Author Archives: wilsonbstiner

Private Dancer

Long time, no post… not sure how many readers we get, but I thought I’d say hello.

The title comes of this post comes from a graphic novel I have begun creating, which I hope to prove innovative in the world of comics. I reference Tina because the story is comes from the early nineties/late eighties mentality mixed with the blaxploitation trends with another twist that parallels that of my first feature film, Ser O Estar: a modern relationship to an ancient myth.

I started by compiling music that inspired me and wrote it as a musical, which will then be transformed into the graphic novel format.

I will keep you posted on the progress, but I’m going to have to keep it under wraps for a while…


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Copy/Paste: A Year In Review

As we march on into what seems like a futile attempt to keep the old standards alive… here are my “standards” for 2009:

So much great music came out this year, I decided to arrange my top choices in a new way… Here are two, 20-track playlists that I would say are a good distillation of what stood out… and yes, the order does matter.

Bracket, WI – Bon Iver
Fine For Now – Grizzly Bear
Malibu Gas Station – Sonic Youth
My Girls – Animal Collective
Ghost Symbol – Zero 7
See The Leaves – The Flaming Lips
Lover’s Carvings – Bibio
Useful Chamber – Dirty Projectors
Batty Boyz – DOOM
Natures Uplifting Revenge – Prefuse 73
Surprise Stefani – Dan Deacon
DDMMYYYY – Soap&Skin
New Tricks – Great Northern
Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It) (with David Lynch) – Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse
Amuse Bouche – Fischerspooner
The Fun Powder Plot – Wild Beasts
I’m An Animal – Neko Case
Infinity – The xx
Roses (ft. Georgia Anne Muldrow) – Mos Def
Marrow – St. Vincent

Drown In The Now (ft. Matisyahu) – The Crystal Method
Shock Doctrine (Eskmo Remix) – STS9
La Niña Rica – Bomba Estéreo
Not Your Average Girl (ft. Shareefa) – Ghostface Killah
1901 – Phoenix
On To The Next One (ft. Swizz Beatz) – Jay-Z
Hope You’re Happy (ft. Billy Danze, Nikki Wray & Q-Tip) – Blakroc
Sabali – Amadou & Mariam
Horsey Noisers – Venetian Snares
Jumps The Fence (ft. Connan Mockasin) – The BPA
One Above One – Vitalic
Ghosts N STuff (Nero Remix) (ft. Rob Swire) – Deadmau5
Pulls Me Back – Rhymefest
Evil Deeds – Wu-Tang Clan
TheMark (ft. D-Styles) – Themselves
Escape Me (ft. Cc Sheffield) – Tiësto
Tonight – The Big Pink
Take Me To The Hospital – The Prodigy
Don’t Hold Back, Feel A Little Longer – The Most Serene Republic

… and for film: Top 10
(granted, I missed a lot that sound like they would bump these around):

01. Antichrist
02. My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done?
03. A Serious Man
04. Where The Wild Things Are
05. Inglorious Basterds
06. Whatever Works
07. Broken Embraces
08. 45365
09. Collapse
10. The Informant

Happy New Year!


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I watch a lot of movies… they are my dreams

This week I saw Herzog’s My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done? I was blown away. It seemed so right… such a perfect step forward, and a great companion piece to his Port of Call – New Orleans, which at times made me wonder why Herzog chose that project.

I asked Herzog, who was in attendance if his films were still ridding him of his nightmares – a direct reference to his quote of years earlier. He answered immediately that he did not have nightmares and that he did not dream. Very funny, Mr. Engimatic. He certainly knows how to maintain the shroud of mystery like all great directors.

Although Herzog deters the viewer from recognizing a specific meaning in his question and answer sessions, My Son does interweave some of the maestro’s most prolific themes and motifs. I highly suggest you see it and pay close attention to the symbols. There is no mistake in his writing. It’s not Dalí and Buñuel just jotting down there ideas. It’s highly calculated… but of course, it gets tough to say something direct when your message is that the quest for meaning is futile… that, like in the jungles of Peru, it’s all chaos.

Last night, I also went to a late screening of Avatar in 3D, which was a visual feast. I just wish they could raise that kind of money for Lars von Trier or Harmony Korine… or Herzog. I didn’t really need to see a re-telling of Dances With Wolves with the same running time, but it certainly made me want to reach out and have sex with blue aliens… what?

If you’re in the mood of getting drunk and watching a movie that will stir things up inside of you… and watch amazing acting: Altman’s A Secret Honor. Actually, it might make a fun (in a deep kinda way) drinking contest.


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Reckless Abandon

Okay, so I have to get this out… I know, so far it’s been a lot of moaning, but I don’t care… it’s too easy to praise… I will say though that, this year A Serious Man stands out as the best American film. While I was down in Savannah for the film festival and the production of my brother’s film, Up In The Air was their special, secret screening. So awful. You hear all these critics saying it’s a solid character study and that Clooney is like our Cary Grant. Ridiculous. He is great, at times, but this portrayal is hardly enthralling. It’s a role he could do in his sleep. What’s really disappointing though, is not the acting. The players do well with what they are given. No, it is Reitman’s script in all its floundering. Juno was fine, but Thank You For Smoking was clearly his strongest work, and since then, instead of improving his skill, he has been on a decline towards, dare I say it, Nick Cassavetes-ism.

Instead of going to this during the holidays, rent Criterion Collection’s fantastic edition of Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander. It might be hard to stomach at times, but it’s completely worth the pain, unlike this compulsive fart of a film.


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Glorified Asses

Okay, so there’s all this hype about Inglorious Basterds, and it’s a war film, and I see it at the Arclight, just like The Hurt Locker… the big difference: the conceit is not supposed to be “serious,” though some of the content truly is.

Tarantino is all surface. What you see is what you get. The self-referencial message about film and the cinema embodying the ability to escape, re-write history, and prove cathartic is all well and good, but he spells it out for you… if you think something else is going on, you are over-thinking it.

That said, there are a couple of scenes that carry a great deal of dramatic weight and affect the audience without gimmicks or hooks, but with real craft… something I don’t think Bigelow’s Locker quite gets. The first scene in Basterds, when we are introduced to the conditions of WWII might be Quentin at his best. Here he establishes the weight of the camera, the importance of character, and the true inhumanity of some really nutzo individuals standing at the helm of mass genocide, while marking a scene we eventually flash back to with some memorable shouting in French. Of course, violence is this guy’s specialty, and the expectations are met… I can always go for more gore. The trick though, is cutting it right, and, man, Menke is just getting better.

Strangely enough, the titles breaking this film apart do exactly that… in Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs, they held the film together.

As in all of his other films, we see a pastiche of his favorites dealing with similar subject matter and those he draws from stylistically. What most impressed me was the beginning of “The Attack of the Giant Face” scene. David Bowie leads us into it with some amazing 80’s, alien beats as we cross-dissolve from one orb shot to the next of Shosanna Dreyfus standing radiant beside a window that looks like it came straight out of the Millennium Falcon. She prepares for war.

In this po mo or, slash that, poo moo, we can only come away from the latest Tarantino jigsaw with the knowledge that meaning is meaningless.

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High Expectations

Returning from spending fifteen bucks plus parking to see colleague-praised The Hurt Locker at the Arclight, I am troubled. Not by the violent images or the overwrought sensibility, but by the hype it got.

At its core, message needs to be part of mainstream, narrative film.

The protagonist tells us that he can disarm bombs easily because he just doesn’t think about it. In that same scene, the music is incredibly melodramatic and condescending… So, we get it, the protagonist is a cowboy and a hard-ass. A little later in the film, when we know we are getting a message (yes it’s a scene where the lead talks to a baby, someone who can’t talk back and can simply listen, like us… and yes, a baby, like in Don’t Be A Menace where Keenan Ivory’s head pops out of the crib and screams, “Message!”). The monologue tells us that when you get older, you realize that the jack-in-the-box, that his son cherishes in infancy, will lose its magic and become a box made of tin and a stuffed animal. “Stuffed animal”… well, no… it’s a Jack. That part is actually cool, if it was intended. The box is like a bomb, yeah… But they do mention a couple of “Jacks” or prized insurgents who have become faces on the armed services’ deck of cards, handed out so soldiers can recognize the more notorious thugs. Coincidence? Could be. The message of this film is that war and getting older are shit. Newsflash!

Okay, just some quick notes on other areas where the film disappointed:

The music and sound design make pretty much every death or explosion obvious moments before they occur.

The frenetic camera is quite simply over-done. When the camera is doing a lot of acting, we pay attention to it in greater detail. It certainly does work for the actors in some cases, but it also destroys their performances in others. There is a fine line and I am not sure I know where it is, but this film has stepped far over it.

The film is about fifteen minutes too long… they could have cut out at least a scene, maybe two, maybe three, and tightened others, especially with the pace of the film being so fast and choppy.

I’m not sure why I saw all of those cats.

The one scene that was undeniably the most unusual and involving on a level that every human can relate to – it’s true I don’t know what it is like to have someone’s life in my hands – was glossed over: when the lead runs back from investigating a crime outside of the base and in the actual, Iraqi town. Bigelow constructs a poignant scene in the house of question, but the fear of being, for once, out of his element, escapes us upon the protagonist’s exit with fast, disconnected cuts as if we were suddenly watching an Emo music video of a sweats-wearing lyricist run from his inner demons or ex-girlfriend.

Why didn’t they accentuate more of the realistic moments with hyper-realist, macro, slow-motion shots like they did in the beginning? You can’t let go of a trope that strong.

When Will (Renner) goes back home, it’s a little short and pointless for how amped we are supposed to be when he returns to Iraq… music cues, marches, stupid boot shots, and all.

A lot of thought is required for a “serious” war film. It’s already a very fleshed-out genre.

So, that’s my take on the critical. I could say good things about it, but that’s what everyone else is doing… next, Inglorious Basterds.

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