T'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #9.6
J Church / Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Summer '01 - Let It Blurt
I don't want to really dwell on this. I just found out my friend Margaret
Kilgallen passed away the other day. I'm still in a bit of shock. Margaret
was my age and is probably best known for her paintings, which have been
shown in galleries everywhere. Along with her partner, Barry McGee, she
had a highly celebrated show last year at LA's Armand Hammer Museum down
I really only knew her through Barry and his sister, Kim, who was our
old roadie. The three of them made up a certain team of people that I
always admired. Some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I truly mean
Her paintings are a great testament to her life and ability to communicate
ideas through her personality. Often painted with spray paint or house
paint, she also often used random materials as canvasses. There was a
definite lo-fi feel, which along with her use of striking and often abstract
female images, and arcane typography communicated a demented joyful feeling.
The joy was in conflict with the content of the art. There was a challenge
being made in her art. But the challenge was inadvertent and in turn the
art became truly revealing.
The timing of her death is unbelievably tragic. Just a month ago she
had graduated from Stanford and had given birth to her and Barry's first
child. I guess there's really nothing else for me to say.
Meaty, Beaty, Shitty Sounding will be out in about three
weeks. I'm pretty excited about it. It's a very lo-tech release, as I
really haven't got the funds to hire a publicist and do it up right. It's
a shame, because I think people will find that this, though a singles
collection, is probably our best full-length release in years. I'll have
a few available through my mail order. But, any decent record store should
have it. Revolver exclusively distributes it, so any decent record store
should have it…
Okay, so New Disorder Soda is out. It's a cool little
CD compilation that we've got a track on. Our song is Palm Tree
which is an outtake from One Mississippi. It's a cool
song and I really dig the lyrics, which I wrote while wandering around
downtown LA a few years back. There's more cool stuff here with, as far
as I can tell, unreleased material from What Happens Next, Songs For Emma,
Talk Is Poison and loads more. It also features Pirx The Pilot, which
is Ernst's cool new band. I'll try to review their new CD next time around.
You can get the comp from New
Disorder at: 115 Bartlett St., San Francisco, CA 94110
ALL THE NEWS FIT TO PRINT
The first version of my article on the Mob was in Maximum Rock
N Roll in issue #218. That issue also featured my interview with
Jon Moritsugu. Next up will be the first half of my article on Flowers
In The Dustbin which Arwen told my they split in half as it was too long.
Look for it in #219.
My diatribe about what an idiot Sid Vicious was is in the latest Skyscraper.
That's one hell of a nice looking zine even if I don't know who half of
the bands are that Andrew is into. I'll be writing more over there too…
A couple of J Church interviews have surfaced recently as well. First
of all, we're in issue 10 of Green Zine by our pal Cristy Road straight
outta Sarasota. It's a fun little read and also has an interview with
Bratmobile. This zine was the inspiration for the title of one of our
live CDRs (Blue Jeans Hurt My Crotch). I think you can
get it for a buck or two from: 1130 Greensboro LN #112 Sarasota,
I'm really stoked that we are in the latest Fear And Loathing from England.
Andy is an old friend of mine and it's one of the only zines I really
go out of my way to read. He's been doing it forever and the quality of
the writing is always great. Written sort of like a diary, it's fun to
read. The issue that we're in (Volume 54) also features Mike Patton, David
Johanson, Less Than Jake, Gaza Strippers, Billy Gould and Mick Mercer.
It's well worth the $3 or whatever it costs. PO Box 11605, London E11
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
The Stendhal Syndrome DVD
I first saw this film four or five years ago, and I felt then as I do
now. This film is not a horror film. It's been wrongly judged in that
context due to the director's reputation. But I think history will show
that Dario Argento isn't really a horror filmmaker. Horror films actually
make up just a small percentage of his films and The Stendhal
Syndrome is no horror film.
Dario Argento is a genius. As an Italian director in the generation
(and tradition) of Antonioni, his films are far more cerebral and avant-garde
than the traditional horror fair of even Bava and the like. His films
are Freudian investigations that exist somewhere between psychological
thriller and horror. The violence is a device more so than a selling point.
It took a little while for The Stendhal Syndrome to make it to the States.
I don't know why that is. But I'm sure there are some politics behind
it as Argento is only too happy to criticize Hollywood and of the bad
experiences he's had making films for major American studios. What's strange
is that this DVD is on Troma (who I love in a weird way) instead of Anchor
Bay who have been releasing most of the old Argento stuff on DVD.
The Stendhal Syndrome is something of a return to form
for Argento. After a couple of severely hacked films done for American
companies and a brief hiatus, this film was his chance to make a film
strictly following his own muse and without the business end of the film
industry in mind. Working with his daughter, Asia, for the second time
he was able to explore darker subject matter. The previous time they worked
together was on Trauma which, despite being ruined by
an editing process aimed at success in the US horror market, still dealt
with issues outside of the norm and deeper into his psychoanalytical fascination
as the main character suffered from bulimia.
Asia Argento has carved a name for herself as an actor not afraid to
play characters who either have severe psychological disorders or who
has to face emotionally and physically abusive obstacles. In this film,
she is a detective named Anna Manni sent to Florence to track down a serial
rapist / killer known as Alfredo. While at the Uffizi Art Museum she not
only discovers that she suffers from a mental disorder that makes her
hallucinate that she is inside the paintings she's observing (the Stendhal
Syndrome, of course). She passes out in the crowded museum only to discover
she has a bloody lip and her gun has been stolen from her purse. Of course,
it turns out that the gun is stolen by the serial rapist / killer who
then becomes the pursuer and finds Argento in her hotel room. In a brutal
and horrifying scene, Alfredo rapes the detective in her hotel room setting
things in motion to create a long, complex story ending with a Hitchcock-ian
Along the way, there are some classic Argento innovations with shot
design and cinematography. Always an innovator that avoided any sort of
computer special effects, there are some amazing sequences including a
dreamlike sequence where Anna hallucinates that she sees Alfredo murder
another one of his victims. In slow motion, we see the bullet leave the
gun, through the wall of the victim's cheek, through her body and out
the other side. In another sequence, Anna takes medication and we actually
see the pills travel down her throat. This drawing of attention to otherwise
mundane events is a lot like the gun battle scene in Three Kings.
Another surreal moment happens when Anna reflects back to her first
contact with one of Alfredo's victims. Rather than say it's a dream or
use some sort of obvious special effect, the shot is designed so she can
walk directly from one set to another. By betraying the cinematic illusion
created by sets, it's an interesting twist on a dream sequence.
Argento has always been good with heightening tension with simple over
the top acts done without fanfare. During the rape scene, one horrifying
image that stayed with me was when Alfredo produced a razor blade out
of his mouth during the rape scene. He claims that he needs to cut her
lip so she looked just as she did when she passed out in the museum. The
importance of that dialog offsets the fact that he's had a sharp razor
in his mouth the entire time.
There are other Argento stand-bys. Soundscape is always very important
to his film especially when used to heighten paranoia. Like some moments
in Suspiria, there are sequences in the film that use
obtuse audio overdubs of chattering voices. While part of the background,
they're recorded so manic and unrealistically, they become a reflection
of the protagonist's psyche.
That day in the art museum becomes the factor that binds together Anna's
disorder with her victimization by Alfredo. The use of this type of logic
plays large in the film and forces the viewer to make a lot of otherwise
unrealistic leaps of faith. That's always been part of Argento's style.
His intellectual approach and matter of fact form of arguing his characters
logic helps make it all believable no matter how absurd. Surrealism and
special effects are blatant and never hidden. There are no tricks here
that he doesn't want you to see.
A lot of people argue that this is one of his lesser works. I disagree.
While nowhere in the area of Profundo Rosso or Four
Flies On Grey Velvet, I found the film to be gripping and fascinating.
I suppose if you're looking for a horror film like Suspiria
or Opera, you'll be disappointed. But I think that this
film is one of his better. It's certainly his best in recent times and
I really can't think of another film like it. (Troma)
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