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Archive for October, 2009

mark_knopfler_-_sailing_to_philadelphia_fr

Clapton, Page, Iommi and a few other guitarists have truly made me feel horrendous for being cursed with stubby fingers. As for Mark Knopfler, he was never a guitar god to me. At best, he was a gentle gargoyle who made pop rock songs that could have helped Michael in his quest to rock. Their songs had great melodies and all, but nothing that could justify their legendary status. The Sailing to Philadelphia album marked the first time I heard the Mark Knopfler sound and went, “woaaaw cool”. On Junkie Doll, his vocals and guitar bring out the beast in him. It starts off a good blues track that flirts with greatness during its quieter moments and by the time the subdued solo kicks in, it strips itself naked and fucks with awesome…and leaves without giving a phone number. Oh yeah badass.

*****

archie bronson

Archie Bronson Outfit had me dancing two summers ago. Their first video – Dart For My Sweetheart – was so much fun that I thought they were an amateur garage band looking for some sweet YouTube fame. When I realized just how tight and frigging catchy they were, I went around asking my friends to give up Jesus and instead let Archie Bronson Outfit into their hearts. The spiritual payoff might not be great, but the joy of incessantly tapping your feet to four minutes of Hendrix-influenced garage pop goodness is something you should seriously consider. Overhype besides, if you don’t find yourself nodding your head to the ‘Nah nanana nah nah ahhhh” groove, start sniffing around for vampires. You are Van Helsing. You are hollow.

*****

pharoahemonchdesire1

Born unto this world as Troy Donald Jamerson, Pharoahe Monch probably has the whitest name ever for a rapper from Queens. Thankfully, that hasn’t stopped him from ripping through a vicious cover of a classic Public Enemy rhyme. Just so you know, Pharoahe Monch’s gnarly version of Welcome To The Terrordome smokes the original. One of the most adrenaline-fuelled political hip hop songs like ofmygod ever.

*****

Air-Moon-Safari-10th-431277

I used to associate French electronic duo Air with their 1998 single Sexy Boy. It was a truly awful piece of kitschy music. As it turned out, Sexy Boy never happened again. Matter of fact, I don’t think I have heard a bad Air track since then. From the breezy melodies in All I Need and Kelly Watch The Stars that make my ears want to dance to the eerily sober and sophisticated harmonies in Cherry Blossom Girl and La Femme d’Argent, they all seem so dam likeable. Their contribution to Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides‘ soundtrack is a collection of their finest and most fragile moments. It really doesn’t get any better than Playground Love. Just listen to that saxophone solo explode with love.

Download

Mark Knopfler – Junkie Doll

Air – Playground Love

Watch

Archie Bronson Outfit – Dart For My Sweetheart

Pharoahe Monch – Welcome To The Terrordome

Air – You Make It Easy

Buy

Mark Knopfler’s Sailing To Philadelphia

Air’s Moon Safari

Archie Bronson Outfit – Derdang Derdang

Pharoahe Monch’s Internal Affairs

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zombie

Zombieland: Zombies used to be funny because they weren’t really scary. Nobody ever appreciated a George Romero film during the Seventies because it frightened them. You’d have to be the in-bred child of a hysterical Jellyfish and an agoraphobic Pomeranian to actually fear those zombies. By the time Nineties hit, zombies had become more efficient. They changed their plan of attack; sprinting instead of walking real slow, ambushing their victims and such. Some even carried guns while others had ferocious pets. Their sense of irony seemed nastier than ever before too. Films such as 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, I Am Legend and those George Romero remakes took themselves seriously, as was evidenced by their emotionally-cathartic climaxes and at least one genuine attempt at being mushy.

zombieland-teaser

Enter Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland. Nearly 87 minutes of back-slapping and sometimes stomach-aching fun. Not since Simon Peg’s outrageously original Shaun Of The Dead has a monster movie been this funny. Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus) is actually Woody Allen trapped in a 24-year-old indie actor’s body. Seriously, if Mr Allen was about 180 years younger and stuck in middle of a zombie wasteland, he’d act just like this. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin act all unnecessarily mature, but it makes sense given their characters’ survival instincts. A minor quibble, if it qualifies as one, but more and more I have started to believe that Abigail won’t play the Bee Girl in Blind Melon’s comeback music video and that’s just sad.

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Woody Harrelson is Tallahassee – a kamikaze killer a.k.a random zombie’s worst nightmare. His anger management issues are pure hilarity as is his obsession with Twinky bars; and I can’t even begin to mention how awesome that 5-second banjo tribute to John Boorman’s Deliverance was. The star of Zombieland however is Bill Murray who makes a cameo appearance as himself.  If John Hurt deserved an Oscar for 15 minutes of acting in History of Violence, then Bill Murray needs to be given at least two-thirds of a Polynesian Island and a lifetime supply of medical marijuana for the awesomeness he brings to Zombieland for about ten minutes.

As for the storyline, well here you go…two guys, two girls, 33 rules, and one zombie apocalypse.  Bring it fucking on.

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million_dollar_baby

Million Dollar Baby: I hate the second and third sections of Hotel California. Don Henley and the gang hardly do anything to break up the monotony of the rhythm that gets tiring after 2 minutes. When the song eventually does take a turn, it is in the form of THE lamest solo ever. Clint Eastwood gets the audience nodding to a pretty decent groove  for about 75% of Million Dollar Baby; neither spectacular nor terrible, just a bland sports film about a working-class heroine. The last half-an-hour of the film is cringe-worthy. I’m talking about “Step Mom” bad here, people. I wanted to rip that dam respirator tube out of Hilary Swank and throw it at Paul Haggis. First Crash, now this. Have a heart, man.

Ordinary People: I think Ordinary People won an Oscar in 1980 because Kramer vs Kramer had won the previous year, beating out Apocalypse Now and someone in the jury thought this would make for a really funny extended joke. David Lynch’s Elephant Man and Scorsese’s Raging Bull shared the same ignominy in 1980 as they lost out to Robert Redford and this bore-fest of a movie. Many of us still don’t get the joke.

Saving Private Ryan & ET: Guns don’t kill people, Steven Spielberg kills people. Only Paul Haggis and the irritating couple sitting behind us in the theatre would enjoy this sort of crap.

Mel Gibson South Park

Braveheart: At least for national security purposes, the last scene in Braveheart with Mel Gibson screaming “FREEDOM” needs to be kept in a top-secret vault. With more and more people binging on  hallucinogens and sedatives these days, it is only a matter of time before the truth serum becomes impotent; either that or terror mongers will start realizing how well it goes with whole grain bread and start becoming immune to it. Don’t panic, Mel Gibson has given us a secret weapon.

Which embassy are you planning to blow up tomorrow?” (Silence) “I said, which fucking embassy you fucking planning to blow up tomorrow, you terrorist fuck?” (Silence) “Play that last scene from Braveheart again” (Noooooooooooooo)

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Dead Poets Society: Giving Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society an Oscar for best screenplay is like giving one of those dudes who design gnarly cigarette packets a Nobel Peace Prize for promoting cancer awareness. Some of the dialogues involving Robin Williams waxing whimsical about transcendentalism are so awful that I got the shivers. The torment continues with his pseudo-rebellious students attacking conformism by vying for a spot in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Are you friggin kidding me? We should have known that the once great Peter Weir had lost his mind when he chose Harrison Ford for a lead role. Twice.

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Shrink: Kevin Spacey has been misconceieved as one of most talented American actors of our generation. Maybe it has to do with all the really cool characters he gets to play. Just to set the record straight, he neither ad-libbed the final speech in American Beauty nor did he impulsively straighten his limbs and walk out of the police station as Kaiser Soze. If you ask me, both Chris Cooper and Gabriel Byrne acted circles around him in those films. Yes, he was good in Seven; I’m sure the staleness of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman did wonders to his confidence. In Shrink, the character he plays brings out the worst in him. Awkward, boring and full of chicken soup for everyone’s soul. Jonas Pate’s film about the quasi-tragic life of a celebrity psychiatrist/ best-selling author isn’t any better. It swallows any semblance of talent that its actors might have and spits out the bits that matter. Then there’s Dallas Roberts playing a second-rate House MD-type guy and the desecration of Mary Jane. Please stop the pain.

Scent Of A Woman: I’ll let Tony Montana handle this one.

Tony_Montana

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school-of-seven-bells

School of Seven Bells is a curiously poppy and notoriously gothic 3-piece band from New York. I sort of like them but I doubt if I’d grow any fonder of them and that’s only because Bat For Lashes and Cocteau Twins already exist. However, their track School Of 73 Bells featuring hip hop producer Prefuse 73 is unadulterated awesomeness. With tightly-woven beats and dream-like vocals from twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, it could so easily be that song to which I wake up, smiling and knowing that it’s a Saturday.

*****

The Brown Tape

Brown Bag All Stars comprise MCs Audible Doctor, J57, KONCEPT, Soul Khan and Cold Codein. Their debut The Brown Tape is a collection of gimmick-free hip-hop tracks that beg, borrow and steal from the golden era of rap with new school production values. While redundancy slightly creeps in towards the last few tracks of their album, it certainly doesn’t linger long enough to discredit all the fun we would have had until then. Think Wu Tang without the grime and kung fu. Think Run DMC with actual rhythm and clever wordplay. Or just think of those catchy rap songs that make you want to throw a punch, plant a kiss, and shake a leg at the same time.

*****

Eagles Of Death Metal

It is easy to trash Eagles of Death Metal, I guess. Silly band name…check. Stupid leather outfits…check. Unnecessarily vague songs titles…double check. Thank heavens some of their music is so much fun that I want Danny McGill back on that MTV Top 10 show, introducing Faith No More’s Real Thing as the numero uno song of the week. In 2006, after an unruly Ohio crowed booed them off stage, Axl Rose publicly referred to EODG as the “Pigeons Of Shit Metal”. Well, if you absolutely hated Water Pistols and Voodoo Lilies and the putrid glam rock they were popular for, listen to Eagle Goth. At least you won’t feel guilty about headbanging to nonsensical rock.

*****

djali_zwan

Alternative supergroup Zwan is the collective decision taken by Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins), Matt Sweeney (famed guitarist and producer), David Pajo (Slint ) and Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) to evolve the sounds they had discovered from their previous bands.

Djali Zwan is an acoustic incarnation of Zwan. Featuring Ana Lenchantin (Paz’s sister), they crafted exquisite lo-fi gems that walks the line between alt country and the sort of indie folk that is considered cool nowadays. Their version of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast is surreal; I didn’t even know it was a cover until Jerry noticed it during the opening credits of Spun. In fact when you hear the vocalist gently weep, “I’m coming back, I will return, I will possess your body and I’ll make you burn”, you just might want to take back all those ‘I wish Iron Maiden never existed’ prayers. Too bad Zwan called it quits so soon.

Download
Djali Zwan – Number Of The Beast

Watch
School Of Seven Bells & Prefuse 73 – School Of 73 Bells

Brown Bag All Stars – Got It All

Eagles Of Death Metal – Eagle Goth

Buy
Zwan’s Honestly

School of Seven Bells’ Alpinisms

Read
Hip Hop DX review of Brown Project

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life

Life: I’m neither a fan of Eddie Murphy nor Martin Lawrence. Give me Katt Williams, Anthony Anderson or Dave Chappelle any day of the week. Thankfully, director Ted Demme’s Life doesn’t aspire to be one of those bid-budget comedies, it just happens to find irreverent humour in tragic situations. Eddie and Martin excel in their roles; the two ‘legendary’ comedians act their little hearts out like never before and sadly never after. The film starts off as a buddy comedy about two African American New Yorkers – one a hustler (Ray Gibson), the other an aspiring bank teller (Claude Banks) – landing in jail, thanks to a dead body and the apathetic American legal system. So Claude, an otherwise straight-edge guy, is sentenced along with Ray to a lifetime’s worth imprisonment at the infamous Camp 8 in Mississippi. Of course, he doesn’t plan on forgiving Ray anytime soon for leading him so far astray from the life he had planned.

Life Eddie Murphy

Anderson, Bernie Mac, Obba Babatunde, Miguel Núnez play fellow prisoner stuck under sweltering Mississippi sun. Bernie is especially friggin hilarious as Jangle Leg; his random muttering is the stuff that a Jerry Lewis skit could have been built around. Also, Nick Cassavetes, writer of Alpha Dog and Blow, is wicked as Sergeant Dillard – a character you would love to hate, but just can’t seem to find the reason to. Things really pick up when Ray and Claude get into a heated argument and decide that they in fact hate each other. The film then changes its pace and colour and becomes an idyllic prison drama in which only cynicism towards death has a genuinely funny punchline.

At one point the narrator mentions how he “didn’t see nothing special the first time Ray and Claude walked into the cage. They were just a couple of fools whose luck had run out”. Initially, I didn’t see much I liked about the film either, but unlike its real counterpart, Life evolves into something better than most people give it credit for.

The Hamiltons

The Hamiltons: Good independent horror films are surprisingly easy to find. The reason why so many of them work so well is because their directors do everything they can to defy the accepted norms of giving us chills and thrills. Gone are tediously predictable bloodbaths, little girl ghosts, celebrity cameos and overblown CGI effects (or at least desperate attempts of having such); instead a craving for conspicuously deranged storylines, with minimal gloss and a fetish for understating evil gave rise to the indie horror genre.

The Hamiltons, directed by Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores a.k.a The Butcher Brothers, tells a tale of four orphaned siblings trying to make sustain a normal household in American suburbia. The eldest David (Samuel Child) is the breadwinner, desperate to be the glue that keeps the family together; the twins – Wendell (Joseph McKelheer) and Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens) – are the creepiest of lot, with their sociopathic behavior proving to be more and more dangerous. The youngest – Francis (Cory Knauf) – is the odd sibling out and for reasons far more unpredictable and gloomier than one would imagine. The only thing that slightly irked me was the hype of the climax that I had eagerly bought from Bloody Disgusting website’s (my bad, not theirs) glowing review of the film.

Hamiltons Butcher Brothers

See, Bloody Disgusting is the one place that I consistently go to for feeding on horror films…they have an excellent archive of lesser known stuff, as well as pretty convincing reviews that make me want to torrent whatever they praise, but I thought they sort of overrated the “big” secret at the end. Matter of fact I thought the climax was absolutely perfect only because it lacked a proper twist that might have left me with a bad aftertaste. When a film moves at such a pace, it is only fitting that it ends with a whimper – one that warms the audience to the whimsies of indie filmmaking while keeping in close quarters all the ingredients that make for a fantastic horror film.

Sick-Girl

Sick Girl: Just so you know, I have always hated the ‘torture porn’ tag that new age slasher flicks have learnt to live and die by. It just sounds friggin vile; might as well lump shitty romantic comedies into the ‘scat porn’ category. Well, Eben McGarr’s Sick Girl is proof that independent, unpaid critics are idiots who jump to conclusions and more importantly, gives validity to calling such films as “torture porn”. See, my croonies, it is common knowledge that sex and pain are bedmates and even the wantonly dumb Chicks on Flicks on Sony Pix would tell you that cinema is one voyeuristic bastard. Imagine if you must…a bunch of normal (heh) people sitting in front of our laptops,getting strangely aroused by the pain inflicted on others. Remember James Wan’s Saw and how excited we were about the climax? A nice enough chap mutilated in front of our eyes and whose only ray of hope is extinguished with the speed and velocity of a Japanese freight train and all that most of us could say was, “oh that shit’s just fucking cool”. Even if the arousal probably had nothing to do with sexual desire, it still indicative of the extent that we, humans, would go in search of stimulation.

Having said all that, director Eben McGarr doesn’t just bait the audience with blood, gore and clumsy violence. There is a pretty interesting story that binds all the severed human bits together. The principle characters – Izzy (Leslie Andrews), Barney (John McGarr) and Kevin (Charlie Trepany) – are tremendous, as well. Leslie, in particular, is super fucking gnarly as Izzy Shea – the psychotic sister who guards her kid brother and her home in small rural town near California while waiting for her elder brother Rusty to find his way back from the war. I’m telling you, she could bitchslap The Bride, O-Ren Ishii and the entire cast of Charlie Angels with one arm tied behind her back.  I really dug John McGarr’s character too; he plays a kind-hearted biker who happens to be the only other person Izzy allows to befriend her little brother Kevin.

The extent of graphic violence in Sick Girl could have been toned down slightly; Izzy going berserk on the teenagers towards the end is a bit hard to stomach. Leaps and bounds better than any of those stupid teen slasher movies, but falls just short of forming a really good argument against the ungainly ‘torture porn’ tag. Now all I have to figure out is whether that’s a good thing.

Borderland

Borderland: Zev Berman’s Borderland is another film that shows how twisted and vulnerable the human psyche can be. There is even the obligatory ‘based on a true story’ line, just to remind us that the stuff that these directors think of pales in comparison to the shit that happens in real life. I’ll keep this one short…three friends go to a colourful town near the US-Mexican border to (a) get laid (b) get drunk (c) get laid again. Instead of the expected binge, they (a) get their skulls opened (b) get their limbs mutilated (c) get on the bad side of a human sacrifice cult. For what it’s worth, the torture sequence with the hapless police officer is truly cringe-worthy. His other film Briar Patch seems much more interesting. Borderland – strictly recommended for those who enjoyed a good meal while watching Hostel.

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The Commitments: I really really wanted to like Alan Parker’s The Commitments – a film about an aspiring soul band in Dublin looking to make waves in pop culture at the behest of their manager. Most of the actors in the film are actually real-life members of the band The Commitments, so like the dude in IMDB tells us – “the key players in this movie were not chosen for their acting abilities, but rather for their musical talent”. In case you didn’t know, Alan Parker is the dude who directed Pink Floyd’s The Wall movie, the excellent Mathew Modine-starrer Birdy and Midnight Express. Hold on, I have got one more…the film was based on a Roddy Doyle novel!

Despite all these delightfully awesome details, something went wrong that made the film less enjoyable than I had hoped. Maybe the music (as good as it actually is) totally overshadowed the storyline. Maybe the humour was too one-sided to remain funny after an hour. Whatever it was, it dulled my senses towards the film.

Like I said, the music is pretty good (the singer sounds a lot like Joe Cocker) and none of the characters overstay their welcome, but towards the end I was left with the feeling of ‘meh could have been better”. Colm Meaney, who plays Elvis enthusiast Jimmy Rabbit Sr., gets in the best line of the film – “That’s fuckin’ blasphemy. Elvis wasn’t a Cajun”. Now everybody get your hands on Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People.

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…and as heartbeats bring percussions
fallen trees bring repercussions
cities play upon our souls like broken drums

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As if the heart were not enough by The Scholar

Review of Sounds From A Town I Love by Seventh Art

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