Articles in the Nov/Dec 2009 Department
Strasbourg is a city in northeastern France, soaked in the history of Western civilization. It is older than the Julian calendar; it has changed hands and names, and it has been at the forefront of seismic shifts in culture and the site of some of humanity’s darkest moments. I’ve never been there, and it strikes me as odd that Strasbourg is not a city that surfaces much in pop culture. In the context of Jose Luis Guerin’s In the City of Sylvia, the most incredible contextual reference to Strasbourg to me is that Strasbourg was the home of Johannes Gutenberg, the man who invented the printing press.
In the lands of old when time was yet a toddler, there lived an owl. His name was Dell. Dell was a simple, modest owl but he had a special gift. He could sing better than any other bird in the world, the rest of whom could only make a variety of modest calls. His voice was so gorgeous that animals from all corners of the land would come to hear its magical sound.
Perhaps the primary reason that Cold Souls has drawn comparisons to Spike Jonze’s film is because they both touch on metaphysics — apparently an area best addressed in the 21st century by celebrity culture. When a recognizable public figure gets all meta, it’s easy to take metatext as metaphysics. Secularism hasn’t left us much recourse to traditional spirituality. Whereas Being John Malkovich recycled the concept of the homunculus to explore role playing and immortality (and, of course, their intersections with art), Cold Souls literally distills these themes to an essence that can be bottled up and stored in New Jersey at a very reasonable price.
Steve P’s Journey Through Kill Bill was originally written for and published on Genrebusters. Part 3 and 4 are reposted on Playtime by permission of the author. You can catch up on the Journey: Part 1 and 2 here.
Part 3 – Chapter 3: The Origin Of O-Ren
Chapter Three begins with the Bride informing the audience that O-Ren Ishii witnessed her parents’ murders (at the age of nine) at the hands of a yakuza boss named Matsumoto. The film switches from live-action to anime; flashing back in time, we witness …
Microbes in love.
For most of his career, Woody Allen has worked through comic or bittersweet variations of the same themes and scenarios, both as auterist artist and as a neurotic obsessive. For all intents and purposes, the consistency of his on-screen portrayals has created an unshakable perception that Woody Allen and “Woody Allen” are one and the same. In the last decade or so, instead of mellowing with age, Allen’s nervous energy, existential angst, and practical, down-to-earth joie de vivre has sharpened, erupting in outright hostility.1 Deconstructing Harry remade Ingmar …
Steve P’s Journey Through Kill Bill was originally written for and published on Genrebusters. Part 1 and 2 are reposted on Playtime by permission of the author.
Part 1 – Opening and Chapter 1
I am not a Quentin Tarantino fan. Unlike some of my friends, I haven’t watched much of his work. Oh sure, I’ve seen enough of “Reservoir Dogs” to get the reference from an episode of the BBC comedy “Coupling”. And I’ve seen parts of “Pulp Fiction,” though I prefer Kevin Rubio’s parody of the …
As a star who rose to prominence in comedy — as the lead in Blake Edwards’s Blind Date, the weirdly popular and thoroughly gimmicky Look Who’s Talking, and TV’s Nick and Nora-ish Moonlighting — Willis cemented his status as a leading man in an iconic action role. Die Hard remains one of the finest American “high action” films ever made; its durability owes to many factors, but a big asset was certainly John McClane’s earthiness. McClane’s working class charisma owed itself to Willis’s undeniable, almost inexplicable screen presence. Profane wisecracks and and an increasingly battered, bruised, and bloody physique deflate the image of the Superman action figure, but his endurance is magnified by his gritty, blue collar determination. This balancing act hinged upon another basic component of stardom: cool. Willis virtually created his own style of blockbuster stardom, and from that entitlement grew the ego that finally burst onto screen as Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins.
I had always wanted to read Stephen King’s Cell. Despite the intriguing central concept of cell phones turning people into zombies, I somehow never took the plunge and bought it. This is probably due to the fact that the book was slightly larger than most paperbacks, which, I am convinced, was done solely to artificially inflate the price of the book. So I was quite excited when my editor, the living breathing anachronism, plopped an audio version of it onto my desk. 1
“Kid,” he said, a lit cigarette dangling from …