There are few magazines that I look forward to more than Little White Lies, the UK's premiere movie magazine. I say "premiere" for little more than effect. I have no idea where they rank in the magazine score there. All I know is that I like it and it is hard to find here.
I first found it in one of the Magma bookshops in the UK a few years back. I picked up a copy of it and its sister publication HUCK which focuses more on the snow/surf/action sports end of things and less on the films. Both, however, are worth picking up when spied on your local newsstand.
For LWL what does it for me is its use of the theme. Each issue is crafted around one movie and draws all of its contents from either the themes of the films, the actors, or tertiary stories surrounding the films - from production to the modern mythologies to do with Superman (one of my favorite recent issues) and how the Superman radio show was used to break up a local KKK chapter. Heavy stuff. Then, the usually follow the main articles up with the best reviews in the business. Not the ones that you read and then say "but I never do what the reviewers say anyway, I'm going to make up my own mind about wanting to see Toy Story 2." The kind of reviews that make you - weeks later - recall an actual snippet or line when looking through the iTunes "recent indie releases" section. Side Note: I found the brilliant film Shotgun Stories this way; through this very publication.
Why do magazine shops insist on putting the price tag on the cover?
Well, this issue takes a break from all that and celebrates their 50th issue (congrats!) by celebrating 50 movies with 50 artists illustrations and 50 associated essays. It is a novel idea that spans the entirety of the issue - eschewing their usually delicious reviews - for more movies. But, it is a theme that works entirely. They created the concept, broke the issue out by decades starting in the 60's and paired writers and illustrators to create a fantastic issue.
Of course there were some that stood out. Slapshot for example (who wants to get together for a screening?). The 1977 George Roy Hill film where Paul Newman takes over as manager/owner for his hockey team and, well, hilarity ensues. Rather than focus on the fabulous Hanson brothers (not the singers) the piece focus' one one frame of Newman and his teammates wife in bed. It is surprising how adept the writer of the piece — Kevin Reardon — is at making his case for the aging Newman to not only embrace this young woman's sexual exploration (pun intended) but stick up for it (also intended) in the context of hockey. I can honestly say that in all the times that I have viewed this film — I own it, and would guess 8 if I had to — I have never thought that Paul Newman's on ice comment of "Suzanne sucks pussy" was anything more than a simple provocation. How very wrong I was and this article did nothing short of make me desire to see this film again.
In fact, this was the overall feeling that I got from the 50th anniversary issue. Not only did it help explore some hidden gems — who knew Gremlins 2: The New Batch was a take on It's a Wonderful Life? — or that Crank: High Voltage was worth the ink in the first place? But, it is, all of it. Plus, it is great to have a nice selection of past films to revisit and watch based on the recommendations of the LWL crew. Boogie Nights being the most recent and poignant of these - followed closely by Crash (cars not racism), Being There and of course, The Faculty.
The 1998 Robert Rodriguez film that centers around a small town Elijah Wood saving his friends from Aliens that have taken over his teachers bodies — was more than a favorite with my friends and I. Why? Because we were in high school at the time. Because there was quite possibly boobs in the film - Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Famke Janssen - what do you want from us? We were teenagers. But more importantly, because the geeky kids (we could easily place ourselves in there) won in the end. They did didn't they? I'm going to have to go revisit. Plus, it had an all star cast and enough gross laughs to keep everyone going. Like when John Stewart got stabbed in the eye.
Flash forward a few weeks after the film and I find myself, my sister, and my future college roommate John sitting at a table with David Crosby and Mr. Stewart himself. Somehow we made it backstage, somehow we made it to the only open spot at a table, and somehow it was with not only a big rock star, but a rising comedian. It was right before he really rocketed to stardom on The Jon Stewart Show or had an asteroid belt named after him, but still. We knew who both of these men were and we knew that they were possibly really, really high. So, what do I do? I ask if I can take his picture, stammering out something about how that would be real swell, I'm sure. And then my moment of genius strikes and as I shake his hand I sort of pull him to one side and look into his eye and say "huh, you're eye is looking a lot better." My roommate and my sister both sensed that this was not going to end well the instant that the words left my mouth and they both hauled me away in an instand, but not before I hear it...I won't say that it was a full on laugh from the guy, maybe it was a chortle, or at least a snort, but it was definitely something.
Whatever, it was, completely gathered its steam from this Robert Rodriguez film that, if you haven't seen it lately, deserves another look, and Little White Lies, well, as a publication, it deserves all your attention. Plus, this 50th issue is chock full of these cool illustrations to go with each movie essay.