Be warned: the following is in no way a professional, measured critique of the career and oeuvre of one Jim Henson, master puppeteer, kiddie empire creator, and upcoming Yerba Buena Center for the Arts retrospective honoree. Oh, no. Below are the semicoherent ravings of a Muppet-philiac Henson fangirl. Read more »
I had a revelation while watching Muppets Music Moments: Statler and Waldorf are the reasons I became a film critic. As a li'l Muppet-freaked kid in the late '70s and early '80s, I lived for their curmudgeonly peanut-gallery zingers. Read more »
Sexually repressed nuns, naughty prisoners, lustful wardens, and love-thirsty vampires are the celebrated heroines of Triple X Selects: The Best of Lezsploitation, Michelle Johnson's effort to reappropriate 1960s and 1970s sexploitation flicks. Intrigued by these films' soundtracks, the Los Angeles DJ, musician, and cult-film enthusiast hunted for the genre's most precious gems and compiled them into a 47-minute metafilm. Read more »
Violent Femmes and wrestling boys. The same boys watching TV, huffing glue, jerking off, playing soccer, dodging water balloons, sharing headphones, and dancing, singing, and drumming at punk rock shows. Listed in this manner, the basic ingredients of Alexis Dos Santos's Glue don't sound that different from those of a dozen other teen films. But the way Dos Santos views such material is something else entirely. Glue is that rare kind of filmmaking so attuned to pleasure and spontaneity that it tickles your palate, opening up new possibilities about how to live. Read more »
"They may label you, try to classify you, and even call you a crazy bitch but don't flinch, just let them," Honey of Radio Phoenix says to the women of New York City after her black feministrun station gets bombed by government agents, after her comrade in arms is found dead in her jail cell, as the fireworks are about to go off in a certain tall tower in Lower Manhattan.
There's no denying the evocative weight of that last image these days. Read more »
Black White and Gray (James Crump, US, 2007) If Andre Téchiné's The Witnesses colors the early '80s red, this documentary about Sam Wagstaff (and by extension Robert Mapplethorpe) opts for a relatively bloodless palette. Though its voice-over shows class chauvinism in asserting that Patti Smith brought validity to punk, Black White and Gray perceptively uses its enigmatic subject as a window onto the changing role of photography within the art world. Read more »
One of the most entertaining books ever written about the commercial theater is Ken Mandlebaum's Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops (St. Martin's, 1992). There's something inherently fascinating about the backstories and eventual fates of big stage musicals. Read more »