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Crispin Glover (#110 of 5)

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

Starz

American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

“Come to Jesus” ends the first season of American Gods on an awkward and anticlimactic note. Creators and co-screenwriters Bryan Fuller and Michael Green seem to be aware of their own perversity, cracking a joke about it early in the episode. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) are at the office of Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones), the present incarnation of the god Anansi, who’s tailoring suits for the next leg of their journey. For a moment, it seems that we’ve dodged the obligation of sitting through a deity origin tale that typically opens each episode, until Mr. Nancy announces that he has a story, which Wednesday greets with comic frustration while nursing a tall whiskey. Wednesday is clearly speaking for the audience here, who may be understandably weary of yet another damn flashback.

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”
American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”

Whether we’re talking cinema, television, or theater, conventional drama is predominantly made up of exposition, which experimental art seeks to transcend or obliterate so as to theoretically tap into deeper meanings. For better or worse, deeper meaning often equates to obliqueness, which means less to most audiences than repetitive variations of common pop-art symbols. There’s another way to approach exposition, though, as American Gods and the new Twin Peaks illustrate: double down on it so transparently that it serves as an orienting device as well as a flourish of stylized abstraction. “Lemon Scented You” is entirely expositional on one level, but it’s so flamboyantly and decadently realized that it doesn’t matter, as it satirically equates exposition to sales as necessary binding agents of contemporary life.

Freaks and Geeks Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms

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Freaks and Geeks: Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms
Freaks and Geeks: Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms

Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising is a collection of interviews with first class weirdos in the world of cinema and performance. What makes it a special read for connoisseurs of this sort of bizarre entertainment is Rupe’s earnest, non-ironic, deeply curious set of questions, which bring out a candor and trust in his subjects. Told entirely in Q&A format, there’s a shortage of editorializing, and Rupe allows his superstars to speak for themselves.

For example, the spectacularly large drag queen Divine, best known for appearing in such John Waters classics as Pink Flamingos and Polyester, opens up about various inherent vulnerabilities and interests. Perhaps it’s because Rupe’s very first question isn’t a question—he simply states, “Those are great shoes.” Divine’s response is, “I always say I look normal from my neck to my ankles, and the head and the shoes are always, as I say, fucked up.” Rupe’s follow-up question wonders if Divine gets bugged a lot for looking “normal” and already we’re set up for a little more to the discussion than, “Did you really eat the dog turd in that movie?”

Transgressive bad-boy filmmakers like Gaspar Noe (I Stand Alone) and Richard Kern (You Killed Me First) delve into their work, and how they have evolved over the years. Kern’s deadpan sense of humor about living in his fantasies is summed up when he says, “[When I was making] all that violent stuff, I was in that phase. Now I’m in the pervert phase. I don’t have to hide anymore.” Noe explains how his projects became fueled by personal anger at being rejected by financiers, or observing his friends make movies while his hands were tied. “Then you start hating the person who refused your script,” he says, “[to the point where] you kill her in your own dreams…and [when you finally make the film] it all comes out in the movie!”

The Camera Takes Over: Beowulf

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The Camera Takes Over: <em>Beowulf</em>
The Camera Takes Over: <em>Beowulf</em>

What is Robert Zemeckis up to, anyway? The mostly middling reviews of Beowulf have accused the director of getting wrapped up in a circuitous, self-defeating technological quest: motion-capturing flesh-and-blood actors (first in The Polar Express, now here) and turning them into photo-realistic yet still unreal-looking cartoons, in order to achieve…what? Surely nothing that couldn’t be achieved by photographing those same actors and merging them into computer-generated backdrops, just like every other fantasy with a nine-figure budget.

Review: Crispin Hellion Glover’s What Is It?

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Review: Crispin Hellion Glover’s <em>What Is It?</em>
Review: Crispin Hellion Glover’s <em>What Is It?</em>

Walking to Anthology Film Archives, down a street that stank strongly and strangely of Lipton soup, I was struck with a craving for a caramel macchiato, but I never thought a Starbucks would be so hard to find in that part of New York City. It makes sense when you think about it, and as the cold nipped my hands, I thought of CBGB—now gone but its doors still open when I passed it—having kept Starbucks away all these years. (With Mars Bar still kicking, if not necessarily screaming, does that mean the area is safe for a little while longer from the coffee chain’s intoxicating pull?) After backtracking and finally finding a Starbucks, I ran back down to Anthology Film Archives past trailers for a motion picture shooting in the area and thought that at least Hollywood was unafraid of slumming this far downtown. I pulled on the door and, finding it locked, peered inside for a publicist. A man approached and, after opening the door, I could see that it was Crispin Glover. “Hello,” he said, kindly but without introduction. Already I could tell this was going to be a surreal morning.

Glover’s appearance took me by surprise, but that was only because I hadn’t read the press release for the film thoroughly. Glover was there not only to introduce his first film, 72 minutes of avant garde madness that recalls everything from Un Chien Andalou and The Holy Mountain to Even Dwarfs Started Small and the collected works of David Lynch, but to narrate “The Big Slide Show,” a collection of text and illustrations from the man’s books, which include Concrete Inspections, Rat Catching, The Backward Swing, and Round My House. Standing on the stage, his body obscured by darkness except for the part of his face that caught the light from the projector, Glover looked like Hannibal Lecter reading from pages of novels styled in the tradition of Southern fictions and early-20th-century medical journals. My eyes darting back and forth between the screen and Glover’s face, I would sometimes catch the actor’s gaze in this small room of maybe two dozen people. Damn if there’s any through line to follow here—all I can remember is something about rats, a dog named Sal, a “negroid” slave, a trial, and a backstabbing friend by the name of Tom Wiswell—but the actor’s “performance” is so convincing it invites surrender.