I Ain’t Been Watching Movies Much Lately, But Movie-Length Mysteries Are Pretty Dope

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It’s no secret that there hasn’t been much activity here at Smug Film as of late. Posts became sporadic during the six months of hell the first half of this year was for me, and then after my mom’s passing, the scarcity became only more so. Some of this is because many of our critics are just plain busy with other things—Greg DeLiso started a full-fledged LLC doing videography, was recently married, and is doing quite well for himself; John D’Amico is about to start production directing his crime film set in the Bronx; Alex Hiatt is busy looking at various rocks under various microscopes as always; I’m in a band with my friend Lauren called To Be Young, writing delightful acoustic pop songs and enjoying myself immensely, with recordings expected before the end of the year. But, those wonderful developments aside, the reason, mostly, for the sparsity around here comes down to the fact that I, your dear steward, just can’t stomach watching movies as of late.

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Self-Portraits Of Notables Unearthed By Renegade Art Archivists

Jennifer Lawrence, renowned thespian and overnight self-portraiture sensation.

In what contemporary scholars are calling one of the largest disseminations of heretofore unseen art in recent years, dozens of examples of self-portrait photography by notables in the entertainment industry have been uncovered by renegade art archivists and released free to the art-appreciating public through the internet.

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The Synesthesia of John Hughes

unclebuckpancakes
Uncle Buck (1989) | Dir. John Hughes

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Is Neo-Noir The Worst Genre?

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In his review of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Armond White opens by declaring that “Neo-noir must be the worst movie genre. It’s an excuse for juvenile filmmakers to pretend cynicism while their imbecile audiences pretend sophistication.”

I can certainly see where he’s coming from. I haven’t seen A Dame to Kill For yet, but I have seen more than enough attempts at neo-noirs that think all there is to the genre is a femme fatale and an anti-hero in a trenchcoat. I’m talking about mediocre, flailing films like Max Payne—or worse, the attempts to bring noir to hip, younger settings like Assassination of a High School President and Lucky Number Slevin. They’re movies that look at the classics of the genre, fall in love with the aesthetic, but have no idea why or how that aesthetic works as it does. As Armond so aptly points out, Sin City and its ilk are all “pretending that it still means something to call a sexy woman ‘dame.’”

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Jenna Ipcar on ‘Frank’

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Frank (2014)
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Jon Ronson & Peter Straughan
95 min.

Spoiler-free.

Sometimes all you need to see is a still from a movie and you know it’s worth watching. That’s how I felt about Frank—the imagery looked so unique that I knew I’d have to give it a shot. I mean come on, Michael Fassbender running around in a papier-mâché head making off-kilter electronic music? Say no more, I’m there.

Funny enough, the concept is not actually unique to the film. The giant mask frontman character is actually based off musician and comedian Chris Sievey, aka Frank Sidebottom, cult hero of 1980s Britain. Frank Sidebottom’s weird brand of humor seems to have inspired many—there’ evens a statue of him in his hometown of Timperley– not to mention the film’s co-writer, Jon Ronson, who was part of Sidebottom’s band for a time.

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