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Things We Like: Stephen Chow’s “CJ7,” Thomas Allen’s “Uncovered,” and the Creepy Horse Mask

8 May 2010 Things We Like 10,112 views No CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Elliott Bay Book Company’s Suggested Reading: “Uncovered: Photographs by Thomas Allen”

This is a book I try to call attention to because it is one of those whose content is so enormously better than its cover. From its unopened die-cut cover, you could be forgiven for expecting “Uncovered” to be a collection of sexually suggestive pulp-novel covers from the golden days of the yellow pages. There are lots of those and most of them look much more remarkable than this unassuming little book, so I feel like “Uncovered” often gets unfairly passed up.

Opening this book, however, reveals something incredible. Thomas Allen has cut out and propped up and counter-arranged the subjects of these book covers to give them life, as Chip Kidd writes in his introduction, “off the shelf and into your head.” The small, cheap paintings look crisp and in motion. They look like film stills, with their depth and complex shadows. And yet all of the figures are still attached to their books, so the image is a body literally leaping out of the cover in which it was confined. And as often as not Allen will upend their context, so that the furtive look over the shoulder of a man with a smoke and a newspaper is now directed at another man disrobing, or a boxer on his back in the agony of defeat is stood over by a victorious vamp with her hands in the air. These photos are playful and beautiful and sublime. – Christopher Sabatini

Creepy Horse Mask

Some pop culture splashes onto the scene loudly and is impossible to ignore. For instance, who hasn’t heard of the Slanket? Other trends sneak in around the edges and take over the world before the vast majority realizes their world has been co-opted by the weirdos. This has happened with the Creepy Horse Mask. Before we started selling it at Archie McPhee, we watched as videos appeared on YouTube and photos popped up all over the web that featured this equine shocker. This week, we decided to gather a few of these creepy occurrences in one location. Check out CreepyHorseMask.com. There’s a 46% chance you’ll be glad you did. – David Wahl

Scarecrow Video’s Pick of the Week: “CJ7 (Cheung Gong 7 hou)” (2008), directed by Stephen Chow

I like to think of CJ7 as Stephen Chow’s version of the cool family films that came out in the 1980s — that it’s his “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” his “Batteries Not Included,” his “Short Circuit,” his “Flight of the Navigator” or his “Gremlins.” He’s put his own modern twists on the genre, but not too many. It’s the most straightforward and family accessible film that I figure he’s done — although, not being an American film, there are some actions and parenting quirks in “CJ7″ that seem pretty unconventional. Hollywood doesn’t like to show its parents putting children in closets as punishment.

With attention paid to how poor Chow and his son are, and the way in which Chow is pressured to make sure his son is liked by having the best toy on the block, I’d like to think that there’s a subtle societal commentary going on behind all the Looney Tunes-like action and cuteness of the Pokemon-like creature. “CJ7″ is pretty fun, and well-made. It will disappoint those looking for a follow-up to Chow’s hit “Kung-Fu Hustle,” but it’s not so bad to show to some kids. – Marc “Swellzombie” Palm

PHOTO BY PETER KEMMER

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