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 Louisiana Gumbo (and some Lagniappe) 
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The Films of Helen Hill

Part 2: Madame Winger Makes a Film

While her films are well regarded, it's likely that Hill's greatest and most lasting
impact was as an educator and activist. Over the years, she taught at various
colleges and art cooperatives around the US and Canada, and in New Orleans
she taught animation at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and the
New Orleans Film Collective, which she co-founded. For the benefit of those
she couldn't teach personally, she made this film - a handmade guide to
handmade films, made using the techniques it teaches.

Madame Winger Makes a Film

Langiappe
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In addition to this film, Hill also created and self-distributed a DIY
guide for DIY films (made very much in a DIY style, out of spiral-bound
photocopies). It's a thorough text, full of instructions, illustrations,
suggestions, and inventions, and interspersed with the kinds of jokes and
friendly notes that make Hill's work so accessible. If anyone is interested,
the book can be viewed in its entirety in the PDF linked below.

Recipes for Disaster: A Handcrafted Film Cookbooklet

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Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:26 pm
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The Films of Helen Hill

Part 3: The Florestine Collection

Hill's final film was inspired by an incident that happened one Mardi Gras, when
she discovered a treasure trove of hand-tailored dresses abandoned on a curb.
This prompted her to find out who had made the dresses, which led to the making
of this film, which combines animation with documentary research. Unfortunately,
she was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina, which forced her and her husband, Paul
Gailiunas, to flee the city with their newborn son. When they returned, they found
their Mid-City home flooded and most of their possessions irreparably damaged,
including many of her film materials and some of the dresses she had found.

In spite of the setback, they began to rebuild their lives, and she continued work on
the film. But on January 4th, 2007, before the film was finished, an armed intruder
broke into their home, shot Helen Hill dead, and wounded her husband. She was one
of six people murdered in New Orleans on that day alone, in a rash of post-Katrina
violence, and the assailant was never found. A few years later, Gailliunas finished the
film as a tribute to his wife
, taking her raw footage and working their life story into
her original conceit. While his contributions aren't as elegant as hers, it's still a deeply
personal document eulogizing over the compounding tragedies triggered by Katrina,
and expresses a terribly ambivalent love for the city.

The Florestine Collection

Lagniappe
Helen Hill's films on Vimeo

The rest of Hill's films can be viewed at the Vimeo channel dedicated to her work. The
best of those I haven't featured are the slight but charming Rain Dance (with music by
Gailiunas), Mouseholes, and Scratch and Crow (accepted into the National Film Registry
in 2009). Her legacy lives on in New Orleans (I learned about her after watching an
avant-garde film series that included Rain Dance), and her death was memorialized
on the second season of the show Treme.

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Paul and Helen (in the middle) with their pig Rosie and friend Becka Barker in Halifax.

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Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:25 am
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Grand Guignol Double Feature

In an unplanned twist of events, I watched Interview with a Vampire and
Cat People in the span of a week, with friends providing a running commentary.
Both are bloody tales about supernatural transformations, so I paired 'em up.

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Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles | Neil Jordan | 1994

As an admirer of Jordan's other films, like Mona Lisa and The Company of Wolves
(which has some thematic overlap), I was hoping he might do something interesting
with the source material, buuuuuuuut this is just two hours of laughably morose
homoeroticism. It has a few redeeming qualities: Kirsten Dunst's child vampire
is simultaneously vivacious and chilling, and Jordan goes all out with some indulgently
gothic set dressing. It's also fun to see New Orleans depicted through the ages,
including the rarely visualized 1700s. But the plot just treads along listlessly, and
it lacks the thematic richness of The Company of Wolves.

(I'll have to read some Anne Rice for this thread someday, but I'm trying to put it off.)


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Cat People | Paul Schrader | 1982

With this film, Schrader employed one of the few methods for creating a decent remake:
twist the concept on its head. Where Lewton's original established enduring horror tropes
with its shadowy suggestiveness, Schrader's remake turns the subject matter into a
brash, psychosexual thriller. Everything implicit is made explicit, which makes the film
almost entirely ridiculous -- but the blunt, fever-pitch conviction of the film gives it an
earnest intensity. It's gorgeously shot, pairing baroque New Orleans interiors with the
weird, garish colors of a giallo film, and Nastassja Kinski would make any film more
gorgeous. Her eyes command the screen.

It was especially fun watching this with my friend Casey, who loves the film and espoused
his enthusiasm over nearly every shot. He told me about the time he discussed the film
with a coworker, who revealed something he'd never told anyone before: rather than
giving him "the sex talk" when he turned ten, his father just sat him down and put this
film on. Perhaps the most baffling parenting decision I've ever heard about, and one the
guy is still coming to terms with, apparently.

Lagniappe
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Talking about Cat People and The Company of Wolves brought to mind one of my
favorite pieces of local folklore. The Loup Garou (often called rougarou) is a Cajun myth
derived from our French ancestry about a werewolf who prowls the swamps, picking off
lost travelers and children who wander too far from home. Unlike most werewolves, a
man can become a Loup Garou for a simple transgression, like missing mass too often.
Rather than changing on full moons, most stories have them transforming every night,
and the curse is passed along not by biting someone, but by compelling them to draw
blood. Other variants suggest that the curse wears off over time, but if one speaks about
it to anyone, it can become permanent. These tales reinforce the Cajuns' Catholic and
communal values.

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A courir de Mardi Gras costume in the style of a Loup Garou.

Nowadays, the Loup Garou is very much a part of local culture. The phrase "faire
rougarou" or "making the rougarou" can refer to restless sleep or nights spent making
mischief. The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans has a Loup Garou mannequin in their
Louisiana wildlife exhibit, and a local distillery makes a brand of rum dubbed Rougaroux,
in honor of the beast.

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Audubon Zoo's Loup Garou, dressed up for Mardi Gras.

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It's also become a theme in local art. Its most famous manifestation may be George
Rodrigue's Blue Dog, an art phenomenon that took hold in the 90s thanks to ad
campaigns by Absolut and Xerox. It depicts an uncanny blue dog with staring yellow eyes.

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Ostensibly inspired by the rougarou, though it looks more like a corgi (Rodrigue owned a corgi named Tiffany).

But my favorite art piece based on the Loup Garou legend was a one man theatrical
performance produced by local theater company Mondo Bizarro. Loup Garou,
according to their site, was "[an] environmental performance that uses rigorous
physicality, poetry, music and visual installation to investigate the deep interconnectedness
between land and culture in Louisiana." It was performed outdoors, at sunrise and sunset,
in City Park, and it's possibly my single favorite piece of theater. I watched it four times in
the span of two weeks. I've included a short excerpt below, and a photograph of their Loup
Garou, Nick Slie, one of the city's most talented actors.



Image

(Source 1)
(Source 2)

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Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:16 pm
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Aw, I remember <3'ing Interview when I last watched it... which of course, was 15 years ago, when I was 14 and had barely watched any movies in an "adult" manner, so maybe I need a bit of memory cleanse on it soon.

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Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:20 pm
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You may want to leave that memory untouched. The movie is kinda fun (I enjoyed ribbing it with my friends), but despite its self-serious attitude, it doesn't have much depth.

On the plus side, if you watch Mona Lisa or The Company of Wolves (or even The Crying Game, which holds up remarkably well), you may get a lot out of them.

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Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:56 pm
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Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son | William Alexander Percy | 1941 | 348 pages

It's odd that I've chosen to write about a book that only mentions Louisiana in passing,
that mostly takes place in the delta country around Greenville in northwest Mississippi,
but the entire Mississippi Delta shares strands of a common culture, and this book and
its author are closely tied to other books I've reviewed for this thread. This is the
autobiography of William Alexander Percy, uncle of Walker Percy -- and after his father's
suicide, his adoptive parent -- and the son of LeRoy Percy, whose legacy is chronicled
in detail in Rising Tide. His recollections paint a revealing portrait of the Southern
aristocrat who embodies the contradictions of the Old South: its dignity and intellectual
prosperity, its warped and antiquated ideologies, a worldview that is beautiful and
repugnant and all but forgotten.

Two sides of Will Percy loom large in this book: his experiences and his opinions. The
former provides the book's best material; even the most sentimental passages have
their charm, and at its best, it's an engrossing book. His prose is mellifluous and rich,
strongly colored by a classical education, often saturated with romanticism but utterly
lucid when it needs to be. His accounts of helping his father combat the racist
demagogue James Vardaman, serving on the front lines of WWI, driving the KKK out
of Greenville, and coping with the 1927 flood of the Mississippi River are bracing and
fresh; his reflections on youthful memories and growing old, though of a softer hue,
have moments of real beauty. But for a modern reader, his views make him a
difficult pill to swallow. Though he speaks fondly of black southerners and despises
racist vitriol, he also celebrated a paternalistic form of white supremacy, employed
sharecroppers on the land that he owned, and blamed the moral decay of the modern
world on the decline of his class. Yet it's these clashing qualities that make this such
a valuable and fascinating document.

Here we have a sensitive and generous man, a closeted homosexual, world traveler,
friend of luminaries like Langston Hughes and William Faulkner, aware of his limitations
yet attuned to the splendor and fragility of the world -- who openly advocated for black
disenfranchisement and considered Southern gentry a morally superior social order. It's this
complicated figure who appears in Rising Tide, which views the man with some compassion
while castigating his failure to rise and meet the demands of his role as the chairman of the
Flood Relief Committee during the flood that devastated his hometown. It's this figure
who manifests in Binx Bolling's aunt in The Moviegoer, widely acknowledged as a
proxy for Will Percy, who goes on a haughty diatribe near the end of the book. This
parallel became apparent when I stumbled across the phrase "common as hell" in his
autobiography, a phrase peppered throughout the aunt's monologue, which Walker Percy
must have heard so many times growing up that it cemented itself in his mind. William
Alexander Percy is a model representative of the South's irresolvable conflicts, and in this
book he demonstrates that even at its most gracious and thoughtful, our Southern
aristocracy was fatally flawed.

Lagniappe
Though best remembered for this book, Will Percy also published a considerable amount
of poetry during his lifetime. For lagniappe, I've decided to share a short poem by him and two
excerpts from the book.

Overtones

I heard a bird at break of day
Sing from the autumn trees
A song so mystical and calm,
So full of certainties,
No man, I think, could listen long
Except upon his knees.
Yet this was but a simple bird,
Alone, among dead trees.

Image

On the making of turtle soup:
Quote:
Finally that dreadful head would come out long enough for Willis to whack it off with
the ax, at which the rest of the turtle would walk off hurriedly, as if the incident were closed.
Even this was not the climax of the gory horror -- Willis still had to break off the top shell.
When this was accomplished, before your startled eyes lay the turtle's insides, unharmed,
neatly in place, and still ticking! They did not seem to miss the head, but acted like the works
of a watch when you open the back. It was the nakedest thing I ever laid eyes on, and usually
while you were watching, fascinated, the whole thing walked off, just that way, and the cook
would almost faint. Turtle soup indeed! I don't miss it and I hope not to meet up with it
unexpectedly in elegant surroundings.


On collecting memories "like a jackdaw in the garden":
Quote:
For the place I have won here and there, early and late, though a good place and a proud
one, was never first place in any life, and what was mine to possess utterly and sovereignly,
without counterclaim, was only the jackdaw pickings of my curious and secret heart. When your
heart's a kleptomaniac for bits of color and scraps of god-in-man, its life hoardings make a pile
glinting indeed, but of no worth save to the miserly fanatic heart. Now is the time, now when
the air is still and the light is going, to spread my treasure out.


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From his introduction to the book, Walker Percy wrote:
And about him I will say no more than that he was the most extraordinary man I have ever known and that I owe him a debt which cannot be paid.

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Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:21 pm
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New Orleans, Exported

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The Life of P. T. Barnum | Written by Himself | 1855

I haven't actually read this book, but a friend who read it recently gave me her
copy with a passage marked. It doesn't deal with New Orleans, but involves
an encounter Barnum had in my modest hometown while conducting a steamboat
tour of the south. It's a bit lengthy but makes me proud to call St. Francisville home.

Quote:
There was an alarming and yet somewhat ludicrous scene at St. Francisville, Louisiana.
During the evening performances, a man attempted to pass me at the door of the tent,
claiming to have paid already for admittance. He was slightly intoxicated, and when I
refused him, he aimed at me with a slung-shot. The blow mashed my hat, and grazed the
protuberance where phrenologists locate "the organ of caution." Perhaps this fact had
something to do with what followed.

The rejected party retired, and in a few minutes returned with a frightful gang of his
half-drunken companions, each with a pistol, bludgeon, or other weapon. They seemed
determined to assault me forthwith. Calling upon the Mayor and other respectable citizens,
(who were then in the "theatre,") I claimed protection from the mob. The Mayor declared
his inability to afford it against such odds, but immediate violence was restrained by his
intercession.

"We will let you off on one condition," said the more moderate of the ringleaders. "We will
give you exactly one hour, and no help, to gather up your 'traps and plunder,' get aboard
your steamboat, and be off! Hurry up, for you have no time to lose. If you are on shore
one moment more than an hour, look out!"

He looked at his watch, I looked at the pistols and bludgeons; and I reckon that a big tent
never came down with greater speed. The whole force of the company was exerted to its
utmost. Not a citizen was allowed to help us, for love or money; and an occasional "Hurry
up!" kept every muscle at work. Our "traps and plunder" were tumbled in confusion on the
deck of the vessel; the fireman had gotten up steam; and five minutes before the hour was
out, we were ready to cast off our cables and depart.

The scamps who thus hurried us from the village had certainly a streak of both humor and
honor. They were amused by our diligence; escorted us and our last load, waving pitch-pine
torches; and when the boat swung into the current, they saluted us with a wild "hurrah!"

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Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:08 pm
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Macrology wrote:
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Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles | Neil Jordan | 1994

As an admirer of Jordan's other films, like Mona Lisa and The Company of Wolves
(which has some thematic overlap), I was hoping he might do something interesting
with the source material, buuuuuuuut this is just two hours of laughably morose
homoeroticism. It has a few redeeming qualities: Kirsten Dunst's child vampire
is simultaneously vivacious and chilling, and Jordan goes all out with some indulgently
gothic set dressing. It's also fun to see New Orleans depicted through the ages,
including the rarely visualized 1700s. But the plot just treads along listlessly, and
it lacks the thematic richness of The Company of Wolves.

(I'll have to read some Anne Rice for this thread someday, but I'm trying to put it off.)


I've read several of her books, they're actually pretty good. The book of Interview is infinitely better and the Lestat books, in general (at least the first 3 or 4) are very enjoyable.
However, The Witching Hour is almost certainly my favorite of hers, a novel about a multi-generational family of witches in Old New Orleans Society.


Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:20 am
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Stu wrote:
Aw, I remember <3'ing Interview when I last watched it... which of course, was 15 years ago, when I was 14 and had barely watched any movies in an "adult" manner, so maybe I need a bit of memory cleanse on it soon.

It doesn't hold up very well. The problem is that it takes so long to get through the first two acts (which, honestly, could have used another 10 minutes to flesh out, but the studio didn't allow the run-time) that the whole third act is sprinted through and therefore has little consequence.
It is also, almost certainly, Brad Pitt's worst performance ever. It is as if Keanu Reeves jumped right out of Coppola's Dracula to played the part.


Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:23 am
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An unconventional double feature: two versions of the same film. The film is
Bertrand Tavernier’s In the Electric Mist, a procedural thriller based on local
writer James Lee Burke’s novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. The
version distributed in the US was cut by the producers, while the international cut
was made by Tavernier himself. I'll refer to the US version by the English title and
Tavernier's version by its French title.

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In the Electric Mist | Bertrand Tavernier | 2009

I watched this having forgotten that a director’s cut existed, so I took this version
at face value. On its own, it isn’t a bad film. It possesses a strong sense of place,
a familiarity with its characters, and some delightfully off-kilter interludes. The cast
and score are both pitch perfect and abounding in local talent. But it also suffers
from a confused structure with dangling plot threads, and its pace and tone are
surprisingly conventional for a Tavernier film. That these flaws resulted from
producers recutting the film makes a lot of sense, but not knowing that, it felt like
a solid made for TV movie.

Of course when I was reminded that Tavernier had his own version, I sought it
out -- but I had to import a disc from France. I couldn’t even find a version online.

Image

Dans la brume électrique | Bertrand Tavernier | 2009

I waited several months before watching Tavernier’s cut, to come at it with fresh
eyes. Consequently, I wasn’t always sure which scenes were new or how the editing
was altered, but whatever adjustments Tavernier made, it certainly resulted in a
better film. Its pace is far more leisurely -- closer to the cadence of its characters,
their speech, their way of life. The characters have more room to breath (plus Goodman
gets more screen time, always a good thing). The familiarity with its setting and milieu
feels even more firmly rooted, and the past looms larger in this version: Robicheaux’s
alcoholism, the murder he witnessed at 17, his time in Vietnam. There’s a real
world-weariness here that the other cut only glances at. It also brings greater lucidity
to a complicated plot, although this was my second viewing, which probably helped too.

Tavernier’s version is easily the way to go, even if the other version isn’t bad. But
paired, they make a fascinating case study in structure, pacing, and editing, because
I don’t know that I’ve seen a recut film that so thoroughly changed my overall
impression. Most alternate cuts add a scene or two, change an ending, alter sounds
cues (as in Touch of Evil, a comparable film in many ways), but as I understand it,
the two versions of In the Electric Mist were built independently from scratch. It’s the
difference between seeing the work of someone who doted on the film and bled for it,
and someone who’s just getting a job done.

Lagniappe
Something that’s in both version, but which I didn’t fully appreciate until the second
watch, is the way the film integrates the post-Katrina economic landscape of Louisiana
in the midst of a burgeoning film industry. James Lee Burke’s novel was written in
1993, and while his original plot also involves a movie production, the tax credits that
Louisiana inaugurated in 2002 make that element even more topical for a film released
in 2009 that benefited from those very credits.

Image
(Source)

From 2010 to 2015, Louisiana surpassed the production rate of every other state,
including filmmaking capitals California and New York. A few of the higher profile films
and shows made using the tax credits include Jurassic World, Trumbo, American Horror
Story
, Midnight Special, Treme, True Blood, Killing Them Softly, the Jump Street movies,
Looper, Killer Joe, I Love You Phillip Morris, and two Best Picture winners, The Curious
Case of Benjamin Button
and Twelve Years a Slave. New Orleans is referred to as
Hollywood South. Output slowed down after a cap was placed on the incentives, losing
some work to Georgia’s competing incentives, but there’s still a steady stream of productions here.

Image
Is Louisiana's Film/TV Tax Credit Program Working?

While the incentives have fueled the local economy and boosted tourism, they’re also a
burden on the state’s budget
, bringing in only 25 cents for every dollar spent, and many
have accused out of state filmmakers of carpetbagging. With that in mind, the film
production subplot from In the Electric Mist takes on a metatextual dimension, criticizing
how the film industry capitalizes on these new laws, namely their exploitation of Louisiana’s
lack of unionized labor, their preference for importing talent, and their tendency to dine
and dash with local communities. This makes the film’s sensitivity to Louisiana’s culture
and people, especially its prevalent use of local actors, music, and source material, acts
of apologia, possibly even protest.

Image

Some of the local performers featured are blues guitarist Buddy Guy, Pruitt Taylor Vince
(who also appeared in Angel Heart), Louis Herthum, Adella Gautier, and Tony Molina Jr.
(a local actor and teacher who died just last year). Not to mention John Goodman, who
lives in New Orleans and occasionally heckles my tours as we pass his house.

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Wed May 16, 2018 7:15 am
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Macrology wrote:
What I love most about Blank's films is their humility. They are
content to capture the daily rhythms of life without indulging in
dramatic conflict or visual adornment and almost always within
the span of an hour. His unassuming formal approach mirrors his
modest subject matter. His films are windows into the distinctive,
undiscovered corners of American life, where he finds endless cause
for the celebration of culture and character through food, music,
and story. Often, between their earnest simplicity and their rhythmic
flow, his films achieve a sort of poetry.

Since the release of this box set, I feel that Blank has fast become my favorite documentarian filmmaker. It sneaks up on you, because his films are seemingly so modest and unassuming, but they always linger fondly with warmth and humanity. The social immersion and empathy are crucial, but beyond that is his commitment to pure joy, uncoaxed and unadulterated. And, of course, always for pleasure. The man even makes polka fascinating.


Wed May 16, 2018 9:09 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Since the release of this box set, I feel that Blank has fast become my favorite documentarian filmmaker. It sneaks up on you, because his films are seemingly so modest and unassuming, but they always linger fondly with warmth and humanity. The social immersion and empathy are crucial, but beyond that is his commitment to pure joy, uncoaxed and unadulterated. And, of course, always for pleasure. The man even makes polka fascinating.


He's definitely up there for me as well. When it comes to Criterion boxsets turning me onto the work of a documentary film maker though, Allan King still reigns supreme.


Wed May 16, 2018 10:16 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
He's definitely up there for me as well. When it comes to Criterion boxsets turning me onto the work of a documentary film maker though, Allan King still reigns supreme.

I've only seen Warrendale and one of the better, sweatier Orson Welles interviews. Alas, he does not eat his shoe though, so Blank still gets the trophy.


Wed May 16, 2018 10:45 am
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It's recently come to my attention that Amazon is streaming The Big Easy TV series, which I didn't know existed until now. It's from 1996, a full 10 years after the film. I just watched the first 2 minutes of the pilot episode and....oh boy. It opens with a detective arriving at a crime scene (the Algiers levee) with a bag of beignets in hand (seriously?). The body is pulled from the river....wearing a Mardi Gras mask! The detective recognizes the corpse as a member of a brass band (seriously?) The word "cher" is used generously. The accents are...nothing I've ever heard in my 40+ years here. Reminder: This was all in the first two minutes.
Scanning the episode titles:
"The Voodoo That You Do"
"Crawdaddy"
"Lafitte Don't Fail Me Now" (seriously?)

It's gonna be a long rainy holiday weekend. I think there's some binge-watching in my future. Check it out if you want a laugh (or a cringe).

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Fri May 25, 2018 10:15 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
I've only seen Warrendale and one of the better, sweatier Orson Welles interviews. Alas, he does not eat his shoe though, so Blank still gets the trophy.


Warrendale is pretty great, but it is arguably the weakest film in the box set. Not that I'll ever be going near Dying At Grace again anytime soon though. There is such a thing as too real and that movie spends nearly every minute of its run time existing in that space.


Fri May 25, 2018 10:42 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
It's recently come to my attention that Amazon is streaming The Big Easy TV series, which I didn't know existed until now. It's from 1996, a full 10 years after the film. I just watched the first 2 minutes of the pilot episode and....oh boy. It opens with a detective arriving at a crime scene (the Algiers levee) with a bag of beignets in hand (seriously?). The body is pulled from the river....wearing a Mardi Gras mask! The detective recognizes the corpse as a member of a brass band (seriously?) The word "cher" is used generously. The accents are...nothing I've ever heard in my 40+ years here. Reminder: This was all in the first two minutes.
Scanning the episode titles:
"The Voodoo That You Do"
"Crawdaddy"
"Lafitte Don't Fail Me Now" (seriously?)

It's gonna be a long rainy holiday weekend. I think there's some binge-watching in my future. Check it out if you want a laugh (or a cringe).


Holy shit. That's impressively indulgent, even by typical New Orleans standards. I may have to look into this, and I'm definitely interested in hearing updates if you end up watching more.

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Fri May 25, 2018 12:10 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
It's recently come to my attention that Amazon is streaming The Big Easy TV series, which I didn't know existed until now. It's from 1996, a full 10 years after the film. I just watched the first 2 minutes of the pilot episode and....oh boy. It opens with a detective arriving at a crime scene (the Algiers levee) with a bag of beignets in hand (seriously?). The body is pulled from the river....wearing a Mardi Gras mask! The detective recognizes the corpse as a member of a brass band (seriously?) The word "cher" is used generously. The accents are...nothing I've ever heard in my 40+ years here. Reminder: This was all in the first two minutes.
Scanning the episode titles:
"The Voodoo That You Do"
"Crawdaddy"
"Lafitte Don't Fail Me Now" (seriously?)

It's gonna be a long rainy holiday weekend. I think there's some binge-watching in my future. Check it out if you want a laugh (or a cringe).

A bag of beignets?
I may have to watch this.


Fri May 25, 2018 7:53 pm
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Ok, so I've watched episode 1. I remember very little about the Quaid film and it's likely that I've never watched the entire thing anyway, so forgive me if I rehash things that you already know. Our hero is detective Remy McSwain, who the ladies love because...well they just do, ok? He's obnoxious, dresses funny and talks at a 3rd-Grade level but we know he's charming because everyone keeps telling us so. Who am I to argue? That's the police chief on the far right, wearing suspenders and a fedora, as police chiefs do. The lady in red (Ann) is a government agent from DC who is befuddled by our strange ways.


So here's the play-by-play:

As I've already mentioned, before the opening credits we've got Beignet Boy and Carnival Corpse.

The premise of episode 1 is that Ann's been sent to investigate the illegal fishing of endangered species. She asks to be taken "to the bayou". Next time I'm in Colorado I'll ask a native to direct me "to the mountain".

Six minutes in and we're eating boiled crawfish at Sid-Mar's in Bucktown.

The police chief holds a town hall meeting with a bunch of coonass fishermen. This meeting takes place in that hub of Cajun culture known as Chartres St.

Next scene: Chief is now dressed in a Confederate uniform. I wish I was joking.

13 minutes: The obligatory stroll down Bourbon St. Now inside the bar to drink some Hurricanes. Kermit Ruffins invites Remy on stage to blow some harmonica with the band.

25 minutes: I despise Remy McSwain

28 minutes: Remy meets with his informant, his Huggy Bear if you will. He meets him at a cemetery because his informant is literally in the middle of playing trumpet in a jazz funeral. I mean, I think it's a jazz funeral. There's no coffin and no mourners so technically it's just a band strolling through a cemetery, which is an odd thing for a band to do.

And the episode ends with Remy and Ann making out in Jackson Square.


Did some googling and it appears that this aired on the USA network and there were actually two seasons (!) Not sure what the appeal was, given that this was 10 years after the Quaid film and we were way past that late-80s period when everything Cajun was cool. (The Zyde-geist, as I like to call it). The main character was thoroughly unlikable, but maybe that's just me.
Also worth mentioning: In a 45-minute episode there were 3 black characters with speaking roles: a purse snatcher, a trumpet player, and a sassy judge that talked like Shirley from What's Happening. (*bangs gavel* "Everybody go on home!") Oh, and Kermit Ruffins, so...two trumpet players. New Orleans!

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Sat May 26, 2018 1:13 pm
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I don't comment much but this is a fantastic thread.

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Thu May 31, 2018 9:51 am
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Wooley wrote:
I've read several of her books, they're actually pretty good. The book of Interview is infinitely better and the Lestat books, in general (at least the first 3 or 4) are very enjoyable.


I gave up after Memnoch the Devil, but the previous four all ranged from great to solid. As for the film, I'm a fan. I think Jordan's elegance was a perfect fit for the story, and I was captivated from the beginning.

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Thu May 31, 2018 10:57 am
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Thief wrote:

I gave up after Memnoch the Devil, but the previous four all ranged from great to solid. As for the film, I'm a fan. I think Jordan's elegance was a perfect fit for the story, and I was captivated from the beginning.

Yes, Memnoch The Devil is the appropriate time to give up. Although one should also read The Witching Hour.
Jordan' style was perfect for it. The problem was that the movie needed to be longer and the third act, in particular, needed a lot more development and breathing room. What happens in Paris all happens so fast it's challenging to really understand what's happening or what anyone's motivation is and then, bam, you're at the denouement. I have zero doubt that there was a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor and if we could see a Director's Cut, it would be quite good.


Thu May 31, 2018 12:58 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Yes, Memnoch The Devil is the appropriate time to give up. Although one should also read The Witching Hour.
Jordan' style was perfect for it. The problem was that the movie needed to be longer and the third act, in particular, needed a lot more development and breathing room. What happens in Paris all happens so fast it's challenging to really understand what's happening or what anyone's motivation is and then, bam, you're at the denouement. I have zero doubt that there was a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor and if we could see a Director's Cut, it would be quite good.


I totally agree. The relationship with Armand is really shredded to pieces, and the way the whole Claudia thing unfolds feels way too rushed. I still like the film a lot, though.

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Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:19 am
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New Orleans, Exported



The Simpsons, Season 29, Episode 17 | Matt Groening, et al | 2018

I never watched the Simpsons much, and I haven't watched it at all for years,
but it was hard to miss this loving tribute to the city's culinary scene in their
635th episode, "Lisa Gets the Blues". I haven't watched the episode itself,
which features local musician Trombone Shorty, a statue of Louis Armstrong
coming to life, and Bart buying a voodoo doll. But the montage above depicts
Homer making a grand tour of New Orleans restaurants and talking up the
delicious diversity of local food. The list includes a nice mix of haute cuisine
and holes in the walls, hip new joints and old standards, but what stood out
was the animators' fidelity to the restaurants in question: every place is
meticulously recreated, right down to the fonts on the signs.

Someone on the Simpson's crew definitely has a thing for the city -- watching
Futurama recently, I noticed numerous references to NOLA and Mardi
Gras. I know for a fact that Harry Shearer (voice of Ned Flanders, among others)
loves the city, lives here part time, and gets very involved in events; he's a
regular on local radio stations. And perhaps this episode was partly an apology
for 1992's "A Streetcar Named Marge" which featured this slanderous musical
number that sparked some resentment among New Orleanians:



Image
From the opening sequence of a following episode.

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Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:05 am
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My best memories of my Mardis Gras trip was definitely the food. I can relate to homer's odyssey.


Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:38 am
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Macrology wrote:
New Orleans, Exported



The Simpsons, Season 29, Episode 17 | Matt Groening, et al | 2018

I never watched the Simpsons much, and I haven't watched it all for years,
but it was hard to miss this loving tribute to the city's culinary scene in their
635th episode, "Lisa Gets the Blues".
Funny you should bring that episode up, since, although I haven't seen it (or almost any Simpsons post-Season 9, really), the AV Club included it on their ranked list of all the vacation-crentic episodes of the show, at number 29; did seeing that inspire you to talk about it here, Mac?

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Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:05 pm
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No, just a happy coincidence I guess. I saw it shortly after the episode came out, when a few friends shared it on Facebook. I only got around to posting it today.

I have a few other things I'll be sharing soon, namely some local visual art.

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Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:23 pm
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Preacher: Season 2 | Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen | 2017

I heard before watching this season of Preacher that they shot it down here, but I
didn't realize it was set here until I got around to watching it, and I have to say, it's
one of the more interesting depictions I've seen of the city. Several of the films I've
watched for this thread have depicted warped or supernatural renditions of New Orleans,
but they usually intensify a local aesthetic (Angel Heart) or impose a foreign one (like
the Gothic excess of Interview with the Vampire). Preacher stands apart because it
depicts a city that is recognizably New Orleans while creating a version of the city that
sits comfortably within the bizarre world that the show inhabits, with its off-kilter religious
attitude and its blissfully gory dark humor.

It helps that the show already established its distinctive world in the first season, before
the characters head to New Orleans, so we have a point of reference. This is not an
attempt to depict New Orleans accurately, or even exaggerate it, but to create a depiction
of the city as it would exist in Preacher's world. The result is a place where vehicles
labeled "Drunk" and "Dead" patrol the streets at night picking up bodies, where asking
for God on Bourbon Street will lead you to a fetish dungeon, where Harry Connick Jr's
house gets blown up by missiles (even though he doesn't live in New Orleans anymore).
It's both a parody of the city's reputation and a creation that fits seamlessly into the
absurd world the show engenders.

I'm looking forward to Season 3, which I haven't caught up with yet. I'm not sure if it's set
here, but they've done a lot of local shooting, and a good friend of mine seems to have a
pretty substantial role as a love interest for Cassidy.

Lagniappe
Image

This might have been a more appropriate lagniappe for Interview with the Vampire, but
Preacher also dabbles in vampirism, so I'll make up for my oversight.

After New Orleans was founded in the early 1700s, the earliest female inhabitants of the
city were usually either nuns or prostitutes. The Ursuline nuns arrived in the city in 1726
by order of King Louis XV, where they established a girl's school, an orphanage, and a
hospital. Prostitutes, called comfort women, also came by order of the king, who issued an
edict that served the double purpose of cleansing France of riffraff and populating the
colonies. The colonial men didn't consider either group marriage material, so they petitioned
the king, who had girls rounded up from convents and orphanages in France for the express
purpose of marriage in the colonies. They were called casquette girls for the small chests
that carried all their worldly belongings on the trans-Atlantic journey.

Local folklore says that when the first casquette girls arrived in the port, they were suffering
from the effects of a long sea voyage and appeared pale and sickly to those watching them
disembark. The onset of scurvy caused their gums to bleed and withdraw, making their
teeth look unnaturally long. Their casquettes took on a menacing aspect. Rumors of evil
spirits and vampires began to circulate the city. But in an ironic twist, several of the girls
succumbed to yellow fever and, due to the difficulty of constructing enough coffins during
an epidemic, were interred in their casquettes.

While casquette girls were real, the story is founded on a misconception about their origins.
They were originally called les filles à la cassette, meaning a small case, which gradually
morphed into casquette, which means cap in French. The similarity to casket proved irresistible
to local storytellers, resulting in a mix of vampire legend and colonial tragedy.

Image

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Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:25 am
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It lives!

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Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:14 pm
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I don't update this thread often, but I do intend to keep it going. I actually have some more stuff to add soon.

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Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:45 pm
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EMPIRE | Fallen Fruit (David Allen Burns and Austin Young) | 2018

This is an odd thing to post about since most of you won't be able to see it in person,
but I've been wanting to share more local artwork and this exhibit left a strong
impression. It's an art installation at the Newcomb Art Museum on Tulane's campus
that occupies the entire gallery space, created using artifacts, specimens, documents,
and artworks from the University's various archives. The only original elements are
the wallpapers that adorn each room; everything else was culled from archival material.
It was commissioned to celebrate the city's tricentennial this year, and it runs through
December, in case any of our local posters want to check it out. It's free and well worth seeing.

Monica Ramirez-Montagut, Museum Director wrote:
EMPIRE critically examines the principles of archives and anthropology to interrogate
the ways histories are told, remembered, and revised. The immersive artwork considers
the historical and contemporary effects that colonialism, slavery, trade, and tourism have
had on the movement of culture across and beyond borders to better understand the
geographic and cultural position of New Orleans in relationship to Africa, the Caribbean,
and Latin America. EMPIRE invites viewers to creatively interpret the displayed objects,
their connections, and their juxtapositions to generate new meanings.


A few of the pieces on display have brief explanatory statements, but the vast majority
are not contextualized in any way. By taking objects found in museums and rearranging
them, EMPIRE highlights the aesthetic, emotional, and intuitive impressions that this
ephemera evokes, eschewing the academic rigor and clarification we expect from such
collections. The result is a piece that is still historically engaged -- drawing attention to
the city's fraught legacy and the gendered and cultural biases that persist in archival
work -- yet elusive, startling in its variety and breadth, and quietly provocative in its ability
to dismantle our preconceptions about museum culture. It's like a cabinet of curiosities
strained through a postmodernist filter. This is an experience I've always unconsciously
sought in the museums I've visited, and here it is laid bare. (I'm also profoundly jealous
that these guys got to have their way with the archives.)

Lagniappe is just more photos I took. Click any image for much higher resolution. You can
find more information and pictures at the Newcomb Art Museum's website.

Image

Lagniappe
The Men's Room

Image

This room focuses on photography, folk ethnography, the
university's history, slave documents, patriarchal influence.

Image

"We wanted to make one pattern using the oak trees and the
branches started to look to us like estuaries of the Mississippi
River. There's a dark, foreboding quality to this pattern, and
we like the idea that you would enter into a different room
and it would have a different feeling, and maybe the subject
matter could reflect that feeling."

Image

The Empire Room

Image

This room focuses more on "imagery of cultural and
geographic conquests" including Tulane's own extensive
collection of Latin American antiquarian artifacts.

Image

The Women's Room

Image

This room favors portraits, sketches, Carnival art, cartoons
by local cartoonist/historian John Churchill Chase, and
other miscellany, like books and busts.

Image

All three rooms had accompanying soundscapes: in the
Empire Room, a line-up of songs by local musicians; in
the Men's Room, a collage of diverse field recordings,
both urban and natural; in the Women's Room, an interview
with blues singer Lizzie Miles.

Image

Laura Blereau, Curator and Coordinator of Academic Programming wrote:
Mythologies surface and recede as we navigate myriad
symbols and pictures, which evoke the dynamics of online
image search results, if not a cabinet of curiosities, the
forgotten attic, or, in the artists' words, a "kaleidoscope"
of vaulted objects.

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Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:50 pm
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Yo man, I happened to be listening to The Dirty Dozen this morning and I opened your thread and I thought maybe I'd drop off one of their songs here.
This is mainly just so people can hear what "New Orleans Music" sounds like and the kind of thing we see and hear when we go to our music clubs.
This is "Unclean Waters", one of my favorite New Orleans pieces of the last 20 years. It has an amazing, infectious main theme, an absolutely KILLER beat that demands you shake ya ass, and some great solos, including one by guest organ-player John Medeski of Medeski, Martin, and Wood (who plays in town with our cats a lot).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbVQUt3568s


Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:36 am
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