Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rewind #2

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Segu Blue (2007)

This record is brilliant. Late at night, with a beer in hand, I love to make a playlist with Segu Blue and a few other albums of similar character and drift through the night on wings of gold. Absolutely astounding harmonies and fluent rhythm that echoes the ghosts of a heavenly time and place. It's so easy to wallow in their sound and travel the across the universe, to discover that no matter where you look on this planet, someone somewhere is making music that absolutely expands over any border that might want to contain it. For the longest time I would only listen to one type of music, anything with alternative in it (alt-country, alt-pop, alt-rock), but when I met Xtimu, she would always push me to find a different sound. Not that she didn't like what I was listening to but because she grew up with a diverse awareness of what the world is capable of. So much of our culture is all about defining categories for people to feel comfortable in, to feel safe, but all that comes of that type of tinkering is wash out individual expression. That's the mentality that helped create the Clear Channel conglomerate and it's stifling the creative spirit. You will never hear Segu Blue on one of those outlets and it's an damn shame because if we opened our lives to the broad expanse of creative expression that is happening wide across the map, then we shall discover wonders that give new meaning to our lives.

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days: Cristian Mungiu (2007)

Uh...wow! Watching this film was like watching the type of place that Dick Cheney was trying to develop here in the United States for the past eight years. It's like flashing forward a couple of decades and witnessing what becomes of the ideas of freedom and liberty when the ruling class uses fear to implement oppression into the hearts of the people. It's damn scary. Here's why. Everyone in this movie seemed completely normal. Everything that happened in this movie was totally accepted without qualms. Everything just is. When you begin to allow the government to remove your basic inalienable rights for protection, then what you see in this movie is what you will get in your own country. It's happening all the time all over the planet, right now. And besides the fact that the characters were not speaking English, it didn't seem a whole hell of a lot different than the life I saw outside my window during the bush years. This movie felt real and honest, a portrayal of Romania in 1987 during the final years under the Nicolae Ceausescu regime as two young women attempt to obtain an illegal abortion for one of them. They surreptitiously maneuver around this oppressive environment, exploited and misunderstood, all the while waiting for the darkness to enclose them. It was difficult to try and grock the message of the film-maker, especially regarding the sensitive subject matter (movies so often wear their message on their sleeves) and so easy to misconstrue. From one angle, seeing as how much shit these two women have to go through in order to procure an abortion, you would think that's it's showing abortion as a terrible negative ordeal, which very well may be for some, but it's only due to the fact that abortion is illegal in their country that they're forced to do things against their will. Abortion being illegal is akin to raping women. Nobody should have to go through the type of things that these women go through in this movie. It's heartbreaking and tragic and you're just as exhausted as they are when they finally sit down at the end of the entire ordeal. But it's an incredibly well made movie that doesn't loosen its talens for a second during the entire two hours. It's a masterpiece.

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