Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Random Ten

Spring, by the way, might have finally arrived - temperatures getting into the 50s, maybe. March will go out like a lamb! a damp, dingy lamb maybe, as it looks like rain for the next few days, but nonetheless! None too soon... we avoided the worst of the snow this week, though the weather seems to have done us some real harm anyway - there was an absolutely horrifying fire here this week, in the middle of Wednesday's wind-storm: 40-50 mph winds coming off the river seem to have contributed quite a bit to the intensity of the fire. There may have been more to it - afire in the basement of an apartment building expanded extremely fast, injuring several firemen, and trapping others - 2 were killed - I don;'t know if there was a gas leak or something like that... but it seems that once the fire spread, the wind sent it through the building in a hell of a hurry - like a blowtorch, one article said. Very sad, and on a different day, without the gale, who knows...

All right. Now? it is Friday - I don't have much besides our customary random 10. Here goes!

1. Olivia Tremor Control - A Peculiar Noise Called 'Train Director'
2. Benny Goodman Sextet - Seven Come Eleven
3. MIA - Tell Me Why
4. Interpol - Obstacle 1
5. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Give My Compliments to the Chef
6. Fire Theft - Rubber Bands
7. David Bowie - Heroes
8. Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
9. Stereolab - Metronomic Underground
10. Ciccone Youth - Burnin' Up

Damn - it's the tale of two lists - deep cuts and oddball stuff in the first half, then some rather Frequestly Played, shall we say, tunes... So video? Bowie is of course required - especially this fairly glorious clip, with Adrian Belew on guitar:

Alex Harvey usually makes for an entertaining time:

And finally - Benny Goodman, with George Benson doing the Charlie Christian parts:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Baseball Predictions 2014

Spring is here, you know - though the wind is howling outside, it's still frigging cold, and there's still been snow flying around (though most of it went out to sea - up to Nova Scotia, judging from what my cousins up there are saying...) - but it is spring: baseball season is underway, and all is well. Better anyway.

So what do I think will happen this year? well - roughly:

AL East:

Boston - last year, all my Red Sox Ifs came true - they stayed healthy, the solid pros they brought in all performed to reasonable expectations, Farrell stabilized the pitching staff, and so on. This year - they brought back most of the team, and I'd say, most of the same ifs apply. If they stay healthy - if people perform to expectations... It took a lot of luck to do what they did last year - but it's at least partly luck they made. They stocked up on players - they had cover for the positions where people were hurt (filling up the bullpen like they did.) They've done much the same thing this year - bringing in Mujica and Badenhop and Capuano to stock the pen, bringing in position players, and so on - and they have a deep farm system, that's a year further along. They have risks - Ortiz and Uehara are not young; Napoli, Victorino, Lackey, the catchers have been around the block a few times as well - but they have a good team and lots of depth and should be in the running once more, and might as well be the favorites.

Tampa - as always, they don't have a lot of room for error, but they have a really good core and outstanding pitching - so they should be fine. There's nothing there to make you think they won't be in the thick of things.

Toronto - after making fools of many a prognosticator last year (me included), people are likely to write them off - but I don't think they are hopeless. If they get a bit of luck this year, they could get back to respectability or better. Though they are quite capable of another stink bomb.

NY - I look forward to their decline every year and was finally rewarded last year. Sort of. They had a strange off-season - bringing in a bunch of outfielders and letting Cano walk, which is an odd approach, given that they had decent outfielders last year and nothing beyond Cano in the infield. This year could be grim, unless they put Soriano back at second. Still - it comes down to pitching, and there is at least a chance that could be solid. Or awful - is a crap shoot. Will Sabathia decline? Will Tanaka be Darvish or Dice-K? what kind of pen can they field? I don't think they will be awful (alas), but I don't see a lot of ways they can get into the post-season.

Baltimore - I wish they had more pitching - they could get past the Yankees. They have a nice team on the field - but the pitching seems more than a little suspect. They strike me as being in a difficult race with Toronto and NY for the honor of being the best last place team in baseball.

AL Central:

Detroit - they remain prohibitive favorites. Building on last year - excellent starting pitching; a better bullpen; good lineup, probably balanced better than last year, and better with the gloves (though losing Iglesias hurts.) A solid team in a weak division, and, I think, the safest post-season berth in the game. And a real chance at the world series.

KC - they made great strides last year, and I think they will hang around this year. Maybe slip on the hill, improve with the sticks - who knows. Still - they aren't far off respectability.

Cleveland - likely to regress, but there's still enough talent, and Terry Francona, to be respectable.

Minnesota - I think they could sneak back into the high 70s this year, though probably not much more - they tend to be capable of over-achieving, and I can see people like Hughes and Nolasco giving them a definite bump.

Chicago - they have Chris Sale, right? Actually, they have some interesting young outfielders, who may or may not get them past awfulness.

AL West:

Texas - I think they will do all right. Just as the Tigers are better balanced with Kinsler than Fielder, I think Texas is better balanced with Fielder than Kinsler - that trade should help them. They might not be great, but I think they have the best chance of staying clear of the rest of the division.

Anaheim - can't stay sucky forever. Though soon enough they are going to suck and have to pay Albert Pujols to do nothing: but I suspect before that day arrives he has a throwback season or two. If he and Hamilton have their throwback seasons together, they could be dangerous.

Oakland - they are deep and well put together, but they have been a bit lucky with the pitching the last couple years, and that luck might run out on them. They have some injuries - and a bit like Tampa, I don;t think they have the resources to absorb too many losses. Though they do a very good job of rooting up has beens who still are...

Seattle - there are hints and signs that they could be in a position to improve - they certainly laid out a lot of cash. They should be decent - if they got a dose of luck, they might improve dramatically.

Houston - not much to talk about here yet. Might be in a couple years.

NL East:

Washington - they sort of disappeared for a lot of last year, but were coming on fast at the end - they have arms and talent and should be back at the top this year. It helps to have the competition fall apart of course...

Atlanta - They lost some players (McCann notably), and their pitching has been slammed this year - 2 Tommy Johns so far? They're still pretty good - and could get better, if Heyward and the Uptons bounce back - but probably not past second.

Philadelphia - they haven't really addressed their problems, but have talent hanging around - and the rest of the division is not good.

NY - they added a few people, but not really from the top drawer. Unless Granderson returns to form, which is possible, or Colon's deal with the devil still has some years to run.

Miami - I hope they lose, anyway. They deserve to lose. They don't deserve players like Stanton and Fernandez. They probably won't have them more than a year or so more.

NL Central:

St. Louis - they moved some pieces around, but basically brought back the team, all those young arms - if they stay healthy and develop, they should stay good for a while.

Pittsburgh - they need to make the transition from developing into a good team to staying a good team, which is the hardest thing to do. They should still be pretty good this year, though.

Cincinnati - solid team that should stay solid for a while. As usual, the health of the pitching is probably the difference.

Milwaukee - one of the real wild cards, I think - I expect Braun to pick up where he left off (I'm inclined to think steroids, if they have an effect, mostly keep players on the field, and inflate the overall offensive numbers - individuals tend to stay around where they were, relative to everyone else. Maybe spend more time on the DL. So while Braun's numbers might be down, everyone's numbers are down, and he should stay roughly where he always was, relative to the league.) I hope Segura develops, and Davis too (since I drafted both of them for fantasy...) They could be very good - they could be completely irrelevant. I think. Probably 77 wins and utter mediocrity - the Blue Jays! - but you never know.

Chicago - they seem to add a player a year, though someone else seems to regress. Not likely to factor in any pennant races.

NL West:

Dodgers - yes, they do look very good. I don;t like the Dodgers, but there's not much to say against this team.

San Francisco - this is their On year, right? they still don't have much offense, they still have a bunch of good arms - we'll see. They like the even numbers...

Colorado - why not.

Arizona - Corbin's out - there's not much going on there.

San Diego - they could be a bit better than this - they could menace .500.

AL: Boston - Detroit - Texas + Tampa and Anaheim, I suspect. I'll pick Boston to come out of it, because I want them to, though Detroit, Texas and Tampa are all quite capable.

NL: Washington - St. Louis - LA + Pittsburgh - San Francisco. I want Washington to come out, but suspect SL and SF have the advantages. Not LA, for all their talent.

AL MVP - should be Trout, for the third year in a row.
NL MVP - likely to be McCutcheon again, I think.

AL Cy Young - there are lots of candidates, really - I suppose Verlander is the default choice, but Scherzer, King Felix, Darvish are all good choices, Price maybe, even Lester maybe - Anibel Sanchez - Weaver. Right?
NL Cy Young - all Kershaw until he fails. Though Strasbourg, Cain, Wainwright, Fernandez etc. will be hanging around.

AL Rookie - might as well be Bogaerts. or Tanaka, I suppose.
NL Rookie - Wacha? why not?

And World Series Champions? Time for the Red Sox to go back to back! though - it's unlikely - they still need a bit too much luck. a couple years, when Bogaerts is established, and they've traded for Jose Fernandez, then - you know... now - Boston's still the best team if everything goes to plan - but since going to plan twice in a row would be very rare - Detroit is my safety pick.

Friday, March 21, 2014

First Random Ten of Spring

So spring is finally here - the calendar says so, and the last couple days, here in Boston anyway, I can almost believe it! Sun is out, over 50 degrees for a day or two in a row - what next? More snow next week; temperatures back in the 20s - yeah yeah... Baseball starts tomorrow, though on the other side of the planet. But hey... spring.

In the world? I spent most of last week off the grid - up in Vermont - a somewhat... difficult trip. Car troubles in Montpelier - not fun, when you don't live in Montpelier... It's good to be back, resuming something of a normal schedule - Lars von Trier and Wes Anderson films to see... The news has been a bit off - missing planes; helicopter crashes; dead monsters. Both Slacktivist and Tom Junod contrast the late Mr. Phelps to the magnificent Mr. Rogers - Junod pointing out the astonishing fact that Phelps actually picketed Mr. Rogers' funeral. I suppose grifters gotta grift, but you do wish he'd found a less hideous way of hustling a buck or two.

Anyway - music... Let's keep it simple today. 10 songs, etc.

1. Nightingales - First My Job
2. Blue Oyster Cult - The Subhuman (live)
3. Grinderman - Worm Tamer
4. DNA - Cops Buy a Donut
5. Radiohead - Kid A
6. Badfinger - Icicles
7. Jarvis Cocker - Baby's Coming Back to Me
8. Pavement - Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era
9. Husker Du - The Biggest Lie
10. Robert Johnson - 32-20 Blues

Video? No sign of Jackals, live, on YouTube, so - Loretta's Scars, live in Belgium, will suffice:

And to make up for not having the one iTunes wanted - here's a more recent performance of Summer Babe:

And some live Radiohead...

Friday, March 14, 2014

You Remind me of a TV Show, Well That's All Right Don't Watch it Anyway

This month, we have the Feelies. They come up a lot - they have their own tag - like the Replacements, I've already sort of written them up... Did I say what I needed to say then? Probably not - it's hard to overstate how mind-blowing they were. I alluded to it again, a couple months ago, writing about REM - since the first time I heard them was opening for REM. They stole that show - REM was in fine form, but they were better. I saw Husker Du a few months later - and they stole that show. I saw them open for Sonic Youth a few years ago - they mostly stole that. I saw them open for Lou Reed - the one time they didn't knock the headliners out - probably because Glenn Mercer kept breaking strings... of course Lou was in fine form, but all those bands wee in fine form. The Feelies were just the most satisfying live act I ever saw anywhere.

Still - they provided an odd sort of satisfaction. I wrote myself an essay about them, God - 25 years ago almost - interestingly, one of the first things I typed on a Mac, whatever that is worth. I had just seen them play, for the 7th time I think it was... I've cannibalized bits of it since - looking at it now, it ain't bad - at least, it hits on why the Feelies are one of THE BANDS here. Let's see:

Seeing the Feelies is never quite like seeing a show. Music, I think, is a communal sort of thing. Of course there are songs that should be listened to in your room alone with the lights off, and songs that can be listened to like that, but there is something in music that is meant to be shared. Even private songs almost cry to be shared. Concerts should be the epitome of musical experience - rock concerts especially, where you stand in a hot cellar, banged against and crowded, inundated with the smell of tobacco and alcohol and sweat, and the music lifts the crowd, grabs it into motion, and the crowd (if it is a good crowd, a good concert, a good place) surges side to side, like the sea rushing into and out of a niche in the rocks. I don't mean you have to slam dance at every concert - only that there should be motion at concerts, that music needs motion, some kind of dancing, in a mass, in pairs, something. But the Feelies—

These days, they are almost accessible - they still tune the guitars between every song, but now they use electric tuners (cutting down the delay between songs by several minutes); you can hear the vocals now, almost, sometimes pretty well; they are getting friendlier, the drummers smile, they throw souvenirs into the crowd, at their most recent show, the bassist even cracked a joke and they tried to plug their record from the stage (in the tone of someone contractually obligated to do so of course). Their music is even lightening up - it is harder (as though they had spent the last year locked in five dark rooms listening to The Stooges very loud) [as I said above - I think this is from the end of 1989, so is referring to Only Life - though this sounds more like a description of Time for a Witness, from 91; these old documents have been reworked a few times through the years I'm afraid...], but also more accessible, more conventionally rock and roll. Yet for all that, a Feelies show remains one of the most intensely private experiences imaginable.

Music is usually communal - it binds listener and singer/player, binds its various listeners, creates a community, or the image of a community, even in the most private songs. But not the Feelies. No matter what the context, their songs sound like echoes inside your head, like remembered voices, remembered impressions of the sounds of guitars. The effect probably comes in part from the band’s stage presence - the bowed heads, the expressions of nothing but concentration, the abstracted jumping that looks more like air guitar than real rock-star antics - but there is more. They are rock music’s equivalent to Borges - they do nothing new - they almost deplore the idea of originality, they are content to do covers of songs someone somewhere should have written. Everything sounds like that lost forgotten unreleased Velvet Underground record, or maybe something by Iggy Pop or the Beatles you’ve never heard before.

There are records that exist in dreams that seem as though they should be real, just as there are books you dream about that should exist. In your dreams, you hesitate on these records, songs, pages, drawings - you realize you are dreaming, and some instinct warns you that these dream-books are illusions - they are only dreams. But these books or records are things you desperately want to be real - music you have not heard, new, unknown Beatles records, a Herman Melville novel you had forgotten about, that says just those things you suspected Melville meant to say, but never actually did - and you hesitate in the dream, you wait, you weigh this thing, check it against wakefulness (the subconscious seems to do this), and finally, you decide that it is real. Then sometimes this dream will recur - there is a stash of records, for example, David Bowie, The Beatles, T-Rex, I think, Pink Floyd, and lately, a Replacements record or two have been added, in the bottom of a hope chest in Maine, that though I have never actually found these records in that hope chest in Maine, I dream about, over and over, every time doubting their existence, every time knowing I hadn’t ever really found them there before, but every time rejoicing, when I remember that they indeed are there, and this dream is a memory and not an invention.

The Feelies are the caretakers of these dreams, just as Borges is the caretaker of the libraries of dream books. Both, Feelies and Borges, make art that seems like a synopsis of something already done, something you have heard, on a radio in Vermont somewhere, something you have heard about, seen cited in an article somewhere, seen in a dusty library or a shambles of a record store somewhere. You must always squint when you hear the Feelies, as if trying to remember where you heard this song before, just as you frown reading Borges, wondering if you didn't see the book he is describing on the shelves at Aunt Annie’s library. And maybe you did - The Search for Al-Mutas’m never existed before Borges, and Loveless Love is original to the Feelies, but The Purple Land, generally forgotten, and Take it Any Way You Can may indeed have preceded their reinterpreters; but that strange hesitation is part of the point.

Well - you can see what I was reading 25 years ago. But that's about it - what always struck me was their ability to absorb vast chunks of music history, and play it in a way that sounded both as if it were something you had heard all your life, and something that was just being revealed to you now for the first time. And - that goes for songs I've listened to for going on 30 years. I mean to say - the first time I heard them they were a revelation, and as familiar as my favorite band - and they have that quality now that I have heard them hundreds of times - everything sounds like it has always been there; everything sounds brand new.

And for all my 1989 era mysticism, the fact is that Feelies concerts were just about the most enjoyable, and indeed, communal experiences, I remember. They always conveyed a shared delight in the music - the songs, the playing. Maybe part of the mysticism comes from how easy they were to identify with. (Which may or may not have been a function of being a nerdy white guy.) And this - that they were (and still are) one of the tightest, sharpest bands going. The tight, fast rhythms, the interlocking drums and guitars, the clean sharp solos, their ability to convey multiple feelings in their songs - jittery, smooth, mellow, harsh - they could excel in any mode. They were more pastoral and pretty than REM, harder, more intense than Husker Du, more experimental than Sonic Youth. And - the guitars. I am a sucker for guitars, and Mercer and Million just ride those machines... it is a thing of beauty indeed.

And so - the countdown - which requires two lists of rate Feelies. First, their own material:

1. Slipping (Into Something) - which also provides one of the greatest musical cues in film history: the moment this song shifts tempos in Something Wild - signaling the films' shift in tone... just glorious.
2. The Boy with Perpetual Nervousness
3. Crazy Rhythms
4. Find a Way
5. Loveless Love - another song that makes a film, Assayas' Carlos - coming in as the film seems to take off...
6. The Good Earth
7. Slow Down
8. Away
9. Moscow Nights
10. Decide

And then, Covers:

1. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for me and My Monkey
2. She said She said
3. Sedan Delivery
4. Dancing Barefoot
5. Roadrunner
6. What Goes On
7. I Wanna Sleep in your Arms
8. European Son
9. Fame
10. Mannequin


Dancing Barefoot:


Young Neil, sped up:


And another cover - featuring Peter Buck on another of the all time great rock songs... See No Evil:


And Bowie/Lennon, from Something Wild:

Beatles covers:



And here's Loveless Love live - just how fast they were live:


And another live version of Slipping (Into Something), which there can't be too many of:


Monday, March 10, 2014

Charles Pierce for the Win

Dipping briefly into politics... Here's Charles Pierce, the magnificent Charles Pierce, summing up one of the blights on the American political landscape:
She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country's reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children. If you applauded, you're an idiot and I feel sorry for you.
The fact that that dim bulb is still running her grift, 6 years after being laughed off the stage... tells you all you need to know about modern conservatism. They are a pack of suckers, and proud of it.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Music Day

Well - I don't have a lot to say today. Daylight Savings Time is coming - painful! I don't want to lose an hour of sleep! I don't want to wake up in the dark! - and for some reason, Grand Budapest Hotel is not, not for another week. Horrible. Cruel. Evil. Anyway... music:

1. Doctor Nerve - Mister Stiff Fries a Dozen
2. The Raplacements - Run It
3. Dinosaur Jr. - Your Weather
4. The Who - They Made My Dream Come True
5. Boredoms - (Star)
6. Delta 5 - Now That You've Gone
7. Johnny Cash - Cocaine Blues
8. Six Organs of Admittance - Harmonice Mundi II
9. fIREHOSE - Number Seven
10. The Germs - Manimal

How have I never heard of Delta 5? despite having one of their songs on the computer? How did that happen? They are pretty amazing - a 2 bass, 2 girl singers version of Gang of Four. How did one song make it to my computer? Just one? strange. Anyway - this is the song above - music only.

Here's another one on Top of the Tops:

and going from 2 bass players to 77 drummers - the Boredoms - their 77BOADRUM incarnation....

And finally - the Germs:

Saturday, March 01, 2014

What About the Oscars?

We're almost there - everyone seems to be posting something, so why not me? As usual, I admit I am not going to watch the show - I can barely muster any interest in the voting and winners.... But it does give me an excuse to post my own favorites in the various categories. So off we go, right?

Best Picture:

So one of my top 5 got a nomination - and stands a pretty good shot at a win. I skipped a couple of the best picture nominations without a good reason (Gravity say) - but... of the ones I saw - 12 Years... is the best - I hope it wins. I didn't love Nebraska, but it's not a bad film - but pretty hard to see it winning. Same for Her, I suppose. I hope 12 years wins - and think that's as likely as anything.

My Top 5:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Act of Killing
3. 12 Years a Slave
4. Blue is the Warmest Color
5. Beyond the Hills


It's been noted that since the academy expanded the best picture nominations, they have severely restricted the number of films nominated for any major awards - so - the five nominees are all best picture nominees as well. Annoying, as it does tend to squeeze out some of the alternatives, I think. (They start to show up in cinematography I noticed.) Anyway - I do hope McQueen wins, because that was a great film and he did a superb job. Cuaron seems to stand a good chance, and though I didn't actually see it - that's my fault, not his; I suspect this is a justifiable pick.

My Top 5:
1. Coen Brothers
2. Steve McQueen
3. Christian Mungiu - Beyond the Hills
4. Miguel Gomes - Tabu
5. Olivier Assayas - Apres Mai


Of the nominations - shoot: I can't complain about any of them. Wouldn't feel too bad about any of them winning, though a couple stand out - Ejiofor should win I suppose; people seem to think McConaughey is the favorite - I can't complain if he does. Dern would be a nice pick, though he won't get it.

My Top 5:
1. Chiwetel Ejiofor
2. Bruce Dern
3. Mads Mikkelson - The Hunt
4. Matthew McConaughey
5. Toni Servillo - The Great Beauty


Of these nominees, I only managed to see 1 - Amy Adams. I hope not. She's fine, but American Hustle is a mediocre and weird film, miscast high and low, including her. Blanchett? why not - she's the consensus favorite, so - fine. My not seeing any of these American actresses is a rather marked contrast to the extraordinary slate of actresses in foreign films (and a few smaller American films) I saw last year, a slate that goes on quite a ways beyond the 5 below...

My Top 5:
1. Greta Gerwig - Frances Ha
2. Adele Exarchopolous
3. Christina Flutur - Beyond the Hills
4. Amy Acker - Much Ado About Nothing
5. Rin Takanashi - Like Someone in Love

Supporting Actor:

Usually, if Michael Fassbender is nominated, he should win. This is no exception. At least until the academy starts nominating Michael Shannon for things. But meanwhile, off in Coen Brothers land, John Goodman steals another picture.

My Top 5:
1. John Goodman - Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Fassbender
3. Gerald Peary - Computer Chess
4. Jared Leto
5. Paul Giamatti - 12 Years a Slave

Supporting Actress:

I saw three of these - Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o and June Squibb. Lawrence had no business being nominated, she's the weakest part of a rather badly put together and cast film. The other two are first rate. Squibb, in a just world, would win; the Oscars are seldom just - I have no idea who will win. The cynic in me says Lawrence. I hope it's Squibb or Nyong'o.

My Top 5:
1. June Squibb
2. Lupita Nyongo'o
3. Gaby Hoffman - Crystal Fairy
4. Amy Adams - Her
5. Carey Mulligan - Inside Llewyn Davis

Original Screenplay:

I saw 4 of the 5; of the ones I saw, I would pick Her, with Dallas Buyers' Club justifiable. Nebraska's script was solid, but a bit too obvious some of the time; American Hustle wasn't bad, but - I dunno. Not a fan. Woody Allen, of course, I'm back on my one in 7 plan, after getting suckered into a couple off year films. I wonder if you can guess, o reader, what film I have at the top?

My Top 5:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Frances Ha
3. Like Someone in Love
4. The Hunt
5. Enough Said

Adapted Screenplay:

This category actually has a film not nominated for best picture - an upset in itself. I would give the prize to 12 Years a Slave - I don't know if that is going to win, though I suppose it's got a good chance.

My Top 5:
1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Before Midnight
3. In the House
4. Blue is the Warmest Color
5. Much Ado About Nothing

Music or Score:

I don't know; of the nominations - my god: I've only seen Her. So, I guess, whatever. My own choices - I admit, I find the "original score" concept a bit underwhelming - I tend to think of music in film in terms of how the music is used. Songs or original scores or adapted music, it's all the same - it;s how it is deployed. Anyway - it's a category I'm always surprisingly unsure of... but here goes anyway:

My Top 5:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis - I suppose this is inevitable
2. I Used to be Darker - another backstage musical, and a fine one
3. A Band Called Death - I'm not sure what I'm after in this category, but I might as well bring in the documentaries - Death was damned good.
4. Frozen - not the greatest music, but very cleverly used, a neat idea
5. Much Ado About Nothing - cause I remember it...


The nominees in this category come fairly close to actually matching what was on the screen this year. They are all fine choices. I suspect Gravity wins, because it's the most gimmicky - but you have some interesting films here. Points to the academy... There were lots of great looking films last year to choose from.

My Top 5:
1. Tabu
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. Nebraska
4. The Great Beauty
5. Computer Chess (cinematography should not just be about beauty - it should be about the most effective use of photography in a film - and the hideous video of this film is very effective. It's very funny, for one thing, and making cinematography funny is an accomplishment in itself.)


I saw two of these, and probably should have seen a couple more - Great Beauty and The Hunt are both excellent - The Hunt probably the better film.

My Top 5:
1. The Act of Killing
2. Beyond the Hills
3. Blue is the Warmest Color
4. a Touch of Sin
5. Apres Mai


I saw one of the nominees - I don't think The Act of Killing has a chance, but you can see what I thought of it. I don't know if I can justify a top 5 - though I saw more than 5. Might as well, right?

My Top 5:
1. The Act of Killing
2. 56 Up
3. Stories We Tell
4. A Band Called Death
5. Tim's Vermeer (though I don't know if it was actually released anywhere last year...)

And some of the other categories:

Never mind the academy, I guess. I liked - Upstream Color... The Grandmaster... An oversimplification of Her Beauty (often an exercise in editing...) As well as many of the films I have listed in categories above. But I did want to work those in somewhere.

The Wind Rises just made it here last week - I am going to see it tomorrow. I assume it is the best and should win on principal. Probably won't. I liked Frozen, certainly - Despicable Me 2 was quite good as well. From Up on Poppy Hill was a lovely film as well...

I don't know what the academy is up to - there was a Kiarostami film in the theaters last year. And A Wong Kar-wei film... and films like Upstream Color and A Touch of Sin and Inside Llewyn Davis and Computer Chess all did great things with sound. What can I say?

Film Posts 2014 Onwards

Later getting this up than usual - and rather slow so far posting anything. But I do find it useful to have an index of what I have posted... That is this.

UPDATE 2015: I have not been posting as much movie material as I had been - so this year's posts are going on to last year's index. Which didn't have a whole lot...

Update 2017: I have neglected this post, but more than that, neglected the blog. I think the last review I wrote was in August 2015 - things have been very quiet here at the listening ear...

Occasional Pieces & Longer Pieces:

2/3/2014: Philip Seymour Hoffman obituary
7/14/2014: Bastille Day with Jacques Rivette.

4/3/2015: Manoel de Oliveira obituary.
5/14/2015: Link to Film Preservation Blogathon.

1/4/2016: Edward Copeland obituary
1/30/2016: Jacques Rivette Obituary
9/2/2016: Allan Fish Obituary (and Gene Wilder)

For WITD Countdowns:

8/20/2014: Chikamatsu Monogatari for the Wonders in the Dark Romance Countdown.
9/5/2014: Love Me Tonight, for the romance countdown.
9/23/2014: The Shop Around the Corner, also for the countdown.

7/9/2015: Let The Right One In - part of the Childhood Films countdown at Wonders in the Dark. Cross-posted.
9/7/2015: Germany Year Zero (posted here 9/15), also posted at Wonders in the Dark, part of the Childhood Films Countdown
9/15/2015: Ivan's Childhood, also at Wonders in the Dark, from their Childhood Films Countdown.

7/12/2016: Plan 9 From Outer Space for WITD's Science Fiction Countdown.
8/13/2016: Things to Come, for WITD
8/18/2016: Island of Lost Souls, for WITD; 8/19/2016 - Musical Follow up to the same.
10/5/2016: Alphaville for WITD

Polls, Lists, Memes, and so on:

1/2/2014: 2013 Lists
3/1/2014: Oscar comments and my picks for categories

1/17/2015: Best of 2014.
2/22/2015: Oscars and categories.
7/13/2015: Halftime Report
10/27/2015: Mr Dadier Back to School Quiz
10/31/2015: Halloween Quiz.

2/14/2016: Best of 2015


2/10/2014: Inside Llewyn Davis
11/9/2014: Citizenfour reviewed, and comments on the Berlin Wall.

2/2/2015: Roundup: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night; Princes Kaguya; Inherent Vice; r. Turner; Two Days One Night; Selma; Duke of Burgundy;
8/5/2015: Summer Films - big roundup: Don't Think I have Forgotten; Look of Silence; Do I Sound Gay?; Tangerine; Mr. Holmes; Amy; Big Game; Testament of Youth.