Arkansas Times Recommends: William Trevor, Godzilla and the Kuchar brothers

Posted by Will Stephenson on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM

"The Return of Godzilla" (1984)
  • "The Return of Godzilla" (1984)

'Arkansas Times Recommends' is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying (or, in Max's case, not enjoying) this week.

A short recommendation of maybe the best short story writer ever: William Trevor. There's a big fat book of his collected stories. Get it. Read one every night. Then you'll know about as much about the form as there is to know. Hot damn. Years later little moments linger, fully imagined lives in 15-page bursts. — David Ramsey

A positive endorsement from me today. Get tickets to the Rep's coming production of "The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)."

It's parody. It's slapstick. It's fast. It's funny. Don't let invocation of the Bard scare you off. Sure, there's a brief reference at least to everything Shakespeare wrote. Even the ignorant — like me — tend to walk away amazed at how much of what he wrote has been preserved in common sayings, not to mention plotlines of movies.

It's kind of an even speedier, punchier update of "Kiss Me Kate," plus everything else Shakespeare wrote. But Cole Porter had the idea back then:

Just declaim a few lines from Othella
And they'll think you're a hell of a fella
If your blonde won't respond when you flatter 'er
Tell her what Tony told Cleopatterer

If she fights when her clothes you are mussing
What are clothes? Much ado about nussing
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow — Max Brantley

My husband and I took advantage of the $6 movie night at the Rave on Tuesday and went to see "Godzilla" (or Gojira, to the more die hard fans of the franchise). My husband, who is one such fan, thought it was great, as it was "old school" and followed the story line of the original films. Godzilla is more of a restorer of balance rather than a creature of destruction. Before I go on, let me put it out there that I loved Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" and was excited to see "Godzilla." I thought that the special effects, as expected, were top notch and that it was awesome seeing giant monsters battle each other, at first anyway, but the plot kind of dwindles after the first half hour and the movie pretty much turns into the the human race being a bystander in a fight that will determine their fate. And the fight seems never-ending, with parts where I couldn't help but giggle a little bit because it seemed so ridiculous. That being said, if you are a fan, as my husband is, my comments will probably infuriate you and you will come out of the film thinking that it was one of the greatest Godzilla films ever made with several great references to the older films. So I guess you need to ask yourself, are you truly a fan or do you just like mindless monster mania? Go see the film based on that. I, on the other hand, will be seeing "X-Men: Days of Future Past," a franchise I can actually nerd-out over. — Darielle D'Mello

Talking to Phil Chambliss the other day, I thought about a summer I spent in the Bay Area a few years ago, and about a filmmaker I met there named George Kuchar. The Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley was showing a retrospective of the films George had made with his twin brother Mike — handmade, endearingly sloppy 8mm movies with strange, half-baked plots inspired by Hollywood Golden Age epics, and with sound that mostly consisted of whatever they could tape off the radio. They were a huge hit on the underground film scene in 1960s New York, where they were championed by Andy Warhol and Jonas Mekas and John Waters and a lot of other people. The titles were incredible: "The Wet Destruction of the Atlantic Empire," "Eclipse of the Sun Virgin," "House of the White People," "Sins of the Fleshapoids." There's a pretty recent documentary about them called "It Came From Kuchar." In person, George was outgoing, generous and funny — he introduced several of the films and spoke to fans after the screenings. He told us about how he became obsessed with tornadoes and thunderstorms for a while, and began regularly flying to Oklahoma City for several weeks in the springtime, where he'd hole up in a YMCA and make plotless films he called "Weather Diaries." He died about a month later, that September. A surprising number of their movies survive on YouTube. Here's George playing saxophone in a clip from somone else's film, which basically sums it up. — Will Stephenson

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