Sunday, September 12, 2010

Random Bests...

Best: Animal Child Exploitation
The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)

I've always been baffled by the reality of the Chipmunks. A full grown single man, a human no less, adopts three orphan chipmunks, dresses them in coordinating body sweaters and pushes their recording career. Caretaker David Seville is either a loving humanitarian, or the Michael Lohan/freakshow carney of 80's animated entertainment.

It seems that Alvin, Simon and Theodore are the only chipmunks in a world that resembles our own, outside of their competitive mirror coupling, The Chipettes. The Chipettes have more variety in their wardrobe, but their bizarre love interest/band rivalry is weirdly incestuous, and who even takes care of them? If it's the out-of-touch babysitter Miss Miller, then it's proof that these girls are in need of social services, and Brittany, the lead vocalist, is acting out. An especially high-pitched episode of VH1's Behind the Music writes itself. They live in the real world - touring Switzerland, Rio, Egypt - surrounded by vibrant culture (crude stereotypes of foreigners) and remain the only chipmunk children in existence. Yet they're still involved in consistently sexualized and flirtatious interspecies encounters, even though they're always referred to as "children" no matter the continent. It's a world that's charmingly naive, and just a little bit gross.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World filled with aimless rich people exploiting youth. Taking full advantage of this, and putting Dave to shame, are the wealthy brother/sister duo, Klaus and Claudia Furschtien. They drink, they chain smoke, they plot evil, nonsensical schemes out of the local diner.

Bored with endless money and their global diamond smuggling ring, they decide to make a wager on the Chipmunk children's competitive edge. How wonderful a world to be so rich that you hire animal children to fly competitively across the globe in hot air balloons to random, treacherous destinations to gather specially made doll replicas of themselves filled with cash and diamonds, and leave them at other remote destinations for the winning haul of $100,000. I admire Claudia's sense of humor, utter tastelessness and innovation. I also admire her willingness to ask the question, "What could possibly go wrong?" without irony. Not the best business sense perhaps, but they're doing well enough to live in Kyle MacLachlan's mansion from Showgirls.

It's exploitation at its best. Most evident when the Chipettes fall into the clutches of an underage Egyptian prince who holds them hostage and plans to make them his brides. Upon completing their mission and finding out that there's something suspicious about their suspicious trip, the girls fall into a snake pit. A terrifying prospect turns into a righteous band gig as the snakes take a liking to the girls and slink into synchronized motion.

You'd think the film was made by Disney considering all the weird sexual content crossed with hyper-emotive animals. The girls are surrounded by slithering snakes, belting out, "Wanna get lucky with you! Gettin' lucky is what it's all about! Gettin' lucky is something I can't do without." Before Britney Spears, the Lohans and Miley Cyrus, before sexting and tabloid crotch shots outside limousines, The Chipmunk movies were highlighting the sexual corruption of kids in the industry.

Not to mention gay acceptance.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Obscure Beauty: Dario Argento (Vol. III)

Fact: I love Dario Argento's films about as much as this girl loves the Bee Gees.

(Costume Design by Giorgio Armani. Seriously!)

We all must wish a Happy 70th Birthday to the one and only Dario Argento! Born September 7th, 1940, I'm forever indebted to his sensory, cinematic sort of alchemy. Here's to his masterful ability to pluck images from our innermost nightmares and steep them in eye-popping atmosphere. And technicolor!

So much beauty in a single frame! My eyes bleed.

(Editor's note: Frames more beautiful/visible when clicked to enlarge.)

More Argento visual delights here and here.

-- And, as always, syncing to my brain is JA over at My New Plaid Pants, who found similar inspiration in Argento's "memory cocktails" on this special day.