New this week on Popshifter:
J Howell likes the new Atoms For Peace single “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”; Cait raves about The Definitive Shoes Collection; JG Thirlwell gives us his Best Of 2012; Emily says John Cale will always be cool; Chelsea suggests Erin McKeown newbies check out her latest album Manifestra; I interview Resolution directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead; give my Top Ten Picks for 2013 movies and the Sundance Film Festival; and discuss new music from Adam Ant, Iceage, and Suede.
Remember when I said I wasn’t going to talk about the Oscars? I didn’t lie, but I do want to talk about something Oscars-related (though technically, it’s just about awards in general).
Over the last few months, we’ve seen a lot of “Best Of” lists for movies. Some of these are even compiled and counted and used to determine the “Best Movie” announcement for a particular group or publication. In that way, they’re sort of like mini-awards ceremonies, except no one goes home with a gold statue.
Resolution was the most unexpectedly intriguing movie of 2012 for me (review). The trailer was fascinating, but I had no idea what I was in for. I could say much the same about writer/director Justin Benson and co-director/cinematographer Aaron Moorhead. Their abilities at keeping an audience transfixed extended beyond the movie and into the intro and Q&A for Resolution at its Toronto After Dark screening.
Luckily, I was able to catch up with the pair a few days ago, in anticipation of Resolution‘s upcoming release on VOD and in theaters. Here’s what they had to say.
Justin: In general, when you make a movie and you make your own key art and you’re really happy with it, you then show it to the distributor who probably has their own ideas, which are very well placed: this is to sell it on VOD. And then you wait for months to get kicked in the balls, thinking it’s gonna be terrible. But we were so happy . . . nothing against horror movie posters, but it doesn’t look like a horror movie poster. There’s something very odd about the poster but it doesn’t look like a horror movie poster.
The Venture Bros., image courtesy of Jackson Publick
So much good television is on offer for 2013. Given that I didn’t write an arbitrary best-of list for 2012, I thought I’d start out this year with an arbitrary list of things I’m really looking forward to watching in the next year. In no particular order, here are five things to get excited about for 2013 on your screen, be it television or computer or tablet.
1. Hemlock Grove. While the trailer is a little cheesy, the cast and concept are sound. Masks, hidden things, and danger lurking underneath ordinary faces? I’m in. I’ve also been waiting to see Aaron Douglas again since his role on Battlestar Galactica ended. No one can play crazy waiting to burst through a placid exterior like Aaron Douglas. I keep waiting for the role that will let him rip someone’s head off. I hope this show gathers loads of momentum from Netflix watchers, but I’m worried that actual ratings (measured by clicks and views on Netflix) will look small when compared to the made-up Nielsen ratings we’re used to as a metric. Here’s hoping Hemlock Grove delivers the horror and fandom goods and thrives as a show independent of any network.
Another year, another apocalyptic prophecy. Unless 2012 ends with the biggest shock in human history, though—that conspiracy theorists are actually right about something—this year has been a pretty enjoyable one for creative media. The following list is simply a reflection of some of the good things that happened over the last twelve months.
By Cait Brennan
Ernie Kovacs is rightly regarded as television’s first genius. Dynamic, irreverent and uncompromising, Kovacs pushed TV technology to its limits in the service of his anarchic comic brilliance. More than that, Kovacs was larger than life. His personal motto was “Nothing In Moderation,” and he lived up to that billing until the day he died.
Few mere mortals could hope to keep up with his madness. But he met his match the day he met Edie Adams. Smart, sexy, sultry and with a voice like butter, Adams was everything Ernie needed: merry co-conspirator, brilliant comic foil, and a tremendously versatile actress and vocalist that brought elegance and heart to the proceedings. Kovacs’s life, and for that matter his untimely death, cast a big shadow, and Edie’s talents have often been unfairly overlooked.
Thankfully, the lady’s finally getting her due. From the formidable Kovacs/Adams archive and the good folks at Omnivore Recordings comes The Edie Adams Christmas Album, featuring Ernie Kovacs, a warm, charming, and nostalgic record featuring 15 never-before-heard holiday classics. It’s the perfect antidote to contemporary holiday angst and a testament to Adams’s vocal gifts.
I’m going to completely avoid pun-filled pull quotes like “Wrong Is So Right!” in this review, in part because it would be corny, but also because it would be a sad attempt at competing with the genuine humor found in Quentin Dupieux’s latest film.
The trailer for Wrong conveys all you need to know about the movie itself—man loses dog; man goes on bizarre quest to find dog—but it might help you appreciate it more when you know more about Quentin Dupieux. He’s also known as the weirdo musical entity Mr. Oizo, and if you enjoy his output under that moniker, you’ll definitely like the score for Wrong. Dupieux is also responsible for last year’s bizarre horror “spoof” Rubber, about a killer tire.
In a world where The Walking Dead is one of the most successful TV programs on the air, where politics shambles on brainlessly, and it seems that the end times are nigh, why wouldn’t you want to dress like it’s Halloween? If you live for the absurd and obscene, there is at last a lifestyle book for you and your peers. This black-hearted parody of the best-selling Queer Eye for the Straight Guy tie-in books brings an undead perspective to the perennial challenge of living well, looking good—or, in this case, horrible&mdash’and being exactly the decaying, mindless flesh eater you’ve always wanted to be.
For those who have read the Queer Eye book, the parody is dead-on and hilarious. With sections titled such things as “Inner Preparations,” “Should I Eat Human Brains?” and “Social Skills,” every aspect of the gruesome, yet satisfying world of being a walking abomination is addressed with wit, variety, and a very silly thoroughness. Yet this is not just a point-by-point parody; Zombie Eye also contains quite a few pointers to enrich and enliven (so to speak) any good zombie costume for those still breathing.
Wrong: An absurd crime thriller about a man and the very strange things that happen to him as he tries to track down his kidnapped dog.
Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, also known as Mr. Oizo.
If you remember Rubber, the movie about a serial killing tire, you’ll want to catch Wrong. If you know of Quentin Dupieux from his Mr. Oizo music and videos, you’ll also want to catch Wrong. The film was declared the Most Innovative Feature at Fantasia Fest. For a three-week film festival, this is huge praise.
The trailer is hilarious and the cast is impressive, including Jack Plotnick (who was also in Rubber), William Fichtner (one of the most diverse character actors around), and Steve Little (from Eastbound and Down). If you’re still not convinced, watch the trailer again.
Wrong makes its Toronto premiere on Thursday, October 24 at 9:45PM.
Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West.
Perhaps more than any other movie I’ve seen this year, Resolution will be the hardest to explain or describe. It’s not necessarily for fear of spoilers, because even if I wrote out the entire plot in detail it would probably 1) reduce the movie to some kind of gibberish and 2) not actually ruin anything because the joy of Resolution is all in the experience of watching it.
What is it like to take a time machine back to a time when I was a burgeoning sarcastic twenty-something with a tendency to sneer and a sense of humor as black as it comes? The recent Minus Times Collected, lovingly assembled for its 20th anniversary, is a portal to that time, for me at least. Is it a place I want to be, though?
When confronted with work like this—a relic full of irony for irony’s sake that creates a critical distance on purpose—it only brings out my ponderous side. By definition, isn’t nostalgia supposed to create a sense of wistfulness and yearning? Sure, I like a thumb in my eye when the humor feels earned, and I realize that this style should be different because it isn’t meant to feel cozy and warm. When I looked back at this wicked side of this particular collection it only served to make me realize that there are other and better time capsules, ones that are consistent and head and shoulders above this in quality.