Wednesday, June 28, 2017


On this latest episode we chat with my good friend/Pinksmoke co-founder Chris Funderburg.

listen below and make sure to follow & subscribe on itunes, soundcloud & google play. And don't forget to click around and get lost on The Pink Smoke.


Sunday, June 25, 2017


I sometimes delve in to television and this seems appropriate (for those that don't know, I'm a big pro-wrestling fan). I figure I'd give my opinion on this show to balance out all the inevitable "think pieces" written by folks who never watched wrestling, the original show this is based on (or even knew it was loosely based on a real show to begin with).

I guess I'm fascinated by this new Netflix show for nostalgic reasons. I cant think of the original Glow series and not be reminded of my dear late Aunt Myrna. I discovered the original series staying up late watching TV with her one night. I was such a huge fan of the WWF at that point (circa 1988) that I'd watch anything wrestling-related. I was mesmerized by Glow. And not for the obvious reasons. I wasn't attracted to any of the women on the show. They kind of scared me to be honest. I was attracted to the surreality & low budget quality (perhaps this explains where my love for Tim & Eric Awesome Show came from). What made Glow stand out so much was that while it was a wrestling show, it was also a heavily scripted episodic show. The Netflix series didn't really touch on the fact that Glow was intentionally supposed to be based in a fantasy world with just as much attention given to the backstage vignettes as the actual wrestling matches (but it's only season one. Perhaps we'll see more of this explored in season two).
By the mid-80's we had seen plenty of backstage vignettes on WWF & WCW but those shows were were still based in reality whereas Glow was intentionally “fake” (not that the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling didn't work hard, but it definitely pulled back the curtain on the wrestling business to some degree). While some people frowned on Glow's episodic soap opera approach (and others loved it), it was still unique and hadn't been done before in the world of wrestling. So no matter how you look at it – Glow brought something new to the world of pro-wrestling. These days you cant watch the WWF without some elaborate backstage soap opera-style scene. There are even current shows like Lucha Underground that got its basic blueprint directly from Glow.

It also gave female pro-wrestlers a platform to show off their athleticism. While there were exceptions like The Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young...
The Fabulous Moolah dominating her opponent
...a woman's place in pro-wrestling for the most part was that of a manager and/or eye candy (managers are important in pro-wrestling so I'm not trying to belittle their position, but women could do more than carry bags and act as a distraction)...
the legendary manager Miss Elizabeth w/ her ex-husband Macho Man Randy Savage

So as cheesy and cliché as this may sound, Glow is still a somewhat important story for female athletes & struggling actresses.

What did bother me about Glow was its somewhat dishonest all-inclusive approach. As someone who actually watched this show, Glow was predominantly white. However this new Netflix series would give off the impression that every race was included (African America, Asian, Indian, etc). That's not exactly true. But I get it – it's 2017 and filmmakers are trying to represent everyone. This could be seen as both good and bad. It's good because the world we live in is not all white so the shows & movies we watch should reflect that on some level. However, I don't know if television shows and movies should be forced to fill a quota (especially by people who dont know how to make natural/organic characters of color to begin with). It gets a little patronizing & formulaic.

Season one of Glow dealt with race in a sort of half-assed way. A lot of the characters the actresses play on the show are racist/bigoted stereotypes and for some reason that seems to be ok. But this is common. Racism in pro-wrestling goes back a lot farther than Glow so I would never dare to put all the problems concerning racism in pro wrestling on the shoulders of this one show. Just look at some of the many examples of the kinds of racist characters and angles that pre-date Glow...

Rowdy Roddy Piper in blackface
the infamous Brickhouse Brown whipping angle

I know some of you are wondering why I watch & enjoy wrestling and to be quite honest I don't have the most solid answer. I grew up with it and it just kind of stayed with me through the years. But wrestling also had a few strong/no-nonsense black personas that have yet to be topped to this day...

Bad News Brown
Ron Simmons (the first Black world champion in the WCW)

On the Netflix show we see characters like “The Welfare Queen” played by one of the black actresses. Now...I'm not even surprised by this. This is the sport that gave us characters like The Godfather & “Cryme Tyme”...

"Cryme Tyme" 
The Godfather (a pimp persona not too far removed from the welfare queen persona)

Racism is very real in wrestling (contrary to what a lot of white fans think). The only problem is the Netflix show kind of grazed over it. In one brief scene we see the actress who portrays the welfare queen express her concerns with playing a racist stereotype. But noting comes out of it because by the end of the show she still portrays the character in all of its racist glory (she's actually motivated to "own" that persona and make it hers by a white guy).

Like I said, these are issues that are much bigger & deeper than just Glow (the original series and the new Netflix series) but it's almost like the Netflix series tried to safely cover its bases by acknowledging how aware it is of the racism associated with pro-wrestling but not dwelling on how fucked up it really is (perhaps we'll go deeper in season two?).

I guess that's my only real issue with the show. Sure it's only one issues but it is a major issue. It sort of re-wrote the history of the show but must biopics and stories based on true events do that so I guess I cant single out this one show for doing something that everyone else does.

I still don't want to steer people away. It handles the sport of professional wrestling with respect. Actual wrestlers lie Brodus Clay & John Morrison make appearances and the show makes a point to use real wrestling lingo (no matter how “fake” it may be to some people, there is a skill that goes in to being a pro-wrestler and a lot of it has to do with not harming yourself or your opponent). I also don't know if there is a role more fit for Marc Maron to play.
I also don't want to turn this piece - about women's wrestling - in to a piece about male wrestlers. Women often had to work twice as much and twice as harder than their male contemporaries. In the world of pro wrestling women used to have to wrestles (reluctant) men in order to get over/gain notoriety...

Watch the show if you haven't. Women's wrestling is taken a lot more seriously these days (as it should be) and this show will play a small part in adding to the legitimacy. Just know at the end of the day it handled race lazily, safely and kind of falsely.

Friday, June 23, 2017


In this latest installment of The School Of Tarkovsky we're going to look at some more comparisons that may have slipped through the cracks in these last few months. If you follow me on twitter then some of these will look familiar. But for those of you who do not - here are some additional comparisons/visual similarities from regular students of Tarkovsky like Claire Denis (one of the casting directors on Sacrifice), Terrence Malick & Carlos Reygadas.

I also added some new/more recognizable filmmakers to this series.

Some of these comparisons could be reaches but I like to think that even if (some of) these filmmakers were not directly influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky that the (coincidental) visual similarities are still pretty strong.


Solaris / Trouble Every Day

Sacrifice / Beetlejuice

Stalker / IT (2017)

Sacrifice / Blade Runner (2017)

Stalker / Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom

Ivan's Childhood / Tree Of Life

Andrei Rublev / This Is My Kingdom

Sacrifice / The Passion Of Darkly Noon

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


This week Scotty & I take a look at Wanda then branch off to everything from Return To Oz to the filmography of Linda Manz.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017


This week's (topical) episode focuses on new releases like It Comes At Night & Wonder Woman. We also delve in to issues concerning race & gentrification through Michael Haneke's Cache and the problematic Nasty Baby.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017


In this latest installment of The School Of Tarkovsky we're going to take a look at some more forced comparisons (because at this point it isn't obvious that Terrence Malick is heavily influence by the films of Tarkovsky) and serious reaches (Carlos Reygadas has never mentioned Andrei Tarkovsky as his favorite filmmaker).


Nostalghia / The Lovers On The Bridge

The Mirror / /Cache

Ivan's Childhood / Alien

Stalker / Pontypool

The Mirror / Knight Of Cups

Stalker / Famous

Stalker / Post Tenebrus Lux

Solaris / Tree Of Life

Ivan's Childhood / Battle In Heaven

Ivan's Childhood / I am Cuba

Ivan's Childhood / Goonies

Andrei Rublev / Days Of Heaven

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


This week we chat with filmmaker John Wilson about his unique & excellent body of work thus far. Enjoy...
(don't forget to check us out on itunes)

Also make sure to check out some of his films  below...

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Like any Malick film, I needed to sit with my thoughts for a little while before writing about this. Anyone who follows this site on a semi-regular basis knows that I'm blindly in love with his post-New World cinematic universe (I actually found myself liking his latest movie before I even actually saw it which isn't a good thing). Song To Song is hardly a perfect movie (by this point you should know that no Terrence Malick film is going to be without flaw no matter how beautiful it is).
First of all, it is my personal opinion that Song To Song is kind of a terrible title. I don't mean to sound so harsh & nitpicky but I just can't connect with it. And what's strange is that it does go with the film's vibe & ambiance (a story about musicians & songwriters).
Secondly, I think the film's length (126 minutes) could have been much shorter (around 80 minutes) or much longer (possibly over 180 minutes). To quote my friend Chris Funderburg of the Pink Smoke, movies should be either really short or really really long. I couldn't agree with that sentiment more (especially in the case of this movie). These 2 hour and 10 minute movie lengths are just silly. Seriously what's the point?
I guess you could say that's a positive criticism in the sense that part of me wanted more of this movie (and to be clear I wanted more of and not from it. There's a difference)

My final critique is that Rooney Mara didn't come off like a believable musician. She certainly played her part in any scene that didn't concern music but whenever we see her holding a guitar or plucking at piano keys it really didn't look believable. Some of you may consider that to be a little nitpicky as well but her character was supposed to be a musician. She needed to be believable. She just came off as a "play" or "pretend" musician. But, like I said earlier, she still played her part overall. I can't think of another actress who could play her role in Song To Song. And I would say that Rooney Mara's character is the most depth I've seen Malick give a female character in a very very long time...

While this film is still shot in the same exact style as his three previous films (Tree Of Life, To The Wonder & Knight Of Cups) and uses some of the same actors & actresses (Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett & Michael Fassbinder standing in as sort of a surrogate for Malick-regular Christian Bale), it's not part of the same semi-autobiographical Malick world he's been exploring for the last 5-6 years. He seems to have finally got all his family "stuff" off his chest for the most part (there is a nod to Malick's second wife towards the second half of the movie but you wouldn't know this unless you read a biography on him). Song To Song is the story of romance & relationships between a group of aspiring musicians set within the Austin music scene (a large chunk of the film was shot during the Fun Fun Fun fest).

Plenty of Malick detractors will watch Song To Song (or just watch the trailer) and see no difference between it and his previous work. And that's fair. Just look at these imagery comparisons between Knight Of Cups & Song To Song...

This is Malick's first film to really concentrate on youth & youth culture. I know Badlands, Days Of Heaven & Tree Of Life feature important young characters, but Song To Song is Malick's first film set during a music festival which, although inclusive to all ages, is mostly synonymous with younger people. There’s also a lot more energy & aggression in Song To Song when compared to Knight Of Cups & To The Wonder (especially To The Wonder). The first words spoken in the movie talk about sex being violent. That’s foreign to the world of Terrence Malick.

But at the same time that's not to say older people don't play an important part of this movie. There's a lot of older characters in Song To Song who pass knowledge down to the younger characters.

And as disconnected as Song To Song may be from Malick’s previous films, he’s still building off of what he started exploring (and questioning) with The New World. A lot of people (myself included) associate (romantic) love between two people exclusively. It’s kind of the standard idea/unwritten “rule” of what love is supposed to be. But ever since Malick’s “return” with The New World he’s been questioning the idea of monogamy. Of course that’s possible for some people but you don’t really see that too much in movies under a somewhat positive light. Most times it’s considered simply cheating (which it can be sometimes) but Malick is taking the route that Two Lovers explored a few years ago. In The New World we see Pocahontas genuinely fall in love with two men in a kind of organic way. Same thing in To The Wonder. Ben Affleck has genuine feelings for two women at the same time. Throughout Knight Of Cups we see “Rick” (Christian Bale) fall in & out of love quite a few times (this may be the one example of fake and/or fickle love in Malick’s cinematic universe) and Song To Song is just a web of intense romantic relationships. Malick's latest film is being marketed as a love triangle but that’s not really the case. It’s more like a web or a tree branch. Yes, the three main characters are caught up in a love triangle but it doesn’t stop there. They also branch out and have intense organic relationships with other supporting characters. I don’t even necessarily agree with the idea of loving multiple people at once (I’m an only child and I don’t like sharing certain things like partners), but this is still a subject that should be explored.

Song To Song has quite a few other subconscious connections to films outside of the Malick wheelhouse. Seeing Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett in the same film again (they don't share any scenes together) might remind some of you of Carol (one of the relationships briefly explored in Song To Song is a lesbian relationship which makes the connection to Carol slightly stronger).
Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River is very Malick-esque possibly due to the fact that while Gosling was acting in Song To Song he also worked on Lost River.

At the end of the day Terrence Malick is going full-on Malick with each film and Song To Song is no exception. If you didn’t like Knight Of Cups or To The Wonder there’s no point in seeking this out because you’re only looking to intentionally frustrate yourself. However if you’re a loyal Malick fan or just curious/open-minded, then this is the movie for you.


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