Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An Appeal to My Base

I first discovered the super-cool auteur/rock star t-shirts from CineFile Video some time back, but I mostly forgot about them until yesterday, when Noel at the AV Club posted something about them. Of course, now that I've seen them again I sort of need to buy one. Question is, which one?

There are several ways to go about trying to decide which might be for you. There's always the option of choosing the one that imitates your favorite band of the bunch, although eighties-era metal has never really been my thing, so I don't think that would be my best course of action. In this case, I'd say that going with my favorite director from the choices they've given me would be more my speed. Then there's the option of going with the most willfully obscure, the coolest-looking, or even the funniest. But even exhausting all these options, I've still only been able to narrow it down to the following five choices:

Ingmar Bergman / Iron Maiden

Brian DePalma / Def Leppard

Yasujiro Ozu / Ozzy

Bela Tarr / Black Flag

Lars Von Trier / Van Halen

CineFile also sells three other t-shirts, which I eliminated for various reasons- Herzog because his shirt is the most ubiquitous of the bunch, Scorsese because he's such an obvious choice, and Fassbinder because... well, I dunno. The Fassbinder/Metallica thing is an interesting juxtaposition, but the shirt just isn't speaking to me.

Anyway, folks, here's where you come in. Help me decide which of these shirts I should buy. I've embedded a poll of my five favorites, from which you'll be able to select one.

<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=124741">Which Cinefile director t-shirt should I buy?</a> <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash polls</a>

In addition, I'd invite all of you to elaborate on your choices in the comments section. Bear in mind that all input will be considered if not necessarily heeded.

Thanks in advance, buds.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Where I've Been

I just realized it’s been more than two weeks since I last updated this thing, which despite my agenda generally being packed is practically unprecedented for me. Anyway, here I am, alive and well, and busy as ever. Besides work and Screengrab, I’ve been spending plenty of time with Angela, which of course has been great. I even went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival with her and her child (henceforth to be known as The Offspring), wearing a costume she made for me. I’ll spare you the photos for the time being, but I had a great time. Lots of fun to be had, even if the place was swarming with jerks who took every opportunity to gawk at those who actually dressed for the festivities (what did they think it was, the county fair?). Still, I enjoyed myself, and if nothing else I’ll take away the memory of The Offspring, in deep concentration while playing the Diabolo I bought as a gift.

In addition, Angela and I (sans Offspring this time) spent much of this past weekend together. Attended my first hockey game on Friday night, with OSU taking on Lake Superior St. OSU lost, but still a good time. One thing that isn’t conveyed on televised games is how fast the players move. I’ve always been hopeless on ice skates, so I’m sort of in awe of how they bolted all over the ice like it was no big deal. But then, they’ve probably been doing it all their lives, so I’m guessing it wasn’t a big deal. Anyway, between this, a long nostalgic discussion I had last week about the NBA of my youth, and my recently re-emerging interest in Major League Baseball, I suppose I’m less of an anti-sports curmudgeon than I’d previously thought. Although I still couldn't care less about football.

And Saturday night Angela and I took in the Horror Marathon. Wasn’t sure she’d be down with it, but I think she enjoyed it at least as much as I did, although it didn’t look like she got into Meet the Feebles as much as I. Alas, we had to bail before it was over, a sad side effect of our having to work regular 9-to-5 hours during the week. You might say I’ve gotten assimilated.

In short, my girlfriend rocks. Need more proof? She loved Lawrence of Arabia when we saw it in 70mm a few weekends back.

Somewhere in the middle of my busy schedule, I also found time to catch some new releases and review them for your enjoyment and edification. Click on the titles for my posts on W., Let the Right One In (shown at the Marathon), Miracle at St. Anna, Choke, and I Served the King of England.

Passing the Hat

Normally, I'm not the sort of blogger who goes hitting up his readers for money. I think it's a little tacky, especially when I update this blog so infrequently that it barely even qualifies as a hobby. But I'm making an exception here for what I believe is a worthy cause.

Earlier this month, fellow blogger, longtime Silly Hats Only reader, inaugural Muriel Awards voter and all around good dude Andrew Bemis finished shooting his debut feature, entitled Black Light. Now that shooting has been completed, Andrew has begun trying raise funds for post-production and promotional costs. Andrew goes into greater detail on the film's blog, Black Light Journals.

Now, I realize that times are tight right now with the economic crisis and all. But I also believe in helping out stand-up folks who are trying to get a foothold in the movie industry. I realize what a tough racket it can be, and Andrew is to be applauded for even trying to navigate it. Any help you might be able to give him to complete the film will be appreciated by both Andrew and me.

To information on how to donate, click here.

Criterion Watch, October '08

One reason I enjoy doing Criterion Watch is because of the sheer diversity of the films. Now that the great majority of canonical classics have made it to DVD, the folks at Criterion are now doing something just as vital, if somewhat less marketable- they’re finding less-universally-acclaimed titles that are worthy of being ranked beside the big-name masterpieces. This month’s crop is no exception, with an indie-film landmark, an old-school melodramas, and numerous films from by an Italian master sharing the spotlight.

We begin with this one, which I haven’t seen in ages. I remember being moved by the sheer breadth of the story Nava and collaborator Anna Thomas tell here, although it remains to be seen whether the film has aged well. (also coming to Blu-Ray)

This is probably the best known of Douglas Sirk’s movies that I haven’t seen, the release of which was hinted at a few months back. As they did previously with The Lower Depths and The Killers, Criterion is including both versions of the film for our enjoyment, which should prove interesting.

The final titles on this slate come from Criterion’s previously-promised influx of Rossellini titles. I’m not sure why the awkwardly-titled The Taking of Power by Louis XIV isn’t included in the Eclipse set- perhaps because Louis Quatorze came after the Enlightenment?- but regardless of the reasoning, I’ll be glad to catch up with Rossellini, a filmmaker I admire but have yet to fully embrace. Perhaps his approach to historical drama can change this.

Finally, here’s the clue for this month:

I hate to admit it, but it took me a while to get this. Maybe I was reading too much into it, as is my way, but this would almost certainly have to be The Wages of Fear, considering it’s one of the thirteen titles that made the original roll call of Blu-Rays. I don’t have a Blu-Ray player, but still- pretty cool.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Everything old is new again

Ever since my grandfather passed away in February, the family has struggled with getting his affairs in order. After moving Grandma into an assisted-living community (she's loving it there, by the way), they switched their energies to dividing up the possessions he left behind. And seeing as how it's October and the job isn't close to being finished, you can probably guess that there was quite a bit to sort through. Truth is, Grandpa and Grandma lived in the same house for more than fifty years, and in that time one can accrue a whole lot of stuff.

It was sort of strange visiting the old house on Saturday for the first time since Grandpa passed away. All of the curtains were drawn, and the furniture was in unfamiliar places. All the personality and character of five decades' worth of living there had been drained from the place. It was no longer Grandma and Grandpa's home, simply another old house.

My Dad, who was with me at the time, asked me if I might be interested in taking any mementos of Grandpa. A few months ago, he got two of Grandpa's old candy dishes that were a fond memory of my youthful visits to his home. This time, I took an old fedora of his that he once wore to work, from back when men still did such things. What I found interesting about this hat wasn't simply that it once belonged to him- though that's certainly part of it. I also liked that it was an honest-to-goodness remnant of the past, rather than simply a bit of retro nostalgia that someone like Justin Timberlake might wear onstage. I've long been interested in the difference between vintage and retro, and I'd say this fedora falls comfortably in the former category. Hell, when I showed it to my mom, she immediately responded, "that looks like an old man's hat." But that's what I liked about it, that it belongs resolutely to the past.

As I was leaving the house, I noticed an old rotary telephone sitting on top of a chest. Naturally, this piqued my curiosity, and when closer inspection revealed not only an old-school phone jack (the wires had to be screwed into the wall) but also a label with the antiquated letter-prefix of "JEfferson-5", I knew I had to take it home with me. The old-fashioned style of phone prefixes has intrigued me for years, perhaps because it fell out of use before I was born but was still in effect during my parents' lifetimes, which makes it both alien and somehow familiar to me in a comforting way.

Now, I don't anticipate that I'll use the old telephone- which is even heavier than I'd remembered- in the way it was designed, but I'm sure I'll find a place for it in my home, just like the fedora will find its logical new place in my wardrobe. The candy bowls might hold candy again, or maybe something else entirely. The house will eventually be cleared out, cleaned, and sold to someone completely new. And Grandma, miles removed from where she was less than a year ago, is as happy as she's been in years. Life moves forward, with or without us.