The Drop Box

July 19, 2009

Quick Notes

Filed under: Movies — Toshi Yano @ 1:38 pm

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) – with Tony Curtis as an advertising hack and Jayne Mansfield as, I guess, herself – was fun, if fluffy, stuff: light satire of Madison Avenue and celebrity culture, with some really good comic moments and quaint (in the best way) double entendres (polishing one’s Oscar, anyone?)

Auntie Mame (1958), with Rosalind Russell in the title role – the story of a vivacious, free-thinking socialite and her orphaned nephew, told over a period of nine years during the Depression, in vignettes – has its share of great comedy, too; the beginning and end shine particularly brightly.


Kenneth Anger Short With Mystery Psych Soundtrack

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , — Toshi Yano @ 3:49 am

Puce Moment, from WFMU’s Beware Of The Blog.

Mad Men – Season 2, ctd. or, Mad Men is a great show

Filed under: Movies — Tags: — Toshi Yano @ 3:41 am

The first season of Mad Men was well-written, entertaining, engaging; the second was the same, no doubt, but with a more explicitly intellectual bent: the question of identity, alluded to in the first season, became in the second season not just a narrative device (who is Don Draper?), but the central concern – who are we all? how do we create our identities? or, alternatively, how are our identities created for us?

If the first season established the characters and their milieu, the second season – especially its second half – undid them; by the last episode, almost nothing remained of what we thought we knew – identities, seemingly stable, had been altered radically, including Sterling-Cooper’s itself. If this seems like a strange way to advance a story, I can only imagine things becoming more uncanny; we’ve only reached 1962 after all…

A potential for greatness existed from the outset – there’s almost no better place to confront the question of who we are than a Madison Avenue advertising firm at the beginning of the 60s (watch the documentary, The Century of the Self, for a potent critique of PR, advertising, the creation of desire and mass control – scary stuff) – but for the most part while watching the show I thought I was being entertained, not interrogated; which makes this is some of the cleverest TV I’ve ever watched – I actually found myself surprised at the depths the show achieved, wondering how we had arrived and where the show could possibly go next. 

I realize I’m not talking about the characters, the plot – anything materially relevant to the show itself – but I’m still getting over my initial shock at its depth. I love almost all the characters, particularly those drawn with more detail, and I hope I can write contemporaneous posts as the third season airs, and do justice to their stories.

July 16, 2009

Mad Men – Season 2, ctd.

Filed under: Movies — Tags: — Toshi Yano @ 1:34 am

Finished the second season today. My earlier misgivings were eased somewhat – what I took for a devolution toward soap opera may instead have been a long set up for the show’s theme – that becoming what you desire requires willful forgetting. This is most obvious where it concerns Don’s and Peggy’s storylines, but it also sheds light on Pete, Roger, Joan and Salvatore. Also, the second half of the season is just more fun – our attention is brought back to the office and its subtle politics, the arena in which most of the first season took place. It’s what I’d been missing from the first half of the season.

July 15, 2009

Another Soap Opera?

Filed under: Movies — Toshi Yano @ 12:00 am

I’m halfway through Season 2 of Mad Men and I feels like it’s falling prey to Soap Opera Syndrome – Six Feet Under’s second season felt this way, too, and I never picked it up again. I’m still going to finish it – I’ve invested the time, and there are interesting ideas – but the turn toward melodrama is unexpected. Maybe it’s a shift in perspective from the men on the show to the women? I’ll think about this more – I’ve got the 3rd disc waiting…

February 14, 2008

Roland Topor (1938-1997)


Here’s some stuff that Roland Topor has done that you haven’t.


1. He was a key member of the “Panic Movement”  in 1962, a theatre group that critiqued Surrealism for being too bourgeois while still embracing its basic guidelines.  The other founding members of the group were crazy psychedelic filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and crazy psychedelic playwright Fernando Arrabal.


2. He wrote the novella “The Tenant” which was adapted by pederast extraordinaire, Roman Polanski into one of the best horror films ever made.


3. He was the main animator on Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage, 1973) and wrote a ton of stuff for TV and film, including “Marquis” which features an dog faced Marquis de Sade arguing with his human-faced erection.  A-may-zing.


5. Acted in a ton of crap.  He was Renfield in Werner Herzog’s “Nosferatu” (1979).  I know, that’s pretty fucking sweet.


So this is a dude to check out.  Big time.



February 13, 2008

Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , — jaysongreen @ 1:03 pm

So this isn’t a review of the film, but more a reason to show our faithful readers (blogateers, ho!) a trailer that would/could make you download in your pants. This is a 1971 Mario Bava masterpiece more popularly known as “Bay of Blood” but released initially in the US with the title “Twitch of the Death Nerve” (which wins the award for best movie title of all time (next to “Fast and Furious : Tokyo Drift” of course)). This is the film that laid the groundwork for all of those 80s giant body count slashers we’ve come to know and… well… sometimes love, but mostly watch out of obligation.  In fact a number of kills in “Friday the 13th” were taken directly from “Death Nerve.” Suck on that. But don’t blame Bava too hard for creating a genre that kills fun teens (aka ones who like beer and doing it) and rewards nerds (aka the ones that don’t) – he didn’t know how weird America would be in the 80s.  Anyfart, here’s the trailer and I’d have to say it might be my fav based on aesthetics alone.   Oh yeah, the Italian title is “Reazione a Catena.”

February 8, 2008

The Outfit (1973)

 The Outfit poster

Earl Macklin (Robert Duvall) is barely out of prison when his girl, Bett (Karen Black), tells him his brother’s been killed. Worse, she’s partially responsible. Worse yet, he’s next. When his would-be killer comes through the door, Macklin jumps him, ties him up and puts the proverbial screws to him. Turns out he and his brother robbed the wrong bank, and the organization whose money went missing wants payback. So begins Earl’s epic excursion against the Outfit, a crime syndicate that controls half of the country. 


February 4, 2008

Rambo: To Hell And Back (2008)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 7:45 pm

Rambo bubble gum

Following is a take on the new Rambo by my buddy, Jayson Green, hopefully a frequent contributor:

Rambo, Or, Why I Have an Uncomfortable Ramboner

A Play In One Act

A glassy-eyed ME sits, staring into the middle-distance. YOU enter.

You: How was Rambo?

Me: I don’t think I can answer that question. I guess I can say it’s amazing, but I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment.

You: Was it violent?

Me: They throw a newborn baby into a burning building. And what I mean when I say that is, you see someone THROW A TINY BABY INTO A FIRE! 


The Story Of The Weeping Camel (2003)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , — Toshi Yano @ 3:20 am

 The Story of the Weeping Camel

A camel gives birth to an albino calf and ignores it totally, deep in post-partum depression. The calf nears death. The Mongols of the Gobi Desert have a cure: a violinist plays a reconciliation song for mother and child. It works: the camel learns to love its offspring. Try not to cry.

Bachelor Party (1984), Part II

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 3:10 am



Tris writes, “I really enjoyed Bachelor Party.  I was twelve at the time, and that may have had something to do with it, but still… that was my kind of movie. Its only flaw, in my opinion, was that Rodney Dangerfield was not in it. But he was there in spirit.”

      Dangerfield would have been the cherry on the top, definitely.

Stefany writes, “I still think that Bachelor Party is some of Hanks’ finest work.”


Jeff writes, “terse stuff yano. I guess you just don’t “get” adrian zmed stick to the art fag movies from now on.”

      I saw Grease 2 in the theaters, friend.

Listen, I like Bachelor Party as much as the next guy. Not in the sense that I’d want to watch it sober more than once every twenty years; but it’d be fun at a frat – every time someone says “hookers” or “tits”, drink, and I guarantee you’ll be wasted in half an hour. Does that make it “good”? Okay.

February 3, 2008

La Moustache (2005)

La Moustache poster 

“What if I shaved my moustache off?” Marc (Vincent Lindon) asks his wife, Agnes (the always excellent Emmanuelle Devos). “No idea. I like you with it. I don’t know you without it.” And so immediately, willfully and with some pleasure, Marc shaves his moustache off. But instead of being surprised or dismayed, Agnes doesn’t notice at all; their friends Serge and Nadia, with whom they dine later that night, don’t notice anything unusual either. Marc doesn’t bring it up, but he’s visibly shaken; and worst of all, when he finally does confront Agnes, he’s told he never had a moustache – more than a bit upset, he thinks he’s the victim of an elaborate joke orchestrated by his wife. 



Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , — Toshi Yano @ 1:52 am

WFMU has a trippy Czech movie from 1968 here.

January 30, 2008

This Sporting Life (1963)

Richard Harris in This Sporting Life

Men collide into one another on a rugby pitch, a confusion of bodies and sounds; someone’s punched in the face, falls bloody to the ground, gets carried off – a distraction. The Hobbesian poetry of this opening scene could stand in for the entire film: full of violence, turmoil and confusion, ending in devastation. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, This Sporting Life is considered the last of the major British New Wave films; containing both an angry young man and a kitchen sink, the film was the Rank Organisation‘s late entry into the field, and when it failed financially, the social realist trend in British cinema essentially died.



January 29, 2008

Bachelor Party (1984)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 6:41 pm

Bachelor Party poster 

Coke, ‘ludes, hookers, trannies, T&A, S&M, a drug-addled donkey, an Indian pimp, Tawny Kitaen – and Tom Hanks? Is it good? Does it matter? 

January 27, 2008

They Live By Night (1948)

They Live by Night poster

I’ve tiptoed around Nicholas Ray‘s movies for ages: I love the stuff I’ve seen, particularly Johnny Guitar and In a Lonely Place, but I haven’t seen a lot – something about the burden of expectations… But when Ray’s first feature, They Live By Night, was recently made available on DVD, I took a chance. It looks like an easy one, part of a cheapo double feature with Side Street, but the film is a revelation. An absolutely devastating noir starring Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell as Bowie and Keechie, the eponymous lovers on the lam, They Live By Night highlights in particular what a great director of actors Ray was, right off the bat. He’s no slouch with the visuals either: often noted for his expressive use of camera and color, here Ray works us over in black and white, following the misbegotten couple from the first bated breath of romance to its last gasp.


January 22, 2008

Vanishing Point (1971)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 9:32 pm

Vanishing Point poster 

Vanishing Point opens with a wonderfully slow 180-degree pan, beginning at an empty Shell station, passing over rural landscape and ending on an empty road. From the distance a police motorcycle speeds towards us, siren blaring, but we don’t follow it – the camera stays on the road. Two bulldozers creep across the screen; another police vehicle whips by, but again the camera refuses to budge – it’s focused intently on the bulldozers’ deliberate advance. A broken window with a tattered screen, the bulldozers reflected in a shard of glass – an old man mumbling to himself, watching the bulldozers pass – a handful of townsfolk eyeing the strange procession, vaguely curious… Finally the bulldozers stop and drop their blades to the blacktop, blocking both lanes of the two-lane highway. This title sequence is a near-perfect example of a certain kind of Seventies filmmaking – it’s contemplative, has a real pastoral quality and induces a strange longing – and it’s a shame because it’s the best part of the movie. It’s a shame, too, because the absurdity that follows does not feel nearly as enjoyable as it could have, coming on the heels of such a fine introduction.


January 20, 2008

Speaking of 2007…

Filed under: General, Movies — Tags: — Toshi Yano @ 2:07 pm

A bit late, but here are my favorites (in alphabetical order):

Black BookEastern PromisesHot FuzzNo Country for Old MenSuperbadThere Will Be BloodZodiac.

Let me know what I missed.

January 19, 2008

The Orphanage (2008)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , , — Toshi Yano @ 5:08 pm

The Orphanage

The Orphanage arrives on these shores with Guillermo Del Toro‘s name above the title, using that “famous-director-presents” formula that Quentin Tarantino’s name figures in every now and then. Interesting to see Del Toro throwing that kind of weight around… Anyway, it worked on me – Del Toro made my favorite ghost story in years, The Devil’s Backbone; and here he is beckoning us to a new one from Juan Antonio Bayona, who seems to have a knack for it.


The Best Movie of 2007?

Filed under: General, Movies — Toshi Yano @ 3:17 pm

For fans of There Will Be Blood…

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