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Lost Highway (#110 of 10)

15 Greatest Smashing Pumpkins Songs

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15 Greatest Smashing Pumpkins Songs
15 Greatest Smashing Pumpkins Songs

As Greg Kot of Guitar World once quipped, “the [Smashing] Pumpkins remain an island unto themselves.” That was in 2001, when the band had spent a decade carving out an impressive art-rock niche, and long after a shortsighted music press had once smacked them with unenviable and laughably off-base label of “the next Nirvana.” But even to this day, the two bands are often clumped together as vanguards of the scathing, grungy brand of alternative rock that defined the early ’90s.

And yet, on the 20th anniversary of the release of the Pumpkins’ seminal sophomore album, Siamese Dream, there’s little doubt that the group is much more than some also-ran grunge outfit chasing Kurt Cobain’s shadow. Indeed, with eight studio albums and dozens of EPs, compilations, and soundtrack contributions, Billy Corgan and company have proved to be expert evocateurs, stitching together their melodic pastiche from a diverse litany of musical, literary, and visual sources. Armed with a mosaic sound that includes hat-tips to glam rock, art nouveau, psychedelia, goth, vaudeville, new wave, and Victorian romanticism, the Pumpkins have transcended any one moment or movement, instead reveling in the entire tessellation of 20th-century art.

Video: Nine Inch Nails’ "Came Back Haunted" Directed by David Lynch

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Video: Nine Inch Nails’ “Came Back Haunted” Directed by David Lynch
Video: Nine Inch Nails’ “Came Back Haunted” Directed by David Lynch

Nine Inch Nails have unveiled the music video for their new single “Came Back Haunted,” directed by none other than filmmaker, musician, and occasional chef David Lynch. (It’s technically the second video for the song, if you count the montage of artfully photographed shots of a reel-to-reel player used to accompany the official audio.) This isn’t the first time the band has worked with Lynch; the director commissioned frontman Trent Reznor, who was reportedly an ardent Twin Peaks fan, to produce the soundtrack for his 1997 film Lost Highway. The clip for “Came Back Haunted,” however, is more akin to Inland Empire, largely composed of a weird spider ballerina and shaky extreme close-ups of Reznor and creepy, spotlighted mouths.

A Pryor Engagement: BAM Celebrates Richard Pryor

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A Pryor Engagement: BAM Celebrates Richard Pryor
A Pryor Engagement: BAM Celebrates Richard Pryor

The genius of Richard Pryor can be summed up by the last lines in Live on the Sunset Strip: Pryor tells a joke that made the rounds while he was hospitalized for his infamous fire accident. “I heard what you motherfuckers were saying about me,” he chastises. Striking a match and moving it around, he then asks “What’s this?” The answer: “Richard Pryor runnin’ down the street.” Here was a man making jokes about being burned over most of his body, and doing so while the wounds were still healing. Pryor’s stand-up was method acting applied to jokes: He brought his success and his failure to the table, mocking and deconstructing each to make us laugh and teach us a lesson. The regular Joe with the fearless, black mouth would, with reckless abandon, call bullshit on both you and himself. His tact filter was perpetually in the shop, never available when necessary, and that made Pryor a scary proposition. This persona seeped out of the corners of even the harshest onscreen restraints; Rich would always be “Rich,” the way Jack Nicholson would always be “Jack.” This is probably why, with rare exception, Hollywood didn’t know what to do with Richard Pryor. You can see 18 examples of what they did do at BAM’s “A Pryor Engagement” retrospective.

15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

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15 Famous Movie Phone Calls
15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

Budding blonde Ari Graynor continues the R-rated femme comedy trend this weekend in For a Good Time, Call…, a naughty film that pairs the funny gal with brunette Lauren Miller (otherwise known as Mrs. Seth Rogen). Inspired by Miller’s college exploits with roommate and co-writer Katie Ann Naylon, the movie casts the leading pair as sparring roomies turned phone sex operators, a scenario that soon proves especially lucrative. Phones may have undergone a lot of makeovers in recent years, but their effectiveness on screen has been solid since the days of the candlestick model. In honor of the new fantasy-fulfilling comedy’s basis in ring-a-ding-ding, we’ve gathered up 15 films with highly memorable phone calls, which run the gamut from disarming to terrifying.

No Room for Love: Andrzej Zulawski’s Szamanka

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No Room for Love: Andrzej Zulawski’s <em>Szamanka</em>
No Room for Love: Andrzej Zulawski’s <em>Szamanka</em>

A man meets a woman, and we’re not even five minutes into the running time of Andrzej Zulawski’s Szamanka before they are having sex on the floor of her rented apartment. Immediately thereafter, this man is revealed as an anthropology professor excited by the discovery of a mummified shaman. The primal act of sex and the mysticism of the strange religious-historical find are the engines that drive this strange, often hilarious, frequently brutal genre film. It’s an art film about sex and sweat, one that seems to have emerged from the guts as opposed to intellectual game-playing, or in the bleakly absurd streets of mid-1990s post-Communist Poland. It’s fast, frenetic and seems to have been made either by a young man bursting with fresh energy or an old man who films every moment as if he might never get another chance to work.

As it happens, both are kind of true. Żuławski was, in fact, middle aged and soon to cut his directorial career short in favor of writing books. He had not made a film in his native Poland since his work was banned in 1976, and he vowed never to work again under the Communist regime. Szamanka was an independently funded production outside of the state. Most noted in America for his “video nasty” horror project Possession, starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a married couple descending into a hellish spiral of rage and carnal despair (and that’s before the monster shows up), Żuławski’s work is often about the painful relations between men and women.

The Conversations: Mulholland Drive

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The Conversations: Mulholland Drive
The Conversations: Mulholland Drive

Ed Howard: David Lynch is a filmmaker who has haunted my mind since the first moment I saw one of his films. This is especially true of Mulholland Drive I vividly remember my confused, stunned reactions the first time I saw this film. It was in the afternoon, and when I stumbled outside afterward, into bright daylight, everything looked strange, somehow subtly changed. I’d spent over two hours in Lynch’s world, and in the time I’d been lost there it was as though the real world had been infected with Lynch’s unsettling aesthetic. It was a unique experience. I can’t remember another film that shook me up and destabilized me so thoroughly, and I’ve returned to it, and to Lynch’s work in general, compulsively ever since.

David Lynch Folds Space: Because He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!...

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David Lynch Folds Space: Because He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!...
David Lynch Folds Space: Because He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!...

• Alia, in a transport of ecstasy, holding aloft her crysknife as the Fremen overrun the imperial forces, a nightmarish composition by Lynch out of Bosch, all darkness, and a fully-formed witch who should be no more than a little girl, lit by fires and explosions, wrapped in Bene Gesserit robe and headpiece, with an expression on her face of triumph in slaughter that no little girl ever wore

This emphasis on the static over the kinetic is not so remarkable in an artist who, after all, began his career in—and remains committed to—the compositional rigors of painting, collage, and sculpture. But to see how it relates to folding space, we must further illuminate this concept of traveling without moving.

Double Reflections: Beyond the Shadow of the Double

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Double Reflections: Beyond the Shadow of the Double
Double Reflections: Beyond the Shadow of the Double

The theme of “the double” has exerted a complex and ambiguous fascination throughout the cultural history of the last century. Arguably, every form of contemporary art has been touched by this powerful theme and its many implications. Indeed, the double is more than a theme: it is a basic figuration, an archetype whose flexible structure can express multiple meanings and associations. In a sense, the double is, appropriately, a multi-faceted mental form.

The relationship between the double and the cinema is especially intriguing: we could say that the double, born mainly in literature and poetry, has found in cinema its natural medium of expression. The reasons for that are more structural than aesthetic: in fact, in film the double is often not only a theme or a form, but also a fundamental subtext directly connected to the particular nature of the cinematic experience.

The Simple Dream Becomes the Nightmare: Twin Peaks, The Second Season

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The Simple Dream Becomes the Nightmare: <em>Twin Peaks</em>, The Second Season
The Simple Dream Becomes the Nightmare: <em>Twin Peaks</em>, The Second Season

When Twin Peaks premiered April 8, 1990, on ABC, it became a minor pop phenomenon as viewers tuned in to discover Who Killed Laura Palmer. But the series was always more than a mystery; it was a grim, playful, often deliberately infuriating drama that fused the unique sensibilities of executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost. Lynch was known for his mysterious surrealism, his adoration for Boy Scout values and Americana, and his preoccupation with the darkest aspects of human nature. Frost, a veteran TV producer, had a knack for quirky characters and police procedural elements (he’d previously worked on Hill Street Blues). The show ran ran for just 30 episodes spread out over two seasons, and except for the pilot, it was never a ratings smash, but its effect on TV is still being felt. Peaks’ most prominent successor was The X-Files, which capitalized on Peaks’ weirdness and offbeat humanism, not to mention its cinematic style, which relied on long takes, deep focus, and rich shadows. Northern Exposure capitalized on Peaks’ interest in small town life and cheerfully eccentric characters. The wholly experimental nature of some episodes of The Sopranos, and the entire unexplained and willful mysteriousness of Carnivale and Lost, are indebted to Frost and Lynch.

The Sopranos Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, "Join the Club"

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<em>The Sopranos</em> Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, “Join the Club”
<em>The Sopranos</em> Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, “Join the Club”

From the get-go, fans of classic TV pegged The Sopranos as a series that owed plenty to English playwright and screenwriter Dennis Potter. Sunday’s episode made the connection official by drawing on Potter’s The Singing Detective. Originally aired in 1986, and featuring Michael Gambon in a tour-de-force performance as psoriasis-deformed writer Philip E. Marlow, The Singing Detective fused three narratives: a present-day drama about a psychiatrist trying to get the root of Marlow’s childhood trauma, flashbacks to the writer’s past, and a Raymond Chandler-eseque 1940s film noir fantasy. Sunday’s Sopranos, titled “Join the Club”—an intense hour that envisoned an alternate life for comatose mob boss Tony Soprano, who’d been shot his Alzheimer’s ridden Uncle Junior—felt like a muscular American response to Potter’s masterpiece, from the hospital location to the expressive, knowingly nostalgic use of pop music (at one point Carmela reminisces about her early years with Tony while Tom Petty’s “American Girl” plays softly on a boombox) to its depiction of dreams as the brain’s abstract way of working out real-world conundrums.