Movies Till Dawn: Arthouse Confidential

Art School Confidential” (2006, MVD Visual) Naïve student Max Minghella is dismayed to find that his dream of becoming the next Picasso is regularly trampled at an East Coast art college by a parade of egos, both dampened and unfettered, including frustrated educators, rum-soaked artists, talent-free or unhinged classmates, and a serial killer on the loose. As with their previous team-up, “Ghost World,” director Terry Zwigoff and writer Daniel Clowes lead an expedition into the depths of a niche universe here; the takeaway – that art schools breed mediocrity and cut-throat opportunism – is particularly cynical, but as anyone with a BFA can tell you, it’s not entirely inaccurate. The rough patches are largely smoothed over by John Malkovich and Jim Broadbent as studies of careers in decline, Anjelica Huston as an exasperated lit professor and inveterate scene-stealers Ethan Suplee, Joel David Moore, Michael Lerner, Katherine Moennig, Marshall Bell and an uncredited Steve Buscemi, all in various capacities; Clowes, Mark Mothersbaugh and Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton provide artwork. MVD’s Blu-ray includes several making-of featurettes and deleted scenes.

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The 2018 Doo Dah Queen is Chosen! Long Live Queen Sassy but Classy!

The Pasadena Doo Dah Parade Queen selection was filled with faces both old and new. Boys who wanted to be princesses and girls that shook their money makers fought it out on stage There was even a doctor who twirled her stethoscope like Bruce Lee. Many perennial lifetime contestants tried.out again, such as “Count Smokula” playing his accordion and “Pee Pee Poo Poo” in his colorful garb. Third prize when to a model who made her own dress, who modeled for the Door Can Judges. Second prize went to a boy who cracked his knuckles and then for an encore played Scott Joplin proficiently. He was very straight and amazingly normal-looking He wanted to be Princess, and so he is!

The Grand Prize of Queen went to Queen Sassy but Classy (Jennipha Lauren-Neilson). She was loud crass and brassy. She talked a lot of Poo and they loved it. She strutted around like the chicks from Glow, and may have wrestled you if you didn’t vote for her.

The 2017 Queen Imani Phoenix (Armond Anderson-Bell) was on hand to crown Queen Sassy but Classy. This year’s 45th Occasional Doo Dah Parade, a local spoof of the Rose Parade, will take place in Pasadena on Sunday, November 18, 2018.

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The Damned, Radkey, The Darts (US) at the Fonda – Live Review and Photo Gallery

The Damned at the Fonda Theater November 2, 2018. All photos by Bob Lee for the Los Angeles Beat.

Ever since their first visit to these shores in 1977, Los Angeles has had it bad for the Damned. They were embraced early, in a big way, pointing LA’s first wave of punk bands toward an allegiance with the Brits’ more visceral, unruly take on primitive rock and roll than their artsy-fartsy New York counterparts. They made the turn from punk rock to vampiric goth anthems in the early eighties, right at the moment that Death Rock was being pioneered in Hollywood, and the town’s love for them only increased. The lingering affection from multiple generations was evidenced by their heavily sold out Fonda Theater appearance, where assembled punters of a wide range of ages playfully slammed into each other and pogoed up a storm.

I’ve seen the band seven times now since 2001, often on or near Halloween night – once when we both happened to be in New Orleans for the occasion, once when I found myself refused admission to some bullshit liquor company Halloween party on the roof of the Mondrian that I had been invited to, but saw the Damned’s name on the marquee across the street and raced over there, just in time to see them belting out “Pushing Too Hard” with Sky Saxon himself on vocals. I think I’ve seen three different bass players, including LA native Patricia Morrison at that first gig or two, but Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, drummer Pinch and keyboardist Monty Oxymoron have been there the whole time. And they are still the same tight, yet reckless, little unit they always were. Maybe Vanian has a Dorian Grey style portrait in his home, but instead of a portrait, a DVD of an an aging band that plays like a decrepit version of itself, and every year it gets crappier and crappier.hatever his infernal secret, it’s working – the Damned that we see on stage is still damned entertaining.

Much of their set derives from The Black Album, that darkness-embracing collection from 1980 that still looms large over them. There’s a cover of Paul Ryan’s “Eloise” toward the end of the night that builds up an impressive head of steam. There’s a tune from 2001’s Grave Disorder, and one from their recent Evil Spirits, and a sprinkling of songs from their later 80s albums Strawberries and Phantasmagoria. But the churning at the front gets more intense as they give thanks from the stage to original guitarist Brian James – “without whom there would be no Damned, and no Sex Pistols, AND no bloody Green Day”, according to Sensible – and bust into a ferocious “Born To Kill” from their debut. It reaches a fever pitch for the set-closing “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat”, undeniable riffs, irresistible bait for the slam-happy. By the conclusion of final-encore “Smash It Up”, those at the front of crowd have been drained, and Vanian has recovered some of the color in his face. Continue reading

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Celebrate National French Dip Day this Monday at Cole’s!

Cole’s French dip. Courtesy of Cole’s.

Every city has its own local restaurant debate. Gino’s vs. Pat’s cheesesteaks, The Anchor Bar vs. Duff’s hot wings and Patsy’s vs. Lombardi’s pizza. Here in LA, Cole’s and Phillipe’s have long vied for the title of originator of the French dip sandwich. In fact, Phillipe’s full name is Phillipe’s the Original. So take that. French dips aside, both places have their merits: an old-school casual atmosphere, spicy mustard and 25-cent cups of coffee at Phillipe’s versus a full bar, comfy booths and atomic pickles at Cole’s.

But this Monday, touted as National French Dip Day, there will be no competition. Cole’s, which is celebrating their 110th anniversary this year, is offering French dip and martini combos for only $10 from opening until closing. Also, Cole’s was restored and resurrected by the 213 Hospitality Group in 2008, and we love Cedd Moses. So it has that going for it. Cole’s French Dip 118 E 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. Parking is notoriously difficult. $10 French Dip + Martini combo specials Monday, Nov. 12, 12pm – 2am.

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Movie Review: Sorry to Bother You

At first glance, “Sorry to Bother You” appears to be a fast-moving sendup of telemarketing with a message about social justice. Coming out of left field from rapper and activist Boots Riley, this film is all that and more. Green’s first foray into screenwriting and directing is as well-executed as any studio film, with a sensibility as original and well-developed as Terry Gilliam’s.

This movie tells the story of Cassius Green, a down-on-his-luck resident of Oakland who rises from his position as lowly telemarketer to the elite and insider status of “power caller.” In doing so, he becomes part of a world he never imagined. Lakeith Stanfield of “Get Out” plays Cassius Green, using his subtle body language and intense eyes to convey a strong sense of foreboding in spite of everything appearing calm on the surface. Tessa Thompson masterfully plays his trippy artist girlfriend, whose political statement earrings give us the first inkling that this isn’t your average comedy. Riley uses unexpected shifts of perspective. clever edits, and bizarre commercials reminiscent of “Time Bandits” to pull us into a surreal world that just keeps getting weirder. As Cassius tries to navigate this alternate reality, he struggles with the meaning of loyalty, success, assimilation, and selling out, until he at last comes face-to-face with the dangers of capitalism run amok.

“Sorry to Bother You” is full of surprises. Not only does it offer the expected slapstick and social commentary, but it often makes you cringe with dark comedy, racial humor, psychological horror and disturbing revelations designed to shock. It’s been a long time since a movie has been so surprising in such a delightful way.

Sorry to Bother You is currently available for rent on Amazon Prime.

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Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – A Pair of Queens

Good Times” (1967, Kino Lorber) After confirming their pop star status by performing “I Got You Babe” (a re-recorded version, not the original single) , Sonny and Cher plot their ascent to movie stardom. But they don’t care for the project offered by Mephistophelean studio chief George Sanders – what the trades might call “hix pix” – and proceed to dream up alternatives, including a Western, jungle picture (filmed at the now-defunct Africa U.S.A. park in Soledad Canyon) and crime movie, all with Sonny as the lead and Cher as various distractions/femme fatales. Star vehicle for the then-married couple – which also marked the feature directorial debut of William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”) – aims for the anarchic counterculture comedy of the Beatles and Monkees’ screen efforts, but can only muster up a mild spoof of Hollywood tropes; however, it’s not the misfire that many would have you believe, largely due to Sonny and Cher’s nascent comic chops (which would get a better showcase on their ’70s variety series), a few well-composed musical numbers and a handful of solid singles, including the Spector-styled “It’s the Little Things” and “I’m Gonna Love You” (from Cher’s solo debut, “All I Really Wanna Do”), that underscore Bono’s producing/songwriting. Cher herself doesn’t have as much to do beyond serving as Sonny’s foil, but she does it with the charming insouciance that would inform much of her later acting career. Kino’s Blu-ray includes an interview with Friedkin, who warmly recalls both performers, and commentary by historian Lee Gambin, whose appreciation for the film is so breathlessly enthusiastic that water breaks or stretching may be required while viewing.  Continue reading

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Award-Winning Play About Marilyn Monroe Bares All

“But I’m the blonde!” announced Marilyn Monroe logically, when comparing her much lower pay to that of her brunette co-star, Jane Russell, for their smash hit, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” (1953). Details such as that quote intriguingly flesh out the one-woman show by Kelly Mullis, “Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview.”

The play, inspired by Monroe’s last taped interview in 1962 for LIFE Magazine, portrays Monroe’s life, loves, career, and puzzling death. Mullis wrote, produced, and stars in her one-woman show.

Many are afraid to talk about Monroe’s mysterious death. But not Mullis. She believes Monroe was murdered, and she wants the investigation of Monroe’s death to be re-opened. This play lists all of the reasons Monroe had to live. And the possible reasons for her death.

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Southern Culture on the Skids at The Echoplex 11.8.18

Photo credit: Deb Frazin

When you have a ticket to a Southern Culture on the Skids show, you KNOW you’re goin’ to a party. SCOTS is notorious for their wild shows (it’s very possible to get a piece of fried chicken or a glob of banana pudding thrown at you), and that’s exactly what we got last night!

They played all the goodies: “Camel Walk”, “Mojo Box”, “Soul City”, “Too Much Pork For Just One Fork”, and “Nitty Gritty”. My favorite songs of the evening were “Banana Pudding”, Mary’s chilling version of “Fire of Love”, and a stunning song called “Grey Skies” from their latest release “The Electric Pinecones” (it just might be my favorite SCOTS album). It’s a bit of a departure from their usual sound – there’s some excellent, serious songwriting here. The band really shines on this album. I highly recommend it.

I didn’t want this show to end. I could listen to Mary Huff sing and watch Rick Miller play his Danelectro all night long.

I shot some photos and a (too-dark) video just for you. Enjoy!

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Christie’s Announces West Coast Tour of Great Works from the Barney A. Ebsworth and Mary Tyler Moore Collections

Barbara Guggenheim, center. Photos by Lucretia Tye Jasmine

Christie’s requested the pleasure of The LA Beat’s company for a recent art show and cocktail gala which featured mega art by mega artists, with work valued at over $200 million dollars! That’s so much money I don’t even know how to write it out numerically. The event also featured a conversation with art advisor and author, Barbara Guggenheim.

I was spellbound by the amazing art at Christie`s last week. The event featured Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art, all beautifully arranged. The artists included Jean (Hans) Arp, Tamara De Lempicka, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Mike Kelley, Paul Klee, Henry Moore, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Ed Ruscha.

Beloved TV icon, Mary Tyler Moore, collected art by Diebenkorn, and its gentle abstractions in soft oils and pastels soothed me as I stood before the large artwork.

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watt’s picture of the week – tuesday, november 6, 2018

mine was the first ballot cast at my polling place this morning in my pedro town!

photo by mike watt

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mike watt’s hoot page

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