Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Music Extravaganza!

First the bad news - word getting around that Sleater Kinney is breaking up. "America's greatest rock band"? you know - well, for a while - probably, yeah, especially if you say "greatest" - they were a mighty force, weren't they, in the late 90s? Their recent records have not held the same power, to my ears - the last one, for all the guitar wanking on top - a good thing, generally, I'm all for guitar wankery - sounded far tamer than Call the Doctor or Dig Me Out. I don't know. I got to them, like most things, just after their peak - but for a couple years (while they were putting out Hot Rock and All Hands on the Bad One) they were just about it. Now - I hope the various members soldier on in other endeavors.

In their honor, then, YouTube footage, live, "Let's Call it Love" - in which Carrie Brownstein is, as usual, the coolest looking person alive - but unfortunately, in the service of a rather mundane Blue Cheer impersonation. Not that there's anything wrong with that - but they were better in their Wire impersonating days.

Now - ten songs, or so... It's been a couple weeks, since I posted such a list, so this time - instead of real randomness, here's a random selection of 5-star songs. I will not be able to resist commenting here....

1. Big Star - When my baby's beside me
2. Roxy Music - Virginia Plain - all right, lately I have been obsessed with Roxy Music. The early days, the 2 records with Eno. And - maybe thinking about that Sleater-Kinney quote up there, I thought - for those two records - they were the best band in the world, weren't they? Early 70s, before the Ramones got going (or Pere Ubu, which would be the other late 70s contender, like it or not, Mainstream American Music Fans) - after the Beatles and the Velvets were done, after Who's Next, after Beggar's Banquet and Let It Bleed (I'm not an Exile on Main Street afficianado - good record - not their best.) Even after Trout Mask Replica, the Stooges first 2, etc. So for that period of time, those two records - I think they might have been the best band in the world. And in the YouTube spirit - here's a Ladytron video. Now that is hwo you end on a freakout!
3 Stiff Little Fingers - this YouTube thing is habit forming: suspect device
4 From Monterey Pop: a quick one while he's away
5 Butthole Surfers - moving to florida - maybe it's just as well I can't find this. Though it is also probably a good idea to make sure someone potty trains the Chairman Mao.
6 Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown - this is what iTunes randomizing is all about. The fact is, however much I like both of them, I probably never would have put moving to florida and sundown back to back on a CD. And is there a radio station on earth that would play such a combo? No, I doubt it. And YouTube, after disappointing me on the is LBJ is a Soviet Jew? front, comes through, with live Lightfoot!
7 The boy with perpetual nervousness - one of the reasons it is so hard, and so dubious, to say, Band X was the Greatest in the World, between years Y and Z is that, for someone like me, with some years on him, and a willingness to change and explore, without abandoning the past - you change. What you value changes. Tragically, in my video scrounging, I could not find this song - but I found a really old clip of Crazy Rhythms - that's about as exciting as music gets, and they were like that, even when I saw them, about twice a year from 85-86 on.... But in those days, I would have sworn - and did - that The Good Earth was one of the great records of all time - certainly their masterpiece. But now - the influence of Roxy Music and Gang of Four and the Minutemen, Wire, Pere Ubu, all those jagged edgy bands, that I listened to 20 years late, have changed me - Sleater Kinney! - have changed me. In the 80s I listened to REM and the Feelies and lotsa jangle, but now, it's the post-punk stuff that gets me. This week anyway.
8. B-52's - Rock lobster - then too.
9. Mama's and the Papa's - California Dreamin'
10. Mission of Burma - Forget
11. Serge Gainsbourgh - requiem pour un con - il est terrible, c'est le rat; check out the Whitney Houston clips...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bloggity Bloggy Blogging (& sport)

Yes, it's another links roundup post, since I spent the weekend watching soccer and baseball and eating. The former ended with the most disappointing game of the world cup so far - the Netherlands and Portugal game looked like it was going to be a gem, but instead turned into a hockey game. Better informed football fans debate how much blame goes to the ref - my take is that he seemed to miss a number of early fouls, while handing out cards for very borderline offenses (and underbooking the obvious hacks, like the attack on Christiano Ronaldo) - and when that happens (cheap calls plus missed calls) the players start taking matters into their own hands (or feet, in soccer). The ref saw all the relatiations, and - since they were obvious and nasty - had to card them all. The result? an unpleasant and tiresome display of hacking, diving, whining and offensive ineptitude in a game that could have been very entertaining.

Meanwhile - going round the blogs these days - several respectable blogs are devoting precious space to discussing something called The Brights. Someone got the, uh, bright idea that if they gave a spiffy new name to atheists/naturalists/freethinkers/godless heathens, they could, um, not have Christians hate us so. Unfortunately, the new name did not turn out to be spiffy at all, going instead for something that manages to approach "special" in its unintended connotations, while managing to sound insulting to the, uh, not-Brights. Strangely enough, not all commments on the term are comic or abusive, some going so far as to defend it, sort of. Dunno there. The defenders try to pretend that the problem is that it either is insulting to Christians or seems to be or that Christians try to make it into an insult to christians - that's not it at all. The problem is that as the first things that pop into mind when you hear it are jokes about dimwits (see the Crooked Timber link above), and then - doesn't it sound like a cult? one of those California cults who believe the space aliens are coming to take them home, but who only take you hoome if you smile and can solve the New York Times Crossword puzzle in pen without a dictionary. Help me Jesus.

Meanwhile - too many posts going around about some Bright(s) at TNR huffing and puffing about "blogfascism". This is too stupid and circle jerking a topic to say anything about, other than to link to Berube, who sums it up the most. There might be something behind all this - whispers about payola, clubbiness, and the like - but really. Still, Berube is in fine form, and that is enough to make even 10,000 daily kos puns bearable.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Linking Out On Many Topics

Kind of keeping up appearances a bit, some links: first, at Girish's blog, a post about "cinephiliac moments" - "small, marginal moments that detonate an unforgettable little frisson in the viewer." As usual there, the fine inciting post has blossomed into a wonderful discussion in comments....

And, some nice posts from some of my long time internet buddies - Joseph B. reminisces about radio, and talks about current music he likes... and at Club Parnassus, Evan Waters follows up reviews of the Matrix movies with a review of the Metroplis Musical.

Leaving the arts for politics - is, as usual, a miserable experience. Lots of posts about Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine, which judging from the reviews, seems to be infinitely depressing. News from Iraq remains bad - domestic response remains disgraceful. (Links from Arthur Silber, who also refutes Rush's crap.) That's about my limit these days....

So - let's raise the discourse again! I would be terribly remiss (though infinitely more dignified) if I did not link to Monkey Fluids, which seems to be celebrating Obvious Week. Fluids, monkeys, horses and gerbils figure in obvious ways. Not for the kiddies!

And sport? The USA's last chance in the World Cup comes tomorrow - it is a cruel irony, but at this point, their chances to advance may depend on the acting talents of the Italian team. The latter need only draw to move on, so the odds are they shall pack the box, and the only offense they will even attempt will consist of dives in the box. Maybe some opportunistic flops in the midfield, who can say.... If Italy can't win, the Americans have to run up something like a 4 goal win, which is not the most likely scenario. Though more likely than Italy playing more than about 2 people on the offensive side of the field at any time...

And finally, in sporting events of domestic interest - is Jon Lester in the process of saving the Red Sox season? They've done okay this year, but the pitching has been shaky, lots of guys hurt - but he's starting to make an impression, slotting in there behind Schilling and Beckett and Wakefield and doing what he's supposed to. Why not? Papelbon's thriving - why not Lester? They need to get younger and this is very helpful.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Movies and Music

It's not Friday yet, but let's pretend it is: Random Ten! Quite a day for the Guitar Heroes.

1. Theoretical Girls - Mom & Dad
2. A Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall - Bill Frisell
3. Carter Family - He took a white rose from her hair
4. Pavement - Two States (live)
5. Audioslave - Doesn't Remind me of Anything
6. Brian Jonestown Massacre - Vacuum Boots
7. Love - Laughing Stock
8. Richard Thompson - Mingus Eyes (live)
9. Pere Ubu - Turquoise Fins
10. Pink Floyd - Take up thy stethoscope and Walk

Elsewhere - in my recent movie reviews, I neglected to mention Banlieue 13 - nothing special, maybe, but a pretty enjoyable bit of b-movie nonsense. There's a plot of sorts, involving stolen nukes and double crosses and the like, but it is best forgotten. The acting is non-existent, the dialogue and such functional at best (not very) - but the action scenes are done with real flair. One of the stars, David Belle, apparently invented a sport called parkour - which consists, I guess, of jumping over stuff. It's like those bits in Jackie Chan movies where he runs up walls or dives through windows, extended for 15 minutes at a time, through dingy high-rise tenement building and warehouses. It makes for some pretty damn great cinema - it really is hard to improve on filming human bodies in motion - these bodies move with amazing grace and strength, and the filming is mostly free of annoying effects: just show a guy jumping off a building without breaking stride, and you're halfway home already. It keeps the film grounded, human scaled - the emphasis is on what the stunt men (and the stars are basically stunt men themselves, I think) are doing, their movement through the environment. It may be cheese, but it's great fun.

And finally - in totally different film type news - I see from Wiley Wiggins' blog that David Lynch's short masterpiece from Lumiere and Company is on Google video. More there in 55 seconds than his imitators could dream of.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Big Weekend at the Movies

Last weekend was one of those weekends I live for, as a film geek. Three films out in the theater that I absolutely must see - Altman, Park Chan-wook and Olivier Assayas directing Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte - life is good. It would have been better if the US hadn't choked in that soccer game (I hope they choked - if they choked, they might come back in the next couple. If they're really that bad - anyway - no one asked for soccer posts...)

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - Of the three, I have to admit, this is the one I was most eager to see. The third of Park Chan-wook's vengeance films, this one concerns Lee Geum-ja ("kind hearted Ms. Geum-ja" is the literal title) - a woman serving 13 years in prison for murdering a child. She gets out, and sets out to get her vengeance on the one who put her behind bars. She does - there's no point denying it - though getting there Park gets a lot of things done. He uses a complicated time structure - as Geum-ja goes about carrying out her plan, we flash back to her stay in jail - to the crime - to how her crime played in the media, for it did - a hack director wanted to make a Lee Geum-ja movie! we are told - and we see her reenacting her crime for the cameras... It's a beautiful film, and very dense - it's not so hard to follow, but hard to get a grip on all the threads with just one viewing - harder still to talk about them without giving away the whole story. Park's style, the story structure, helps develop his themes - the way vengeance runs alongside other stories - her relationships to other people, her relationship to her daughter especially - these things become as important as the revenge plot. On first viewing, I confess that I still think Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance might be better - the harsh twists of that film, the horrible results of mere bad ideas, resonates - but this is superb itself, and stands to deepen with time.

Clean - this has been out there a couple years and finally made it stateside. I have been waiting for it - Assayas directing Cheung and Nolte promises much - it delivers. On first viewing, at least, the best film of the week - I don't know if I'll feel that way in a year, or even a week, but it's still a powerful movie. Maggie Cheung plays the junkie lover of a junkie rock star; when the rock star dies, she is cast out on her own. Nolte plays the rock star's father, who has been caring for their son. He shows up in the film after his son's death, and from the beginning, confounds our expectations. He and Assayas play off his hard-ass side - we expect trouble - but don't get it - yet - they extend this through the whole film. He proves a mountain of decency and strength, made more remarkable by the way they suggest the potential for destruction. It is Maggie's film - she is on camera most of the time, forced to perform a kind of stunningly beautiful woman who has made utter hash of her life, and now has to unhash it. Without losing herself.... it's a tightrope, and she pulls it off - making the character seem both worth saving, and worth not turning into just another dutiful mom. (It occurs to me, in fact, that this is almost exactly the same story as Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - a bad mother trying to connect to her lost child, and shed the demons that are destroying her - heroin, vengeance, as the case may be. That's simplistic, but it's not far off....) But one of the things that makes it work - makes it possible for her to become a decent person and not become a boring person is Nolte's character (which is utterly dependent on Nolte's performance. A lesser son of a bitch could not do what he does.) It's good stuff. The film itself, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Assayas' earlier films - the odd rhythms, the aestheticism and humanism. He has a habit of fading out after the key line in a scene - and a way of taking scenes in strange directions, shifting the attention between different characters, making new story points appear over the sequence. There is one sequence - Maggie Chueng meets a former boss and lover played by Jeanne Baliban - they talk, Baliban is catty, Maggie is desperate - then they go to Baliban's house, where she has locked her current assistant and lover in the bathroom. They turn her loose, and the assistant and Maggie leave, talking about Baliban - they go to the assistant's house, have a couple drinks and then Maggie is digging through her file cabinets looking for dope. She passes out. Cut, to some time later, Maggie out looking for a job... That style reminds me of Arnaud Desplechins - where they picked it up - Rivette maybe? Assayas probably got some of it from Asian films - those odd swerves, and the mixture of extended scenes and truncated scenes seems more common there...

Prairie Home Companion - And finally, Altman. Made with Garrison Keillor, purporting to be the last show of a live radio show - we see the stage, we see backstage (we don't see the audience much though). It looks like vintage Altman, with its cluttered sets and mirrors and frames and zooms and drifting camera, sounds like Altman, with all the chatter and noise going on all around... Has that sense of probing an invented world he offers, and the way he has of trying to get a world from inside and outside. (It's an animating principal, isn't it? His proclaimed love of actors, improvisation and so on, combined with his less proclaimed, but unmistakable, control of the way his films look can be seen that way - characters free inside the films, but yet seen from outside, almost pinned in place. He allows them their freedom, but puts them in their place, as well. Almost like shifting frames of reference - as they see it - as the universe sees it.) Anyway - it is a great joy to behold, funny, packed with outstanding actors chewing scenery like no tomorrow - it offers some reflection on mortality and the like - life and death and all that. It has a valedictory feel. Enjoyable as it is - it seems a bit soft. The sarcasm of Nashville, say, works both to mock the conventions of country music, and to give a kind of rhetorical flourish to its "real" music - "I'm Easy" cuts a little more after the buffoonery - and Barbara Jean's songs are heartbreaking. This film - is okay, but a little too likeable. It's strange - even The Company seems more inventive, though not as good, probably. But its complete abandonment of the plot (while maintaining most of the plot devices of classic backstage musicals) gave it a kind of structural interest the new one doesn't have. But that's a pointless complaint for something this entertaining and generous.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Recent New Movies

This is another post that's been stewing on the back burner a while. Long enough that I should add another film to it! I saw The Puffy Chair - another indie picture made, it seems, by a bunch of friends with a couple nice video cameras, in the vein, let's say, of Andrew Bujalski's films (duly thanked in the credits), maybe Caveh Zehedi's (also thanked...), or Andrew Wagner's The Talent Given Us. Like those films it is low budget and looks it, but carefully written and acted, and a certain amount of attention has gone into making the style (the shaky camerawork, the tight framing, the video textures) functional - making it intimate and casual seeming in a way that connects (or should connect) you to the story. It's a road movie, with the usual themes of relationships and families and responsibilities, as well as the importance of using credit cards when you buy stuff on e-bay. These films share quite a lot - the style, the themes, their fondness for sharp, surprising endings - and their willingness to look for alternative modes of distribution. The Puffy Chair is doing even better than Bujalski's films, or Wagner's - getting into the local Landmark theater - though there were only 4 people at the showing today...

Meanwhile, a bit closer to the mainstream - I've seen a couple fine Australian films recently. Somersault is a film about a teenaged girl who runs away after making a pass at her mother's boyfriend. She ends up in the ski country of southern Australia, where she gets a job, a boyfriend and a lot of trouble... In some ways, it felt rather familiar - a kid doing stupid things, getting away with a lot of it because she is beautiful, but some of it, maybe, because she is in a movie... but different, for telling a young woman’s story, from her point of view - and not actually turning it into quite the cautionary tale you expect it to be. It has some interesting ideas tucked into the corner. It haunts you a bit. Someone on a message board asked how it compared to L'Enfant, which they should see first - it's a strange thought, but it compares rather well to the Dardennes brothers. It's a good deal more conventional, with hints of sentiment and romanticism, especially in the filmmaking style - but in its interest in young people trying to figure out what they should do, in a fairly direct and unjudgmental way, it's closer than you might expect.

Meanwhile, The Proposition brings us an Aussie western starring Guy Pearce, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, plus John Hurt, Emily Watson, David Gulpilil and David Wenhem - directed by John Hilcoat and writen by Nick Cave, like he was fleshing out one of his murder ballads.... Huston and Pearce are the Burns brothers, Arthur and Charlie, Winstone is a trooper, trying to catch Arthur, in particular - he offers to pardon Charlie (and their simple minded younger brother) if he will kill his brother. So Pearce heads off into the bush looking for Huston, and Winstone heads back home, to shuffle between the vengeful citizenry and his civilized wife, trying to keep the peace at least until Arthur Burns is dead. But the townsfolk have to have their pound of flesh... Meanwhile, out in the hills, Charlie finds Arthur, who we should not be shocked to learn, is a poetic psychopath - they all are, after all, in the end... Anyway, all this goes where it is supposed to go, and when heads get blown off, they get blown off in fine style.... It's not perfect - it's marred by Irony, a bit of wateriness in some of the characters (Huston's and Watson's, especially - they are good ideas, but not quite finished, and their outlines have appeared in far too many films already to be quite as effective as they should be), and some plot stumbles, but is still a tense and intelligent film, with uniformly outstanding performances and a strong sense of visual story telling. It has a well wrought sense of moral ambiguity too, slipping back and forth between the various factions, giving both Winstone and Huston their due, worrying their contradictions and redeeming features - and letting Pearce stand between them, in a way, as their judge. It works. It also grains power from its occasional nods to history, drawing on things like the Kelly gang and the abuses of the aborigines. Those old Aussie gunslingers were an interesting lot - poking around reading about them led me to the information that the world's first feature film was - an Australian Western!

Finally, on a more genteel subject - if anything involving Whitey Bulger, the IRA and a guy without a nose (the hero of the film!) can be called genteel, there's Stolen - a documentary directed by Rebecca Dreyfus about the robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in 1990. Mostly about one Harold Smith, an old art detective, suffering from skin cancer (which makes him strangely photogenic, with his false nose and scars and scabs, his head bandage and black derby). He seeks the pieces - Manets and Degas’ and 2 Rembrandts, a gorgeous double portrait and the Sea of Galilee painting - and The Concert, a Vermeer. The film flips between three threads: Smith’s quest for the art (which leads us to speculation about Whitey and the Irish mob); Gardner’s collecting, especially through her letters to Bernard Berenson; and critics (and a couple novelists) discussing the Vermeer (mostly.) It’s a pile of loose ends (the Phoenix called it) - which it true; edifying, the Phoenix added, also true. It is hard not to be moved by the story - the art is quite magnificent, and the museum itself is a unique and fascinating place that has had a personal impact on people. (One interviewer talks about being "adopted" by Sargent's portrait of Gardner as a child.) The chances of getting it back don't seem promising. It is interesting that many reviews of the film refer to the complexity of the theories about what happened to it - in fact, the film really only covers 2 scenarios: one involving Myles Connor, art thief, who claimed various ex-associates of his must have done it; the other involving the Irish mob, and possibly the IRA. Neither have led to the art - but they make a good story.

Still - the film spends as much time talking about the art itself as about the search for the art. Dreyfus focuses on her experts' personal reactions to the paintings, especially the Vermeer - and it is hard not to take the robbery personally. The museum and its history, as the creation of a single person, a work of art itself, invites that reaction. The Gardner has a personal impact that other museums don't have, no matter how great their art is. I'm not immune to the feeling. It is a fact that I have not been to the Gardner museum since the thefts, despite being a fairly regular visitor to it's neighbor in the fens in recent years. I can't say there is a direct correlation - but I can't deny some. When I was in college, I went there a lot - not just because you could get in for $2 in those days. It is quite a place. Dreyfus concentrates on the Vermeer, and its affect on people: I was more moved by the Rembrandt, back in the day. I was young - 20ish, and impressed by grandeur and virtuosity and ambition, and inclined to identify those things with dramatic subjects, scope and scale. The Vermeer, then, was just another nice picture to me. But that Rembrandt - I could get lost in it. Today, I am sure I would still be impressed by the Rembrandt, though I am also much more likely to see the Vermeer for what it was. I have not seen a lot of Vermeer - I've been to the Met, I paid attention to the Vermeers there, but that was a hurried visit, as most first trips to the Met must be. And a couple years ago, the MFA had Young Woman With a Water Pitcher on display - set up like a shrine, in the middle of the floor, with lines going out the door to look at it. And is is a painting that deserves such display - the brilliance and delicacy of the painting, the effect of that beautiful light, is almost shocking.

But it was the Rembrandt that got to me in the early 80s. Probably as much as any painting I saw in that period of time - it's the one painting, from any museum, that I went back to over and over. It's the one I remember, the one that defined the Gardner to me, the way, now, the MFA is defined by, say, Sargent's "Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" or its Hoppers ("Room in Brooklyn" and "Drugstore"). Things I just have to see before I can leave. And without really thinking about doing this, I think this is why I haven't been back to the Gardner: it is intimidating. The loss of what was probably the first major painting to really hit me, to haunt and thrill me, is something I don't want to think about. And that feeling (applied more to the Vermeer) is what the film gets across - the shock and pain of losing something like that. I hope Whitey or whoever has them is enjoying it.

Friday, June 02, 2006


It's taken me longer to write this up than it should. There have been some good films around town lately. I finally saw The Spirit of the Beehive - not sure how I missed it all these years, but did... It's wonderful. It's not the kind of movie that lends itself to analysis or discussion - it is beautiful, dreamlike, haunting, an evocation of childhood, an elegy to the movies - everything it is said to be. Considered to be one of the great films about childhood, and it is.

Earlier last week, The Brattle was running a series of musicals starring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I should have gone to more - I didn't see any of the Kelly films - I especially wanted to see The Pirate, but wimped, since it started at 9:30. I am getting old. Now I must live with the regret. What sorrow! But I did get to a good part of the Fred Astaires: Top Hat, Shall We Dance, The Gay Divorcee and Royal Wedding.

I watched Top Hat and Shall we Dance a few months ago, and wrote about them - I've never seen Royal Wedding before. It's a 1951 film from the MGM Freed unit, written by Alan J. Lerner, directed by Stanley Donen, starring Fred and Jane Powell as a brother and sister act who go to England and find love. It is packed with music (Burton Lane's, with Lerner's words), dance, showstoppers on stage and off (has all three of my pet schemes, outlined back in my Berkeley posts) - but it's pretty dull anyway. It's not the music's fault, though I don't have much use for Jane Powell's singing - the songs are fine, the numbers are entertaining - Fred gets to bring down the house (or turn it upside down, if you prefer - it's the one where he danced on the ceiling) - it's not that. It's the story. There's plenty of plot going around - Fred and Jane fall in love, with other people - and there's an obligatory older couple who've split and are getting back together - but with three love stories, a dozen musical numbers (it gets close to as dozen), and Keenan Wynn apparently playing both Eric Blore and Erik Rhodes, it's still the slowest moving musical film I've seen in ages. It's all filler - all the dialogue scenes are filler - full of references to things happening off screen, that don't come on screen; the jokes fall flat; no one mistakes anyone else for a gigolo - it's hopeless.

The other three, though, are as good as it gets. Seeing them together, I have to admit that Shall We Dance comes off a bit weaker - the music and dancing are as good as the earlier films, but the stories, writing, all the rest are not up to the earlier standards. But those standards are so transcendent, that you can come well short and still have an unqualified masterpiece, which Shall We Dance is.

But the other two... Shameful as it is to parse films like this, which is better and all that, I did it - and would say, in the end, Top Hat comes out the winner. Everything there runs together flawlessly - the formula has been perfected, and everything - words, movements, music, sets, direction, everything - is exactly as it should be. The Gay Divorcee has some rough edges, some awkward transitions and plot points and the like - not Top Hat. On the other hand, The Gay Divorcee - made before Breen came in full force, is sexier, looser, and being less formulaic has its advantages - Edward Everett Horton, in particular, gets to offer a wider array of straight lines, not just one double take after another. Musically - well - they're all working with the best. Shall We Dance probably has the best music over all - all Gershwins, all the way through - that's good. Top Hat also benefits from the Irving Berlin only songs - first rate material, all through. The Gay Divorcee has good music, but not first rank music...

Except, of course, for "Night and Day". Which is not only the best song in any of these films (I mean, it's the best pop song ever, isn't it?), it's the best dance, and the best piece of filmmaking in Astaire's career. It's a seduction, that grows into full fledged romance - in story terms, it mixes the functions of "Isn't this a Lovely Day" and "Cheek to Cheek" - and not only Astaire and Rogers, but Sandrich, make a story of it. The give and take, with Fred following Ginger around, inviting her, pulling her back, anticipating her - they come together, pull apart, come together, explore and finally fall in love - the music and filming complimenting the dance, the music swelling and fading in turns, the camera coming closer, pulling away, spying on them, then nearly joining them - how beautiful it is. As good a reel or so of film ever made, I think.

Friday Music Post

Just your basic random ten here. Movie posts, and there could be a bunch of them, might follow over the next couple days...

1. Mercury Rev - Something for Joey
2. Madvillain - Rainbows
3. Byrds - Sing me back Home
4. The Strokes - Juicebox
5. Carter Family - Something Got a hold on Me
6. Mission of Burma - Wounded World
7. Michael Jackson - Don't Stop til you get Enough
8. Smokey Robinson - The Tears of a Clown
9. Cassandra Wilson - Love is Blindness
10. The Residents - Seasoned Greetings