Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guest Blogger: Spike

My mom has been pretty busy with other projects so I thought I’d take this time to tell you a little about myself. My name is Spike and I came into this world on September 19, 2004. My mom was still mourning the loss of her favorite show, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," so that's where my name came from (she wasn't intentionally being unoriginal). I was born in San Antonio, TX. Mom essentially rescued me since my brother and I were in a litter of duds. Not only were we duds, but we were also runts and no one wanted us. My aunt took my brother Pico and Mom took me. Mom has always loved dogs and was waiting for the right time to have her own. Even though I was a surprise, my Mom still loves me unconditionally so I’ve got that going for me which is nice. Much like mom, I do NOT like cats or children. I do like to play fetch until you get tired and I'm great at cuddling. I have often been called "The Love Burglar." I like to listen to Boys II Men and watch The Big Bang Theory. I also enjoy running up and down the stairs repeatedly. I would not consider myself a morning person.

In the beginning, we moved around a lot. We have been in our current home for a few years and I have to say it’s a great place to live. Our neighborhood is very dog friendly so I’ve come to know most of the other pooches around. We go on walks a lot; my favorite thing to do is chase deer and squirrels.

Sometimes Mom will take me to the dog trail in Turkey Creek. It’s a three mile hike in the woods and it’s a ton of fun. We used to go to Bull Creek Dog Park all the time, but unfortunately the park is no longer leash free. We’re always looking for new parks to explore so if you know of any, let us know. I like to keep a close eye on the neighborhood too, you never know who's lucking out there.

My brother Pico AKA Pito is kind of lazy. He spends a lot of time sleeping and eating cheeseburgers. I guess we kind of look alike, only he’s dark brown and I’m light brown. My ears point up and his flop forward. Unlike me, Pito is allowed to eat table food which has resulted in pancreatitis. Pito is also notorious for digging in the trash.

I also have a cousin named Snoopy; my grandma is a big fan of Peanuts which explains his name. Snoopy is a mostly black Papillion who loves to be brushed and go for walks. Snoopy is also really funny. Sometimes I get jealous because Mom loves to play with Snoopy. I wish I could spend more time with my cousin and brother because I love to visit them in San Antonio. I love visiting friends and family but I do not like riding in the car.

I have a cousin who is of the feline persuasion that resides in Houston, TX. His name is Carlo; he's OK in my book considering my aversion to cats. Speaking of cats, there's a really crazy lady in our neighborhood that walks her ridiculous cat on a leash. Isn't that weird? I do have other cousins in AZ and DC that I hope to visit soon. You know with gas prices these days, it's hard to tell when that will happen.

Aside from my friends in the neighborhood, I have a few other friends I like to visit on occasion. My friend Ghostface Miller is an English bulldog I’ve become quite fond of. He’s big and drools a whole bunch, kind of like Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis. He’s pretty lovable nonetheless.

Recently, Mom and I got to check out the K9 Karnival at Hyde Park High School. The Karnival was awesome; there were so many dogs for me to sniff! There was a puppy kissing booth, an obstacle course, games, treats, and face painting. I actually saw a Scottish terrier with purple eyebrows! We're really lucky to live in a place that's very dog friendly because there's always cool events going on in Austin. Now that it's getting hotter out, I usually spend my days lounging on the sofa. I'm not a big fan of sweating and my tiny paws get burned from the cement if I'm outside too long. We do have a special vacation coming up that I will keep you posted about. I hope I have engaged you enough for one post; my paws are getting tired. Mom will be back shortly with her own musings on cinema and music. Thank you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Take A Stand

Well, in lieu of recent events at the Cannes Film Festival I thought I'd share my insight on the controversy.

I generally try to keep up with films, screenings, events, and what not at the festival. Honestly, I dream of one day attending Cannes myself. I like to get a feel of what films to look for and which ones to avoid based on various reviews. This year, there has been much buzz about Terence Malick's TREE OF LIFE and Lars Von Trier's MELANCHOLIA. Even Eli Roth compared the two to Billy Mitchell & Steve Wiebe from KING OF KONG. I indeed look forward to watching both films. In the last couple years, Von Trier has slowly crept into my Top Favorite Directors list. After getting swept away by ANTICHRIST, I believe his vision cannot be matched.

It appears that Lars Von Trier is now banned from the Cannes film festival. While doing a Q & A for MELANCHOLIA, Von Trier made a couple jokes about Nazis. Nazis aren't necessarily something you joke about, but it's also no reason to completely eradicate someone. I don't agree with any of his statements, but I think the jury and press are being way too harsh on Von Trier. MELANCHOLIA is still allowed to compete for the coveted Palme d'Or, but Von Trier is not allowed to accept if it wins.

Let's address the real issue here: censorship! Why is it that every other artistic community is able to express themselves as they please except for cinema? Painters, singers, musicians, and photographers have the freedom and creative control to portray their ideas however they choose. Film has got to be the most draconian artistic outlet. How often do you hear about certain films bouncing back and forth between filmmakers and the MPAA over censorship? We end up with multiple versions of a particular film: special edition, alternate ending, unrated, director's cut! Is all this necessary? Of course part of it is a marketing ploy, but when I watch a film, I want to want it in its entirety. I want to watch it the way it was intended, not spliced and butchered. Some people watch movies to escape their mundane lives. I watch films to be challenged, scared, and enlightened. I want to be taken somewhere I've never been and see things I have never seen or thought. This is why I respect and champion filmmakers who have the courage to continuously push the envelope.

How about Roman Polanski? Another one of my favorite directors that I will defend to the death. Here's a man who is celebrated in France, but in the US he's a fugitive. Don't get me started on his bogus trial/judge in Los Angeles because that was an insult to the justice system. I mean the man gave us CHINATOWN and he is still not allowed on American soil. I applaud him for managing to complete THE GHOST WRITER while incarcerated.

Then there's the trial in Spain accusing the director of Sitges Film Festival of screening child pornography. This is a man who is not even related to the film A SERBIAN FILM, but merely screened it for an audience of willing adults. Just for the record, the film is far from anything child pornographic. This film is not just torture porn, it's a testament about the desperation certain countries endure. It's not a life changing film, but it's one person's art and it deserves respect. We as an audience deserve the chance to make our own assumptions about it.

If you may remember, Von Trier caused much controversy two years ago with ANTICHRIST. This was a film he made while in a severe pit of depression and this film was his way of coping. People were so disturbed by the film that half the audience walked out. This whole uproar only enhanced my longing to see the film! Von Trier was accused of being a misogynist as a result of the film. I completely disagree; he examined the darkest realms of a woman's psyche the best he knew how to. The outcome was a beautifully disturbing piece of art. People asked him how he could create something so demoralizing and his only reply was that he made films for himself and no one else. I can't think of a more narcissistic response but there is truth in it.

I don't believe for a second that Von Trier is a Nazi or racist; he's only guilty of being eccentric. So what if he declared himself the "best director in the world." At least he has the balls to argue that. Von Trier enjoys being the antagonist and arousing people. I do however believe Ridley Scott is racist, after all he did make fun of an African woman's breasts. Yet no one has banned him for any film festivals or the very least ban him from creating anymore shitty remakes. And let's not start comparing Lars to Mel Gibson. At least Von Trier still has some talent left and has yet to make a film about beavers. If anything this whole saga will only create more press for MELANCHOLIA which I have been anticipating for several months now.

There's a select few filmmakers in this world that make art and not just movies. Many people (especially in the US) make films just for profit. Honestly, where is the art in shit like SAW 9 , BRIDESMAIDS, and THE FASTEST & FURRIEST 5? Though, this is the crap that's continuously pumped out in America. Why are people like Zack Snyder and Michael Bay still employed? Let's start censoring the real enemies like Palin, Sheen, Beck, Kobe, and Jersey Shore. These are the real poisons in the world not the Polanskis, Von Triers, Tarantinos, and David Lynches.

I appreciate the fact that I live in a city that celebrates Independent Film. I realize if I lived in Smalltown, USA, I would not be able to enjoy most of the films I watch. I try to do my best to support Independent Film (RIP Dobie) and so should you. Also, if you liken me to a film snob, then you're absolutely right. If you have an aversion to that, then you can think of me the next time you watch DUDE WHERE'S MY CAR.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Thanks to The Alamo Drafthouse’s Music Monday, I recently got to revisit VELVET GOLDMINE. I absolutely love this film. I have always loved the decadence that is the unauthorized tale of David Bowie & Iggy Pop. Also, how often do you get to see Obi Wan Kenobi get it on with Batman? I got to thinking about how great this soundtrack is. Obviously they couldn't’t use actual music by Bowie or Iggy for fear of lawsuits. Some great musicians came together and wrote original songs for this film including Thom Yorke, Shudder To Think, and Pulp. I especially love Placebo’s cover of T-Rex’s “20Th Century Boy.” If you get a chance, check out this soundtrack and also check out Music Monday at Alamo Ritz. Every Monday they show music films/documentaries for only $2.

After my epiphany, I began to think about other film soundtracks that are awesome. So what do you know, I came up with another list! Here goes:

Who doesn't love Prince? The first time I watched PURPLE RAIN, I was definitely preschool age and probably should not have been watching it. The first sex scene I ever saw was between Prince & Apollonia. I kinda wanted to be like her (still do)! The 1980s spawned a weird influx of musicians turned actors (Madonna, Gene Simmons, Bowie), but PURPLE RAIN is the best. I was fortunate enough to see Prince when he did the big comeback in 2004; I have to say that was the best concert I have ever been to. This soundtrack is filled with hit after hit. Many people have tried to capture the same magic that PURPLE RAIN created since, including Prince himself. Does anyone remember UNDER THE CHERRY MOON & GRAFFITI BRIDGE?

I recently confessed that the first villain I sympathised with was Ivan Drago from ROCKY IV. ROCKY IV is responsible for one of the most important elements in film: the montage. Now this is how you do a motherfucking montage! From the training scene to the build up for the Apollo fight, these scenes would never be as memorable without these great songs. Make no secret, I often listen to this soundtrack at the gym.

Hands down, best falling in love montage is in VALLEY GIRL with Modern English "Melt With You." Call me sentimental but I have a special place in my heart for 80s teen flicks. I am guilty of dreaming about Lloyd Dobler standing outside my window with a boom box. However, although he is a complete lunatic now, it's almost impossible not to swoon over Nic Cage when he takes Julie to see The Plimsouls.

I have never been a huge fan of 1970s rock with the exception of The Stones. I have never been into Zeppelin or Cat Stevens but their song choices for this film are so spot on. It's really hard not to get teary eyed when Stevie Wonder sings "My Cherie Amour" when Penny nearly overdoses. "Tangerine" and "Tiny Dancer" are definite highlights.

Kevin Shields composed a lot of stuff for this film and you can't go wrong with My Bloody Valentine. Sofia Coppola is famous for her use of songs by Air and several other now hipster bands like Phoenix. I've said before that the scene with Bill Murray karaoke-ing "What's So Funny (Bout Peace, Love, & Understanding)" is one of my all time favorite scenes. This is also the first film we see the use of Peaches' "Fuck The Pain Away." The Piece De Resistance of the film is the final scene with one of the most beautiful songs by JAMC.

Lost in Translation - Sometimes from sam on Vimeo.

I used to be of the impression that soundtracks are pretty lame but now that I think of it, many films are strengthened by their soundtracks. Other honorable mentions include: THE LOST BOYS, STAND BY ME, DESERT BLUE, THE KARATE KID, SAY ANYTHING, and CASINO.