Beauty is Embarrassing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Hard Romanticker The streets of Tokyo are awash in blood and attitude in this tale of warring thugs battling for supremacy and revenge. An old woman is killed during a burglary, and her hoodlum grandson mistakenly believes Gu (Shota Matsuda) was behind the murder. Gu finds himself targeted, but he’s far too cool to run and instead finds time to cause some carnage of his own. This is a hard and brutal film that finds both cruelty and black humor in the lives of these punks. No one escapes unscathed, and women fare extremely poorly, but the film makes an effort to take the romance out of these junior yakuza’s lifestyles. Artsploitation Films is still a young label, but their third (and best) release continues to get everything right. In addition to the fantastic film they’ve included a booklet featuring two in depth essays on the film. Also, while this may only matter to nerdy collectors like myself, they’re also wisely numbering their releases on the spine a la Criterion and Drafthouse Films. [Extras: Trailer, collector's booklet]

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Last night, at a special event in conjunction with the AFI FEST, the nominees for the 2013 Cinema Eye Honors were announced. And once again, the titles contending for the ten feature categories, all of which focus solely on nonfiction films (to make up for the Oscars’ minimal recognition), represent the year’s best in documentaries. As someone who professionally concentrates on docs elsewhere, I tend to feel kinda useless or redundant when Cinema Eye names its nominees, because now when someone asks me what’s great this year I can just point to their list of 31 features. Of course, some of these films are only up for specific honors, like those for original music score and graphic design, and may not be quite as necessary as the six up for the top award or the 10 nominated for the Audience Choice Prize (which sadly, for publicity-sake, lacks a Justin Bieber movie like last year). Also, I could name a bunch of exceptional docs that haven’t been recognized, such as This is Not a Film, The House I Live In, Under African Skies, Beware of Mr. Baker, Last Call at the Oasis, The Queen of Versailles, Girl Model (though its directors are up for Downeast) and The Invisible War. Still, I’m very excited that one of my top three nonfiction films of the year, The Imposter, is one of the most-nominated titles, while I’m even more ecstatic that the CEH could bring more attention to brilliant, lesser-known works like Only the […]

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Neil Berkeley‘s new documentary, Beauty is Embarrassing, invites us into the blissful insanity of Wayne White – the artist behind Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, several iconic music videos and a ton of incredible prints. Both men join me to discuss the nature of art, why it could possibly be embarrassing, and then I try to get them to say the word of the day. Download Episode #149

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Beauty is Embarrassing

You’re probably a fan of Wayne White’s artwork even if you don’t know it. In fact, that’s a bet Mark Mothersbaugh would be willing to make. The iconic musician is one of many to appear as a talking head for the new doc Beauty is Embarrassing, but he’s not the biggest one. The biggest talking head is, of course, one of White’s creations. This new trailer for the film, which is out on September 7th, celebrates some incredible art and a bizarrely beautiful mind. Check it out for yourself:

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This year’s SXSW may be over, but it’s certainly not forgotten. Another week of barbeque, buddies, beer, and – oh yeah – movies down, and we’re still recovering, both in terms of remembering everything we saw and attempting to pry ourselves out of our stretchiest of pants. As with any film festival, the stunning depth of films available to watch has resulted in a solid handful of serious favorites. This time around, our twelve favorite films of the festival include big studio comedy, intimate documentary, the best action film in years, true independent features, and even a picture made entirely on cell phones. Take a look at our twelve favorites from this year’s SXSW after the break.

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Would you have ever expected that a completely eccentric, beautifully talented artist, and sometime puppeteer was behind the some of the puppets and set design on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse? Actually you might, because those were some of the strangest puppets ever to hit television. But there’s an equally strange personality behind them. Wayne White, a Tennessee-born surreal pop art artist and puppeteer, is the subject of the incredibly impressive Beauty is Embarrassing documentary that was one of the most entertaining films I saw during SXSW this year. The film, which documents White’s beginnings as an artist (paying a lot of attention to the time he spent working on Pee-Wee up to the present day) opens with White and his one-man art retrospective show, which is presented more like a stand-up act than an art show: White plays the banjo, tells jokes, shows slides along with his artwork, and sings. It’s highly entertaining, and shows you that while he might look like a curmudgeonly man yelling at you to get off his lawn, he’s actually a lovable guy underneath.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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