The Aristocrats

August 14, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Documentary, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

"The Aristocrats!"

(Dir. Penn Jillette & Paul Provenza) (2005) The Varnished Culture‘s late great friend, Dr David Barnes, loved this film, a quirky, tight, one-joke riff on the old vaudeville set-up where a truly disgusting and depraved act, auditioned before the jaundiced and horrified agent, is entitled “The Aristocrats!”  As Drew Carey observes, the punchline is enhanced if you say it with a grand flourish of the arms. The challenge is to make the middle of the joke, a description of the act, as deviant, degenerate, debased, degraded, immoral, reprobate, debauched, dissolute, lewd, obscene, sordid, wicked, vile, base, iniquitous, vicious, brutal, criminal, warped and twisted as possible.  Many heroic attempts keep…

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Dior & I

May 9, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Documentary, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

'I could merde a champers...' (still from the official film site)

(Dir. Frédéric Tcheng) (2014) Disclaimer: P neither knows nor cares much about the industry of haute couture but this engaging documentary was an against-the-odds, enjoyable take on a fashion scenario so familiar it is almost a cliché: new designer and effete assistant arrive to head up the major collection of an iconic Euro fashion house with no time to spare. Much eye-rolling, hand-wringing, and undoing beading late into the night, the heroic Parisian seamstresses pulling an all nighter (from their love of the work and helped by some early morning champagne).  A last moment decision by designer Raf Simons that he did…

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The Worst Movie of All Time

April 22, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Classic Film, Documentary, FILM |

L takes no prisoners

Peter’s admirable list of anaesthetic films is frightening, truly scarey.  To think that I have sat through all that rubbish.  However, it lacks one thing – mention of the worst film of all time.  That most tendentious, over-rated, over-blown, self-adoring snore-inducing piece of celluloid-poo of all time, starring the worst actor of all time.  Yes, that’s it.  Of course I mean LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. You know that scene in Donnie Darko in the cinema?  You thought that Donnie, Gretchen and Frank were watching The Evil Dead with some distorted clock faces and stuff?  Wrong.  Obviously they are watching Lawrence of Arabia.  Consider.  One of them has…

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(dir. D.A. Pennebaker) (1960) (Redux 2013) Very slight and grainy documentary by today’s standards. Clearly an outsider’s view, despite the intimacy of the footage. Hubert Humphrey was the only candidate heard discussing policy: hence you knew he was doomed.

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(by Kenneth Clark) Really a compilation of scripts for a television series, this book, much ridiculed and parodied over the years (remember Monty Python’s “Are you civilised? Have you been civilised recently?”), is a wonderful, personal, informed view of humankind and culture from classical times to the then present (1968). Elegiac, nostalgic, pessimistic; almost everything in the arts since has borne out Clark’s view that “we can destroy ourselves by cynicism* and disillusion, just as effectively as bombs.” [* A cynic being a “man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s…

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