Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sound and Image in Shirin and The Mirror

Today is the last day of the Iranian Film Blogathon, hosted at the Sheila Variations. Today I want to write a bit about Shirin, one of Abbas Kiarostami's most experimental films. Shirin is best known, perhaps, for being made up completely of shots of women in a darkened theater, watching a movie, an adaptation of an old poem, Khosrow and Shirin. The film on the screen that we don't see (but hear) is an old fashioned melodrama - the audience reacts, more or less as one would imagine... we hear the story, and see the emotional high points reflected in the audience's faces.

There are many things to say about this film, I'm interested in the play of sound and image. This is the most extreme instance of Kiarostami's love of manipulating the sound and image tracks of his films - a love he shares with many Iranian art film directors. His soundtracks have always been among the densest, richest, most beautiful in film - usually ambient sound, the world around the characters, as well as the dialogue - I remember from his films, car engines and tires on gravel, traffic noises, sirens in the city, bird calls, even wings flapping, construction sounds, machine sounds, snatches of music and talk from radios, prayers... There is a sense, consistently, in his films, of the world pressing in on some kind of enclosed space - all those cars passing by teeming cities, with the sound, and glimpses of the city and countryside just out of reach. In all his films, there is a play between when we can see and can't see - things glimpsed too quickly to grasp - and on the manipulation of sound. He manipulates tape recording in documentary films (sound cutting out in Close-Up, say) - manipulates the soundtrack of the metafictional films, the various levels of reality competing. He makes films that underline the way sound and pictures interrelate - the stories about how he shoots and records films like A Taste of Cherry, or Shirin - putting them together after the fact, sound and image - keep the relationship of sound and image in your mind. Shirin, then, is the most extreme version of this, where the sound track and images never mesh. The pictures, the audience for the film we hear, react to the sound - but remain separate from it. Though they do react - maybe not literally, maybe they are reacting to whatever he is telling them to react to, but he has edited the sound and image into a coherent piece. Which is also consistent with his other works - he manipulates sound and image to form a beautiful whole. In Shirin, this is done partly by matching the audience emotions to the soundtrack, partly by manipulating lighting (we see the flickers of the film, as well as hear it, which show and hide the other people in the audience) - and partly through cutting between images in time with the sound. A lot of the things I've read about this film concentrate on how the sounds modify what we see - but it's worth noting that the images also modify what we hear. They do work to generate emotional investment in the narrative. This is, among other things, a way to tell an old fashioned story in a fresh way...

This interest in sound and pictures is common in Iranian films. Documentaries (real and fake) get a lot of mileage from their manipulation of sound. Jafar Panahi's The Mirror does this masterfully - sound becomes vital to the film. The story is allegedly about a little girl, left at school by her mother (who may be having a baby), trying to get home - then half way through, she rebels against the film crew shooting her, and heads off on her own - and they follow. It's a neat trick, ratcheting up the tension on the story - and a device that highlights both the relationship between sight and sound, and the importance that the manipulation of information (what we see or hear or know, and when) has in Iranian films. When the girl leaves the film crew, the film suddenly becomes like a surveillance. The role of sound changes - where before, the noises and traffic and people were obstacles for the girl to overcome, as well as the texture of the world she lived in, when she leaves, this becomes a kind of obstacle to us, the viewers. (Through the film crew.) The crew follows, but now the cameraman has to work to jeep her in sight. She is miked, but the mike cuts in and out, sometimes dramatically (at one point there is a screech of tires, then the mike cuts out, and for a long time, we don’t see or hear the girl - this is a very distressing moment, no matter how much you tell yourself, it's being staged! it's being staged!) There are always cars and trucks and people between us and the girl, sometimes the camera loses the girl, though we still hear her, and the crew drives around looking for her, while she talks to people. It gives the film other dimensions - the sheer intrusiveness of film (media, surveillance,w hat have you), a rather graphic demonstration of the sheer number of people in Tehran. And pushes the theme of seeing and hearing, being seen and heard, that Panahi pursues in several of his films. I mentioned in my earlier comments on The Circle, the effects of Panahi withholding information - his way of showing a character's reaction to something before showing the cause of the reaction. (More or less the whole idea behind Shirin....) It's also there in Offsides - the way the characters are prevented from seeing the game, but try to follow it, through glimpses, sounds, and so on... Though of course it also goes back to realism, the invention of realism - you can follow an entire soccer game through The Mirror, for instance, off snippets we hear on the radio...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Music, Iranian Edition

It's Friday, and that's music day, so in honor of the Iranian Films Blogathon, here is some Iranian music...

Here is Take it Easy Hospital, the band featured in No One Knows About Persian Cats, performing live in Budapest:

And another band featured in the movie, the Yellow Dogs:

And, clicking around on YouTube - here's something different, a rather video featuring some rather neat Tool inspired animation, by a metal band called Aliaj:

And - to finish - something completely different: traditional Persian music, by Mohammad-Reza Shajarian.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Iranian Film Blogathon - Announcement and a List

All this week, The Sheila Variations is running a blogathon dedicated to films from Iran, beginning Monday and running through Sunday. I hope to contribute more substantively as the week goes on - there are many things to be said about Iranian films; right now, though, I am behind on everything, so I will have to start with something more modest. Perhaps a list of my all time favorite Iranian films?

It's something of an awkward list - very heavy on the Great Auteurs - Kiarostami, Makhmalbaf, Mehrjui, and heavily pre-2000 (all but one) - but that mirrors my viewing experience. As I mentioned previously, Iranian films were something of a thing back in the late 90s - they were certainly featured in festivals, retrospectives and so on. In the 00s - they haven't exactly faded from view, and in some ways, they are more available then before (heck - I found a copy of Offside for $3 at Big Lots a while back...) - but some of the excitement seems to be gone. And - with the increasing repression in Iran, the films have dried up as well as people go abroad or suffer under the government. And artistically - while several important directors have emerged in the 2000s (Panahi, Ghobadi, Samira Makhmalbaf, notably), they seem less adventurous than the previous generation. (Panahi might be the exception there.) Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf in particular combined humanism, realism and political engagement (in difficult circumstances) with some of the most audacious formal experimentation in the world. Their successors have carried on the first three, but (except for Panahi) dialed back on the experimentation. Which leaves us with some nice films in the 00s but not quite the eye-opening masterpieces of the earlier years. (Though it should be said that neither Kiarostami or Makhmalbaf have abandoned anything - their recent films have been as challenging as ever...)

So without further ado - a fairly simple list, with some commentary...

1. Through the Olive Trees - the third film in Abbas Kiarostami's Koker/Poshtar trilogy, after Where is the Friend's House? and Life Goes On, and a particularly elaborate piece of metafiction. The three films seem like a camera tracking backwards, revealing levels of framing. The first one tells a story, directly. The second tells a story about the people acting in the first film, revealing its fictionality, as well as the reality behind the fiction of the film. This, the third, tells a story about the making of the second film, while foregrounding its own fictionality, even more than the previous film, as actors step in and out of roles, the time frames are manipulated and so on. It's also a lovely and funny love story, focusing on a young man, an actor in the second film, trying to convince the girl he has a crush on to love him. Ending, as Kiarostami films are wont to do, magnificently.

2. A Moment of Innocence - Mohsen Makhmalbaf's reflection on his own youth, as a political radical... In 1974, Makhmalbaf (ae 17) attempted to steal the gun from a cop; he ended up stabbing him and the policeman shot him. 20 years later the policeman showed up to audition as an actor in one of Makhmalbaf’s films, and they made this film. It;s mostly about the process of making the film - looking for actors, coaching the actors, using the rehearsals to talk about their own motivations 20 years before. And, in the end, shooting the film, about the events, 20 years ago - but, I guess you'd say, trying to get it right this time. A beautiful and moving film, full of wit and grace and a sense of sadness and regret, and redemption. A marvel.

3. The Circle -one of Jafar Panahi's ambitious feminist films - following a series of women one night in Tehran, a series of women, one after another, in a circle through the night in the city, each one running, but all ending up in jail... An intense and powerful film, its politics is brutal and sharp and expressed through the story - it has a propulsive desperation, with its tight, in you face camera style, putting you in the middle of the story, starting stories in the middle, staying close to the protagonist (at any given time)... Panahi has a way, in many of his films, of withholding information - sometimes by limiting our point of view to the characters - but also, by denying us information they have. In this film, we often see women panicking before we learn what spooks them - we have to figure out what is going on. An intense and masterful work.

4. Close Up - Here, Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf team up, in a film, about a man who Mohsen Makhmalbaf, insinuating himself into a family, convincing them he wanted to use them in his next film. He was, in the end, caught, exposed and tried - Kiarostami filmed the trial as the man tried to explain, his obsession with art, his poverty and helplessness, the pleasure and power of acting this role. And then, the principals play themselves in this film, and the imposter gets to meet Makhmalbaf himself (an amazing scene, the man bursts into helpless weeping when he sees Makhmalbaf). One of the first films to plunge wholeheartedly into metafiction, a device that became extremely common in 1990s Iranian cinema.

5. A Taste of Cherry - Kiarostami again, here - shot almost entirely from a car, driving around the outskirts of Tehran, as a man looks for someone to bury him, if he kills himself. He finds three potential helpers - a soldier (who runs away), a Afghani religious student who tries to convince him not to do it for religious reasons, and a taxidermist, who will do it (because he needs the money), but tries to talk him out of it for humanist reasons. And in the end? a strange coda, on video, the film crew on the side of the hill where the man was to die, soldiers lurking near the tree that marked his grave - stepping outside the story without any fuss, leaving it hanging in the air, accompanied by Louis Armstrong. It's a strange and lovely film about alienation (a film set almost entirely on a series of barren hills on the outskirts of a city of 6 million) and paying attention...

6. The Cycle- A much older film - Darius Mehrjui's 1978 film about a father and son who get involved in a blood donation scheme - they give blood, they get involved in the workings of a hospital, they get involved with gangsters, etc... Slow building but brilliant... Sometimes reminiscent of Oshima's The Sun's Burial - the blood donation scheme (an obvious enough metaphor in both cases), the way the film follows the factions involved, the similar blend of nihilism and metaphor.

7. Where is the Friend's House? - Lovely film, the first of Kiarostami's Koker/Poshtar films. A boy takes his friend’s notebook by mistake, tries to return it, running an obstacle course to do so: his mother won’t listen to him trying to explain what he’s doing; the friend lives in the next town and when he gets there, no one knows the boy he’s looking for; the town itself is a maze of streets and stairs and alleys - he's sent back and forth, following lead after lead, never quite finding the friend. It's full of nifty details and characters, very funny at times...

8. A True Story - Abolfazl Jalili is a filmmaker whose work showed up stateside in the 90s, but not so much since. This is another of the many films about filmmaking from the late 90s - here - a documentary about a boy with as crippled leg. The story starts as the director looking for an amateur actor for a film - he finds this boy, a talented musician, and sets out to get help for his bad leg, and to make a film about it.

9. The Silence - If there is a more deliciously sensuous director in the world than Mohsen Makhmalbaf, I don't know who it is. In this film, a blind boy and his mother have five days before they will be evicted. The boy tunes lutes for a mean instrument maker, but he keeps getting lost - he rides the bus to work, but follows people with beautiful voices or who play beautiful music. He is led around by a gorgeous little girl in long braids who dances to his lute tuning, wearing cherries for earrings and flower petals to paint her nails. The movie is full of grace notes, building to a thoroughly transcendent ending - the landlord knocks 4 times and the boy imagines it as Beethoven's fifth. Pieces of the symphony crop up on the soundtrack, he gets people to play it - at the end, he gets a pair of pot pounders to play the beat - then a whole factory pounds it, then, it turns into a full symphonic (augmented with middle eastern instruments) rendering of the fifth.

10. The Cow - One of the films that brought modernist filmmaking to Iran - Merhjui's 1969 film is about a man named Hassan who owns the only cow in his village. He loves his cow. He goes one day to work, and while he is gone, the cow dies. The village panics - they don't want to tell him, so they hide when he returns. He refuses to admit the cow is dead - he ends up moving into the barn an becoming the cow himself. The villagers drag him away in ropes - this doesn't end well. A strange, surrealist film, full of clever details and subplots - a neighboring village, an idiot, a delinquint who'd been to the city, old women worrying about witchcraft - a great film. And - I recently discovered to my great delight - available on Netflix, on DVD or streaming.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Music Cleveland Noir Edition

In honor of the blogathon - here's one of the noiriest songs you will ever hear, by frequent pulp and film citing Pere Ubu - My Dark Ages, live in 1995.

in the dark I get so confused, I fall in love like a fall from grace...

You can donate to the film preservation fund at this link.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Same Place, 10 Years Later...

Here again - another post inspired by the Love of Film (Noir) blogathon, which continues apace... This is a pretty direct follow up to my first post - this time, let's look at how John Huston handled the meeting between Gutman and Spade in his version of the Maltese Falcon. Doing this, I admit, isn't quite saying anything about noir - though the comparison of the scenes brings out a couple things that do mark the style...

Both films draw pretty directly on the Hammett book - but there are some notable differences between the way the films handle this scene. First, the Huston version is a good deal longer - and split into two interviews, as in the book. Second - Wilmer's present (in both parts), significantly. And Cairo is not. Those changes illustrate a couple things different in Huston's version - the supporting characters have quite a bit more to do in the 1941 version. Gutman and Cairo are featured in the first, but Wilmer is almost a cameo. (A shame since it's Dwight Frye, who brings even more baby faced psychopathy to the role than Elisha Cook.) The other change - removing Cairo from the scene - is directly relevant to the evolution of film noir, I think. Huston's version never departs from Spade's point of view. That's a fairly important element in noir - the limitation of knowledge. Characters who are in the dark - and audiences who are kept in the dark with them. We don't get the outside perspective, we don't know more than the characters. We share their subjectivity.

As for this scene - in some ways, it is actually more conventional than in Del Ruth's version. Instead of beginning in the middle of the conversation, as Del Ruth did, we start with an establishing three shot -

- then move closer through a series of alternations. The effect is less jarring than in the 1931 film - also, better integrated into the film as a whole. This scene comes as a departure from the otherwise stolid style of the 1931 film - here, the angles, decor, and so on are used as in the rest of the film.

Huston's framings aren't quite as jarring as Del Ruth's, but in this film too, the objects, decor, and so on, are very prominent. Bottles, lamps, paintings, light and dark, windows and so on surround the characters - sometimes innocuously, sometimes as pure visual elements - but always seeming to be waiting to take on significance....

The sequence builds to this very famous low angle shot of Gutman - then Spade jumps up, and we get this - not quite as low, but noticeable - and Sam's threatening gesture echoing the painting behind him....

... Wilmer comes back in, and we get this lovely, tense triangle (lots of triangles in this film), before Spade storms off...

When Spade returns, Huston follows much the same pattern. Establishing shots with Spade, Gutman and WIlmer, then a two shot, Spade on the couch now...

He alternates closer shots, shooting Gutman from below...

...and Spade more from eye level (though below Gutman's POV) - with Spade starting to look hemmed in by the bottles and flowers and background decor...

...Gutman rises to pour the spiked drink, looming over Spade -

- and shot from below, as he looks down on Spade, waiting for the mickey to kick in -

- and as it does, the camera comes closer, catching his anticipation -

...then moving closer to Spade, surrounded by bottles and flowers and curtains, looking up, starting to drift a bit...

And ending, with a pair of shots of the men on the couch, the fatal glasses raised...

And so... you can see the evolution of filmmaking in the ten years between these films - in Huston's moving camera, the more expansive staging, and so on... But also the continuity - the similar use of decor, of props, the similar framings - low(ish) angles, the prominent placement of props in the shots. And the specific differences, as in the very different conceptions of Gutman... As it happens - this is clearly the high point of the 1931 film - and probably the high point in 1941 as well. The dialogue shines - the performances shine - and both filmmakers rise to the moment. A conversation between two men - but one frought with deception, threat, menace - which you get from the way the scenes look. And those bottles, glasses, resting there like loaded guns... neat stuff.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Not Quite Noir

From the Maltese Falcon, 1931: this is not film noir - most of the film is a solid, not too interesting looking reading of the text, stagy, competent, nothing special. (Though very entertaining, because of the power of the text, the excellent cast, and Roy Del Ruth's clean, precise presentation.) But in a couple scenes, things change a bit. Like this one, Spade's interview with Gutman - which moves fast from an insert of the telegram from Gutman to their conversation - which starts in the middle, with alternating medium shots, low angled, full of little details in the front of the screen - the bottle, Gutman's fan, Spade's knee and hand... these alternate, as they talk (the familiar dialogue from the novel that Huston used in 1941 as well):

Only well into the conversation do we get longer shots of the men, though as soon as we do - and the convcersation turns to money - the camera moves in again, framing them even tighter than before:

Then backing off, as the money changes hands...

...and backs off more as Wilmer comes in:

Some of this is repeated, less drastically, in the DA's office - though there Del Ruth starts with an establishing shot, before moving in, to similar obstructed medium shots, with hats, telephones, lamps springing into the frame:

All that - moments of visual flair in an otherwise fairly generic looking film. But the story is noir (Hammett is it's founding angel), and here - the camera inserts itself into the decor, and things lose their natural shapes. Shadows break free from their objects, faces, hands, objects, break off from their proper places, and become looming presences... stylistically, noir grew out of expressionism - passed through horror, as much as any style in America - and melded with the crime movies of the 30s... And along the way, put out feelers, so to speak, those moments when the images start to pulse into menacing being, like here...

Inspired by the Love of Film (Noir) blogathon, also at the Siren's.

Raising money for film preservation... donate!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some Notes on Hong Sang-Soo

The first highlight of the film year has been Harvard's Hong Sang-soo series, that played over the last weekend of January and first of February. They showed 8 of his 11 films, and he was there for two nights, doing the Q&A thing - all told, a very pleasing event. (Despite some god-awful weather outside.) He is an intriguing director, one who deserves thought - I'm not sure if I am quite ready to write anything too substantial about his films, though I'd like to. In the meanwhile - given that my thoughts are fragmentary and partial - I will offer some notes on his work, as well as his appearance at Harvard. (A big disadvantage of this approach, though, is that I find that I've made lots of casual references to the films - which are a definite challenge to find and see... I think, however, a lot of the things I mention here are present in enough of his films, that anyone who's seen a couple should be able to know what I'm talking about...)

1) As for the Q&A - these things can be a mixed blessing - some people thrive in those situations, others seem completely lost. Hong came off somewhere in the middle. He's a mumbler (maybe from jet lag? the weather? I don't know), and rather evasive. He circled questions, never quite addressing anything directly - making lots of claims to do it all on intuition, never you mind that AIC degree... Never mind as well the playfulness and patterning of the films themselves, their self-reflexivity, etc. In truth -it seems that he was trying to avoid some kinds of questions - "themes" - in fact, he spoke quite clearly about his working methods and ideas. You can see where the patterns and repetitions in his films come from, you can see the working methods that create the films he makes....

2) He talked about his films starting from everyday things - I could be wrong, but I suspect he means objects as much as incidents. His films have a powerful attention to objects - phones and wallets and clothes and things like cameras and cable cars, cars, and so on. They structure the films, markers of movements and changes; they are also the subject of many incidents - the scenes in Virgin Stripped Bare By her Bachelors discussing how to hold chopsticks, the passage of scarves in Tale of Cinema, Woman is the Future of Man, etc.... Virgin might do this the most - chopsticks in a couple scenes; napkins, forks or spoons, the cameras, gloves, the sheet, etc. Sometimes, the treatment of these objects does seem to carry meaning - like the talismanic nature of something like the red scarf in Woman is the Future of Man, or the contrast between the new video camera and the obsolete 8mm camera in Virgin, or the way Jingu in Oki's Movie riffs on the empty juice box...

3) Building on that - incidents cycle, of course, situations - repeated in films, repeated between films: losing/forgetting wallets (and money) - which happens in several films... things like the impotence and double suicide scenes in Turning Gate and repeated in Tale of Cinema... And more general types of scenes - walks with people in parks, nature, etc - Kangwon, Turning Gate, Oki's Movie... impromptu visits - Turning Gate, Woman is the Future of Man...

4) Structures - doubles and repetitions are absolutely fundamental to Hong's films. They are everywhere, at every level, taking many different forms, doing a number of different things. Repetition becomes a formal element, and not just a way of exploring perspective, or re-evaluating events. I mean - in some films, the repetition is purely formal: Virgin, for example, repeats the story twice, slightly differently - somewhat paradoxically, this makes it more about the content, about differing perspectives, about subjectivity... that quality is stronger still in films like Oki's Movie and Tale of Cinema, that acknowledge shifting levels of narration - that part of what we see is a film-in-a-film. But repetition also occurs in other ways: Oki's section of Oki's Movie, for instance, does this - showing two walks through a park, with 2 different men. This plot device - actions (sometimes words) being repeated, by the same characters, or other characters, happens quite often in Hong's films - Turning Gate's two parts show first a man pursued by a woman, then a man pursuing a woman - it repeats several moments and situations, and repeating old stories as well... Finally - events, episodes, etc. are repeated (as I've been saying) across films - plot elements (usually frustrated love triangles); the impotence/suicide episodes in Turning Gate and Tale of Cinema; all the other repetitions listed above (wallets, scarves, walks in parks, calling people the wrong name, etc.) Actors and character types recur - not quite with the obsessive formalization of an Ozu film, but with some similar effects... The result of all this is, in a way, to turn your attention away from questions about the material - the "modernist" questions of how individuals experience and process events - to questions about form - the more "post-modernist" (or formalist) question of the shapes themselves. Which may have psychological implications as well - as you shift from attention to how one experiences their own life, to how those experiences are inevitably shaped by form - how we experience things as repetitions, how we organize our experiences into patterns. How things today are given meaning by the contexts we put them in - by the things that have happened in the past - a process of sorting and classifying.

I don't know how much that has to do with what Hong Sang-soo is after in these films - though it is not impossible he's thinking on those lines. But it is an interesting phenomenon - and his method, of arranging individual films primarily as exercises in subjectivity, while emphasizing the patterning ("parametric") devices between films - seems to lead you there. To think about how these formal elements relate to questions of subjectivity....

5) He spoke quite a bit about improvisation - not as such, but - his method of working.... to start with very brief treatments of the stories - to look for actors who would fit the characters in this treatment - then to write the script shaping the characters around the actor, as a type, as a person... Then - he said - he would end up writing the actual dialogue on location the day of shooting, and give the actors just enough time to memorize the lines before shooting... And it strikes me that his films have the elements of improvisation - the looseness and ability to surprise within a fairly simple and sometimes rigid structure. Their repetitions, the simplicity of the basic situations, help in this method - they provide the structure and connections for the film, and allow the dialogue and actors to develop the emotional impact...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Iranian Film Blogathon

I just saw a post about another blogathon - this one, inspired by Jafar Panahi's imprisonment, and a letter written to the Berlin Film Festival - is devoted to Iranian Cinema, and is scheduled for the week of February 21-27. I am very pleased to see this - it seems to me that Iranian cinema has been somewhat neglected in the last decade - in the late 90s, when I was particularly movie mad, Iranian films seemed to be at the center of the world's art cinema. New Kiarostami or Makhmalbaf films were events - though often events one could only read about for a year.... In the 2000s - I'm not sure - but a lot of that excitement seemed to be lost - probably not coincidentally, as Iran's politics took a retrograde turn, culminating in the disaster of the last election, which has led directly to Panahi's incarceration (for example.) Iranian films are (or seem) less talked about now - this blogathon will be a very welcome reminder, I think, of what they achieved. While they seem less talked about in the 00s, I don't know if they have become any less accomplished - not least because of the work of Panahi himself, whose films this decade have been, as far as I am concerned, almost as crucial as those of Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf in the 90s.

I'm under no illusions about the possible effects a bunch of film bloggers talking about Panahi and Iranian films might have on the Iranian government - but it can serve to remind us of what that government is trying to destroy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Musical Interlude

Again, it is not my intention to ONLY post Friday music notes, but that's what we've got... That should change - there are things going on in the world which should bring some life out of me - a new Film Preservation Blogathon, next week, again hosted by the Self-Styled Siren and Ferdy on Films. It will be, like the first one, a purposeful blogathon, raising money for film preservation - you can donate here.

And, coming next month, we have a blogathon devoted to Korean film, hosted by New Korean Cinema and Cineawsome. This is scheduled for March 7-13 - it should be good... This is closer to the reasons for the lack of posts here, too - last week's Hong Sang-Soo series at the HFA kept me out at night - I am trying to write somethign about it - at the rate I'm going I might make it by next month...

UPDATE: I didn't mean to miss this - there has also been a Michael Mann blogathon going on right now (2/7-14) at Seeti Maar- Diary of a Movie Lover. Worth checking out...

But for now - it's Friday - and that's my musical day, and the only effective bit of discipline I'm able to impose on myself, so here goes, completely randomly:

1. Robert Wyatt - Lullaloop
2. James Brown - Try Me (live)
3. Ramones - Glad to See You Go
4. Modest Mouse - Ohio
5. Better than Ezra - Allison Foley
6. Janelle Monae - Mushroom's and Roses
7. Husker Du - Celebrated Summer (live)
8. Smokey Robinson - Tears of a Clown [iTunes is bering very very kind today...]
9. Pere Ubu - The Fevered Dream of Hernando de Soto
10. Soft Machine - A Certain Kind

Video? since we have 2 entries with Robert Wyatt - here's a third - singing Comfortably Numb, live, with David Gilmour:

Friday, February 04, 2011

Musical Interlude

...another odd week in which I got next to nothing done, leaving me with no answer for it but to post a Friday Random 10 list - which I will do with no further ado:

1. The Wild Swans - The Revolutionary Spirit
2. The Who - I'm a Boy (live at the BBC)
3. The New Pornographers - Use it
4. Bo Diddley - Before You Accuse Me
5. The Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing
6. David Thomas & Two Pale Boys - Little Sister
7. Mogwai - The Precipice
8. Dinosaur Jr. - Kracked
9. Roxy Music - Re-make/Re-model
10. Nick Cave & Bad Seeds - Darker With the Day

An interesting set... I'm not sure I have ever heard the Wild Swans before - sounds like a candidate for a video... like most of their contemporaries, they still seem to be at it, here live in 09...

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

More Snow! Hooray!

Well, here I am, buckling down for another snow storm, this one threatening to last a couple days, turning into sleet somewhere in the middle. That sort of thing sets off alarms - put down a foot of snow, then cover it in ice - there won't be a tree left standing in New England! The electrical situation may soon become precarious, even in the metropolis. Fortunately, this waited until the middle of the week - it's been a very nice stretch for movies, the last couple weeks - some of last year's best films replayed; and a Hong Sang-Soo series at the HFA. I'd just as soon not try to plow through a blizzard to see them - though I have done worse. I made it out during the April Fool's blizzard of 1997 to see Rebel Without a Cause! I suppose I'd make it to Hong's films anyway...

The weather hasn't started yet, so it's off to work I go. It's supposed to start any minute though. The commute back home in the evening ought to be entertaining.

One possible consolations is that no Groundhogs will be seeing any shadows this week.

That's all for now. I will leave you with a Cat Picture. She agrees with me on the merits of Grinderman, I think.