Monday, January 28, 2013

Blessings #16

Santigold - Master Of My Make Believe (2012)

I think it would be amazing if Santigold were to become President someday. Perhaps that sounds ridiculous because we have all these preconceived notions about politicians and what it means to be a leader but I can just feel it in my heart that Santigold would be an incredible leader of the free world. Her energy is just fantastic, full of good vibes and an inclusive spirit. She can make people move, rally around the dance floor if need be. She can call out against oppression and enlighten the masses. She can dazzle us and work the room with her magical persona. There's simply something about her that elevates the rest of humanity. It's a beautiful experience immersing yourself in her world. Every time I listen to her music, I feel better. Nothing's really changed that much but my heart is happier. Isn't that the ultimate goal of the President, after all. I mean, what has Barack Obama really done that's changed our lives? We're all pretty much in the same predicament we were in four years ago but don't we all feel better about things? He's worked his magic and helping us feel like America is a wonderful place. Santigold can do that, as well. That's why I'm endorsing her in 2016.

I Am - Tom Shadyac (2010)

What is wrong with our world? And what can we do about it? It all began with these two questions and evolves into a dynamic hopeful vision for humanity. Tom Shadyac, the prosperous director behind Jim Carrey's rise to fame, finds humility and then tackles the problems of the world. After a horrible biking accident forces him to face his own mortality, the multi-millionaire a-list Hollywood filmmaker travels all around the globe to talk to the great thinkers of today and see what they have to say about our plight. Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Desmond Tutu, Lynne McTaggart, Elisabet Sahtouris, Thom Hartmann, David Suzuki, along with many others share their feelings on the social experiment of human civilization. The one thing they all seemed to understand is that, by looking back through out the history of the all animal social interactions, the groups that thrive are the ones that share a deep connection with one another. Even the great evolution of human beings was due to how strongly we developed our community and helped one another. The only way to survive is to truly embrace our interconnections with each other and the environment all around us. The major problem we face today is that human beings have forgotten what that means. We are no longer connected with one another in deep and complex ways. We are becoming more and more isolated from one another and it is leading to a destructive force that threatens to destroy the entire planet. We must learn how to reconnect with one another if we are going to make it. It sounds simple but this connection already exists naturally. There's even a scene in the movie that shows the power of our hearts. Every time our hearts beat we send out an elctro-magnetic pulse that affects everything in our environment, even inanimated objects. If we are suffering then our hearts send out suffering. If we are happy then our hearts affect the world with that joy. Even on this fundamental level, we are affecting the world around us. It is up to all of us to change our perspective. Do whatever we can to shift our lives so that we may create happiness in ourselves and bring it to the rest of the planet. Watching this movie is a good start, a first step toward a different reality.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blessings #17

Julia Holter - Ekstasis (2012)

So this is what I'll do. I'm going to immerse myself in this album, cut off all other senses and only listen to this music. Then I'm going to write an opera about the world of faeries. It will be a transcendental escape into a magical place filled with laughter,  sadness and jovial pranksters. It will be full of the yearnings of the heart as beings interact with one another in beautiful ways. It will be immersed within an incredible landscape that comes from a great love for the earth that provides life. It will challenge the expectations that we've all come to know and open our eyes to the wonderful possibilities of all beings as they weave in and out of existence. I can see it all now as I close my eyes and listen. It all comes from the beauty of Holter's expression here in Ekstasis.

Mysteries of Lisbon - Raul Ruiz (2010)

"Mysteries of Lisbon" is a magical expression about people as they weave in and out of each other's lives. Beginning with an orphan, a young boy whose yet to create stories of his own, we follow a vein of life that goes from the present to the past to the future and back around again. Each person's tale connecting with another until we have an incredible history that spans generations. Some are heartbreaking, while others are transformative. Some involve tragic confrontations and others great consequences because of the choices being made. It's a beautiful display and Ruiz, the master Chilean filmmaker who has been around since the mid-60's, vividly brings it all to life in a wonderful mosaic. It's hard to imagine a more complete film in recent memory than this one. It is so precise with all the technical aspects; costumes, movement, acting. It is so captivating and sincere. Movies like this don't get made anymore without completely losing a touch of mystique somewhere along the way. Nothing is missing here, then it is all pulled together in such a somber way that it may cause some to dismiss the film. That would be the biggest tragedy of all because we don't often get a glimpse at the broad scope of human character in one package. The great mystery of all is that I imagine most people reading this are hearing about this movie for the first time but please make sure that more and more people learn about it. Allow it to weave throughout our lives in much the same way as the stories being told within it.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blessings #18

Wilco - The Whole Love (2011)

It's been a long run for Wilco (almost twenty years!) and as I listened to this record, I began to reflect on their prolific and influential history. The question I kept asking myself was, What is their best record? From their country rock roots in "A.M." and "Being There" to the well-rounded turn in "Summer Teeth". Then their infamous experimental pop-rock blast, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", that got them dumped by their label and their really experimental "Ghost Is Born" that shook off all the bandwagon fans from the previous outing. Followed by the gentle flow of "Sky Blue Sky" that was a blessed reprieve from all of the experiments. After that came their eponymous seventh album that sounded great out of the gate then faded fast and finally we get "The Whole Love", which I approached cautiously but became enamored with after listening long into the night. Which one would you choose? Yankee is such an obvious choice because everyone knows it by heart but I have to say that it hasn't held up over time for me. When I go back and listen I enjoy the one right before it more. The first two seem to be stuck in the shadow of Uncle Tupelo (what a bad move that was, eh, Jay?). Sky has stuck with me over the years and I can still listen to that one the most, while the one that came after I could never listen to again and I wouldn't feel like I missed anything. But this one, The Whole Love, just may be the best of all. It seems to have captured the best moments in all of the others and transcribed them into something powerful. But the greatest accomplishment is that, after all these years, the band continues to push forward with a captivating energy that sets its hooks into you and drags you along the blessed road that will forever lead to the land of Wilco.

A Town Called Panic - Stephane Aubier & Vincent Patar (2009)

If you would like to see a really crazy animated movie that was made in France and features plastic toys, headlined by a horse that can talk and drive a car, a cowboy and an indian who are best friends that can't seem to do anything right and strange underwater creatures that steal homes for a living, along with a neighbor who shouts dramatically every time he opens his mouth and his wife who loves him but constantly flirts with the policeman who runs the toll booth next to their homes, surrounded by a bunch of farm animals who attend music school every day that is taught by the horse's dream mate, while they stumble into an adventure that sends them from their humble town to the center of the earth to the north pole where a mechanical penguin tank piloted by superhuman scientists conducts experiments involving giant snowballs tossed all over the earth to a town beneath the ocean that mirrors our protagonists almost exactly...well, then you came to the right place. Dont' panic, it's as silly as it sounds and just as wonderful.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blessings #19

Cat Power - Sun (2012)

That voice! The siren song that called him again and again. He wasn't stalking her, although there had been a restraining order and a few nights in the cold confinements of a jail cell. It was natural at first, after seeing him in the front row of show after show after show. What else was she going to do? There were some sick people out there who have done some horrible things. He didn't hold it against her but he would never hurt her. He simply wanted to hear her voice. In person, on the radio, from a  CD, on his ipod; it didn't matter where or how. He just had to hear it at least once a day, preferably even more than that. Her song was the muse for his life. It gave him reason and he learned so much with every new syllable that was uttered. And after awhile, she began to understand that he wasn't a threat to her. She began to appreciate his presence at her shows. It became a comfort for her. She even let him star in one of her videos. It was a strange partnership that bloomed between the dark and light of audience and stage. Weird but rewarding, in a way. Some day it would all change. Her voice would shudder and sound different or she would quit altogether. He could find another place that would hold his attention, perhaps, an intimacy with another soul that was out there for him. Who knew? All things were bound to end but until it happened, he would cherish her voice because it was something special in this life.

Swimming Pool - Fracois Ozon (2003)

Francois Ozon creates this masterful thriller about a successful mystery writer who needs to escape from her work, which has grown tiresome for her. Sarah Morton, played by the great Charlotte Rampling, has hit the metaphorical wall that so many writer's face during their career. She's pretty much fed up with what has brought her so much success, a string of books with a very popular detective as the protagonist. Her publisher suggests that she borrow his country home, in order to get some much needed rest, with the hopes that it will help her overcome her writer's block. After a few days at the house, where she does very little except sleep in the sun around the swimming pool in the backyard and visit the cafe in the nearby town, Sarah is woken in the middle of the night by the young nubile daughter of her publisher, who had no clue that someone would be staying there. They agree to a tentative arrangement where they both can stay and then the story gets interesting. A sexually explosive mystery begins to unfold and the two women must rely on one another to survive the ordeal. What's so amazing about this film is it's vivid portrayal of the creative process. Instead of simply telling us the story that is in Sarah's imagination, Ozon allows it to unfold in intriguing fashion. When you get to the end, you are simply stunned by everything that happened and the mystery turns into a blessed display of art. Lovely!

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blessings #20

tUne-YarDs - W H O K I L L (2011)

I just learned that, in music, everyone has a unique tone that is specific to the essence of that person. Like a fingerprint is totally original, so is the tonal expression of every human being. That explains how one person can play the exact same chords on an instrument but it just never quite captures how you play those chords. Since I've been learning to play the violin and other musical instruments, I've always wondered why the sound coming out when I play is different, even from Lucas. We've been learning to play together and that little truth has always confounded during my pursuit. Merrill Garbus probably has never concerned herself with such philosophical musings because the music that she creates is incredibly unique. I have spent many hours listening to the sonic display of this auteur and there have been many times where I'm simply astounded at the distinctive twists each song takes. It's a journey that wandered off the highway long ago and by the time that you've reached the end of the road, you never realized that there could be such hidden delights that existed out in the far reaches of the music world.

True Grit - The Coen Brothers (2010) 

When the Coen Brothers said that they were going to make "True Grit", they were adamant that it wasn't a remake, that it was simply a new adaptation of the book. I thought to myself, 'What's the difference?' If the first movie was an adaptation of the book and the new movie is an adaptation of the book, how is it not a remake? It seemed like they were just being petty. Perhaps it was because the last remake that they did, "The Ladykillers", was one of the worst movies of their career. Regardless, we knew that this new version was going to be very Coenesque. This means that it is most likely going to be a very good movie. It didn't disappoint. Watching Jeff Daniels as Rooster Cogburn, the same role as John Wayne in the original, was as incredible as it sounds. Like Wayne, Daniels has become one of the great actors of our time. Hattie Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Matt Damon as LeBeouf join Daniels in pursuit of a nuisance of a man, played by Josh Brolin. So it's a star studded cast and with the Coens at the helm, all the actors at the top of their game. I grew up watching the great Spaghetti Western films from when I was a kid and "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" is still one of my all time favorites. There's a mystique that lives in these stories; the open terrain, free from control, that carries a certain romanticism. And though there may be an overabundance of films in the genre, so few of them are actually good. This is one of them.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blessings #21

Mount Eerie - Clear Moon (2012)

After the fall, he wandered around for awhile. There weren't very many people left so he didn't have much trouble staying out of trouble. I guess, for once in his life, it was beneficial to be so anti-social. He never saw the thunder rays that caused all of the damage. For three days he was locked in his basement going over a new proof that he was to present at a conference up north in San Francisco. Those calculations were the furthest thing from his mind now and it had only been a few months since the world had changed. He noticed the environment now, the world had expanded overnight. The long mornings when the gray fog covered the inlet to the lake. The mountains when it rained, silver light dripping from the foliage. The sun beating down hard on everything turning the steam into fire. The dark purple shadows as night set in and caused his heart to fall into whisper. He loved that he now had the opportunity to see it. There were no distractions. No voices pushing him further into himself. It was quiet all around, which allowed him a peace that was meant to be known.

Inception - Christopher Nolan (2010)

Do you notice how there are films where the director just seems to do something original? Our civilized experience is a constant massive changing entity, so there are constantly new stories to be told. That's why it is so frustrating to see remakes or sequels flooding the market year after year. That's why I have no tolerance for generic films. Often these original expressions in film only hit the smaller screens, the independent movie theaters viewed only by the die-hard film buffs. Inception seems to be one of the few films where everyone gets it. After flashing some heavyweight success with his Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan decided to transform that power into one very unique conceptual vision. Inception descends into the realm of sleep to harness the power of dreams in order to affect the outcome of everyday life. If you haven't seen the movie then, no, that wasn't a metaphor. That is probably the one line synthesis told in the Hollywood board room when the film was green-lighted. It's a sprawling display that warps around every corner, as the players in this game go further and further into people's dreams and cause more and more damage. There are a few clunky plot links that could destroy the mirage but the visual stimulation that moves you along outweighs any of those feeble attempts to disconnect you from the story. This movie is fun and interesting and outlandish, everything we wish for as we sink into our cushion seats and the lights go down. We wait and hope that when the projector turns, the images spooling forth will be just as magical as that first time, long ago in our youth when every tale was new.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blessings #22

Chromatics - Kill For Love (2012)

I remember being fifteen, sixteen and suddenly feeling like I was becoming this emotionally mature person. Everything had more meaning and the melodrama that rattled around inside my head was this truly special and significant place. I was growing up. I was becoming a self-realized individual and that meant that I now had new responsibility. It was a scary and exciting place, this adolescence. It was also very serious and sincere, or at least that's what I told myself. Life was no longer simple, poppy fun. I suddenly began to listen to melancholy music and turned to brooding much more often than before. I remember driving around in my Datsun pick-up with the latest Echo & the Bunnymen played at an extreme volume to drown out all the life that was trying to invade my important moral consciousness. It was a strange place and could only be quelled by the likes of The Northern Pikes or The Silencers, music made for the soul of a teenage boy living in the midst of the 1980s. For some reason, "Kill For Love", takes me back to those feelings. I let their sound flood through my headphones, close my eyes and suddenly I'm transported into the skinny soul of that teenage boy. All the fear and doubt, all the thrilling thoughts about the future slip right into my thoughts. I go back into that place for a few minutes and as the lazy guitar swaddles my brain, I feel those emotions bubbling to the surface. But it's become a blissful realm, now that I have gone through the years and know about this journey called maturity. It's safe because all the worries are gone, all the ridiculous fears summoned by child who wasn't quite absent from my mind back then. We have that luxury now, to use art in a way that allows us a certain space to comfort our past digressions or to help us tap into those hidden dreams of yesterday. Because no one truly wants to go back, after all, no matter how tempting. We would still be just as lost, simply kids hoping to find our way through the long dark days.

The Ides Of March - George Clooney (2011)

This is one of those movies that reveals how a politician doesn't have a soul. Even the ones who seem so promising, full of ideas that are going to change the way our society works. But there's a reason why nothing ever changes. It simply shifts slowly, like a behemoth with a tiny rudder; sometimes a little to the left, sometimes a little to the right. Once we delve into the scheming machinations of the system, we discover that it's just a churning self-perpetuating mess. That's pretty much the essence of "The Ides Of March". We've seen this movie before but Clooney brings an earnestness to the story. Plus, we get to follow Ryan Gosling around, the "it" kid in Hollywood nowadays, and isn't he so much fun to follow around? He plays a young campaign manager who's been working for politics since college and has moved up the ranks to the second in command in support of Clooney's ambitious Presidential candidacy bid. It all looks too good to be true, which means that it probably is and soon the wheels start coming off for Gosling. He gets stuck in a bad situation and has to scramble to find a way out of it without losing his soul. But this is politics, after all, so there's only one way to go. In the end, he comes out on top but, as they say, from where we stand that could just as well be the bottom and the sky is just beneath us.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blessings #23

Beirut - The Rip Tide (2011)

In Hungary, near the western shore of Lake Balaton, it is rumored that an ancient relic was hidden long ago. This powerful tool was once considered to be cursed and is thought to be at the root of so many conflicts that pushed all of Europe into a dark age thousands of years ago. The legend says that it came into the hands of a religious sect that had earned great trust among the people of the time and that, after an intense debate on whether the device should be destroyed or buried somewhere to never be discovered again, it was taken into the hills above the lake where it vanished for all time. There are some who say that it was really destroyed all those years agao but now, treasure seekers, along with clandestine groups connected to the rich and powerful, are turning their energy toward discovering this relic. Is it one of the great wonders of the world that has the means to change civilizations or is it a terrible force destined to bring about the last dark age of man? No one knows for sure but it has become the nexus of a growing confrontation that will reveal the true nature of humanity.

We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lynne Ramsey (2011)

Wow. It's hard not to feel some sense of wonder after watching this movie. Horror. Shock, Awe, Stunned. Disgust. Hope. Any of these adjectives are justifiable for what you may feel inside when the final scene is over. This is a powerful display that really jolts the viewer. You cannot walk out of the theater without questioning our society. What answer may come is truly based on the individual but Lynne Ramsey doesn't allow you to just shrug it off and going on your merry little way, whistling Dixie. Those days are long gone in America, anyway. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is the story about a mother dealing with the aftermath of her child's horrible conduct. From the moment the child is born to the terrible murderous spree in the hallways of his high school, this woman must face the difficult truth that she doesn't understand this being that is of her flesh. We often think that once a baby is born that it is only natural for a mother to immediately bond but sometimes it isn't as natural as we think, especially in our increasingly constructed society of disconnection that is rising up creating walls around everyone and everything. What if a woman doesn't instantly know her child? How do you overcome the fear regarding this lack of instinct that is supposedly so primal? Where does the blurry line of responsibility between parent and child lie? Are we truly responsible for everything that they may do? There are no real answers to these questions as psychologists around the world may attest. After every terrible ordeal, following every tragic act, whether it's done in our name or under the rules of engagement, an era of recovery must occur. That's the true story hidden in this complex film. To see the transformation in Tilda Swinton's eyes by the time she confronts all of the madness happening around her, reminds us all that the only way that we can change anything is to change the way we react to the reflection all around us.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blessings #24

Sleigh Bells - Reign Of Terror (2012)

Like a knife that slashes right through the skin. You know, one of those bloody violent movie moments that people obsess about but don't know why. Right into the brain killing all the mindless flesh, all the cells that have become useless. It all sloughs away with a shuddering grasp at new life. Then you push through the membrane to find the cool air upon your skin. Clutching, tearing, bursting forth from the shell like a butterfly into that the open void above your head. The one that lifts you or pulls you down, at this point it's hard to know which way is up and what way is down. Or sideways. Or out. Or in. None of it really matters anyway. All that matters is that you have sliced right through to the very core of your being and have finally touched the precious jewel that only you can touch. It's time to hold it aloft so that you can somehow help make this life expand. It's time for life to become more pure. It's time to convert all of that rage and hatred into a sublime force that shines a light on the very heart of the universe.

Untitled - Jonathan Parker (2009)

If you love art. If you've ever gone to an exhibit. If you've ever gone to see music. If you love that human beings have a creative spirit and continually try to tap into that energy in some way or another. If this world interests you in any way whatsoever then I suggest that you go check out this movie. It is a very amusing look at the art world. Adam Goldberg, our favorite hipster grump, plays Adrian, an avant garde musician who despises conventional art. His brother, Josh, is a mediocre artist whose art frequents the walls of hotel lobbies and corporate hallways, in other words, conventional. Josh is dating Madeleine, who runs a chic little gallery in New York but once she hears Adrian's music she realizes that she is a witness to true art. She has a knack for this understanding and knows how to market the pure art form, as well as, schlock like Josh's paintings. This quickly turns into a triangle, of course, and before long they're rethinking their connections to each other, society and art. These relationships that we have with one another are supposed to provide some sort of value for people, after all, but discovering what that truly means is a difficult task. Yet, the process can be very funny if it's done right and Jonathan Parker creates a delightful film by the time the credits role.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Blessings #25

Nite Jewel - One Second Of Love (2012)

It had been years since she felt the type of romance that she wrote about in her novels. Not sex, that's not what she's talking about. Anyone can do porn. Don't get me wrong, it's a very successful genre but she always gave her readers so much more, something delicate that remained between the sheets long after they were stripped heatedly across the bed. She allowed those who followed her prose to remember that first kiss, the way it made you shiver. She provided wedding days that captured the swelling ambition of the heart that lifts you upon that stage. She was a master at the serenade that left Juliet breathless and Romeo cursing the shadows of his blood, casting it all away so that love would fulfill its true purpose. But now, here she was, a woman alone at fifty, wealthy beyond imagination, with twenty #1 best sellers under her wings and a mansion near the Golden Gate. Her search had brought her so far into the land of abundance but every night she lay down empty. She was lost because so much of her life was meant to be lived with another. How could a woman of her caliber live any other way? But two wasted marriages proved that to be a useless wish. Was there a star out there to dream upon? A guide to show her the way? Long ago she had given up on such ideas. But maybe there was something. The old glass case caught her eye. It had been locked since she sold the first 10,000 copies of this first novel and this book was the last remnant from that first printing. It was flush with the words of her youth and as she took it into her hand, she prayed that it would be a good read.

Red Riding Trilogy - Julian Jarrold, James Marsh & Anand Tucker (2009)

Based on David Peace's Red Riding Quartet of novels that revolve around the Yorkshire Ripper murders that occurred during the late seventies/early eighties, these films mix fact and fiction to reveal an insidious world of police corruption that allowed hideous crimes to occur with inadequate responses from the authorities. The three movies are filmed by three different directors in three different formats but they all blend together seamlessly as the look and feel of them are almost identical. Using the same actors, this trilogy is really more of a miniseries that can be watched together as one very long movie or seen individually. Each movie is engrossing on its own and the world of corruption exposed in the films is incredibly intricate and mesmerizing. I read some of the history of the Yorkshire murders and though there was no official corruption that came from the investigations, the apparent inadequate response was astounding. The investigation only gained traction when someone other than a prostitute was attacked and then it was thrown off course one way or another very easily. Some of this is reflected in the second film, which is near the end of the actual investigation, when a detective from outside Yorkshire is brought in to get things straight. That doesn't work out exactly, as none of these stories are filled with much hope. The most revealing aspect of the stories found here is how those in power do nothing when it comes to protecting the poor people in our society. They only respond when the affluent are affected. Fortunately, in this case, it takes one officer with a conscience to decide to put an end to the madness. Only then are we allowed a bit of redemption.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Blessings #26

El-P - Cancer For Cure (2012)

He was angry. So what else is new? There were so many layers to plunge the knife through. So why not go ahead and do it? We hold ourselves back. We refrain from sucking at the fuel that could cause the explosion. So light the match already. Put fire to the wick and illuminate the world. Show the planet that there are mightier things than the flashy display that haunts our brains. So why don't we close our eyes? Let the darkness take over for awhile. Allow the dreams that swirl in our imagination to take us into a better realm. One where our desires aren't confiscated to line the toilet lining for some CEO. One where we learn how to communicate with bolder ideas than this pithy anguish that holds us down. One where our anger is based on a truth more noble than hate. So why don't we shake it of our heads? The visceral redness that has shot through our blood and caused us to yearn for waste. Throw it from your fingers so that the facade is sliced away, a clean break. Vomit it out of your lungs until the cancer has turned into a cure. Shall we listen for awhile? Hear the word that converts the veins from distaste into a sigh, from the primal sacred into a scream that blows away kingdoms and leaves behind the most beautiful landscape known to exist.

The Trip - Michael Winterbottom (2010)

Is there an actor anywhere who can make more fun of themselves with such a straight face than Steve Coogan? The guy is the straight man for himself, for chrissakes! Is there someone in the acting world who can take all of the fun out of any situation and still make you laugh because you feel so damn sorry for the guy? He is the most selfish bore you will ever watch but also absolutely wonderful to behold. Rob Brydon, on the other hand, is simply just a nice guy who will never make you wonder what is wrong with humanity. He's sweet and funny. And they are perfect together! Michael Winterbottom cast them in his movie "Tristam Shandy" and he saw something happening behind the scenes and behind the scenes that were behind the scenes. So he thought about bringing them together for a mockumentary with the two of them vacationing together around the English countryside. Who knows if this was scripted or if the two of these guys are simply that tuned into one another but it is really enjoyable to watch them spar. They compare everything; impersonations, food, shows, lifestyles, family, projects. Steve plays the bigger celebrity but constantly envies Rob's good-natured everyman. Rob seems to be so much more content even though Steve has all the charisma. This film classically takes a comic duo and displays them for our enjoyment. It's not to be missed.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Blessings #27

Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts (2012)

Smoke on the water in the early morning chill as you crunch through the snow. Ears covered, clouds of hot breath washing across your face, you turn and keep walking up the trail. Away from the engine noise and civilized expectations, the quiet of higher altitude promises a different kind of reward. Soon, all you can hear is your own footsteps and when you stop, nothing. Perhaps there's a momentary twitter from a morning lark or the pat of scampering field mice searching for fresh gifts the night left behind. Like a scent of a lover hovering long after she's gone. A candle whose wick has been extinguished but the therapy of aroma that continues to climb into your nostrils. Ah, it's a good time to stop and watch because the sun is coming over the hill and the warmth on your face is one of the happiest feelings alive. Wait, hold the light upon your face until the blood slows in your cheeks and the cold is driven out of your skin. Her voice comes to you then, a pleasant blessing that has become a beautiful memory each time it falls into your ears. You realize that she's coming, riding on the wind that is waiting behind the hill. You open your eyes and look for her face in the clouds. Yesterday, tomorrow, this afternoon. All the time that holds you in sway belongs in her voice and the dream that kept you awake through the night passes like an owl with prey in its mouth.

Mother - Joon-ho Bong (2009)

A mother will do anything to protect her son. This should be the tagline for this movie. After her mentally disabled son is arrested for murder, a woman goes to great lengths to find the real killer. She's convinced that the police simply arrested her son because he was an easy target and coerced a confession out of him. The boy has trouble remembering what happened that evening but further investigations, though initially promising, only lead to dead ends. After teaming up with a young man acquainted with her son that she despised earlier in the film, things go from bad to worse, as they discover a strange seedy history about the victim. Still no closer to the truth, her son finally remembers seeing an old man at the scene the night of the murder. But when she interrogates the man, the truth comes out and our mother can't handle it. In a deranged moment of desperation she lashes out in order to protect her son. Meanwhile, following a new lead, the police arrest a different person for the crime. The son is released and returns home to realize that everything has changed and now he must do something to protect his mother. Just like all of his other movies, Joon ho-Bong weaves an trail of intrigue and dark humor to reveal some strange nuances of the human spirit. By combining the strength of this mother's devotion to her son, along with his apparent clueless innocence, we get stuck in a wicked rat maze that warps the mind. And this makes the mad dance of the mother's silhouette at the end of the movie so damn appropriate.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Blessings #28

Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls (2012)

Raucous! That's what they said about me the first time I went up on the stage. It's stuck with me, this adjective. I don't really understand the reason because I'm not trying to be outrageous or dramatic. I mean, that's not part of my routine. I don't go in and tell myself that I need to be bombastic and derisive and shout down the patriarchy or anything like that. I mean, it is sort of natural to do those sorts of things when you are a woman growing up in a culture such as this but it's not like that's a conscious aspect of my persona. I simply enjoy turning the mirror around in as subversive a manner as possible. Hey, I've been looking in the mirror and dealing with their subversive crap for as long as I've known that being a girl instead of a boy meant that I wasn't good enough. A fucking long time. Well, now I say fuck you! It's time for you to look in the fucking mirror and think about how you are fucking everyone over good and plenty. If that means that I'm ostentatious or rowdy or a bitch, so be it! Sometimes we need to rauc the boat.

Even The Rain - Iciar Bollain (2010)

The story of Christopher Columbus is one of the most divisive in history and each version completely changes the way that we look at the world. Was he the brutal conqueror that decimated an entire civilization with his hubris? Or was he the great explorer whose vision of the world gave rise to the modern age? History books and folk tales have addressed the quandary in many ways but now we get this remarkable film version from one of Spain's most celebrated directors. It doesn't take long for Bollain to tell us which side of the aisle she's planted in but it's her comparison of modern day exploitation that really catches the heart. Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal plays Sebastian, a director who heads to Bolivia with his producer in tow, played by a wonderful actor named Luis Tosar, to film the terrible horror that descended upon the indigenous people when Colombus landed on their shores. Sebastian has an incredible vision that he must bring to the screen and he wants to make it as realistic as possible, so he casts many of the natives using people from the local community. The production starts out well with many hints that the crew may be crossing the very same line that is so easily condemned in the film they're making but then trouble begins to brew. The local people are dealing with a government that is trying to privatize the local municipal water supply and as the water dries up the streets start to get heated. Once again the indigenous people are suffering at the hands of the rich and powerful, so the people begin to protest lead by Daniel, one of the main actors in Sebastian's film, which of course leads to complications in the production. This part of the story is based on the Cochabamba protests of 2000, when the community rose up and stopped the privatization of the municipal water supply. Soon the film crew faces a moral dilemma and it all starts to unravel, with some of the crew simply hoping to get out the mess while others decide to stay and help with the protests. It's a dramatic depiction told exceptionally well with Bollain's trained eye. She's an amazing voice in the sea of film and perhaps this story of struggle against the wealthy elite hits home for her as women must continue to swim against the tide simply to have their voices heard. As we know, the roots of some stories are even older than the history books. 

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Blessings #29

Kishi Bashi - 151a (2012)

I have a fondness for those who bring the violin into the heart of their music. It's soft and light and lifts you into the beauty provided by the sun. It's powerful and dynamic and can pummel the threat of anguish. It's direct and precise and points you to the realm of imagination where all dreams may be true. Kishi Bashi is a one man wrecking machine with the violin providing the blunt trauma. The digital revolution is alive and well and musicians are using everything at their disposal to get their music out there. It's an amazing era for music lovers. There are some out there who feel like the days or yore we're wonderful times, when music was controlled by the few. These people believe that only the truly talented thrived during that time and now we are being inundated by a plethera of artists causing us to sift through more crap than ever. I don't mind. I enjoy listening to music...all the time and the more the better. I may be missing quite a bit of amazing stuff out there because there is only so many hours in the day to listen to music but I also hear a lot more than I ever did before. Why should we let some jackas tell us what is good when we all have an ear of our own? And let's be honest. There was a lot of good music that we didn't get to hear because it didn't filter into the conglomerate system that was in place. Well, now I get to listen to Kishi Bashi, which always brings a smile to my face.

Night Catches Us - Tanya Hamilton (2010)

This dramatic film is set in Philadelphis during the mid 70's following the fallout of the Black Panther movement. It points a stark eye on the quality of life people were dealing with after so much was supposed to have changed. But we still see racism, police harrassment, petty crime and degradation. It's the same old stuff those who are marginalized in our society always have to deal with. Marcus, an ex-panther, returns for his father's funeral and gets caught up in the story that he thought he left behind. He's wiser and softer and he tries to connect with people who are really trying to make a change. Such as Patricia, who is the wife of a friend who was murdered by the police back during the heavy lifting. They reconnect and try to find some beauty in this life but so much is pushing against them. Marcus is dragging around a shadow from the past, of course, and it's intimately connected to Patricia and everyone else around him and that's where the story unfolds. "Night Catches Us" is a powerful film mostly because the heart of the story is about people who have dealt with so much but who are still trying to create value with their lives. We can all relate to that a bit, even if it's not in such a violent and oppressive way that is portrayed here in this film. We all make mistakes, usually when we're young, but it's how we respond to these weak moments that truly defines who we are. We can fall further into the abyss until we're waiting in the shadows with a gasp on our lips or we can stand up and acknowledge that no one is going to give us a happy existence. We must create it.

Labels: , ,