‘Germ Free Adolescents’ by X-Ray Spex
Been thinking about Poly Styrene a lot recently for some reason. #punk
I love Comedy Bang Bang, a lot, on some days it is my favourite podcast. And any episode featuring Jessica St.Clair and Lennon Parham is a special treat. But I couldn’t get through this, and I have to ask - is there any sort of local Marina del Rey subculture that Katie and Kimmy Wong are supposed to belong to, that makes their portrayal something more than the straight-up racist garbage that it sounds like?
(Every now and then shit like this happens in the podcasts I consume, and knowing that most of the people I follow in that medium are more or less right on, and that the weekly or in some cases daily grind of podcasting leaves less time for reflection than cinema or literature, I try to be charitable about this stuff, perhaps also in fear of being the jacobin SJW stereotype that I can be easily seen as.)
It took me a while to start up on Are U Talkin’ U2 To Me? because, even though I’ve always enjoyed U2 on a purely aural level, I had also been taught from early childhood that they are A Bad Thing, and even at the height of my embracing of the Classic Rock canon I could never get over their fundamental grossness, so the thought of two comedians I enjoy earnestly dissecting their ouevre was none too appealing. I got on the bandwagon once I realised that 80% of the podcast is just Scott Auckerman and Adam Scott fucking around, but I’ve actually started to appreciate the moments where they’re analysing the albums. It’s interesting to follow career trajectories, even of artists you dislike, and it’s a bit of a nostlagia trip for me to hear names like Rick Rubin and Daniel Lanois tossed about so much, a reminder of the times when I cared about - or at least pretended to care about - modern Rock music. And, you know, I still dig U2 on that purely aesthetic level of epic soundscapes, and I feel like they can be more creative with it than their followers (from Coldplay to Arcade Fire) have ever been.
But I am thrown for a loop whenever either Scott points out a certain lyric as being subpar. It is very confusing to me that two minds as finely attuned to comedy as these two do not realise that there is no such thing as an unembarassing U2 lyric.
Ripper fetishism is the grossest thing about London tourism.
I’ve made this comment elsewhere, but I’ve gradually come to realize that notorious cases don’t so much have anything about the killers in common, as they do an institutional lack of respect for the victims.
Put another way: killers happen. “Serial” is a factor of how much law enforcement gave a shit re: whether these people existed in the first place, and to what extent they eventually start giving a shit.
From Hell cannot be exempted from Ripper fetischism by any strech of the imagination but I do think that, amongst all the masonry and architecture and time travel shenanigans, the main thing I took away from the book was the horrible, dehumanising conditions that the Ripper’s victims were exposed to. A book that combined this with a stronger focus on the woman’s characters - the kind of detail that the “Guardian” article alludes to - could be something really special.
I’m also reminded of Robert Downey Jr’s best scene in Zodiac, where he rants at Gyllenhaal to forget about the killer and move the fuck on with his life. You can sort of spot the scene from a mile away - in a conventional Hollywood film this would be the moment where the protagonist, after many set-backs and seeing no one trusts him, suffers the final indignity of his one and only ally losing faith in him; a perfect prelude for a comeback story where he triumphantly solves the case in spite of everyone’s dismissiveness. But since you know from the get-go that the Zodiac killer ain’t getting caught, Downey’s speech gains a different dimension:
Do you know more people die in the East Bay commute every three months than that idiot ever killed? He offed a few citizens, wrote a few letters, then faded into footnote…
"Yeah", is what I thought to that, and if you start thinking about how little a serial killer matters within the larger picture of crime and murder statistics, you can take that reasoning further and imagine how much of a nothing it is compared to those who are suffering from starvation, poverty, police brutality and other perils that those who do not have the protection of the State are exposed to. But of course those problems aren’t sexy and puzzle-like as a homicidal maniac taunting cops through the phone is, so we fall for it every damn time.
Example #85643678645 of our society valuing individual agency over any sort of structural thinking, I guess.
You know the supposed gaming community keeps crying about why women aren’t liking their favorite hobby. I’ve been playing games since ID was Apogee - the days of Wolfenstein 3D and Commander Keen - but I’m not a ‘gamer’ because I’m a Transwoman. I steadfastly refuse to get on…
The Cinefamily trailer for The Outside Man, a 1972 French thriller set in Los Angeles. Not safe for work-ish.
I like how the first thing in the trailer is ‘As seen in Los Angeles Plays Itself’, since this movie was near the top of the list of stuff I convinced myself I absolutely had to see based solely on its appearance in that documentary. (Second only to The Exiles, actually.)
I tracked a DVD copy of this down when I was going through a phase of researching 70’s French sub-Melville crime thrillers - neither as sociologically nor as aesthetically interesting as what Italy was producing along the same lines during this era, but still a neat little sub-genre to dig into. It was the first time I watched a French film without subtitles; the fact that there is almost no talking in the whole damn thing helped me out a lot. The other flick it was packaged with, a Rififi cash-in from 1962 called Rififi À Tokyo (not as gleefully batshit as that pitch makes it out to be), posed a more considerable challenge.
Anyway, Un Homme Est Mort is great for your existentialist hitman thrills and Long Goodbye/Point Blank LA sunshine noir shots, check it out.
Bande de Filles / Girlhood (2014) dir. Céline Sciamma starring Karidja Toure, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Marietou Toure
A few weeks ago I watched 17 Filles, a film directed by Muriel Coulin based on the myth surrounding the “Gloucester 18”, a group of girls from the same US high school who got pregnant within the same year. A TIME reporter claimed that the girls had made a pact to get pregnant at the same time, maybe as a form of rebellion. Although that was later debunked, the film - set in France - is based on the fiction.
The only glimpse of a black girl in Coulin’s film is during a wide establishing shot in the playground of the school the girls attend. The girl is being (playfully?) kicked in the butt by a white girl. Since it’s an establishing shot, we’re not really meant to care what’s happening in the scene, it’s just a way of letting us know that the characters who matter have decided to go to school that day.
This is basically standard practice in the (bougie) French films I regularly subject myself to (Claire Denis is the obvious exception), and that’s one reason I wanna see Sciamma’s new film Girlhood. The film is getting good reviews (this one especially although I don’t read French so there are definitely more) and Sciamma also seems aware of how messed up that absence is: “It was part of the thrill of making the movie, and the will to make the movie, because [black girls] are invisible on the screen”
"This country doesn’t give them a vision of what they could be, what they could do. Still, they are so strong and intelligent and it’s an incredible youth in France that we have."
"I wanted the movie to avoid the cliches of a suburban movie, you know, documentary-like with the camera on the shoulder. I wanted it to be wide and stylish. And so we decided to shoot the movie in cinemascope. Also so that we could shoot the four girls all in the same frame. And to shoot suburbia in a charismatic way."
"They’re not gangs in the US sense of the word; just big groups of friends… They face a particular set of challenges but at the same their stories are consistent with the themes I’ve explored in my other work such as the construction of feminine identity and friendships between girls… the film is basically a coming-of-age tale.”
Just a heads-up for London readers that this will be playing at the BFI Film Festival on the 16th, 17th and 18th of October. I’ll definitley be checking it out.