Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 major book releases

2010 is going to be huge for books with 3 of my favorite writers releasing new material!

Bret Easton Ellis - 'Imperial Bedrooms' (a sequel to 1985's 'Less Than Zero' that doesn't sound completely sacrilegious)

Dennis Cooper - 'The Weaklings' (a new poetry collection)

Chuck Palahniuk- 'Tell All' (a classic Hollywood/tabloid like melodrama?)

The End

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yeasayer - "o.n.e"

It is 4 something in the a.m. and I have a fever and can't sleep.
Luckily, the new Yeasayer video for "o.n.e" has been keeping me entertained with its trippy, Mad Max on meth club vibe and visuals.

I've also been enjoying the MMMatthias remix:

I should have got tickets for the fucking Toronto show.

The End

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Grammar Nazi's Lament

Poor grammar really bothers me. Spelling mistakes also piss me off.
We all slip up, but if you are going to write something, take the time to edit and spell check it- especially if what you write is a huge sign you are going to hold in front of the media while mourning the death of your sister/mother/friend (as pictured below in an image I scanned from The Toronto Star).
Ladies, grief isn't an excuse for poor grammar. Your sign should read:
"Jessica, you're our hero. Rest in peace sweet angel. You're safe in God's hands."

The End

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dennis Cooper's 'Guide' (1997) - page #5

The blue carpet in my bedroom is being torn up to be replaced by hardwood flooring that my parents claim will be installed in the next few months (realistically, in the next few years). I am in the midst of packing my books into boxes so my book shelf can be moved. While doing so, I have been reminiscing about reading some of my favorite books for the first time, thinking about what my life was like and what I was doing and thinking.

Though not my favorite book or even my favorite book by Dennis Cooper, 'Guide' contains one of my favorite literary passages (which you will find below):

"Once I dropped acid three times a day for a month. It was the summer, my sixteenth. My family was taking our yearly vacation on Maui. I'd made this friend, Craig, a local surfer with great drug connections. Every morning we'd score a few blotter hits, hitchhike to this remote beach, and spend the day zonked, hallucinating, babbling, and swimming around in the ocean. After several weeks, we started to lose it. We'd found this coral reef a short distance offshore. One day we robbed a hotel room, stole a truck, and transported the room's furnishings to the beach. We towed our loot, piece by piece, through the surf, underwater, and into this huge, cavelike nook in the reef, setting each chair, rug, et cetera in place, then swimming furiously back for the surface. Our plan was to live in this cave, rent-free, far away from fascistic reality. It never crossed our minds that we wouldn't be able to breathe." (page 5)

As demonstrated in this passage, the flow and pace of Cooper's prose is perfect and its simplicity is deceiving. He slices away the flesh and fat, cutting to the naked white bone of what he means to convey with the meticulousness of a surgeon wielding a scalpel.

The End

'Dahmer' (related) recap

Dahmer's victims:

The older sister of Jeffrey Dahmer's 11th victim, Errol Lindsey, freaks out in court and attempts to attack Dahmer. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic:

A homemade video for Sufjan Stevens' haunting 'John Wayne Gacy Jr,' one of my favourite songs. Creator Claire Carre incorporates 50's educational films and old family footage:

The End

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Probably due to the fact that Jeremy Renner is getting alot of attention these days (and an Oscar nom) for the disappointing 'The Hurt Locker,' I was craving rewatching one of my favorite films, 'Dahmer' (2002). Of course the Academy would never recognize a film like 'Dahmer' but I think Renner's nuanced performance as the disturbed yet alluring serial killer was much more deserving of an Oscar nomination. At least he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
Late last night I satiated my craving and rewatched the film.

Serious, somber and sensitive, 'Dahmer' is not a stereotypical sensationalist bio pic. The opening credit montage of a chocolate factory assembly line eerily set to Patsy Cline's "just out of reach" immediately signals that this is not going to be the Jeffrey Dahmer movie viewers are anticipating even though the action then meticulously moves to Dahmer luring a victim from a department store back to his apartment where he proceeds to perform a partial lobotomy on the boy with a power drill.
Despite atrocious acts like the aforementioned lobotomy, director and writer David Jacobson refuses to demonize the tortured Dahmer. I think it makes people feel better to distance themselves from others who commit abhorrent acts by referring to them as "monsters." By doing so, people draw a clear line separating themselves from a murderer. It is true that Jeffrey Dahmer did monstrous things but it is ignorant to think that he was somehow less human or all that different from you and me. Dahmer was someone's son and someone's neighbour, not a "monster."
A moralistic perspective on Dahmer's actions is refused by director Jacobson. Instead, a coolly detached, restrained perspective aided by precise, sometimes stark camerawork by Chris Manley and editing by Bipasha Shom, show without telling. Events, including the murder and dismemberment of Dahmer's first victim, are presented in a manner that is startlingly matter-of-fact, stripped naked of a damning or condemning voice. This moral ambiguity is something I appreciate as it lets the viewer determine things on their own, reach their own conclusions and feel their own emotions without heavy handed guidance.
Jacobson also refuses to play the silly textbook game of connect the ( behavioral/psychological) dots from childhood to adulthood to somehow explain why Dahmer became one of America's grisliest mass murderers. Many horror films about killers, Rob Zombie's reworking of 'Halloween' (2007) and even the excellent 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' (1986) for examples, paint simple pictures of a troubled, abused boy becoming a troubled, abusing (and killing) man. But realistically, things are not always so simple. The timeline of 'Dahmer' slides back and forth between the present and snippets of Jeffrey's adolescence. Sure his father is revealed to have been slightly oppressive and humiliating and his parents divorced, but Dahmer was not forced to dress in women's clothing and watch his mother fuck strange men who later molested him (as in 'Henry'). 'Dahmer' demonstrates that sometimes there are no clear, formulaic reasons for why we do the things we do, making the film all the more chilling.
Jacobson's direction and Jeremy Renner's portrayal allow viewers to not only sympathize but empathize with the dissolute Dahmer and I fully agree with the opening sentence of Ed Halter's insightful 2002 review of the film in The Village Voice; "The only gay movie protagonist in recent years whom I've identified with is [this] titular antihero..." Renner's nerdy yet attractive Dahmer is awkwardly shy and his graceless attempts at human connection feel squeamishly close to home for me, especially in a houseparty scene. When Jeffrey's parents go on vacation, he throws a houseparty where he is ignored and sits drinking alone as his peers dance and interact around him. After getting up and wandering out of the room like a ghost, Jeffrey hears a heterosexual couple fucking in a bedroom. With sad yearning, he pushes open the door and briefly watches the couple going at it, connecting in a way he ferociously desires but can't seem to manage. Later, in a gay bar, the houseparty scene is echoed when Dahmer is depicted as an alienated outcast, nervously navigating the fringes as men wearing tight t-shirts dance around him- another all too familiar scene. Gay life is unflatteringly rendered in 'Dahmer' as one that "exploits deep wells of loneliness" (Halter) and this is something else I connect and agree with.
Aside from a heartbreakingly beautiful scene at the end where a metaphor for Damher's desperate desire to connect, to get at another person's heart, is literalized by him slicing open a victim's chest and reaching his arm inside; the violence in the film is kept off screen and the gore kept to a minimum. Strangely, and to the film's detriment, Dahmer's real life cannibalism is left out. The large vat Dahmer used to store the corpses of his victims near his bed in real life is also omitted from the film. However, I think this was a good choice because in the film, Dahmer instead keeps the corpses in his bed, providing for some suspenseful and uncomfortable scenes.
'Dahmer' does not show the capture and imprisonment of Jeffrey, or his eventual murder at the hands of another inmate. In line with the film's austerity, seriousness and intelligence, 'Dahmer' concludes with a series of stark, mostly static shots depicting Dahmer's isolation and disconnection as he appears solitary in the frame. Instead of seeking help at a local AA meeting, he turns his back to the camera and the audience, walking off into a forest, symbolizing how Dahmer turned his back on society, unable to reach out or resist the urges within.

'Dahmer' suffered from poor marketing as it was pushed as a regular, mainstream horror movie (demonstrated in the stupid official trailer that I refuse to post) when it should have played the festival circuit.
Sidenote- the minimal score to the film is creepy and perfect. As are the soundtrack choices. Below are some of the tracks used in the film:

Patsy Cline- just out of reach (used in the opening credits)

Freddy Cannon- Tallahassee Lassie (used in a scene where one of Dahmer's victims dances drunk in Dahmer's apartment before he is attacked)

Gladys Knight and the Pips- with every beat of my heart

The End

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Back when David Cronenberg was known as ‘the Baron of blood’ or Dave ‘Deprave’ Cronenberg and before he was awarded France’s Legion of Honour or lunched with Tom Cruise, he infected the imagination of cinema audiences with Videodrome (1982). Provocative, prophetic and even philosophical, Videodrome blends Cronenberg’s predilection for the perverse with Marshall Mcluhan’s musings on media to create a cautionary Sci-Fi / Horror film that brings new meaning to the expression, “television will rot your brain.”

Videodrome follows Max Renn (James Woods), a sleazy underground cable TV programmer in Toronto, as he stumbles onto the transmission of “Videodrome,” a show consisting of “just torture and murder. No plot, no characters.” Max thinks he has found “what’s next,” something his desensitized audience has been craving and something that will “break through.” After hooking up with the kinky Nicki Brand (Blondie’s Deborah Harry), Max begins to experience violent and sexual hallucinations resulting in mind-bending (and blowing) special effects by Academy Award winner Rick Baker. Television screens pulsate like organs while videotapes bulge and breathe as if alive. In an attempt to locate the source of “Videodrome,” Max discovers its transmissions are encoded with a signal that induces a brain tumor, eventually transforming the viewer’s reality into video hallucination. The signal was originally intended to be the next stage in human evolution as a technological being by its inventor, media prophet Brian O’Blivion (Jeck Creley), a parody of Mcluhan. Instead, Barry Convex (Les Carlson) has hijacked the signal and plans to launch it through Max’s cable channel as a mind-controlling device.
Exploding bodies, exploding television sets, a vaginal torso slit and a transmogrified pistol-hand all contribute to the ensuing imagery as Max descends into extreme hallucinations of mutation and murder, drawing the film to a viscera drenched conclusion.

Though at times convoluted and uneven, Videodrome is a prescient parable about the intrusive and identity-threatening force of the media, specifically television, and the dangerously desensitizing effects of overexposure to sex and violence. Forecasting society’s sadistic bloodlust for violence as electronic entertainment, predicting the reality TV craze, and inspiring/influencing countless films including The Matrix (1999) and The Ring (2002), Videodrome remains as relevant today as it was in 1982. It is unfortunate Cronenberg does not return to this kind of thoughtful, edgy filmmaking and instead pursues a proposed blockbuster starring Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington.

The original trailer- one of the most random and also one of the best trailers ever:

The End