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Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Ninth Gate (1999): When Bibliophiles Attack

The Ninth Gate (Roman Polanski, 1999)
[originally posted 27Mar2000]

photo credit: IMDB

“Hi, my name is Johnny. I’m the brooding hero.”

As Polanski has become increasingly reclusive and eccentric, I’ve often wondered exactly what goes through his head when he decides to film something. I’ve been wondering it more and more over the last two decades or so, as what little output Polanski has released has become increasingly humorless, bitter, and savage, culminating in the brilliantly unstable Death and the Maiden in 1994. Something seems to have happened in the past six years, however. Polanski has given us his finest, and funniest, film since The Fearless Vampire Killers—and for much the same reasons.
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Nocturne (2013): Pas de Deux

Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles, Nocturne (Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles, 2013)

full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by one of its authors for review purposes.


photo credit: Charles Sheehan-Miles

Shouldn’t quotes from the book be in quotation marks?

I’ve been reading Charles Sheehan-Miles’ books for twelve years now; I got a copy of Prayer at Rumayla back in 2001. After reading and reviewing it, I was on a roadtrip from Cleveland to Providence, RI (twelve and a half hours each way if you get stuck in rush hour traffic in New York City, unfortunately) with a friend of mine, a veteran of Gulf War I, in March of 2002. I gave him my copy, and he spent most of the trip immersed in it. Instead of giving it back to me, he passed it on to a person he’d served with. I like to think that all these years later, it’s still making the rounds among Iraq veterans. I’ve been reading Sheehan-Miles’ stuff ever since. Andrea Randall, on the other hand, is new to me. It’s a mark in Nocturne‘s favor that I couldn’t tell where one writer left off and the other began. (I’m assuming it’s facile—and spurious—to simply assign Gregory’s bits to Sheehan-Miles and Savannah’s to Randall.) On the other hand, it makes me want to pigeonhole all the book’s shortcomings to Randall, which probably isn’t fair. I’ll try to avoid doing so, and I apologize in advance if I fail.

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Glance Over at These Creatures (1977): The Seven-Poem Mountain

T. H. Cornell, Glance Over at These Creatures (Resources for Human Development, 1977)
[originally posted 10Apr2000]

photo credit:

We can’t show it to you because the Internet fails us (and it’s packed away somewhere I can’t easily get to it).

Thomas H. “Tad” Cornell is a founding member of avant-weird Philadelphia poetry/music/you-name-it troupe Bloody Someday, and was making waves in the poetry scene for a number of years before that, but this collection, Cornell’s first, goes back to before his journey to southeast Asia and the transforming of his writing into a more spiritual phase.

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Intruders (2011): Got the Humanoid, Not the Intruder

Intruders (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2011)

photo credit:

Is this the face of a…oh, wait, are these the faces of a killer?

Fresnadillo, whose 2001 thriller Intacto kicked off five years of fantastic Eurocrime thrillers, and followed that up by being just as good at shooting the 28 Days… franchise as Danny Boyle was, turns in his latest offering with Intruders, a ghost story that is unfortunately not as good as either of his first two features, but isn’t quite as bad as you may have heard. Spain has quietly been putting together a solid horror environment over the past decade or so (as long as you ignore Jaume Balaguero’s attempts at direction that do not involve Paco Plaza); Fresnadillo tapped into that same well, and ended up with the same strengths (fantastic atmosphere—Spanish horror directors, in the main, have learned very well from the Southeast Asian horror contingent) and weaknesses (unfortunately, he forgot to include a plot) that mark such overlooked Spanish horror flicks as Eskalofrio and Hierro.

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Chasing Ice (2012): Seeing Is Believing

Chasing Ice (Jeff Orlowski, 2012)

photo credit:

It’s such a beautiful shot, but the story behind it is horrifying.

Towards the end of this movie, there is an interview with a former Shell employee who, upon being exposed to James Balog’s work, quit his job spin doctoring for Big Oil and went to work for the dark side. I do not know this for certain, but I am going to take an educated guess that that particular interview has been savaged by the so-called conservatives who attack the science of climate change on a regular basis. (The reason I say “so-called conservatives” is beyond the scope of this review, but to oversimplify, “orthodox religious” and “conservative” are mutually exclusive terms; it is impossible to base your arguments solely on reason when your thinking is driven by faith, which is by definition the antithesis of reason.) I am here to tell you that yes, it is possible.

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IIIrd Gatekeeper (1992): An Uncharacteristic Lull

Skullflower, IIIrd Gatekeeper (Head Dirt, 1992)
[originally posted 14Mar2000]

photo credit:

Porn-font may get you sales, but the distinct lack of wah-wah pedal on this recording is quite disappointing.

I love Skullflower. I have always loved Skullflower, and I will continue to love Skullflower. For those of you who may have not yet heard my Skullflower rants, describing their sound is monumentally simple. Imagine a seventies dinosaur-rock band– Mahogany Rush, for example, or perhaps Deep Purple in their heyday– getting really stoned (or, perhaps, staying sober is a better analogy!) and discovering really, really high distortion. You have early Skullflower. Later in life, they discovered the louder and more chaotic is not always better, and they started doing very minimal, soft, shifting guitar drone. Describing this sound is not quite as simple, but, umm, imagine one of those annoying shoegazer bands, say the Stone Roses, actually playing something in a minor key and not singing lyrics they came up with on acid. (More recently they’ve discovered Black Sabbath’s acoustic instrumentals… but we won’t go there right now.)

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Three Strikes (2000): You’re Out

Three Strikes (DJ Pooh, 2000)
[originally posted 6Mar2000]

photo credit:

“Be honest, now, do my new bracelets go with my teeth?”

Lesson one: never let the only person at the table neither of you has ever met choose the movie you’re going to see that night. Lesson two: “dinner and a movie” these days must, by necessity, have the movie first. You can’t plan a dinner to finish just around the time that movies start unless you make it yourself.

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