Friday, December 26, 2008

Best Films 2008: Our Picks


This is the time of year when the “Best Films of 2008” lists start coming out. We figured the unique minds at Potion Lords should chime in, in order to balance out the ever-predictable Oscar lists.

James:

There are a lot of films I didn’t see but I caught quite a few… and at the top of the list is...

1. Funny Games US- Michael Haneke's condemning film on the desensitization of violence as entertainment. Between the eggs and the golf balls, this is a modern classic. I applaud Naomi Watts for taking on what must have been a demanding and emotionally exhausting role. Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt play the best psychos ever.

2. Mister Lonely- The emerging cinematic genius of our time drops another beautiful piece of art on us. Beautifully shot and totally original.

3. Encounters at the End of the World- When Werner Herzog makes a documentary, you better believe it’s going to be the best of the year. Among his finest.

4. Smiley Face- The stoniest movie of the year. Anna Ferris nails what its like to seriously trip out. The attention to detail is marvelous. Watch it high.

5. The Dark Knight- Big budget filmmaking at its best. Ledger completely disappeared into the character; Heath was nowhere to be seen... astonishing.

6. Synecdoche, New York- Inner paradigm shifting exploration of the meaning of life and art. The dark side of psychedelia captured on film.

7. Up the Yangtze- An fascinating portrayal of the industrialization and modernization of China told through the story of one peasant family relocated during the unbelievably massive 3 Rivers Damn Project. An unintentionally perfect companion piece to last years Manufactured Landscapes.

8. Gomorra- A very realistic portrait of life in the slums of Naples that are run by the ruthless Cammorra crime family. The character of Ciro (the skinny kid) is one of the best I've seen in years. That kid is amazing- he should get an Oscar. The scene with him shooting the guns is incredible.

9. Taxi to the Dark Side- Won an Oscar in 2007 but was not properly released until this year. Watching these soldiers unremorsefully recount beating and torturing innocent people to death will make you furious, and realize the American Military is the most dangerous and evil force on the planet. Terrifying.

10. Wendy and Lucy- A simple, personal film that works if you have ever experienced life like Wendy.

11. Paranoid Park, The Class, Still Life, The Last Mistress, The Wrestler, or Lorna’s Silence. Didn’t have a chance to see these but I guarantee they’re amazing.


TIM:

What a year huh? Do you feel any different? Are you looking forward to 2 0 0 9? Hope? Change? Well maybe after watching a few of these, you will………change…

“Everything is personal” –T.I.M. Dec. 13, 2008

1. The Last Mistress
2. Funny Games (USA)
3. Encounters at the End of the World
4. Vicki Christina Barcelona
5. The Happening
6. Mister Lonely
7. The Wrestler
8. Mother of Tears
9. Slumdog Millionaire
10. Trouble The Water


More lists to be added as they come into headquarters...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Film Review: Seven Pounds


Will Smiths messianic complex continues with his new film Seven Pounds. Mind if I ruin it for you? Smith plays a kind God-like soul out to save lives in order to atone for killing seven people in a car wreck. He donates his organs to people that need them, eventually giving his heart (weighing seven pounds) to Rosario Dawson and dieing. There is also a scene where he cries while fucking Dawson.

Smiths involvement in Scientology has made him into The Black Tom Cruise, a Scien-zombie fake laughing his way through TV appearance after TV appearance while unknowingly being mocked by the world for his ego-maniacal disposition and his insulated-from-reality world view. He has been throwing a lot of money at the organized crime scam that is the Church of Scientology. Mostly through some of their cover groups- the New York Rescue Relief Workers Fund and ABLE. And, of course, the Scientology private school he started- New Village Academy.

Back to Seven Pounds. It was directed by the same guy who did Smiths other heroic heartstring tugger, The Pursuit of Happyness. I guess the only good thing I can say about Seven Pounds is his annoying kid isn't in this one. I'm not the only one who can't stand Smith and his movies. Check out this little review from the trade paper Variety: "Nor can it be said that Smith, whose most recent box office barn-burners, 'I Am Legend' and 'Hancock,' seemed consciously designed to set the star apart from the rest of humanity, shies away from the saintlike status conferred upon his character. Indeed, he embraces it in a way so convincing that it proves disturbing as an indication of how highly this... superstar may regard himself." Or allow me to quote the reputable New York Times film critic A. O. Scott. Seven Pounds "may be among the most transcendently, eye-poppingly, call-your-friend-ranting-in-the-middle-of-the-night-just-to-go-over-it-one-more-time crazily awful motion pictures ever made." Wow!

Full disclosure- I didn't see Seven Pounds. Any one who does should be shot.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Long Hot Summer

One more from The Style Council. This is an extended and re-structured live version of their broken-hearted 1983 classic. I had never realized Paul Weller was such a great guitar player. Is this where the sweater around the waist look originated? This guy is inspiring.



"Dashing ourselves against the rocks of a lifetime." Amazing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Ever Changing Moods

Yes, yes there is something incredibly cool about these dudes. Check out this video! Its a normal soul-boy in biker spandex countryside sing-a-long until they hit the finish line. Then, notice the random cut-aways to soliders and Vietnamise people during the champagne celebration. What the hell is going on there? They just don't make videos like this anymore....or music, this tune is marvelously uplifting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shout to the Top

Is it me or is there something incredibly cool about these guys?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Mixes!


P-Lords Music Mix #7 & 8. Mixed by Ketamine Brothers.

The first one is mostly disco, house, and punk. Mixed late night/early morning November 26.

Here it is.

The second was recorded even deeper into the same night after already DJing for 12 hours... Some of our favorite balearic gems. It is more on the recontextualized 80's obscurities and pop side of the term than tropical Ibiza jams like our last one.

And here it is
.

Email or comment with track questions if you have them...



Monday, November 24, 2008

Synecdoche, New York


Charlie Kaufman is really throwing down the gauntlet with this. What a trip. While walking out of the theater, I heard someone say "that would of been really crazy if you were stoned.” It was crazy no matter what, but I agree- for with his directorial debut, Kaufman is examining the awkward and disturbing side of realization in a very surreal way. Among its many ideas, the movie centers on the role one plays in society and the storm we must weather in order to function and be accepted into the world around us. Illness, loneliness, and paranoia are on full display in Phillip Hoffmans character and he makes these feelings seem all too accessible. The film got under my skin a day or so after watching it, it made sleeping difficult because I knew it was raising questions I had to ponder. It is very cerebral and psychedelic- in the dark, lost-in-your-own mind sort of way- a la- personalities folding in on themselves and multiplying.

The story concerns theater director Caden Cotard. He gets a Macarthur grant allowing him to, without financial worries, create a theater piece that will be the culmination of his life’s work. He works on this play for the rest of his life, building a small replica of New York City in the process. He continually casts and recasts actors to play the people closest to him in his life, including himself. Along the way he re-enacts every major event in his life as it happens. 30 years into the project he is convinced to start acting. He takes on the role of his ex-wife’s cleaning lady, and it gets stranger from there.

The continual pulling back and re-shaping of perception is a re-occurring theme Kaufman has mastered- especially with this film. The ideas of Being John Malovich and Adaption are here but exploring more thoroughly. This is a film that will be probably be understood and appreciated over time, it may be too potently odd at this point in evolution. It tugs at a primal weirdness in all of us very successfully.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Coming-of-Age Sex Films


My roommate organizes his Netflix list by subject matter. For example, he had an entire series of films coming to the house in a row about “brothers in trouble.” We watched Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Cassandra’s Dream, etc… His new trip is coming-of-age sex films. You know the type- a young girl exploring her sexuality. This is classic subject matter for first time female filmmakers looking to make a “personal film.” It is a great genre. I'm only going to discuss singular stories that are told from one perspective. I'm leaving out a lot of 80's classics or films I havent seen in a long time because its too hard to remember and I don't really want to watch stuff like Heavenly Creatures or Sixteen Candles again. So the following are reviews of some of the films that document those adventurous and tremendously awkward years. I’ll keep adding to the list as more films come.


Water Lilies


A recent French indie about 3 young synchronized swimmers exploring themselves and each other for the first time. It seems every shot is framed around the girls’ breasts, each girl is at different stage of development. I think the filmmaker did this on purpose to make us feel uncomfortable about possibly being turned on by underage breasts, as the girls are pretty young. The best thing about the movie is the cinematography- beautiful camera work and colors everywhere. Between that and the innocent sex, it's pretty fascinating film. Lots of people I know saw it and loved it.

Tart


Said roommate said it best- “an after school special.” It’s the only film a woman named Christina Wayne made. It’s about growing up in an upper-class New York. Obviously a personal story, she must have got this funded by her rich parents or friends. The sound was way fucked up, inexcusably bad. The films only saving grace is an amazing performance from the late Brad Renfro. He plays an addict and a thief that takes advantage of his rich friends. Bijou Phillips also does a great job playing a sassy rich girl on drugs. The big tragic ending comes when Renfro kills Phillips when she catches him sucking an old mans dick and threatens to narc. Unless you’re REALLY into this genre or a hardcore Renfro fan, stay away.

Thirteen


Everything Tart was not, this is. This is an amazingly realistic and engaging film. I can’t really see the genre getting better than this. Evan Rachael Wood gives an incredible performance as Tracy, a girl trying to fit in and grow up in modern day Los Angeles. She and her bad girl hottie friend, played by co-writer Nikki Reed, shop on Melrose, steal, huff, drop acid, make-out, fight, and generally be naughty girls. The director, Catherine Hardwicke, did an excellent job of depicting bratty confused teenage behavior; and we are there every step of the way on Tracy’s tortured journey. Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona) plays the mom and Brady Corbet (Funny Games) the brother. I watched some of the commentary and that was pretty insightful as to how a first time director got the film made.

Malena


This one is told from the less-documented male perspective. It takes place in a Mussolini run Italy. A kid becomes obsessed with Malena, the town hottie, played by the stunningly perfect Monica Bellucci. He follows and spies on her and through his fascination he learns to jerk off. Malena is also the town slut and gets beaten up and humiliated in the town square by all the other wives in town. It would have been nice to see more of Malena in sexual situations, instead of just alluding to them. But I guess we see Bellucci having sex in Irreversible (ha ha, just kidding). It’s a nice little period piece but I found it ultimately forgettable.

Romance


This one isn’t exactly coming-of-age but it’s about a woman in her 20’s exploring her sexuality. It is by French filmmaker Catherine Breillat, who has made a career of making films in this genre like A Real Young Girl and the incredible Fat Girl. Marie lives with her male model idiot boyfriend who won’t make love to her or even let her give him head. This makes her feel horrible because she is emotionally in love with him. In order to deal with it and get one up on him she starts having sex with all sorts of other people. She finds solace in being tied up and gagged by the principal of the school she works at. When she finishes with her bondage sessions she goes home to her boyfriend and feels empowered, not needing a thing from him. Not since Larry Clarks’ masterpiece Ken Park have I seen a film depicting sex this graphically. There are lots of dicks, pussies, fucking and cumming. It works in favor of the film. There are really long beautiful takes of bondage and sex acts from start to finish. They are done in a way that isn’t gratuitous and serves as a study of sexual relations. Ultimately this is a totally unromantic film about roles of power in relationships.

A Nos Amours


This was amazing. Maurice Pialat directed this in 1983. This was the debut of the beautiful and gifted Sandrine Bonnaire. She plays a troubled 15 year old that sleeps around with random guys because thats the only time she feels happy. Her home life is a nightmare, there are some disturbingly realistic scenes of the family fighting at home. Her mom is a nutcase and her brother is a weirdo that beats her. I like the costumes in this a lot, Bonnaire wears some really cool stuff. Also check her out in another underated French film called Vagabond.

Towelhead


This one generated some contraversy here in consevative America but I found it to be pretty mild. Its about a 13 year old Iraqi girl, Jasira, living in Texas with her annoying and close-minded father. The actor plays him being a dickhead so well he is almost unwatchable. Jasira gets taken advantage of by an older neighboor until some other neighboors step in to save her. The film is refreshing in that it doesnt ram any morality down your throat. It kind of lets the viewer decide whats right and wrong and what the characters real motivations are. Good stuff.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another Day at the Office


I just fully realized the genius of the TV show The Office. Why? Because I now work in an office environment. In a staunch, cubicle infested, working class, boring as fuck, paper pushing office. Sure, there is some knowledge needed to do this work well and it can be very complicated, but once you get it down you just go through the motions. Day after day, week after week, and for some- year after year. That would be the equivalent of giving up on life for me. I have worked in many office situations and usually here in Hollywood there are artists and young people to hang with and have interesting discussions. I work in a post production house for films, so all the interesting creative parts of the filmmaking process are over. Its nuts and bolts from here on out.

The Office makes so much more sense to me now because I see that its all about capturing the little uncomfortable moments that happen in a place like this. They happen when people from totally different backgrounds with different ways of seeing the world try to find common ground. Its amazing the stupid and inappropriate things people say. In the office I work in there are 10 people, if you say anything, everyone can hear you. I am the youngest. I go out at night. Everyone else goes home and watches TV. Not that going out makes me any better than the others, but if you don’t watch crap like Pushing Daisies and Dancing with the Stars-its tough to get in on the workplace conversations.

It is slightly fascinating to see what peoples lives are like outside my little world. The only other person who goes out drinking is the lady next to me. She is the coolest. She was a punker in the 70s and brought in her scrapbook with ticket stubs and pictures. She saw Iggy and Bowie A LOT. We confide in each other our hangovers. The dude that sits behind her is a high-pitched voice ex-military guy. Every morning he does "boot camp". At 5:30 am he meets with ex military instructors and does pushups and jumping jacks and shit. He told me a crazy story about his air force training. They locked him and the other soldiers in tiny metal boxes all day long, so tiny they couldn’t stand up and only had a little window to breathe through. Then they pretended the warehouse they were in was on fire. There was fake smoke, fire alarms, etc.. and they left them there. Apparently a lot of the men flipped out and thought it was real. They “failed” the “exercise”. Sounds like what they do to torture prisoners in Iraq. What a life, huh?

Next to him is the guy I have to deal with most. He is loud, crude, condescending, and yet occasionally funny. He claims he used to be a DJ and “spun breaks and jungle.” He eats smelly microwave dinners at his desk every day. It's disgusting. I guess he's inspiring because if I give up DJing and stick with this job I’ll end up like him. In his defense- he did teach me how to properly staple (a 45 degree angle!) and is, like most people, deep down a nice guy.

There’s a guy that sits in the corner who may be a secret pervert. I see him staring at the bosses tits. He told me he used to buy hash by the kilo in Germany, so points for that. He makes lame jokes about Canada. Why do people in this environment do this? It keeps happening. Canada is amazing, these jokesters are morons. One other cool lady sits across the room from me. I think she used to be a hippie because her energy is positive and slightly ecentric. My boss is pretty cool. She never lets us leave early or anything but is generally pretty hands off. She is of some sort or Incan or Mayan decent and is pretty beautiful. There are a couple of other un-noteworthy people around as well. Anyway, that show is amazing; it perfectly captures the sad monotony and current state of awkwardness of this sick little bastion of human culture we call The Office.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jay Nelson

I wanted to share with you some of Jay Nelsons new art. His work has been steadily evolving in the 20 or so years I've known him. His current exhibit at Triple Base gallery in San Francisco is called The Autonomous Zone. He draws inspiration from the "western frontier as a destination for a romantic solitary experience." Its all about being self-sufficient and existing peacefully within nature. He makes sculptures that are functional vehicles for rolling around solo. Jay also builds treehouses throughout the country. I think he even built one in the Oakland airport. His paintings are beautifully psychedelic interpretations of nature. They are really something to behold. Its been interesting to see him cultivate an earth based vision of the future, honing his personal interests and beliefs into this amazingly expressive artwork.



Dead Mans Finger's State Park, 2008
watercolor and gouche on paper, 40" x 25"



Paul's Vision, 2008
oil on panel, diptych, 47 3/4" x 71 3/4"



Humblot House, 2008
oil on panel, 34 3/4" x 47 3/4"



Acorn Treehouse, Ukiha, CA, 2008



Study Case, mixed media, 2008



Honda Spree, Study in Temporary Autonomy, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Memoirs Volume 1: Liftoff


My friend started telling me about it in 9th grade. I was a "boarder," I stayed at school all the time- my parents weren’t from around there. It was cool, I loved it. We lived two to a room adjacent to the 18th hole of Spyglass golf course, which we used to make out with girls. My friend Jeremy was telling me all year, “you’ll see colors” “it’s like the encyclopedia is floating through your brain”--- hmmm. “Wow, that sounds cool; I’d like to try that. I don’t know if lesson after lesson on the adventures of Holden Caulfield are quite doing it for me” I replied. This was 1991. The day after school got out we saw Rage Against the Machine open for Pearl Jam at the Warfield in San Francisco. The next day we were on Haight Street near Stanyan, outside the McDonalds (pictured below), scoping the scene. A weird young indescribable kid with a cane took our order. A sheet. I think it was 70 dollars. Word made its way over to the gutter punks in the park, who were gathered in a circle. We went over and received our LSD wrapped tin foil, McDonald’s golden arches on each and every one. Kyon, our acid experienced guide was happy. We dosed.


Next thing I know, we are in the parking lot of Los Gatos shopping mall, sitting in the cab of a white truck. I was asked “Do you see now? You are going on all these different little trips” I saw. Every minuscule detail interested me so much that my FULL attention was paid to it. This would happen each instant, until the interests blended together into being completely immersed in a flowing mind voyage, experiencing multiple realities on many planes simultaneously. I remember losing the ability to converse and Jeremy trying to talk to me, unsuccessfully. “He’s gone, man” Kyon said. I was taken into the mall and into a cassette and CD store, Sam Goody or something like that. So far it had been a wonderful walk through the castle of consumerism; I marveled at people and was fascinated by paintings we walked by.

I think someone told me to pick out a tape. Or I saw one I liked. But either way, I put my finger into the tape rack. I wanted to touch the tape to signify it was the one I was verbally referring to but my finger slipped through the plastics and pushed on in. It came back out like elastic. This was a new sensation. I thought about it a lot before I was shuffled along. It is not often one can put their finger through solid objects.

On to Burger King. What a place! Things were getting unprovokingly contemplative- but I was together enough to talk to the lady who took my order. I tried eating a chicken sandwich and it just could not happen. Was I eating it now or was that 2 hours ago? Lucidity and time/space began to mingle in very confusing but marvelous way.

Someone gave me a piece of gum- Bubblelicious grape gum. Its flavor knows no limits. As Dr. John Lilly said- “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits...”
I sat on the grass in front of Burger King for I what I carefully estimated to be 4 to 6 hours- chewing. Eventually I asked “how long has it been?”

Five minutes.

They couldn’t be serious. That makes no sense. Five fucking minutes?! Apparently, I had a time revelation (time doesn’t really exist). Like most things, it's all in your mind. This notion turned out to be an important tool in working towards developing an educated happiness or what some call Enlightenment or Nirvana.

Speaking of, Nirvana was on Saturday Night Live that night. Jeremy and I sat in the summer bedroom of his step mother’s home. The come-down was happening; the clarity was creeping in. It was beautiful. I stuck a bunch of the remaining acid in my wallet, eager to share it with my friends back in Los Angeles. I remember wondering why Kurt Cobain’s voice sounded so different, so raspy. I thought it was the acid but I later learned, as Courtney Love put it, they “got high and went to SNL”. They were on heroin and it makes your voice fucked up. What an amazing performance. Then, in classic psychedelic spirit, we watched the dancing broom part of Fantasia.



Monday, October 27, 2008

I Can Hear Your Heartbeat

A big hit around here these days, I Can Hear Your Heartbeat by Chris Rea:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rape-mania


Blindness was pretty good. There were about 8 people in the theater when I saw it and 4 walked out. Sure the premise is a little silly: The whole world goes blind except one woman. The film follows her and some blind people into their quarantine wards and we watch what happens. Their world goes to shit, literally. I found it to be a refreshingly bleak look at society, morality and human nature. Like the superior films Time of the Wolf and Children of Men, there are some good post apocalypse scenarios- with people fighting for food and dogs eating humans. Fernando Meirelles, the guy that made City of God, directed it. He definitely has his own style utilizing semi-experimental lighting and camera work. Gael Garcia Bernal plays a good evil guy: The King of Ward 3. Everyone is talking about the rape scene. It is one of the more disturbing I’ve seen. The screen falls mostly black as we hear the sounds of a long gang rape orgy. That’s when most people left. I found it disgusting and unbelievable. Would the men in Ward 1 let this happen, even if they were starving? Never in real life. And why didn’t the one girl who could see just kill The King or get the gun BEFORE the rape. Ridiculous- but it made for good cinema.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

T.I.M: The Top Ten Most Disturbing Movies

“Every dark needs its light, every day needs its night.”

I am a longtime fan and collector of dark and disturbing movies. When other people turn their heads, I stop and take pictures. If a friend sees something they think is twisted, they always send me the link. I like to explore disturbing places, and have been that way since birth. So after 29 years of exposure to all the fucked up realities of society, I have felt the need to share some of my top picks that I feel represent the dark side of humanity. I know many of you will be horrified, if you ever choose to watch these films, and others will say “What about this one… What about that one…” No list is complete, and there is a lifetime of movies I have yet to see, but this is my offering to you. If you are curious, come take a trip to the other side, but remember, this is some heavy duty sick and twisted shit. Saying that, I hope you can put all of your judgment aside and take a trip into these filmmaker’s nightmares. (Some of these were listed before on my horror list, but absolutely deserve a second spot)

TIM Hicks


The Vanishing (European Version)
I recommend this as a terror inducing appetizer. It is the chilling story of a Dutch cyclist whose girlfriend disappears while they are vacationing. His obsessive journey of finding out what happened to her is masterfully told. The film expresses our need for closure, and if there is such a thing. How far will you go? The ending will fuck you up, guaranteed. (Don’t even bother watching the US version.)



Cannibal Holocaust
If you think reality entertainment started in the nineties, you better watch this one. It chronicles the search to find a lost group of documentary filmmakers in the cannibal infested jungles of South America. The jungle locations, unbelievable special effects, and 70’s film stock create an extremely disturbing atmosphere. The production is so raw that people believed they were watching an actual documentary. The director even had the actors go into hiding for a year after it was released to heighten the effect. A brilliant film, way ahead of its time.



I Spit On Your Grave
This is the story of revenge. A carefree New York woman decides to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. She heads down to her country home and frolics in the forest. What she doesn’t know is that she is unknowingly being watched by a bunch of horny rednecks. The scene that follows is demented, almost unwatchable. No happy ending with this one. Just pain, pain, and more pain. The director was so worried about audience reaction he used a fake name.



Last House on The Left
A slashing blow to the innocence of the sixties. A pair of hippie girls head to a rock show. The only crime they commit? They ask the wrong guy for some weed. And his friends want to have some fun- total, unrestrained, depraved fun. The mixture of folk music and depictions of torture tap into something powerful. It doesn’t matter if you think this is positive or negative, you will never forget it. A must view.



Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom
I showed this film to a friend of mine in high school and he is still shaken up about it. Salo will leave a lasting impression, I assure you. The film details the journey of a group of fascist Italians on the run from the Allies at the end of World War II. They know their time is running out so they start playing “games” with their servants. They put them through every humiliation possible. Saying that, I have never seen such depravity depicted in such a highly artistic way. Pasolini letting it all go.



Flower of Flesh And Blood
This movie is the closest on the list to the snuff category. Shot on video, it has no story, only one location, and just two actors. Simply put, it is the depiction of a man disemboweling a woman, period. Supposedly Charlie Sheen saw it and immediately contacted the FBI because he was convinced it was real. The authorities were so convinced they made the producers show them behind the scenes footage. This film influenced a Japanese man to go out and re-enact what he saw in this movie. Viewer beware.



Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer
The terror classic. Based on the true story of the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and his antics with Otis Toole. The story of a disturbed man with no conscience. There is not a drop of remorse in this movie. From beginning to end: murder, murder, murder. No other serial killer biopic has come close to this ice cold depiction of killing for sport.



Nekromantik
The most lighthearted film of the bunch, which isn’t saying much. This adorable German film depicts the love affair between a man, woman, and a rotting corpse. Need I say more? A truly sick and twisted work of art. The musical theme, when coupled with the imagery, is both heart wrenching and vomit enducing. And believe me, they don’t hold back. Enjoy it with a date.



Johnny Got His Gun
So absolutely horrific that it boggles the mind. An infantry soldier is shelled during World War I. He is left blind, deaf, and mute. All his limbs are gone. He is basically a brain in a jar. The only thing left are his memories and his daydreams. The eerie black and white footage looks like it was shot in the silent era. The voice over sounds like a distress call from hell. This film is your worst nightmare. A living hell.



Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door
A friend told me that this film is by far the most fucked up movie he has ever seen. Well, I didn’t believe him so I ordered it right away, watched it… and let me say this, I was absolutely disgusted. Based on a true story, it starts slow, a pair of sisters are forced to live with their aunt after their parents are killed in a car crash. Soon the aunt starts having problems, some serious problems. She starts taking them out on the kids. She lets her sons “play” with one of the sisters. I can only describe this movie as one of the most demented, disturbing, and twisted things I have ever seen. I was so affected that I had to sit down and write this.

Now go out and get a good movie!

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Madness in China


Have you heard about this? The Chinese company Sanlu Group has been putting Melamine, a white crystalline chemical used to make plastics, in its milk powder. It has shipped products with this in it all over the worldt. Over 53,000 children under the age of three have fallen sick in China, 4 are dead, and 14,000 hospitalized from Kidney failure. Many candies, baby food, and chocolates are contaminated including Cadbury chocolates and the popular White Rabbit candies that are readily available all over Chinatown. It is so bad the European Union has banned importing all Chinese food products for children. But here's the fucked up thing: Sanlu Group did it on purpose and once the government knew about the poisonings- they covered it up.

It started because the communist government, in order to control them, would not let Sanlu sell their products at a competitive market price. Under pressure from their superiors, the Sanlu food scientists started adding Melamine to watered-down milk because its high nitrogen content masks the resulting protein deficiency. In March they knew their products were making people sick and instead of recalling the food, they made a much publicized donation of 1.5 million dollars of poisoned baby formula to victims of the massive Sichuan Province earthquake!! Evil! Then the government got involved. Up until September, when the recall was announced, the food continued to be made and anyone speaking up against it, often times hospital workers or human rights workers, lost there jobs or were arrested. When lawyers tried to help victims of the poisoning, they were threatened by the State and were told not to help or their licences would be revoked. The Chinese Central Propaganda Department issued a statement saying that no one was allowed to print anything about food safety without their permission. That is how they deal with problems of this magnitude- through oppression and denial.

There is a great blog that has been championing this issue called the Haphazard Gourmet Girls. They monitor what they call the Chowpocalypse. There are a lot of good articles on the site, the one about the evils of Whole Foods is particularly eye-opening. Apparently Whole Foods works with some really fucked up meat companies, are anti-union, and their CEO is a megalomaniac.

I can't help but marvel at the disregard for human life these animal exploiting corporations have.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WICKED SOUND SYSTEM



Wicked. How can one describe the magic? Wicked was based around four English DJs that threw parties in San Francisco from 1991 to 2004. They continued the debauchery and hedonic musical tradition of 1960’s Haight Ashbury. SF is a strange place, there are a lot of psychedelic and far out people there. Wicked brought some of us together. The music was the guide, a uniting force as we explored ritual magic and ancient rites together. And we danced. A lot. To house music. The celebration of the heartbeat. Everyone from homeless Grateful Dead lot freaks to gangsters in Kangol gear to old school disco lifers would be getting down together. I remember coming out of the club one morning and a black dude in a perfectly pressed suit was casually strolling out the door, and out of nowhere he busted a full on flip and just kept walking. He had some magic spring in his step. Did I just see that?! That’s what it was like. Stuff like that happened all the time. A friend was recently recalling his favorite moments- at the end of the party when the music stops and the lights come on. Then the crowd yells and yells until one last joyous track is played, often times disco or an 80s obscurity. At first the parties were outdoors on the beach or in the woods during full moons. When the crackdown commenced on those they moved into clubs: King Street Garage, Jessie Street, DNA Lounge, and a long residency at 177 Townsend. They would always bring in their own sound system and had SATSI doing amazing light and video work. They brought out guest DJs on occasion: K-Alexi, Fran├žois K, Rob Paine, Joe Clausell, Doc Martin, Harvey, Mike Clark, Stacy Pullen, and many others. The following are some thoughts on each DJ, memorable sets, and links to some of the best music you’ve ever heard.


Jeno. The shaman. Silent and powerful, he spoke through his music. A Magician of the highest order. Every set he played was better than most other DJs sets I’ve seen. Out of the four, he was probably the most consistent mix tape releaser. Inside the Mind, Bang the Drum, and Rise are excellent examples of the dark psychedelic house vibe that Wicked represented. He also always played great daytime music at the free Sunset parties. I saw him a do rare non-house set once- barely anyone was there. It was unbelievably dope. Check out his Noise from the Void radio show to hear what he is currently up to. EZESkankin mixtapes hosts most of his classic mixes. Inside the Mind is my favorite. Side A. Side B.


Markie Mark. A master. Expertly crafted mixes. I saw him probably once a month for 6 years- every time just perfection. He really knew how to take it deep... The djs dj. The backbone of Wicked. Best set? Turn this up really loud. He didn’t release many recordings of his DJ sets in the later years, this is a rare promo CD he sold me. He has since retired from DJing and is a Science teacher. The recording is from September 28, 2001. 177 Townsend, 5 to 7am slot.


What can you say about Garth? Extremely dynamic. Everything goes. Dub sets…Deep sets.. Disco sets…the world of Garth is wonderful place to be. He wrote some classic jams for his Grayhound label. Most memorable set? I missed the early Full Moon parties that I hear were transcendental. For me, it was probably a Townsend session when I was super super high on acid. He took us on a very deep unified psychic journey, as it usually was at those parties when a lot of people were high (often). Unexplainably mind-blowing. Another time, in a little brick loft in the Tenderloin, he did a guitar based disco rock set and tied all the records together by jamming solos. That one accidentally wasn’t recorded but here is a link to an old tape from 1998, live at Come-Unity. Side One. Side Two.


I have never seen anyone rock a party like Thomas. He usually played first or last. I was once told the other guys thought he was too unpredictable and wild to play in the middle. Not sure if that's true but he was certainly different. “The crazy one”. “The Mad Scientist". His energy is so incredible and his selections so forward thinking. He’s been inventing styles for years. Lately he has heavily cut back on his DJing to concentrate on producing. His newest project is Food of the Gods. Best set: Probably the first Rubntug party in LA. Heads came out of the woodwork for that one. The vibe was intense. I asked Thomas about it a few weeks later and he said it was one of the best parties he had ever done. Also, the set at the Wicked party Eye of the Tiger when he stood on the turntables and yelled for 15 minutes at 6:30am was the greatest DJ performance I’ve ever been a part of. Links to that set are below. When listening, keep in mind this was when 2-step was new, the disco revival hadn't happened, and when electro clash was just starting. No one had heard Playgroup or Peaches yet. Part One. Part Two. He began by stopping the relentless thumping and started tweeking the lights. The video screens got way trippy. He panned sounds around the room. The combination of these elements made the vibe electric. You knew something special was happening. He stared at the crowd and made eye contact with everyone in the room for the first track or two. Later things got crazier. In the first minutes of part two on the mix, through the needles, you can hear him and the crowd yelling at each other. The lights were on and the club was on the brink of a riot when he jumped down and dropped Zongamin's Serious Trouble, a devastatingly sick track on a proper system. Wicked.


All pics courtesy of the amazing collection at Wicked Myspace.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cries and Whispers


This is a screen shot I took of the film Cries and Whispers, an incredibly deep and haunting masterpiece by Ingmar Bergman. This picture is from the most intense and realistic death scene I have ever seen performed. It is Harriet Andersson. If you rent it, make sure and watch the OG Swedish version, not the weird English overdub. I watched them both and the performances don't get across as well dubbed. Also check the extraordinarily heavy interview with Bergman on the extras.