EW's editor-at-large clicks with L.A. blogger Kim Morgan's essays celebrating women in movies. Plus: nature poetry by William Stobb; new music from Amy LaVere; the baffling but fascinating ''Paprika''; and a funky car ad

By Ken Tucker
Updated June 06, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Everett Collection

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

  • Movie

A whip-smart blog for film buffs

1. Website of the week: A woman who loves movie-women
(Sunset Gun: http://sunsetgun.typepad.com/
Meander over to Sunset Gun and don’t be fooled by the pretty pink backdrop against which Kim Morgan types. This Los Angeles writer posts vivid, hard-headed, muscular manifesto-essays and annotated lists of her favorite films and stars, many of whom tend to be women Morgan considers underrated or esteemed for the wrong films. She’s recently posted a fine defense of Jane Fonda in Barbarella, and nurtures a finely honed admiration for Tuesday Weld in Pretty Poison. Morgan has also made me reconsider The Lost Weekend as something more than second-tier Billy Wilder and a good ad for AA. The entire website captures something of what it’s like to live a certain kind of L.A. life, surrounded by the movie industry without being made cynical or jaded by it.

2. Poetry you need: Nervous Systems by William Stobb
(Penguin paperback)
Stobb writes the best sort of nature poetry — not wifty odes to clouds or daffodils, but close observations of wasps and birds and the way grass grows in a backyard during the summer (”thinning, burning/out to its reedy margin”). He’s also terrific at setting scenes, as at the start of ”Poem With Too Many Worlds”:

K. complains: everyone now
wears khakis with a solid-color T-shirt.
It’s his way of denouncing the era
which is nothing new for him — he mostly occupies
an enormous inner world of objects broken
down to parts. No surprise
he whips me at pool, which is where we are now:
playing pool all Friday afternoon
at Ray’s Bar and Grill…

3. Amy LaVere thinks murderous thoughts on Anchors & Anvils
(Archer Records)
LaVere, who played honky-tonker Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, has released her second album, a Memphis stew of R&B, rock, and country-blues produced by Jim Dickinson (Big Star, the Replacements). She sings in a deceptively wispy voice that has a lot of strength coursing beneath it. The stand-out track is ”Killing Him,” a revenge song in which a woman who sounds suspiciously like a stand-in for Amy LaVere says she murdered her duplicitous boyfriend, but, as she says in the irresistibly catchy refrain, ”Killing him didn’t make her love go away.” Necrophilia at its best.

4. What the… ?: Paprika
(Sony Pictures)
I don’t claim to understand more than, oh, 40 percent of what goes on in writer-director Satoshi Kon’s vertiginously gorgeous anime about the invasion of dreams — I point you to my colleague Lisa Schwarzbaum’s elegantly concise summation for that — but I realized anew how much pleasure can be taken from blissful befuddlement. Paprika‘s psychedelic intensity, its whirligig nightmares of being unable to distinguish reality from hallucination, all conveyed through slithery animation… well, let’s just say I didn’t feel this kind of rush from Shrek the Third.

5. Car-buying gets funky
The Honda Odyssey commercial
I didn’t think I was in the market for a minivan, but I may have to reconsider my priorities after hearing the car company’s use of Parliament’s ”Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” in its current commercial. While I think that particular song from P-Funk master George Clinton would be more appropriate in an ad for a convertible, you really can’t go wrong with this 1976 hit; I just wish the commercial lasted long enough for the chorus, ”We’re gonna turn this mother out,” with inevitable scenes of kids in the back ripping up the seats…

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Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

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