Tag Archives: David Bowie

The 10 Best Albums of 2016 (So Far)

by Gabriel Valdez

It’s been a strange year for music, with the loss of legends and one essentially recording his own epitaph. Yet it’s also been a year of gifts – of rollicking country and an unexpected comeback from a band many had given up on, of Mayan hip-hop and gothic folk songs. My number one album of the year (so far) is from a woman whose heartbreaking work I feel stands at the juncture of Nirvana and Neutral Milk Hotel.

So let’s dive in:

10. Gag Order – Vainhein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vainhein (roughly translating to “heinous vanity”) started off in the San Francisco drag scene as a lip-sync performer. In the last five years, he’s moved into producing original music as Vainhein (or Vain Hein). There’s not a lot out there, but you can listen to the debut album Gag Order on the Bandcamp page.

9. Collect – 18+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18+ maintained near-total anonymity for the first three years of the band’s existence. They’re difficult to describe – a band that takes the way love and relationships are portrayed in modern music and throws the formula out. They seduce in a manner that blends carelessness with deep feeling, through music that’s deconstructed to impressionism almost to the point of falling apart before it finds its way back.

8. Pawn Shop – Brothers Osborne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, this is one of the most eclectic lists I’ve ever put together. It’s a testament to just how diverse 2016’s been in music. Brothers Osborne can push out anthemic country songs at the drop of a hat, but the best part of Pawn Shop is how often they drop the love song pretense on which country too often depends. The album is wickedly varied, stopping to comically sing the praises of the pawn shop or break down into a slow one-part bayou, one-part honky-tonk testament to rum. This is the kind of country I almost never go for, but this album’s just too good.

7. Freetown Sound – Blood Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Orange has been carrying Prince’s musical torch for a few years now, so in the year when Prince died, it’s reassuring that Dev Hynes’s band continues to explore a similarly easygoing yet soul-baring musicality. Blood Orange has never found the kind of breakout hits that Prince did – they relent when it comes to that extra edge, that musical and social insistence that Prince brought – but that’s not exactly what Blood Orange is. They slant toward chilled out.

6. Strangers – Marissa Nadler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strangers is a step back for Marissa Nadler, but a step back for the woman is still better than the vast majority of other music that’s out there. Her July was my choice for Album of the Year in 2014. It was so patiently stirring, a masterpiece of lamenting, gothic folk. Her music sounds like a message from another time, like black-and-white footage of old funeral processions. There’s sadness and importance, even celebration, but it all feels so beautifully removed, like watching (as in her 2014 music video “Dead City Emily”) the silhouettes of lovers dance out-of-focus from behind smudged, scratched glass. It’s always someone else’s sadness, someone else’s lament, and there’s a profound sorrow in not being able to share those pains.

Her music often evokes the frustration of empathy, of witnessing pain in another yet falling short of being able to truly understand and experience it, to heal it. It’s a rare evocation in any form of art: to have your empathy evoked and stilled, to witness yet be frozen, to stand on the shoulder of that passing funeral and yet not know it. The tragedy of people passing in and out of our lives is the tragedy of their moments – the experiences that let us step outside ourselves and into the connection of loving others – traveling further and further away. Yet there’s something to that disconnection that only makes us strain all the harder to step outside ourselves again and again. Nadler’s songs and albums and career are almanacs of connections made and treasured and lost, and so her music rests right against the bones like only nostalgia and closure can.

5. Blackstar – David Bowie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m weird when it comes to Bowie. My favorite period rests in his late 90s/early 00s experimentation combining industrial and jazz. Not all of it worked – in fact, some of it was downright bad – but it was supremely different to anything I’d heard before. Bowie’s Blackstar will always be remembered most for how it’s written to anticipate and guide Bowie through a death he knew was coming fast.

Blackstar picks up so many musical threads throughout Bowie’s career, so many stylistic endings left unfinished, yet among those endings, he also starts new ones. He seeks to process what’s come before, to conclude much of it, yes – but he doesn’t end there. He also pushes forward into new realms, starts new musical ideas he knows he’ll never finish. This is the way to go, he seems to say in Blackstar, by saying goodbye and wrapping things up not to conclude this life, but so he can say a fresh hello to whatever life is next.

4. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally. Only the second album Radiohead’s released in nine years shows the time that went into it. For many, this is the first time Radiohead’s broken new ground in those nine years – while 2011’s The King of Limbs was good, it didn’t convey Radiohead’s irrepressible ambition. Maybe they fell off, we thought. Then five years passed. Maybe they disappeared. Then their site went offline. Their social media presence was pulled. Maybe that’s it, we thought. Just like that. And then A Moon Shaped Pool dropped, this whole new challenging, chaotic map of dreamlike and nightmarish places to tour.

3. Tributo a Los 20 Nawales – Balam Ajpu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a tribute to the 20 spirits that represent each day on the Mayan calendar. Balam Ajpu is a Guatemalan rap group that’s part of a growing movement of Mayan-language hip-hop. The verses on their album alternate between the Mayan dialect Tz’utujil and Spanish. In Guatemala, 60% of the population is Mayan, yet the country is rarely represented this way – both domestically and abroad. Hip-hop has been one way for the Mayan population to coalesce around surviving elements of Mayan culture.

Balam Ajpu combines hip-hop with a stunning number of styles and instruments. Salsa, reggae, and cumbia are all folded into the songs. The array of musical instruments and the talent behind them here is ridiculous. Guitar, cello, pan pipes, a host of drums, xylophone, and sounds from nature all underlie a patient album about spirituality and social change.

2. Not to Disappear – Daughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember a moment when you failed to cope with the damn unfairness of it all. Now trap it in amber. That feeling of crashing against the shore, when you could barely hold your head up because the lump in your throat was so overwhelming. When you were numb and angry and your tears were the best act of vengeance you had against the universe. When your teeth grit and your lips quivered and your breath caught. When you sobbed and the time of day didn’t seem to matter. Daughter makes music of the moments trapped before catharsis. Thank God, because those moments could use some understanding of their own.

1. Puberty 2 – Mitski

 

 

 

 

 

She destroyed me in two-and-a-half minutes. Took me apart suddenly weeping. That was on track four, “Fireworks.” Then she did it again two songs later with “I Bet on Losing Dogs.” If it doesn’t share the same sound as Nirvana’s most plaintive moments, it shares the same character.

“I bet on losing dogs
I know they’re losing and I’ll pay for my place
By the ring
Where I’ll be looking in their eyes when they’re down
I’ll be there on their side
I’m losing by their side.”

Sometimes, it can be easy to feel like one of those losing dogs, still running because it’s what we know, because it’s the process – through repetition – for which we begin to believe we’ve been made. It can be the role we’ve been taught to play in relation to those around us, or the role we’ve been taught by a specific person. It can be hard to break out of being a losing dog, and to break out of the habit of betting on them. Is it an act of care to do so? Is it enabling? Can you create of someone else a losing dog?

These aren’t the questions directly posed to us, because Mitski isn’t a philosopher on her tracks. She’s the character, inhabiting every moment, and we witness every mistake, every want and need, every tiny victory and major defeat. Music often tells stories about experiences viewed through lenses, non-specifically emotive enough to be universal. That’s not what Mitski gives us. Her emotions are hers, her stories are deeply personal. It’s in the personal loss, in the impacts of defeat, in the hardening of herself to the world around, that we find connection. Her struggle to remain soft and loving despite it all is our struggle. Songs here aren’t wasted, they aren’t filled out any longer than is needed. This is an album of bare mental, emotional, and sometimes physical survival. It’s heartbreak as a way of practicing for mortality, and the resistance to heartbreak as a way of denying our mortality, the way each wears us down and builds us.

 

 

 

Marissa Nadler (whose Strangers I highlight above) is how I found out about Mitski. Nadler highlighted her favorite Mitski lyrics in article for The Talkhouse. This turned out to be from “Fireworks,” a melancholic take on…what, exactly? One’s own journey toward entropy? The desensitization of loss, both inside and outside oneself? That desensitization itself is a loss one must desensitize to? A lover’s simultaneous capability for support and inadequacy to heal?

“One morning this sadness will fossilize
And I will forget how to cry
I’ll keep going to work and he won’t see a change
Save perhaps a slight gray in my eye.

I will go jogging routinely
Calmly and rhythmically run
And when I find that a knife sticking out of my side
I’ll pull it out without questioning why.

And then one warm summer night
I’ll hear fireworks outside
And I’ll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry.

I will be married to silence
The gentleman won’t say a word
But you know, oh you know in the quiet he holds
Runs a river that’ll never find home.

And then one warm summer night
I’ll hear fireworks outside
And I’ll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry.”

Mitski Miyawaki sings about surviving through entropy, about becoming a bastion and falling apart, about betting on losing dogs, about being one. I once was told that Led Zeppelin didn’t make songs, they made musical monuments. Mitski does, too…but the focus is anxiety, using, being used, giving in, being unapologetic, forgetting how to apologize to yourself, settling on how you should be treated, remembering how to treat yourself. Here are monuments to the cycle of falling apart and constructing oneself never to fall apart again, and falling apart anew, and constructing anew, ad nauseum. It stops at some point, right? The album’s called Puberty 2, and it’s not named that because she recorded a Puberty 1.

 

Feature image comes from Impose Magazine.

Let’s Cast! The “Myst” TV Series

Myst lead 2

Last night, we got a few of our writers on e-mail to talk about news that Myst, a 1993 adventure game that pioneered such shocking new technologies as the CD-ROM and Quicktime, will become a TV show. We tossed around what we’d like to see in the show and cast it up.

Gabriel: Joining me are our creative director Vanessa Tottle, editor Eden O’Nuallain, and contributor Himura Sachiko. So, they’re making Myst into a TV series, or an interactive series, or some kind of toasty grilled sandwich. What do we each want to see in a Myst TV series?

Vanessa: I want silence. The genre Myst belongs to is different from every other form of gaming because it is about a player’s interior experience. There is no dialogue, there is nothing to shoot with a gun. Now and again, one flips a switch or climbs a staircase. It’s about discovery and making mental connections.

Eden: I’d rather see a Riven TV series.

Sachiko: Everyone plays Myst differently. I liked to go back and forth between the different Ages and treat Myst Island like a home base. Like I progressed a little in every Age, but went home every night to the creepy library on my lonely island.

Gabriel: My biggest fear is that they’ll allow a group dynamic. You know, instead of one person being lost on Myst and its adjoining worlds, it’ll be a bunch of 30 year-olds playing teenagers, wearing fashionable shit, wondering why their cell phones don’t work, and out-bantering each other in the wilds of British Columbia.

Myst Donald Glover Childish Gambino

THE LEAD ACTOR

Gabriel: Let’s assume they preserve the solo journey. Who do we want to see play our protagonist? I mean, the obvious answer is Robert Redford, but pick someone they could actually get to do it.

Vanessa: Sachiko played Myst like I played Skyrim. Cower in the pubs at night. Someone I don’t like. Adam Driver from Girls. I want a good actor, but I don’t want to identify with him. Any accessible character will make me miss my interior experience. I want to see a jackass who has trouble with life figure out this place in a way I never would. That way I can yell at him. I want to be smarter than the main character.

Eden: This whole idea is really bad, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining: Bruce Campbell.

Sachiko: Noah Wyle or Jewel Staite, then make it for children. Viewers are more forgiving that way. Look at Doctor Who.

Vanessa: Wait no! Donald Glover. I officially change my vote to Donald Glover.

Gabriel: Childish Gambino himself…Stephanie Leonidas would be interesting. She already did it in Mirrormask, which was basically Neil Gaiman Jazzpunk Myst. She’s accessible, and could lend the proceedings a little awe and wonder. Ultimately, I’d go with Michelle Ryan, though, because nothing prepares you for Myst like EastEnders and Bionic Woman. Really it’s because I think she’s a good facial actor who could pull off a mostly silent series about discovery. Which we won’t get, but we’re pretending we will. For some reason, I also picture Tim Russ (from Star Trek: Voyager) wandering Myst Island. But, you know, with a tricorder.

Eden: If I have to be serious, Anthony Stewart Head.

Myst Matt Smith

AVOID AT ALL COSTS

Gabriel: Who would we never want to see headline this?

Vanessa: Star Trek? You’re such a nerd. Chris Hemsworth. Eliza Dushku. James Deen.

Eden: Same answer: Bruce Campbell.

Sachiko: Matt Smith.

Gabriel: Yeah, I’m sooo sorry I nerded up our conversation about Myst with Star Trek there. Alexis Bledel for me. OK, let’s cast this thing up, shall we? Atrus the father, and his two sons, Sirrus and Achenar. Sirrus was the thin one with the dastardly facial hair, and Achenar was the jovial, unkempt one. Who plays them? Keep in mind this is probably a budget series. You can use real money on only one of them.

Eden: I like Matt Smith, but I see your point.

Myst David Bowie

THE ENSEMBLE

Sachiko: Atrus is Derek Jacobi. Jeremy Davies is Sirrus. Jack Black is Achenar.

Vanessa: I remember Sirrus the best. Throw all your money at Guy Pearce. Achenar? Simon Lane from the Yogscast. I will steal Anthony Stewart Head for Atrus.

Eden: Atrus – David Bowie (real money); Sirrus – Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice; Achenar – Aidan Turner from The Hobbit.

Gabriel: I think Vanessa just won with her Guy Pearce-Simon Lane combination, but for me: Atrus is Keith Allen. Sirrus is Lucy Griffiths. It’s a BBC Robin Hood mini-reunion. Achenar is Mark Addy. Yeah, that’s right, I went all the way back to The Full Monty. Save your money so you can hire Tarsem Singh to produce it, just so I can see what he does with the Stoneship Age.

Myst Bryan Cranston

THE ENDING

Gabriel: Ideally, how would you have the show end?

Vanessa: Five seasons later, the biggest show ever made, filmed on seven continents, which is the same number of dialogue lines per season. Simon Lane wins an Emmy.

Eden: Canceled after two episodes. Jon Stewart makes a single allusion to it on Daily Show. No one gets it. David Bowie writes three soundtracks for it.

Sachiko: Noah Wyle comes home but he misses all the amazing things he has seen.

Gabriel: Michelle Ryan becomes the protector of a thousand Ages. Bryan Cranston portrays Gehn in a spinoff series that covers the novels.

Vanessa: You finally named someone outside obscure British TV! I’m so proud!

Gabriel: Thank you, Britain couldn’t survive without BBC Wales – am I the only one who cast women?

Sachiko: Jewel Staite!

Vanessa: This was fun.

THE FINAL CASTS

Myst Donald Glover 2

Vanessa’s Myst
Protagonist – Donald Glover
Atrus – Anthony Stewart Head
Sirrus – Guy Pearce
Achenar – Simon Lane

Myst Anthony Stewart Head

Eden’s Myst
Protagonist – Anthony Stewart Head
Atrus – David Bowie
Sirrus – Jeffrey Donovan
Achenar – Aidan Turner

Myst Noah Wyle

Sachiko’s Myst
Protagonist – Noah Wyle/Jewel Staite
Atrus – Derek Jacobi
Sirrus – Jeremy Davies
Achenar – Jack Black

Myst Michelle Ryan

Gabe’s Myst
Protagonist – Michelle Ryan
Atrus – Keith Allen
Sirrus – Lucy Griffiths
Achenar – Mark Addy

Well, that wasn’t a complete disaster. I don’t know what we were thinking, but we hope you enjoy it.

No Miley Here, Insanity Edition – 2013’s Best Music Videos, #20-11

Music Videos 2013 number 2

by Cleopatra Parnell, Vanessa Tottle, & Gabriel Valdez
special thanks to Hayley Williams

We continue into the maddest portion of the countdown with music videos that aren’t so downbeat, but are wackier and occasionally more adult. (Parental guidance suggested!)

Because of that and Vevo’s hosting, you may have to click through to YouTube to watch some of these:

#20: It’s You – Duck Sauce
directed by Phil Andelman

Duck Sauce are two DJs who are most famous for their house mixes of Tori Amos. There’s no deep message to this one that I can sort out, but it’s indescribably wacky.

#19: I Love You – Woodkid
directed by Yoanna Lemoine

The latest entry in a continuous narrative meant to span Woodkid’s entire album The Golden Age, we’re ostensibly told the story of a man who loses his love and drowns himself. What the story really tells is how a loss of faith can turn a man unfeeling, and how the instruments of his younger passion seem to wither as he grows cynical. This is one of the most stately videos to come out last year.

#18: The Stars (Are Out Tonight) – David Bowie
directed by Floria Sigismondi

Floria Sigismondi, director of The Runaways, just has a talent for fusing fashion and celebrity to tell multilayered stories. This one follows the message of Bowie’s song pretty closely, presenting an unsettling domesticity that takes to task our obsession with and emulation of celebrity, as well as our demand of that same emulation from our loved ones. Starring David Bowie and Tilda Swinton alternately as a nice, suburban married couple, themselves, each other, and various Freudian dreamstates.

#17: Hard Out Here – Lilly Allen
directed by Chris Sweeney

Lily Allen got in more trouble for featuring a music video with twerking models and champagne moneyshots than the performers she’s satirizing. You could say her critics missed the point, but I’m pretty sure they got it – they just didn’t like that she was making it so effectively.

#16: Your Life Is A Lie – MGMT
directed by Tom Kuntz

At least Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” was good for something, namely this two-minute takedown by MGMT. It’s cleverly absurd, visually rich, and incisive in its criticism. What’s wrong with us? How did we not rank this higher?

#15: King and Lionheart – Of Monsters and Men
directed by WeWereMonkeys

Please meet one of our new favorite 80s movies.

#14: Jubilee Street – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
directed by John Hillcoat

Ray Winstone stars as a man addicted to his meetings with a prostitute. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric video on its face, but it’s also a damning consideration of the male ego. It plays with the passage of time, the evolution of a place, and examines one’s stubborn steadfastness to refuse the reality of past actions.

#13: Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Rey
directed by Chris Sweeney

With a brilliant performance video, Chris Sweeney’s second entry on this list blends bright colors with a muted presentation. It communicates power through very simple artistry, evoking Lana Del Rey’s obsession with 70s glamour and the classical, Fantasia-influenced orchestral presentations of the 40s.

#12: Ohio – Patty Griffin feat. Robert Plant
directed by Roy Taylor

Gabe here. I’m not a big fan of country music, but my album of the year last year was Patty Griffin’s American Kid. It’s a reflective series of songs that surpasses simple messages and meanings and instead seeks to invoke the most pensive and difficult times in our lives, the times we learned our way through trouble. Someone once told me never to use the word “masterpiece” in criticism. Screw that guy, because it’s a good word and American Kid is exactly that. This video creates a powerful sense of place using only paper cutouts, magic lamps, and creative lighting that allow the viewer to spend a relaxing and thoughtful day along the Ohio River.

#11: Pursuit – Gesaffelstein
directed by Fleur and Manu

Welcome to the polar opposite, a Cyberpunk Rorschach Test of classical, industrial, and military imagery. It seems to declare the beginning of a new age of corporate aristocracy, the age of the test group and power through military faith, the age of excluding anything less than the image of technical perfection, achieved only by applying the same sleek designer lines to women and whole societies as we do to cars and strike fighters. It’s a video that just becomes scarier the more you watch it.

Videos #30-21 ran on Tuesday, April 8.
Videos #10-1 will run on Tuesday, April 15.

Wednesday Collective — Cyberpunk, Women Direct, Britain Whitewashes, and the Sharni Vinson Rule

There are so many articles for this week’s Wednesday Collective that we’re going to split it into two parts: today’s and tomorrow’s, which I’ll dub Thursday’s Child because it will be posted on Thursday and I’m a David Bowie fan.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Cyberpunk Gets Old, Files Reverse Mortgage
Molly Osberg

WedCol cyberpunk lead

Cyberpunk isn’t just a component of my generation’s artistic outlook, it’s half the foundation. The post-industrial, dystopian narrative movement whose bones were laid out in 1979’s Alien and 1982’s Blade Runner finally muscled out in William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer. It’s re-formed the fashion and movie industries of Japan, changed Hollywood, and completely defined the video games industry, but – in recent years – technology has caught up to cyberpunk’s vision of a permanently jacked-in populace leading a real life and an online one. Perhaps more damningly, we’ve caught up to the future it once predicted, one characterized by lawless corporate feudalism and inanimate national goverments.

Molly Osberg writes at The Verge about how Cyberpunk’s evolved from social movement to aesthetic fascination, but also defines how its popular dissemination has clipped its social gravitas. What’s most interesting, and I’m projecting my own views onto this now, is how she touches on some of Gibson’s later obsessions, particularly in Pattern Recognition and Spook Country – a pursuit of iconography that borders on the religious, cultivated and refined by international groups of collectors into a borderless social Animism, forming unique languages of data and image to define views of the world that can only be completely understood by those who comprehend how the data connects.

After all, if the corporation-state is now borderless, and the nation-state has grown useless, it won’t be long before we’ll need a people-state. If Mitt Romney’s right that “Corporations are people, my friend,” then the correlation is that people are becoming less so. Maybe cyberpunk’s not quite done. Maybe we’re mistaking its teenage years, as it finds its footing in a changing world, for its retirement. Maybe its most powerful statements have yet to be made.

Female Filmmakers: Film’s Loss, Television’s Gain
Katie Walsh

Jill Soloway

Some directors have a harder time getting studios and indie investors to faithfully pony up the money for feature films. These directors are colloquially known as “women.” You see, women are considered more of a risk to helm a movie than men. Anyone who could give you a reason why could simultaneously give you a reason why he’s a fearful chauvinist living in a bygone era.

Katie Walsh at Indiewire describes the subsequent migration of women over to television directing. I can’t help but wonder whether limiting themselves to half the talent pool is why the range of viewpoints and styles in mainstream film tends toward repetition, while the range of popular TV narratives has grown braver, stranger, and more extensive. Actually, I can help but wonder, since we already know the answer.

Editing for Chinese Audiences
Shandongxifu

The Karate Kid training

While doing some research for “How China Keeps Bruce Willis Alive” last week, I came across a description by blogger Shandongxifu of how China edited the remake for The Karate Kid. It’s a window into the priorities of the Chinese censorship process, and how filmmakers worked around it to create a completely new narrative.

Britain’s Theatrical Whitewashing
Tony Howard

Adrian Lester in Merlin

Government censorship isn’t the only kind. Pictured above is Adrian Lester in Merlin. He’s an accomplished Shakespearian actor who struggles to land the jobs less accomplished white actors are given. Tony Howard at The New Statesmen pens a scathing article on Lester and other minority actors, who routinely have trouble getting roles on British stage, film, and TV. It reflects a problem that we here in the States still have, but explains how Britain’s centralization of arts funding, as well as their choice to focus on classical repertoire over newer plays, exacerbates the problem to a state of cultural emergency.

Of Charlton Heston & Antonio Banderas
A. E. Larsen

The War Lord

An Historian Goes to the Movies is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs, a go-to source for investigating the historical accuracy of films set in the past. This week, there’s an engrossing historical analysis on The War Lord, a little-known Medieval movie starring Charlton Heston, and a discussion on why intelligent costume designers consciously choose to include historically inaccurate armors in their historical films, using The 13th Warrior as a case study.

The Future of Chinese and Hong Kong Film
David Bordwell

The White Storm

David Bordwell gives a rundown of the annual Filmart festival in Hong Kong. It’s the single biggest film market in Asia. He sets the scene to make you feel like you’re there before discussing the new system of shared productions between Hong Kong and mainland China. He devotes the bulk of his article, however, to the most exciting new films from one of the most well-established yet fastest-growing film industries in the world.

The Sharni Vinson Rule
Jordan & Eddie

Shani Vinson in Patrick

This review of Australian suspense film Patrick isn’t about the industry or any specific technical craft, but it earns a place this week because it gives me a chance to champion two things:

Firstly, actress Sharni Vinson is something special and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to point people in her direction. She led last year’s You’re Next, which achieved the rare trifecta of being my favorite horror movie, comedy, and mumblecore film of the last several years. This gives rise to the Sharni Vinson Rule – One never needs an excuse to post about Sharni Vinson. In the interest of equality, let’s say it applies to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, too.

Secondly, Jordan & Eddie (The Movie Guys) is my favorite site to learn about Australian filmmaking. Australia has a creative and vibrant filmmaking industry that is too often overlooked. These two tend to see Australian movies 6-12 months before we do here in the States, and they have a particular fondness for my kind of suspense and horror.

SUPER SECRET ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
“Post-Empire Strikes Back”
Lili Anolik

The Canyons

If you’ve made it this far, you’re in for a treat. This would be up near the top, but some of the subject matter is raunchy and I want to be respectful to all of my readership.

Believer Magazine features an excellent story by Lili Anolik on the wreck of a film that was last year’s The Canyons, a movie which accomplished the rare feat of being relentlessly interesting and boring as can be. Anolik interviews controversial novelist and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis (The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho) and director Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Adam Resurrected) about a movie that Lindsay Lohan single-handedly pulls from pure dreck to semi-watchable.

Anolik examines a true piece of performance art by Ellis, a post-theatrical movie in which the art on display isn’t the film itself but the cultural commentary housed within the tale of its production. The story of the real movie adaptation of a fictional novel that Ellis’s fictional alter-ego never got around to writing, starring Lindsay Lohan, a male porn star, and controversial director Gus Van Sant as his psychiatrist, is by turns fascinating, hilarious, and chilling. The Canyons may have been terrible, but the performance art of making it may be the best thing Ellis has done yet.