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8/23/2003 12:50:24 AM

A moment of silence for Wesley Willis, who died at the age of 40 around 9:00 Chicago time Thursday night, August 21st. Visit Alternative Tentacles for more information.

8/21/2003 09:02:13 AM

Why am I always the last to know about these things? I have just recently been made aware of Flügtag (“flying day”), a “sport” co-opted by Red Bull in which very silly people launch very silly homemade flying machines off a very high ramp into an unsuspecting body of water. Clearly, this is something I need to participate in; alas, the closest the Flügtag tour is coming to Philadelphia is NYC on October 5, and the application deadline has passed. Still, I hope to be there to cheer on those who are lucky enough to participate.

8/20/2003 09:40:36 AM

I have been very fortunate (except perhaps in the case of Thirteen) to have so many free movie opportunities lately. Yesterday’s was Step Into Liquid, the new surfing documentary from Dana Brown (son of Bruce Brown, director of the legendary The Endless Summer). Step Into Liquid doesn’t shatter any documentary filmmaking molds, nor should it be expected to. Its strength is in its dazzling surf cinematography, thanks largely to the skills of the world-class athletes on the screen, such as Taj Burrow and Laird Hamilton (oddly, six-time world champ Kelly Slater gets barely any screen time). There are plenty of insane stunts in the usual hotbed locations like Australia and Hawaii, but there are some surprises as well, with scenes showcasing Wisconsin vets surfing the muddy waters of Lake Michigan, locals riding for miles in waves created by Texas oil tankers, and the Malloy brothers teaching youngsters to surf in northern Ireland.

Undoubtedly, the best was saved for last, but I had to leave just as the requisite “biggest wave ever” scene was beginning, in order to fly across town to meet some friends for Freddy Vs. Jason at The Bridge.

I usually try to avoid the mainstream theaters in the city, as their patrons scarcely acknowledge any of the unwritten (and sometimes written) rules of movie theater etiquette. However, for the same reasons I usually shun these theaters, The Bridge was perfect for Freddy Vs. Jason. No one in the audience had any reservations about this movie being a community dialogue, and startled shrieks and abundant vocal overstatements of the obvious are a welcome component to any such experience in mass market shlock horror. “Damn, that Jason a bad muhfucka!”

8/19/2003 12:23:13 AM

I learned so much tonight! Were you aware that adolescence is difficult, and that teenagers sometimes abuse drugs and alcohol? Apparently, they have also been known to act disrespectfully toward their well-meaning parents. Sometimes they even get involved in sexual activity! For more eye-opening details, see Thirteen.

8/17/2003 11:58:55 PM

The long-awaited Camp Naked Terror 2 web site is finally up, complete with pictures and video from the event for your viewing pleasure. See for yourself.

8/14/2003 12:49:28 AM

Mine is now the supreme pleasure of having viewed the Japanese cult hit Battle Royale. The premise goes like this: In the not too distant future, the Japanese economy has fallen into decline. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and the subsequent rise of unruly, disobedient youth causes the government to concoct the Millennium Educational Reform Act, a.k.a. the BR Act (“Battle Royale Act,” get it?). This act mandates the random selection of one class of students each year, which is then transported to a deserted island, and given three days to fight to the death in a massive free-for-all until one student emerges victorious, lest the powers-that-be kill them all via the nifty remote-controlled explosive collars the students have been fitted with. No, this doesn’t make a lick of sense. Would you have it any other way?

This is a fun, fun movie, and not just because a bunch of Japanese teens are running amok on a deserted island against their will, offing each other colorfully with a variety of weapons. That’s an endearing trait, to be sure, but what enhances it is the satirical attention given to their adolescence operating business-as-usual on the battlefield. Allies and enemies are made, personal vendettas persist, and puppy love is the general topic of discussion; all the while, the score cranks the melodrama to 11. The ultra-violent parallels to the otherwise prosaic pitfalls of the high school environment are unmistakable, and delivered in a far more entertaining and absurdist fashion than, say, an episode of “My So-Called Life.”

Battle Royale II was released in Japan just last month. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it makes it over here sooner than later, though I suspect the lingering post-Columbine climate will prove a bit too chilly for even a limited US release.

8/11/2003 11:45:26 PM

Massive Attack and Mondays don’t mix. My eyelids weren’t giving gravity much of a fight this afternoon.

Last week’s lucky sneak preview was American Splendor, and it was great. An adaptation of the underground comic of the same name, it is an unassumingly unusual film, whose fusion of documentary and dramatization (both factual and fictional) is only occasionally seamless, but nevertheless assiduously works to marvelous effect. It falters here and there toward the end, as it slips in hints of character growth that the comic would probably eschew, but all is forgiven by the film’s bold, unprecedented structure. And it’s impossible to not be impressed by Paul Giamatti, who manages to convey a wide range of emotions with a single scowl.

Now, who knew this Mars Volta album was gonna be this complicated (if consequently sometimes unfocused) experiment in prog-punk psychedelia? I didn’t see that coming. I like it.

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