Sunday, February 28, 2010

From Herzog to Wenders: The Loft's Favorite German Films

Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1977)

Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926)

Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)

Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl, 1938)

Das Boot (Wolfgang Petersen, 1981)

M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998)

Aguirre, Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttmann, 1927)

Pandora's Box (G.W. Pabst, 1929)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


In honor of this weekend's extremely quotable Cult Classic, AIRPLANE!, I've decided to take a poll of the Loft staff's favorite quotes from other funny films.

Here it goes:


Ray: You think there's a connection between this Vigo character and the... slime?

Egon: Is the atomic weight of cobalt 58.9?

- Ghostbusters II


Alvy Singer: Oh really? I heard that "Commentary" and
"Dissent" had merged and formed "Dysentery."

-Annie Hall


Seymour: What are we, in slow motion here? C'mon, what are you, hypnotized? Have some more kids, why don't you?

-Ghost World


Happy Gilmore: The price is wrong, bitch!

-Happy Gilmore


Spaulding: (to two ladies) Let's get married!

Mrs. Rittenhouse: The three of us? Why, that's bigamy!

Spaulding: Yes! And it's big of me, too!

-Animal Crackers


Lu-Lu Fishpaw: I'm gonna get an abortion and I can't WAIT!



Gene: Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Gary: Come on - what?

Gene: Finish up the taters.

Gary: And then what did you say?

then what did I say?

Gary: Y
ou said you were going to... fondle your sweaters.

Gene: Ah, uh - no I didn't. I said... fondue the cheddar... I was thinking about making fondue with cheddar cheese for dinner tonight.

-Wet Hot American Summer


The Dude: That guy treats objects like women, man

-The Big Lebowski


Patrick Bateman: I have to return some videotapes.

-American Psycho


Henry Fool:
I can't work for a living, Simon, it's impossible. I've tried once. My genius will be wasted trying to make ends meet. This is how great men topple, Simon.

-Henry Fool


President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Monday, February 15, 2010

Night Train to Terror (1985) - Billups Allen

When searching the Internet for the director of Night Train to Terror, IMDB shows two names listed with a “more” link underneath. For an episodic horror vehicle, it is not necessarily a bad sign. It is a bad sign when five directors are listed and three of their careers end on this movie. Night Train to Terror is one of the most convoluted films I have ever enjoyed watching. With the subtlety of a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it, the film weaves in and out of extreme gore, convoluted plot lines, and claymation sequences of questionable quality and necessity. There are abrupt cuts to things that are hard to relate to the rest of the story and characters appear and disappear without having any bearing on the plot. They even pull the old “sticking a still shot of a character in place of footage” trick that was made famous in Bruce Lee movies produced after his death. It is hard to believe such a wonderful mess exists. It has singularly lowered the bar for what I consider a bad movie. In theory, the film is broken into three macabre stories. In actuality there are about thirty stories in play at any given time. It is so confusing that it never gets boring. It is as if Mario Bava made a movie in a stock footage room with his eyes closed and his ears plugged.

As an example of the stream of consciousness at play here, the third story involves a Holocaust survivor who sees one of his Nazi captors on television reviewing a ballet performance. The alleged Nazi is in his 20s, so nobody believes that the man in question could have been the head of a concentration camp except for a neighbor who happens to be a police officer. The police officer decides to look into it. You would think that this is a fair enough premise for a twenty-minute horror short, but it doesn’t end there. The Nazi turns out to be a demon who takes an interest in a man who is writing a book called “God Is Dead” whose wife is a surgeon who recognizes that the young man is the devil, or a demon, or something, then decides surgically remove his heart, but then he turns into a bigger demon. And the story goes on and on.

While the stories unfold, God (credited as playing himself) and the Devil (played by Lu Sifer) sit on a train overseeing these events. On the train with them is the real abomination, a terrible 80s band plays the same song throughout the movie. As with many 80s movies, the band breaks out into a spontaneous music video, but this video never ends. By the schedule of the movie, the band must have been at it for hours. Oh, and the train, according to the Devil, is about to crash.

The movie is exhausting to think about, but a lot of fun to watch. Occasionally a narrator (not God, which might make some sense) attempts to explain of what you are seeing, but it seldom does more that raise further questions. It is so bad, it bears repeated viewings. I’m sure I will not remember what Avatar was about in three years, but I will for sure still be trying to figure out what the hell is going on in Night Train to Terror. It is without a doubt one of the most confounding narratives ever created. It makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane, and is a must see for the psychotronic crowd.

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR - Monday, February 15th 8pm $2. It's MONDO MONDAYS at The Loft, celebrating weird, wild and wonderful flicks from the Mondo side of the silver screen! Admission is only $2.00, and don't forget to check out our yummy "Mondo Munchies" snack bucket ... fill a cup for a buck!

Billups Allen's interest in writing began composing lyrics for the band Shoutbus and later for the band Corn on Macabre. Lyrical duties led to writing poetry and short stories. Several of his short stories were published in a book entitled Unfurnished published by Florida’s now defunct Schematics Records. Allen currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where he writes Cramhole comic zine, writes reviews for Razorcake Magazine and the Tucson Citizen and hosts a radio show called The Groove Tomb.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance: The Loft Cinema's Favorite Movie Musicals

Zach (Director of Theater Operations)


(Cory McAbee, 2001)

Kyle (Theater Manager)


(Lars von Trier, 2000)

Anthony (Floor Staff)


(Brian De Palma, 1974)

J.J. (Operations Director)

(Perry Henzell, 1972)

Alyson (Floor Staff)


(Ronald Neame, 1970)

Peggy (Executive Director)

(John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)

Tim (Floor Staff)


(Howard Hawks, 1953)

Christian (Floor Staff)


(Albert Magnoli, 1984)

Steven (Office Manager)


(Mervyn LeRoy, 1933)

Luanne (Membership Director)


(George Cukor, 1954)

Jeff (Program Director)


(Gillian Armstrong, 1982)

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Loft's Top Ten Vampire Films That Don't Suck

1. Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922)

2. Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)

3. Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)

4. Andy Warhol's Dracula
aka Blood For Dracula (Paul Morrissey, 1974)

5. The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987)

6. Fright Night (Tom Holland, 1985)

7. Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)

8. The Fearless Vampire Killers,
or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (Roman Polanski, 1967)

9. Lifeforce (Tobe Hooper, 1985)

10. Nosferatu (Werner Herzog, 1979)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

See You at the Cinema - Peggy Springer

“See you at the cinema,” Luanne said to people as they left our booth. On Tuesday, we set up a booth at the UA Vendor Fair where Luanne and I gave away free tickets to movies, handed out information on upcoming events and films, and got people to sign up for a drawing. We also had candy on the table for the eating. Thank you for stopping and talking to us! We enjoyed being on campus from 10-2 and I think we may have even recruited a few new volunteers.

We met a girl who is changing careers—she just began school for dentistry and she’s currently a radio DJ--from DJ to Dentist! She told us she loves The Loft and loves the Sing-Alongs, but didn’t go to the Holiday Sing-Along because she doesn’t like Christmas.

There was a guy who stopped by on his bike who is in Tucson with his wife for a month—they come every year for a month or two, ever since their son started going to school here. Their son has long since graduated; but they’ve kept up the tradition of visiting Tucson. He was happy to pick up our February calendar and we were happy to give it to him.

There was a girl (pre-med. major) who told us how much she appreciates The Loft and what we do for the community. She said the films we show raise the level of dialogue for everyone in the city.

For thirty or forty minutes of our day, two guys played Frisbee behind the booths. They’d occasionally engage a stranger and try to get others to play with them. The wind picked up suddenly as they played, and a dust devil swirled around and around a little patch of dirt in the grass. One of the Frisbee players promptly jogged into the dust devil and, once there, spun himself around and around with his arms outstretched and his smiling face pointed upward.

There was a lady who talked to Luanne about “The Maid” while I was taking a break. This lady had really loved the film and asked Luanne if she’d seen it. Luanne told her she wished she had so that they could talk about it. Lady, wherever you are, I love that movie! What a tremendous film!

At some point, a field trip of youngsters appeared and stormed the table for candy. Their chaperones shouted from behind them, “This is not why we’re here—keep moving!”

At the end of the day, a guy dressed casually in shorts and a T-shirt, with about four pens affixed to his collar, visited with us. “I work for the Federal Government; we’re here to help,” he said as he straightened all the piles of fliers on our table. He assured us that all Border Patrol agents are just like him—friendly, outgoing, charming, and funny. He told us that he used to take all of his first dates to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He’s married now, and he doesn’t believe his wife has ever seen it.

See you at the cinema.

Peggy Springer volunteers at The Loft when not working at a local coffee shop. She loves to write, take pictures, read, and watch things on screen. Peggy is considering returning to school, and otherwise does her best to welcome whatever life throws her way. Check out the Volunteer Vignette written by her on this blog. If you're interested in volunteering at The Loft, please visit our website for more details.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

For the Love of Movies - Justyn Dillingham

People have been making films for more than a century, but until now, at least to my knowledge, no one’s ever thought to turn the camera back on those suspicious-looking characters hanging around the edge of the medium. We’re all familiar with them, some of their names may even ring a bell, and they even inspired a much-mourned mid-’90s animated sitcom with Jon Lovitz. I’m talking, of course, about those most baffling of all semi-celebrities, movie critics. What makes them so confusing is that whenever they happen to love the same movies as you, they’re brilliant, insightful, and profound; when they dislike a film you loved, they’re mysteriously transformed into thoughtless dunces who just don’t get it.

Directed by movie critic Gerald Peary, who told an interviewer that he originally contemplated making a film about “eating barbecue,” “For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism” celebrates a century of America’s strangest moviegoers: the ones who share their views with the rest of us, and even get paid for it. It’s oddly appropriate that this documentary was made by a critic-turned-director; for decades, being a critic was the best way to pick up the connections to make your own film. Plenty of one-time critics, from Fran├žois Truffaut to Lindsay Anderson to Peter Bogdanovich, have wound up throwing down their pens and picking up cameras. (Few of them, sadly, ever picked up the pen again, except to sign autographs.)

For the last few generations of movie-goers, the most familiar critics around were Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, whose weekly televised sparrings introduced countless young viewers to the joys of arguing about movies. (Their best bust-up may have been about “Blue Velvet,” which Ebert found morally reprehensible.) Sadly, future generations won’t have the same privilege: Siskel was felled by a brain tumor in 1999, while Ebert’s speaking voice was stilled by cancer surgery in 2006. Their absence is surely the most poignant on television; it still feels vaguely unsettling that you can go see a new movie and never find out what Siskel and Ebert would have said about it. Fortunately, they’re alive and well on YouTube, and their annual roundups of the year’s worst movies remain among the most entertaining moments in television history.

As they teach you in screenwriting class, every good story has a conflict, and “For the Love of Movies” is no exception. The most memorable conflict here is the notorious feud between Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael, the two great super-critics of the ‘60s whose visions of what movies ought to be like were so profoundly irreconcilable that the two could barely stand to be in the same room. Sarris’s angle — which he shared with the great French director-critics like Jean-Luc Godard — was that the director was the one and only true “author” of a film, and that an unpretentious Hollywood director like Howard Hawks was no less worthy and serious an artist than, say, Ingmar Bergman. In his classic book The American Cinema, he slotted every important American director into a series of categories: On the one hand, “The Pantheon” (Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles), and way down at the other end, “Strained Seriousness.” (Stanley Kubrick, of all people, wound up there.) Nowadays, this might smack of academic dweebitude, but back then, it was more on the level of assembling a list of your favorite baseball players and ranking them from best to worst. Snooty critic John Simon complained that Sarris was giving a good reputation to unadulterated trash; in response, Sarris snapped that Simon was “the greatest film critic of the 19th century.”

On the other side of the debate stood Kael, a diminutive, smart-mouthed San Franciscan who thought Sarris’s theories were a lot of hooey, speciously set up to justify his adoration of the “narcissistic male fantasies” of “tawdry little gangster pictures.” Kael loved bad, trashy movies as much as the next film buff, but she was too independent-minded to go along with any kind of system. She boldly declared that she never, ever saw a movie more than once, blithely declaring, “Who changes his mind about a movie?” Among her least favorite films was “2001,” which struck her as “monumentally unimaginative.” (Sarris, meanwhile, had second thoughts about “2001” when he reviewed it “while under the influence of a smoked substance that I was assured by my contact was somewhat stronger and more authentic than oregano.”) Thus she would see a movie, go home and stay up all night scribbling her thoughts until she passed out, and turn in the uncensored results of her brainstorm to be printed in the slickest and classiest of all publications, The New Yorker. (Later, she would have to pore over the page proofs and restore all the words that the magazine’s famously finicky editor, William Shawn, had expunged.) Kael assembled a flock of followers — the “Paulettes” — who had a hell of a time keeping up with her tumultuously unpredictable tastes. She retired in 1991 — “The prospect of having to sit through another Oliver Stone movie is too much,” she explained — and it’s safe to say there’s been no one like her since.

Today, it can’t honestly be said that film criticism generates the same kind of excitement that it did in the glory days. With the coming of the Internet — and blogs and online comments — everyone in the world now has the chance to be read by more people than Sarris and Kael ever were. But one somehow doubts that anyone prints out online comments and carries them around the way aspiring film nerds carried around tattered copies of The American Cinema. For one thing, most contemporary viewers probably couldn’t identify half the names in that book. Yet there remain good critics, like Stephanie Zacharek and Dave Kehr, and even amusingly awful ones, like the New York Press’s contrarian wack-job Armond White (whose barely comprehensible ravings make him come off as Kael after too much Mountain Dew). “For the Love of Movies” reminds us that critics always matter; like them or not, they’ve got the chutzpah to nail their names to their opinions, and stand by them forever.

“For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism” is playing at The Loft Cinema Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m.

Justyn Dillingham is a 2009 graduate of the University of Arizona. His favorite film is “A Taste of Honey” (1961).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let the Right One In - Billups Allen

Suffering and lost among the mediocre wash of terrible vampire narratives flowing like blood from a busted jugular over the past few years is a Swedish horror film called Let the Right One In; the story of Eli (Lina Leandersson), a twelve-year-old vampire, who moves in next door to a boy named Oskar (Kare Hedebrant). Oskar is shy and being viciously bullied at school. As a plot device, you might think this scenario is ripe for a tween moneymaker. But Let the Right One In is not your daughter’s vampire story; it deserves a spot in the canon of interesting horror films produced in the 2000s.

The story takes place in 1982 in a snowy suburb of Stockholm. The setting is dark and foreboding and it takes a while for a few people to process that a few others are missing. In my opinion, that is where a vampire narrative should exist primarily. I don’t mind a certain amount of experimenting, but director Tomas Alfredson succeeds in delivering actual suspense within the parameters of the genre rather than blasting fantastical special effects into absurdist action sequences performed by heartthrobs. The unassuming style of shooting gives the movie a raw and realistic feel. Let the Right One In is dirty, cold and sparse and when someone is killed, the implications of murder are palpable due to well-conceived action sequences. A particularly captivating death scene takes place in a swimming pool and is notable largely due to a tactful use of blood.

Let the Right One In is also interesting because, as a general rule, I don’t like movies that feature kids. But Leandersson and Hedebrant both perform their roles with astounding depth. The two are on screen for a large portion of the movie, and both appear to be very advanced actors considering their ages. What this movie captures so well is the notion that a pre-teen vampire would be a complex character with a range of thorny and irresolvable impulses. The movie explores this notion without abandoning the primary character trait inherent in a vampire. Vampires are scary.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Tomas Alfredson, 2008, Sweden, 115 mins., rated R) screens this Friday & Saturday at 10pm at The Loft as part of our weekly Cult Classic series.

Billups Allen's interest in writing began composing lyrics for the band Shoutbus and later for the band Corn on Macabre. Lyrical duties led to writing poetry and short stories. Several of his short stories were published in a book entitled Unfurnished published by Florida’s now defunct Schematics Records. Allen currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where he writes Cramhole comic zine, writes reviews for Razorcake Magazine and the Tucson Citizen and hosts a radio show called The Groove Tomb.