When I was a kid, I wanted movies to instantly make me feel good, like soda pop. The Goonies was one of the movies I saw on TV all the time while flipping channels, and at the time, it seemed boring and annoying to me, simply because I was tired of seeing it around. I remember in particular that the kids in it all talking at the same time gave me anxiety. Because of this, every time I stumbled upon it, I’d change the channel after a scene or two—eventually seeing almost every scene at one point or another, enough to understand the gist of the story—but it wasn’t until I was old enough to pull my head out of my ass that I realized—by actually watching it from beginning to end—that classics like The Goonies are on TV so often because they’re transcendent.
I now also understand that the very aspect that made me feel too frustrated to take The Goonies seriously was supposed to make me feel that way, by design. As an extreme introvert, the constant yapping made me feel uncomfortable, whereas extroverts may have felt invigorated. The realism of this is beautiful. It puts us in the story by replicating very real feelings of nervousness and exuberance. It’s okay that I feel anxious watching the overlapping dialogue—enjoying a movie doesn’t have to mean it makes you feel good.
We graduate from soda pop to cocktails.
From left: Jeff Howlett, Mark Covino
A Band Called Death is one of my favorite films of 2013. It’s everything you could want from a music doc—great music, plus a compelling and unique story, told with love and care. I’m sure it will go down as one of best music docs of all time, right up there with Don’t Look Back and Gimme Shelter and Some Kind of Monster.
In a way, it’s not just a story about an interesting rock band, but a time capsule of the power of the time we live in—how music can be discovered nowadays, and how, through the power of the internet, and a generation of music lovers bent on discovering missing pieces of music history, a timeless band from the past who never had the right exposure can finally reach the audience they always deserved.
It’s a fascinating flick, and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to sit down and pick the brains of its filmmakers:
Posted in All Posts, Cody's Interviews
Tagged a band called death, a band called death interview, cody clarke, david hackney, death, death band, death protopunk, hackney brothers, jeff howlett, jeff howlett interview, mark covino, mark covino interview, proto punk, protopunk, smug film, smugfilm
Since we started this website, I’ve always felt like I was on a mission. A mission, despite the fact that, at the end of the day, nothing anybody says about art matters at all. Art is an individual experience—even in a group, it’s an individual experience. I can’t convince you of anything, and you can’t convince me. And it should be that way. But right now, fuck all that.
Ghostbusters is high art. Ghostbusters should be thought of the way the Mona Lisa is—as this sacred, unachievable thing forged from genius—because that’s exactly what it is, and it’s been my mission to explain that concept. There are only about a dozen great movies, and these movies are untouchable. They are perfect in every way, and they represent the ultimate synthesis of story, performance, writing, color, music, and all the myriad elements that come together to make whatever is on screen at any given moment the perfect thing.
People don’t give a fuck about art. They like things all willy-nilly and just regurgitate whatever fucking nonsense someone says about why Raging Bull is brilliant. Fuck all that noise. Movies like Ghostbusters are advanced. They do all of the artistic shit Raging Bull does, but for the purpose of entertainment, of making you soak into the movie. That is beautiful, that is advanced, that is transcendent, and that could only happen a dozen times in about a century because it’s insanely hard to do.
And Ghostbusters isn’t even his best movie.
Posted in All Posts, Greg's Essays
Tagged animal house, as good as it gets, bedazzled, bill murray, caddyshack, chevy chase, danny noonan, ghostbusters, greg deliso, groundhog day, harold ramis, harold ramis death, harold ramis rip, helen hunt, jack nicholson, multiplicity, national lampoon, orange county, playboy magazine, raging bull, rip harold ramis, rodney dangerfield, sctv, second city, smug film, smugfilm, snl, ted knight, vacation
There are a lot of movie mashups out there on this here internet, many of them quite funny, but it’s pretty rare that you come across one that’s perfect. For a long time, Brokeback to the Future has been the undisputed king of this, but I believe that title has now been usurped by an up-and-comer by the name of Harmony Korine’s Heavyweights. It might not be as ‘funny’ (in the traditional sense of the word) but it makes up for that in pure transcendence.
Much like the music mashup gold standard, A Stroke of Genie-us by Freelance Hellraiser, what transpires is definitely funny, but you’re not exactly laughing. Instead, you’re smiling, and you’re feeling the laughs all throughout your body, warming you. It’s a rush of all-things-are-connected-in-this-world that takes hold of you and provides you a momentary trip. That is the power of the art of the mashup, when what is being mashed up comes together like peanut butter and jelly.
Behold this delicious sandwich:
Posted in All Posts, Cody's Essays, Cody's Interviews
Tagged a stroke of genie-us, a stroke of genius, best mashup, best mashups, best movie mashups, brokeback to the future, cody clarke, freelance hellraiser, harmony korine, harmony korine's heavyweights, heavyweights, jon solari, movie mashup, movie mashups, smug film, smugfilm, spring breakers, windows moviemaker
Pacific Rim (2013)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro
Note: If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim, this review could be considered spoiler-ific, and even a little esoteric—so, you know, see the film first.
I love Tokusatsu. For those of you who are baka gaijins, Tokusatsu (or Toku) is a genre of Japanese media. Though it literally means ‘special effects’, a better translation would be ‘cool stuff with men in rubber suits in it.’ Doctor Who airs as a tokusatsu in Japan, perfectly fittingly. On top of that, I love mecha anime—the sheer fact that an entire genre has sprung up from the concept of giant robots punching things is a testament to the beauty of the concept. I’m also a big fan of Guillermo del Toro and his films. So when Pacific Rim went into production, I was highly optimistic, given that I am precisely the choir to which del Toro is supposedly preaching.
Why, then, was Pacific Rim so disappointing?
Although fellow smugster Alex Hiatt dislikes the film far more than I do, I agree with him that the main problem with the film is that it fails to execute its premise entertainingly. But the question I’m asking is, why?
One answer is that it’s not Toku enough. Not just in the obvious sense that the robots punching each other are, woefully, CGI rather than actors in rubber suits, but because the entire film represents a compromised version of what del Toro is crafting a love letter to.