Wednesday, April 30, 2008

kid detectives, despair, remote control etc...


So, last week was kind of a wash. After having a great time at the New York Comic Con a couple of weekends ago (check my flickr and youtube pages for evidence of this), I had my ass kicked by an ugly bout of the stomach flu, which was preceded by a few days of extremely ill humor and cantankerousness, and has been followed by about a week of general exhaustion. I had this whole plan, too, of using my day off last week to catch up on my movie watching and writing, and to do some all around relaxing and head clearing. Instead I came home early from work a few days before and passed out for a good 30 hours. Anyway, none of this stuff is interesting, and it doesn't really go to explain anything, except I guess why I didn't post anything last week, not that anyone was asking. Although we have, or are about to, pass the 5,000 hit mark visitor-wise, so maybe somebody cares. Or maybe not. What am I, Kreskin?

(yrs truly w/ Grant Morrison at Comic Con)

What's cool, I guess, is that things have really been jumping the past couple of weeks. Just shy of years ago I decided to stop DJ'ing at clubs and bars, since I was really sick of it, just really fucking fed up with alot of the bullshit that went along with the whole thing, the whole ordeal, and I have my radio show to fulfill whatever record-playing needs I might have (and for a much larger audience, to boot). Anyway, I'm coming out of retirement this weekend for two really cool parties that I was invited to play at. The first is the three year anniversary of the Cake Shop, one of my favorite venues in New York. It's a big, day-long event with lots of bands (including a few I really like, like Cause Co-Motion and New Bloods) and a few other DJs. I'll be spinning from midnight 'til two or three or so, between bands and afterwards etc. etc. This should be fun, and it's only three bucks, so if you're in NYC, stop by. Cake Shop is on Ludlow between Rivington & Stanton in the Lower East Side. Meanwhile, Sunday night I'll be spinning with two friends of mine at Heather's Bar in the East Village. Andrew has vast musical knowledge and impeccable taste. Branden DJs for WFMU and some other radio station in California the call letter of which I currently can't recall. I'm me. We'll be playing records from around 10pm until late. This one is free, and it should also be alot of fun. Heather's at on 13th street between Avenues A & B. If you're in the area this weekend, come check me out. I mostly spin postpunk type stuff, some new wave, punk rock, mixed in with a little disco, krautrock, dub...

There's some other stuff going on that I'd rather write about after it's happened, don't want to jinx anything. Meanwhile, despite illness, I managed to watch a couple of interesting films this weekend. The first was one of those random things you just sometimes happen to catch on the IFC or Sundance channel, a medium-sized indie flick that's gotten very little press and distribution, but just so happens to be pretty decent. "The Cassidy Kids" (directed by Jacob Vaughan) takes an interesting concept, one that couple have been used for easy humor and cheap laughs, and moves it in a fascinating, very mature and thoughtful fashion. The film's premise is that, in the late 1970s or early 1980s, a group of neighborhood kids solved a murder mystery. Their exploits are turned into a juvenile detective series, starring one of the actual kids from the case, with the rest replaced by a bunch of actors. Years later, the group is reunited for a documentary being produced for a DVD release of the TV show. Though the concept seems initially humorous, the reunion instead turns about to be about old wounds and resentments, shared traumas and at least one really big secret.

The dramatic aspect of the film is kind of a curveball it throws at you. Things get more serious as it goes along. There turns out to be a mystery inside the mystery, but it's really just a conduit to the examination of these former child detective's fractured adult lives, living under the shadow of one past glory, some still trying to milk it, others permanently scarred by it. Though some of the more dramatic aspects come off a bit force, the subtler emotional content is well-handled by the cast, which includes Anne Ramsay (a familiar face from many TV programmes), Kadeem Hardison (another TV dude, best known for starring on "A Different World in the 80s), comedian Judah Friedlander (who I typically find kind of annoying, though I liked him here and in "American Splendor"), Brian McGuire and Christopher Doubek. This group does a great job of charting the subtleties of portraying a group that shares much in common yet has much emotional distance among them. Anyway, this was a decent, engaging medium-low-budget kinda flick and well worth your 90 minutes should it ever show up on DVD, or play on cable again, or something. I liked it.

Another flick I liked was the also medium-low-budget horror/sci-fi/comedy "Remote Control," from 1988. Years upon years ago, I caught some of this movie on late-nite TV and thought it was pretty lame, cheap and amateurish. Perhaps my standards have mellowed over the years, or what I saw was a bad print, or maybe even another movie entirely, but watching it again a good 15 plus years later, I thought it was pretty damn good. Written and directed by horror stalwart Jeff Lieberman ("Blue Sunshine," which is kind of a classic, plus decent drive-in type fare like "Squirm" and "Just Before Dawn"- most recently he seems to be directing episodes of the John Waters-hosted TV series "Til Death Do Us Part."), "Remote Control" is cut from the same cloth as other reasonably hip 80s horror comedies like "Terrorvision" and "Night of the Creeps." And though it's not as irreverent and sexy as "Terrorvision," nor as endearing and goofy as "Night of the Creeps," it's still a pretty thoroughly likable addition to the moment.

Kevin Dillon plays a nice guy video store clerk (the video store is rather spectacularly housed within an old movie theatre) whose store gets in a few copies of a reissued 1950s sci-fi flick "Remote Control," complete with a seemingly hypnotic store display. Actually, it's not seemingly hypnotic, it's totally hypnotic, and people are clamoring for this video tape, which of course is part of some kind of alien plot to take over the world, or kill everyone in it, or whatever. People start killing one another while watching the flick, and when one teenage customer (played by Jennifer Tilly, really cute and funny here) and her whole family are killed, Dillon and his co-worker are blamed for it. Things spiral out of control after they kill some possessed cops (yeah, this is a comedy in which the heroes are cop killers, you can't beat that shit with a stick, motherfucker), kindnap the girl Dillon's got his eye on (it's her douchebag yuppie boyfriend who actually did the killings the kids are being blamed for, so naturally the next step is to kidnap her), kill some punk rockers, burn down a nightclub, kill some Japanese factory workers, blow up a video factory and, I dunno, kill a few more motherfuckers or something. You gotta remember, L.A. was a pretty rough town in the 80s...

Dillon is not a great actor, and he's not exactly likable (he was better cast as the school asshole in "Heaven Help Us" a few years earlier), but the supporting cast, including Tilly, Christopher Wynne as the co-worker and Deborah Goodrich as the heroine/love interest/kidnap victim, are quite good. I also dug Frank Beldor as the stereotypical blonde yuppie 80s bad guy. There's also some seriously crazy punk/new wave-inspired 1980s fashions on display, and a great scene in a punk/new wave club with a video DJ (mixing VHS, natch) and a bunch of punks who get hypnotized by the film-within-a film. The film-within-a-film, it should be noted, looks pretty great, too. Though the cinematography is a bit advanced for a cheap-o 50s sci-fi flick, the lighting is dead on. I would love to see a better copy of this (I watched a VHS, no DVD is available) to see how good these black & white segments actually looked originally, and to get a better sense of the film-without-a-film's radical color palette.

So yeah, decent watching all around, and more to come. I know I keep promising some comics related material, too, and it'll happen, someday. Or something. In the meantime, come hear me DJ this weekend, or listen to the radio show, or find some other way to pay attention to me, because somebodty has to, and it might as well be you...

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