt Goats is sort of one guy, John Darnielle, and the people he gets to help him make narrative, terrifically-structured indie music; I've yapped about their stuff here and here among other places. I super love them but am wary of live music for whatever dumb reason, so when I finally saw them at Calvin College, I was totally blown away. Darnielle was losing his voice … [Read more...]

File Under Sacred Music: Movie Notes

Daisies: A mid-'60s Czech feminist romp, and incredibly enjoyable from the first frame to the last. The costumes and set designs are all about childlike fun; the overall ethos is, "Eat dessert first!"Victor Morton points out the way this film is women's lib, not women's rights, and like all purely liberatory gestures it can't be justified--and Daisies itself acknowledges that! It cheerfully admits that it's unsustainable and gratuitous, utopian in the fullest sense, a Candyland and not a … [Read more...]

I Don’t Believe in Modern Love (But I Do Love “Modern Manners”)

Recently revisited Modern Manners: An Etiquette Guide for Rude People, my favorite PJ O'Rourke. I think what makes it work is the mix of elements. It's mostly corny humor, like the extended segment on food fights ("Use a raw oyster to show someone what a French kiss would be like if she'd married a reptile"). There's also a lot of witticism: a lot of peppy, preppy cynicism. But mixed into all that there is just enough genuine insight (the bit about how modern people have replaced love with … [Read more...]

“The Lady, Or the Lobster?”: I review a brutal new romcom/satire

seriously, this is tough to watch, but ferocious (also I sort of spoil the very end, because this otherwise-excellent movie has the one ending I hate most): I hesitate to recommend that you see The Lobster, since this romantic comedy about a man facing transformation into an arthropod is just too painfully realistic.The Lobster, written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, is brutal and hilarious, with satire so sharp it could cut your wrists. The movie is set in a world where anyone who … [Read more...]

Masochism, Macbeth, Mayors, Marvel and More: My May Movie… Notes.

Missives? Anyway.The Duke of Burgundy: Lush flick about two butterfly researchers and their dominance/submission relationship. Some early scenes made me wonder if this would be about attention as submission--the submissive gaze, the gaze of service, as the gaze which most truly knows its object--and I'd super still want to watch that movie, but that definitely is not what this is. Then later when the twist is revealed I was like, "Ugh, I hope this isn't just going to be a movie-length … [Read more...]

“Carol” and the New Morality

I saw Carol, the Todd Haynes/Patricia Highsmith '5os lesbian drama, at the tail end of last year. I haven't written about it until now because it was so jagged--parts really worked, although I wasn't sure I wanted them to, and the remainder was so off-putting that I just didn't feel like talking about it. But writing that review of Rat Bohemia helped me figure out why the film didn't work for me: It's really two movies, set in two entirely different moral universes.In the first universe … [Read more...]