DVD REVIEW If a Viking takes a shit in the woods, will anyone care? I asked myself this after watching Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America, an admirable if somewhat aimless and altogether odd duck of an independent film. Believe me, I wanted to love this movie more. The press release couldn't have made it sound any cooler: Vikings lost in the New World in 1007! A black metal soundtrack! They terrorize Irish monks! It's in Old Norse! Read more »
X-RATED CLASSICS A sexploitation lifer who reportedly has directed so many features even he doesn't know how many, Joe Sarno is nonetheless also enough of an idiosyncratic talent to have won a cult following and some high-culture-institution retrospectives. Read more »
THE DRUG ISSUE After watching hours of Intervention A&E's reality show that profiles addicts, their families, and their painful first steps toward recovery I concluded that junkies don't watch Intervention. But if the average non-junkie watches too much Intervention, he or she will without a doubt become addicted to Intervention. So proceed cautiously.
With the exception of special "follow-up" entries, the structure of every episode (seven seasons' worth) is similar. Read more »
TV DAMES I'm sure you've heard: the critically lauded Mad Men's characterizations are subtle and layered. Its insights into contemporary society, as viewed through the prism of 1960s-era domestic and professional life, are at once nuanced and precisely rendered. Its dialogue is rich in subtext and dramatic allusion. In short, it's, you know, deep.
But, also, the outfits really rock. And so do the fabulously messed-up women who wear them. Take vixen head-secretary Joan Holloway, as portrayed by flame-haired siren Christina Hendricks. Read more »
CULT MOVIES ONLINE I remember sitting on the floor of a scrappy Las Vegas hotel room, my five-year-old eyes glued to the television. A fuzzy film played from a far-gone era, filled with uncensored violence, sex, and drugged out debauchery. I was horrified, but possessed euphorically by that horror, unable to turn away from the moving screen. To this day I am still looking for that movie's title. And nearly every film freak who shares a similar story of initiation still seeks out some unknown title. Read more »
ALTERNATE REALITY GAMES It starts, as most quests do, with a question. "What the hell?" A flyer advertising the Aquatic Thought Foundation, a division of the Jejune Institute devoted to Human-Dolphin interaction. And even though you're probably the type to resist even the perverse pleasure of sitting through a bullshit Scientologist e-meter reading, something about the prospect of communing with dolphins is absurdly compelling. You call the number. Read more »
TV EYED Did I ever tell you you're my hero, Michelle Forbes? Like, you're the wind beneath my wings, standing out from the sidelines of TV series like Lost, Prison Break, and 24, pulling off the most ingenious little saves by just popping up, feline eyes a-glow, in the strangest, smallest cameo. Read more »
U.K. HORROR Once outrage settles over the current Parliamentary expense-account scandals, our former colonialist landlords will no doubt return to their concerns about "broken Britain," as the perceived general decline of moral rectitude in the United Kingdom is termed these days. Call 'em hoodies, chavs, yobs, or Neds, U.K. Read more »
TRUMPETING TRUMBO I read Dalton Trumbo's 1939 masterpiece of antiwar literature Johnny Got His Gun in high school. I went for anything which said that patriotic duty to die for one's country is bullshit hence I loved it. Rereading it last year the book hit me harder. The writing is amazing, shot through with brilliance from start to finish scathing, bitter, funny, righteous. Read more »
TV OR NOT TO BE "All around is magic, just open your eyes and see it," declares either Siegfried or Roy at the beginning of A Rich Traditionof Magic, a previously VHS-only compendium of visual abuse compiled by the inimitable Pinky of TV Carnage. The man isn't kidding. Read more »