Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Day

Shall I try a hurricane post? Though we (Boston) don't seem to be in line to get a hurricane this time around. I have been through 2 of them, Gloria and Bob - both time I was living next to a beach, but a beach on a shallow bay, well away from any potential danger. It was the perfect kind of beach to stand out in the hurricane force winds and rains without worrying about waves or trees or flying patio furniture or loose wires - just me and nature. That was fun - though both hurricanes turned out to be a bit less than advertised. Bob didn't even knock out the power!

This time that won't quite work. I'm not living by a beach, I'm inland, in a nice tree lined neighborhood - no walking around in the hurricane this time, thanks! I am up on the third floor, in a big apartment building, on top of a hill - about as safe as I can imagine, from wind, rain, floods, you name it, even in the midst of a full blast hurricane. The power might go, the cable might go, but that's about the worst of it. (That and a very nervous cat.) The one thing I do have to worry about is a tree - a huge thing, just outside my window.

It's a big brute - this is on the third floor - and the closest branch keeps going, up well past the roof, straight up over the roof. (The rest of the tree is higher than the roof too, but it's growing away from the building, so I'm less nervous about it.)

I don't really worry about the thing coming down, especially if the winds aren't really going to get over 50-60 MPH - the storm hasn't gotten all that bad yet, and it seems like the winds are coming from the building side, so I don't think the tree is in real danger. I do worry about branches coming off and coming through my window. Though the most likely effect is that the cable gets knocked out - the wires go right up the side of the building. Plenty of room for mischief there.

So - this thing isn't likely to be much trouble here in Boston. Not for me, probably not much more than an inconvenience anywhere. (I mean, I probably won't even get a day off work out of it - it ruins my weekend, and I don't even get a free day off?) Obviously can get a lot worse elsewhere - hopefully not, of course. And if you are in a low lying area, well - the rain alone might make this thing a hell on earth. So good luck, everyone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Hurricane Music

Today's music post can really only have one theme, right? We New Englanders don't get to experience the thrill of anticipation of a big hurricane very often - better make the best of it, at least until that big tree comes down...

Neil Young - Like a Hurricane - obvious, I know, and the obvious video (Live Rust), but really, this is the measure of all hurricane songs...

Warlocks - Hurricane Heart Attack - an army of guitars and drums thrashing away like 100 mile an hour winds...

Red Crayola - Hurricane Fighter Plane - not the same kind of hurricane, but I'm always happy to name drop Red Crayola

And though I don't want to encourage this sort of thing - under the circumstances, I suppose I must: here are the Scorpions with the Berlin Philharmonic, performing with all the subtlety and good taste of a tree coming in through the roof. WIth subtitles!

And I guess - this too was inevitable, wasn't it? a little bonus history lesson in there too!

Be safe, dear readers, if you are in the path of this thing...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

All Good Cretins Go to Heaven

Keepin' it short and sweet - 100% Random Friday Random 10!

1. Erase Errata - Dexterity is #2
2. The Go-Betweens - Right Here
3. Earth - Dissolution III [only 15 minutes of feedback, that's hardly nothing; the other track on the record goes an hour.]
4. The Young Knives - Another Hollow Line
5. Ramones - Glad to See You Go
6. Steely Dan - East St. Louis Toodle-oo
7. Beastie Boys - Live at PJ's
8. Ramones - Cretin Hop [well - this is kind of old iTunes! 2 Ramones tunes!]
9. Bishop Allen - Cue the Elephants
10. Blue Oyster Cult - Godzilla [with a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound...!]

Video - obviously:

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Films Reviewed

It's been more than a month since I've posted one of these roundups - it's been an odd month. I didn't watch anything in July, on vacation - but since I came back, I have kept up a pretty steady stream of films. Nothing like Sam Juliano - but there's nothing like the big pre-code series he's talking about to keep me that busy... What is keeping me busy is taking advantage of my last month of 4-at-a-time Netflix - and a nice series of revivals in town. In the last couple weeks I've seen screenings of Baby Face, It's a Gift, 3:10 to Yuma and The Man Who Fell to Earth - new films have had a hard time competing with that. Still - I've managed a few new films...

Tabloid 10/15 - funny, engaging, strange story of a woman, Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who fell for a Mormon, went to England and kidnapped him, maybe, raped him, maybe - maybe he ran off with her for a randy weekend and had second thoughts, or was brainwashed, or rekidnapped - maybe... In the end, they - she - became a huge Tabloid Scandal in England - manacled mormons and naked pictures and prostitution and what not... Errol Morris tells this tale - or gets many of the participants, especially McKinney, to tell it - and the sequel - when she turned up again, in 2008, paying to have her dog cloned in Korea... All this is quite entertaining, very funny - and she is a remarkably entertaining character, though apparently a genuine nut case - Morris knows how to let people tell their tales.... the whole business seems a bit slight, but well worth the watching.

Friends With Benefits - 9/15 - another try at a decent rom com, this one with the leads breaking up with the latest in a string of losers (though they are kind of losers too) - they hit it off fast as pals, and then start sleeping together, with no strings. This works well enough for a while, but sooner or later, they start looking for more - with other people? with each other? It's an odd film, a bit hard to really figure out. Enjoyed it, beginning to end, but felt like a couple things weren't quite there. There's too much talk about romcoms and such - too explicit in its need to act out the old Umberto Eco bit - "like they say in the movies, I love you madly"... That and - unlike all the other comedies I've seen this year - this says nothing whatsoever about money, or work. I can't convince myself that that should matter - but I can't convince myself it doesn't, either. Maybe I'm condemning this for not being a different film - maybe. Still - all those films - Cedar Rapids, WIn Win, Bad Teacher, Bridesmaids, even Larry Crowne - are about money, work, status - they are - interesting that way. This one? while the surface is quite good, it lacks that particular subtext, and - sometimes - any other subtext as well. (There are big subplots with both families - which have some nice moments, but seem to have been imposed on the film - and both of which turn into lessons on Letting Your True Love Get Away. Yeah yeah, so much for undermining Hollywood cliches, huh?) Anyway - I can't stop without noting that I really enjoyed the leads - Justin Timberlake has the makings of a real actor, I think; and Mila Kunis is great. I think, especially after the fact, that they sell the material more than it deserves - the script is funny enough, but they make it work better than it might deserve...

Road to Nowhere - 11/15 - Monte Hellman's return after 20 plus years without a film - a noirish tale about a politician and his girlfriend, who is actually a double for the woman she's supposed to be (Velma Duran) - they steal 100 million, fake their deaths.... No, not quite - the film is actually about a film being made from that story - Road To Nowhere, too, directed by Mitchell Haven, written by Steve Gates... In this film (within the film) the girl hired to play the lead role (Velma) in the movie might have been the girl already playing Velma in the underlying story... Except - how much of this is in the movie in the movie, and how much is the plot of the movie about the movie of the story, I don't know... Just to add to the fun - at the end of the film, people get shot (allegedly in the diegetic reality of the movie we're watching) - the director of the film (in the film) then picks up a camera (as directors, especially of films within films, are wont to do, even in the most extreme circumstances) and films the carnage - and, turning round the room, films the "real" crew of the "real" movie... (Hellman, who was visiting for this screening, says this was improvised by the actor - he had a camera in the scene, and picked it up and shot what he shot - and the editor used the footage from the shot, to uncanny effect. It is certainly a cool shot.) It is all very clever, this movie - packed with quotes, open and covert - clips from The Lady Eve, Secret of the Beehive, The Seventh Seal - references to Vertigo obviously, and probably more - Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive? At least, strong similarities. It is, in any case, a great looking film, shot with a digital still camera, of all things - it looks digital, but a gorgeous kind of digital, with deep, rich textures, superb low light qualities... I suppose in some ways it is, in fact, too clever for its own good - there's a sense, I think, that the convolutions of the narrative is a cover for the banality of the plot - and the convolutions themselves are not that extraordinary... But this is a very mild quibble - if the narration covers for the lack of plot - it does so very well - it keeps you quite engaged in the story, all the levels of the story (and the surfaces - faces and spaces and such) - it is a very neat piece of work.

The Future - 8/15 - new Miranda July film, a rather dull indie drama - twee, though more damning, it's empty, built around two utterly passive characters... They are scheduled to pick up a cat from a shelter in 30 days - after that, they don't know if the cat is supposed to live 6 months or 5 years - this brings them face to face with the fact that they are coming up toward middle age.... So - they have crises - they quit their jobs - he starts canvassing for some kind of environmental outfit selling trees; she sets out to to create 30 dances in 30 days. He instead of working spends most of his time hanging out with an old man that he suddenly realizes is himself in 50s years - she starts up an affair with the father of a little girl they met at the animal shelter. Somewhere in here - he can stop time and does - then?... All this - there are a couple moments where things click - the time stopping bit is, in fact, stunning - a great piece of filmmaking. But - most of the rest is - not that bad, just centered on people who are very hard to give any trace of a good god damn about - with nothing special to look at...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Carol Reed's Sunday Screenshots

Decided to catch up on Carol Reed lately -to watch and rewatch his films, in a bunch. Spies, windows, grids, rooms -

Darkness and shadows, things just out of sight -

And streets - oh, the streets...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Friday Rituals...

I am still trying to work myself back into blogging habits. This has been complicated a bit by Netflix - their upcoming price change has led me to try, very hard, to get one last month's money's worth from my old fashioned 4 at a time DVD plan - might be the first time in about 5 years I've got my money's worth from it, but what can you do.... anyway - it's Friday, it's time to look to iTunes for inspiration - what, oh magical digital jukebox, have you for us today?

1. Brian Eno - Some of them Are Old
2. Dinosaur Jr. - Thumb
3. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Over & Over
4. Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
5. The Byrds - 5D (Fifth Dimension)
6. Meat Puppets - Flaming Heart
7. John Zorn - Batman
8. Pere Ubu - Waiting for Mary
9. Monks - Cuckoo
10. Richard Thompson - Miss Patty

Video? This seems pretty obvious, right? The Monks on German TV...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Furies

The Brattle is showing Baby Face this afternoon - as good a reason as any to post some Stanwyck pictures.

Never someone you'd want to get mad at you...

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Music Post Returns!

Well - not that exciting a guess. But here goes anyway - what shuffle offers up today:

1. Tin Huey - Chinese Circus
2. Mercury Rev - Frittering
3. Antony & the Johnsons - Bird Gerhl
4. Bob Dylan - Love Minus Zero/No Limit
5. Bruce Springsteen - Reason to Believe
6. Grateful Dead - Til the Morning Comes
7. Love - Good Times
8. Spirit - Fresh Garbage
9. Ghost - Gerecki No Toshi
10. Slapp Happy/Henry Cow - Apes in Capes

And - video? I find that I can still learn things - looking to see what kinds of Slapp Happy or Hendy COw videos were around - I found this - a magnificent song, that I did not know was a cover.... I am - pleased:

And a live recording, complete with a very amusing intro - "they said it was okay to play two chords for half an hour, and we've done all right!"

I knew the Mazzy Star version, of course, channeling Jim and William Reid as much as Lou...

Speaking of all those Reids: