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Archive for April, 2009

Cannibal Ox’s brand of hip-hop is not for everyone. They did to West Coast Rap what Annie Lenox once did to pop music. Scare the living shit out of it. Their 2001debut album Cold Vein sounded quite unlike what the hip hop heads were accustomed to. A sound that bore some sort of resemblance to the darker moments of Wu-Tang, Dr Octagon and MF Doom. The simmering tension between their gritty beats and their cacophonist melodies added to the sense of claustrophobia and then there was this shooting pain on the left shoulder. Wait, that’s a cardiac arrest. What I meant was nobody in his or her right mind had any right capturing beauty from this sort of carnival-esque discordance. Mo’ power to the rappers Vordul Mega and Vast Aire for having dragged the bastard out, kicking and screaming.

cannibal_oxAs for the lyricism…well, thankfully they didn’t rap about poppin’ cristal and bustin’ caps, but they did indulge in a lot of abstract braggadocio . Songs like Pigeon (Eskimo metal got shit locked in oxygen shell / Words shot plated metal lungs which spun the kids’ carrousel) and Ox Out Of The Cage (I flow like arachnids on waterspouts / the circle is never seen and seldom heard about / now they put me in a cage and break me out) also have enough proof that these guys don’t share any particular stance on sunshine, rainbows, group hugs and bunnies. Even more power to them.

If you can manage to sit past the first 25 seconds of the epic B-Boy’s Alpha, you are in for a visceral aural experience. Never have I seen beauty so wonderfully abused in Hip-Hop. As fate would have it, Cannibal Ox haven’t released a studio album since their debut. Hip-Hop’s Blind Melon, I guess. Only they replaced the bee girl with, you know, actual talent.

Watch

Cannibal Ox –B Boy’s Alpha

Cannibal Ox – Iron Galaxy

Instead of a Blackberry, buy

This and this.

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archiebronsonoutfit2I once had much love for these songs. They used to haunt my Winamp playlist at home and the CD player in my car. Of course, familiarity can be bothersome and so can hummable melodies. I have been revisiting a few of them lately and well, nostalgia (random Iron Maiden fan screams ROCKS…BABY! and gets knocked out cold) is sometimes a good thing in distant proportions.

Watch

Archie Bronson Outfit – Dart For My Sweetheart

Archie Bronson sounds like the collective burp of Swedish indie pop bands after being force-fed the corpse of Hendrix. Did I mention cough syrup? Oh the cough syrup, my friends.

The White Stripes – The Hardest Button To Button

How I wish Jack White and Meg sang the blues. The alternative rock shtick, as tight as it was, grew a bit thin over the years. Thankfully its trail left us with this tight-as-a-stiff-lip Southern fried garage asskicker of a song.

A Perfect Circle – Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums

James Keenan Maynard is a strange mix of things that we previously thought only existed inside William Burroughs’ mind and Buddha’s left pocket. Any fan of APC or Tool will tell you that. This is probably the only APC song that I eventually grew tired of. And I still think it fucking rules.

Jose Gonzalez – Teardrop

I get violent when I see emo kids strum on hollow acoustic guitars, sitting on barstools and waxing poetic about life. Even worse are fellows who sing something about our bodies being amusement parks and shit. Mr Gonzalez is a rare exception with his pale white soul lamentations. Also, he has covered Massive Attack’s achingly pretty ballad – Teardrop. Woody Guthrie on antihistamines? Uh huh.

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Hi. I’m Christy’s lack of insensitivity. Two 5-year-old girls were raped over the past three days. One in Chennai. The other in New Delhi. Don’t bother looking too much into it. The India media barely gives a shit enough to stir a slight stench. I don’t see Renukha Choudhry rushing to the scene of the crime. I haven’t noticed any virtual social networking enthusiasts raising a hue and cry about this.

It’s so friggin quiet that I think I almost heard a tree fall on a social worker’s head in an empty forest.

But I guess I understand. It’s not as horrific as middle-class teenagers getting pushed around near city pubs. And well, stray dogs weren’t mercilessly killed. After all folks…it’s just a bunch of toddlers getting sexually violated. Pah. Forget it. Go back to channeling rage and creativity for far more grievous issues. I’m sure there’s a Gucci handbag somewhere in Rwanda that needs to be saved.

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I don’t watch Indian Premier League because its sycophantic glamour. It can be very off-putting for me. Also, it bothers me that this version of cricket triggers some sort of inconclusive chemical imbalance in people, which leads them into believing that they have understood the game enough to have an expert opinion on it.

“Hayden shouldn’t have played it on the front foot” … “I would have included two more spinners” …”Pepsi has a zanier taste than Coca Cola…”

Riiight. Watching fours hours of capsulated cricket, three hours of random camera zoom-ins of interracial women and two hours of Arun Lal desperately trying to channel his sporting acumen in vain. Great. Go ahead, quit your job and join the panel of experts at IPL. All you need is a penchant for buggery of the English language and the uncanny knack of getting facts wrong at least 60% of the time.

Of course, many just watch the game and enjoy the fuck out of it. Despite what the Rolling Stones might have had you believing, some people actually do always get what they want. And to be perfectly honest, the IPL does cater to those who were never really into the game but always wanted to know what the fuss was all about. I hear that people who suffer from lifelong acute Attention Deficit Disorder get a really good kick out of it, as well.

That’s alright, I guess. I mean, if the PGA had taken my suggestion and hid landmines in random spots on the course, hell, I’d be watching golf right now. Imagine if the boring-ass Snooker Champion league made it mandatory for the players to dress in trench coats and carry bamboo shoots with tiny rodents inside of them. They could crawl through to the other end, jump on the pool table and guide those little bio-bombs into those pockets…of DOOM! Oh yes…POCKETS OF DOOM with MIDGET TIGER SHARKS swimming in there! Hmm you get the picture. Traditions customized to induce mass clamouring. Perfectly understandable.

iplsucks1

In fact, my Zen-like level tolerance with the Twenty-20 shenanigans has led me to read a bit about this year’s IPL competition. The only thing worth mentioning are the swanky nicknames that the Fake IPL Blogger (source…Papa fuckin’ Bear) has come up with for an annoying runt of a fast bowler (Sreesanth) and a prissy actor (Shah Rukh Khan) who makes his livelihood by selling sub-par consumer products on TV, crying like Meryl Streep post-menopause during climax sequences and dancing like a monkey on crack at random weddings.

www.fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com

I know…I know…it’s only a matter of time before the Fake IPL Blogger becomes a marketing gimmick but what the hell, at least for now, this kid’s angst is a source of amusement. Also, I find it hilarious that some moron from Bollywood is lashing out against this renegade blogger in the name of cricketing ethics.

I’m sorry…what?

Did Ike call Tina Turner a sexist for not falling down fast enough when he slapped the shit out of her?

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charlie2_Charlie Bartlett: It takes fine craftsmanship to mask hideous stupidity for more than an hour. For 50-plus minutes, I waited for something interesting to happen in Charlie Bartlett. Achingly worn-out minutes that each took an hour to disappear forever. By the time the end credits rolled, it was pretty clear. Director John Poll had pulled a fast one on me. I had just sat through a friggin’ teen comedy. Emo clothes, stoner kids, ant-authoritarian behaviour, boys-to-men sexual escapades and a totally out-of-place performance by a talented actor (Robert Downey Jr.) as the school principal. But what made me give this a chance, you ask? Well, damm you Downey and Anton Yelchin.

So this kid – Charlie Bartlett (Anton) – gets kicked out of every private school in the local area. Then he shifts base to a public school where everyone rip Charlie a new one for his geektastic behaviour. Pretty soon social inactivity drives young Bartlett to start peddling Ritalin as the school’s unauthorized psychiatrist. And everyone’s all like, “Awww shucks let’s hug it out, brother”. Of course, he also falls in love with the principal’s daughter. Oh did I mention that the principal’s wife ran away with another man? Or that the Charlie’s mom is manic-depressive? Ahem…let me summarize.

Knock Knock Who’s there? Charlie Bartlett (shotgun blast)

Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke: This one’s a four hour-long documentary on Hurricane Katrina and her unkind tirade against New Orleans. Amidst the ruins, Spike Lee searches for answers and in a sense, a bit of closure for the African American community. Issues regarding the American government’s lack of concern for its coloured children are discussed in length. In fact, the entire documentary pretty much focuses on the premise that the Bush administration, to quote Kanye West, “hates black people” and well, it sort of led my attention astray.

when_t13It seemed clear to me that the sadness that I felt while watching those images of destruction was based on little else than superficial empathy. With Terence Howard’s stunning original composition (which is almost worth the entire download or purchase) playing in the background, these visuals of hope, abandonment, pain and anger metamorphosed into almost meandering poetic musings, thus sucking dry any sense of humaneness. In hindsight, if it weren’t for the powerful score, it would have been just another news feed running on and on. Maybe that’s why I didn’t particularly share the outrage either. Matter of fact…why should I? I have watched both the Indian State and Central government schematically not give a fuck while 83 kids from a government school got roasted in an accidental fire, 42 lower-middle class folks were crushed to death during a food relief distribution and daily caste-related tragedies continue to vilify the lives of the underprivileged. So yeah, I didn’t understand what the hue and cry was all about.

While not utterly pointless and ridiculously banal as Michael Moore‘s Fahrenheit 9/11, When The Levees Broke is still quite the stretch. Now look…I’m not saying that Spike Lee has no business bitching about banal federal apathy. Not at all. There’s about 400 years of civil and social oppression that I, as a South Indian, don’t understand. Maybe it gave closure to all those nice folks who were actually affected by Katrina but there is precious little on display for an impartial observer who’s scouting for aesthetics in documentary film-making or just looking for a bit of entertainment. Everybody knows that government doesn’t give a fuck about the minorities. It’s a major problem, yes sir… it certainly is. But four hours of explaining how truly messed up up the problem really is? Not cool, man. Not cool.

the-gray-man-movie-posterThe Gray Man: Serial killers and sadomasochistic vermin are a trepid lot at first sight, aren’t they? Ted Bundy looked like a reject from the Brady Bunch. Jeffrey Dahmer looked like a future professional X-box gamer. And of course, Albert Fish, the graying old man who could have so easily been mistaken for being Christopher Lee’s cousin. Fittingly enough, the horror of crimes committed by each one of these men often lies in the inherent calmness with which they go through it. Albert Fish is certainly no exception. As a killer, he’s calm, composed and prone to violent fits of brutality only when it doesn’t hinder plans. As far as films about serial killers go, The Gray Man is tasty morsel of a thriller. Director Scott Flynn also deserves some sort of credit for not subjecting the viewers to graphically depicted brutality. Having said that, fans of mindfuck – fret not for there is some truly messed up shit about an hour into the film that describes in some sort of detail the heinous murders.

Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau does a neat job of playing the Werewolf of Wysteria a.k.a The Brooklyn Vampire.He’s got this cool Martin Landau meets Brian Cox meets Sean Connery vibe. The other central character is the disgraced (obviously) cop played by Jack Conley who, of course, lose his mind, wins everyone’s respect and saves the day when it’s too late. The predictability does wear a bit thin but then again, this is a biographical narration of events. Kinda funny, isn’t it? Even the most gruesome of real-life events are rendered mundane by the laws of redundancy. Hmmm I think I’ll go look up “funny” in the dictionary.

And a bunch of really short reviews…

lettherightonein_banLet The Right One In: Swedish director Tomas Alfredson has made an emo horror film that moves at a pace that would make Gus Vant Sant blush. Hell, I see a slight reference to Patrick McCabe’s very very awesome The Butcher Boy, as well. Very weird and extremely watchable…especially considering that it has the single GREATEST swimming pool scene EVER.

Notorious: Factually, I’d like to think that it was all messed up. I found it despicable, the way they portrayed Tupac Shakur as a paranoid, bat-shit crazy rapper. Just as much as I hated Christopher Wallace’s constant “mama told me there’d be days like this” expression throughout the second half of the film. But that’s just my inner black dude dealing with his fascination for West Coast’s Hip Hop legacy. Everything until the last 2 minutes were sort of alright, I guess.

Humboldt County: You have to know that Humboldt County in California is actually friggin “known for its cultural attributes associated with the cultivation and proliferation of high-grade marijuana”. Good. Now you can really enjoy this sleeper of an indie stoner film that forsakes most of the cinematic clichés associated with smoking pot. It’s not right up in-your-face with any “Hey Man The Government Is Like Uhhhh…Hey Man, Can You Get Me A Sandwich, Man” bullshit philosophy. Nobody gets shot and nobody gets pregnant either. Conversations began and end in Humboldt County, as do the epiphanies of a disillusioned medical student. And that’s about that.

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iGUESS

It’s only fair that I do this once in awhile. But nobody wins free tickets to see the four-eyed, tentacle-limbed baby…ok?

N-O-B-O-D-Y.

Yeah. Ok.

On why I don’t put mp3 files for download anymoreSupreet

Tata Indicom wireless connection at home refuses to move at a faster pace. I will try including download URLs as hyperlinks instead of youtube videos. And fret not…web firewalls at corporate offices everywhere suck a monstrous lemon.

On (for the 54,387 time) how to download mp3 files from youtubeSt. Day Glo, Aquila, J, Ramanan

Youtube downloader lives here, here and here. But I am not sure how efficient it is. I use Keepvid and random FLV converters. Works like a charm.

On the ‘About Me’ shiny photo thingySiddarth

Halo? No. That’s just the bright light from the camera. My pet Samurai took that photo while attempting a somersault handstand. I couldn’t afford a ninja…recession’s a bitch.

On favourite movies like everCheryl ‘Da Medusa’

The list seems to change every three months or so. At this very moment, it would have to be Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath Of God and Woody Allen’s Crimes And Misdemeanors.

On the comments being inactivatedPeople

A bunch of folks have asked me why I block comments. Maybe it’s the temptation to pretend to be some sort of vaguely cool, socially detached online writer (bows down to Mr. Scholar) or whatever. But my money would be on the fact that it just bothers me; not the comments per say, but rather the intention behind having a space for comments.

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janis_hendrixMuch to my surprise, a lot of my friends haven’t heard Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix perform a fantastic version of Summertime. A bloody surprise considering the number of times I have crushed their leisure time with my tremendously long-ass monologues on the things that (I think) went right during the course of pop culture.

And this version is all that is right with the world. Jimi shredding like his guitar was stoked on amphetamines, Janis out-screeching the witches of Macbeth, Big Brother and the friggin Holding Company…music, I tell you…ahh

Watch

Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix – Summertime (live)

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1992lessonsofdarkness021Lessons Of Darkness: About four summers ago, a bunch of us sat in front of the television and stared at Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out Of Balance) for a good couple of hours. With its visually stunning cinematography and grandiose depiction of nature, we could do little else but chase rainbow-coloured rabbits down the silver screen holes. Despite the oohs and aaahs it drew from our lips, (in retrospect, perhaps) I did find Reggio’s anti-globalization propaganda way too distracting. Sort of like the Bible; pretty decent content, but an almost piss poor commitment towards objectivity.

Documentary filmmakers should not establish a firm opinion on a subject before taking off the lens caps, I think. Few things can claim to be as beautiful as an artist’s disregard for morality towards his subject matter. I know that it’s almost wrong that there is so beauty in nonchalance, but Werner Herzog’s Lessons Of Darkness is perfect example as to why the fact remains so. He discovers rare beauty in the aftermath of the Gulf War. It’s quite clear from the start that Herzog has distanced from the humanity of the situation. He does not contemplate on George Bush, hungry Middle-Eastern kids and decapitated birds floating around in a pool of oil. Instead he turns on the night vision to watch bombs fly hither and thither like ghostly snowflakes gone mad. He precariously observes the ashes that fall like rain near the petroleum fields of Kuwait. In essence, Herzog does what he does best. He observes reality from a distance and then dismisses it from every diminutive perspective while taking notes of how beautiful it all could have turned out to be. And for the sake of our humanity, he chooses to make art, not peace. Watch Trailer

Sin Nombre: Despite Roger Ebert’s recent magnanimity in giving away three-star ratings as though they were oily French fries at a backyard barbecue, a four-star rating from him still demands a certain amount of inquisitiveness. Recently he wrote this about debutant Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre….” I want to say something about the look and feel of the film…Fukunaga’s direction expresses a desire that seems growing in many young directors, to return to classical composition and editing. Those norms establishmo-sinnombre20_p_0499702720 a strong foundation for storytelling; there’s no queasy-cam for Fukunaga” After watching the film, I can say that Ebert sure as hell does not whore out four-star ratings. The film, as he so aptly describes in his review, tells a story. Not the best one you’re going to hear all year, but still the rusty kaleidoscope through which the director communicates the story’s nuances makes it a very special one. This one’s about illegal immigration and the consequences it stems from and eventually releases onto society. The film revolves Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a hopeful immigrant who “crosses paths” with Casper (Edgar Flores), a reckless gunslinger for “terrifying real-life gang named Mara Salvatrucha”. Right the brutal storytelling of gang lives and train rides to Adriano Goldman’s picturesque shots of El Norte and Marcelo Zarvos’ original score, this is a fantastic film; one which works remarkably well because of the director’s attention to detail. Footprints’ Shane Carruth Award for Directorial Maturity on Debut for the class of 2009? Sure, why not. Watch Trailer

deadsnowDead Snow: It’s no secret that I nurture an odd sort of love for gory splatter films. Not slasher or horror films, mind you. I really don’t give a shit about what a bunch of teenyboppers did last summer. I’m talking about movies in which a dude’s kidney is likely to crawl out of his ass and go to work on his kids with a switchblade. Or those wonderful tales of deranged hillbillies frothing at the mouth and forcing you to watch them make fucking soup out of your best friend’s limbs. Haven’t seen that one either? Well, daaaam.

See, here’s the thing about gore films. They can be really, really entertaining (even those untouched by the genius of George Romero) and if you ask me, they come at you with a two-pronged pleasure pang (yeah that’s right). One makes you commend the directors’ genuine efforts at drawing chuckle or two with bloodstained caricatures and whatnot. The other pokes you right in the head and reminds you that sometimes unbearably stupid shit is hilarious. Norwegian indie-horror flick Dead Snow has that bit of the cathartic stupidity that made Malanowski’s Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates watchable during a very drunk post-graduation party. But this one has a lot more going for it too. Yes. Now watch me feverishly defend a film about skiers getting dismembered by Nazi Zombies from an aesthetical point of view since. Screw that. Dead Snow…blood on ice and twice as nice. Watch Trailer

bad_reaction1The Haunting in Connecticut: If you want to see a suburban horror film, go watch Exorcism of Emily Rose. Watch Sideways if you desire a whiff of the freshness that Virginia Madsen brings to Hollywood as an actress. Now if you feel the urge to stomp on the necks of kittens and crush their spines, watch Haunting In Connecticut. Horrible, horrible movie. Don’t Watch Trailer

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garyjulesjules04

Most of the artists I know take pleasure in flirting with sadness. And when they are feeling really kinky, they impregnate consciousness during foreplay. Together and in love, they would probably give birth to Miles Davis’ trumpet, but I digress…a streak of sadness, many will tell you, can be the most exquisite noise in the world. The death of a candle, the gentle stifling of the nasal cavity with a fluffy pillow, the wringing of a cat’s neck….hmm I digress again.

But still…the coolest (that’s right…coolest) ‘touchy feely sappy’ pop rock song I have heard in a looooong time.

Watch

Gary Jules – Mad World (live acoustic version)

Gary Jules and Michael Andrews – Mad World (remake from the film Donny Darko)

Tears For Fears – Mad World (original version)

tffimme02

Also, I don’t understand why music lovers stay clear of Tears For Fears. We should forgive them for Everybody Wants To Rule The World. They must have sniffed petroleum fumes while recording that song. We have all been there, haven’t we? Well, most of us.

Listen to this, this and this…and eradicate your irrational indifference towards one of the few good bands, which were allowed to perform during the Eighties without the unruly aesthetics of televised glamour gouging their eyes out and skull fucking them (Alert: Full Metal Jacket ripoff!) with a lipstick into mediocrity.

Rather than junk food, buy

Gary Jules – Trading Snakoil for Wolftickets

Tears For Fears – Shout

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