Month: October 2015

Jason Lives: Stephen Winter’s “Jason and Shirley”

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jason and shirleyWhat can I say? The relationship between the viewer and Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason, between Jason and Shirley themselves – and, in turn, what they may or maynot represent – is of the sadomasochistic sort. Pauline Kael called the film “naïve and sadistic”. The latter is true, but sadistic to whom? And masochistic for whom? That’s part of the great game, the urgent imperative of Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley. Read the rest of this entry »

“Magic Mike”: The Bible for Masc Bros

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magic-mikeListen up, bros! Grab your red solo cups, your ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend’s hockey jerseys, and your beer funnels: I’m here to tell you it’s okay to like Magic Mike. It is totally okay to appreciate another bro’s body. As a matter of fact, I do it all the time. In the shower, at the gym, at the gas station bathroom, it is totally okay to be bro-appreciative of another bro’s body. And I think Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike celebrates that masc ideal. Read the rest of this entry »

Suffer the Little Children: Sebastian Silva’s “Nasty Baby”

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nasty-baby_convertedWritten on the surface of Sebastian Silva’s Nasty Baby is a bunch of tenuously cohesive themes and ideas – the fear of fatherhood, the adolescence of adulthood, the struggles of being an artist, gentrification – that are smudged around with red ink thrown on them for good measure to a point where those things are barely discernible at all. To some degree, there’s an admiration to be had for its audacity inasmuch as a drastic tonal shift, but its main selling point and shock value feels rather unearned at the end of the day. Read the rest of this entry »

The Big, Bad Wolf: “Creep” and Gay Panic as Horror 

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 Josef (Mark Duplass) has a penchant for scaring people. With love. It’s kind of an eye roll worthy thing, actually. On the behest of his invitation, Aaron (director Patrick Brice) brings him camera, under the assumption he’ll be filming Josef’s time capsule video for his as yet unborn son Buddy. And, as always when following up with a Craigslist ad, there’s something off. Josef is weird. Josef is odd. With his overbearing saccharine personality that often manifests in inappropriate hugs, lack of awareness of others’ personal space, and explicit outpourings of affection, Josef is kind of a creep. Maybe more implicitly, a straight guy’s nightmare. Read the rest of this entry »

Impure Imagination: American Horror Story: Asylum – 2.11, “Spilt Milk”

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Left unchecked, Ryan Murphy can wreak havoc on a show, and not necessarily in a good way. American Horror Story as a property in and of itself is a test of balance for Murphy, and Brad Falchuk seems to be there to tip the scale so that their shows run more cogently, so they think. Murphy’s extremism in sentimentality and camp is supposed to be checked by Falchuk’s seemingly egalitarian approach, which has felt more exertion in Asylum than it did in Murder House. That seems to come off in certain aesthetic and formal choices: “Spilt Milk” presents its shocker of a beginning with a transaction with a prostitute that specializes in a fetish involving breast milk. That button pushing concept sounds like a Murphyism, but the camera angles, ostensibly chosen by AHS veteran Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, but the focus and concentration on Johnny (returning cast mate Dylan McDermott) feels more like Falchuk wanting to reign in the weirdness with mapped out nuance. Read the rest of this entry »