We really should be better drawing our readers’ attention to all the great stuff our longtime Reverse Shotters have been doing around town, especially at the Village Voice, which has become something of a Reverse Shot Part Deux as of late.
This week, Nick Pinkerton delves into the Kuchar Brothers’ tattered oeuvre in the feature story “It Came from Kuchar”:
A few years and 2,500 miles apart, teenagers inspired by photos of Dad in uniform and From Here to Eternity undertake their separate 8mm war epics. Both are the works of prodigies weaned on double features, later loved or reviled for holding on to their childlike innocence. Little Stevie Spielberg shot 1961’s Escape to Nowhere under the clear Arizona skies; 1957’s The Naked and the Nude is the earliest surviving title by two lanky, pimple-popping, MAD magazine–reading wiseacres, 15-year-old twins George and Mike Kuchar, the Goncourts of Bronx County. Read the rest here. (And don’t forget to read Leah Churner’s in-depth take on the Kuchars in Reverse Shot.
And if you haven’t read Pinkerton’s review of the Bill Gunn retrospective at BAM last week, with its screening of the gnawingly unforgettable Ganja and Hess (above), do so now. Here’s Pinkerton on that singular film:
Gunn’s purest expression was 1973’s Ganja & Hess. Hired to crank out a Blacula knock-off (with a drug-joke title), Gunn instead wrote a surreal love triangle among black sophisticates, devoid of sex-machine phoniness, and directed it in a muttered, disorienting style, with a strange brew of Afro-Euro symbolism. Duane Jones is Dr. Hess, a gentleman scholar studying a pre-Christian African blood cult; Stop’s gorgeous, sloe-eyed Marlene Clark is Ganja, as lively and droll as Hess is lethargic. Gunn himself plays the turbulent artist who infects the doctor. He had a genius for writing monologues, and delivers them with absorbing intensity, especially in his character’s schizo suicide dream of playing both murderer and victim, showing Gunn’s fascination with the divided self. Read the rest.
Eric Hynes’s reveals the secrets of the not-quite-as-illustrious films of Nicholas Sparks, or at least his novels, in “The Eight Tired Themes of Nicholas Sparks’ Love-Stories.” We’re particularly fans of number 8:
Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind: Sex is OK in tender, teary, Merlot-catalyzed missionary couplings at dawn (The Notebook is a glaring exception here, with its wild, popped-cork, monkey-cradled fucking), but wholesome romance always prevails. These are stories for good girls—or girls who aspire to be good. They are guiltless pleasures. Which is about as American as dreams get. There are seven more!!!
From tired themes to just plain tired, Hynes also interviews Tom DiCillo this week about his documentary about (lol) the Doors, When You’re Strange. Thanks for takin’ one for the team, Eric.
And we can think of no one better than Nic Rapold to elaborate on the topic of Japanese bad girls, and the Voice apparently agreed, assigning him an article about the Japan Society’s ongoing series “Mad, Bad . . . & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties.”
Rapold: Lady Snowblood herself, Meiko Kaji, is the obvious poster vixen for Japan Society’s 13-film pageant of bad girls. Vengeance is hers, and a nagging necessity what with all the imprisoning, killing, and raping that erupt in this show of ’60s and ’70s sometimes-shock cinema. But beyond Kaji’s leaping-stabbing-fighting action, it’s all about the fierce glare that comes before it, as in the literally spectacular classic Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972), which starts with a silent Kaji chained in jail, before fleeing with backstabbing lifers through Planet of the Apes moonscapes and wrangling with deep-blue guards and horndog tourists. Tempted?