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Printed Matters @ Subliminal Projects

Tomorrow night over at Subliminal Projects is a great show with new work, a variety of printing techniques, and a book signing for Beyond the Streets.

Let me start by saying that I’m not necessarily a fan of Shepard Fairey, but that’s another story. I do, however, enjoy the work he produces. Printed Matters is a show reinstating the incredible importance of printed media in a digital world. Many say printing is a lost art form; I say we’re too heavily reliant on technology. The argument continues. In this exhibit, we see old and new works by Fairey, which include printing on wood and metal, various paper media, collages, and more. This is Fairey’s first time showing at the new Echo Park location since they moved back in 2008. Continue reading

The Thin Red Line to Receive the Criterion Treatment

Malick fans rejoice: The Criterion Collection, known for its special feature-laden, artfully packaged editions of “important classic and contemporary films,” is releasing The Thin Red Line on DVD and Blu-ray on September 28th of this year. This will be the second of Malick’s films to receive the treatment–the first being 1978’s Days of Heaven–and it’s an act sure to please the vocal minority that has long championed this film, which to date has seen only the most basic release on DVD. Not included, I’m sad to say, is the supposed five-hour-long version of the film with cut scenes featuring the likes of Martin Sheen, Mickey Rourke, Viggo Mortensen, Bill Pullman, and narration by Billy Bob Thornton. Full list of disc features after the jump.

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Mastodon Calling It Quits? Update: No!

Unconfirmed rumors of Mastodon’s breakup abound, dear readers. That their European tour this summer is no longer happening has been confirmed, however. This, from the band’s website:

MASTODON regret to inform their fans that their upcoming Summer tour of Europe originally set to begin June 5, in Germany and ending July 3, in Finland has been cancelled. Guitarist Bill Kelliher who has been diagnosed with Pancreatitis has been advised by doctors to continue further medical treatment. Bill’s medical team are optimistic and expect a full recovery in the weeks ahead as the band looks forward to being part of BlackDiamondSkye also featuring Alice In Chains, Deftones, slated to begin Sep. 16, in Chicago.

Update: According to a post on their official message board, the band is indeed still a band. Another block quote for your reading pleasure: Continue reading

Men Who Hate Women: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

For a film so dependent on its plot, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s story isn’t as gripping as it needs to be. Though seemingly meant to genuinely unsettle us, it too often feels like little more than an exercise in paint-by-numbers. Take its premise, for instance: a falsely-convicted journalist whose name has been dragged through the mud gets a chance to redeem himself and make a few bucks in the process; a family with much to hide on a secluded island adds layers of intrigue; alternative-looking love interest helps everything fall into place and the skeletons come out of the closet one by one. The murder mystery that serves as Dragon‘s catalyst is fine as a starting point, but director Niels Arden Oplev seems less interested in turning the late Stieg Larsson’s 2004 novel into a resonant look at the innate darkness of his native Sweden than an atrocity exhibition a few rungs higher up the ladder than Saw. To this end, there are liberal doses of graphic violence, three rape scenes that add nothing to the plot–and far too little in the way of character development–to justify their inclusion in the first place (to say nothing of their excessive length), and an undercurrent of Nazism lest we forget that even a socialist haven like Sweden has its dark underbelly. Continue reading

ISIS Announces Farewell Tour, Impending Breakup

According to a post on the band’s official blog, ISIS is throwing in the towel. Their reasoning is actually quite commendable:

Simply put, ISIS has done everything we wanted to do, said everything we wanted to say. In the interest of preserving the love we have of this band, for each other, for the music made and for all the people who have continually supported us, it is time to bring it to a close. We’ve seen too many bands push past the point of a dignified death and we all promised one another early on in the life of the band that we would do our best to ensure ISIS would never fall victim to that syndrome. We’ve had a much longer run than we ever expected we would and accomplished a great deal more than we ever imagined possible. We never set any specific goals when the band was founded other than to make the music we wanted to hear and to play (and to stay true to that ideal), so everything else that has come along the long and winding path has been an absolute gift.

Though this is a bummer, I have to give them kudos for ending it on their terms and attempting to maintain their artistic integrity. Here’s a list of all the dates on their upcoming (and final!) tour.

Ordinary People: Kick-Ass

We learn everything we need to know about Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), soon to be known as Kick-Ass, in his opening monologue: he is a teenager remarkable only in how unremarkable he is; a bit on the nerdy side, he’s got two friends funnier than he is (though even more forgettable) and an unrequited crush on a girl named Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca). To put it in his words, “I just existed.” Unfortunately, I tend to agree: Dave does little over the next two hours to distinguish himself, the end result being a movie whose unanchored violence leaves us at sea in terms of whether what we’re watching is meant to be taken with an open mind or a grain of salt. Such is the world of Kick-Ass.

One of the film’s most glaring flaws is that it isn’t consistent with its own logic. The first fifteen minutes are devoted almost entirely to subverting the superhero myth by establishing how painfully normal both its world and its protagonist are, only to abandon that angle half an hour later. What makes Dave unique, we’re led to believe, is that he has no superpowers of any kind; he isn’t bitten by a spider, privy to a vast fortune, or even out for revenge: he’s just a skinny kid who wants to help people. Problem is, Dave gets stabbed and run over the first time he puts his plan to action (note: this is one of the most realistic scenes in the movie), which necessitates that a series of metal plates be infused with his bones. Needless to say, this heightens his pain threshold considerably. This hiccup in logic would be less of an issue if it ended up affecting the plot much, but it doesn’t. Instead, it invites an immediate comparison to Wolverine (something Dave himself happily acknowledges) and contradicts the movie’s own premise that Dave is fundamentally different from other superheroes when, in truth, there’s little setting him apart from someone like Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne: like them, his heroism lies in his moral fiber and the choices he makes. Everything else—their costumes, abilities, and catchphrases—is just an embellishment. That Kick-Ass attempts to reinvent the superhero genre while misunderstanding one of its central tenets is a bit troubling. Continue reading

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