gordonzola: (making cheese)
We saw two documentaries yesterday, both unsatisfying for different reasons.

“Bronies” –

I still don’t get it. The creator of the edition of “My Little Pony” that seems to have started this craze says something very smart. Basically that boys being ridiculed for liking something that is aimed at little girls devalues all girls and that the Brony world is super positive in fighting this societal problem. I am totally with her there. A documentary working this theme could have been awesome.

Instead we get a mostly unimaginative documentary following a bunch of Bronies – many of whom seem on the spectrum – that doesn’t really go anywhere. There’s a bit of bait and switch: adult male Bronies are talked about but not really examined.

So many questions that could be asked: “Is this just simple, unremarkablke escapism?” “Is this part of the trend that sees so many adults reading y/a instead of other novels or even genre fiction?” “What is Hasbro’s role in all this?” “Is there something about MLP that attracts people with Asbergers?” “Didn’t this whole thing start on 4Chan?”

But hey, during the credits I realized that this is a Kickstartered documentary with – as far as I can tell – no theatrical release and no professional reviews so I’ve probably spent enough time thinking about it already.

If you want more, this is a pretty good feminist blog review here.

We also watched “The Institute” which, I have to say, I knew nothing about despite the fact it was centered around Bay Area artists. Starting with absurdist flyers put up on poles around town, this secret art project was part RPG, part self-help group, part social experiment. I am not necesairly the intended audience. I am aging out of these demographics for hip art, but I saw some of these flyers around town and I thought they were dumb, not intriguing.

I am a huge fan of fake flyers and political art projects. The anarchist fake campaign that “ran” a particularly authoritarian sectarian for Sheriff? Hillarious. The fake “Legalize PCP” rally mocking pot smoke-ins (“as safe as blue-green algae”)? Funny? Official looking advertisements that weren’t? Awesome. These though, just seemed de-politicized and boring. The blunt-knife mocking of self-help gurus? A little more timely in the ‘80s than the ‘10s and I never thought about pulling the tab and calling the number.

Don’t get me wrong though. I enjoyed the movie.

There were times, especially in the first half hour/45 minutes where they really had me going. I like the crypto-vison of an alternative world, the pirate radio broadcasts, the street demonstration. At it’s best, it had a Craig Baldwin* feel, re-purposing popular culture to make clear its contradictions and hidden meanings. I was willing to buy into the artistic vision.I was willing to examine "Elsewhere", certainly a more intellectually stimulating endeavor than the My Little Pony friendship tenets. I was willing to buy into the emotions the participants were feeling. I was willing to buy into their buy in, whereas -- if described to me before I started watching -- I would have remained distanced. In these ways, the filmmakers succeeded.

It’s certainly well done and – at times – though-provoking but in the end I just kept thinking, “I can’t believe how much time and money went into this.” That, to me, is a sign that the art didn’t work, at least as documentary. Also, I was left feeling punished by my buy-in, which leads me to question the point of this piece as a work of interactive, experimental art. Perhaps it was different for actual participants (if there were actual participants) who had time and physical experiences to reflect upon. In the shorter time frame of a movie, instead of having enough time to soak in the wonderment of the alternative societal vision -- and exchange cynicism for exploration, the more heavy-handed aspects of scripted actors made me feel like the message was less "open yourself up to the possibility of a better or different world" then, "You should have been more guarded and closed yourself off more."

The first half of this movie intrigued me but the more “interviewees” that were clearly actors, the less involved I became. In the end—it’s hard to understand how much – both documented here, and in the documunentary itself – is “real” or “fake”. Which is, I guess, the point. This documentary turns documentary against itself, making you question whether, actually, this entire thing is just fiction.

Here’s the trailer:

Also, here’s a review. You know a reviewer is in trouble when they hedge their bets with an I-don’t-get-it-but-I-think-the-kids-will ending.

Also, this Rumpus review is actually a much more interesting take than what I've written, written by someone who participated and then watched the documentary.

*Tribulation 99
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I loved “We Need to Talk About Kevin” as a novel. Lionel Shriver did the near-impossible with this book. She situated being the parent of a teen murderer as part of the continuum of motherhood, rather than a freakish aberration. Without sugarcoating the mother’s character, mistakes, or motivations, Shriver manages to get at a lot of the ways that mothers (not fathers) are blamed for things their children do. Without minimizing the horror of the killings in this story, it is a very delicate and constructed balance of compassion and realism for everyone involved.

The movie, not so much.

It wasn’t bad, mind you, just not as ambitious or interesting. While it certainly makes you feel the mother’s pain, for whatever reason it is unable to make Kevin and his killings a horrible part of a bigger picture. The result is a much shallower and more easily forgettable work.

The movie version certainly leaves an impression. The first half hour reminded me more of the incredible but hard to endure “Killer of Sheep” than anything else. Immersed in the life of the mother during a few interspersed time periods with very little dialogue, it’s agonizing to watch; but not in a bad way. In the way that makes you feel like you are experiencing a small portion of what a woman in that position must be feeling. So far, so good.

Making a work of art where a mother of a mass murderer is even a semi-sympathetic character is a hard job. How can that character ever feel any happiness? Any laugh or smile is an insult to the families of the dead. It’s hard to tell what seeing the movie would be like if I hadn’t read the book, but one pivotal scene really limited the movie’s possibilities.

In the book, the mother, Eva, often sits in the prison waiting room -- always alone, never talking to the other women who are almost all, if not exclusively, women of color. She uses her son’s name as a way of not having to interact because bringing him up usually shuts up anyone trying to talk to her. But one day another woman does not allow her to shut down the conversation. She tells Eva that Eva is a good mother because, even after everything her son has done, she still comes to jail regularly, trying to do what she can. It’s a brief conversation – one not examined thoroughly by the mother narrator -- but it brings up so many issues that – to me – it was the most weight-bearing few pages of the book.

What is motherhood? How much ability does a mother really have in shaping a child? What is the responsibility of a parent for the horrible things a child can do? How is the experience of black mothers different from white mothers in a society that imprisons black youth at a much higher rate than white youth? Are the incarcerated deserving of attention and support, even if unremorseful?

Additionally, it shows that while having a murderer in the family will certainly get you thrown out of the respectable upper-middle class, there are other communities in this world, other people who you may never have interacted with before who may actually have things to offer, in fact may have a richer, more complex view of life than you previously thought possible.

In the movie, the whole scene is reduced to a sobbing black woman sitting next to Eva. After some delay, Eva reaches out and holds her hand. Neither woman says a word. End scene.

The biggest failing of the movie is that it just left me with nothing to discuss. It was a two hour wallow in the misery of the mother of a teen school murderer. After I read the book [livejournal.com profile] smallstages and I talked about it on-and-off for days. It’s a pretentious cliché to advise people to read the book rather than see a movie based on one (Hello “Hunger Games,”)* but in this case it’s really the truth. The book was the best novel I have read in years. The movie is forgettable.

*The “Hunger Games” movie is better than the book (which I have never read) for one undeniable reason: outing racists.
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I saw “Maggots and Men” last week at Frameline. It was amazing. Like seriously amazing.

When I go to see art produced by people I know, and starring people I know, my expectations are low. I don’t mean that my friends aren’t talented. I mean that I’m already on their side and pre-disposed to be positive. I’ll laugh at the in-jokes. I’ll forgive hammy behavior. I’ll wince with them at hard moments, not be thinking “someone else might have done this better”.

“Maggots…” however, exceeded every expectation I had.

When I moved out of my apartment on Valencia St. 15 years ago, Cary (the Director) moved in. We had known each other through Epicenter and the punk scene. Indeed, the house I was moving out of, and that he was moving into back then in 1994, was a hub of the queer punk scene. My housemates had helped found Q-TIP (Queers Together in Punkness) and also produced shows under the name “House of Failure” (our phone number was 552-FAIL… what a happy coincidence for the “beautiful loser” generation). I’m not aware of any touring queer punk bands of that era didn’t drop by at some point, even if just to change outfits or use the bathroom before the show since we were only a half block from Epicenter.

When I saw that his movie was finally finished I knew that it was the one thing I couldn’t miss in this year’s film festival, even if it was just to see what an old friend had done over the last 5 years. “Maggots…” is the re-telling of the Kronstadt Uprising of 1921. The last hope of the real Russian Revolution, sailors at the Kronstadt naval base made 15 demands to the revolutionary Bolshevik government, which might have altered history and prevent the Soviet Union from becoming the tyrannical, farce of a revolution that it became. After a few minor victories, the sailors -- many of whom had fired on the Winter Palace during the 1917 revolution -- were killed, jailed, or forced to flee over ice to Finland. (Kronstadt, like the Spanish Revolution of 1936, has always been an anarchist talking point.)

“Maggots…” certainly owes a debt to Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin”. While I don’t know if anyone has every been a better visual filmmaker than Eisenstein, “Maggots..” is a beautiful, beautiful film. And brilliantly scored.

Cary also made the incredibly smart decision to make the film narrated by a rebel sailor in Russian, with English subtitles.* In this way, the film could be made with its mostly transgender/gender queer cast of friends and not have the varying levels of acting ability affect the final product. ** I was overjoyed to see lots of people I knew on the big screen of the Castro, (including House of Failure housemates) but this film rose above the art-of-friends category and is seriously a film I would recommend to anyone. It’s gripping, assumption-challenging, and, in the end, tearfully sad. Of course, the place to see it is at a film festival because it’s only a 50 minute movie and it deserves to be seen on the big screen. Watch for it! Request it from your local festivals!

While the movie does not have much humor, the funniest part of the screening was when asked a question about the maggots filmed in the movie, Cary told how they had to grow them for the film a number of times. He said that his relationship to them really changed after all that. After all, they’re really only “going through their own transition”.

The film doesn’t over-polemicize. With its mostly trans cast, it draws out questions between revolutionary moments in history and a time when gender can be revolutionary transformed, but doesn’t try and make them direct parallels. It’s a beautiful look at the potential of revolutionary moments to be beautiful, perhaps even challenging folks to appreciate that beauty before stronger social forces can organize to take back control. It's also a love letter to rebels who have the courage to take up these fights.

*There is an agitprop retelling of the history of Kronstadt by a theater troupe in English as well
**An example of this is the Bratt Brothers’ early film “Follow Me Home”. It’s a masterpiece in some ways, painful to watch in others. The Rainbow Grocery joke was hilarious though.
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This is likely not a surprise to anyone, but Battle in Seattle is just awful. I saw it last night with [livejournal.com profile] smallstages* and it was truly worse than I thought it would be. Sure, some of the action scenes are fun -- and even memorable -- but I think [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby put it best before the movie was even released when she wrote that Battle in Seattle "looks like it's going to not just suck, but actually suck the entire universe into an epic ocean of its own fail."

Put it this way, it made This Revolution look intellectual in comparison.

*We thought we might fight about questions of tactics and international strategy but BIS brought us together in outrage. We stand in solidarity with the people demeaned in this movie including (but not limited to): anarchists, activists, consensus facilitators, NGO workers, Africans, pregnant women, TV reporters, Sea Turtles, Teamsters, Mayors, riot cops, and agent provocateurs.

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I loved Milk. I had some issues – you should know by now that I’m like that – but everything about seeing the movie was awesome: huge lines that went down 18th to Hartford, the huge banner outside the Castro Theater, the laughing and hissing that –for once—appropriate and not claustrophbic*, and a theater full of people crying together. It was a community event and while you should go see it wherever it’s playing, if you are near SF I really recommend seeing it at the Castro.

I have memories of Harvey Milk. They are memories of a kid, so they may or may not be accurate. I remember my school closing because of the assassinations. True, the worry was more over a People’s Temple hit squad than a crazy ex-cop, but it was a big deal. I remember watching a Briggs/Milk debate on TV about the proposition to ban gay teachers from schools and knew it would affect some of my favorite teachers. I recall Milk trying to argue rationally and Briggs interrupting him to point out that he had chosen pink paper to write his notes on.

The movie starts with the clip of Diane Feinstein announcing the murders of Moscone and Milk. That clip – and I’ve seen it 100 times – never fails to give me chills. I think it’s a reporter – obviously distraught – yelling “Jesus Christ!” and everyone else gasping. It is a profoundly unprofessional, non-political, and human moment for everyone involved.

Any movie that begins and ends with the hero being murdered is a tearjerker. [livejournal.com profile] smallstages and I brought a whole box of tissues. But it is not especially manipulative. It tells the story of Harvey Milk, a story more people should know. I remember, during the few years I lived outside the Bay Area in the late ‘80s, hearing “God is a Bullet” by Concrete Blonde for the first time and being amazed that someone knew of Harvey Milk outside of the Bay Area.

The movie’s biggest problem is one that everyone should assume going in: it’s a Hollywood Great Man story. It’s as if the whole concept of Gay Liberation came out of Harvey Milk’s head so he moved to SF to make it happen. One can believe that Milk was a hero and a martyr and still have room to believe that others paved the way for him. We just can’t expect to see that in a Hollywood film.

One ironic thing to note is the politics that are portrayed in the film. With the passage of Prop 8 so fresh in everyone’s minds, the scene where Milk stands up to the closeted rich gays to push a coming out strategy -- rather than a vague “civil rights” one – to defeat Briggs is rather ominous. A lesson not learned?

Also, I wish the film had ended with the White Night Riots instead of the candlelight vigil. When Dan White got off with manslaughter* the city erupted. There had been reports of the SFPD applauding Dan White when he was brought in for the murders and this – combined with years of police brutality in the gay community and communities of people of color – made the centerpiece of the riots the burning of multiple cop cars near City Hall.*** Check out this video on the bottom of this entry by [livejournal.com profile] jk_fabiani for riot pron. It’s only 1 minute long.

Of course that tells a less clear story since the rich gay “Advocate” folks, who Milk “defeats” in the movie, ended up immediately raising the funds to replace the cop cars and apologize.

But seriously. go see the movie and then rent “The Times of Harvey Milk” or vice versa. It’s well worth your time.

*At Frameline one year I saw a film about the gay communist South African who, being white, acted as a cover for Nelson Mandela before he was arrested. Mandela posed as his driver so he could travel the country. During the detailing of the advent of 1950s apartheid laws people started hissing. I really felt safe in assuming that everyone at the theater was against apartheid, especially since it took place in another country. The hissing was just too.. I don’t know… self-important to me a decade after the end of apartheid.

**Mostly because the prosecution overshot. The death penalty was and is wildly unpopular in San Francisco. In order to push for it, even in the case of assassination of the Mayor and Supervisor, the prosecution had to pick very right wing San Franciscans who said they would consider it at all,. The prosecution assumed that – being conservatives -- they would be appalled at the murder of elected officials. Unfortunately right wing San Francisco sympathized with White and he got the shortest term possible, only serving 5 years in jail. “Twinkie Defense” my ass.

***The image of which graced the first Dead Kennedys album “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”
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Oh man, I can't wait for this. It's going to be horrible and fun at the same time. I can feel both the urge to cringe and the urge to fuck shit up! Hopefully we can see a double feature with the new animated Chicago 8 movie. Either way we must be a forceful presence on opening night.

Yes, it's a movie about the Seattle WTO 1999!

[livejournal.com profile] sabotabby and [livejournal.com profile] sadie_sabot beat me to linking this but I will happily join the viral marketing campaign. Commentary on their journals is worth reading. But I'll say here what I said there:

Thank god the got the part right about all of us following the leader with the bad facial hair. I was afraid they'd leave that part out.
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Whoo-hoo! my old friends won the Sundance Best Documentary prize! I haven't seen it yet, but write it down folks, see it when it shows in your hometown! The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to TROUBLE THE WATER, directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. An aspiring rap artist and her streetwise husband, armed with a video camera, show what survival means when they are trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, and seize a chance for a new beginning. I'll have to dig out and scan that great pic of me and Tia on a picket line in 1988 so I can bask in her reflected fame.
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1. It was so busy right before Thanksgiving, such a blur of customers... At one point, [livejournal.com profile] dairryiere and I were discussing something at the cheese sink and someone walked by who gave us the shy nod of punk acknowledgement. We returned it and went back to our discussion. About five minutes later Dairryiere was all, "Hey, that was Aaron (Cometbus)!" I said, "Oh shit, you're right!" We've both known him for years and didn't know he was in town. We were just too dazed from customer service for the information to go to the thinking parts of our brains in time to actually say hello properly.

If you're reading this Aaron, sorry for the brush-off.

2. Martin from Giant Robot liked the Lance Memorial zine.

3. My drinking tolerance is very low these days. I guess I haven't been drinking enough. Cheese broker-paid drinks and a little dinner last night at Thirsty Bear = tipsy Gordon.

4. Number of suggestive "Wookey Hole" references made at the cheese broker holiday party: 6.

5. Picture of my Wookey Hole:
Untitled 69

6. I am so excited about some of the cheese coming in on Tuesday that I'm a little giddy. Let's hope it shows this time.

7. "The Devil Knows Your Dead" is a grim movie.

8. Looking forward to The Shondes on Tuesday at Annie's Social Club. Who's with me?

9. Also looking forward to fun holiday parties, out-of town guests, and the return of displaced Bay Areans

10. Also looking forward to February vacation plans. Yurts!
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So, I watched "The Last King of Scotland" last night. What an awful movie. What the hell was I thinking?

All the cliches were in place. Someplace in Africa is important because it's being seen through white eyes: check. Africans doing strange and wonderful things as seen through the oversaturation of color: yup. Africans doing outrageously cruel and crazy-violent things without remorse: why make a movie about Africa without that? One does not need to be an apologist for Idi Amin to hope for a little more context and history.

I admit I should have known better. I remember some positive review by some reviewer I liked and just put it in the to-see pile in my head. I also thought it was going to be a movie version of a true story, not the dramatization of a story inspired by an interpretation of a reflection of actual events which it turned out to be.

This is important only because while I expect non-fiction accounts to be self-serving, I also expect them to, if only to forestall criticism, be linked to a historical timeline and not make up things that are purely absurd. Not in this film, that's for sure!

Amin is so childlike (or insane) that just because some adventurist white doctor dude puts a splint on his injured wrist, he decides to let him implement policy for the entire post-coup nation. Those African tyrants sure are wacky! The person the book was originally based on at least was someone who Amin had known or known of for years since he was living in Uganda and employed by the English Army. One assumes that person had seen and done some hard things. In the movie the protagonist is some confused almost-hippie, almost do-gooder fresh out of med school who went to Uganda to escape his father issues. I mean Christ, Amin may have been evil but since he managed to rise from rural poverty to leader of a country, at least give him some credit for cunning.

Instead Amin constantly calls for counsel with someone who has the real life experience of an inner-city 8 year old. The movie tries to hedge its racism by getting a sympathetic Ugandan character to tell the white dude to go back to the West. Not because he hasn't done horrible things by aiding Amin, but because he's white so people will listen. True enough. But what happens when Whitey returns and makes the story all about his own inner conflict and how he's suffered? He also forgets to mention why all the Brits were there in the first place. Working on their tans?

Plus, his "escape" (the real person ended up in post-Amin jail) is the most absurd thing I have ever seen in a movie. More absurd than Bruce Willis's duct-taped holster in "Die Hard", more absurd than the flying bike in "ET", more absurd than the just-like-chickens scene in "Eraserhead".

In short, this movie made "Blood Diamond" seem complex, subtle and politically right-on. That is not a recommendation for Blood Diamond.
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One of the things I did while sick this week was watch, "When the Levees Broke", the Spike Lee documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. It was well done and compelling, though a little depressing for the edgy emotional state I get into while sick. I watched it in dribs and drabs, sometimes because it made me cry and sometimes because I found I couldn't concentrate because of my sick brain.

The only part I watched where I was like, "Hmmm, this seems a little picky." Was the scene where a teenager gives a tour of his FEMA trailer, complaining about how cheaply made it is. I didn't dwell on it but Lee had just documented how few people had gotten the trailers at all so it seemed a little, I hesitate to write this, ungrateful. It was a minor moment, but to me it seemed like a false note, a moment of less righteous anger in a film where "righteous anger" was the baseline .

And you know what? I was totally wrong.

Not 15 minutes after watching that I read a Nation article that just came out. Written about a year after the movie was filmed, it detailed that those trailers are making people sick because the materials aren't rated for people to actually live in them. Truly much of New Orleans is toxic still, and it would be hard to separate the toxicity of formaldehyde from the toxicity of sewage, mold, etc without massive study. But, man… It just keeps coming.

In other movie news I finally saw "Pan's Labyrinth" last night. I never get tired of seeing Fascists killed, especially Spanish ones. My favorite scene was right near the end so I probably shouldn't mention it until the movie is out of the theaters, but as someone who grew up watching war movies the "Fuck your honor" moment was incredibly satisfying and against genre. As it should be.

I also somehow got that James Bond movie from Netflix... "The World is not Enough" starring Remington Steele. It was so bad that I actually returned it unfinished. I realized about half way to the mailbox that I actually forgot to watch the last 15 minutes and I totally didn't care. I swear I don't know how that got on my queue. I think the name confused me. Maybe I was thinking it was "The World Can't Wait" and it was about sectarian front groups, I dunno.
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Spontaneously, I went out near the ocean to see a movie last night. I don’t know if "The Pursuit of Happyness" is playing outside of SF anymore, but since they disrupted my life for awhile while filming it I was curious how it all turned out.

Basically Will Smith plays a single dad trying to provide for his son (played by his real life son) while completing a competitive and unpaid stock broker internship at the beginning of the Reagan ‘80s. Everyone in SF kinda knows the plot because it’s "based on a real life story" and took so long to film so beware if you don’t want to read "spoilers". Anyways, he and his son get thrown out of their home in the Mission/Chinatown/Nob Hill district, move to a hotel in the Mission/Chinatown/Nob Hill /Los Angeles District and then become homeless, sleeping at Glide memorial and the bathroom of the Glen Park Bart Station.

This movie wasn’t what I expected. I expected a more feel-good-about-capitalism story since I knew going in that the guy would get his job and become a multi-millionaire. I thought there’d be just enough of a taste of adversary for us to feel empathy and a lot of celebratory anyone-can-do-it stockbroker wankfest. Instead, the movie is kinda of brutal for a big Hollywood film, mostly showing how easy the descent into homelessness and grinding poverty can be. People in this movie actually spend a lot of time taking the bus which is Hollywood shorthand for "desperately poor".

A usual conceit of the let's-all-be-happy-for-the-millionaire movie is they are exceptional people. In this movie Smith’s character is so exceptional though (talking his way into getting hired at Dean Witter while fresh out of jail, paint-covered and wearing a tank top, fixing the expensive bone density scanner he is trying to sell by window light at the homeless shelter, etc.) that he is beyond identifying with. I was all, "Guess I would have slept in that shelter for the rest of my life."

The heart of the movie is the obliviousness of the rich people in their interactions with Smith. In a wonderfully unsubtle metaphor for the Reagan ‘80s. the camera follows a convertible of laughing suits (who could be Smiths co-workers at Dean Witter) until they turn the corner and then the camera finds Smith and his son in the middle of a massive line for the few beds at Glide. The higher-ups are always asking to borrow petty sums of money, not realizing that it means Smith will miss a meal.

But whatever, Smith wants to be one of them and with a dogged persistence, and without a word about junk bonds, he overcomes blah blah and achieves success in the last two minutes of the movie. Unfortunately we are only told of his good fortune via epilogue so we don’t get to see Smith in his convertible driving by the lines of homeless people.

But really I only went for the San Francisco bits. The scene where Smith stiffs the cabbie and before he runs into the fake BART Station in Duboce Park: right in front of my apartment. Smith was sitting in front of the house for hours in a directors chair sipping orange juice. With the history of "Vertigo" and " Bullitt" I don’t expect characters to actually make any sense in their travels trough the city and I wasn’t disappointed to see the mansions of Noe Valley and Will Smith run from place to place, he was always running, that would have been impossible in real life. Minor mistakes like a character saying "415" when giving his number out (510 didn’t exist yet and even when it did people, would only specify "510" for years as 415 was assumed), and the use of the Denver Boot for parking tickets which didn’t happen until the ‘90s in SF*

But it is fun to see films made in San Francisco. Speaking of which, did you hear that Kink.com bought the Armory? (press release NOT worksafe).** (EDIT: oh hey, they do have a worksafe version of the press release. Here ya go.) They "look forward to an exciting restoration project and helping revive San Francisco’s movie industry." I can’t wait until The Mayor has Charlotte Maillard Swig host a soiree for the visiting film stars.

Also, we now have a place to make our last stand when the Christian right tries to take San Francisco by force. Someday the Armory will be our Alamo.

*In the SF Bay Guardian’s most memorable letter to the editor, Homocore Tom Jennings responded to the Guardian’s editorial for "anarchists" to dismantle other people's Denver Boots by saying, basically, that anarchists had better things to do with their time.

**Worksafe armory pics here
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I went and saw "American Hardcore" last night and while it wasn’t the movie I hoped it would be, it was a lot of fun. For a while at least. Some of the scenes are amazing, some bands are awesome, but none of it made me wanna go back in time.

Vic Bondi turned out to be the most eloquent voice of why punk was important to me. The opening scenes of the movie set the stage perfectly: Reagan getting sworn in, neo-‘50s aggressive preppyism coming into vogue, greed-is-good-for-everyone (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.) attitude as the law of the land. The earlier waves of punk, 1977 and 1979, weren’t angry enough for us Reagan youth, thus hardcore punk was born. Being punk in the early ‘80s was setting oneself up as a target of violence and taking (at least temporarily) a vow of poverty. The movie delineated the DIY network that grew up through the ‘80s and showed how bands and scenes survived and why they did it.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter. This movie is a great document of certain things but didn’t take it’s opportunity to ask the really interesting questions. I am predisposed to like this movie. While I was never more than tangentially involved in the punk scene at that time, I did start going to punk shows regularly in 1983.* For the reasons listed above, punk helped politicize me and, honestly, changed my life. But man, even I got tired of watching white guys talk about how important their scene was by the time the movie was over.

Punk, even hardcore, was never all white though it was always mostly white and, with the exception of the Bad Brains, dominated by white folks. Punk, even hardcore, was never all male though it was always mostly male and dominated by men. As a white man who was a white teenager in the early ‘80s, I would argue that there can be a place for that. I can’t totally denounce the very scene that politicized me in the first place even though I had no idea of the bigger societal issues at play at the time. But we needed a place too. As Bondi put it, there was no organized left (that we could find) in the ‘80s, but there was hardcore. White teenagers had a lot to be angry at in the early ‘80s and creating self-sustaining worlds and acting as walking fuck-yous to Reaganism was certainly a valid and creative alternative. Especially when the scene is being created by teen-agers.

But (mostly)white (mostly) male anger has historically been problematic . And while punk gave me a lot, it was downright ugly at times. To the movie’s credit, some of the ugly is shown. Hardcore punks talking about "new wave faggots", some still-stupid people laughing at their violence against others who didn’t have it coming, the massive drug use, the band "Nig Heist", etc, but the most telling thing is the visual: two hours of white boys yelling and hitting.

There’s a reason that a neo-Nazi movement (never mentioned!) took hold in some punk scenes and why hardcore was seen as a recruitment base for white supremacists. They were never more than a dedicated and dangerous minority in the punk scene, and indeed many punks learned anti-racism by fighting with racist skins, but that’s still one of the obvious dangers of creating a (mostly) white subculture.

The rap on hardcore from the disaffected has always been this: hardcore was the reinscription of white male power on punk rock. While punk was always mostly white, Hardcore suburbanized it (and suburbs were a lot whiter back then) brought in a jock mentality through slam dancing and thrashing, pushed out the homos, the women, many of the people of color, and the artists. It also rigidly defined the music (with the exception of Flipper) creating "generic" punk from what was a musical movement that defied rigid form. These are things that spawned the queer punk and Riot Grrrl scenes in the late ‘80s early ‘90s.

I would also argue that hardcore politicized punk in a way it hadn’t before. It became explicitly anti-Reagan and got a more unified voice about the shift of political power going on in the country at the time. Hardcore created infrastructure that allowed people to survive. Kids could escape to any city in the country , find the punks, and find a way to survive unless self-destruction was their real goal. The DIY scene that was created spawned thousands of projects and is what made punk something we would even discuss today. That scene also spawned political impulses that rippled out to help fuel political movements such as the one that shut down the WTO in Seattle in 1999.

As much as we would like to make perfect organizing decisions and do only good, those of us who care about such things need to realize that politicization can be an ugly process. Despite all the negatives, and all the ways I could have chosen to not become political, punk showed me the possibility of another world, one that was anti-authoritarian, creative, self-sufficient, exciting, and full of people trying to, corny as it sounds, fight injustice. There was lots of stuff I ignored at the time, and there was lots of stuff I needed to unlearn, but punk provided a way of looking at things that spoke to me and my background. If people are to be politicized you have to get ‘em where they are. Where "they" are, where we are, in 1984 or in 2006, is pretty fucking ugly. To me, the importance of punk politically was to provide an avenue where people could start making political connections. If they took those lessons outside the punk scene and did more important organizing, as many did, so much the better. There weren’t many option we could see in those days. I don’t know how it feels as a teen today.

What I was disappointed by about the movie was that those questions weren’t on the agenda. This was about white teenagers in bands and the Bad Brains. There were some amazing folks interviewed but they weren’t asked the questions I wanted to hear.

At one point they explain/rationalize the absence of women in the movie and the scene by saying that women were always in the audience but were documenting the scene through photos and zines. Fine. But then why is the focus of this movie only on bands? I could be wrong but I think there were two women in bands interviewed and just three women from the Boston scene (Including, I think, that woman who played Brandon’s girlfriend In Beverly Hills 90210) out of around 100 people. That’s just fucking embarrassing.

It was as if Riot Grrrl and queer punk never happened. While those early ‘90s scenes were out of "American Hardcore ’s" time frame, they would have provided scores of interesting topics to ask the old-timers about. Those scenes changed the way that any punk or ex-punk with any brains at all thinks about their involvement in the scene. For example, all the scenes showed crowds of primarily white punk boys thrashing. Riot Grrrl asked the important question, "Who was holding their coats?". That question was a pretty memorable one for the punk world. It still resonates. Two weeks ago I asked [livejournal.com profile] dairryiere to hold my coat for a second (so I could put something at work away, not so I could go slam) and we had to joke about it to diffuse the situation.

MaximumRocknRoll was not even mentioned which is just unbelievable. MRR, through it’s collective organization, compilation albums, radio shows, and , reader-written scene reports in an explicitly political zine, was one of the most important networking tools of the hardcore scene. There was reason to hate that, but to ignore it is bizarre.

The lack of politics was my biggest disappointment in the movie. Anti-nuke protests, anti-Pope protests, Rock Against Reagan, the re-emergence of anarchist political groups: all of these things were influenced by political punks in the hardcore scene. For many, being political was being punk. I don’t know if they just considered Peace Punks non-hardcore, and certainly much of their influence came from the UK, not Huntington Beach, but we were all at the same shows. And don’t try to tell me that Gang Green rocked harder than Crucifix. It was no coincidence that I ran into someone I know from ‘80s North American Anarchist Gatherings as I walked out of the theater.

In the end, the movie cared about bands not scenes, even as it brought up the concept that hardcore’s greatest asset and contribution was the community of punks it created. Certainly the regional scenes couldn’t have existed without the bands. But the whole interesting thing is the vice versa. After two hours of amazing footage and some interesting interviews, that’s what was disappointing. It was a pulled punch. It shouldn’t have been another "great men" story.

*Flipper/Butthole Surfers/Frightwig at the On Broadway. Awesome.

Miami Vice

Aug. 1st, 2006 12:34 pm
gordonzola: (Default)
Cheese conference entries coming soon I promise. But let’s talk about Miami Vice.

Yes, I actually did go see it the other day. The only movie I’ve seen this summer has been the disappointing "Strangers With Candy" movie, so really seeing Miami Vice was more about the time slot than anything else. And I thought it would be pretty on the big screen.

The original Miami Vice TV wasn’t very good, but it had a few things going for it. 1. The unusual for TV camera work 2. Being one of the first popular TV dramas with an interracial cast and 3. Cocaine on TV was kinda fresh and new and 4. the trainwreck fascination of seeing how bad can Don Johnson’s fashion get.

Plot was never really the point, and true to form the plot of the movie has exactly zero twists and turns. It’s really not even worth discussing except in relation to the above. Though I would like to just mention that the inclusion of evil white supremacists in so many action films regardless of whether it makes any sense is just so transparent. It’s like shouting "SEE WE AREN’T RACIST! WE SHOW BAD WHITE PEOPLE TOO! Yeah, yeah...

The movie is beautiful in a number of scenes. The sound of thunderstorms and wind is more interesting than the stilted dialogue anyway, so the moments of pink skies, crashing waterfalls and lightning strikes were the best part of the movie. I’m not even saying that as a criticism, it’s mostly why I wanted to go.

In my memory, I haven’t seen it since it originally aired, the series in many ways was about the melting pot myth of America. Multi-racial Miami was the backdrop for a cop drama that was profoundly uninteresting. Thus the background became a large part of the action. Certainly cop dramas were among the first TV shows to incorporate Black actors. Sometimes they even gave them badges in addition to guns like in the "Mod Squad" if they were really trying to be hip. But Miami Vice had Blacks, whites, and Latinos all over both sides of the drug war.

It certainly didn’t escape the notice of the viewers. In one of my social groups, that it goes without saying was mostly white, Miami Vice spawned a drinking game. Basically, in order to get as fucked up as possible, you drank whenever a new "minority" came on the screen.* Fucked up, and racist no doubt, but even us suburban high school white kids could tell something different was going on. I’m not putting out Miami Vice as a model of anti-racism, mind you. Certainly a multi-racial cast allows a lot more leeway in portraying the bad POCs as even more evil and depraved. But it did treat as a given that in the US, at least in urban areas, white folks weren’t the only people who mattered.

The movie actually stays pretty true to that, having characters with dense accents and no subtitles. The message seems to clearly be if you can’t handle accented English, you’re not modern enough to watch this movie. For a show that marketed itself as a glimpse into urban modernity (obviously a stilted, shallow one with certain political agendas, but that’s not the point) the message seems to be now that not only are white people not the sole arbiters of what is important, but that, indeed unless they make certain adjustments, they won’t understand "their" country anymore.

The movie loses the claim to modernity though with the plot. It’s basically a simple undercover bust-the-international-cocaine-dealer plot. Now in 1984, Reagan’s in and all that, cocaine (on TV) was fresh and new. Horrible novels were seen as cutting edge just because they had characters who did lots of coke. Now it’s just trite. If they had set this in 1984 or so, they could have made it work, but really it just undercuts one of the few things Miami Vice had going for it. The illusion of cutting edge.**

As for the fashion, it seemed downplayed. Don Johnson never would have worn the faded, sleeveless t-shirt that Colin Farrell sports in one scene. And what is with his mullett anyways? Between this and the Da Vinci Code, Hollywood seems determined to bring it back.

I must say that I was mighty disappointed in the casting too. Until I got to the theater, I thought that they had cast Will Ferrell instead of Colin Farrell . I didn’t think it was going to be a comedy, but I was fascinated by how Crockett would be portrayed. In retrospect, I think it would have been an awesome choice. Especially since the "moody" we-are-men-unable-to-talk-to-each-other dialogue didn’t really call for much effort.

So, what did I think of the movie? I thought it was pretty when it wasn’t being overly violent. I couldn’t help thinking about all the money wasted by shooting in so many different countries and kept thinking, "Michael Mann must really have some pull". I thought rarely have I been less engaged by characters and plot in a movie. Basically, I thought it was style over substance, just like the original but without the original’s ability to be a cultural force (for good or ill). The sell-by date passed a long time ago for this one.

*To be complete about this, I think one also had to drink whenever Don Johnson changed outfits which was almost as often.

**And I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I actually preferred the Phil Collins version of "Something in the Air" to the horrible modernized one that played over the credits. If nothing else, I will never forgive Michael Mann for making me type that.
gordonzola: (Default)
For the last few months, customers have occasionally asked if that was me they saw in the Cheese Nun movie. I had no idea really. Sister Noella and I have exchanged a few words, mostly involving her asking what I wanted from the bar at the SF Cheese Conference Festival of Cheese, but none memorable enough to be captured on film for a PBS documentary. I do truly appreciate her work as a cheese bio chemist and resource to traditional cheesemakers.

No one asked me what I thought though, so I knew if I was there it would be in a non-speaking, background role. I rented the movie last night and sure enough, there I am. About five minutes before the end, during the filming of the Festival of Cheese in Louisville Kentucky, they focus on some woman eating cheese. She backs up and there I am taking notes on the cheese I’m eating. I’m in my blue bowling shirt that Gary Fembot bought for me at a thrift store because "Gordon" is stitched on the front. Full frame baby!

It was a bittersweet couple of minutes because, of course, I know lots of the people in those scenes. The reason it was bittersweet is because, just before my cameo, the cheesemakers they show looking at their cheese through Sister Noella’s microscope a very sweet couple who went out of business last year. They made a great cheese that won best in its category the first year they entered it. They were wide-eyed and sweet when I first met them, avoiding all the pretentiousness that the cheese conference can bring out.

Unfortunately, the combination of a recall and a national retail chain contract put them out of business. The recall was for listeria. A test on a cheese came back positive and they had to recall and destroy everything in their aging rooms despite the fact that even though they did many, many more tests they never found another cheese that tested positive or the "source" of the contamination. A bad test? Compromised at the lab? An incredibly localized problem? No one knows. Certainly there were no reported ill effects.

As for the contract, I don’t know the specifics. But those contracts have brought many cheesemakers to the brink of bankruptcy. Basically, what can happen is this: a place like Costco or TJ’s makes an offer on someone’s cheese at a certain price. Many cheesemakers have a problem with quantity of scale so the increased production is a godsend even if they are selling some of that product cheaper. The problem comes in when dairies expand their facilities to meet that increased demand. A year later, with the dairies now carrying a much bigger load of debt on their larger production facilities, the chain comes back with an offer that is less per pound and it’s take it or leave it. Especially in these years of rapidly increased utility and transportation costs, neither option is sustainable for long if they’ve overextended themselves..

One or the other they probably could have survived, but both things in the same year put them under.

In the movie, however, they are just so excited to be checking out the microscopic activity in their product. It’s, pardon the not-actually-a-pun, infectious. It’s no wonder the film maker used that image in the film because watching Sister Noella show them their own cheese in a brand new way was exciting. It really brought home both the value of someone like Sister Noella and the hunger there is among small-scale cheesemakers for the knowledge to make their cheese better and better.

It was fun to see that cheese couple still so idealistic and excited, before the business bit them in the butt.
gordonzola: (Default)
(If one can "spoil" a movie based on a graphic novel that’s 20-some years old then beware, "spoilers" ahead.)

As I walked out of the Metreon with [livejournal.com profile] jactitation and [livejournal.com profile] goodbadgirl the dudes in front of us said, "Well, that was a cynical movie."

I was shocked. I thought it was a rather optimistic fairy tale of a film. Revolution has never looked so easy. I wanted to pull out my magical dagger and run him through. But I kept walking.

First off, any film that has a triumphant blowing up of Parliament as the final scene is ok by me. It’s even better when that is followed by a Malcolm X snippet about violence and self-defense . Those are the kind of things that make me leave movie theaters happy. Off the pigs! Should we go home or get a drink?

But let’s start at the beginning. I’m not sure why the filmmakers felt the need to not make the movie as dire as the comic. Making the plot less coherent, everyone seems to have jobs, there’s no appearance of grinding poverty, the surveillance state is less all-knowing even though the governments of this country and England have much more ability to monitor us than they did back in the ‘80s. I’m not really sure why Evey was going to visit big, gay Gordon instead of trying to turn a trick so she could eat in the opening, perhaps they thought the audience would be less sympathetic even if V still saves her from despoilment. But there’s no real point in guessing about motivations. They took out a lot of the roles of women too, but one was such a cliched castrating bitch, I wasn’t saddened by her absence. ([livejournal.com profile] sabotabby does a wonderful job of comparing the comic and the film especially around class politics.

Before we went and saw the movie, Jactitation reminded me that back in the ‘80s that the graphic novel wasn’t nearly as cynical as we were. It’s, in the end, a Great Man story. That one person, through omniscient symbolism and a few well-placed bombs can change everything. Though billed by some as "anarchist" (and the circle "V" is no accident) it’s actually fairly traditional story-telling. That V is training a woman to take his place, and that we are all Spartacus "V" in the end, is something of a twist, but not much of one.

I don’t want to impose realism on a comic book or movie here, except to point of that neither the graphic novel or the movie are what one could call "organizing tools". They are spectacle, and good fun, but fleeting, especially when easily seen in the context of Hollywood big screens and when the hero (who is much more likable than in the comic) has unexplained and unlimited resources ([livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid covered that aspect very well in his review) that make the storyline more fantastical than anything else.

A lot of people, when walking out of an action film feel like they want to get in a fight. But not really. A fantasy fight where they having all those Hong Kong Action moves and they don’t feel any pain. That’s the nature of movies. Like thinking about stabbing the film critics walking out in front of me, it provides a short-lived fantasy of being more powerful than one really is. At least on an individual level.

Where V manufactured a million identical masks and got the money to mail them to everyone in London is probably the biggest let’s-not-think-about-this moment in the plot. The obvious comparison to me is with the revolutionary teen punk movie "Times Square". But in that movie, all you had to do to be a Slime Sister was to grab a plastic garbage bag and smear on your mom’s makeup. Everyone had access to those things. The officially produced "V mask" (next year’s Halloween fave?) has to be produced, transported and hand-delivered to those who would bring down the totalitarian state. That seems rather odd for the revolutionary trying to poke holes in the culture of dependency and obedience spawned by fascism.

The climactic moment where Eminem (Thanks Goodbadgirl!) and his friends in Scream Guy Fawkes masks storm the soldiers and they don’t shoot because they don’t have orders (they are such automatons that they can’t do anything without orders) was a pretty big cop out. V is kinda fucked up, after all. He tortures Evey to set her free and he sends a bunch of unarmed folks to their potential deaths storming the military barricades (though the re are some similarities to the colorful revolutions of Eastern Europe here, both with the non-violence of the mob and the symbolic branding of the "revolution" ([livejournal.com profile] spaceoctopus has been writing about this a lot recently). Not that storming the military barricades (by people who’ve lost their fear without being imprisoned and tortured by "V") is a bad thing, just that this might have been the most consequence-less defeating of fascism ever. Only V ever has to kill anyone and his dirty hands blow up with parliament. It’s a baggage-less revolution!

The comic, and to a lesser extent the film, are often viewed as anarchist. I would submit that they are "anarchist " mostly because at the time of the writing, the anarchists had the most new, vibrant and semi-underground white subculture. I mean c’mon, are you gonna write a graphic novel about the exciting subculture of Trots? Besides the trappings in the graphic novel (circle V, the responsibility of one’s oppression is both internal and external etc. ) I think it’s mostly seen as anarchist because anarchist theory is so heavily mythological when it comes to revolution.

The general strike has historically been the mythical event that was most often cast to usher in the new world. Leaving the caveman fetishists aside (who, no, I don’t view as "real" anarchists"), the critique of vanguardism and political manipulation has left anarchists, in a post-revolutionary union world, without a grounded theory of revolution. Paris ’68 suggested that students spraypainting walls, refusing to attend class, and fucking in the streets might be enough to disrupt the "Spectacle" and push people towards true awareness of their role in society of oppressed and oppressor. Nearly 40 years of bad art and politics later we’re worse off than before.

Which isn’t anarchism’s fault, mind you. It’s just that many anarchists and fellow travelers are so starved for positive signs that we mistake repackaged hipness as revolutionary art. But hey, art is not a telegram and can mean different things to different peope, so maybe it is in some ways.

The other thing I came out of the movie wondering was could they make a movie like this (and Guy Fawkes obviously is a historic character who has no equivalent in US mythology) where the White House or Congress or even the Pentagon is destroyed as a good thing with no drawbacks? Sure, a lot of stuff got blown up happily in "Fight Club" but that was pre-9/11. Let’s have a sequel!

Lastly, and this is more of an aside, but could they have picked a more cliché song for the credits? "Street Fightin’ Man" by the Rolling Stones? Ugh. What would you have picked?

I had "Shaved Women" by Crass in my head from the prison scene on but that wouldn’t really have been appropriate. "Big A/Little A" might have been a good choice but a sad, rap/metal version was used in Scream 2 or 3 (again with the masks...). Nazi Punks Fuck Off" would have been fun but a little too punk-centric.

No, I think "Persons Unknown" * by the Poison Girls or "Firing Squad" by the Subhumans ( a band that actually put their politics into action!) would have been inspired choices.

*oh those lyrics are hard to read. The first stanza is:

This is a message to persons unknown
Persons in hiding. Persons unknown
Survival in silence
Isn't good enough no more
Keeping your mouth shut head in the sand
Terrorists and saboteurs
Each and every one of us
Hiding in shadows persons unknown
gordonzola: (Default)
As noted in yesterday’s post, I watched the Metallica in therapy documentary "Some Kind of Monster". I had heard lots of bad things about it so I had put it off. I shouldn’t have. It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. In fact, I laughed most of the way through.

I gotta say, I’m buying the hype on this one. In the end I was convinced that they released the movie, despite often not showing our men in a very good light, because they really felt therapy helped them and wanted to send that message out to others. I’m sure there was some recoup the investment cost discussion. But these guys seem to own half of Northern California and they paid a therapist around half a million dollars a year for two years so I imagine they could have buried it if they wanted to.

Most of the reason the movie is fun is because it’s incongruous. Watch the metal band use "I" statements! Look at the macho dudes talk about their feelings! Follow every moment of the creative process and realize the band isn’t handed the lyrics and melodies directly from Satan!

Basically the story is that our boys are on the verge of breaking up. They’re trying to record a new album but they are territorial about their individual contributions and all harboring grudges and slights that go back 15 years or so. Part of the way they try to combat this is by hiring a therapist used to dealing with big ego millionaires who have to work together. They are paying him $40,000 a month! The beginning is fairly painful and you might find yourself wondering why you should care. But then one goes off to rehab, leaving the others rudderless. He comes back looking cute for the first time ever and the band fights and creates, finally releasing another album that makes them all millions.

As a co-op person it was great fun to watch their band meetings and see how they would have been improved with decent facilitation , ground rules, and an agenda. In fact, under the guise of therapy-speak, that is a big part of what happens to get the band cooperating again.

Maybe I’m falling for an intricate ploy to humanize the band after they pissed off their fans, and all good people, with the Napster lawsuit. But I found myself liking them more than I thought I would, especially Kirk. Kirk is my favorite. There is some Spinal Tap to the whole thing except that the decisions they make as a band are cunning and smart. Dumping that horrible song about temptation, choosing a name for the album, hiring the bass player from the Suicidals instead of one of the generic metal dudes, buying Basquiat paintings low and selling high. That’s why unlike Spinal Tap, in the end the joke is not on them.

My favorite moment was when they bring Dave Mustaine to group therapy to let him vent about the way they fired him nearly 20 years before. Oh man, that guy is still living the pain from that. Because I’m mean, I was howling when he talked about metalheads taunting him on the street by yelling "Metallica" at him. He made it sound like they were waiting outside the door at that moment to mock him. He preemptively and defensively brought up the record sales from his band Megadeath* but the best moment was when he talked about the hurt he felt in getting kicked out and says, "What happened to my little Danish friend (Lars). He’s not there anymore."

Watching the therapist "rock out" during the recording sessions and start to use "we" when talking about the band is also a highlight. Metallica has never been one of my favorite bands. I haven’t listened to them since "Master of Puppets" really, but I did wanna go find my tape of that or "Kill ‘Em All" after the movie. I always resented the fact that they encouraged way too many people who shouldn’t have been playing one bass drum to try and play two, but I can’t deny that some of their songs are pretty great.

*I actually saw Megadeath and Overkill at a small club (the Stone in San Francisco) because I won tickets. It was the only metal show I eve went to and I hated it. Megadeath did cover a DOA song which weirded us out and made us flee.
gordonzola: (Default)
About 2 AM on the morning of Thanksgiving I awoke stuffed up with a bad cold. I had to blow off the sibling and children hike around Lake Lagunitas and stay in bed watching football. Well, I watched football after I broke a big rule I had set up for myself: never watch a Mike Leigh movie on a family holiday.

I’m typical in that I do tend to get depressed around the holidays. Not incapacitated, but noticeable to me. One year for x-mas day [livejournal.com profile] jactitation and I had a movie fest with the theme "dysfunctional families". It was fun when lots of other folks were there, but a late night viewing of "Meantime" pushed me over the edge from ironic distance to seriously unhappy. I vowed never again.

If you haven’t seen a Mike Leigh movie, he is an amazing director. He concentrates on family dynamics and class. The cinematic effect of many this-is-my-horrible-childhood movies is autobiographical and individual. "My dad was the most abusive drunk ever." "My mom did more prescription drugs* than yours." Mike Leigh’s films go beyond the personal wallow /squirmy voyeur formula into intense examinations of family, limited options, and people working within their confines and abilities. "High Hopes" is one of my favorite films ever and "Life is Sweet" pretty amazing too. "Secrets and Lies", his kinda breakthrough movie, pulls its punches at the end, so if you’ve only seen that, try another.

But I woke up stuffed up and with just "Career Girls" and the Metallica therapy movie on hand from Green Cine (local Netflix-type company). My head hurt too much for metal . "Career Girls" was awesome . I don’t know why I put off seeing it for so long. Basically two women, housemates and best friends in college, reunite after not seeing each other for six years. It’s about fragility, sacrificing friendship, masking neurosis as best one can, hurting people by accident, still feeling pain from things others don’t remember, and the limits of friendship. It wasn’t as brutal as many of Leigh’s other films but I still ended up calling my friends afterwards, some just to hear their voices on their voicemails since I knew they were gathering for the holiday and away from phones.

I did eventually drive to my parents house with $75 worth of cheese that I ate despite the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe afterwards. It was good. For those playing at home I bought the following:
L’edel de Cleron – The best faux Vacherin Mont D’or out their right now. Pasteurized milk but still oozy, earthy, rich, meaty and covered in bark
Fromager D’Affinois – basic brie
Italian Muscato – Cow milk cheese aged in wine. One customer called it "floral". [livejournal.com profile] anarqueso said, "Yes, if by ‘floral’ you mean boozy!"
Tumalo Tomme --Semi-soft raw goat milk cheese from Oregon. Tangy and milky. Any Wipers fans out there? Everytime I cut this I get that "Romeo Roam" song in my head.
Basque Pilota -- Basically an Ossau-Iraty but with 50% cow milk to give it a richer taste. One person called it "Basque Velveeta" because of the texture but that was not meant as an insult. Melts in your mouth. We sold 1000 lbs. of this in two weeks and we are all quite sick of cutting it.
Bravo Farms Chipotle Cheddar --Central Valley cheddar with smoked hot peppers. It’s really cool looking too, all marbled like fatty meat.
Humboldt Fog -- The best of the local goat cheeses. Again, it looks really cool and they use [livejournal.com profile] sarahshevett’s milk.
Rogue Blue -- The limited edition blue from some of my favorite cheesemakers. Wrapped in wine-soaked leaves this might be the best American Blue. Pungent, creamy, rich, salty goodness.

Once again, the cheese was the best part of the meal .

*Ever seen "Postcards from the Edge"? That was a bad movie. Carrie Fisher painfully confronts her mom in the final scene with "You gave me wine as a child.** That’s why I’m addicted to drugs and sleep with horrible men!". It’s like she lost the dysfunction competition with Christina Crawford.
** or something relatively minor like that
gordonzola: (Default)
I like that movies get filmed in this city even if it can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Thankfully, I don’t like in a cliché view neighborhood. The closest filming I remember was when Brandon’s arty/punky girlfriend on 90210 moved to SF, she "lived" on top of Duboce by Buena Vista Park. But actually, I was living on Mission St. back then.

But I came home to a letter from the production department of "The Pursuit of HappyNess" which is "based on the life of San Francisco resident Christopher Gardner" ( I don’t know which one). Evidently, they are building a fake BART platform in Duboce Park and are filming a chase scene all day on 9/21.

My favorite part is the request that people put their cars in their garages so that the period setting is maintained. Because obviously people just park on the street for fun. I also like that they are hiring a security guard to guard the fake BART station for "the safety of the residents". I’ll let you know when I figure out how a movie prop is a threat to my safety.


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