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September 25, 2012


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Claire K.

Not to ignore the excellence of your post, but just for the record I wish to note that the particular piece of furniture featured in these photos is no longer anywhere near our home.

Jason LaRiviere

Stephanie will be happy to know that "interesting" is one of our most vital contemporary aesthetic categories: http://www.amazon.com/Our-Aesthetic-Categories-Zany-Interesting/dp/0674046587

David Ehrenstein


David Ehrenstein


Louis Godfrey

My cat might raise his head of the couch pillow when I put on some Weakling or Godflesh, but just as quickly and casually he returns to sleeping and dreaming whatever kind of fucked up LSD nonsense cats dream about. That is all.

That Fuzzy Bastard

When I was in high school, our family's three lazy, spoiled, adorable cats spent much of the day sleeping under my bed. One afternoon, I put the Velvets' "White Light/White Heat" on my record player. About a minute into "Sister Ray", the cats emerged from under the bed and hopped up onto the mattress, closer to the speakers. There they curled up, and dozed---they seemed very happy. When the record ended, they got up, stretched, and went back under.


So glad to know I'm not the only person who saddles his cats with multiple ridiculous nicknames. I just can't help myself.

My cats never noticeably respond to music, but I can freak them out with my impression of a UFO, which basically involves simultaneously humming and whistling. My bird impression, which humans find quite impressive, never fools the cats. Frustrating.

Peter Labuza

I've been trying to parse through Zacherek's piece for the last few days, which has its obvious flaws (the thing about boo-ing, which was clearly about the idea of boo-ing, not because Malick is a "genius." Those same people condemning the booing hated "Cloud Atlas" a few days later and none of them booed). And as a big fan of "The Master," I also find it hard to agree with her on her reading of the film. But I'm digging through her sentences and I do think she has a point, that is sadly buried under her sort of "man of the people" championing against snobbery, and she probably should have taken a different approach to the piece.

THAT being said however, I don't think she's blaming "The Master" for being difficult (she never uses that word, as my command-f reveals). I think she like some other critics—really smart ones who are the type that usually love this stuff—saw the film and found it evasively about nothing. She writes, "I accept and acknowledge that the movie attempts to probe some dark and mysterious corners of human nature. I don’t feel that its elusiveness eluded me." Maybe she is hiding something, but I've read enough of Zacherek's work to think she doesn't just throw her hands up and say something is too difficult. And again, I totally disagree with her on this end—I think "The Master" has quite a lot to say about the post-war American state as I described in my own writing on it—but I see where she is coming from.

But again, I don't think she is attacking "difficult" films. Her whole riff on "Premium Rush" is that she wants to go back and figure out its filmmaking techniques that she missed while "enjoying" the film. She sees and respects the craft of "The Master" (which I agree with her, shows its craft throughout (but purposefully, because I think so much of the film is communicated visually as opposed to textually)), but wants to go back to a film in which she missed the craft because she was distracted by the text. I

I dunno but that's my reading of it. Good idea buried under the wrong article.

Also: Bergman set in the first photo spotted!

Glenn Kenny

Peter, the lede for the piece reads: "Sometimes you just know something is wank." That's the lede.


I really, really, really disliked Zacherek's piece, but now counting you, Glenn, I'm friends with two people who are friends with her. So I'll stop there, I think.


I've had two different cats freak out when I'd play the soundtrack to "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Not a startled reaction, but wide-eyed frantic pacing until I'd shut it off. One of those cats had a similar reaction to ANY Bernard Herrmann music, for whatever that's worth.


I enjoy reading Zachareck, and I too want to check out PREMIUM RUSH one of these days (I like Koepp as a director), but she can really be annoying sometimes, and that piece was one of those times. It's not just that she uses PREMIUM CRUSH as a club to beat THE MASTER with, as you put it, Glenn, it's also she sets up the same kind of false dichotomy that, say, Armond White does, with both films, that no one could *possibly* like both films, or consider their approaches equally valid.

And as for cats and their relation to music and the like, my family's cats (as well as the cats my brother and his wife own, when I've been over to their place) never paid attention to music, or pop culture of any stripe. They paid attention when the TV was on, or we were watching a movie, but that was only because we were sitting on the couch, which meant someone whose lap they could sit on.

Peter Labuza

But perhaps 'wank' is a reference to all the handjobs!

No I get your point and I approached this wrong. I think there's an ear worm of an idea that inspired this post that I kind of want to explore further, and trying to approach it through SZ's piece, which kind of goes a totally different route, wasn't the right idea. If I get time this week I'll try and get my own thingamapost up.

Juan Carlos

As much as I appreciate Zacharek, I can't take this piece seriously. It says "Punch Drunk Love" is a semi-misfire. I got off the bus right then and there. Plus, won't be able to see "The Master" for months (Damn you, old-timey distribution mores!).


Glenn, you make a good point, but you miss the central one, which is that all cats are sociopathic. Unlike dogs, which have human souls.

I kid; I've always been more of a dog person, and suffer from a mild allergy to (some) cats. I've enjoyed the company of a few lovely cats over the years, but I've never connected to them the way I have with the wonderful and saintly and beautifully crazy dogs I've known.

As for Zachareck, whose last name makes me nervous, I mostly thought her piece was fluff, but it was mild enough to not be aggressively stupid, the way these things can be. And yes, the lede is just bad. Maybe I've missed it, but since when is "wank" an adjective? Is this some nascent Euro-hip trend that I haven't heard of yet? Did she mean "wack?" As in, "The Wackness?"


Beautiful, beautiful,Pinky

Rand Careaga

I suspect that to cats and to most other animals, our music registers as extraneous noise, a bit like the way a song played on the radio in a noisy moving car will register as disconnected sounds *until you recognize it*, following which the remainder will cohere: the assembly is taking place on your end. I say "most animals" because I used to have a pair of budgies that reacted very distinctively to the opening minutes of "Le marteau sans maître" by Pierre Boulez: they'd begin to coo and mutter in a fashion I never heard in other circumstances. But I'm inclined to think that birds stand in a special relation to the auditory realm.

John M

Boy, the "very good" reputation of PREMIUM RUSH is the oddest movie rumor of 2012. It's not very good. It's directed like one part video game, one part TNT pilot. Koepp is a framed often as a good "writer" because his ability to work quickly through a Robert McKee checklist is sort of uncanny. As a director, he doesn't know what he's doing.

Must be dry days for movie critics when that piece of lame is held up as a return to pure B-movie kicks.

Ian W. Hill

Okay, you asked (on Twitter), so YES, Pinky is adorable, dammit. Sorry for your loss, even this many years later -- I still mourn my incredible cat Rogar The Evil Behemoth (1989-2003), so I know how long these feelings hang on. And seeing other peoples' late kitties just makes me look sadly at my own two current ones (currently sleeping at my head and feet) and be even more aware they won't be staying all that long . . .


As for sonic input -- I've had a number of cats and never found any correlation between "difficult" music and their reaction (NONE have any shown any negative reaction to METAL MACHINE MUSIC, free jazz, Beefheart, Pere Ubu, "L.A. Blues," or hardcore punk). They HAVE reacted to music on occasion, suddenly perked up, meowed, and run around the room with some agitation obviously caused by the sound, but never anything that would likely cause distress in humans. If they DO react, I've noticed the reaction is intensified if I hum or sing along with the music -- much more than if I were making sound on my own. Never caught what specifically set some instinctual reaction off in their tiny feline brains.

James Keepnews

G-d save their ears, indeed -- more subtext for those looking for it, and as implied by Glenn's "(e)ven if you do own some Albert Ayler records" crack. It almost carries a snootful of a late-Fassbinder-esque debauched hauteur/dare, as e.g. I'd heard it when, towards the end, RWF would ingest something like an entire eightball in one inhale and then gently remark to his fellow traveler, "If you had taken that much, it would have killed you." Don't try this at home, amateurs! Oh, sure, I crank Eye and Ear Control and Live in Japan holed up in my lair, but I ain't no role model, which is why Mr. Greenwood's soundtrack sucks even more than I'm implying. Or, so goes the implication.

And as to implications, this cat's heart starting beating faster when I misread your construction above, which made it briefly seem like you were suggesting Xenakis had sat in with DNA, no doubt to croon the Chet Baker songbook. A man can dream, can't he?

Randy Byers

PREMIUM RUSH is okay, but it's not a patch on RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION.

k d lough

Since I'm friends with neither Stephanie Zacharek nor the makers of Premium Rush, I think I'm in a pretty unique position to call that article a load of bunk.

Mr. Peel

I thought that PREMIUM RUSH was pretty terrific and I've seen THE MASTER at the Cinerama Dome three times so naturally I have no idea what to think about any of this.


The name of LaMonte Young's longtime collaborator and significant other is Marian Zazeela, and she is a very fine artist in her own right. Fifty years ago she was a regular model for Jack Smith and his film Flaming Creatures was originally conceived of as a vehicle for her. Unfortunately for Jack, Marian felt that LaMonte needed all of her time. She did , however, make a cameo appearance in the film, near the end in the Carnival sequence, flanked by LaMonte and Irving Rosenthal (the friend who first introduced her to Jack.) It is the loveliest composition in a film full of lovely compositions. She is someone whose name you should never get wrong.

Except for your misidentifying Marian, I very much enjoyed your rebuttal of your friend's piece. I am often annoyed when people anthropomorphise their feline companions. It appears they are unable to appreciate these animals for what they are and so attempt to turn their cats into quaint diminutive versions of themselves.

...and I'm sorry that LaMonte took your anecdote so badly.

Glenn Kenny

@dalewettig: My apologies, and apologies to Marian Zazeela. I have no excuse except that I sometimes do make egregiously boneheaded typos or misremember things that I'd clearly be best advised to double check. I've fixed the error.

Mr. Peel, your point is well taken. What really kills me about such pieces, and convinces me that they really ARE manifestoes of a sort, is their relentless either/or nature. You're either a righteous drag who kills everybody's buzz with your multiple viewings of long movies with heavy themes who doesn't lift a finger when a DePalma movie gets booedn OR you're a kicky cinematic free spirit who isn't snooty about liking brisk thrillers and is fun to be around. The idea of someone getting off on "Premium Rush" AND soaking in multiple viewings of "The Master" isn't undreamed of in this philosophy; it's inimical to this philosophy.

Jonathan Woollen

Dogs, meanwhile...

Chris L.

I don't know if this will fit well with the line of discussion here (e.g. Zacharek), but it can't be helped. As one of the most committed Cat Persons in this hemisphere - and one who bade farewell last year to a most eccentric and incorrigible companion named Pearl - this post struck an unreasonably deep chord. Just the last full sentence bolstered my already lofty image of our host. Those who think that's comical will think it's comical, but there you have it.

So I raise a toast to Pinky, and extend an awkward cyberhug to all his friends.

David Ehrenstein

Irving Rosenthal is my favorite writer next to Proust.

When last heard from he was still in S.F. working in a homeless shelter.
He is the eminese gris of "The Cockettes."

David Ehrenstein



Another irksome thing about Zacharek's article is the way she champions "messy" filmmaking that appears "tossed off", as if someone who's movies seem improvised on the spot are by definition better than those that are arrived at through careful planning. It's a sentiment that came up back in her negative review of Fincher's Zodiac, where she noted that Fincher demanded dozens of takes on a shot, as if that should influence how we should view the finished movie. And it was in David Edelstein's obnoxious comment on a Charlie Rose panel from a while back that the Coen brothers "storyboard within an inch of their lives" when making No Country. I feel like it goes along the idea definitely put forth by critics like Zacharek that the worst sin a movie or filmmaker can make is to take themselves seriously, and that a film's worth is to be judged solely by how "jazzed" it makes you feel.

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