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Posts Tagged ‘Requiem For A Dream’

Kronos Quartet

The film Requiem For A Dream and a distinct lack of sobriety once introduced me to the haunting sounds of Kronos Quartet. Violins gratuitously meshed with their fellow strings and beat themselves to a bloody, self-loathing pulp that spoke of the mistakes made by the film’s sordid characters. In a perfect world, I’d be amazed if you hadn’t heard of David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Jeffrey Ziegler until now. However given our world and its abnormal distance from anything any of us would dare call perfect…ladies and gents, introducing The Kronos Quartet.

*****

Pete Philly and Perquisite

Pete Philly and Perquisite is an Amsterdam-based duo who make a fascinating blend of hip hop, neo-soul and broken beat jazz. Their first album Mindstate was a concept album, with each track representing a specific state of mind. A bunch of really nice people even awarded their effort with a Zilveren Harp award. ‘Hope’ featuring Talib Kweli was a standout, with its groovy-as-hell vibe and soulful sentiments. Following a sophomore remix album Remindstate, they released Mystery Repeats. Unless I start figuring what the fuss is all about with Mos Def’s new album or some indie rapper breaks the glass ceiling with a ridiculously awesome debut, I doubt that I’m going to listen to a collection of fresher beats in 2009. I swear, I know angels who would have sex to this music. You might want to close your eyes, light up some incense, and hit the loop button; lord knows, a cocktail of Dave Brubeck, DJ Krush, Q Tip, and coolest light-browned skinned MC you have ever heard deserves some incense.

*****

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If Cannibal Ox never broke up and instead metamorphosed into a vortex that sucked away the memory of Eminem and the pin-cushioned moron from the criminally-awful ‘come my lady come come my lady” band from our collective consciousness, they’d sound something like Jaime Meline aka EL-P aka former Company Flow rapper.

*****

soulsavers_Lanegan

North England downtempo duo Soulsavers has released their third album (Broken) and second straight one with real godfather of grunge Mark Lanegan. Broken features an impressive list of guest artists including Mike Patton, Jason Pierce and Gibby Haynes, but the real story is that in the track You Will Miss Me When I Burn – Lanegan’s vocals inch closer towards the perfect blend of Tom Waits and Johnny Cash. Please continue deleting all those silly Nirvana songs from your hard disk.

Download

Kronos Quartet – Mugam Beyati Shiraz

Watch

Kronos Quartet – Requiem for a Dream (Complete)

Pete Philly and Perquisite – Insomnia

Pete Philly and Perquisite – Empire

EL-P – Drive

Soulsavers & Mark Lanegan – You Will Miss Me When I Burn

Soulsavers,  Mark Lanegan & Mike Patton – Unbalanced Pieces

Tom Waits & Kronos Quartet – Cold Cold Ground (live)

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Since the influx of new music is killing time, I have had to delay posting the weekend movie reviews. I have got three Werner Herzog films and a couple of others by Jim Jarmusch left to watch, so next Monday I would be posting the complete reviews of both DVD box sets.

Dead ManDead Man: Jim Jarmusch films are bitingly funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hires genetically jacked-up vampire bats to write dialogues for his films. People like Jarmusch and Wes Anderson are brilliant in the way they use humour to drive home a particularly gray point. Quite unlike the more theatrical mainstream comedies that rely on execution of humour rather than its actual content. There is more of an onus on making funny faces than actually saying something funny. Case in point, the American Pie series and the decade of retardation it spawned. However, in Dead Man, there is enough deadpan existential humour to tickle seven generations of Nietzsches. And it’s not one of those “you’ve got to be Kevin Smith to understand the one-liners” comedies either. For instance, take the storyline. Johnny Depp plays William Blake, an accountant on the run who ends up meeting Nobody, a large and morose Red Indian in a desolate industrialized small town. After a brief discussion between the two, they decide to kill as many white people as they possibly can; there’s also Lance Henriksen who plays a cannibalistic bounty hunter out to get them by any means necessary. You might wonder, what in the blue hell is this shit? But I assure you…everything works really well.

The William Blake references, the black and white cinematography, Neil Young’s original compositions, Henriksen’s game face, John Hurt’s accent, Iggy Pop’s cross-dressing…gasp, yes…everything.

Spun_posterSpun: Jonas Akerlund’s Spun is a cocktail of few druggie films of the past two decades. Take half a cup of Trainspotting, add a large dose of Requiem For A Dream, squeeze a few drops from Go and throw in a few pieces of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, as well. But the thing is Spun is way more fun (not necessarily better) than any of them. I guess you can thank Renita Whited, the casting director, for that. The energy and exuberance that the Spun’s cast showcase seem so infectious that you almost get the impression that a strange concoction of mashed ecstasy pills and cough syrup was passed around during the shooting of this film. Jason Schwartzman, Mena Suvari, Brittany Murphy and John Leguizamo – all of them do a fantastic job of playing meth-heads looking for a fix and quite possibly, an off-the-road path to serenity. Props to them for going beyond what we thought they were capable of.

One particular scene stands out as a testament to how gloriously fucked up and fun Spun can be. Watch out for the conversation that takes place inside the car between Ross (Schwartzman) and Nikki (Brittany) towards the end of the film. Such twisted fun! For the sake of NOT sounding like I’m gassed up on a few concoctions myself, I’m going to downplay the awesomeness that Mickey Rourke brings to Spun as Cook. A serious challenger to the Michael Madsen’s Cool Cat Of Cinema Award.

Midnight Meat Train

Midnight Meat Train: Midnight Meat Train is one of the short stories in Clive Bakers’ Books of Blood, a collection of literary screams. I haven’t read the book yet so I’ll hold back personal biases about interpretations. For what it’s worth, director Ryuhei Kitamura’s film about a serial killer tearing through the heart of city metro subways leaves little to be desired. I say this because nobody should watch this, expecting the sort of subtle titillation that serial killer films such as Elements Of Crime, Cronicas and The Gray Man quietly stir up through visual metaphors and striking passages of dialogue. Watch this as you would those slow-burning, violent and strangely Lynchian Eighties movies.

Matter of fact, grab John Raffo’s Johnny Skidmarks and watch that first. You will have newfound respect for John Lithgow and Peter Gallagher. As for Midnight Meat Train, Vinnie Jones and Bradley Cooper are sort of alright but I’d say Jonathan Sela, the director of photography, should rightfully take most the credit. Who says gore can’t be stylish?

high_fidelity_1High Fidelity: Nick Hornby’s book is better. Much much better. And Catherine Zeta-Jones is as awful as always. With those clichés out of the way, let us focus on the positives. The music is friggin great. I mean, really really great… like one kickass garage mixtape. Featuring tracks by The 13th Floor Elevators, The Kinks, Velvet Underground, The Beta Band and Stereolab, High Fidelity’s OST is one of the finest of its kind. Oh and Tim Robbins is really funny with his character’s “so hip I’m square” douchebaggery. Wellllll…uhmmmm…uh huh…so much for the positives. Many have opined that the film had a brilliant cast and while the jury is still out on that, I must say that it sort of felt like the actors and actresses were sleepwalking their way through this film. Catherine Zeta-Jones continues to amaze us with her impersonation skills. Once again she plays a role of a woman who thinks she can act. Jack Black plays an over-excitable Pomeranian. Both John and Joan Cusack are wasted yet again (see Grosse Point Blank to see just how good they can be). The mediocrity of observation has started to hurt, so read more about the storyline here.

P.S: Mickey Rourke’s character Cook has been given a lifetime ban in three countries for the sheer amount of awesomeness he exudes every two seconds

P.S.S: Da Bear has reviewed one of my favourite independent American films – Shane Caruth’s Primer. Read it here.

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sideways-4Sideways ended up being my absolute favourite movie of 2004. With Alexander Payne’s storytelling coupled with Paul Giamatti’s sketchier-than-thou character, the film almost seemed to feverishly mutter to itself when confronted by visuals of rare beauty. Like an author on painkillers recording a soliloquy for YouTube…without the self-indulgence, of course. The film had a lot more going for it. Thomas Haden’s jabs to your funnybone, Sandra Oh’s quizzical expressions, and every single scene that was fortunate enough to have Virginia Madsen smile on its behalf.

The spotlight stealer, as far as I’m concerned, was Rolfe Kent’s original compositions for the film’s soundtrack. When Miles (Giamatti) stays over at his mom’s dainty duplex, we are treated to an exquisite instrumentation (“Slipping Away As Mum Sleeps”) that ominously peers over Miles during one of his moments of utter desperation. The sound revisits the film briefly much later when Miles hears about his ex-wife’s wedding. He grabs a bottle of wine, guzzles it down while running downhill, closely followed (almost comically) by Haden asking him to get his life together. Miles comes to a screeching halt when he looks around at the vineyard that has outgrown his path. He tenderly holds a piece of grape between his fingers and looks at it with a delicate balance of admiration and despondency; the strings pour at a sweet melody and cinema, as I know to be, lifts itself to another level.

“Asphalt Groovin” is seductive as hell, with a killer carnival-esque folk sound always luring the listener in with tender force. “Constantine Snaps His Fingers” is a slight variation of the previous one, sort of reminding me of the liberties that Kronos Quartet took with the soundtrack of Requiem For A Dream; the way they shaped and shifted a singular tune into many variations with each one being a haunting memory of the other.

“Lonely Day” is mesmerizing and almost delirious it its treatment of Miles’ sadness. Very, very trippy. It also would have been the album’s finest song if it weren’t for “Los Olives”. I am not going to say anything about this instrumental, but I do beseech you to listen to it. You have no soul, if you aren’t moved by it. Either that or you absolutely have no inclination for jazz, which merely means that I can no longer be your friend.

rolfekent-cuRolfe Kent has also composed music for About Schmidt, the deadly Silence Living in Houses and Adrian Brody’s finest hour – Oxygen. IMDB tells me that he has crafted original compositions for Freaky Friday, Legally Blonde Mean Girls, but thanks to the Ultra Max, Kryptonite-fueled, Amnesiac Art Filter (there’s a discount too if you order it online) that I have installed in my medulla oblongata, I’ll be keeping an ear out for his sounds in the future.

(Mp3 versions will be available sometime during the weekend)

Watch

Rolfe Kent – Asphalt Groove

Rolfe Kent – Constantine Snaps His Fingers

Rolfe Kent – Lonely Day

Rolfe Kent – Los Olives

Rolfe Kent – Miles’ Theme

Note: In other news, one of the members of the colLeague of Extraordinary Carnivores at my office has decided to blog…er spit venom. You can read it by clicking here.

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eden_lake_4

Not many films rattle me. Even fewer leave me searching for words to summarize how I feel about them. Pratap Pothan’s Meendum Oru Kaathal Kathai. Parthibhan’s Thendral. Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream. Martin Blank’s Combat Shock and probably Kim Di Duk’s The Isle. Each of them for various reasons ranging from Oedipal issues and drug problems to losing loved ones and sexual depravity. Last night, Eden Lake took the top spot in the list of films that left me staring blankly at myself while the end credits rolled. Starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender as a couple looking for an idyllic weekend and getting anything but that, Eden Lake tapped into some of my darkest fears.edenlake-uk-poster-tsrimg

It would be extremely presumptuous to pigeonhole Eden Lake as just another slasher film, which torments the protagonists and leaves them bloodied, bruised and abused. The difference between this film and a million others is that the tormentors are children; and I’m not talking about devilish kids born to the seventh son of Satan. These kids are merely an exaggeration of a few of the critters that I have mingled with as a child. I bet you know one or two just like them too.
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The film manages to avoid the idiotic fallacies that one would associate with this genre. Hell, it even sidesteps the depravity that Oliver Blackburn’s Donkey Punch could have done without. And the actors put on a great show as they perfectly convey the fear that is seemingly omnipresent thirty minutes into the film. A special mention to the child actor – Jack O’Connell. Congrats young fellow, you have replaced Cochin Haneefa in Mahanadhi as the most remorseless make-believe character I have come across on-screen.

Even though it’s definitely one of the best films I have ever seen, I cannot bring myself to recommend this to anyone I know. Delusional or not, I imagine that most of my friends are pretty content with their lives or at least hopeful enough to look forward to something pleasant in the future. I am just not too sure if Eden Lake’s brilliance is sufficient compensation for the terror it induces. And I am not saying James Watkins’s debut is disturbing enough to leave you nervously peeking over your shoulder at every single family vacation from now onwards. I’m saying it comes close to doing that.

I’m not going to reveal anymore of the story but I’ll tell you this much…the climax of Eden Lake is the most frightening two minutes I have been through while sitting in front of the television. Maybe next week, I can bring myself to recommend it.

Brilliant, pulsating and utterly devastating…all in one breath.

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Watching the dying moments of a good film should be a fittingly exhilarating experience. The audience craves for the climax, proverbially and literally. I seldom judge movies by their conclusions. With the exception of Million Dollar Baby, in which I feel that Clint Eastwood took the easy way out and gave us an emotionally juvenile tearjerker, not too many films crash and burn solely by how they finish.

In some movies, it even turns out to be the saving grace. Case in point, Gladiator. But for me, cinematic bliss reaches its highest echelon when the climax enhances everything that just passed, sort of like the messy yet colourful concoction found at the bottom of a Falooda drink. Maybe similar to the ultra cool fatality sequence that occurs at the end of Mortal Kombat duel. Maybe not. Recent films that ride on this bliss include 300, Death Proof, Pan’s Labyrinth and few others I can’t seem to remember.

The memorable climax scenes that I do remember are those which have haunted my mind for so long that I can no longer forget them.

The film titles are linked to their respective videos on youtube. All you have to do is the right click on each link, copy shortcut and paste it on Keep Vid or Save Youtube. Hit the download button and save the file with an .flv extension.

Easy does it.

About Schmidt

Jack Nicholson’s best performance since The Shining. The sadness in his eyes towards the end sends shivers with a bunch of goosebumps for good measure down my spine. You want the truth? Well you can witness it unravel its beady eyes in the final moments of this excellent, excellent film by Alexander Payne.

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

This film is one of two reasons why I don’t completely abhor George Clooney, the other being “Welcome To Collinwood”. Sam Rockwell steals the show, as George Clooney, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts miraculously don’t screw it up with their plasticized presence. The climax is bitingly cynical…thankfully, fittingly too. And just so you know, this is also one of those rare films in which we get to see Julia Roberts’ character die.

Tears Of Julian Po

I can’t find any video link to this film. Apparently the Internet has not been moved by the tears of Julian Po and it’s a shame considering Christian Slater’s heart-wrenching performance as a suicidal newcomer in a quiet, disturbing part of small town America. If you ever get lucky enough to find this film, hold on to it tight and don’t let it go. Yeah it’s that good. The theme song is also one of the best ever.

Lawn Dogs

Another one of those films I often impose upon my friends. “What?? You haven’t seen it?” I would scream in terror if they dare to display any sort of ignorance about such films. Seriously, your cinematic palettes should get a taste of Lawn Dogs. It’s fantastical, confusing and seemingly very keen on keeping a close eye on the decay of the America suburbs. The ending is surreal and saying anything else would be gross injustice.

Requiem For A Dream

I’ll say this much…keep anti-depressants, a lover’s shoulder and a bunch of tissues on stand-by mode.

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