Thursday, March 5, 2015

4 mostly books I read recently & loved: SHABBY DOLL HOUSE READER #1, Mark Doten The Infernal, Hiromi Itō Wild Grass on the Riverbank, Johannes Göransson The Sugar Book


Ella Sweeney: How important is the idea of the collective in the work that you do?

Lucy K. Shaw: I would say that it’s completely vital in the sense that I don’t feel sufficiently interested in myself or in my own work to spend all of my time thinking about it. But I do have an incessant compulsion to be involved in the process of creating something.

Working with others, and by that I primarily mean editing other people’s work but also crucially finding a way to work constructively and harmoniously with other editors, for me, is much more consistently rewarding than writing, publishing and showing my own work. I think personal successes and accomplishments, while important, can often feel ultimately kind of lonely. But the thrill of completing and presenting something you’ve worked on very hard with other people can really be a beautiful and fulfilling feeling.

ES: What kind of impact do you think collective practices have on a movement such as feminism?

LKS: I can only really speak on this from my personal experience. Until I met Sarah Jean Alexander and Gabby Bess, who were also pretty much completely unknown at the time, I hadn’t ever really felt like there was a place for me or for my work.

But once we started supporting each other, we were able to build Shabby Doll House and Illuminati Girl Gang into these bold, far-reaching magazines and to publish the work of so many other writers and artists who we believed in. And one of those people was Samantha Conlon, who later went on to form Bunny Collective. Another was Luna Miguel. Another was Mira Gonzalez. Another was Stacey Teague. Another was Ashley Opheim. I’m not trying to take credit for other people’s successes here, but rather to demonstrate that it’s all cyclical. We have all helped and supported one another unquantifiably, and often merely by existing at the same time.

So I think, in terms of how these types of collective practices can advance a movement like feminism; I was probably quite convinced for a long time that if I was going to succeed in writing or art or actually any type of field, that I was going to have to become an exception to the rule. That I would have to be the only successful woman in whatever it was that I was doing, and that I would have to do all of this on somebody else’s terms, as part of a landscape which already existed.

But now I know that just isn’t true.

Editors Lucy K Shaw, Sarah Jean Alexander & Stacey Teague SHABBY DOLL HOUSE READER
Shabby Doll House

'You can now subscribe to receive the brand new Shabby Doll Reader direct to your inbox on the first Sunday of every month. This new, downloadable .pdf is the perfect companion for the Shabby Doll House super fan, with exclusive features, interviews, reviews, news and even more of whatever else we feel that we need to show you. It's time for us to take this up another level. The first issue was released on February 1st, 2015. You can subscribe now to receive it. Your $4 a month membership fee allows us to bring you the highest quality in poetic entertainment. Thank you for supporting Shabby Doll House.' -- SDH






'Mark Doten’s debut is the most audaciously imaginative political novel I’ve ever read. It’s also very “literary,” though couched in a sci-fi premise: In an alternate reality, a Christ figure (“the Akkad boy”) has been attached to an information-extracting machine (“the Omnosyne”) that will feed his soul (“information”) into “the Cloud.” We are to be presented with transcriptions of the stories that have poured out of this boy over the course of a four-day interrogation. But it turns out that he speaks in other people’s voices — voices from our own reality — and what we actually get is a burlesque of monologues and stories that rewrite our own fraught cultural narratives.

'Most of these pieces are too weird to be easily described. Osama bin Laden tells us about feeding his followers into the mouth of a mechanical bird. Dick Cheney learns to love himself. Mark Zuckerberg tries to survive an eschatological video game. “Mark Doten” discusses race politics with Barack Obama — along with about 10 other story lines by characters famous and not. They are by turns hilarious and disturbing, often shifting into surrealism or Kafka-style absurdity. There are traces of Beckett’s influence, and David Foster Wallace’s, and, perhaps most obviously, of Robert Coover’s “The Public Burning,” but overall the sheer poundage of originality is remarkable.

'The Infernal takes place at a junction of aesthetics and politics. Doten starts from the essential premise that reality is not inevitable, that the world we have is one we’ve made, which he ferociously disassembles, remakes and feeds back to us as twisted gospels for dark times.' -- NY Times

Mark Doten The Infernal
Graywolf Press

'Doten has written a ravishingly mad post-Bust riposte to the collaboratively written Internet text— the Wiki, which doesn't document facts so much as it documents the process by which 'facts' are generated and then perpetually overwritten.' -- Joshua Cohen

'In Doten’s artfully deranged debut novel, the 'war on terror' is revisited as a feverish science-fiction odyssey. . . . Doten frames his post-historic 'memory index' in virtuosic, antic prose, but his goal is neither purely satire nor surrealism for its own sake. Rather, [The Infernal] constructs a new language to confront atrocity and becomes in the bargain a story that truly thinks outside the cage.' -- Publishers Weekly

'Mark Doten has fashioned a thrilling, idiosyncratic attack on the mytho-historical madness of our time. The Infernal is a brave, crazy, magnetic debut.' -- Sam Lipsyte

'The Infernal is insane. Mark Doten turns his war criminals into the lecherous cartoons they might really be, as if the Warren Report were a drugged-out musical. From now on I want all of my novels this brilliant, this crazily pitched, this original.' -- Ben Marcus

'Serious, future-altering genius.' -- Dennis Cooper



Trailer: 'The Source'

UNPRINTABLE with Mark Doten, Ned Beauman, and Simon Critchley

Soho Press Editor Mark Doten


'One of the most important poets of contemporary Japan, Hiromi Ito's impact has been summarized by fellow poet Kido Shuri as follows: “The appearance of Itō Hiromi, a figure that one might best call a ‘shamaness of poetry’ (shi no miko) was an enormous event in post-postwar poetry. Her physiological sensitivity and writing style, which cannot be captured within any existing framework, became the igniting force behind the subsequent flourishing of ‘women’s poetry’ (josei shi), just as Hagiwara Sakutarō had revolutionized modern poetry with his morbid sensitivity and colloquial style.”

'The 140-page narrative poem Wild Grass on the Riverbank (Kawara arekusa) represents Hiromi Itō’s dramatic return to poetry after several years of writing primarily prose works. First serialized in the prominent Japanese poetry journal Handbook of Modern Poetry (Gendai shi techō) in 2004 and 2005, Wild Grass was published in book form in 2005. ... The critic Tochigi Nobuaki has said that in Wild Grass, “We, Ito's readers, are witnessing the advent of a new poetic language that modern Japanese has never seen.” Wild Grass explores the experience of migrancy and alienation through the eyes of an eleven-year old girl who narrates the long poem. In the work, the girl travels with her mother back and forth between a dry landscape known in the poem as the “wasteland,” a place that resembles the dry landscape of southwestern California [where Itō now lives], and a lush, overgrown place known as the “riverbank,” which resembles Kumamoto, a city in southern Japan where Itō’s children grew up and where Itō still spends several weeks each year.' -- Jerome Rothenberg

Hiromi Ito Wild Grass on the Riverbank
Action Books

'Translated from the Japanese by Jeffrey Angles. Set simultaneously in the California desert and her native Japan, tracking migrant children who may or may not be human, or alive, Hiromi Itō's WILD GRASS ON THE RIVERBANK will plunge you into dreamlike landscapes of volatile proliferation: shape-shifting mothers, living father-corpses, and pervasively odd vegetation. At once grotesque and vertiginous, Itō interweaves mythologies, language, sexuality, and place into a genre-busting narrative of what it is to be a migrant.' -- Action Books

from Jacket 2

By late summer, everyone on the riverbank was dead,
Not just the once living creatures, but the summer grass, the rusted bicycles, the summer grass,
Cars without doors or windows, the warped porn magazines, the summer grass,
Empty cans with food stuck inside and empty bottles full of muddy water,
Girl’s panties and condoms, the dead body of father, and so much summer grass

The riverbank meant only to control you
The summer grass touched our bodies
The seeds falling down onto our bodies
Recently, on the bank, I noticed a kind of grass that multiplied conspicuously
It is about one meter high and stands like some kind of rice
It has ears
It is everywhere
It glimmers white in the dim evening light
Sticky liquid oozes from the ear
The dogs get sticky
The dogs smell terrible
The dogs agonize and rub their bodies onto the ground
The man from the riverbank appears in the evening
Every evening he appears, sits in an arbor
Completely alone
Aged, unpolished and shabby, pale as a corpse
When his penis rises up
A smell rises like the one from the rice-like grass on the bank
The penis in his hands shines and shines

The flowers of the kudzu also rise up, I notice the arrowroot flowers rising up here and there, one day, we became tangled in the tendrils of the kudzu plants, I heard something slithering along abruptly, no sooner had I heard this when a tendril trapped my heel, it hit me, and knocked me on my back into a bush, there the Sorghum halepense rattled in the wind, an unfamiliar grass shook releasing its scent, then the tendril stretched all the further, crawling onto my body, getting into my panties, and creeping into my vagina, I… I inhaled and exhaled, I exhaled and the tendril slid in, I inhaled and the tendril slid out, I exhaled again and it slid further in, like the leaves of the kudzu my body was turned this way and that, my body was forced open and closed over and over, and Alexsa watched all of this, Alexsa was watching, watching and smiling, I became angry, so angry, I got up and shoved Alexsa away, she fell down on her back, the tendrils clung to Alexsa too, Alexsa also turned this way and that, the tendril also went inside her vagina, deep inside, and she started to cry

Everyone was dead
Mother and me

Ahh…I think to myself
Think I'll pack it in
And buy a pick-up
Take it down to L.A.
Find a place
To call my own
Or maybe a hot sprint
One that heals eczema, dermatitis, neuralgia
Menopausal disorders, diabetes, infectious diseases
A hot spring in a hot sprint to fix you up right away
To soak yourself, open your pores, scrub your body, swell up
And then start a brand new day

Hey I’m itchy, so itchy, my younger brother cried, I told him not to scratch, but he did it anyway, the place he scratched soon turned into a blister, I didn’t scratch it that much, only a little, brother cried, but even if he only scratched a little, the place he scratched turned into a blister, all over his body were blisters, after they ruptured, they got inflamed and full of pus
My little brother no longer seemed like himself, he was horribly swollen, he rolled all over the house, mouth open, wheezing, crying,

I want to take him to a hot spring, Mother said I’ve heard of a hot spring good for your skin, if we’re going, why don’t we take our dead father and dead dog along to put in, so just left everything as it was, dirty dishes, old clothes, wet towels just as they were, then we carefully laid my wheezing brother on the rear seat, and we stuffed some other things in the car, my little sister, spare clothes, dead bodies, dogs, plastic bags, pillows, food and drink (even some flowerpots), so much stuff, and then we took off, as I stared at the road from the passenger seat, I asked, how do we get there? Mother replied as she drove the car, it’s over that mountain

That hot spring is
A hot spring that fixes you up right away
Soak yourself, open your pores, scrub your body, swell up
And fix your eczema, blisters
Skin infections, ringworm
Dermatitis, infectious diseases
Atopy, allergic diseases
Dead bodies, death, dying, and having died
Try to fix you up and
And start a brand new day
Let’s go over that mountain, Mother said
The back seat was full, no space left
As for space, the car was old and rickety from the start
But still we stuffed it full with
Things, garbage, food
People, dogs, dead bodies
So there was no space
The dogs stunk
The dead bodies stunk
My brother was wheezing in the back seat
My sister sometimes cried out as if she’d just remembered
She’d left something back at home
Please go back, I forgot something
No, we never go back
We just go further
Beyond that forked road
Isn’t that Toroku?
Isn’t that Kurokami?
Isn’t that Kokai?
The Jyogyoji crossing
Through Uchi-tsuboi
Up Setozaka slope
Shouldn’t we go
All the way over there?
I know the way to the big tree
Where the samurai-turned-monk used to live
At his big tree, we turn right at the three-way intersection
We see the huge treetop of his big tree
From here, it looks so huge
If you go under and look up, it blocks out the whole world
There’s a path only for tractors and pick-ups
Turn right at the three-way intersection
There’s a small stone bridge, we cross it
Then another three-way intersection
Go straight
Go straight
Go up the road
Go through mandarin orange orchards on both sides
And when we come out
We come to mountainous roads
Where it’s dark even during the day
The road meanders through a forest with shining leaves
The road meanders
Comes close to a cliff
Then separates from it
Ahh… I think to myself
Think I'll pack it in, and buy a pick-up, take it down to L.A.
Mother started to sing in a key way too high for her
Ahh… Think I’ll…
A tangle of karasuuri flowers and fruits
Ahh, Think I’ll…
A flourishing bunch of worm-eaten leaves
A scarlet flower is blooming
It must be a garden species that escaped somebody’s terrace
In the shade of the plants, a large white flower is blooming
A flower pale and white
That can’t be a garden species
It’s so pale because it’s in the shade
Another car comes
We pass each other
That car must be coming back from the hot spring
All fixed up, the driver must have fixed his skin trouble
And come back, thinking this, I try to get a good look
But it disappeared into the distance in a flash
Much further and we’ll be at the seashore
The seashore facing west
Doesn’t look like there is a hot spring
Beyond this is the pure land, Mother said
The dog noticed the smell of the sea
It stuck its nose out the window, howling for the sea
We should’ve crossed a large bridge, Mother said
I forgot the name, but it’s a large bridge
There were big floods there late in the nineteenth century
And again in the mid-twentieth century
Lots of earth, sand, and drowned bodies caught on the bridge
‘Cause of that bridge, the floods downstream were even worse
We screwed up when we missed that bridge
All the water we’ve seen has just been small streams
We’ve definitely gone the wrong way, Mother said
We’ll never get there if we keep going like this, Mother said
The dog howling for the sea rose up in the rear seat
And walked across my little brother
Alexsa shouted
We’d better start all over, Mother said
She must have given up
My brother let up a sharp cry
You can’t give up
Is that the only option?
Shut up, Alexsa shouted
I told you, I told you, my little sister wept
The dog barked
Lots of dogs barked
Alexsa shouted, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t, I can’t
No one ever listens to me, she said
She sunk her face into her thighs, curled up, started to sob
Her voice grew louder, more childish than brother’s
More infantile than sister’s
Cried on and on, on and on
Nothing else
On and on
On and on
We should have turned around
But if we did, we’d just get more lost, mother said
Let’s keep going down the hill to the sea
Then go home round the cape
So that’s how we got back home
Nothing fixed
Nothing found
We failed
It’s no good
It’s all over


Ito Hiromi 伊藤比呂美 "The Maltreatment of Meaning"

Hiromi Ito, 10-19-10


Most Swedish poets have built their reputation in Sweden and remained. You seem to be doing so in reverse, your repute growing sizeably in the US before Sweden…

Johannes Goransson: I don’t think I have much of a reputation in the US, but yes it is probably bigger than it is in Sweden.

Did you publish a lot of poetry in Sweden before you left? Is there an audience of your work in Sweden now?

JG: No, I had barely started to write when my family moved to the US. I’ve published Swedish translations and some interlingual poems in a few places, but mostly I publish in American journals and with American presses. It is true that I have found a lot of writers with aesthetic ideas in common with me in Sweden. And in many ways I feel as in tune with them as I do with most American poetry. But then I feel very in tune with Korean poet Kim Hyesoon and I’ve never even been to Korea.

You often work in prose poems, blocks of texts that seem to be craving out aberrant, at times playful, surreal chunks of image led poetry. Do you enjoy maintaining the epithets of a narrative throughout your work so that in its detail and language it can be aggressive and innovative?

JG: I like your suggestion that the “aggression” and “surreal” are at odds with the “narrative.” It certainly feels at odds to me when I write it. Many of my books are “novels” but they are hardly written with a narrative arch in mind. I write on a very much more micro-level: I have a sensation or sentence in mind and then I try to exhaust everything using that kernel (and with everything I primarily mean myself, but also our entire culture, it’s a futile idea no doubt).

And yes, there are a lot of “images” in my books, though often they are involved in a kind of near-montage-like series that do not on the whole come together (like the synthesis of Eisensteinian montage) but tends to keep moving until I and the poem are exhausted and we stop. Images do tend to be considered kitsch in American experimental poetics, a poetics that tends to be skeptical of the kind of absorptive, spectacular quality of images. But I’m very much interested in the spectacular and absorptive, in affect and poetic effects, in the visceral and fantastic.

I’m not all that interested in “innovative” poetry. To me it usually denotes a kind of high culture, high taste label. And also a sense of linear futurity that I think is not only boring but oppressive. I’m far more interested in the degraded and anachronistic, the trashy and the melancholic. Even “the poetic.”

But it’s true that my poems are very “aggressive” or violent, Joyelle [McSweeney] wrote an article on the “ambient violence” in my work a while back. That seems true. In my mind art is very violent, but that’s not separate from the narrative. It’s in the very conflict within the artwork. I’m always at odds with myself, with my books.

Johannes Goransson The Sugar Book
Tarpaulin Sky Books

'We live by breathing oxygen, but we also die because of oxygen. We live feeding on nature, but we also die because of nature. But, Everyone, do you realize, as you live, the fact that you are citizens of Nature, citizens of Earth? We drink silver, and we are just those who have immigrated to a movie that features Nature. Immigrant is the Observer. Observer is the poet. Poet has several bodies. I that acts and I that observes the I that acts. I that follows the I that observes. I that records and condenses. Johannes Göransson’s poetry is a bang bang – art of these I’s. A film of the Earth’s paths seen through the eyes of someone with an out-of-body experience. And poetry that has smashed the boundaries of genre. Like the mandala of Potala Palace I have seen in Tibet, Göransson condenses within a single poem the inside and outside of Nature’s and Earth’s time. It’s as though his poetry takes us to the forest in Lar Von Triers’ Anti-Christ, where it’s filmed, but then suddenly we find ourselves standing in front of a vanished movie theatre of our home. Göransson’s poetry is a film that Death peeks at, the scene of shooting the film, the film shot on a roll of film, the movie theatre, the Arcadia. A single poem is the world’s interior and exterior, it convulses wildly like an animal that has eaten the poem’s interior and exterior all together with silver. bang bang.' -- Kim Hyesoon


The Law Against Foreigners Involves Mostly The Body

I should know. I’m a foreigner and I want to live in Los Angeles but Los Angeles just wants to take photographs of my body when it’s all dank.
That’s the weird part.
It’s also interested in my body when dogs bark at my genitals but it pretends that’s just evidence of it’s social conscience. It wants to find the human in me, even if it takes ripping this lamb mask into a thousand shreds and hanging it up on the wall.
And feign outrage when I go numb.
I leave good “teeth marks” I’ve been told.
I take a bad photograph because the model was hurt.
Poetry is like a bad photograph because the camera doesn’t work. Or a child is caught stealing from the candy store. Caught fucking a homeless person.
I have a social conscience too and it makes me want to burn the sheets after sex. It makes me scared of lice.
Poetry is so beautiful when it involves gasoline. Or when it gives you a gun that clicks. A dead woman is the most poetical topic in the world.

The Rotten Heart Of Sin Is Exquisitely Mannered

Homeless people are good for images, photographers love them. I find them disgusting when they get killed and when they fuck they smell really bad on your dick.
Swans on the other hand are beautiful when they burn in crime movies.
In this crime movie, we’re at the shooting range again. Imagine all that apricot mess, all those ridiculous ornaments. All that pork. We can’t leave. We don’t have the proper documentation.
Images get in the way of dignity, the poets tell me. Poetry gets in the way of money, the whores tell me. I fuck both and I don’t even have to pay. I’ve got that card: Get out of jail free. Exterminate the brutes yeah.


I write about spectators and use the same rifle on sick animals.
I love movies and my son’s body ticks like a movie.
I hate the movies because it is cold in here.
I have cancer in the movies probably.
A woman gives me a scorpion and children give me cancer.
I really only live at night, I’ve been told by the movies,
which is ridiculous because I use my hands to make the signs: wrecks, chandeliers, hotels, decades, ownership society.
It’s ridiculous because nobody can drive a stake through a sack of locusts.
Part of me wants to be paid for the meat but part of me wants to give it away like a whore.
The whores wear oriental robes, it’s all the rage.
Everyone is angry in the movies.
Everyone is scared in the corridors.
I tell my son to stop ticking but he can’t hear me because the whores are laughing too loudly and the plague makes tokens of itself.
I love movies and perfume.
It’s the new double, made from tiger blood.
It’s the new breakthrough, made from tiger blood.
Milk is the weirdest when you’re having sex.
I’m having a milk heart and that’s why I can’t watch the movies
without getting scared. The milk gets all over. The deer gets all narrative.
I turn on the surveillance, the heat.
The effect is ominous: the reverse wound.
I look horrified in the image and also “satanic” due to the milk.
You spumey fuck.

My Sperm Gets In The Flowers

I woke up from the girls tearing apart orpheus dolls and spitting the seeds out the window. The prostitutes cheered. Now I’m wearing my Orpheus head like an illicit sign from the underworld.
The whores think I’m a pornographer and that I would tear their heads off.
I probably would.
What’s the war with my wife and I? We lay killed-like in our den, our bodies covered with sugar and sperm. Who are we at war with? Baghdad, of course.
Baghdad of silk and ceremonial daggers.
Baghdad dolls with limbs that burn safely and with smaller dolls without heads.
Baghdad porn: We watch it until we vomit and then we watch it some more. We’re embedded in art. We close our eyes and let the light wash over us.
Everybody is always talking about “gratuitious violence” and “gratuitious sex.” It’s the only kind.
It’s like when people say “Porn hurts everyone” ... But most of all I’m eating another dripping burger.
Flowers are the most violent props.
The Starlet would not have approved of us killing butterflies with cigarette lighters.
It’s Christmas Eve.
I’m writing a novel, my wife is listening for the words “pionees” and “lillies” on the broadcasts from the underworld.
Instead the broadcasts tell us that they birds are “thrashing around the hole.” It’s of course Hollywood speaking in tongues. Mother tongues and moth tongues. Tongues that tell me to name our next child Nico after the underworld. After Baghdad. After our favorite actress who is totally shaven and nameless.
Maybe we consume by looking but if so, consumption is a very fragile thing.
I color my hair red as blood.
I cover the street with dead girls.
They are all ready for war.
I’m already famous.

10th Annual SLC Poetry Festival [Johannes Göransson]

Rabbit Light Movies -- Episode #7

Bonk! Sept 26, 2009 Johannes Goransson


p.s. Hey. ** Bacteriaburger, Hi, N! Cool, you're back! And very cool about the launched mss. Fingers heavily crossed that they find wise guys. And then further coolness about the fellowship. Really nice to hear that things are active and good with you, man. I'm really good, finishing a film I co-made, working on a new theater piece, novel, blah blah. I have absolutely no complaints. Take really good care until next time, Natty! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, D! Oh, excellent: a new piece by you, and a new doc with my old pal Kirby half-behind the wheel, which I didn't know about. Thanks! I'll read it greedily. Everyone, that great finesser of the film-related thinking and writing gig, Mr. Ehrenstein, has a new piece up at Keyframe about the newly new documentary 'The Hunting Ground', co-directed by the very fine Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, whom he interviews with his consummate smarts, etc. Sounds like a pretty must-see film, and the must-ness of reading Mr. E's take/queries re: it goes without saying, naturally. Get in there. ** Kier, Hi! No, I don't eat seafood. I didn't even eat seafood back when I was a very young meat-eating lad. I've always hated the taste of fish and seafood for some reason. The chocolate was gross, and I came home brushed not only my teeth but my tongue too. I liked your quiet-ish day. Mine was kind of too. Let's see ... well, I ordered new glasses. I don't really like the frames. For some unknown reason, something about my eyes or something doomed me to choosing between only about 25 possible frames, and the ones I chose were the least offensive but still not very flattering. But they were really cheap: 40 Euros including new lenses. I'm picking them up almost as soon as I finish this. Right now I'm still looking through a collage of glass and scotch tape. So, I did that. Zac stopped by to pick up his mom's chocolates on the way to seeing her off. I think I finished the revision of the new theater piece script, but that's up to Gisele, and I guess I'll hear her verdict today. I found three, maybe four new apartments that seem like possibilities, and today I'm going to try to schedule a chance to look at them soon. One's near here around Republique/Canal St. Martin, and that one's my favorite in theory vis-a-vis the location. Another one is near Centre Pompidou, which is okay. And the last is by Bonne Nouvelle, which might be okay, but the location isn't exciting. I worked on blog posts. We uploaded the promo reel of our film to private Vimeo, and we'll see what the powers-that-be think. We're starting to stress about the fact that we haven't yet nailed down the post-production people because time is getting short, but we were promised news today. Talked to some people. Not much else. Today we start trying to get the sound of our film as polished as we can within our means to hopefully save us time and money when the pros take over. Now, let's talk about you. Did last night surprise you, and, either way, how did Thursday treat you? ** Keaton, Aren't they symbolic? I mean they're just a little lukewarm plop, so it seems like it's about what the plop symbolizes. Sex is weird. I did like the Emo post! I mean, are you serious? I loved it even. I'm no fool. That would have been a good blurb for Blake's novel. ** Steevee, Hi! Stuff by you to read and to be influenced by, cool. Everyone, Steevee, whom you all know, has written about Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov's new film 'The Lesson' under his official name Steve Erickson @ The L Magazine, and that's your cue to go experience/learn something under his guidance, so ... do. Wow, your description of 'Jauja' makes me really excited to see it. I love and miss the '70s "acid Westerns" genre. Very cool. I'll see what possibilities there are. Thank you a lot for that tip! ** Misanthrope, That 'gay is a choice' thing is about that Tea Party weirdo Ben Carson, right? He seemed to be Facebook's outrage ignition yesterday. ** Rewritedept, Thanks again for the Timony shebang, man! I really liked Wild Flag. I'll have new glasses in exactly 1 hour and 11 minutes from the moment I am typing this. No, the West Coast trip got delayed because we need to finish the post-production on our film first, and we still haven't been given the green light to start, so I'm not sure when the West Coast is going happen. Take care, buddy boy! ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, Mr. M! Bon and, more accurately, beyond bon day! ** Okay. There are four books, except in the case of SDHR, which is a journal, that I got under my belt and loved a bunch lately. As always, I highly recommend every last one of them to you all. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rewritedept presents ... 'we had a pirate band': the fantastical rock'n'realms of mary timony.

an interview with mary timony around the release of helium's 1997 LP 'the magic city.'

mary timony was born in october, 1970, in washington, DC, where she grew up down the street from ian mackaye's family. she's played guitar and sang in groups like autoclave, helium, wild flag, and--currently--ex hex, in addition to several solo release and other projects.

she first got into punk rock from a rites of spring/beefeater show she attended when she was 15. in addition to this, she's pretty much a guitar prodigy. just watch the videos and listen. she slays.

go far.

autoclave was started by timony and christina billotte, along with nikki chapman and melissa berkoff. they released two EPs, the first being a 7" collboration between K and dischord (under the moniker disKord records), and the second being released on billotte's label mira, with dischord distributing.

i'll take you down.

because timony was attending college at boston university (where she majored in english lit), autoclave shows were infrequent, and the band broke up after doing a weeklong tour with fugazi. billotte went on to play in DC post-punks slant 6, while timony took over mary lou lord's position in a new group called helium.


after a couple lineup changes, helium's lineup solidifed as timony on vocals and guitar, shawn king devlin on drums and polvo guitarist ash bowie on bass. their first releases were the 7" singles 'american jean' and 'hole in the ground' (b/w 'lucy').

the american jean.

in 1994, helium released the 'pirate prude' EP on matador records, for whom they would record until their breakup.

i'll get you, i mean it.

love $$$.

in 1995, they released 'the dirt of luck' LP, which gained some radio play. around this time, timony began to suffer from depression.

beavis and butt-head watch the video for 'pat's trick.'

three singles were released from TDOL: 'pat's trick,' 'superball,' and 'honeycomb.' they all recieved airplay on MTV's '120 minutes,' but not a lot happened in terms of huge record sales.


pat's trick.


in 1995, there was also an EP released, featuring 'superball' and additional songs. 1996 saw the release of the 'no guitars' EP, produced by mitch easter (REM, pavement, pylon, etc), who would also produce their final album, 'the magic city.'


silver strings.

as mentioned above, mitch easter produced the sessions for 'the magic city' (named after the famous strip club in atlanta where some say twerking was invented, if that seems significant to anyone).

leon's space song.

'I still feel like that when I walk into music stores sometimes, so I tend to just go places where I know people. If I ever go to a repair shop where there's an old guy I don't know, it's possible that they could be condescending. I know as a young woman in my 20s, I definitely noticed that people were like, Oh, she's just a singer, she doesn't know how to play guitar. They're shocked that you know how to play guitar; that's weird. Now, at my age, I don't know; if anyone made a judgment about me, I wouldn't really care. It's not my problem. Also, it's really different in rock music now. I think in the '90s when I was playing in bands, there were less girls; it was much more like you were a female car mechanic or something. It was weird, especially coming from the hardcore scene, which was all men. I grew up in D.C. in the '80s hardcore scene, and it was pretty much all guys' bands.'
from an interview with NY mag, on the subject of being a female guitarist.

lady of the fire.

devil's tear.

in 1999, timony teamed up with carrie brownsein of sleater kinney, and they released an EP, 'the age of backwards,' under the name the spells, for calvin johnson's international pop underground series on K records. they would team up again in 2008 to release another EP (digitally this time, via brownstein's 'monitor mix' blog for NPR), 'bat vs. bird.'

the age of backwards.

can't explain.

bat vs. bird

champion vampire.

after helium split, timony found herself alone and broke in boston. she had dated ash bowie for a time while helium were doing their thing, but that ended. she was depressed again, probably even moreso than during the helium time, and used her two solo records released during this time, 'mountains' and 'the golden dove' to address and work through her feelings.

i fire myself.

the valley of one thousand perfumes.

blood tree.

dr. cat.

in 2005, she teamed up with devin ocampo, formerly of DC math group faraquet, to record and release 'the ex hex' for lookout! records, as well as contributing to deftones singer chino moreno's side project team sleep, performing vocals on the tracks 'the tomb of ligeia' and 'king diamond.'


return to pirates.

king diamond.

in 2007, kill rock stars released 'the shapes we make,' by the mary timony band.

curious minds.


here is a video of a group mary was in with jonah takagi, TJ lipple and winston h. yu, called the soft power (though the group was called pow wow before lipple joined) working on an unreleased album.

in 2010, wild flag was announced. wild flag were something of an indie supergroup, containing timony alongside carrie brownstein and janet weiss of sleater-kinney (janet also plays in quasi and used to drum with elliott smith, among loads of other stuff) and rebecca cole of the minders. wild flag released one single and one LP for merge records before quietly calling it quits.

electric band.


something came over me.

here is a really rad video of wild flag covering 'judy is a punk' and 'see no evil.'

after wild flag, there is now ex hex, consisting of mary, laura harris on drums and betsy wright on bass and vocals, who have also released one single and one album for merge (the single being the LP track 'hot and cold'; the album is called 'ex hex rips' and it's totally true). they are currently on tour everywhere (except las vegas, for which i am super heartbroken). instead of trying to describe their sound (but think garage-y power pop, i guess?), here are more videos that will give you a good idea what they sound like...

hot and cold.


don't wanna lose.

here is a full performance they tracked for KEXP in seattle.

ephemera, etc.
mary timony on twitter.
ex hex.


p.s. Hey. Today, one of our local maestros, the inimitable Rewritedept, draws your attention to the history of the musical stylings of '90s/'00s rock god Mary Timony, and you will have fun combined with some degree of enlightenment, I'm positive, so please prove me right, if you can, thank you! And thanks a bunch, R! Also, note: Last night my glasses broke in half, and, at the moment, they are scotch taped together and balanced precariously on the bridge of my nose, and I'm doing this p.s. while looking through a film of tape, and that might affect the p.s. in some way, so, warning, I guess. ** Earl&Nadine, Hi! Welcome! You have such a cool name. Thank you a lot. I like that word robust, and I will wear it like a buttoner. Please come back any old time. ** Bacteriaburger, Hi, Natty! Really, really nice to see you, pal! You good and hopefully far more than good? 'Holy Motors' is something you should see, I think, yes. Best of the best to you! ** DavidEhrenstein, I second your 'he most certainly does.' ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh! Lavant is kind of always great. I highly recommend his other Carax films, and he's wonderful in the wonderful 'Mr. Lonely'. Thank you! ** Sypha, Hi. Oh, wow, I think you might be right about the Johnson thing in 'SiH'. Weird. 'Angels' is really good, yeah. I forgot about that one. Enjoy the crush, man. Gender's just a word. And pursue, if your heart and other organs deem that right. ** Keaton, Hi. Interesting. Facials are so symbolic. In art, I find symbolism kind of duh or something, but, in sex, it can be meta. Strange, that. You kind of like the band Tesla? Wow. I think I kind of don't. Based on the MTV hits. I think maybe the singer had really good hair though? Whoa, new, partially XXX thing by you! Everyone, Keaton has taken full advantage of Blogger's policy reversal move by building a particularly hot or at least 'hot' Emo-like post on his space with his usually mastery, so go get wowed, titillated, or whatever else by '50 Shades of Cray Cray'. ** Kier, Hi! Dennhibition's awesome. How do you do that? Will Patton, cool. Someone talked about him here just the other week. How interesting. No luck on the apartment thing yet. It's tricky. I found a few possibilities online, but they were taken by the time I queried. Now I found another few, and I'll try to jump on them. Ugh. Nice days you had, both of them. Yesterday ... Some online apartment searching. Then ... oh, Zac's mom is in town, and she's likes chocolate, so I went out to try to find her a special chocolate as a gift. My first attempt was this crazy looking thing that I had seen a photo of online. So I bought it, and, luckily, I bought a second one to taste because I didn't understand all the listed ingredients. So, I stepped outside the patisserie and bit into the extra one, and it tasted unbelievably awful. I had to spit it out. I went back inside and asked them what was in it, and they said 'crab meat'. It must have seemed like a great idea to the chef, but it was a disaster. So I searched further and just ended up buying her a more normal chocolate. Zac was still working on the tech of the promo reel yesterday, 'cos it turned out to be more complicated than we thought, so he did that, and we didn't work on the sound correction yet. I worked on the new theater piece script instead, and it's almost finished. I mostly did that. Then, fuck, in the evening, my reading glasses just suddenly broke in half! It was a horror. I tried fixing them with Super Glue, and it didn't work at all, so now they're scotch taped together and weird looking and barely work, so I have to get new glasses today, sucks. That (trying to fix the glasses) is pretty much what I did all evening until bedtime. How did today work out for you? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Good, good, about the move. And awesome about the DJing gig. Maripol, wow. It's a show of her jewelry, or ... ? ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Me, kind, why? I mean thank you! You too. Thanks for the envy. I think it's safe to say on this late date that Paris is past snow's expiration date. ** Thomas Moronic, It sure is, man. Good morning! ** Right. I will go try to find an optometrist place now, and you guys bask in Mary Timony, okay? And talk about your basking to Rewritedept maybe, okay? See you (hopefully not through a film of tape) tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Denis Lavant Day

'One of the great performers in cinema in the past 30 years, the acrobatic, elastic, kinetic Denis Lavant has defined some of the best films from the world's best filmmakers. Appropriately associated with the films of Leos Carax, in which he has appeared in 4 of 5 features (as well as a short), and one of the greatest endings in movies, the dance sequence of Claire Denis' Beau travail, the stage and film actor is something of an idol of cinephiles, almost exclusively lending his talent to auteurs.

'Lavant was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, in France. At 13, he took courses in pantomime and the circus, fascinated by Marcel Marceau. He trained at the Paris Conservatoire under Jacques Lassalle, and began his professional career in 1982 in theatre, acting in Shakespeare's Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. In 1982 he appeared in the television film L'Ombre sur la plage, before playing the minor part of Montparnasse in Robert Hossein's Les Misérables, which was entered into the 13th Moscow International Film Festival where it won a Special Prize.

'Lavant appeared in several further minor roles, most notably in Patrice Chereau's early, defining 1983 film L'homme blesse, before making his breakthrough in 1984 as the lead in Boy Meets Girl, playing a depressed, aspiring filmmaker who falls in love with a suicidal young woman. The film marked the directorial debut of Leos Carax, with whose films Lavant has been associated ever since.

'In 1986, Lavant and Carax worked together again on the thriller Mauvais Sang and again in 1991 on Carax's third film, the legendarily disastrous yet increasingly respected Les Amants du Pont-Neuf. In both Mauvais Sang and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, Lavant starred opposite Juliette Binoche. In 1998, Lavant appeared in the iconic Jonathan Glazer-directed video for the UNKLE song Rabbit in Your Headlights, and in 1999, he played one of the lead roles in Beau Travail, directed by Claire Denis. His famously intense, strange dance at the film's conclusion to the old disco hit "Rhythm of the Night" is considered one of the defining moments of '90s film.

'In 2007, Lavant appeared in Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely, in which he portrayed a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. Lavant, who does not speak English, took an intensive language course in preparation and learned his lines phonetically. His longtime associate Leos Carax appears in a supporting role as the main character's talent agent.

'After appearing in a series of interesting but mixed achievement films, including Camping savage (Wild Camp), a stylish French revision of the slasher movie template, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's commercially successful A Very Long Engagement, Lavant and Carax re-united in 2008 for the anthology film Tokyo!, which marked their first work together since Lovers on the Bridge and Carax's first major directing work in nearly a decade. Carax's segment for the film, called Merde, starred Lavant as a violent monster who lives in the sewers of Tokyo and speaks in a gibberish language, venturing out occasionally to attack passersby.

'In 2012 Lavant starred in Leos Carax' brilliant film Holy Motors where he plays a "chameleonic actor on assignment, ferried around Paris in a white limousine and changing en route from beggar-woman to satyr to assassin to victim." The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and it won both Carax and Lavant numerous prizes internationally.' -- collaged



Denis Lavant @ IMDb
'Denis Lavant, Céline entre les lignes'
'Denis Lavant- Leos Carax: 30 ans d’une relation hors norme'
'New Spaces: A Conversation with Denis Lavant'
Denis Lavant @ Twitter
'Holy Motors: Denis Lavant interview'
'Denis Lavant, le jumeau aux cent visages de Leos Carax'
Denis Lavant page @ Facebook
'Denis Lavant dans l'univers de Koffi Kwahulé : "C'est toujours le début d'une aventure…"'
'Denis Lavant: Sovereign Design'
Video: 'Master Class: Denis Lavant'
Video: 'Watch Jonathan Glazer's Demonic Chocolate Bar Ad starring Denis Lavant'
'CineHeroes | Interview de Denis Lavant'
'DENIS LAVANT | Cris & Poésie'
'Denis Lavant: "Je fais confiance à mon ordinateur organique"'
'Faire danser les alligators sur la flûte de pan, Denis Lavant'
The Denis Lavant Archive @ Film School Rejects


The Wizard, a film about French actor Denis Lavant

Casting / Denis Lavant / Boy meets girl / Leos Carax

Denis Lavant, entretien vidéo

DenisLavantPod 1

LE DUENDE AU CORPS: un portrait de Denis Lavant


What about your first meeting with the director Harmony Korine, how did it happen? It is said that when he wrote the character of Charlie Chaplin, he was just thinking about you to interpret this character, is that true that he wrote this character especially for you?

Denis Lavant: Yes, absolutely. I actually learnt that some time after we’d first met. I was very impressed to hear that, because I know that Harmony Korine wanted to meet me because he saw me in the films I made with Leos Carax. It means that he met Leos Carax, he saw his movies, or at least the three in which I played. And so I think that’s why he wanted to meet me and give me the role of Charlie Chaplin’s impersonator.

You don’t speak English, do you? Did this create difficulties for you during the shooting?

DL: Yes, it was quite awful for me. When I met Harmony Korine, I found him very sympathetic, but we actually barely communicated at first time, or we always needed the help of an interpret. I’d never wanted to learn English because I found this language kind of commercial and I didn’t find any interests in learning it.

And now that you have been confronted with these language difficulties, is there still no interest in speaking English?

DL: Not really, sometimes maybe. But I am, above all, a theatre artist, so the first language I am used to speaking is French. What I can say is that playing in English with English actors was, for me, the target of this film, especially during some of the trickiest scenes, for example when I had to speak while playing table tennis. I actually had to attend an intensive English course prior to the shooting.

What was your first reaction when you first read the screenplay? Did you accept this role immediately?

DL: Yes, immediately. I know the film can appear a bit strange and difficult to follow and to find its meaning, but it was what I liked in it. I love the fantasy in this film. For me, this film is about the dignity of the human identity, the search of people for their identity. This film show how the character of Michael Jackson’s impersonator decide to go to this community to search his identity. That’s why I was very impressed when I first read the screenplay: How something that appeared to be just full of fantasy and disorganised, actually broadcast beautiful and strong ideas.

Mister Lonely is also a dark film, quite pessimistic. Did you feel any loneliness during the shooting?

DL: Yes it is a pessimistic film. But I didn’t feel lonely. It was even one of the films during the shooting of which I felt the least loneliness. The atmosphere during the shooting was indeed really warm, first because the actors were all very nice, and also because we were disguised all day like insane people (laughs).

In one scene, your character’s wife, Marylyn Monroe’s impersonator, tells you that sometimes you looks more like Hitler than like Charlie Chaplin. What do you think? Did you play more Hitler or Charlie Chaplin?

DL: I actually felt like I played a character. I started with looking at myself, to find what I had in common with the comic character invented by Charlie Chaplin, not Charlie Chaplin himself. I found in him some similarities with my face, my physic, and also with my ability to play acrobatics and pantomimes. And then, I also appreciated the character of Chaplin, the spoiling of his image or its exaggeration. The way it was also a caricature in life and how awful he became. That’s why Marilyn says that to him. But what is surprising too is that, when I was preparing for my role, I also used the DVD of The Dictator in which there is a documentary showing a parallel between Hitler’s rise, his access to power and Charlie Chaplin’s carrer. And it showed how the character of Charlie Chaplin, who was wicked in his first comic films became more humanist. And how Hitler also built his character, with his moustache and the way how all his public appearances were directed. He was also kind of an actor. Except that, in Hitler’s case, it became a craziness because there was no more separation between the human being and the representation. On the contrary, Charlie Chaplin had this cleverness to show that his character was a character and when he got rid of his moustache, he was a normal human being, a director and an actor.

But your character is also quite sensitive and he sure love his wife, we can even see him cry. Maybe he is not as devil as we all think?

DL: Maybe he loves her, but still. For me he portrays the human craziness. He could be called a ‘narcissistic pervert’ (strong laugh). He actually could be both sincere and awful. And what is interesting is that all human beings are quite like that. I mean, there is no pure gentleness and pure badness, everyone is situated between those to extreme points. And my character is closer to the awfulness, he likes making the other suffer. He is also very jealous.

Are you a ‘narcissistic pervert’?

DL: I hope not (laugh). But I think that everyone has impulses, that fortunately he doesn’t develop. Everyone can be schizophrenic or paranoid or a narcissistic pervert. And as an actor, I can appreciate that very well (laugh).

Director Harmony Korine said you are one of his favourite actors with Buster Keaton, Humphrey Bogart and James Dean. What do you think of being compared with such actors?

DL: The three of them, it’s a lot! (laugh). I really appreciate Buster Keaton because he was above all a burlesque actor, such as Chaplin, and I was really inspired by them. I admire them a lot. I also started by playing without speech, that’s why I feel really close to them. I started only later to work on theatre texts.

You have played in lots of theatre pieces. Did this film, with the show of the impersonators and their fancy dress, remind you of the theatre?

DL: Yes absolutely. This film was a great show. And, as for me, I am above all a theatre actor, so I really enjoyed it. I play for the cinema quite rarely and have an important role in a big film only every two or three years.

It is said a lot that you are a ‘physical’ actor, an actor that plays a lot with his body. Is that true?

DL: That’s true. I agree with that, but in the same time, as an actor, I think that an actor has always to be physical, when he plays for the theatre as well as for the cinema. It is part of the mise-en-scene, of the play, an actor can be either physically restrained or exteriorise a lot, it all depends on the style of each one. Maybe I am more physical than the average (laugh), but I admit it. It is part of my pleasure. I love dancing, I love all my body to play. For me, a role isn’t just a face and a voice, and the great actor that I admire are those who use their body to give a shape to their character, for example Marlon Brando, whose acting has so much style.

What could you tell us about your plans for the future?

DL: This year, I have also played in a film by director Merzak Allouache, which was a great adventure as it took place in the Sahara desert and I played a fashion photographer. What I really enjoyed is that it was a more ‘normal’ role given to me, less extreme than the one I had in Leos Carax, Claire Denis or Harmony Korine’s films. I have played a lot of extreme characters, often marginal, so it was the occasion for me to have the experience of a film dealing with a more conventional day-to-day. Apart from the films that I’ve already finished and should be soon released, I am also going to Japan to shoot my fourth film with director Leos Carax.

17 of Denis Lavant's 90 roles

Patrice Chéreau L'homme blesse (1983)
'L'Homme Blesse is a 1983 French film directed by Patrice Chéreau, and written by him and Hervé Guibert. It won the César Award for Best Writing. The film is a stark portrayal of the homosexual underground in the dark, midnight streets of Paris. The film focuses on Henri (played by Jean-Hughes Anglade, who gives a courageous and intense performance), a friendless young man whose difficulty in accepting his own homosexuality further alienates him from a world where he has been set adrift. Alone, self-exiled from his family, Henri turns to the midnight Parisian streets, where he meets Jean, (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) a tough pimp and thief. Jean initially manipulates Henri's confused vulnerability, but later, secretly drawn to him, embraces him into his clique of fellow theieves and male prostitutes. This is a difficult film to watch at times, as Henri is one of the most excessively alienated characters ever filmed. The film's conclusion is a startling denouement to a life hurtling wildly out of control.' -- collaged



Leos Carax Boy Meets Girl (1984)
'Boy Meets Girl resembles a number of other movies, sometimes coincidentally. The rich, erotically velvety black-and-white cinematography recalls Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, while the surreal one-thing-after-another-over-a-night plot evokes After Hours. The film's most explicitly reminiscent, though, of both Jean Luc-Godard and Jim Jarmusch's early work, only Carax doesn't share their self-congratulatory snobbery. Breathless and Stranger than Paradise (released the same year) revel in the coolness of not giving a damn. Carax's characters, however, assume these cool poses awkwardly and with little satisfaction, and their stumbling humanizes them and grounds the movie's endless conceits down in tangibly earthly disappointment. When Mireille (Mireille Perrier) cuts her hair short in place of a suicide attempt, she unmistakably resembles Jean Seberg, but with a far greater degree of emotional exposure: There's an explicit element of desperate compensation to this gesture that transcends name-dropping. Alex (Denis Lavant) is one of the most common variations of this youthful creature: the aspiring filmmaker who sees everything through the scrim of what could or might be a movie. Alex is also director Leos Carax's real first name, and it's pretty clear that this film, his first, was intended to represent a form of biographical exorcism. It's a try-out movie about trying out, as the text explicitly concerns a wanderer in search of emotional fulfillment, though he occasionally passes that off as looking for artistic inspiration. The self-reflexivity here is about as elaborate and alternately exhilarating and maddening as it would be in Carax's subsequent films.' -- Slant Magazine



Claude Lelouch Partir, revenir (1985)
'French film Partir, Revenir would always be remembered for its musical score.This film's solid foundation has been built around a mesmerizing musical score composed by great Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff and Michel Legrand.Those who know about French director Claude Lelouch and his "large than life" films would surely be aware of the fact that Mr.Lelouch had directed all kinds of major stars of French cinema.This phenomenon is quite visible in this film as there is something unique about unparalleled Lelouchian method of handling actors. This is one reason why players like Annie Girardot, Jean Louis Trintignant, Marie France Pisier, Michel Piccoli and Richard Anconina who are veritable stars of French cinema remain true actors when they are in a Claude Lelouch film. While making Partir, Revenir, Claude Lelouch has ensured that there should not be any hint of an impending sensationalism and suffering.This narrative device functions well in this film as it has neither tears nor trauma with which audiences generally tend to associate Holocaust/Nazi themed films.The true beauty of this film lies in its many scenes of joyful madness.' -- IMDb


Leos Carax Mauvais Sang (1986)
'Michel Piccoli stars as an aging gangster stricken by fear who ropes in a young Denis Lavant (a son of a dead cohort) to help with a heist. While staying with Piccoli, Lavant becomes drawn to Piccoli’s young mistress played by Juliette Binoche. Carax seems to pick up where Godard left off with Breathless. There’s a relentless and wild energy to the film that plays with the tropes of gangster films while also making the gangster film both absurd and beautiful. Carax jumps from the kineticism of frantic but controlled handheld camerawork to static close-ups and composed shots, and more, which makes it a whirlwind of style. Denis Lavant brings his own unique energy too. He’s always great to watch because of how he moves and here that’s put to great use, one scene in particular of him running and thrashing to Bowie’s Modern Love got me pumped ‘cause he really match’s the energy of the song. On top of everything it’s also kind of a sci-fi film with a virus that attacks those who have sex without love and other odd additions. All the little oddities and film references never really distracted from the film though, if anything they just enhanced the powerful bond between Binoche and Levant as they are so unfazed by the madness due to being consumed by each other.' -- Herzog Baby



Leos Carax Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf (1991)
'Carax capped his “Alex trilogy” with this dizzyingly romanticized valentine to l’amour fou, once again casting Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant as the title characters, a homeless couple who set up a love nest on the bridge over the Seine. The young filmmaker received permission to film on Paris’ famous Pont-Neuf, but when that proved unfeasible, he built a replica in southern France. This combination of realism and artifice spills over to the film itself, which includes a semi-documentary sequence shot in a homeless shelter. The relationship between the lovers is by turns touching and unsettling, with Carax juxtaposing the beautiful with the sinister so as to heighten both – reminiscent of Claire Denis. This alchemy of beauty and ugliness is a key to unlocking Carax’s approach to filmmaking; it amounts more or less to a particularly cinematic worldview, one that comes to the fore in his subsequent work.' -- Harvard Film Archive




Jean-Michel Carré Visiblement je vous aime (1995)
'Des obsessions, des rites, des bizarreries, et un grand mystère : la folie. C’est à cette question que s’est intéressé le réalisateur Jean-Michel Carré en 1995, dans Visiblement je vous aime, un film à la fois beau et dérangeant incarné par Denis Lavant et par les pensionnaires du Coral, un lieu de vie situé près de Nîmes accueillant des jeunes autistes, des psychotiques mais aussi des jeunes en difficulté sociale. Le sujet du film de Jean-Michel Carré est sensible, et il nous intéresse. Car c’est précisément de la folie dont nous allons parler chaque dimanche après-midi dans « Fol été ». Une heure pour évoquer cet étrange basculement de la raison, grâce aux témoignages des patients du Centre de Jour Antonin Artaud de Reims mais aussi grâce un invité, un artiste, qui a choisi d’explorer le thème de la folie, en créant un spectacle, en écrivant un livre, ou en réalisant un film… Cette semaine, c’est Jean-Michel Carré.' -- France Inter


Claire Denis Beau Travail (1999)
'In Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (1999), the eminence of doom is almost palpable; from the foregrounded terrain of war, to the protagonist Galoup’s (Denis Lavant) exclusion from the taut brotherhood of legionnaires and his reflections on mortality, it is a text concerned with endings, limits, and the finite nature of being. Based loosely on Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd, Beau Travail tells the story of French soldiers stationed abroad and the power struggle (both hierarchical and libidinal) between Chief Master Sergeant Galoup and his subordinate Gilles Sentain (Grégoire Colin). The geographic specificity of the legion in Djibouti, Eastern Africa places the men in a country defined as a border itself, straddling the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and couched between the limits of Eritrea and Somalia. In this sense, the film is concerned with the finite—with the ends of things—and the formal elements substantiate the film’s refusal to succumb to a totalizing narrative, particularly that which is so often associated with war films: patriotism.' -- cléo




Veit Helmer Tuvalu (1999)
'Nearly devoid of dialogue, Tuvalu relies on the physical expressiveness of its cast to convey the story. The style of the film is reminiscent of the movies of the silent era and also of the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who is known for Delicatessan, The City of Lost Children, and Amelie. The movie is mono-chromatic, having been hand-tinted in a "brighter-than-sepia-tone" and blue, and occasionally green. The result is a film that is visually striking, filled with dramatic contrasts - from open, barren landscapes to the closed, intricate spaces of a bathhouse. Production design and cinematography are exceptional. Tuvalu is one of those rare films that gives moviegoers the opportunity to see the art of the motion picture through new eyes. Inventive and engaging, it crosses boundaries and makes us want to come along for the journey. Made for less than two million dollars it, ironically, delivers more fun than most big-budget Hollywood "ride" movies. As such, Tuvalu earns my highest recommendation.' -- 24 Frames



Lionel Delplanque Deep in the Woods (2000)
'Deep in the Woods is one of several films in recent years to deconstruct the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. Director Lionel Delplanque sets in with a stylish grip and never lets up – that is the pleasure of the film. For a time, you are not even sure what type of film Deep in the Woods is. It is only in during the last third that the film reveals itself to be a slasher film rather than a monster or werewolf story. The young cast are a standard victimology spread for a slasher film with about as much depth of characterization, although they do at least get more naked than their modern American counterparts do. Delplanque manages quite ably able to keep everything in the film in a constant state of unease. Suspicion shifts between each character – including the victims – and back with deft regard. The film is never better than during the early scenes where Delplanque creates something both superbly amusing and sinister out of Francois Berleand’s suggestive sexual advances on Vincent Lecouer. Delplanque also creates some fine scenes with cameras eerily prowling through midnight forests, some unique novelty deaths and an eerie scene where the wolf costume comes alive to attack Maud Buquet as she emerges from the shower into a bathroom that has seemingly become an entire netherworld filled with steam. Delplanque’s constant generation of stylish eerie imagery sets Deep in the Woods head and shoulders above most modern post-Scream (1996) studio-processed teen slasher fodder.' -- Moria


Jean-Pierre Jeunet A Very Long Engagement (2004)
'A Very Long Engagement has two distinctions. First, one of the five condemned men, played by Denis Lavant, is a socialist welder. Very few films have represented any working-class individuals -- even minor characters -- as socialists. Films, as well as other forms of fiction, tend to portray socialists as middle-class intellectuals and workers as indifferent to politics -- the tendency that not only erases working-class socialists from history but also harbors a condescending view of workers' intellectual capacity. A Very Long Engagement is an interesting partial exception (partial in so far as the socialist welder is represented as unable to reach his fellow workers except by joining them symbolically through an act of individual refusal). The second distinction, the more extraordinary, is that A Very Long Engagement shows a French soldier killing a French officer during an offensive. The soldier, Benoît Notre-Dame (played by Clovis Cornillac), sees the officer kicking the bodies of dead French soldiers whom the officer curses as incompetent cowards, and, outraged, he suffocates the officer in the mud. Nobody sees his act (except the audience), so he does not get charged with murder. And, among the five condemned men, he is the most resourceful survivor, saving Manech's life and escaping himself. What other film has shown a soldier kill a superior and get away with it?' -- Critical Montages



Christophe Ali, Nicolas Bonilauri Wild Camp (2006)
'In Sam Mendes' American Beauty, poor Kevin Spacey undergoes a life-altering experience while watching Mena Suvari perform a cheerleading routine, one that leads to epiphanies both pleasant and ugly. Directors Christophe Ali and Nicolas Bonilauri tread on similar ground in Wild Camp (Camping sauvage) to a point, inserting married-with-a-kid ex-con Denis Lavant as a man who crosses paths with teenage temptation, here in the form of free-spirited Isild Le Besco. But unlike American Beauty, Wild Camp tilts the playing field a little differently as we are left to watch Levant slowly succumb to the thoughts he tries to suppress, and society be damned. Some viewers may have to adjust their own moral compass for a film like this—as the whole older man/teenage girl affair typically exists as taboo—and directors Ali and Bonilauri paint their two star-crossed leads as randomly misguided in their own rights, but underneath it all, true to each other. It's tough to dislike either of them, even though we know what's about to happen probably can't end happily. Both Blaise and Camille have reached a point in their own lives that seems insurmountable, and that familiar searing tingle of sexual chemistry and attraction seems to make it all seem better. The narrative quickly moves to a darker, less than bubbly resolution, and all of the pensive glances and furtive touches slowly erupt into a sad extension of teenage angst.' -- Digitally Obsessed



Harmony Korine Mister Lonely (2007)
'Mister Lonely is a very unusual, sometimes even strange film, which combines two stories, without apparent link between them. The first story is about a Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) who lives alone in Paris and performs in the streets to make ends meet. At a show in a retirement home, Michael falls for a beautiful Marilyn Monroe look-alike (Samantha Morton) who suggests he moves to a commune of impersonators in the Scottish Highlands. Michael discovers there Abraham Lincoln, the Queen, the Pope, Madonna and the others preparing for the commune’s first gala. He also meets Marilyn’s daughter Shirley Temple and her possessive husband, Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant). Meanwhile, a group of missionary nuns in a Latin American Jungle soon sees a miracle happening when one of them accidentally falls from a flying plane. Even if it could sometimes appear difficult to follow, for example to establish the link between the two main stories, a strong idea emerges from this film. It is all about human identity and the search of each person’s own identity. Even if pessimistic at times, this film is closed to the burlesque genre. The reason for this film to be seen is that it carries everyone to a supernatural world, never mind your understanding of its meaning, full of flying nuns and impersonators, who’ll surely allow you to escape from a daily routine.' -- France in London



Leos Carax Merde (2008)
'There's nothing in recent memory quite like Merde. Defiantly pushing the bounds of good taste, reveling in its own sense of outrageousness, Leos Carax's short film—the middle segment of the multi-director triptych Tokyo!—is the best kind of provocation: an act of incitement performed for the pure pleasure of the thing. In this regard, Carax's stance is a lot like that of his hero. As the titular character arises from his subterranean home to terrorize the Tokyo citizenry, everyone tries to explain his anomalous presence (the Americans link him to Al Qaeda, the Japanese to the Aum cult), but despite the tantalizing tease Carax gives us of leftover military equipment from Japan's 1937 China campaign in the character's underground cave, Merde's actions can't be accounted for by any existing political context, only by his generalized hatred for humanity. As embodied by the brilliant Denis Lavant, done up with a turned-out eyeball and wispy, red beard, Merde is a truly inspired creation. Introduced through a series of street-level tracking shots, the character shuffles his way down the pavement garbed in only a tatty green suit, grabbing crutches from handicapped people, spitting on babies, and shoving money down his throat before descending back to the sewer from where he came. The scene's an exhilarating rush of pure cinema, Carax's camera pulling back to keep pace with its relentless subject who, like his director, bulldozes through any considerations of propriety with a disregard so pronounced and a sense of disgust so evenly distributed among its targets, that it finally proves liberating.' -- Slant Magazine

the entire film

Eva Ionesco My Little Princess (2011)
'Even without the wire hangers, Eva Ionesco’s semi-autobiographical debut, My Little Princess, feels an awful lot like other monster-mommy tales, only this time, the director seems to be underplaying, rather than exaggerating, the particulars of her horrific upbringing. The helmer, daughter of Parisian photographer Irina Ionesco, achieved notoriety at an early age after appearing nude in her mother’s provocative portraits. Princess shows her still quite conflicted on the subject — and the casting of Isabelle Huppert, here in ice-queen mode, conveys everything about the odd blend of alluring glamour and twisted psychology. Huppert will be pic’s best shot at reaching famously conservative American auds.' -- Variety



Leos Carax Holy Motors (2012)
'Films are always getting described as surreal, whether they are or not. But this year we saw a genuinely surrealist movie. Leos Carax's Holy Motors is unfettered by logic and common sense; it takes off in all directions – inspired by Cocteau, Franju, Lynch, Buñuel, Muybridge, Kafka, Lewis Carroll and many more. It's a kind of road movie. Monsieur Oscar is an enigmatic businessman, played by Carax's longtime collaborator Denis Lavant, being ferried around Paris in the back of a white limousine, driven by Céline, played by Edith Scob. He has a number of mysterious appointments, for each of which he has to apply a new and elaborate disguise. But what on earth are these appointments? In the course of each, he seems to enter a different or parallel universe in which his persona is unquestioningly accepted. He is an angry father, a homeless bag lady, an assassin and even a motion-capture studio model whose acrobatics create a weird and wonderful erotic animation which we are permitted to see and which doesn't seem any more or less real than everything that comes before or after.' -- The Guardian




Sophie Blondy L' étoile du jour (2012)
'A circus is set up by the sea where the wind is cold and the audience scarce. While the shows are entertaining, the tensions among performers grow by the day. Angèle loves Elliot but the dangerous Heroy is determined to win her over by any means. With Denis Lavant, Béatrice Dalle and Iggy Pop. The circus is a favourite backdrop for films that are anything but festive. In Sophie Blondy’s second feature, she introduces a motley mix of characters who are bound together in obscure ways. The story is set in a depressing town on the French coast, where the performances are held in front of half-empty benches. The real excitement is primarily outside the circus tent, where the sad clown Elliot (Holy Motors’ Denis Lavant) has an affair with ballerina Angèle, to the fury of the circus director Heroy - who will stop at nothing to conquer the object of his love. Apart from being plagued by the director, Elliot is also tormented by his silent yet eloquent conscience, surprisingly played by Iggy Pop. And in The Morning Star we also see Béatrice Dalle, in her typecast role of flamboyant gypsy soothsayer.' --


Arnaud des Pallières Age Of Uprising: The Legend Of Michael Kohlhaas (2013)
'Anyone unfamiliar with German author Heinrich von Kleist and his 200-year-old novella Michael Kohlhaas will likely spend much of Age Of Uprising—the book’s puckishly misnamed second cinematic translation, and a 2013 Palme d’Or nominee—twitchily anticipating a Braveheart-esque orgy of ass-kicking, bastard-impaling payback. Set in the 16th century, in what’s now part of Berlin, this austere, forbidding film follows a humble man on a self-immolating quest for satisfaction after a baron illegally confiscates two of his horses, then returns them wounded and broken. Kohlhaas (Danish star Mads Mikkelsen) takes the horse-pilferer to court, but the nobleman uses his influence to get the case dismissed. There’s almost no music, just the pervasive rasp of a brutal wind whipping a landscape as beautiful and unyielding as Mikkelsen’s indelible face. And then there’s the matter of its pace, which can fairly be described. As. Unhurried. Contemplative. Languid. Glacial, even. This is certainly intentional. It imparts a sense of life in the 1530s as brief and full of hardship, with little hope that one’s fortunes or station in life might be improved. Midway through, when a priest warns Kohlhaas that only humility and forgiveness can achieve the ends he has chosen to pursue through violence, even the speech seems to last an eternity. (The priest is played by Denis Lavant, memorable from 2012’s mind-bending Holy Motors.) This indolence probably helps the film to lodge more stubbornly in the audience’s memory, even as it makes it a minor chore to sit through.' -- The Dissolve




p.s. Hey. ** Nicola Smith, Hi! No problem, pal. Nipped in the bud. Really glad you liked the oldie. Love, me. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. What is that really old joke? Shit. Oh, wait ... 'Sartre: To do is to be. Romper Room: Do be a do bee. Frank Sinatra: Do-be-do-be-do'. Happy birthday to the very great Jacques Rivette! ** Steevee, Hi. Just the other day I was wondering if Rivette had made any films lately, and I did a bit of research, and, very sadly, he has advanced Alzheimers. I did a quick search, and discovered that at least one Malmros film, I don't remember which, had a release in France. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T! I loved the Vimeo extravaganza! It's great! Blog days would, of course, be incredibly welcome, and thank you very kindly for having the impetus. Nice day you had there, and, whoa, very cool that Jamie got and likes your "SC'! ** Keaton, Well, you should, natch. So, you're one of those sneak attacked facial guys. I met one of you once. Tricky on the other end sans blindfold or other blinding accoutrement. Yeah, dreams are like comic books for me. I respect them but I never indulge consciously. Wow, that's an interesting response to Tesla. A first maybe. ** _Black_Acrylic, Fucking cars and their innocent troublemaking. You have such nice parents. You're a lucky dude. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff! Thanks about the post and for the post-production best wishes. We're still looking, but hopefully we'll get it underway any minute. Oh, man, sucks about the horrors popping up. That Braxton gig sounds completely dreamy. He is so great. As respected as he is, he still seems vastly underrated and absurdly marginalized. I'm not a big Sylvian fan, to be honest, no. I respect his smartness and his daring and all of that, but listening to his stuff doesn't ever interest me very much, and I'm not really into his voice. Enough people with high standards love him, so I guess he's worth you getting to know his work to some degree, but I'm not really the guy to help out, I guess. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I haven't read 'Tree of Smoke', no. I've intended to. Johnson's very hit or miss for me. The ones I've liked are, if I remember, 'Resuscitation of a Hanged Man', 'Jesus Son', and 'Already Dead'. Well, yeah, the invitation to appear in that anthology is the perfect opportunity to get the writers block unblocked, I think. Deadlines/goals can be the key. Hope so in your case, obviously. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. I've always admired your particular combination of the traditional and utter lunacy. The balance definitely qualifies as the human body equivalent of experimental fiction, which, as you know, constitutes a big up in my case. Thanks for answering my question. It was a weird, kind of unanswerable question, I guess, but you did good. I get it. I find it really hard to believe that anyone who makes cam porn of themselves doesn't know -- and they probably even hope? -- it'll end up all over the racier corners of the web's fucking place. Anyway, gracias, buddy. ** That's it? Okay. We return to new posts today with the above coverage-type thing re: the amazing French actor Denis Lavant. I hope it does something interesting inside of you. See you tomorrow.