Friday, January 14, 2011

Discovery #18

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More (2009)

I've always had a soft heart for melodrama when it comes to music. That's why I listened to bands like this back in high school and love this musician right now. Mumford & Sons totally trap me in that way. Their songs rise with this urgent idea of a higher place, like deep poetry or a painting awash with a majestic sunset. Most of the songs actually go from a whisper to a scream, ironically, starting with an intense gentle nature and building into an intense momentum of pouring out your soul. At least that's what it feels like to me. It's a formula that has taken over the rock world for generations and these guys are masters at the craft. Their lyrics also speak to me, full of love and hope and disregard for the hunger of authority. It either works or it doesn't, and with Mumford's rise to fame, it appears that their formula is speaking to a lot of people right now. I'm one of them, though I'm sure that in a few years we'll all look back and wonder what captured our imagination for those few moments in time. What can you do but ride the wave and enjoy the wind on your face as it goes from a gentle breeze into a gale force wind in about four minutes flat.

Cronos - Guillermo Del Toro (1993)

The best thing about Cronos, and most of Del Toro's movies, is that it has an essence that doesn't seem to come from any time or place. His films are usually about Spain or Mexico, because that's his heritage, yet he has tried some Hollywood films in between, which are much more lavish than his more introspective movies. Cronos was filmed in Mexico but Del Toro's style doesn't make it come to ground so obviously. It could be anywhere in the past fifty years and you would be hard pressed to disagree. That's why this movie will always be a delight for film students. Very few people have the ability to portray the world in their film without dating themselves but we immediately immerse ourselves in this strange place without worrying about such conventions. And what a world it is! A wealthy businessman is searching for a device in an ancient relic that has been missing for centuries: the cronos device. Rumor has it that the device is a vein to immortality. An elderly man who runs an antique store just happens to have it and soon becomes aware of it, not knowing what it does of course. It's in the shape of a golden beetle and once it connects to the body, it provides some sort of powerful substance that makes you grow younger and feel extremely vital. There's the obvious metaphor for addiction in all of it and the man's life eventually goes down a wicked road, as most tales of this sort tend to do. Yet, Cronos has such a wonderful feel to it that the camera takes you on this horrid path with such an exquisiteness that you can't help but appreciate what you are watching. The only part of the film that didn't quite stick with me was the inner world of the device, with its gears and organic matter working together to provide whatever nourishment these seekers of enlightenment are after. It isn't a proper explanation of the scientific aspects of the device and just allowing the imagination to seek out the remedy on its own would have sufficed. It's a minor detractor and doesn't really damage the structure of the film as a whole. There's much to admire here and since the filmmaker has such a unique vision, as we've seen in later films, it's a pleasure to know that the beginnings of Del Toro's repertoire is just as enticing as what has followed.

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