Happy Birthday, John Carpenter!

One of America’s greatest living directors and electronic music innovator, John Carpenter has produced images and sounds that are indelibly etched in my brain. Even so, I’ve probably collectively watched the films of John Carpenter more than any other single director. I own all the classics, have watched all the extras, have listened to and read multiple interviews, and I still can’t help but sit engrossed whenever I stumble past them on TV. I re-watch multiple Carpenter films at least once a year and never tire of them. If someone I know hasn’t seen them… oh shit, it’s on: John Carpenter marathon! Seriously, how can you deny the genius of Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China, and They Live, not to mention the less recognized, yet still fantastic, Dark Star, Christine and In The Mouth Of Madness? Not liking John Carpenter films = deal breaker, pure and simple.

It’s also gratifying to see that Carpenter is finally receiving his due as a composer. His scores, often in collaboration with Alan Howarth, are not only perfectly tailored to his visuals, but are independently worthy and powerful pieces of music (although I will admit that I do immediately visualize his worlds when I hear any music that reminds me of his style, which is, in fact, a massive bonus). His Halloween theme is as recognizable as Bernard Herrmann’s score, during the shower scene in Psycho, if not more so. His use of synthesizer was, and is, wildly influential in the electronic music scene and no less of a Hip-Hop pioneer than Afrika Bambaataa acknowledged the influence when using the End Theme of Assault On Precinct 13 as the source for “Bambaataa’s Theme”. Now, For the first time in his career, Carpenter has set out to create music without the constraint of visual accompaniment or it’s attendant time schedule, and will be releasing his first non-soundtrack album, Lost Themes, in less than one month. Based on the two currently released tracks, it will be the perfect companion for the rest of your Carpenter collection.

clearly influenced by the sound of the Spaghetti Western

An anomaly in the Carpenter cannon, a vocal theme

And the new cuts…

and both Assault on Precinct 13 and Big Trouble In Little China are streaming on youtube, and AMC had Dark Star, for the moment

and I had to include THE fight


The Boxer’s Omen: Sheer WTF Insanity!

Seriously, this is total delirium. Words simply cannot do just to the continually increasing levels of ridiculousness in which this movie revels. Produced by the masters of Kung Fu cinema, Shaw Brothers Studios, what briefly starts as a martial arts film, quickly descends into levels of surreal horror and supernatural mayhem seldom seen. It’s as though, Tsui Hark took a shower in psychedelics, after getting his mind fried by Hausu, Jodorowsky and Buddhism. The film is in fact the work of director, Kuei Chih-Hung, a prolific director working for the Shaw Brothers in myriad styles, since the sixties. Time to delve into his filmography!

added to the list of soon to be viewed…

Happy Birthday, Jennifer Connelly

By the age of 16, Jennifer Connelly appeared in her first four films, check out three of them: Sergio Leone’s, Once Upon A Time In America, Dario Argento’s, Phenomena, and Jim Henson’s, Labyrinth. That’s an impressive resume straight out of the gate, and all before prom.

and from Dark City

jennifer connelly - balenciaga

Bum-ba-dee-dah, Bum-ba-dee-dah
jennifer connely horse
Happy trails to you, until we meet again

Rainer Werner Fassbinder made a sci-fi film?! Welt am Draht (World On A Wire)

Renowned director of New German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, was an insanely prolific filmmaker. In fifteen short years he shot 40(!) feature length films, all the while working on multiple projects in theater, radio, TV, and acting in his, and others, films, not to mention that he performed manifold duties on most of these sets. As the saying goes, “the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

Even in such an enormous body of work, “Welt am Draht” stands out. Based on Daniel F. Galouye’s novel, “Simulacron-3”, “Welt am Draht” is Fassbinder’s only foray into the world of Sci-Fi. Originally aired on German television in 1973 in two-parts, the film was largely unavailable for many years, existing solely on bootleg copies, until it was screened in 2010 at The Berlin International Film Festival.

That being said, I was still surprised that I was previously unaware of the film’s existence. Obscure, dystopian sci-fi is my shit! Plus it’s Fassbinder! Plus it’s shot in France, during an awesome moment in design, style and fashion! Plus Terry Gilliam did a total homage shot to it in his greatest film, “Brazil”! Needless to say, yeah, I dug it.

Without going into too much of a synopsis, the film deals with some fairly common Sci-Fi themes: questionable applications of technology, nature of reality, reliability of senses/memory, distrust of government and corporations, and general paranoia caused by all of the above. It’s a world within a world scenario. In the “above” world, The Institute for Cybernetics and Future Science (IKZ) is developing a super computer program to create a fully functioning simulated reality of 9,000 people, or “identity units”, for the “below” world. Our protagonist, Dr. Fred Stiller, has, due to the death of the previous programmer, just taken over control of the program…

Initially things are going well for Stiller, a promotion, new car, apartment, etc., but things begin to quickly unravel as questions mount and he goes further down the rabbit hole. Think of Stiller as Blade Runner’s, Rick Deckard, if he were more interested in answering questions than retiring replicants. In fact Stiller makes Deckard’s internal dilemma manifest. Oddly enough, though the basis for “Blade Runner”, Philip K. Dick’s, “Do Androids Dreams Of Electric Sheep”, was released four years after “Simulacron-3”, Philip K Dick released a novel called “The Simulacra” in the same year as “Simulacron-3”, 1964. (Simulacronicity?).

Being that this is a blog and not an assignment, I’m going to wrap it up with this… the performances are excellent across the board, Fassbinder’s direction taut and tense, his use of mirrors being particularly symbolic. I look forward to a second viewing soon.

“this is above and that’s below, or how much deeper does it go?” -siskins

world on a wire
The homage from Gilliam
world on a wire brazil