because it’s cheaper to own an empty lot…
After years of lumping Detroit with other Rust Belt capitals that find themselves in a similar predicament, still reeling from the population drain and fiscal drought triggered by the exodus of local industry, we’re now obliged to confront the devastation head-on, as it’s documented in two forthcoming books of photography: “The Ruins of Detroit” by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (Steidl), and “Detroit Disassembled” by Andrew Moore (Damiani/Akron Art Museum).
Marchand and Meffre’s account of these and other everyday landmarks is decidedly bleak. Streets and sidewalks are empty: no people, no traffic. Sunlight filters down through gaps in the roofs. Ferns spring up on a factory floor. Snow drifts in through shattered windows. The city, once a cacophony of clanging machinery, immigrant languages and music, has gone silent. Marchand and Meffre interpret what they see as a case of nature reclaiming land the city appropriated, slowly erasing these remaining vestiges of a failed metropolis. Both of these books find beauty in decay, lingering over the paradoxical grandeur of disintegrating monuments and the random juxtapositions made possible by neglect.
Ruins are a loaded subject, one that puts metaphor within easy reach. The images here constitute a requiem for an American empire in a state of precipitous decline. Both books feature the same clock on a classroom wall, its frozen hands and melted face right out of a Dalí painting — as if time in Detroit had ticked to a halt, distorted, when in fact, with our gridlocked government and blind faith in our own exceptionalism, time is passing us by.
lost and found…
“i lost the place, but i’ll find it” said Patti Smith last night as she flipped through her new book “Just Kids” during her tribute to artist Harry Smith — “Smith on Smith” — an evening of readings and a few songs (she had Bob Neuwirth come up to do a couple on the banjo), the event celebrating the new book “Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular”…
from “Prelude and Fugue” by Harry Smith 1950…
“PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF LIFE” 2008 directed by Steven Sebring
the much anticipated release of UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 3 is just around the corner, hitting and kicking the shelves February 2nd…
JCVD on set with Violetta Markovska 2009
The screener had been sitting around my apartment for about a month. I was excited that Dolph Lundgren was in it, but didn’t expect much. When I finally got around to putting it in it seemed like the wrong disc. The trailers were for classy foreign films, and the opening was a quiet scene in an art museum. But then ski masked commandos nab a young man and woman and take them on a kill crazy high speed chase through security, police, a road block and away in a helicopter.
On the surface you have your usual DTV qualities: masked gunmen from some vaguely defined radical faction, dreary European locations, car crashes, and no sign of the stars on the cover yet. But the weird thing is this is a — great — action sequence. Cameras attached to the cars, putting you right inside the mayhem, you feel like you’re getting knocked around and dragged away but (get this) you can tell exactly what’s going on. It’s fast, brutal and unfashionably comprehensible. It had my heart beating. You don’t expect that in the opening of a DTV action movie or, let’s be honest, any modern American action movie.
Unlike most DTV this gets straight to business. The fights are raw and brutal – people punched 8-10 times in the face, thrown through walls, covered in blood, expertly knifed or surgically machine gunned. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski is a legitimately scary Terminator, the fights are perfectly staged and the movie cuts effectively between the breathing and grunting of the fights in quiet Chernobyl and the panicked war room where the military brass shout at each other while watching everything go to hell through the POV of the UniSol eyepieces.
Jean-Claude Van Damme is still Luc Devereaux. Van Damme is in “I actually get to act in this one” mode, a quiet, sad performance more like UNTIL DEATH and JCVD than UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, more quick and brutally effective than we’ve seen him in a while. Dolph looks like – and basically is – Frankenstein’s monster. I won’t give away his interaction with Van Damme, but what he says to him is haunting, somehow almost poetic. In a UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movie.
Part of the genius of the movie is that it doesn’t try to humanize them more as it goes along. It doesn’t try to explain their history or even mention which war it was they fought in. All that matters is that they’re leftover weapons, unable to be useful in peace time. In fact, the human villains who instigate this conflict die early, and their demands are already met. But the Universal Soldiers continue the war. They don’t know how to shut off. They’re like perpetual war in human shape.
The characters are just right – they’re not real developed, but they don’t have to be. They’re mostly people of action, not words. They’re pieces in a game moved around just right for you to worry about what happens to them. For example there’s a great scene where a badass special ops type guy (another MMA fighter, Mike Pyle) is sent in to do recon but accidentally engages The Pitbull. By this point it’s been established that this guy is merely super at being a soldier, not a super soldier. We have seen the work of both him and his opponent, and it’s clear to everyone what must go down. This guy will die, but first he’ll put up way more of a fight than any other regular non zombie soldier would put up. He’s not supernatural, he’s just highly trained, but you can’t turn him off either.
The look, feel and whole mentality of this one are completely different from any of the previous five UNIVERSAL SOLDIER pictures. To me it seems more influenced by ALIEN, THE TERMINATOR and CHILDREN OF MEN than its own series. The story is perfectly streamlined, just setting the characters in motion and crashing them into each other, the type of elegant simplicity so many of these convoluted DTVs need as a role model in their lives. The tone is deadly serious, quiet, tense. The score is a nice John Carpenter/Brad Fiedel type keyboard droner. The sound design is really good too, lots of weird buzzes and distorted voices over radios creating atmosphere.
What I’m telling you is that this is a real fucking good movie, made with care and skill. I can’t believe how much I liked it. It joins UNDISPUTED II as the rare DTV sequel better than its theatrical originator. It’s also probly the first ever part 5 that’s better than its part 1. Unless you count porn. This is that you-would-think-mythical-but-it-turns-out-it’s-a-real-thing movie I’ve been naively waiting for all these years watching crappy DTV sequels. Sure, it’s unlikely that somebody would pour everything they got into something like a UNIVERSAL SOLDIER sequel. They probly wouldn’t do that. But they could. And for once, they did!
“UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 3: REGENERATION” 2009 directed by John Hyams
Within the realm of earthly things there are no words of praise too lofty for Festivus Film Festival. On every front, Tim, Jonathan, and their fleet of festival volunteers delivered only the best of every good thing they had to offer. From the moment my wife and I were picked up at the airport by festival Volunteer Aaron Cole and Hospitality Director Trever Alters, I already knew that the trip from Los Angeles was a wise investment. From friendly conversation, to comped lunches at Denver’s hidden culinary hot-spots; from private tours of the city, to on-call information; the Festivus crew did not stop at simply fulfilling the litany of promises they made in their festival description (which are formidable, as you surely know by now), they went above and beyond in almost every area. Not to mention that every single screening was well attended (and some were even over-sold!) by enthusiastic filmmakers, their friends, and hoards of Denver locals. If there is one drawback to going to Festivus Film Festival, it’s that having been to one I am forever spoiled for all other film festivals. Not one can live up to my experience of Festivus 2010. It is a memory my wife and I will share for the rest of our lives.
and the envelope please…
- Festivus Image Award – Matt Gillespie
- Best Editing – The Ballad of Angel Face
- Best Cinematography – Stoney
- Best Music Video – The Atro-City Sleepers
- Best Animation – Little Old Ladies
- Best Experimental – The Magnitude of Continental Divides
- Best Short Short – Black Ops Arabesque
- Best Doc Short – Between the Upper Lip and Nasal Passageway: A Modern Account of the Moustache
- Best Narrative Short – The Godmother
- Best Documentary Feature – Rouge Ciel
- Best Narrative Feature – Racewalkers
much more info here…
wins at Festivus..!
special thanks to Tim DeMasters, Johnathan McFarlane and everyone at Festivus, Ron Castellano and Santos’ Party House... John Hyams, Steve Schleuter, Chris Hyams at B-Side Entertainment — and an extra special thanks to Timo Ellis and the mighty Netherlands band!!!