“Where d’ya think you are, in some f---ing Regency costume drama?” snarls Peter Capaldi, the rapidly twirling, rabidly frothing spin-doctor at the center of In the Loop’s storm. No worries – there’s absolutely no mistaking In the Loop for a well-behaved Jane Austen comedy of manners, zombies or no. Instead, the searingly funny and frighteningly close to home In the Loop comes clad in the pitch-black-humored, corrosive satire of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal and Barry Levinson's Wag the Dog.
How do you explain the Pains of Being Pure at Heart? Is it a case of a great name that speaks to every geek and freak with earnest thoughts in their heads and deeply cherished hopes in their breasts, fearful of having that fragile idealism crushed and spindled? Or does POBPAH signal a backlash against indie chaos and a return to pop conservatism -- a revival of the easy, the tried and true, and the innocent?
So often cinema holds up the female artist’s life as the stuff tragedy. One can’t help but look back to 1988’s Camille Claudel and begin to believe that women (albeit of a certain time and place) who choose art over hearth, home and convention are doomed to obscurity, madness and misery. Mercifully, France’s latest history of a lost woman painter, Seraphine, which opens Friday, July 17, doesn’t dwell on the martyrdom of Seraphine Louis (1864-1942), otherwise known as Seraphine de Senlis, a servant, cleaning woman, and laundress born long before her time and driven to make art in a society that treated women of her class as little better than dogs.
Carla Bozulich could have been Courtney Love. Looking back on Bozulich’s storied career, I’m sure more than one music writer has toyed with the thought. As the fire-starting frontperson of Ethyl Meatplow and later the Geraldine Fibbers, playing sprawling Alternative Nation-era shows and filling the stage with her eye-pulling magnetism, her tempestuous charisma, Bozulich could have crashed and burned on the shores of too much public and media attention too soon. Heck, she even had her Kurt, an esteemed fellow musician and love interest in the form of Nels Cline, who now plays guitar with Wilco.
I love the way each installment of Fabric Records’ mix series, the recorded spinoffs of the London nightclub Fabric, so acutely reflects the sensibility of its makers. Its DJs, producers, and artists have roved widely in all sorts of electronic and dance music genres: house, grime, minimal techno, electro, microhouse, hip-hop, breaks and drum ‘n’ bass. Recalling the imprint’s releases -- from the 2005 turn by dancefloor legend Carl Craig and the acclaimed ‘07 offering by Ricardo Villalobos to 2008 disc by Get Physical founders M.A.N.D.Y. and a recent entry by SF producer and Dirtybird label honcho Claude VonStroke -- I really have to marvel at the overall quality of the productions: the Herbaliser’s 2006 mix continues to be a fave for its blend of classics like Eric B.
Micachu Levi may not be reinventing the wheel with her inviting melange of tweeting synths, noise shards and bent rhythms. But the adeptness with which she has synthesized 21st century American underground indies as varied as Deerhoof and Dan Deacon, Matt and Kim and High Places, and their avant-hardcore resistance to traditional song structures and hip-hop/electronic music-affiliated affinity for cut-and-paste appropriation, is tough to deny. It would be like dismissing electricity as flash-in-the-pan trendy.
Little wonder that the nimble-footed Fred Astaire played a fashion photographer so clearly based on Richard Avedon in the 1957 musical, Funny Face: He ideally translated the supple movement and sublime grace of Avedon’s ‘50s fashion photography (and love of Hungary’s Martin Munkacsi) in his portrayal, all while snapping the radiant Audrey Hepburn.
But Avedon was so much more than the landmark shots that have entered the visual vernacular. More than, say, Dovima caressing the elephants in a surreal juxtaposition of the rough and the wild against the silkily draped and the divine artful (Dovima incidentally also had a teensy cameo in Funny Face as the ditzy swan with a grating whine).
Get down on a sultry Sunday afternoon for a good cause? Where do we sign up? Foreign Cinema’s Laszlo Bar. On Sunday, July 12, the watering hole plays host to a stellar crew of Bay Area DJs intent on easing your way out of the weekend with delectable hip-hop, electro, indie, and club sounds – all for a good cause: the Narada Michael Walden Foundation, which promotes music education among Bay Area youth.