January 12, 2013

"Night of the Comet" by Erin Virgil

Not a movie many people are familiar with, and, by some standards, not a very good movie, Night of the Comet (1984) features two strong, plucky young sisters who survive a poorly fabricated apocalypse, then find suitable mates and repopulate Los Angeles.  Though mostly lost in our pop culture past, the movie has been acknowledged in certain circles; it was voted number ten of the top 10 Doomsday Films, by Bloody Disgusting (a horror movie website) in 2009. I have a soft spot for this movie, it's kind of a fellow lost child of the 1980's. The sisters make this movie a chick flick, bravely fighting off errant zombies and reapplying pink lipstick for the good of the world to come.

January 11, 2013

"Where No Valley Girl Has Gone Before: Embracing the Xenosexual in Earth Girls Are Easy" by Nicole Steinberg

Sometimes I consider the cultural artifacts of the 1980s and I marvel at how utterly bizarre they were. (ALF, anyone?) I also look at the stars of these movies and TV shows and find myself amazed that some have gone on to become Hollywood's most revered figureheads. Take Jeff Goldblum, for instance; this gangly Jewish guy shouldn't be appealing, yet his oddball characteristics have propelled him to stardom: his massive ears; the slow cadence of his voice; the way his expressive hands yank truthbombs from the ether as he foreshadows all the bad shit about to go down. If you take a trip down memory lane to the '80s, most people remember his role in renowned date movie The Fly (Google image search it if you want nightmares for a week). But as far as I'm concerned, you haven't lived until you've seen Goldblum and his Fly co-star Geena Davis reunite in one of their later ventures: the wacky, candy-colored, sometimes vapid, and surprisingly feminist '80s flick Earth Girls Are Easy.

January 10, 2013

"Susan Seidelman’s Making Mr. Right (1987) and Other Space Oddities" by Lee Ann Roripaugh

1.  Space Oddities

Maybe this is about diaspora, about being the daughter of a first-generation Asian immigrant. Or maybe it’s about my chronic commitment issues.  Or maybe it’s because a small portion of the women I’ve dated are mildly psychotic.  (NB: If you’re reading this, and we’ve dated?  Let’s just pretend I’m probably not talking about you.)  And yes, maybe a number of the men I’ve taken up with have just been, well . . . undeniably very very odd.  (Odd as in thinking-they-can-mathematically-calculate-the-pattern-of-rain-falling odd.)  So here’s the thing.  Show me a nice rom-com with mail-getting and mistaken identities and not-sleeping in Seattle and I will probably be all meh.  On the other hand, show me a movie like Starman? In which the beloved is an alien?  Who hurtles off on a rocket ship into outer space?  Then it’s on like Donkey Kong, as in Susan Seidelman’s Making Mr. Right (1987)—a movie in which public relations expert Frankie Stone (played by Anne Magnuson) falls in love with the android she’s been coaching to pass as human (played by John Malkovich), before he’s sent out on a scientific mission to explore outer space.  How could this flick not hit that sweetly toxic trifecta of epic diaspora, impossibly doomed science-fictive relationships, and tragic absurdity?

January 9, 2013

"Who Gets the Girl: A Note on Possession Flicks: Drawing Heavily on Kate Durbin’s Demon Notions, My Favorite Movies When I Was 10, and Some Other Stuff " by Danielle Pafunda

Consider the child-bride, Marie Antoinette, imported to France.

Roberto Calasso describes it thus:

Marie Antoinette entered the pavilion from the Austrian side. In the last room before the border she was slowly undressed before the escort that had accompanied her from Vienna. Not even a ribbon or a hairpin was to remain in contact with her body. She was thus offered, naked, to fabrics woven in the new French land—to the silk shift, the stockings from Lyon, the little slippers fashioned by the Court’s shoemaker… The softness of the clothes that came to her from Versailles was the embrace of the new god… This act of sacrificial stripping affected her complete transfer to the land that was clothing her with her destiny.

January 8, 2013

"Pretty Woman: On Beauty & Belonging " by Ada Limón

Sometimes I want to feel forgiven for loving the obvious; like how that makes me obvious, too; like how my favorite flowers are roses, and sunflowers, and sweet peas. Ordinary beauty. Simple things.


On March 23, 1990, the movie Pretty Woman came out. Five days later, I turned 14. I saw it in the movie theater, the local one in my hometown of Sonoma, CA, Sebastiani Theater. I brought a note from my mom because it was rated R. I loved each of its 119 minutes.


One year later, I would have my first boyfriend: a very kind, very smart, very funny guy. Later that summer, I’d have my second boyfriend, and I’d fall very hard into a young relationship. I’d spell a love letter, “I love you, I really due.” And I’d cry a lot.


January 7, 2013

"Bridesmaids & Booty Bombs" by Stephanie K. Hopkins

“Humor is a way to make trouble…” —Gina Barreca

In the movie Bridesmaids, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, we get an engagement, a wedding, a budding romance, a story about friendship, and a feel-good lesson about reclaiming one’s dream.

We also get shit. A lot of it. It runs, dribbles, and explodes—in toilets, in sinks, on the street, and into expensive, unpaid-for French couture dresses.

Filth is the province of men, the late Christopher Hitchens tells us, as is humor. As is a keen understanding and acceptance of life’s absurd nature, its messiness. Women are too invested in wanting life to be fair, orderly, and sweet to be able to laugh at the ways it isn’t, he says. Men like Hitchens don’t want their women to be funny; they want to make them laugh in the same way I imagine they want to fuck them; they’d prefer them reluctant at first, then unable to resist, offering up “the sweet surrender of female laughter.” It wouldn’t be half as good if women were easy, or if they themselves initiated the laughter instead of being the uptight virginal receivers of a joke so funny they laugh against their will.

January 6, 2013

"Picnic at Hanging Rock": Porn +Botticelli + Frankenstein = Relationship Predictor By J. Hope Stein

What’s the porn name for Picnic at Hanging Rock? —  Picnic at Hanging COCK.  This is what my husband said as he handed me the Picnic at Hanging Rock DVD he found in our apartment so I could re-watch it to write this piece.   

For those who haven’t seen Picnic at Hanging Rock – It is a 1975 Australian film directed by Peter Weir who has directed such great and diverse films as Dead Poets Society, Gallipoli, The Truman Show and Master and Commander.  The plot of Picnic at Hanging Rock is most concisely explained by reading the first frame of the film:

 "On Saturday, 14 February 1900, a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard College picnicked at Hanging Rock near Mt. Macedon in the state of Victoria. During the afternoon, several members of the party disappeared without a trace...."