Friday, March 30, 2012

Music on Friday

I don't have much to offer today. An Earl Scruggs video would not be out of order I think:

And - a Friday random ten:

1. Black Sabbath - Hand of Doom [Paranoid really is a record that just keeps on giving...]
2. Tom Waits - Lucky Day
3. Outkast - B.O.B
4. Roxy Music - Whirlwind
5. Franz Ferdinand - Dark of the Matinee [I've mentioned this before - one of the best songs of the millennium] [Finding that link is a rather disturbing reminder of how long I have been doing this blog - though maybe more disturbing is that I had no idea I posted it 5 1/2 years ago.]
6. Pere Ubu - Cry Cry Cry
7. John Cale - Guts
8. The Seeds - Daisy Mae
9. Modest Mouse - Alone Down There
10. Mercury Rev - Secret for a Song

Video? Lots to choose from today... though there are few things more irritating than official videos, with their ads and all the rest - I have to post the Outkast...

And I don't remember posting John Cale in a while, so here you go:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two New World War II Films

Along with the films for the World War II class I am taking, there have been a couple newer films on the subject out recently. In an ideal world, I might have seen Red Tails - but it came and went almost before the class got started, and before I really thought about making a point of seeing any WWII films that might appear. But since then, a couple other films have come out, and now, I'm looking for them.

In Darkness (12/15) - An excellent film directed by Agnieszka Holland about a Polish sewer working in Lvov, who saves a group of Jews when the Ghetto is liquidated. He starts as an amoral scoundrel of sorts, robbing abandoned houses, skulking around the sewers - he finds some Jews who are looking for a way out of the ghetto, and offers to help them escape, for a price of course. When the Germans close the ghetto, a good many Jews get out through the sewers - he ends up hiding a dozen or so of them in the depths of the system. Meanwhile, the Germans and their Ukrainian allies are looking for Jews - they get a good many of them, but not his. He has a friend, though, a Ukrainian who knew him from prison - this friend has joined the Nazis, is an officer of some sorts - and tries to recruit him in the effort to find the Jews in the sewers. So our hero plays a double game. It is something of a familiar story - he starts as an opportunist, but becomes more and more committed to helping the people he is hiding - he becomes heroic. The film also does a good job of filling in the other characters - the Jews are developed - one is heroic; one is rich; others are faithless, others are weak, several of them emerge as fairly well rounded character. In all aspects of the world of the film, Holland is attentive to the devisions between people, the calculations of class and wealth and ethnicity. It is a very fine film, suspenseful and rich. The hero, Leopold Socha, was a real figure, who did just what the film shows, sheltering a group of Jews in the sewers of Lvov throughout the war...

Free Men (9/15) - A similar story, of Muslims in Paris protecting Jews and working with the French resistance. This too is centered on a real person, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, rector of a mosque in Paris who used his position to help fugitive Jews and others during the occupation. The film concentrates, though, on a fictional character, a young Algerian named Younes. He starts as a spy for the police, but soon discovers that a musician he admires and befriends is Jewish - and so switches sides. Before long he is working with the resistance, and with the mosque to protect Jews (including the musician), as well as resistance members, political refugees and so on. The musician in the film is Salim Halili, another real person, apparently a very great musician. (That link provides a fine example of his music.)

It's a good film - it's a fascinating story, suspenseful and sometimes moving - though a bit disjointed at times, and maybe a bit too willing to go for the cliche. We get 2 big ones - the kid-going-back-for-her-teddy scene that seems to be a requires feature in any films of this sort... and the "bad guy shot from behind by unseen good guy just before he kills one of the heroes", bit... And we get episodes, details that don't go anywhere - the revelation that the singer is a homosexual is - just there. Younes sees him with a man - but - so what? It's a strange moment... But that aside - pecestrian as the film is at times, it is a gripping story, well made, acted (the great Michael Lonsdale plays Benghabrit), with some really fantastic music - a very worthwhile movie...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Clinging to the Rituals - Friday Random Ten

Somehow, I have fallen into a terrible writing slump - not just for this blog. I don't know why, it drives me crazy, but there it is. I can't even muster the will to loose the occasional tweet on the world. It's maddening. Anyway - I can hope, these things come and go, and this one will go again - and meanwhile, keep the lights on here any way I can. And so? Random Friday etc!

1. Melt Banana - Lock your Head
2. Gomez - Charlie Patton Songs
3. Sonic Youth - Pipeline/Kill Time
4. Mercury Rev - Opus 40
5. Elastica - Smile
6. Cream - Sitting on Top of the World
7. Madvillain - Rainbows
8. The Who - A Man in a Purple Dress [of that new record, of all things - I have good WHo music on here, why is this coming up?]
9. Built to Spill - Liar
10. Johnny Cash - Send a Picture to Mother

Video? How about a Mercury Rev video?

I can't find an actual video of Madvillain doing Rainbows - but here's Accordion, cause - I should post some Madvillain/MF Doom once in a hwile, shoulnd't I?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cross of Iron

Another world war 2 film - Sam Peckinpaugh's take. Slow motion ultra-violence, and an approach that empties the war of any meaning except the act of fighting. That may be a good or bad - it's somewhat strange to see an American film do it, Especially set on the Eastern Front - it's a bit less strange when Germany and Japan do it... You don't see a lot of films like that about WWII - WWI is the anti-war film... it tends to make you wonder if maybe Peckinpaugh had others wars in mind...

In any case, it is a fine film, that hits all the notes war movies have to hit - the camaraderie of the unit, the conflicts in any given army, the inevitable trip to the home front (or a hospital), where the hero is more lost than he is in battle - and of course, trial by violence...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Music Again

Friday - I find myself falling back into bad habits - a postless week? a busy week it must be said, with a weekend away (Vermont and other points north), then way too much to keep me entertained at home - Champions League games to watch, a fantasy baseball draft, and me breaking down and buying a Deadwood set... "one vile fucking task after another" - well... you know what I mean...

Music then - randomly selected from the iTunes Library - for today is Friday:

1. Rocket From the Tombs - Search & Destroy [we were listening to the iPod in the car on the drive and it occurred to me how strange it was to get through half an hour of music without any Pere Ubu, Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground or the Feelies coming up. Here today, you see, that is not an issue - no time wasted at all before the dulcet tones of Mr. Thomas grace us...]
2. Don Giovanni - Della Sua Pace [I gots some culture you know!]
3. St. Etienne - Hobart Paving
4. Pavement - Baptist Blacktick
5. My Blpody Valentine - Soon
6. Dead Boys - Not Anymore & Ain't Nothin' to Do [Cheetah, take 2!]
7. Ramsey Lewis Trio - Wade in the Water [thanks again to one of those Mojo collections - neat stuff anyway]
8. Melt Banana - Chipped Zoo on the Wall, Wastes in the Sky [8 minutes long? they are branching out in this one a bit...]
9. Bill Frisell - Have a Little Faith in Me
10. Bishop Allen - Choose Again

nice set, have to say... here's some video. Start local, with Bishop Allen - a neat song that departs a bit from their usual template:

And - since Cheetah made it twice - here's the Dead Boys...

Friday, March 09, 2012

Simple Friday Pleasures of Music

I'm in a bit of a scramble this morning, so nothing fancy... Random Friday goodness...

1. Devendra Banhart - Pumpkin Seeds
2. Butthole Surfers - I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas
3. White Stripes - I'm Finding it Harder to be a Gentleman Every Day
4. Pavement - Type Slowly
5. Isley Brothers - It's Your Thing [do what you wanna do]
6. Wipers - My Vengeance
7. Stooges - No Fun
8. Revolting Cocks - Red Parrot
9. Matisyahu - Chop em Down
10. Melt Banana - His Name is Mickey

That was, it must be said, a rather lively set. Video? Can't find that Wipers song - but here's another - Over the Edge (which sounds a more than a little like a rewrite of Sonic Reducer, doesn't it? lesson being, of course - if you steal, steal from the best.)

Iggy and company, in their dotage:

And finally, a soothing ditty from the island nation of Japan:

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Fighting Elegy

Continuing with World War II films - this one, not actually featured in the class, and set before the war - is still a fine example. Japan in the 30s, the build up to the war, increasing militarism, through the case of a single student... And, characteristically of Suzuki's work - gorgeous...

Friday, March 02, 2012

Random Friday 10

March comes in like a lion this year, though admittedly, a declawed and rather mangy one. But there was rain and wind and snow yesterday, and today, there is actual snow on the ground! possibly for the first time this winter! This is not normal, and undoubtedly bodes ill for the rest of the year's weather...

That doesn't have much to do with Friday music posts, but I thought I'd mention it. I could also mention Davy Jones' passing - The Monkees were never a central part of my life, but always there - a fun TV show with music, when I was a kid, more than enough reason to watch it. And the songs they sang were, let's face it - top shelf. Pre- or not, they were surely fab.

Anyway - this is still mostly random...

1. Pere Ubu - Stormy Weather [not completely random, maybe...]
2. Pavement - Sue Me Jack
3. MIssion of Burma - Einstein's Day
4. Pere Ubu - I Wanna be Your Dog [live, the Laughner days...]
5. Gram Parsons & Flying Burrito Brothers - Thousand Dollar Wedding
6. Consonant - Love & Affection
7. Bright Eyes - We Are Nowhere and It's Now
8. The Beatles - Mean Mr. Mustard
9. The Open Mind - Magic Potion [another Mojo collection here...]
10. The Polyphonic Spree - Wig in a Box [from the celebrity tribute album version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch...]

And video? Monkees, obviously -

The TV intro...

And - for good measure - Mickey singing, too...