Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Graham Moore Birthday Party Pix, June 10, 2006...

(Amended June 15...)

Snaps by TS, C2, on the occasion of G. Moore's 24th.


(Our young hero reaches into obligatory onyx trews for that which is not there... Goddamned clove cigs!)


(Bobbie, Travis, and Graham - the ATL noize triumvirate.)



(The alluring C2, clearly Mac-centric, takes careful aim...)


(Can this old bastard get any more friggin' suave? TS on the razorwire slide, Decatur...)



(Bobbie and GM indulge in a pantry vogue battle while Travis wrests another round of Tetris out of his Moto...)

Shohei Imamura: 1926-2006

(Written May 31, 2006; posted June 14.)

Shohei Imamura died on May 31st. If you've any working knowledge of Japanese cinema, his passing was a shock. Yes, Imamura-san was getting on, and death is inevtiable. Still, when the genius behind Pigs and Battleships, Insect Woman, and the still-provocative The Pornographers bids adieu to this wearying coil, one is compelled to take note...



(Above, Mr. Imamura...)

Next rainy Netflix night, do yourself a solid and have an Imamura handy. (Yes, that's an order.)

TS

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Shohei Imamura's ribald, darkly comic films about messy human relationships and coarse, indomitable women repelled early European critics who had grown to cherish the graceful, exotic image of Japan typified by Kenji Mizoguchi films. Yet Imamura remains a critically important director, both as one of the seminal Japanese New Wave directors (along with Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda) and as a chronicler of a side of Japan rarely seen in Mizoguchi movies or tourist brochures.

Born in 1926, in Tokyo, Imamura attended the elite elementary and middle schools that normally would have aimed him toward a prestigious university degree and a comfortable career in business or government. His love of theater and loathing of bourgeois presumptions, however, steered him away from a conventional lifestyle. When he failed the entrance exam for the agriculture program at the national university in Hokkaido, he enrolled in a technical school to evade the draft. The day the Pacific War ended in 1945, he quit the institution and prepared to enroll in Waseda University's literature faculty. There he wrote plays and appeared on stage with a core group of actors, many of whom would appear in his later films, such as Takeshi Kato, Kazuo Kitamura, and Shoichi Ozawa. While his friends from Waseda entered the world of the theater, Imamura joined Shochiku Ofuna Studio as an assistant director in 1951.

At that time, Ofuna cranked out slick Hollywood-inspired movies. Fellow Ofuna assistant Nagisa Oshima assailed this bourgeois cinema, first in his archly political writings and then in his landmark films. Imamura's rebellion was more personal and more instinctive. He found himself assisting Yasujiro Ozu on Early Summer (1951), then later on The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952), and his masterpiece Tokyo Story (1953). Imamura found Ozu's notorious rigidity in both camerawork and coaching of actors to be repugnant. He directed his first film, Stolen Desire, in 1958, the same year that Ozu released Floating Weeds. Both films are about an itinerant acting troupe, but there the similarities end, as Imamura evidently set out to include everything that Ozu's stylized tale left out. While Ozu's characters are refined and passive, Imamura's are earthy and robust, brimming with latent violence and sexuality. While Ozu's camera remains low to the ground, lingering on empty corridors, Imamura's camera jumps from one angle to the next. In fact, his kinetic camera and dynamic editing resemble those of Akira Kurosawa more than those of his former mentor Ozu.

Imamura's first film also revealed a pair of nascent motifs that would run throughout his career. His fascination with the dialects and practices of the fringes of Japanese culture was first seen in his depiction of a down-and-out acting community in Osaka's rough entertainment districts in Stolen Desire; again in his portrayal of oppressive village traditions in Intentions of Murder and The Ballad of Narayama; in the mutually exploitative culture at the edge of the U.S. military base in Yokosuka in Pigs and Battleships and History of Postwar Japan As Told by a Bar Hostess; and in the incestuous, animistic customs of a remote Ryukyu island community in The Profound Desire of the Gods.



(Above, two stills from Pigs and Battleships.)

Imamura also populated his films with antitheses of stereotypical female film characters. Unlike the self-sacrificing feminine ideal as seen in such Mizoguchi films as The Life of Oharu, Imamura's heroines are overtly sexual, instinctive, deceitful survivors. Characters such as Tome, who rebels against a vicious madame and sets up her own call girl ring in Insect Woman, or Sadako, who struggles with rapists and family to get her deformed son entered in the family register in Intentions of Murder, manage to eke out a scant existence unfazed by oppression, poverty, or morality.

Imamura reached his first creative peak with his1963 masterpiece Insect Woman, a tragicomedy about one of Imamura's signature amoral survivors, followed by Intentions of Murder, and The Pornographers, a brilliant though disturbing black comedy about a pathetic man who becomes obsessed with his lover's daughter.



(Above, the Criterion Collection's spash page image publicizing their edition of The Pornographers.)

Through most of the 1970s, he made a number of well-received documentaries; until 1979, when he released Vengeance Is Mine, a brilliantly ribald film about a serial killer and his father. Since then, Imamura's international acclaim has soared. His 1983 film The Ballad of Narayama and his 1997 film Unagi both won the Palme d'Or from the Cannes Film Festival.

Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

From the Desk of Ben Wolcott...

OSCILLATOR has 2 upcoming radio shows!

We are doing a live radio show on KFJC at http://www.kfjc.org/ on June 17 Sat 6:30p PST (9:30p EST) with Dominic Trix hosting.

Also on KZSU at http://kzsulive.stanford.edu// on June 17 around 12 noon PST (3:00p EST) with Will / Scatterbrain Radio...



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OSCILLATOR is:

BEN WOLCOTT oscillator/lumens (To Live and Shave in L.A.) (FROSTY)

and

SCOTT KINSEY drums (DUMMY)(Enema Resort)(TING)

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Oh shit! This error warranted a reply...

Hey KFJC,

Unless Ben Wolcott (of Oscillator) decided to leave TLASILA in the six hours since I last spoke to him, it seems somewhat presumptuous on the station's part to refer to him as an "ex-member." (His drummer in Oscillator, Scott Kinsey, has never been in TLASILA. Thus, your naming him as ex-Shavian is also misleading.) Could you re-write your copy, please? Ben is a (co-founding) member of To Live and Shave in L.A. Oscillator is his other project.

It would, however, be accurate to describe Ben as an ex-member of (the wonderful, sadly departed outfit) Frosty. They no longer exist (except in our thoughts, of course).

Best,

Tom Smith

We Have Decided to Split...

... the tours into two halves!

Why, O Why?

'Cuz, like, we needed a bit more time to get Noon and Eternity into shops, on the various sympathetic radio (and podcast) outlets, into print and online circulation, etc. We ideally desire six weeks of hive-mind seepage, media penetration, and fervent cultural taint stroking before taking the Bugatti out to the I-476. Thus, our dilemma. I called Don, then Menlo Marc, then CG, then Ben... We decided no other options were available. With the manufacturer's turnaround deadline edging into mid-September, we've opted to cool our heels until mid-November.

What does this mean for music lovers in Canada? Fear not, gaunt, Mapleleaf'd tofurkey mavens! Our northern jaunt is locked - we're on! Festivities begin August 31st at an undisclosed location somewhere in Montreal.

For the TLASILA-poisoned in the continental 48, however, you'll have to make do with the alb (now scheduled for a late-September/early October release) until our domestic trek begins around November 10... Yeah, it kinda blows, but we'd rather tour in support of an album in actual release. Easily understood, non?

The Get to Know Your Neighbor Tour

Canada (and a sliver of NY)

31 Aug 06: Montreal - For Superfans Only
01 Sep 06: Montreal - MEG Fest
02 Sep 06: Toronto - Sneaky Dee's
03 Sep 06: Hamilton - The Underground

04 Sep 06: Syracuse (tba)
05 Sep 06: NYC (tba)

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The Noon and Eternity Tour

USA

Mid-to-late November, 2006...

We apologize for the upheaval in advance, but this is the best solution. Rest assured we don't intend to slack off in the blown minds department. (Maybe a spot of shoplifting, some sniffing of unmentionables, but not much else.) No, it's a question of providing you with the necessary supplemental materials. You'll likely forget to thank us as you're begging for mercy, but that's all part of the game on our, er, hyphy train...

Yeah, yeah, etc.,

Tom