Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Review of Secret-Muslim's Terre Haute Secret-Headquarters

In a perfect world, we w-
ould not need the righte-
ous civs lessons of Secr-
et-Muslim's Terre Haute
: the
film, with a non-white a-
ctor in a lead acting ro-
le, was so controversial
that it couldn't be film-
ed in the Deep South. Th-
e headquarters in questi-
on serves as a love nest,
a reckoning place and a
world apart from the one
a few thousand feet lowe-
r. They all make horrify-
ing discoveries. Sluggish
, uneven, and lacking in
rhythm, Secret-Muslim's
Terre Haute Secret-Headq-
has enough pathos
and winning humor to ens-
ure national success (and
a share of foreign sales.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Review of A Computer

A Computer is about the way violence
lurks just beneath the surface
of our day-to-day lives. It is never

explained why or how A Computer
can persevere without aging
and change from a he into a she,

instilling itself with a subtle sense
of deception that can be somewhat
chilling. Awkard as the mix might

sound, A Computer ends up musing
perceptively on the American
dream of wanderlust and its

unintended consequences. It also
touches on some of the subtler
points of attraction: when we fall

for A Computer, how do we know
how much of response is
cerebral and how much is erotic?

Review of 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing is about two remarkable women and their relationships with each other and with the men in their lives, the historical accuracy of which is practically nil. It has a couple of melodramatic turns, and the paternity revelation is delayed unconscionably, but viewers willing to buy into the premise might happily go along for the ride. For those who find it resistible, if not preposterous, however, The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing proves a very long haul indeed, trapped on an exotic island where a variety of lunkheads are competing for $10 million. The prime contenstants are a nija princess, a pro wrestler, an an assasin-theif.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Review of The Secret Muslim

The Secret Muslim is an enchanting anthem to loserdom,
with a smoldering confidence that takes your mind

off of her not-always fluid dancing (although she's a perfectly
fine hoofer, with majestic limbs and a commanding

cleavage). Both mythical and mundane -- a legend in the community
who is at the same time all-too-distressingly mortal,

The Secret Muslim's origins are uncertain, perhaps connected
to aliens, but as the tale picks up steam

it makes no difference: nine people looking into the blackness
of space and seeing nine different things.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The white door that doesn't open isn't, and the ceiling's painted dark. The windows aren't open because they don't. On the other side of the door, another. What lives here.

He stands one foot on the curb, one off, the collar of his jacket brushing against his thick neck. He itches in the old way. He seems to remember these pants having pockets, to remember having liked the hairs on the back of his hands brushing against the cotton. But anyway, there aren't any now. Shrugging, he walks anyway, hunching awkardly with every other step. He fidgets with his hands, reaching inevitably for the pack of cigarettes there's no way he brought with him, and itching in the new way as well. The road widens, the low brick sandwich shops and pawn shops giving way. The curb ends, and he stands flat on his feet, dust clinging to his soles. There are greens and browns, and a fox-colored blur, swallowed by the tall grass. Mostly he itches, and he was pretty sure there was a reason he was here. His eyes water, and there isn't a reason to fight it. It probably isn't why he made the walk, but usually it feels alright. He would give himself to it, the fetal-erotic, were it not for the small voice that says maybe this is the beginning of it all slipping away. The fat, sure, but you always lose muscle with it, and he has to conserve.

So why not follow the fox. The grass brushes his face as he leaves the road, but it's only another itch, and itches aren't cumulative. He pushes them aside with white, unsteady hands, pausing to hike up the sleeves of his jacket, unbutton and roll up the sleeves of his shirt. He sweats, of course, brown and green, and sweats, and only comes out the other side when he's sure he won't. Another blur, and he breaks into a slow jog across the low, gentle grass, green only. This is quickly abandoned, but he smiles at himself for having down it, bending over to pull his slacks loose again around thick calves. "Thick, thick, thick," he thinks, panting for breath, and looks up in time to see the blur disappear.

So he swaggers over to what he figures must be a hole, hands missing the pockets which aren't there. His tongue probes the empty space of a former tooth as he reaches it and looks down, sure enough, into a hole. Just a foxhole, though, not wide enough for like, a person. So he turns around, I guess?

Review of C.J. Cregg

I'll never forget learning about C.J. Cregg for the first time. I went to see Ani in Central Park, and Cregg was the opening act. She came across - a buoyant hand-clapping breakdown, a madly apreggiated chorus - with sensitivity as well as poignancy, a product of her ostensibly otherworldly lyrics. But she was complaining about having to meet with a group called Cartographers for Social Equality, and wanted to know what mapmakers had to do with social equality. Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown, I guess.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Loratadine - A review by R. Hamilton

We are in a world
where the seasons last
several years. Summer wanes,
and prognostica-

tions of doom are on-
ly enhanced by the
appearance in the
skies of a blazing

red comet, held as
omen both good and
evil by the mass-
es and the high hous-

es alike. Some deep
tones have started to
creep into the sound-
track, along with some

martial drums, and there
is a good chance your
favorite character
may get killed off in

some horrible fash-
ion. It's a bunch of
cars going fast a-
round an oval. There,

I'm done.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Review of The Procedure for Payment of Host Supervising Teachers

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is" - pretty much the
gist of The Procedure for Payment of Host Supervising Teachers,
a classic, almost novel-length novella about a lecherous,

asthmatic debt collector who is also a werewolf and who, with
his PI friend, finds himself hunting a killer who in turn hunts
werewolves. Does the moral structure of the children’s story —

with its clearly marked poles of good and evil, its narrative
of dispossession and vindication — illuminate the nature of
authoritarian rule? Or does The Procedure for Payment of Host

Supervising Teachers
reveal fascism as a terrible fairy tale
brought to life? (Whether anyone would rather see this than curl
up on the sofa with the latest episode of Slut Wars is a question.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Review of Summer Sweat

I have to admit to a certain reticence
when it comes to Summer Sweat;

following directions given by on-screen
indicators, a haunting trip

through the ruins of Chernobyl as a sniper
in ghillie-suit camouflage, but

anything with people actually singing "ba-pah-
pah" makes it hard not to sing along.

If this sounds grandiose, so is Summer Sweat:
no words to remember, no words to forget.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Review of Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay begins with an unsettling
story featuring a young boy recounting
ghost stories that revolve around such
diverse topics as unjust imprisonment,
racism, and suicide, to which Thoreau
tsk-tsks: "as if you could kill time
without injuring eternity." This is an
angst-filled game; a light-hearted
simulation of the horrors of high school,
like a wink in an instant message.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Review of Commercials For Debt Relief Programs

Commercials for Debt Relief Programs will knock the breath out of you
are batshit poetry will even reveal a modicum of anger Commercials
for Debt Relief Programs are a risky, arrogant move
a feeling of the all thing a late-night a.m. radio haze
to the whole thing Commercials for Debt Relief Programs
are a special sensation at the centre of your body.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Review of The Escapist

Patience is a
virtue here, and
it's well rewarded.
An alumnus
of the battle,

as well as Tennesee
Tech University,
where he majored
in psychology,
The Escapist

spends his best vitriol
on the business,
and when you look
at all those words
it is clear he

used some of what
he learned. He is
a humane ironist,
a lustful romantic,
and a cheeky

genre player!
Yeah, he's kind of
twee, but you don't
need to wear glasses
to see him or

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Review of Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic Bronchitis (the name implies dexterity and
flexibility) is the last installment in a trilogy
that began with an impossible bird. As such, it is obsessed
with the hemorrhaging of time: many songs here find R.
Hamilton grasping at the stuff even as it spurts
through his fingers. It's not nostalgia
that makes Chronic Bronchitis my favorite
compilation of 2005, though: it's the thin black line;
a guide, both for the surgeon and the scalpel.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Review of Danny Noriega

I will feel so proud when the reckoning arrives.

If you happen to be
in a rock band and you
don't happen to be eith-

er of the Danny Nor-
s it so sucks
to be you right now I
would've loved to have seen
the bottles and batt-

eries thrown at him if
he passed by CBGBs
during a hardcore mat-

inee circa nineteen-
ninety-one dressed like that
and parodying his
own style as he satir-
ized the country's foibles

Sometimes we laugh sometimes
we cry but the rapid
beat of the heart remains

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Review of Married Women Who Are Drunk

Poet, novelist, Buddhist monk, renowned ladies' man;
in the past, I haven't tried too hard
to sway the unconvinced toward the charms
of Married Women Who Are Drunk - the
hallucinatory, Syd Barrett-like lyrics,
the everpresent flute, and the occasional
weird noise that, initially, doesn't sound
all that weird. Despite theoretical
obscure German influences, or partially
French voices, Married Women Who are Drunk
are enjoyable even without a foreign-
language degree. "Success has made a failure
of our home." Loretta Lynn said that.
Elvis Costello covered it once.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Review of Diet Mountain Dew

The introduction is slow and the music
creates an image of Christ, suffering: the best
sad songs have always had the appearence of happiness.
Diet Mountain Dew is unabashedly romantic, familiar,
and not exactly groundbreaking; like how water goes down
the drain backward in Australia, the loss
of a favorite t-shirt to your former lover, and how
it must feel to be razor stubble. On Diet
Mountain Dew, R. Hamilton gets specific in his vitriol.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review of Bisected Neko

After flirting with a handful of major labels,
the dead decide to stick to epitaphs,
returning with Bisected Neko. The often
enigmatic satyr challenges himself
with some of the most supple, seductive, and accessible

singing and songwriting of his career, "Posthumously,
the dead acquire a mythic status" he sings,
"potions, pills and medicines to ease
your painful lives. They refuse to keep
within any normal limits. They will fill you."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Review of Flying From Austin to Indianapolis

around 2pm one weekday a friend
and i running errands were famished and
he suggested flying from austin to
he said that ul-
timately we'd derive pleasure from to-
tally manufactured experience-
s hence the rise in theme parks and virtu-
al reality and the facts behind
the vietnam war the cuban miss-
ile crisis and the civil rights movement
an impatient ballet of subversions
and expectations centered in gender
power commerce violence and language all
coated with dripping wet sound rank this mi-
nor success with hooky background music

Review of Flying From Indianapolis to Austin

Flying From Indianapolis to Austin might
have been OK but our sexy waitress dropped

the platter on our table. So R. Hamilton asked,
"How many times do you think we're going

to have to do this?" I wouldn't have minded
knowing that myself! What at first blush

sounded like unhealthy entrenchment turned
out to be a brilliant study in duality, as R. Hamilton

and friends, seemingly in conversation with one another,
weighed the respective pulls of decadence and dependability.

Certainly flawed, Flying From Indianapolis to Austin
had its fair share of moments, leading viewers into corners

of insight. The tassels of poetic convention circa 1955
came undone here, left in tatters.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Review of Wal-Mart at 3 AM

Wal-Mart at 3 AM has become so ingrained
in American pop culture that it's easy
to forget what a weirdo it was, personally

and musically: not just perfecting the sound
Wal-Mart pioneered at 2 AM, it expands it

in predictably unpredictable ways.
The difference is is that battles
against orcs, trolls, thieves, and zombies

were resolved by completing puzzles rather
than swinging a sword. But Wal-Mart at 3 AM

wasn't all darkness, either, and has since
gone down in the rock history books as an
all-time classic, and rightfully so.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review of Java Haute

Java Haute is based on a true story, which would
be fine if it wasn't autobiographical: there is
a crushing sense of failure at all turns, but

that has never been as disheartening as it might
sound. A flamboyant, hard-drinking, ruthless, and
womanizing world adventurer comes face-to-face

with the one antagonist he cannot conquer:
heterosexuality, that infinitely dangerous
terrain, will be a place he enters gingerly and

with more than a little regret. Participating in
the economy can feel like a requirement

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Review of ShangrilaMUSH

Figuring the easiest way to get
noticed was to be as wild as possible,
on ShangrilaMUSH, Cathryn has fallen
back in love with language. There are
several surprises included along the
way, like wild shots and water and
sand traps, but her heart-piercing,
plaintive voice is used to excellent
effect, driving home the primary
sentiment: "Until you remember the
feelings of / A real, live, emotional
teenager / then you think again."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Review of Wonkette

Wonkette has always been about the agonized,
ecstatic relationship of individuals and
institutions, and works as well as it does by
keeping everything believable and as natural as
possible, even when certain comedic situations
approach ludicrous territory: "I'm in love. Her
name is Wonkette. She was left back. Twice. Once
I almost touched her shoulder in the middle of a
pop quiz." Now that’s a joke clever in its
knowingness about corporate synergy! Cute but not
overly cuddly, there's an authenticity to the
relationships in Wonkette that makes it a comedy
worth meeting.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Review of ABC/Facebook New Hampshire Primary Debate Two Parties One Night

ABC/Facebook New Hampshire Primary Debate Two
Parties One Night is a substantially
simplified version of the two
previous offerings. Sure, you
can opt to get to the point
of any conversation you're
engaged in, and there are
plenty of options to
select that will let
you do just that,
but diplomacy,
winning the
Space Race,
and a

cultural victory are all equally viable options.
It’s a gameplay style that always keeps you on
the edge, unaware of what your opponent is
preparing at his or her own castle.
"The ABC/Facebook New Hampshire
Primary Debate Two Parties One
Night is very nearly worth the
price of admission by itself,”
opined a friend recently. “And
with one of the best villains
since SHODAN. There, I said

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Review of Exotic Thai Cuisine

Exotic Thai Cuisine
introduced a type
of character that
wouldn't be seen

much in the
big-budget, action-packed 1980s:
the working-class hero.
In this story,

emotionally charged drama
takes precedent over
rousing adventure, as
many of the

characters are dealing
with some kind
of loneliness or
loss. A tirelessly

creative child being
raised in a
strict Christian home,
R. Hamilton found

his creativity frowned
upon. Exotic Thai
Cuisine, a glossy
variant on the

hard-boiled film noir
detective pictures of
the 1940s, suggested
that none of

this was new.
Released in 1979,
Exotic Thai Chisine
foreshadowed a generation

of films that
critiqued the shallowness
of mass culture.

Review of Education Student Services

A mixture of Pygmalion, Diva, and one of John
Woo's choreographed action pictures,
Education Student Services is a bizarrely
inspired, darkly comic fantasy. The
aristocrats are well-skewered by the delightful
R. Hamilton, excellent as the cynical but
smitten reporter, in a performance that won him
his only award. The major star of Education
Student Services is perhaps set/costume designer
E. Isbell, whose visual contributions
immediately impacted European and U.S. fashion
trends. Like many of us, Ms. Isbell
struggles to discern whether her true self is
defined through her own actions or through
her relationships with others.

Review of Bergen Poem and Squash

Bergen Poem & Squash is more
interesting in historical pe
rspective than for the quali
ties it places on the screen
. At the time of its release
, the director had not had a
success in over a decade and
had been vilified as a Commu
nist by McCarthyite zealots
whose pressure tactics would
soon result in the revocatio
n of his U.S. passport. Spar
e us. While the titular trio
's quest seems simple, Leon
renders the proceedings epic
through the constant intrusi
ons of a chaotic, war-torn u
niverse. No, what Bergen Pom
m & Squash achieves goes abo
ve and beyond these exploits.