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The Year Punk Broke Finally Coming to DVD

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I did not own The Year Punk Broke on VHS, but I did see it, and would like to see the film again.

If you were one of those kids who grew up on alternative rock in the 1990s, there’s a very good chance you owned a VHS copy of 1991: The Year Punk Broke, a documentary about Sonic Youth touring Europe back in the days right before alternative rock became the sort of thing your parents asked you about at the dinner table. Nirvana, Sonic Youth’s openers on that tour, were all over the movie, and it also featured footage of Dinosaur Jr., the Ramones, Babes in Toyland, and Gumball. Now, Slicing Up Eyeballs reoprts that the film is finally coming to DVD.

According to director Dave Markey, Universal Music is planning an extended 20th anniversary edition of the movie later this year. It will include a 42-minute film called “(This Is Known As) The Blues Scale”, which contains bonus performances from Sonic Youth (“Inhuman”, “White Kross”, “Orange Rolls/Angel’s Spit”, and “Eric’s Trip”) and Nirvana (“In Bloom”). Watch clips from “(This Is Known As) The Blues Scale” here. The DVD will also contain footage of a 2003 panel discussion with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, and Markey, as well as more performance material and commentary from Markey and Moore.

(click here to continue reading Pitchfork: Sonic Youth/Nirvana Tour Documentary Film 1991: The Year Punk Broke Finally Coming to DVD.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

April 19th, 2011 at 8:17 am

Posted in Film,Music

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Prime Suspect Remake

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I agree completely with Matt Zoller Seitz:

“Prime Suspect” wasn’t burdened by such pressures. It wasn’t an American-style network TV show; it was a series of movies, or miniseries, or movie-miniseries. (That I’m having trouble just labeling it says a lot.) Created and overseen by Lynda LaPlante, it debuted in 1991 with a 200-minute, two-part drama. The next 200-minute two-parter aired 17 months later, in December 1992. Another aired in December 1993.  The fourth “Prime Suspect” departed from the template, offering three self-contained 100-minute stories that aired three weeks apart. The final three installments returned to the 200-minute, two-part model, airing in 1996, 2003 and 2006. It is hard to imagine any broadcast network indulging that kind of “whatever works” production schedule — and that’s the first warning sign that this project has an excellent chance of being flat-out bad, or else competent but compromised, like ABC’s short-lived American version of the ITV series “Cracker.”

If an Americanized “Prime Suspect” ends up on the NBC grid, it will likely debut at midseason with a six-episode limited run. If it gets picked up, its producers will have to make 22 episodes a year, each running about 42 minutes. The drama will be stuffed into ad-friendly five- to seven-minute chunks like Spam packed in cans. And although there might be some content that’s considered “edgy” by network standards, I doubt we’ll see anything like the opening act of “Prime Suspect 1,” which showed a group of male cops and a male coroner examining the naked, pasty, hideously hacked-up corpse of a female rape-and-murder victim. Far from being gratuitous, the scene was integral to the program’s unflinching attitude toward the vilest human behavior. It looked at savagery through a cop’s eyes. And the sexualized brutality showcased in that first scene connected to the professional and personal struggle of DCI Tennison, a great detective whose male colleagues treated her as, at best, a female interloper, at worst a piece of meat.

An NBC version of “Prime Suspect” can’t match the first 20 minutes of the first British show, or spend 200 minutes (five regular-length American broadcast TV episodes!) on a story as racially and sexually charged as the one that drove “Prime Suspect 2,” or attempt a muckraking urban epic along the lines of “Prime Suspect 3,” which dealt bluntly with prostitution, child pornography and the death of a “rent boy” without seeming exploitative. Nearly 20 years after the debut of “NYPD Blue,” NBC and its broadcast brethren still aren’t tough enough or wise enough to handle that sort of thing. Commercial cable is only slightly better-equipped. There’s violence galore on FX and AMC and other commercial cable channels, but it’s mostly stylized genre violence (action thriller mayhem, sci-fi gore). They’re still oddly shy about sex, shooting around naughty bits when they show the act at all. And they won’t let characters say “fuck”; when John Slattery’s character said it on “Mad Men” — a series aimed squarely at adults — AMC bleeped him. (And since I mentioned “Cracker,” let’s note that on the original British series, Robbie Coltrane’s Fitz was a chain smoker. ABC didn’t want to air a show with a hero who smoked, so on the U.S. remake starring the late Robert Pastorelli, the hero was an ex-smoker who kept a cigarette tucked behind one ear.)

More important, American TV is averse to letting race, class, politics and other touchy elements drive stories because it might make viewers and sponsors skittish. That’s why the American crime show’s favorite bad guy is the serial killer, a mythologically exaggerated monster whose existence lets filmmakers titillate and terrify while declining to engage with society at large.

Jane Tennison never dealt with effete, wisecracking, Hannibal Lecter-type bogeymen. She lived in reality. Over 15 years,”Prime Suspect” dealt frankly with sex, sexism, race, class and the intrusion of politics into police work. It did so subtly, prizing plausibility and never delivering a jolt without reason. And it treated time as an ally instead of an enemy. One of the pleasures of “Prime Suspect” was the opportunity to re-engage with it after a long break and discover that Tennison had risen in rank or settled into a new job or a new relationship. The gaps between installments enhanced the sense that you were seeing excerpts from a life in progress.

You can’t do any of that on NBC. You can’t re-create or even approximate “Prime Suspect” in a commercial broadcast network series that airs 22 episodes a year. The material can’t breathe in the same way. And forget about being unflinching. What passes for unflinching on NBC is “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” an entertaining but mostly absurd procedural that bears about as much qualitative relation to “Prime Suspect” as “Training Day” does to “Serpico.” And don’t even get me started on TNT’s “The Closer,” a fitfully entertaining series that has wrongheadedly been described as an American answer to “Prime Suspect,” presumably because its main character is a strong-willed female detective. (It’s not a subtle psychological drama, it’s a suck-up-to-the-star spectacle about a mercurial Southern belle following her muse and dazzling the nonbelievers. “Prime Suspect” writes in plain script, “The Closer” in big block letters.) Not many American cop shows, broadcast or cable, have engaged with reality as directly as “Prime Suspect” — and the best of those were produced not in Hollywood, but in Baltimore:  “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “The Corner,” and “The Wire.”

(click here to continue reading The problem with American remakes of British shows – Prime Suspect – Salon.com.)

Coincidentally, Netflixed the entire 7 seasons of Prime Suspect recently, and enjoyed them immensely. I doubt very seriously it will translate into American-style television drama. Maybe if it was on HBO, maybe, but certainly not on NBC. The remake may turn out to be ok, but it will not be anything like the Helen Mirren classic, which you should watch if you haven’t. Or re-watch if it has been a while…

Helen Mirren’s Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, the only female DCI on an old boy’s club London homicide squad, is like a phantom lurking around the edges of the action while the men rush through their latest murder case, joshing and winking in the kind of male camaraderie the cop genre has celebrated for decades. When DCI Shefford dies of a sudden heart attack, Tennison demands to take over. Despite her superintendent’s resistance (“Give her this case and she’ll start expecting more.”), she becomes the squad’s first woman to head a murder investigation. Scrutinized at every moment by her superior officers, Tennison is faced with a case that spirals out from a single murder to a serial spree, a second-in-command who undermines her authority and her investigation at every turn, a team resistant to taking orders from a woman, and a private life unraveling due to her professional diligence. Lynda La Plant’s script is a compelling thriller riddled with ambiguity that turns dead ends, blind alleys, and the mundane legwork of real-life cops into fascinating details. Mirren commands the role of Tennison with authority, intelligence, and a touch of overachieving desperation. Superb performances, excellent writing, and understated direction make this BBC miniseries one of the most involving mysteries in years. Look for future British stars Ralph Fiennes and Tom Wilkinson in supporting roles.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Arts,Film,Suggestions

Tagged with ,

Netflixed: Roman Polanski- Wanted and Desired

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Didn’t quite know what to expect from this documentary, though I was aware of the broad details of Polanski’s eventful life - Sharon Tate’s husband when she was brutalized by Charlie Manson, surviving concentration camps, and so on. Quite watchable, if a bit disquieting.

This penetrating documentary explores the tumultuous events of director Roman Polanski’s personal life, including the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and the controversial sex scandal that prompted him to flee the United States for France. Highlights include an interview with Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, as well as candid conversations with Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne and actress Mia Farrow.

 

(click here to Netflix Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.)

Polanski’s sexual encounter with a 13 year old is distasteful, whether or not is was consensual; 13 year old girls might be sexually active, but adults should have enough sense to keep their pants on. However, the film makes a pretty strong case for judicial misconduct on the part of Judge Laurence J. Rittenband.

Worth a view.

Roger Ebert:

The tragic story of Roman Polanski, his life, his suffering and his crimes, has been told and retold until it assumes the status of legend. After the loss of his parents in the Holocaust, after raising himself on the streets of Nazi-controlled Poland, after moving to America to acclaim as the director of “Chinatown,” after the murder by the Manson family of his wife and unborn child … what then?

He was arrested and tried for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13- year-old girl, one of several charges including supplying her with drink and drugs. Then he fled the country to avoid a prison sentence and still remains in European exile for that reason. That is what everybody remembers, and it is all here in Marina Zenovich’s surprising documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

But there is so much more, and the story she builds, brick by brick with eyewitness testimony, is about crimes against the justice system carried out by the judge of Polanski’s case, Laurence J. Rittenband. So corrupt was this man that the documentary finds agreement among the three people (aside from Polanski) most interested in the outcome: the defense attorney, Douglas Dalton; the assistant D.A. who prosecuted the case, Roger Gunson, and Samantha Gailey Geimer, who was the child involved.

Their testimony nails Rittenband as a shameless publicity seeker who was more concerned with his own image than arriving at justice. Who broke his word to attorneys on both sides. Who staged a fake courtroom session in which Gunson and Geimer were to go through the motions of making their arguments before the judge read an opinion he had already prepared. Who tried to stage such a “sham” (Gunson’s term) a second time. Who juggled possible sentences in discussions with outsiders, once calling a Santa Monica reporter, David L. Jonta, into his chambers to ask him, “What the hell should I do with Polanski?” Who discussed the case with the guy at the next urinal at his country club. Who held a press conference while the case was still alive. Who was removed from the case on a motion by both prosecution and defense.

(click here to continue reading Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews.)

Manohla Dargis:

The sharply argued documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” isn’t about the innocence or guilt of its title subject, who after pleading guilty in 1977 to having “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a minor flew from Los Angeles to London, never again to return to America. Neither is it about Mr. Polanski’s likability, his tragic past, morals, short stature, brilliant and bad films, the sleaze factor or your personal feelings on whether there’s anything wrong with a 43-year-old man’s having sex with a 13-year-old girl. All these elements come teasingly into view here, but really this is a movie about a very different kind of perversion.

“Wanted and Desired,” which opened on Friday without advance press screenings, was bought by HBO at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Its one-week theatrical run will make it eligible for Academy Award consideration, though given that organization’s often pitiful record when it comes to nonfiction film, it seems unlikely that a movie this subtly intelligent would make its short list. That’s especially true because the director, Marina Zenovich, refuses to wag her finger at Mr. Polanski, even when presenting the sordid and grimly pathetic details of his crime, like the Champagne and partial Quaalude he furnished the 13-year-old girl and her repeated nos.

Mr. Polanski’s guilt isn’t in doubt, arguments about the age of consent notwithstanding. In March 1977, he was arrested at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and charged with raping the girl at the home of his friend, Jack Nicholson, the star of his film “Chinatown.” (Mr. Nicholson was away.) He was released on $2,500 bail and eventually indicted on six felony charges, including child molestation and sodomy. In August, after agreeing to a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of illegal sex with a 13-year-old girl. Her family’s lawyer, Lawrence Silver, told the judge that his clients were not seeking a prison term for Mr. Polanski, only an admission of wrongdoing and rehabilitation. By Feb. 1, 1978, Mr. Polanski had fled.

As Ms. Zenovich forcefully explains — using talking-head interviews, a wealth of archival material and generous clips from Mr. Polanski’s films, including “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” — he had every reason to run. The story of what happened between the initial charges and his flight has been sketchily told before, including by his victim, Samantha Geimer, who in 2003 wrote a commentary for The Los Angeles Times in which she stated that she believed that he and his most recent film at the time, “The Pianist,” should be honored on their own merits. She added, “Who wouldn’t think about running when facing a 50-year sentence from a judge who was clearly more interested in his own reputation than a fair judgment or even the well-being of the victim?”

“Wanted and Desired” answers Ms. Geimer’s bombshell question with shocks of its own, notably corroborating interviews from Douglas Dalton, Mr. Polanski’s lawyer, and Roger Gunson, the assistant district attorney who led the prosecution. Together these two former opponents pin the blame for Polanski’s flight directly on the presiding judge, Laurence J. Rittenband (who stepped down in 1989 and died in 1994). Aided and abetted by an avalanche of fluidly organized visual material, the lawyers fill in the appalling details of what was effectively a second crime, one largely perpetrated by a celebrity-dazzled judge and the equally gaga news media he courted. This crime left two victims, Mr. Polanski, who was denied a fair trial, and Ms. Geimer, who was denied justice. As she wrote, “Sometimes I feel like we both got a life sentence.”

 

(click here to continue reading Movie Review – Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired – The Judge, the Director and the Vagaries of Justice – NYTimes.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

January 31st, 2011 at 10:10 am

Posted in Film

Tagged with , ,

Netflixed: The Soul of a Man

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Took me a moment to get used to Wim Wenders utilizing Chris Thomas King as a stand-in for Blind Willie Johnson, but eventually warmed to the idea of reenactment filmed in black and white stock. The film covers three of my favorite blues musicians: Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James and J.B. Lenoir, and there is some actual historically significant footage later in the movie which is worth renting just to watch this, especially if you are a J.B. Lenoir fan1.

This disc includes the film “Soul of a Man,” in which director Wim Wenders delves into his personal music collection and takes a look at the histories of some of his favorite artists — including Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J.B. Lenoir — as told through music (what else?). Footage of James, Lenoir, John Mayall and inspired covers by contemporary artists such as Eagle-Eye Cherry, Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt and Lou Reed are featured.

 

(click Netflix Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues: A Musical Journey: Disc 2: The Soul of a Man.)

There is apparently a audio CD containing 20 songs from the movie

The DVD would have been better if the full performances were also available as an extra feature: with so many interpretations of these seminal blues songs by well-known artists, it is a shame that most clips only last a verse or less. I would have enjoyed watching the student film recording of J.B. Lenoir in their entirety as well.

Cassandra Wilson’s Vietnam Blues, Lucinda Williams’ Hard Times Killing Floor Blues, and Bonnie Raitt’s Devil Got My Woman were2 quite good, as was a trio consisting of Eagle-Eye Cherry, Vernon Reid, James “Blood” Ulmer performing a version of Down in Mississippi.

On the other hand, a few performances were cringe-worthy, including Beck’s version of I’m So Glad, and Lou Reed’s Look Down the Road. Beck released a pretty good album, One Foot in the Grave, recorded before he got famous that included a good cover of “He’s A Mighty Good Leader”, unfortunately Beck phoned in his performance on The Soul of  A Man, I couldn’t listen to even the portion excerpted.

From the Wim Wenders website:

In “The Soul of A Man,” director Wim Wenders looks at the dramatic tension in the blues between the sacred and the profane by exploring the music and lives of three of his favorite blues artists: Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir. Part history, part personal pilgrimage, the film tells the story of these lives in music through an extended fictional film sequence (recreations of ’20s and ’30s events – shot in silent-film, hand-crank style), rare archival footage, present-day documentary scenes and covers of their songs by contemporary musicians such as Shemekia Copeland, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Garland Jeffreys, Chris Thomas King, Cassandra Wilson, Nick Cave, Los Lobos, Eagle Eye Cherry, Vernon Reid, James “Blood” Ulmer, Lou Reed, Bonnie Raitt, Marc Ribot, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Lucinda Williams and T-Bone Burnett.

Says Wenders: “These songs meant the world to me. I felt there was more truth in them than in any book I had read about America, or in any movie I had ever seen. I’ve tried to describe, more like a poem than in a ‘documentary,’ what moved me so much in their songs and voices.”

The rasping voice of Blind Willie Johnson, who earned his living on street corners and sang the title song, was sent into space on the Voyager in 1977 as part of the CD recording The Sounds of Earth, which had been placed onboard for posterity and/or examination by extra-terrestrial beings.

With the voice of Laurence Fishburne – Morpheus in the Matrix films – narrating, the film recounts the lives and times of the three using both old recordings and archive footage as well as fictional scenes and covers of their songs by contemporary musicians such as Nick Cave, Lou Reed and Beck.

Because there was no archive footage in existence of either Blind Willie Johnson or Skip James, Wenders used actors to play their roles but shot the scenes with an old 1920s black-and-white camera that lends realism, later using digital technology to fit the music to the pictures.

“I had to use old techniques but new technology,” Wenders said at Cannes. “This would have been impossible in the past.”

In the film, Wenders recounts that he first heard the name JB Lenoir when John Mayall in the late 1960s sang The death of JB Lenoir, a song that impacted a generation at the time.

“I wanted to know who this person was,” Wenders said, who crossed oceans to find information on Lenoir.

Music has long been a mother of cinematic invention in Wenders’ career. The title of his debut 1971 Summer In The City was from a hit by Lovin’ Spoonful and The Million Dollar Hotel was inspired by Bono of U2.”

(click here to continue reading The Soul of a Man/ Wim Wenders – The Official Site.)

Footnotes:
  1. and you should be, if you aren’t []
  2. predictably []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 30th, 2011 at 11:48 am

Posted in Film,Music,Suggestions

Tagged with , ,

Netflixed: Claude Chabrol – The Color of Lies

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I know I claimed I was going to be more diligent about recording what films and books I consume this year, but so far, have failed miserably. I’ve read about a half-dozen books and seen fifteen or more films in 2011, and this is the first one I’m actually posting about. Oh well.

If you’ve seen a Claude Chabrol film before, you sort of know what to expect. Low-key murder mystery, set in the French countryside, lots of lies told by the bourgeois characters, and so forth. Not one of his master works, but enjoyable enough to sit through.

A painter by trade, Rene (Jacques Gamblin) adds to his paltry salary by giving art lessons to children in his neighborhood. But when one of them turns up dead, Rene finds himself accused of a horrible crime. His wife (Sandrine Bonnaire) stands by him, but even she betrays him in a moment of weakness with a vacationing celebrity (Antoine de Caunes). Claude Chabrol directs this new wave thriller that draws the whodunit out to the very end.

 

(click to Netflix Claude Chabrol: The Color of Lies.)

French title: Au coeur du mensonge

From the Village voice, a more film-critic-esque description of Chabrol’s style:

In his surest Simenonian mode, Chabrol balances the hidden, the exposed, and the philosophical with little fuss, and the characters are all drawn with a scalpel— including Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s masterfully idiosyncratic portrait of a meek-voiced yet fearlessly confrontational police inspector. (De Caunes’s self-pumped litterateur is a triumphant piece of social satire.) Co-written with longtime Chabrol collaborator Odile Barski, the movie is a deft genre étude and provincial interrogation of a kind Chabrol has made his own.

(click here to continue reading Crime Scene Investigations From an Aging New Waver – Page 1 – Screens – New York – Village Voice.)

Right-o.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 30th, 2011 at 11:19 am

Posted in Film

Tagged with ,

links for 2011-01-19

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  • In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed pants, so he called the Haggar clothing company and asked for some. The call was recorded (like all White House calls at the time), and has since become the stuff of legend. Johnson’s anatomically specific directions to Mr. Haggar are some of the most intimate words we’ve ever heard from the mouth of a President.

    We at Put This On took the historic original audio and gave it to animator Tawd Dorenfeld, who created this majestic fantasia of bungholiana.

    (tags: youtube LBJ humor)
    artofjazz.jpg
  • In “The Soul of A Man,” director Wim Wenders looks at the dramatic tension in the blues between the sacred and the profane by exploring the music and lives of three of his favorite blues artists: Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir. Part history, part personal pilgrimage, the film tells the story of these lives in music through an extended fictional film sequence (recreations of ’20s and ’30s events – shot in silent-film, hand-crank style), rare archival footage, present-day documentary scenes and covers of their songs by contemporary musicians such as Shemekia Copeland, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Garland Jeffreys, Chris Thomas King, Cassandra Wilson, Nick Cave, Los Lobos, Eagle Eye Cherry, Vernon Reid, James “Blood” Ulmer, Lou Reed, Bonnie Raitt, Marc Ribot, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Lucinda Williams and T-Bone Burnett.
  • Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr tweeted on Thursday that he is planning to write an autobiography. According to Marr, no deal has been made but he has been approached with a serious offer to pen a tell-all about his time in the Smiths.
    (tags: music_history)
    79640354.jpg
  • How’s this for true grit? Famously combative, alcoholic, and drug-addled filmmaker Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs) is, as Chevy Chase might joke, “still dead” (he passed away in 1984 at the age of 59) — but that doesn’t mean Bloody Sam can’t make a comeback. Vulture has learned exclusively that producer Al Ruddy (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) recently unearthed a script for a Western called The Texans that Peckinpah wrote in 1980 but never got around to making.
    (tags: film)
  • Antonio McDyess is the chillest chill bro in the Association. He’s Serge Gainsbourg, stubbled, disheveled, and in love. McDyess is the serpentine rise of smoke from Tom Waits’ cigarette. He’s Chet Baker’s My Funny Valentine—the especially long version that forgets you’re listening. Antonio McDyess is all these things and a Quitman smile.
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    Inky Lautman of the Philadelphia SPHAs, circa 1939-40
  • Orson Welles and I were talking one time about the relative merits of John Ford and Howard Hawks at their best, and finally Welles summed it up: “Hawks is great prose; Ford is poetry.” There haven’t really been very many poets in pictures, but the one pretty much everybody agrees about now is the Frenchman Jean Renoir. He was also Orson’s favorite director—as he is mine—and Ford was so impressed by Renoir’s Grand Illusion (l937) that he wanted to remake it in English. Luckily, studio-head Darryl Zanuck told him to forget it; he would “just fuck it up.”
    (tags: film_history film)
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Written by swanksalot

January 19th, 2011 at 7:02 am

Posted in Film,humor,Links

Tagged with , , , ,

A Guide to All 36 Seasons of SNL Streaming on Netflix

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If you have a Netflix account (and you should), and a streaming device (which isn’t that difficult to come by, there are so many options these days), this might be useful to while away winter nights, fighting off insomnia.

With hundreds of episodes from each season of Saturday Night Live finally available on Netflix Instant Watch, we thought we’d put together a few of the highlights to help you get your bearings. Obviously, it’s an overwhelming amount of material that’s available, so this guide will help point you to interesting or historic episodes, notable guest hosts, and where the appearances are of classic characters.

It should be noted that a few of the seasons are still not yet available, specifically seasons 26-30. Netflix will presumably be adding those at some point, and we’ll update this guide when they do. But until then, here’s a somewhat obsessive guide to all of the seasons of SNL currently available to stream on Netflix.

(click to continue reading A Somewhat Obsessive Guide to All 36 Seasons of SNL Streaming on Netflix | Splitsider.)

I notice Splitsider has a link to the infamous Sinead O’Connor episode where she rips up a photo of the Pope. I started watching this episode, but didn’t make it long enough to know if this scene was bleeped out or not. I’m curious because Lorne Michaels had refused this show to ever be broadcast in syndication.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 24th, 2010 at 10:37 am

Posted in Film

Tagged with ,

Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb

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This looks rather interesting

Roscoe Holcomb is one of the giant iconic figures in American traditional music. He personified the “high lonesome sound” so celebrated and admired today for its powerful and haunting effect. His style of singing and his brilliant banjo and guitar playing transport the listener straight back to the earliest roots of American music, a style that remained vital in his native eastern Kentucky long after disappearing everywhere else. Although Roscoe died in 1981, his masterful performances have only gained in recognition and respect since then. This DVD gathers together 2 documentaries about Roscoe made by filmmaker John Cohen and classic performances captured in the 1960s. It presents a comprehensive overview of Roscoe’s great and varied artistry as well as offering an incisive and intimate portrait of the man himself and his background and environment.

(click to continue reading Amazon.com: Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb: Roscoe Holcomb: Movies & TV.)

ABC published this:

Odds are you haven’t heard of Roscoe Holcomb. If you’re a fan of American music, though, his is most certainly a voice worth hearing.

Holcomb was the “high lonesome” singer of eastern Kentucky, a man whom performers from John Cohen to Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton revered as a source of spare, original mountain music and the hardship behind it. His voice, which reached almost into falsetto at times, told of work and pain and wondering — stoicism and emotion delivered by a man on a porch with his banjo and the traditions within him.

In the early 1960s, Cohen, a musician and historian, traveled to Kentucky to film a stark, black-and-white movie about Holcomb called “The High Lonesome Sound.” It helped propel the aging Holcomb into a career that took him away from manual labor and, for a time, into a world of performance where people appreciated him for his music.

Now, Cohen has taken unused footage from that session and several others to create a compelling new movie, “Roscoe Holcomb From Daisy, Kentucky.” It is the anchor of a definitive new DVD called “The Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb” that also features other rare video of performances and a copy of the original 1962 movie.

Quiet, introspective and moody, the new film reveals a man trying to make sense of his life and his music — a kind of music that Dylan referred to as “an untamed sense of control.” In long, lingering clips around Holcomb’s house, interspersed with performances, he comes across as a man lost in time, figuring himself out. In short: authenticity, the kind that any Nashville wannabe today would hand over his pickup and his hound to acquire.

(click to continue reading Review: DVD Revisits a ‘High Lonesome’ Musician – ABC News.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Deadwood on Blu-Ray

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Deadwood Fan #1

Still lament that Deadwood didn’t finish telling its story. A quality show, ended too soon.

The demise of “Deadwood” is still depressing. The western drama’s abrupt end after just three seasons — following a bullheaded royalties dispute between HBO and co-producer Paramount — was one of the most surprising and bizarre injustices in TV history. Series get canceled all the time — sometimes early in their runs, because they weren’t generating big enough ratings to please the network, and sometimes very late, after years of financial and critical success (and creative wheel-spinning). The case of “Deadwood” was unique, and uniquely depressing. Its plug was pulled when it was one of HBO’s top-rated dramas and a critical darling with a lively, engaged fan base. There was talk that the show might finish out its projected five-year run with a couple of TV movies, but it never amounted to anything. And after a few months, with the show’s immense cast dispersed and the sets torn down, it soon became clear that this was a fantasy that would never come true. “Deadwood” was dead, and it was never coming back.

But with the release of the complete series on Blu-ray, fans can experience the next best thing to new episodes: the chance to see the whole thing again through fresh eyes.

Granted, this is what Blu-ray boosters claim the format does for everything: movies, concerts, sporting events, nature footage, you name it. And to greater or lesser degrees, the boosters are always right; you do see more detail on Blu-ray, along with finer gradations of light, shadow and color. But TV shows with high production values such as “Deadwood” are in a unique, and in many ways more thrilling, class; watching them in high-definition is not like rewatching a feature film that you originally saw on a big screen — a restoration of detail, a return to an ideal, original state. No, this is akin to getting a chance to stand close to a huge, elaborate mural that had previously been seen only in photographs, and admire the texture of the paint and the precision of the brushwork.

This is definitely the case with “Deadwood.” The series was carefully lit, shot on 35mm film, and funded by one of the more generous budgets in TV history. Milch’s set-builders, costumers and set decorators invested the title locale with more detail than the pixelated murk of regular TV could reveal. Blu-ray lets you appreciate tactile nuances of clothing, architecture and skin that once were submerged in electronic broth. The fine brushwork was always there. We just couldn’t see it.

(click to continue reading “Deadwood” rides again – HBO – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 12th, 2010 at 11:07 am

Posted in Film,Suggestions

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Is Tycho Brahe Ready for His BioPic

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Tycho_Brahe.JPG

I’ve long been fascinated by the colorful life and career of Tycho Brahe, ever since first encountering his story in a couple of astronomy classes I took at UT, back when I was foolish enough to be a physics major. Whenever I’ve told others about Tycho Brahe’s metal nose, and that he1 died due to drinking heavily at a banquet, without taking time out to relieve his bladder, much wonderment ensued.

When Danish and Czech scientists exhumed the remains of the astronomer Tycho Brahe in Prague this month, they dug up much more than some bones and hairs. They found something that has eluded astronomers for thousands of years: a story with major box-office potential.

It’s “Amadeus” meets “Da Vinci Code” meets “Hamlet,” featuring a deadly struggle for the secret of the universe between Tycho, the swashbuckling Danish nobleman with a gold-and-silver prosthetic nose, and the not-yet-famous Johannes Kepler, his frail, jealous German assistant. The story also includes an international hit man, hired after a Danish prince becomes king and suspects Brahe of sleeping with his mother (and maybe being his father!).

For comic relief, there’s a beer-drinking pet elk wandering around Tycho’s castle, as well as a jester named Jepp, a dwarf who sits under Tycho’s table and is believed to be clairvoyant.

Naturally, the scientists analyzing Brahe’s remains are steering clear of all this gossip, including the claim that Brahe had an affair with the Danish queen that helped inspire “Hamlet.” The archaeologist leading the team cautions that even if they confirm suspicions that Brahe was poisoned by mercury, that wouldn’t necessarily prove he was murdered, much less identify the killer.

(click to continue reading Is Tycho Ready for His Close-Up? – NYTimes.com.)

So, who is working on a film treatment for Tycho Brahe’s Biopic? I’d volunteer, but I have a couple of dozen already started. Why don’t you do it?

John Tierney has a few thoughts on the matter:

The movie would open, of course, with the duel in 1566 that cost the 20-year-old Tycho a good chunk of his nose (a sword fight possibly precipitated by an argument over mathematics, or maybe a mistaken astrological prediction by Tycho). Before long Tycho has a metal nose as well as an island with a castle and an observatory, financed by the king of Denmark and equipped with the most precise instruments yet built for tracking the planets and stars.

Tycho wins renown by identifying new stars, including a supernova, but after his royal patron dies, Tycho finds himself out of favor with the son and successor, Christian IV. Tycho goes to Prague and a new patron, Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. As he prepares to publish his decades of celestial observations, Tycho hopes to prove that all the planets except Earth revolve around the Sun, which in turn revolves around the Earth.

Read more, or Wikipedia’s entry which includes this bit:

Tycho suddenly contracted a bladder or kidney ailment after attending a banquet in Prague, and died eleven days later, on 24 October 1601. According to Kepler’s first hand account, Tycho had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette. After he had returned home he was no longer able to urinate, except, eventually, in very small quantities and with excruciating pain. The night before he died he suffered from a delirium during which he was frequently heard to exclaim that he hoped he would not seem to have lived in vain. Before dying, he urged Kepler to finish the Rudolphine Tables and expressed the hope that he would do so by adopting Tycho’s own planetary system, rather than Copernicus’s. A contemporary physician attributed his death to a kidney stone, but no kidney stones were found during an autopsy performed after his body was exhumed in 1901, and the modern medical assessment is that it is more likely to have resulted from uremia.

Recent investigations have suggested that Tycho did not die from urinary problems but instead from mercury poisoning—extremely toxic levels of it have been found in hairs from his moustache. The results were, however, not conclusive. Prague City Hall approved a request by Danish scientists to exhume the remains in February 2010, and a team of Czech and Danish scientists from Aarhus University arrived in November 2010, to take bone, hair and clothing samples for analysis.

(click to continue reading Tycho Brahe – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Cecil Adams adds:

It happened in 1566 while the 20-year-old Tycho was studying at the University of Rostock in Germany. Attending a dance at a professor’s house, he got into a quarrel with one Manderup Parsbjerg, like himself a member of the Danish gentry. Over a woman? Nah—tradition has it that the two were fighting over some fine point of mathematics. (My guess: Fermat’s Next-to-Last Theorem, which posits that 2 + 2 = 5 for very large values of 2.) Friends separated them, but they got into it again at a Christmas party a couple weeks later and decided to take it outside in the form of a duel. Unfortunately for Tycho the duel was conducted in pitch darkness with swords. Parsbjerg, a little quicker off the dime, succeeded in slicing off the bridge (apparently) of Tycho’s nose.

Reconstructive surgery then being in a primitive state, Tycho concealed the damage as best he could with an artificial bridge made of precious metals. He carried some nose goop with him always, either to polish the nose or to glue it more firmly in place. But no hooks or string, and probably no whistling either.

(click to continue reading The Straight Dope: Did astronomer Tycho Brahe really have a silver nose?.)

Footnotes:
  1. allegedly – apparently, the newer suggestion is that he was poisoned by a rival []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 1st, 2010 at 9:47 am

Posted in Film

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Was The Eliot Spitzer case a Republican Dirty Trick?

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Te' Jay's Adult Books

Interesting, if true. Eliot Spitzer’s rise and fall was an interesting diversion at the end of the Bush years. More details at the film’s website, but Andrew O’Hehir writes:

“Client 9″ builds a forceful, if circumstantial, case around the disclosures that led to Spitzer’s downfall. Avowed Spitzer haters like investment banker Ken Langone, former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg and ex-New York Stock Exchange head Dick Grasso were clearly seeking any opportunity to take the governor down, and Langone has made murky comments to the effect that he knew about the prostitution scandal before the news broke. (See, a friend of his was in line behind Spitzer at the post office … No, really.)

Notorious right-wing political trickster Roger Stone has claimed to be the initial source who told the FBI about Spitzer’s dalliances with hookers (and he’s definitely the source of the scurrilous knee-socks allegation). Although Stone was an aide and confidante to state Sen. Joe Bruno, one of Spitzer’s biggest Albany foes, Stone says he heard about the whole thing on his own, at random, from a hooker in a Miami nightclub. (Given Stone’s background and reputation, that part of the story is strangely believable.) Add up all these billionaires, rogues and past and future indictees — along with a scandal-plagued Justice Department at the tail end of the George W. Bush era, eager to claim the scalp of a leading Democrat — and the whole thing looks overdetermined, as the Marxists say.

Nothing about this case is clear-cut, and we’ll probably never know for sure. (The official story, via the government and the mainstream media, is that the whole thing emerged from a routine money-trail investigation and Stone et al. had nothing to do with it. Not impossible, but not all that plausible either.)

(click to continue reading “Client 9″: The Eliot Spitzer case: How we were bamboozled – Andrew O’Hehir, Movie Critic – Salon.com.)

The truth is, the Rethuglicans have perpetuated so many dirty tricks over the years that when a prominent Democrat is accused on any kind of impropriety, our immediate instinct is to suspect there is more to the story.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 4th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Film,politics

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Ridley Scott and Man in the High Castle

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Interesting news I hadn’t yet heard…

I’m not entirely dismayed to hear that Ridley Scott is overseeing production of a mini-series based on another seminal PKD novel, The Man in the High Castle, but I’m not all that happy, either. It’s one of the all-time champs of the alternative history subgenre, set in a world where the Third Reich and Imperial Japan have divided most of the world between them, and America has been balkanized into a collection of puppet states and ineffectual enclaves. (This Wikipedia entry has a pretty spiffy map laying out the power blocs in this alternate universe.) It’s a cerebral book, with multiple plotlines converging in a search for the author of an alternate-history novel that upends PKD’s scenario, scandalizing readers (and enraging the Reich) by showing a world where the Axis powers were defeated.

(click to continue reading What the hexagrams said « STEVENHARTSITE.)

Of course, if the BBC mini-series is released on DVD, I’ll see it as soon as I can. BTW, Mr. Hart is accurate, nearly, in his description of the Blade Runner film: the atmosphere and set of the Ridley Scott adaptation are the best parts, and the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is only tangentially related to the finished project. PKD saw some rushes1 and was impressed with the Mise en scène

Footnotes:
  1. as you probably already know, PKD died before the film was officially released []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 7th, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Film,Suggestions

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Still a Virgin

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Still a Virgin
Still a Virgin, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

I know it is an ad for a probably inane film, but I still laughed.

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Flash: Off
Film: Pistil

From IMDb:
Four guys, one camera, and their experience chronicling the exhilarating and terrifying rite of passage: losing your virginity. As these guys help their buddy get laid, they’ll have to survive friends with benefits, Internet hookups, even porn stars during an adventure that proves why you will always remember your first

Like I said, utterly and irredeemingly lame.

Written by swanksalot

September 9th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Film,humor,Photography

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Bill Murray Interviewed by Dan Fierman

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Fun little GQ interview of Bill Murray, who truth be told, has been in some great films over the years. With the exception of Garfield, but according to Murray, he thought it was a Coen brothers film. Here’s the setup:

When I arrived, he was standing alone in the corner of a New York hotel room, talking on a cell phone and wearing a ratty black polo, jeans, and yellow “tape measure” suspenders. I had been waiting for over an hour, which didn’t seem like an unreasonable amount of time. Bill Murray famously does not give interviews—he’s sat down for exactly four prolonged media encounters in the past ten years—and when he does, it’s never clear what you’re going to get. You just have to pray he’s in a good mood.

The very thing that makes Bill Murray, well, Bill Murray is what makes sitting down with him such an unpredictable enterprise. Bill Murray crashes parties, ditches promotional appearances, clashes with his friends, his collaborators, and his enemies. If you—movie director, journalist, dentist—want to speak to him, you don’t go through any gatekeeper. You leave a message on an 800 number. If Bill Murray wants to speak with you, he’ll call you back. If his three and a half decades in the public sphere have taught us anything about the 59-year-old actor, it’s that he simply does not give a good goddamn.

His career is known to most any fan of modern comedy: the years on SNL; the series of epochal comedies like Stripes, Groundhog Day, and Caddyshack. And his current artistic period, which could be described as Reclusive National Treasure. He lives in Rockland County, New York, emerging only to make movies for directors he’s interested in: Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, Sofia Coppola. This summer he’ll release a period indie called Get Low, in which he plays an undertaker throwing an early funeral for Robert Duvall. Today, Murray was in an expansive mood. Then, after he spoke about Ghostbusters 3, Barack Obama, and Garfield, he decided the interview was over and was gone. As best as I can tell, he was not fucking with me. But who knows? Bill Murray doesn’t need you to be in on his joke. His life is all one performance-art piece—and he does everything for an audience of one.

(click to continue reading Bill Murray on Ghostbusters 3, Get Low, Ron Howard, Kung Fu Hustle: Celebrities: GQ.)

Obama palooza

You should read the whole thing if you have a couple minutes to spare, but I wanted to save this part where Bill Murray responds to a question about what he watches on television:

I watch sports, I watch movies, Current TV on the satellite—I kind of like that. Honestly, I’m just easily bored. C-SPAN can be really great. Like the night Obama won the election, C-SPAN was the greatest. There were no announcers, just Chicago. It was just that crowd in Grant Park, and it was just fuckin’ jazz. You know, it was just wow. And that’s my town, you know? It was just: “Oh, my God, it’s gonna happen! [getting genuinely excited] It’s gonna happen!” You just saw the pictures of it, like, oh, there’s someone from the Northwest Side, there’s someone from the South Side, someone from the suburbs. It was the most truly American thing you’ve ever seen. [pause] Oh God, I get jazzed just thinkin’ about it. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t crying. It was just: Thank God this long national nightmare is over.

 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 19th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Film

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Filming of Transformers 3 To Snaggle Traffic

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“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]” (Michael Bay)

Note to self: avoid these areas at these times. Even as a pedestrian.

Filming on Jefferson and Randolph

OEMC Executive Director Jose Santiago said the closures on LaSalle Street (8 p.m. July 9 to 5 a.m. July 12), the Michigan Avenue bridge (8 p.m. July 16 to 5 a.m. July 19) and Upper Wacker Drive (9 p.m. July 18 to 5 a.m. July 22) will have the most impact on traffic. He added that most of the movie’s filming in Chicago will take place during daylight.

“It’s an ambitious production … but we and the producers are committed to mitigating the disruptions and addressing community concerns,” said Chicago Film Office Director Rich Moskal.

What can Chicagoans expect from filming — besides traffic?

Moskal said recently a few “scenes they’re planning could match if not exceed the spectacular stuff ‘The Dark Knight’ production pulled off.”

Yes, he’s talking about the 2008 Batman film that featured an 18-wheeler getting flipped over on LaSalle Street and a massive explosion that leveled the old Brach’s Candy building on the West Side.

“Flying debris, flipping cars, stunts, that’s the kind of stuff you’ll probably be seeing here,” added Moskal.

During a news conference June 16, Mayor Richard Daley announced that the Michael Bay-directed action sequel would contribute $20 million to the local economy and create more than 200 jobs, including 10 internships for Chicago Public Schools students.

(click to continue reading Filming of ‘Transformers 3′ to blow up — downtown traffic – About Last Night.)

Watching a film being made is as close to watching paint dry as you’ll encounter. Lots of dudes standing around, milling about. I’d rather be somewhere else.

Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich

If you are star-crazy, you might run into one of these people at the Japonais lounge, at Blackbird, or at the Penisula Hotel or somewhere like Gibson’s. Me? Could give a shit, except maybe would be fun to hang out with John Malkovich eating pork and beer at the Publican.

the cast is heavy on stars, including Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and franchise newcomers Frances McDormand and John Malkovich.

LeBeouf’s love interest in the first two films, Megan Fox, either was dropped from the third film or quit, depending on who you ask. In her place this time around will be Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 24th, 2010 at 8:24 am

Posted in Film

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