Thursday, September 27, 2012

Valentino: the Last Emperor

If you're in the fashion industry you've either got a ridiculously overinflated ego, or you're kissing the ass of someone with a ridiculously overinflated ego. I don't like either idea, but that's the fashion industry in a nutshell. You're Ana Wintour, or you're groveling at her feet. Fuck her and fuck the grovelers.

Valentino is incredibly self-absorbed. Go figure. He's like a rich child who never grew up. It's gotta be weird being isolated in this über rich environment where everything hinges on appearances. At least he looks after his dogs well-enough. Stupid pugs. But I digress…

This documentary is about Valentino, his lover/business partner, and the rise of his fashion empire over the last 45 years. It really focuses on the last couple of shows he did before retiring. They're incredibly over the top productions that cost zillions to make. We see Valentino sketching couture dresses, and we follow those sketches as his seamstresses turn them into haute couture reality. Then models prance down runways for douchebags wearing sunglasses indoors. Fascinating stuff.

The doc is well done. It's fly-on-the-wall style and it lets the main characters tell their own tale. It's pretty decent for what it is, but I think someone else could have delved deeper into Valentino's life. 

There are better doc's to watch than this. But you could do a hell of a lot worse, too. Whatever.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Marie and I started watching Freakonomics months ago. I think we got through the first segment of the film and then Netflix took a dump on me. So I finally decided to pick back up and watch the remaining hour+.

It was straight. Not the best thing I've ever seen.

Basically, an economist and a journalist wrote a book called Freakonomics in 2004. This is their eponymous film based on said book. It's about analyzing data and discussing causality. The other subject is incentives. A half dozen Directors each have their own segment in the film that has to do with causality/incentives, and the authors of the book comment and tie the whole thing together.

The shitty part is that the authors of the book came under fire for manipulating data to derive their findings in the original book. So the legitimacy of their film becomes a bit dubious, too. Data and causality are very, very tricky subjects. You gotta look at things holistically or you can come up with some causal relationships that are totally bullshit. The media does it daily. Some douche shot up a school and he owned a Metallica Metallica made him do it! It's the only contributing factor! We don't want to look any further for the true root cause!

Fuck off. I hate people.

Anyway, the Sumo piece was most interesting to me. 1) I'm a fan of the sport 2) I dig Japan and 3) It's interesting to see such an honest country be embroiled in such a dishonest match-rigging fiasco.

The opening piece about black names vs. white names was interesting, too. Kind of embarrassing. My favorite stat was how many unique ways the school district had for spelling the name, Unique (I think over a hundred, if I recall!).

I wouldn't tell anyone not to watch this. I just wouldn't put it at the top of my queue. It's a'ight. Go for it. Who cares.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Bad Eye suggested I watch this. Not one of his better suggestions.

A film-maker follows around a few groups of Irish "travelers" for about 10 years and he videotapes their bare-knuckle boxing lifestyle. The thing is, it looks like someone just followed people around with a camcorder for 10 years. The quality of the video in certain parts is shit. Let's just call this a "fly on the wall" documentary. It's certainly bare-bones.

You've seen Snatch. You're familiar with the Pikeys. "You like dags?" Well, the Pikeys looks like Harvard graduates compared to these Irish travellng-folk. Holy fuck, they barely speak English. I'd have an easier time understanding Bunny Wailer than these dudes, and that's saying something.

Their lives are filled with useless inter-family feuds. They posture like it's impossible to end the feuds and the bare-knuckle matches keep things from devolving into an all out war. but let's be honest...they're full of shit. Not one of them is man enough to put an end to things. As much as they protest, they must like the fighting because they're the sole reason it is perpetuated. The retards videotape themselves talking shit to the other family and send the tapes back and forth challenging each other to fights. Pretty pathetic stuff. And in many cases they say, "it's not me, it's them. They ask for fights. I don't. I just accept their offers." So bloody juvenile.

I'll tell you what's not juvenile, though...the purses. These fights have up to 120,000 quid riding on them. And these buggers will fight for over 2 hours if needed. It's bare-knuckle boxing until one man is knocked out or someone throws in the towel. No breaks. Just fight til you can't fight anymore. Gnarly.

I didn't think it was a good doc. Illuminating? Yeah. I didn't know much about Irish traveling boxers before. But did it need to be 90 minutes? Nope. The whole thing is shit-talk on video, fight, repeat. There's very little else to it. A little back story on their excuses for fighting (generally stemming over some other fight decades prior). I think this could have been cut in half and it would have been just fine.

If you want to watch something on boxing, watch the doc the Real Rocky.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the Hunger Games

Unoriginal young adult book turned blockbuster movie? Can't wait… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I watched this last night. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn't nearly as good as it could have been. Truth be told, I detest young adult novels. Well, they're fine for 12 year olds, but that's a couple decades ago so I'm not interested in that crap now. So having said that, I give a slightly biased review.

The story is derivative of the Japanese classic, Battle Royale. You'd be WAY BETTER OFF watching that film cuz it rules. Plain and simple. Beat Takeshi in a film about kids killing each other in a vicious blood sport? Way cooler than this young adult mumbo jumbo.

The costumes definitely reminded me of THX 1138 and Fahrenheit 451 at times. The score was decent. The cinematography was fine. The acting was alright. No big gripes. But the script and emotions were a bit stilted.

Overall, it just suffered from being skin-deep. It never got THAT intense, or THAT emotional, or THAT exciting. It just sort of safely plodded along safely telling the story. Kind of what you'd expect from a young adult adaptation, I guess. Safe as fuck.

I'm told the books are much better, but I'm sure they're not. Why? Cuz the film is over in 2.5 hours and then you're free from this crap, but the books take a lot longer to read. Save yourself the safe monotony of pseudo-futuristic love and politics and just watch Battle Royale and THX 1138. You'll be way better off for it. (Or read the Battle Royale novel. I should pick that up…)

Cameraman: the Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

Jack Cardiff is the man. He directed Girl on a Motorcycle for god's sake. But more importantly than that, he was THE iconic cinematographer of the 20th century.

This documentary does a good job chronicling his incredibly influential career. The doc uses Scorsese as his main advocate, but many others weigh in on Cardiff's profound effect on the industry. It's surprising he didn't do more Hitchcock films because he seems to have had a Hitchcockian-eye for story-telling and drama. But anyway…

Production value is good on this one. The flick keeps you interested for the whole thing and I'd suggest watching it. Pay your respects.


The effects are crap, the film is campy and makes no sense, but god damn Jane Fonda is AMAZING looking.

The opening scene is cinematic gold. Jane Fonda doing an anti-gravity striptease? Boobs? It's edge of your seat viewing. Great stuff. But it all goes downhill from there pretty much. Well, her costumes are pretty outstanding, and she seems to change them very frequently, but other than that this movie kinda sucks. I don't understand the idea behind it. If it's a comedy, it's not very funny. If it's anything but a comedy, then it's far too campy to be taken even remotely serious. It exists in this grey area. Weird stuff. It's not that the humor is too dry or too subtle…it's just crap. John Cleese could have turned this into a masterpiece!

But honestly none of this matters. Who cares about the plot? It's all about Jane Fonda. Short of doing a lesbian porno this is the next best thing. She's a goddess. I don't care what she said about Vietnam. She is the bomb.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Let's get this sorted up front; don't see this.

Infamy is 90 minutes of myopic, egotistical graff' writers talking about their shit. They come from broken homes, their homies have died, they've made bad choices, they're addicted to putting fame up on bus stops and train cars. Yada yada yada. Fuck tha police and all that jazz.

I love graff' but this film isn't much of an ambassador for the culture/scene. A couple of the dudes are alright, and CLAW adds a different perspective, but overall I think they could have found more eloquent representatives to document. You just end up thinking, "this guy is a douche" and that overshadows his art in many cases. Having said that, none of the dudes profiled are all that dope to begin with. They a'ight.

The film doesn't really talk about history or techniques or styles much. It's more about personal stories from coast to coast.

Yeah, you don't need to see this. I've yet to see a really good graff' doc, but I keep watching them so you don't have to.

Two Wheels on Two Reels

This book looks low rent. It took me a while, but I eventually picked it up on Amazon. It was just an inevitability that I would own this so I bit the bullet. The interior is even worse than the exterior, but I'll be damned if Mike Seate isn't a damn good author! Shocking, but the motor-mouth responsible for Cafe Racer Magazine and Cafe Racer TV is actually a really eloquent scribe.

The cool thing about this book is that it's written like a chronological history book. Where as the Big Book of Biker Flicks is simply a review/synopsis of each movie in order, this book strings everything together with a sort of narrative and social commentary. It flows well.

The layout leaves much to be desired. It's more shocking for the fact that someone laid this out in the year 2000. It looks like an Economics text book from middle school. There's no excuse for any book to look this dry. It has no personality. But thankfully it is legible and readable, and the content more than makes up for the poor Art Direction.

The book is printed B&W, and even in 2000 Mike Seate was watching VHS instead of DVD. The images of the movies are VHS covers instead of movie posters. What the hell? At the time, many of these were probably only available as old VHS, but still... the posters are WAY fucking cooler than the VHS covers and should have been sourced for this publication.

Surprisingly, I definitely recommend this book, but only to bikers and film nerds. But mostly bikers. Mike's writing is top shelf. I'd love to see this updated with a brand new layout and new content from the last 12 years. Mike, get to it!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Requiem for Detroit?

BBC documentary about Detroit. Not feeling it so much.

It's pretty much all ruin porn, with a touch of silver-lining thrown in. Granted, the film is about the city's decline, not its rebirth, but you can't help but feel like it's an exploitation piece.

They talk about some good things happening, but I didn't get a positive vibe from the flick. It felt a bit cheap. Well done, but you felt taken advantage of. Like a zoo. "oooh, look at the Detroiters, so feral. Now let's go back to our safe homes once we've had our fill of grim reality."

Meh. Skip it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

30 for 30: The Real Rocky

I watched this doc on Chuck Wepner, the real Rocky. It's worth an hour of your time. You can stream it on Netflix or watch the video on YouTube posted above.

ESPN takes a good look at the man who inspired Stallone to write Rocky. The doc is definitely well made. Good production. Good camerawork. It keeps things interesting. Anyone who goes toe to toe with Muhammad Ali has a tale or two to tell.

Chuck seems like a likable enough guy and it's cool to see him tell his story. There's ample archival footage to supplement the recent interviews they conducted. All in all, it's an entertaining window into the life of a boxer who would be otherwise unknown.

I've never been a fan of Stallone and this certainly didn't do anything to make me like him any better. Retard.

Conan: Cimmeria

Truman and Giorello do better on their second collaboration.

I liked Cimmeria better than the the Hand of Nergal. The writing seemed more in line with traditional Conan tales and the art wasn't as murky. I still prefer Busiek and Nord, but this is still do-able. I still got into the tale...

And what an epic tale it is. We see Conan leave behind the Eastern cities filled with kings, whores, ale and adventure, and return northbound to the dark hills of his home town. It's a big deal for Conan. He meets up with some old characters we recognize from other tales, and things get shitty for a whole lot of people, including our dark-haired protagonist.

Conan's come full circle, but I'm excited to see him take off and head for the cities again. I see many more decapitations and many more curvaceous women in Conan's near future...

Monday, September 3, 2012


Bicycles are for people who can't afford motorcycles.

This doc was kinda low rent. Shaky production values. Only 40 minutes. Pretty shallow.

Powering your bike is kinda cool. I respect that aspect of the fixed gear bike. It's as fast or as slow as you are. It's clearly more of an extension of the person than a geared bike. No brakes. I'd like to try riding one for the sake of fitness. Satan knows I could do with some cardio and leg exercise.

It's streaming on Netflix. But why watch it when you can do something else with your 40 minutes. Like ride a proper bike...with an engine.

[update 09/09/12] I rode Bad Eye's fixie. These things are death-traps! I couldn't stop the bloody thing. Horrible piece of machinery. Give me brakes or give me death.


Gary Hutswit is cornering the market when it comes to nerdy-design-documentaries. First, he did the most excellent, Helvetica, later he did Objectified, and now we have Urbanized. Helvetica ruled hard, Objectified was worth watching, and Urbanized was really good. All of his films employ top notch camerawork, editing, and production value. He knows how to tell a tale.

It's a movie about city planning and design. There are interviews with city planners, architects, designers, etc. He did a good job co-producing it cuz Urbanized is filmed all over the freakin world. They focus on different projects in foreign cities. How urban design can help the people. How urban design can benefit the planet, and how urban design can go wrong. It's fascinating stuff even though I'm making it sound boring.

They go to Detroit. Of course they do. But it's not all ruin porn. Don't cringe. Thankfully it showcases Detroit's urban farming and DIY culture, rather than its blight. There's a great opening scene on the People Mugger, errr...People Mover.

I really enjoyed it. I don't want to regurgitate some of the super interesting facts and concepts...just watch it and be surprised yourself.

Streaming on Netflix. Or click the video above to watch on YouTube.

Great stuff. I'm definitely a fan of Hutswit.