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The Wondrous, Sensuous World of Astralvision

By Yasmina Tawil

 By Charles Bramesco
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You don’t find it; it finds you, most likely in the dead of night.

You can’t sleep, you may or may not be on drugs (you don’t have to be, though it’d be a lot cooler, as they say, if you were), and you’re clicking around the weirder back channels of YouTube again. You pinball from ‘80s-era NASA test footage to “36 NEW SHOWS FROM THE HELLISH MID-SEASON TV OF 1979” to the deep catalog of VHS oddities discovered and uploaded by a dedicated corps of obsolescence fetishists. It’s here, among the creepy camcorder detritus and lost video-dating profiles, that “Electric Light Voyage” has been waiting for you.

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Elvis, Truelove and the Stolen Boy: The Tragic Machismo of Nick Cassavetes’ ‘Alpha Dog’

By Yasmina Tawil

By Amy Nicholson
[Last year, Musings paid homage to Produced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen, a review anthology from the National Society of Film Critics that championed studio orphans from the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the days before the Internet, young cinephiles like myself relied on reference books and anthologies to lead us to films we might not have discovered otherwise. Released in 1990, Produced and Abandoned was a foundational piece of work, introducing me to such wonders as Cutter’s Way, Lost in America, High Tide, Choose Me, Housekeeping, and Fat City. (You can find the full list of entries here.) Our first round of Produced and Abandoned essays included Angelica Jade Bastién on By the Sea, Mike D’Angelo on The Counselor, Judy Berman on Velvet Goldmine, and Keith Phipps on O.C. and Stiggs. Today, Musings concludes our month-long round of essays about tarnished gems, in the hope they’ll get a second look. Or, more likely, a first. —Scott Tobias, editor.]

 

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Evil in the Mirror: John Carpenter’s Revealing ‘Prince of Darkness’

By Yasmina Tawil

By Joshua Rothkopf

[Last year, Musings paid homage to Produced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen, a review anthology from the National Society of Film Critics that championed studio orphans from the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the days before the Internet, young cinephiles like myself relied on reference books and anthologies to lead us to films we might not have discovered otherwise. Released in 1990, Produced and Abandoned was a foundational piece of work, introducing me to such wonders as Cutter’s Way, Lost in America, High Tide, Choose Me, Housekeeping, and Fat City. (You can find the full list of entries here.) Our first round of Produced and Abandoned essays included Angelica Jade Bastién on By the Sea, Mike D’Angelo on The Counselor, Judy Berman on Velvet Goldmine, and Keith Phipps on O.C. and Stiggs. Over the next four weeks, Musings will continue with another round of essays about tarnished gems, in the hope they’ll get a second look. Or, more likely, a first. —Scott Tobias, editor.]

 

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The Pixelated Splendor of Michael Mann’s ‘Blackhat’

By Yasmina Tawil

By Bilge Ebiri

[Last year, Musings paid homage to Produced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen, a review anthology from the National Society of Film Critics that championed studio orphans from the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the days before the Internet, young cinephiles like myself relied on reference books and anthologies to lead us to films we might not have discovered otherwise. Released in 1990, Produced and Abandoned was a foundational piece of work, introducing me to such wonders as Cutter’s Way, Lost in America, High Tide, Choose Me, Housekeeping, and Fat City. (You can find the full list of entries here.) Our first round of Produced and Abandoned essays included Angelica Jade Bastién on By the Sea, Mike D’Angelo on The Counselor, Judy Berman on Velvet Goldmine, and Keith Phipps on O.C. and Stiggs. Over the next four weeks, Musings will continue with another round of essays about tarnished gems, in the hope they’ll get a second look. Or, more likely, a first. —Scott Tobias, editor.]

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Left Hand, Right Hand: Good and Evil in Bill Paxton’s ‘Frailty’

By Yasmina Tawil

By April Wolfe

[Last year, Musings paid homage to Produced and Abandoned: The Best Films You’ve Never Seen, a review anthology from the National Society of Film Critics that championed studio orphans from the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the days before the Internet, young cinephiles like myself relied on reference books and anthologies to lead us to films we might not have discovered otherwise. Released in 1990, Produced and Abandoned was a foundational piece of work, introducing me to such wonders as Cutter’s Way, Lost in America, High Tide, Choose Me, Housekeeping, and Fat City. (You can find the full list of entries here.) Our first round of Produced and Abandoned essays included Angelica Jade Bastién on By the Sea, Mike D’Angelo on The Counselor, Judy Berman on Velvet Goldmine, and Keith Phipps on O.C. and Stiggs. Over the next four weeks, Musings will continue with another round of essays about tarnished gems, in the hope they’ll get a second look. Or, more likely, a first. —Scott Tobias, editor.]

 

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The Cat Who Won’t Cop Out: Shaft as the ‘70s Black Superhero

By Yasmina Tawil

By Jason Bailey

(The following essay is excerpt from Jason’s new book, It’s Okay With Me: Hollywood, the 1970s, and the Return of the Private Eye.)


The first thing John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) does in Gordon Parks’ Shaft, after emerging from a Times Square subway station below the grindhouse movie theaters that would eventually and enthusiastically screen his adventures, is walk into New York City traffic (Shaft can’t be stopped, even by Eighth Avenue) and flip off the driver who gets too close to him. Meet your new action hero, Middle America; here is his message to you.

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Gold is Cold, Diamonds are Dead: Charlize Theron’s Relentless Search for Authenticity

By Yasmina Tawil

By Manuela Lazic
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In 2004, the same year that she won an Oscar for Monster, Charlize Theron achieved perhaps her greatest fame with the Dior television ad for J’AdoreA decade later, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road was instantly canonized as one of the best action films ever made and Theron’s anti-glamorous Imperator Furiosa 

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Map of the Human Heart: My New York in ‘Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ and ‘They Came Together’

By Yasmina Tawil

By Vadim Rizov

For ten years now, I’ve nursed an oddly specific theory: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlistis the most geographically accurate film about New York City, at least within the last 15 years. This is a strange thing to fixate on, not least because the film doesn’t come up much: It came out a decade ago, received generally fine reviews, and made $33 million (at least in part because it was riding the...

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