December 25, 2012

Retroview: Your Highness

A Retroview Review. (side note: I'd love to see how my opinion of this movie holds up now that I'm so far removed from my first and only viewing)

I hate Stoner Culture. There are probably a slew of different reasons, but the main one is that it holds its own ignorance and stupidity in high regards, and then chooses to highlight that quality. For the most part, this means I also hate stoner comedies. I feel like my time is being wasted on jokes that aren't funny unless you're stoned. I understand why the writers think their bad jokes work, the thing is they usually just aren't funny, and the only reason they get a reaction is because the target audience is high as balls. Movies you have to be stoned to enjoy, to me, seem like a waste, because if you just made a good movie to begin with, you'd be able to enjoy it regardless of your state of consciousness. So the idea that a "smart" movie that feeds into stoner culture seems kind of impossible. And it might've been had it not been for a few select entries. Half Baked and Pineapple Express are obvious ones, as is Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (My opinion there might be swayed by my penchant for the absurd, however) and maybe the Bill and Ted series (I think it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine them hitting a bong between scenes).

But the trailer for Your Highness just looked too funny to pass up, so I went with Ben and Beth last weekend and saw the dang thing. And while it was not perfect, it was darn good.

Not being the most intelligent thing I'd ever seen, it still had an awful lot of clever qualities that I enjoyed quite a bit. Your Highness is, at it's heart, a Fantasy farce. But what separates it from the farces we've suffered through in the past couple years is that it doesn't directly spoof any particular work (book, movie, etc), but instead takes the elements in the genre and highlights their ridiculous nature, without ever slighting the genre. In a sense, it honors the genre, though not to the extent that the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy does (/will hopefully do).

Examples of the bad: Vampires Suck, Scary Movie 4.
Examples of the good: Shaun of the Dead, Airplane, Your Highness

Our hero Thadeous, played by Danny McBride, seems painfully aware of the ridiculous pageantry that often plagues the traditionally melodramatic genre, which is what makes him instantly relatable. He brings a voice of reason, or, at least, an indispensable voice of someone a little more level headed than we normally get from typical Fantasy fare. This allows the viewer to relax a little, saving the need to suspend their disbelief for the more ridiculous parts (specifically near the end).

It should probably be mentioned that a lot of the laughs come from hearing a fantasy/medieval character say curse words and talk unabashedly about sex, but I think the humor stems from more than just humanity's penchant for potty jokes. Sure there have been comedies set in a medieval era, robin hood men in tights, holy grail, but this one is different in that our hero is the one who stands with us, at once critiquing the genre and playing a role in the genre. His uncertainty and often sarcastic attitude is relatable, his fun loving nature is admirable, his potential to be a good person is encouraging, and his undying love for his brother makes him someone who isn't hard to root for.

The other characters are mainly there to keep the story/quest going, and luckily the actors/actresses cast seemed perfect in every instance. James Franco plays Thadeous' dashing brother who would normally be the lead had this been a straight fantasy flick, and Natalie Portman plays the strong willed ass-kicking female warrior, with whom Thadeous becomes smitten with almost immediately. They play straight wo/man to McBride as he stumbles along, often being charmingly stereotypical fantasy characters. The way they believe in honor and justice is honestly very endearing.

(Zooey doesn't really have an amazing part in the movie, but her charm feels equally indespensible)

By the end of the movie I loved just about every character, and even felt a sort of pity for the antagonist, the evil sourcerer Leezar played by Justin Theroux, because of how sheltered and bizare his upbringing must have been to get him to the point where he would act in such a deplorable manner. I mean, by the end of it I definitely felt like he should be wiped from the planet, but there were a few minutes in the middle that he made me laugh.

After we saw Your Highness, we saw Hanna, which was by far a better movie. Ben has an awesome write up of that one here

I don't think anything else really needs to be said about that movie, but with a movie like Hanna to compete with, I felt like Your Highness may end up being forgotten. In the end, I'll probably go back and watch Your Highness more often then I'll re-watch Hanna, and I think there's something to be said about that.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson

December 18, 2012

Retroview: Rushmore (1998)

A Retroview Review. This one had been a part of a "favorite movies" series...

Introductory BS (writing about the movie starts below):
There are a few possibilities out there in regards to what our tastes say about us. I'll let your imagination do the hard work here. I subscribe to the newsletter "It Says a Lot," but that's me I guess. I think it speaks to how you grew up, how you ended up, how you see the world, how you'd like to see the world, what kind of values you hold, etc. However, The same can be said about every aspect of every person's life (meaning that our tastes in things is just as revealing as how organized our dresser tops are), so the relevance of the inherent truths behind our tastes is also in question. Luckily, It Says a Lot has a few talented editors behind it, one of which being Ms. Shut-The-Hell-Up-And-Get-On-With-Your-Life. While I find her articles enlightening, I can't deny the terrible truth that I can be a little vain sometimes, and fear what others will think of me when I express my opinions, partially because I know a lot of my friends also get the aforementioned weekly publication, and a my fear is that some of them favor Mr. I-Judge-You's articles. This is me being delusional, but I can't deny the fear.

Before I try to make that perfume sample last too long/stretch the analogy too far, let me get to my point: I am having trouble thinking of a movie to write about. Little Nemo? As Good As It Gets? The Phantom Tollbooth? Army of Darkness? Rushmore? The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (1979)? You've Got Mail?Borderline (1930)? An article about these movies, which is only a smattering of movies from my childhood/adolescence that I love, would seem either embarrassing, cliche, or an attempt at seeming cool (clearly referring to YGM). Some of the movies I love are admittedly awful/awesome (which I believe can exist on similar planes), but it's hard to add any relevance to the incredible amount written about pretty much every movie. All on top of the fact that writing about a movie that I love that basically everyone else loves seems a littleredundant. But whatever, I'll just pick a movie that is basically the top pick. I thought briefly of just talking about Avatar: The Last Airbender (the only TV show that has ever mattered), but Justin already did a bang up job of that, so, without further ado, here is a little piece of my mind:

Okay, now we talk about the movie I like a lot:
Yes, yes of course everyone loves Wes Anderson, and I don't care about that, because so do I. He quickly became the go-to cliche hipster Auteur after he released The Royal Tenenbaums, but right before that he released another widely known and deeply loved movie by the name of Rushmore. More than just being a launching pad for Jason Schwartzman's movie career and the reviving of Bill Murray's career, Rushmore was Anderson's first major release as a film maker, and, above all, it is my favorite movie.

Rushmore follows young Max Fischer (Jason , a scholarship student at the private Rushmore Academy We watch him fall hopelessly in love with professor Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), meet the parent of a pair of devil children Max attends school with, Herman Blume (Bill Murray), and get kicked out of school. Max proceeds to try and woo Ms. Cross with the help of the unhappily married, though financially successful, Mr. Blume, but when their attempts result in Max's expulsion from Rushmore, and Mr. Blume falls for Ms. Cross, things get a little complicated.

(hint: that's not Herman's bike)

An industrious, well-mannered, and all around delusional 15 year old, Max Fischer was Everything I Wanted To Be when I saw this as a kid. He, much like I was, is interested in all things, save for school work. I did not participate in extra-curricular activities with the amount of vigor and excitement that Max Fischer did, and I was no where near able to write moving pieces of theater, but his drive to learn what he pleased and do whatever the hell he wanted reminded me an awful lot of myself, or, at least, the myself I wished to be. But this is just what drew me in, not what kept me coming back to this movie.

Wes Anderson's movies center around one topic: Love. Okay, take it down a notch, what I mean by that is that they're all about all sorts of different types of love (friend, romantic, familial, etc). Throughout the years Anderson has been focusing more and more on Familial love, but he hadn't really hit his stride yet with Rushmore, and because of this the relationship between Max and his father doesn't take center stage. That said, the movie wouldn't have worked if it had solely on Max and Bert (Seymour Cassel).

The depth of sadness all the characters feel because of the loss of a loved one is this incredible white elephant placed in a story about rebirth and revitalization in an unforgiving, unrelenting world. They search for something, Anything, to fill this unknowable void in their life, without really addressing the fact that something is desperately wrong until things start to go sour.

The encouraging thing is that when they hit bottom, they have the love of their friends and family to help them back up and on their way. There are so many things I find truly and earth-shatteringly moving about this movie. Rushmore is not as well choreographed and executed as Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic, but, to some degree, that makes it more endearing, because, like it's characters, the movie itself is not perfect.

Just remember, without Rushmore, we wouldn't have the careers of Jason, Wes, and Bill, and also this.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson

December 17, 2012

SLM Mixtape #38: GETIT

Full Tracklist:
Killer - The KDMS
Leave MY Shadow - Craft Spells
Little Clique - Ghibli
I Know Where You Sleep - Lissy Trullie
You Don't Even Know Where It's At - Evan Voytas
Baby Come Home - Scissor Sisters
Back to Back - Wolf Gang
Then She Walks Away - Good Shoes

December 10, 2012

SLM Mixtape #37: Rig The Election

Times Are Changin' - Jimmy Sabater
Bajamar - Orquesta Antonio Latore
Tra La La - The 'Great' Deltas
Ain't No Sunshine - Original Tropicana Steel Band
2001 - Life
The Circle Of Karma - Kana TNT
Obstinancy - Orchestra Cometa
Chove Chuva - Elza Soares

December 4, 2012

Retroview: The Keep (1983)

A Retroview Review.
Luke here, talking about one of my new favorite movies, The Keep. Gotta be honest, I added it to my queue purely because of how badass the poster is.  I was not disappointed.

The Keep, adapted from an F. Paul Wilson novel, feels an awful lot like a book.  Several storylines are established, and we watch as they intertwine.  The basic plot outline is that some Nazi's come to a small Romanian town that happens to have a mysterious citadel (the titular "keep").  The Nazi's set up camp inside the citadel, and promptly start dying, mysteriously, after screwing around with the nickel crosses on the walls.  Higher-up Nazi's come to help figure out what's going on, just as cryptic writing appears on a wall in the citadel, also mysteriously, and a Jewish archaeologist/linguist (Ian McKellen) is called in to assist.  Also, a mysterious unnamed man is shown traveling toward the citadel from Greece (Scott Glenn as Glaeken Trismegestus).  A demon shows up (who is totally not Mephisto), and things get really messy for everyone.  I know it sounds like I'm making fun of this movie, and I kind of am, but I seriously loved it.  This movie packs a serious punch, with visuals that are more stimulating than a lot of things I've seen recently, and several meta-statements that I was absolutely blown away by.  Plus Tangerine Dream does the score, mysteriously.

The line that establishes what I believe to be the crux of the movie is spoken maybe 15, 20 minutes in, by Trismegestus while he is making his way towards the citadel.  A guard on the road stops him, and asks him where he is going, to which he responds "Into the past."  (let me just say I think the line is meant to convey some sort of "spooky," otherworldly task, or be a reference to the fact that he's going to an old citadel with an old demon in it, but there is so much more to it than just that, as I'll explain).

The people who made up the Greatest Generation went through hell.  World Wars, The Depression, the Suburbs [;)], you name it they suffered it.  But there is a reassuring and beautiful sense of hope and perseverance associated with the stories set in their era, one that is lacking from pieces both made in the common era, and those depicting the common era.  It's as though the only way they kept going was because of the idea that there had to be, there must be something better than what they were going through.  The Keep is as much a statement on war, and men(/Nazi's) playing god/pridefully thinking themselves worthy of the power of god, as it is a testament to man's tenacity in the face of adversity, as well as a criticism of man's many faults. But I find it to be key that The Keep is a statement about those statements being made in the 1940's, in a movie made in the 1980's. It's is a movie looking back ... into the past ... to make a statement about WWII from the point of view of someone in 1983.

Americans are in love WWII, and have been since probably before it even started (j/k). We can't stop thinking about it, and Hitler. My friend Royce, library employee, once told me that the books that were checked out the most were books on WWII. This fascination/romanticization of this era may come from the fact that there was an actual "clear and present" danger/enemy, someone who, ironically, was a scapegoat for every problem in the world (and pretty reasonably so).

Which brings us back to the Keep, where the enemy for much of the movie is unclear; an invisible, unknowable darkness that had no known feature or desire, and may be an entity void of reason. At one point, SD Officer Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne), the head of the Nazi's who came to town to help the first team of Nazi's, starts shooting the townsfolk as a way to strike fear in their hearts, so as to stir them to rat out whoever is killing the Nazi's (this does not, of course, work). Captain Woermann (Jürgen Prochnow), head of the first team of Nazi's, knows it is not the doing of the towns people, and does not approve of the unabashed murdering of innocent people. After the first round of killing, Woermann compares Kaempffer to the entity he and his men fear is the cause of the deaths. When he does this, it is more than just an attempt to call out the futility of Kaempffer's actions, or an allusion to compare the then stifling power of Nazi Germany to an unknowable unnatural force.  It is to insert into the movie an enemy that the people of 1980 could relate to.  Yes there were warlords and dictators in 1980, but no one was Hitler's equal ... there was no one evil that could be pointed at and focused on, so it was as though evil was everywhere, all the time.  And when you put an omnipresent evil into your WWII horror movie, not only does it amp up the terror factor, it makes it a lot more relatable to audiences of the 1980's ... heck it still works to this day.

And all this is within the first half of the movie!

At almost exactly the half way point, the demon, Radu Molasar (Michael Carter), finally appears, and the movie makes a fairly dramatic left turn.  There is a huge Faustian(ish) style deal that goes down (adding to the whole "man's pride" and "man's faults" ideas), and a load of other things that you just have to see to really believe.  Admittedly, it has it's faults.  It doesn't really have any strong female characters, and the one female character that is in it is kind of just used as a plot device.  It's also kind of scattered, in that the crew may have bit off more than they could chew in adapting F. Paul Wilson's book.  Each scene feels like a new chapter, which makes sense considering the origin of the story, but it's an effect that could be repelling to some viewers.  On top of that, there is no real protagonist, which makes it hard for the characters to seem relatable ... though I think it serves a different purpose.  It makes it easier to get into the mood of the movie, as though you are just as much a foreigner to this world as the characters, alienated in an uncanny, mysterious world.

Bizarre, terrifying, mindblowingly ridiculous, The Keep has never seen a legit release on DVD, and there are currently no plans to see it.  You can only get it on Laserdisc, VHS, or Netflix Instant Watch.  Watch somehow, tell your friends, and ask them to do the same, so that one day we can get a Criterion Collection of this amazing movie.

---Luke Hunter James-Erickson

As a side note, Sir Ian Murray McKellen's role as the ancient language expert has him playing an old, wrinkled man ... in 1983 ... when he himself was a sprightly 44 years old.  Has this man never had a role where he isn't ancient?  He probably played Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing, his first major acting gig...

Also, this trailer looks like crap, and the rip that is currently on Youtube looks just as bad.  It is Crystal Clear on Netflix.  I can't stress this enough, this trailer makes it look like it was made with video camera intended to record America's Funniest Home Videos, but here it is anyway...

December 3, 2012

SLM Mixtape #36: Leash Lawz

One Way Spit - Debris
into the night - Vicious Fish
we are the kids - The Staff
meltdown - Lipstick Stains
Your Secret Is Safe With Me - Pukka Orchestra
who invited you anyway - Spangs
Untitled - Mecano
Long Black Cars - The Wave Pictures

November 28, 2012

The Hollyfelds - Title Stealers

It's been a while since I've written a review of an album. Like, two in the past 3 years, counting the one last week. But I like to support local kids, especially when I like their music.

The Hollyfelds get a lot of leeway in this town, and rightfully so. I think people want to say they're alt-country, but I think that comes from a misunderstanding of the term "alt-country."  As fluid and flexible as genres can be, I don't think you could stretch it to fit in The Hollyfelds.  They're definitely not what "country" has become, all due respect to pop-country diva Tailor Swift and ... Okay honestly I could look up a male counterpart in pop-country, but the genre (specifically pop-country) bores and nauseates me enough to give up on that.

The Hollyfelds are not, by any stretch of the imagination, pop-country, but they don't quite end up sounding like Will Oldham. I make the argument that it appears to me that they're unabashedly country, and that's why people like them. They play an unadulterated, genuine version of their overarching genre, endearing and engaging the listener beyond the disposable artists one might find oozing from commercial radio. 

Their only downfall may be that their lyrical content doesn't quite match up to the tone and style of their music. Their last release left me feeling a similar way. That said, on repeat listenings, I found myself listening closely to the lyrics, finding the story in the song, ending up feeling admiration for their ability to mix less common country song fare with their throwback, 70's/early 80's (pre-Hank Williams jr.) sound.

At the end of the day, I think by avoiding pop-country/sappy/soulless lyricism and alt-country/folky/occasionally-seeming-disengenuous themes, their new release feels more like a breath of fresh air than a rehash of a genre some feel as tried, true, tired, and trite.

Full disclosure, while i may not actually know them, I like these kids. When I friended their myspace page back in the day, they recognized me at their next show. Now that's how you connect to a fan. That is not, however, how you Make a fan. You Make a fan simply by playing music that connects with people, with making a bold and true statement, with grasping expertly what it is that you're trying to accomplish, then executing it.  That is The Hollyfelds.

If this in anyway sounds like something you'd like, check out their new tracks, off their album Title Stealers, which they're releasing This Friday, Nov 30th at The Soiled Dove

Hear one of them here:

Tickets to the show are here:

November 27, 2012

Retroview: The Beaver

A Retroview Review. 
Luke here.  Through a lucky break, I was able to see the Denver premier of Jodie Foster's new movie The Beaver.  Now there's a movie you're gonna have a hard time telling Mom you went to see...

I have an obsession with madness.  As Mel Gibson's character, Walter Black, says in The Beaver, "People seem to love a train wreck, as long as it's not them,"and I'd be remiss not to claim this quality for myself.  I also have a penchant for the absurd, coupled with a love of the uncanny.  So when I heard that a woman who I have an equally inexplicable attraction to, Jodie Foster, was throwing her director's hat back into the ring after having been absent for over 15 years, and it was going to star the Kanye West of movies, Mel Gibson, whose character begins to focus his delusions through a hand puppet... well I was sold.  And that's what makes this so hard...

The Beaver follows chronically depressed Walter Black (Gibson) down a twisting road to redemption.  He finds his way out of his depression by projecting his will to live on a hand puppet he find in the garbage.  The puppet takes on a life of it's own, it seems, and allows Walter to weasel his way back into the house his wife, Meredith (Jodie Foster), kicked him out of in the beginning of the movie. His family supports him the best they can, and his previously faltering company actually thrives due to his new found confidence.  Good things never last, though, and when things so sour, things really get out of hand.

The movie was, at times, a breath of fresh air.  It was impressively shot, the camera work and lighting highly commendable  The way certain aspects of the concept played out, such as actually seeing Walter speaking for the Beaver instead of cutting away to make it appear that the Beaver was speaking on it's own, felt risky and new.  The movie asks the audience to suspend it's disbelief about how the business world works in what could be called an unconventional move.  I enjoyed how, after a while, Walter legitimately seemed to have been taken hostage by The Beaver.  Mel Gibson's performance is understated, and easily over looked, but I think there is something to be said for the fact that, when he speaks as The Beaver, it honestly feels like a different person is on the screen, even though you can clearly see him speaking for The Beaver.  Truly a remarkable performance.  But this is me dancing around the point, which is, plainly, that I can not recommend this movie.

I would like to say that it must be difficult to write interesting, 'quirky' characters these days.  When I think of becoming 'jaded' to the things that movies throw at us, I think more along the lines of blood and gore ... not multifaceted characters.  Every major character in The Beaver has several sides to them; the wife who juggles her collapsing family and her roller-coaster designing career (meaning that she designs roller-coasters), the smart bad boy who has excessive daddy problems, the valedictorian who doesn't want to face her mysterious past (and is also 'bad'), and, of course, the mad business man whose alter-ego (superego?) is manifested in a stuffed beaver puppet.  I would like to say that it's as though every character in every movie has to have so many 'quirks' to be considered 'outside of the norm,' because the market is so inundated with 'quirk' that any character with only two different sides seem cliche, boring ... and follow that up with saying that we have kind of seen it all.

But that's not really true, is it?  I know that that's what I want to be true because I think the main problem with The Beaver is that there's a warmth absent from it that makes the movie lifeless.  We don't have anything invested in the family, no reason to root for their coming back together, because, honestly, no one in the family is very likable.  This could conceivably be overlooked, but we aren't even given a reason to like Walter other than a few points of exposition that he once was a wonderful father that loved his family.  In The Beaver, there is a lot of "show" and not a lot of "tell," which is great, but where we need it most, with the character development, we are short changed, and just sort of expected to accept that the family would be better together, without any real reason.

The movie is billed as a black-comedy, which is a little strange, as there were few laughs to be had, even at another's expense.  It was mostly just depressing and strange (not always a bad thing).  I suppose the eldest son's side plot was kind of funny at times, but because the side plot felt so out of place and unnecessary, I found myself not really caring if his part of the story was funny or not.  I was more interested in getting back to the bizarre Walter Black.

The Beaver is a crazy movie.  I'm glad I saw it once, and I can honestly say things happened in it that I did not expect even a little (my suspension of disbelief was stretched a little too thin in some parts, which was a little hard to handle).  But, with a heavy heart, I have to say I don't think I have much of a reason to go back and see it again.

---Luke Hunter James-Erickson

November 26, 2012

Wind Does - Beyond Passion

Hey kids,

I, as Wind Does, have just released my new
drone, doom, lowercase, transcendental EP, Beyond Passion.

Hear here:

SLM Mixtape # 35: Your Body

Besides You - Gold-Bears
I'm Alone - La Sera
Baby Talk - The Suspicions
Empty - Les.Petits
Love or Loneliness - Math and Physics Club
Shapeshifter - Hollows
Heart Stops - Anya Marina
Little Miami - Wussy

November 21, 2012

A Shoreline Dream - Three, 3, III Ep's

It's been a while since I've really written anything about a band, but when local post-dark-dream-pop kids A Shoreline Dream sent me their newest triple EP release, felt compelled to talk about it.

Three, 3, and III, released this last September, has A Shoreline Dream moving slightly in a new direction.  They've kept the crisp, emphatic drum production, ethereal vocals, spaced out guitar tones, and dialed-down-post-punk bass lines, but they're approach to the sound is a little different.

Their previous full lengths, Avoiding the Consequences and Recollections of Memory (I haven't had a chance to check out last year's Losing The All to This Time), at times leaned more toward harsher, more complex compositions, juxtaposed with very nearly ambient landscapes.

All three EP's here marry these two worlds, and cut out any remaining superflous complexity seen on the last LP's, which at times had a muddling and disengaging effect.  These three EP's are as focused as I've ever heard the band, who continue to meld their influences (I'm hearing a mix of shoegaze, 90's alt rock, ambient, dream pop, early 00's post-rock) into a solid foundation, allowing them steady ground from which to launch their own creative devices.

Check out 103 from the Three EP.  I thought there was a little bit of Brian in there.  Anything that reminds me of Brian is good in my book.

I wish I were able to post my favorite track, "Sixth" from III, but it hasn't been made available yet.  Maybe it'll show up on a bandcamp page though.  Here's hoping!

In their own words:

BIOGRAPHYMelodipsych night dreamers A Shoreline Dream spent the first part of 2012 locked away in their Barnum studio creating a series of EPs inspired by their mountainscape surroundings and the never-ending changes going on around them. 
Created as a concept album of sorts, these three EPs, released digitally over the course of three months, and each containing three songs, have come together as a full album once stitched together. Each disc plays a role to what was going on during these secluded sessions, which is ever present while listening to them with ears open and eyes shut. 
With mountains of tone, and dream drenched roads paving the way through the songs themselves, the 333 series is a unique gazed-out listening experience, similar in vein to the vibe contained on their 2007 EP, Coastal. The first EP, Three, brings to mind open landscapes, dune inspired within epic environments. The second, 3, sets its tone to the night, and to Barnum itself, with it's vibe being set by the studio and the circus neighborhood it was recorded in. The third and final EP, III, was written with driving in mind, as each song is dedicated to the roads the band uses to test their tracks, with the final epic song "103" actually being written as a soundtrack to the drive up the highest paved road in North America, to the very top of Mt. Evans. 
This unique collection of songs is soon to be available through toneVendor exclusively, in a quantity of 100only and then they will be gone for good. What you'll get is a set of 3 custom digipak CDs, in a O-card wrapped box, and each copy will be hand numbered and signed by the band.

November 19, 2012

SLM Mixtape #34: pure madness

II - Condom
i wish i was a mole in the ground -  anbb: alva noto & blixa bargeld
Machine Gun Remix (Noisia, Amon Tobin Remix) - Amon Tobin
Rodriguez - Black Dice
Groan Man, Don't Cry - Zammuto
Persuasion - Throbbing Gristle
Game And Performance - Deux
Kaapeec Tu Mani Negribi [Latvia] - Dzeltenie Pastnieki

November 12, 2012

SLM Mixtape #33: Never Return

Year of the Cock - Sonny and the Sunsets
When It Pleases You - Sara Watkins
Normal - Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight - Whiskeytown
Little Indian Maid - Tara Beagan & Henry Adam Svec
More & More - Les Shelleys
Please Don't Come Back - The Spikedrivers
I Can Tell You're Leaving - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & Trembling Bells

November 7, 2012

Retroview: Suburban Commando (1991)

A Retroview Review.
Luke here, talking about a movie I revisited recently, after a long period of having forgotten about it entirely.

Often I come across a movie that is far more than the sum of it's parts. Meaning that, while watching the movie, I have to ask myself if the things in the movie are actually happening. Who wrote this script? Who did casting? How did this get green lit? With all these things working against it, why is it that I am absolutely in love with this movie?

The best example is, of course, Robocop. But a fair contender is the family favorite Suburban Commando. I should not, but gosh dang it I just love this movie.

By '89, Not-yet-Hollywood Hulk Hogan was a household name, Hulkamania still in full swing, and the Hulk was riding high. His first movie having not quite come out yet, New Line was ready to get the Hulk Movie brand off the ground. When America's #1 galumph (Arnie of course!) opted to take his burgeoning buddy-comedy career over to Universal (1988's Twins) and New Line picked up this script, they knew exactly who should fill the role: our man Hogan.

The plot is simple: Shep Ramsey (Hogan) is a cosmic bounty hunter that gets stuck in suburbia for six weeks. After answering an ad on a telephone pole, he moves in with Charlie Wilcox's (Christopher Lloyd) family. Charlie finds some crazy space equipment, which he turns on, allowing Shep's enemy's to track him down. Insanity ensues.

Every moment of this movie is sickeningly ridiculous. The actors themselves seem to be fully aware that the script is terrible, but they work it SO HARD and push their emotions all over their faces and throw their arms out Kermit-style that it becomes endearing. Seriously, it's as though every part was written so that, if one of the actors couldn't make it that day, Tim Curry could just walk in an seamlessly fill the spot. The one-liners are frequently delivered as though the actors read the lines moments before standing before camera, but their out-of-context-cadence often accents the scene, if not sells it entirelys.

The budget is low, but the then there are these surprising glimmers of genius. There is an alien suit that is honestly one of the most horrify images I've seen in a children's movie. The space suit and space ship are cleverly designed, though a few of the space ships (and the whole opening scene) is an almost blatant rip off of Star Wars (arguably intentional). And, frankly, some of the one-liners are hilarious. Larry Miller plays Charlie's boss, and delivers lines with such speed and wit that, if you're not really paying attention, just fly by.

Come to think of it, there are visual and sub-textual jokes flying off the screen, seemingly without the movie even knowing it. Usually, in comedy movies, there's a little time for the audience to catch up when a joke is delivered. Not with Suburban Commando! And I guess that really is what makes this movie so charming: It just, serendipitously, works. It's funny, the characters are actually lovable, it doesn't take it self too seriously, there's drama that doesn't ask us to suspend our disbelief too much, and some how, despite it's flaws, it comes together to be a high-five-and-a-half.

When the first New Line/Hogan movie flopped, and the second (this one) didn't really win any awards, New Line gave it one final shot with Mr. Nanny. After that, the Hogan Brand essentially dead in the water, we didn't see Hulk in a movie until 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, which was only is only notable for one thing: it was shot in my home town. He may not have had a lucrative movie career, but having one gem, especially one like Suburban Commando, in your back pocket isn't too shabby. I don't condone the things Hogan does in his personal life, but that doesn't mean I can't hold this movie close to my heart.

---Luke Hunter James-Erickson

--As a side note, special effects technician Michael Colvin died on the set testing a trap door. Friends of mine who were present during the re-watching of this movie were quick to point out similarities between this occurrence and the curse of a movie that is Manos Hands of Fate.  I find the similiarities chilling, myself.

November 5, 2012

SLM Mixtape #32: Find a Hard Problem. Then Solve It.

Ablutophobia - Sheep, Dog & Wolf
A Tale of Life Part 6 - Ghost
Toe Tore Oh - Dustin Wong
Toast To Life - All Will Be Quiet
The Only Tune Pt. 2: The Old Mill Pond - Nico Muhly
Tide - Small Things Amplified
Graveyard - Feist
Fljótavík - Sigur Rós

October 29, 2012

SLM Mixtape #31: Wisdom in Action

Come Back - Spokes Mashiyane
Monique a duala - Africa System Orchestra
The Healer/Don't Break - E.W.Wainwright Jr
Metena nsaman pon mu - City Boys Band
Sowambe - Sagbeni Aragbada
Onye Ori Utaba - Mike Ejeagha
Siyayishay' Ingoma - Isigqi Sesimanjemanje
The Last Special - The Mallory-Hall Band

October 23, 2012

Retroview: Sleepless in Seattle / The Truth About the American Dream

Hey Kids!  It appears as though the movie weblog I used to contribute to, The Movie Advocate, is no longer up and running.  Well I won't let that get me down!  As a lover of all medias, forms of entertainment, and ways to enrich one's self, I happened to write more than a few reviews of filmed stories which were published exclusively on that website. Being a completest my self, I couldn't help but, at the very least, and for my own records, compile the now invisible reviews.  That said, I'm kind of a fan of the things I wrote.  They are silly, and I couldn't be more proud of past-Luke for writing them.  So, here we go!  I'm going to have a weekly re-post of an old review.  They will be posted verbatim:


Luke here. For the purpose of this review, let’s just assume that when I say “the 90’s,” I mean the late 80’s and the early 90’s.  Also, I'm not a professor in sociology or 90's culture.

Where to even start with Sleepless in Seattle? Now, I have not seen every ‘90’s movie, but I feel safe in saying that Sleepless in Seattle embodies the early ‘90’s ennui better than most movies. It's a movie about how people in the 90's want the life they think they've been promised by the "proven" path their parents took and succeeded with, but that the path isn't for everyone.

There were a hundred different revolutions in the 90’s. After the hangover left following three decades of rebelling, people wanted to get better. There was, of course, the inevitable backlash to this with Denis Leary and Dr. Katz. But in ’93, despite Leary’s protests, people were still testing the waters, drinking the banana and honey milkshake, or eating a seven jalapeño sandwich, anything to get rid of that headache, and get back to living, get back to something real. Which is what Sam (Tom Hanks) and Annie (Meg Ryan) are looking for.

The movie starts at a funeral. Sam’s wife dies of cancer suddenly, and in our first introduction to Sam, we find out everyone seems to have the answer for him in little 2x3.5” pieces of paper with some MD’s name on it. Sam finds no solace in these “solutions,” and moves to Seattle. 18 months later in Baltimore, we meet Annie, who has become engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman), a 2x3.5” card in man-form. On the drive to a Christmas party, she overhears Sam, whose son has called into a radio show and conned him into talking to the host. The stage is set, the players introduced, now dance.

(my, isnt' he lovely?)

Within mere moments of the movie starting, we are introduced to the first, and most glaring, social commentary that doesn’t so much sprinkle the movie, as drench it. When the people in this place called AMERICA see a problem, they diagnose it. Everyone has one. This guy is allergic to bees, this woman is allergic to salmon, that girl is addicted to stupid men, that man is obsessed with diagnosing everyone else. The supporting cast’s lines are almost entirely made up of diagnosis’. The only people not in on it are Sam and Annie … but why? What makes them different?

This gets to the crux of the movie, and gets me to the point more quickly than I had anticipated. Sure there is a lot commentary on social interactions between two types of people, commentary on the technological world taking over and redefining how not only people relate to one another but also how the world works in general, but there is a deeper commentary that I feel more than a little conflicted with. And that is that the American Dream is a sham.

After finishing the Christmas dinner Annie brought her hubbs-to-be to, she and her mother retire to the attic. Annie tries on her grandmother’s wedding dress, and her mother describes the day she met Annie’s father. It is sappy and nostalgic in every way you’ve come to expect, but the look on Annie’s face tells it all: she wants that, and she wants it hard. But (and you know this because the other person on the poster is not Bill Pullman), you know she doesn’t have that.

This movie is a remake of a movie that is shown like 20 times in the background, An Affair to Remember. Annie is in love with this movie. Annie longs for the real love that the people on her TV screen have, and for the love described by her mother, before all this 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s BS happened. And when she and her mother look into the mirror, Annie in her Gma’s dress, and her mother says that the night she met her husbbs-to-be it was “well … you know…” … Annie’s face tells it all. There is no “you know.” In that instance, she betrays herself. Her face clicks, resetting, and she straight lies through her teeth. Her mother knows, and she knows her mother knows, so when she looks into the mirror, and we see her straight on, we know she’s lying to herself.

She wants the American Dream, the solid man with a good job, the two story brick house on the east coast, kids coming back from Yale for Thanksgiving … she wants it so bad that she’s willing to buy into every promise that she think has been made to her by the generations of the past, that it’ll all work out, that she is willing to wait it out, and hope that she’ll eventually be happy. And when she asks her friends how their American Marriages are going, they aren’t really the reassurance she needs, as they’re all as unhappy as she knows she’ll be. Despite her small and constant betrayals to herself, she can’t help but reach out and find this engaging man whose voice she heard on the radio one night.

Sam’s story is a little more straight forward, but the moral is the same. He is trying to date again, at his son’s request, and he finds it difficult. He finds the same people who have romanticized the American Dream, the 1950’s ideal of success and prosperity, added with the layer upon layer of guilt caused by the 80’s and the pompousness caused by their being able to become “better people” in the 90’s, and he finds these people to be both confusing and minorly revolting.  He surrenders to a woman who is boring and annoying, because he has lost hope that he will find the real person he once had.

Sam views the Neo-American Dream from an outsider’s perspective, and Annie see’s it through the dense fog of denial, and they are both repulsed. The people around them who are buying into it seem foolish, childish, and it’s as though the two of them are just playing along so as not to upset the natural order. But they know in their hearts that the delusions are not for them, they are looking for a real person, and the strain on them is palpable.

The people of the 90’s wanted happiness, same as anyone else, and it was about this time that it was becoming evident that “going to college, meeting someone, getting married, buying a house, having kids, repeat” wasn’t going to work for everyone. This movie is essentially a late bloomer’s Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains. The thirysomethings finally rebelling, and taking their life back, breaking free of the mold and doing something that feels right to them, not what the man has told them is right. And you know what, it may be sappy, and full of 90’s lullaby jazz, but I feel like when a movie’s message is to be yourself, and follow your heart, then that’s a movie that has some merit.

Hell, if anything it’s an interesting case study on the early 90’s.

---Luke Hunter James-Erickson

A little history: my grandfather bought a cabin back when people didn’t really know what to do with land in the mountains. My father and I would go up there at least once a year. There was a small town down the road named Woodland Park, which happened to have a movie theater with not one, but two screens. And whatever they got probably ran for weeks. I’d get a choice of one out of the two movies showing, if I wanted one at all. In 1993, one movie was Sleepless in Seattle, and considering the fact that I chose to see this, at age 8, over the other movie says a lot when I say I don’t remember the alternative. But, as fate would have it, I did something stupid, as I was prone to do at this age (…), and I wasn’t allowed to go and see it. And, thus, it has inexplicably haunted me since.

I have avoided seeing it until now because I, honestly, feared the worst: that it would be sappy lovey dovey drivel pumped out by the studio machine to suck saps dry. I’m honestly glad I hadn’t seen it until now, because going into it without context (other than the best trailer remix ever) left me able to not see the story, but see how the story was told, with clearer goggles.

A Retroview Review.

October 15, 2012

SLM Mixtape #30: Actual Life

Night Light - Jessie Ware
Dancing With The Devil - Wolf Gang
No One is Born to Be Lonely - Dead Child Star
Funereal - Liger
Round & Round - New Order
Japanese Cars - Eugene McGuinness
Take That - Anna Domino
Dance Dance - Josephine & The Mousepeople

October 8, 2012

SLM Mixtape #29: Sleepy Promises

Is the Life of a Man Any More Than the Leaves? - Wax Mannequin
The Knife - Great Lake Swimmers
That Bird has a Broken Wing (live) - Sun Kil Moon
The Mark - Cold Specks
Little Boy Blue 2 - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Too Late - Spiritualized
Oh Home - Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles
How Can We Get Free - Pink Mountaintops

October 1, 2012

SLM Mixtape #28: That Totally Works

Just A Touch - AlunaGeorge
Rag Doll - Speeka
Bitch - THEESatisfaction
Shlamiel - Stephaniesid
People's Pleasure Park - The Durutti Column
Throwback - Orelha Negra
Freakfest - Spaceheater
Le Chat Du Cafe Des Artistes - Jean-Pierre Ferland

September 24, 2012

SLM Mixtape #27: Somnuri

I Didn't Know - Tristesse Contemporaine
Yatton - Beak>
Shit-Hawk in the Snow - Moonface
Black Tounge - Feist
Other People - Beach House
Into the Night - Raveonettes
Sweatshop - De Staat
Born To - Jesca Hoop

September 18, 2012

Tuff Fest II: Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

Fitzcarraldo is an impossibly large movie.  It is up there, and maybe surpasses, well known classic epics like Ben Hur, Cleopatra, or the Ten Commandments.  Part of me doesn't want to spoil seeing one of the most unbelievable things ever dedicated to film, but that one thing happens to be the main selling point of the movie.  So, I urge you to simply do everything you can possibly do to get your hands on this movie, suffer through the relatively slow first hour or so, and marvel at the last half.  It is one of the greatest feats in cinema's long and complex history.  That said, minor spoilers follow, but it really is a movie that you have to truly see to believe, so spoilers don't really enter into it.

Fitzcarraldo is a tale inspired by true events (though, exaggerated for cinematic purposes) of a failing European entrepreneur's last ditch attempt at greatness.  I feel like after every sentence that follows, I'm going to want to say "seriously," but I'll abstain.  In Fitzcarraldo, our titular protagonist, after failing to market ice to Peruvians, sets out to build an opera house in the middle of the Amazon.  His funding for such a task will come from the money he plans on making from selling rubber he'll acquire from a nearly inaccessible rubber-tree-trove, also deep in the middle of the Amazon.  He plans on bypassing the rapids that make the trove inaccessible by sailing a 320 ton steamship up a parallel river, and, somehow, getting it over a mountain between the river it's on and the river he wants to be.  Seriously.

There are maybe 30-50 other absolutely bat-shit-crazy things that occur before he gets the steamship to the point where he plans on transporting the ship from one river to another.  This is a "throw your hands up and scream because this movie couldn't possibly exist" kind of movie.  Months after, I am still in a state of awe when I think of it.  There is one documentary about it, and several other biographic pieces talk at length about the filming of the movie, and how it almost ended in several people's deaths.

The most shocking thing about this movie is the fact that everything that you see on your screen actually occurred.  There were no special effects.  There were no cranes assisting in the the impossible feats.  It's as raw and terrible as it looks, and, if the documentaries are to be believed, it's probably worse.

There is no movie the equal of Fitzcarraldo.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

September 11, 2012

Tuff Fest II: District 13: Ultimatum (2009)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

Last week I talked about how silly The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was.  It does not compare to the silliness in the District 13 series.  This should come as no surprise for those familiar with the work of Luc Besson (writer producer) and EuropaCorp (studio), whose names appear on such great pieces such as The Transporter series, the Taxi series, and Kiss of the Dragon. 

These are not the kinds of movies that you get into for aspects like "deep emotional involvement," or "meaningful social commentary."  Let's be honest here: we love these movies because we love explosions, chase scenes, and watching people beat each other up.  The District series delivers on all these honorable areas, this second installment ramping things up well past ridiculous.

District 13: Ultimatum has the distinct honor of being a sequel to the first ever Parkour-centered action flick.  Where D13 fell short was that they focused too much on their silly story and limited the amount of actual parkour seen on screen, I guess not realizing why we put the movie on in the first place.  D13:U does not have this problem.  D13:U mostly consists of our two protagonists, Leïto (David Belle, founder of parkour) and Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli), jumping off of things, climbing things, and punching folks.  What story they allow in is just there to push our fellas into higher and higher stakes situations, ending with a crescendo of silliness you just have to see to believe.

D13:U has a certain self-aware charm about it that keeps it afloat in the sea of ludicrousness, making it a blast to watch, even if it's about as deep and meaningful as a can of baked beans.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

September 10, 2012

SLM Mixtape #26: Haut House

Hologram Grip - Obfusc
Fritz Lang - Chapelier Fou
Colomb - Nicolas Jaar
Break Yr Heartt - oOoOO
2.01 - Fabulous Diamonds
Lake Speed - Labradford
Goddess Eyes II - Julia Holter
Don't Understand (Feat. Jeppe Kjellberg) - Tomas Barfod

September 4, 2012

Tuff Fest II: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

Ahh yes, we finally get to the quintessential Spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  The most famous and revered of the Dollars trilogy, and for good reason: This movie is epic. 

There were a few things that took me by surprise in watching this movie, but none more than it's running time.  Clocking in at 177 minutes, this movie long, and it feels like it.  These three men basically do everything that could be done in America in the early 1860's.  They ride around the desert, they sleep with women, they get in gun fights with strangers, they spend and steal money, they attempt to reconcile with their individual pasts, and they even fight in a battle during the Civil war itself.

That last bit is important. See Leone has said a great deal about TGTBTU, and some of that has been in relation to how he used the movie to pay homage and act as a parody to classic westerns.  Because of this, everything is just a little bit off, and kind of silly.  Sure, the fact that it is a Spaghetti Western doesn't help, but there's definitely some intentional silliness in there.  In no other scene is this more obvious than the scene where "Blondie" (Eastwood) and Tuco (Wallach) sign up with the Union army in an attempt to get across a contested bridge.

Westerns are all, to at least some degree, about the Civil War, and it's effect on Americans.  During this scene, the ridiculousness of war is brought to the forefront, the two sides of the war holding their positions just so the other side won't go someplace else to fight, each side "taking one for the team" by ensuring that the other side doesn't have more support.  This is ludicrous, obviously, because the real emotions behind their stalemate are closer to that of cowardice than that of heroism, but that's the point.  No one wants to be there, yet there they are, and a stalemate is a better prospect than getting shot any day of the week.

This is one small aspect of this terrifically large movie.  The movie is not, however, great.  It drags, there's little sense of pacing, whole sections of the movie could have been cut and no one would have noticed.  But you just have to see it.  There are so many shining moments in it that, despite it's faults, if you don't see it, you're denying yourself a great experience.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

September 3, 2012

SLM Mixtape #25: For All It's Worth

Underhelped - Elsiane
Wonder - Soap & Skin
No Tear - Perfume Genius
Mary - Spiritualized
swollen eyes - Maica Mia
Silent From Above - Mirrorring
We Bow - Islet
Ethio Song - Amen Dunes

August 28, 2012

Tuff Fest II: The Raid (2011)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

The Raid is a simple movie: 20 cops ascend the floors of highrise that acts as the center of operations for the town's biggest Crime Lord.  That's all right there on the poster, and that's pretty much all you need to know.  But, like any good story, you don't necessarily need an awful lot of complexity.  What you need are good, engaging characters, and a believable, enticing conflict.  Well shoot if The Raid doesn't completely deliver on those points.

The thing that makes The Raid special is the action.  Any fan of unusual, unique tactical gun fights, and unpredictable, breathtaking martial arts absolutely needs to see this movie.  The movie brings to mind several other recent classics from the genre, namely The Protector, but also others from various other genres, such as Attack the Block and La Horde.

The latter two examples come to mind almost exclusively because a majority of the action occurs in the same confined world of a highrise apartment building, with our protagonists slowly stalking the halls, searching for some semblance of safety. The paranoia and anxiety are almost palpable in these two movies, and The Raid is no different.  Every level they climb, the further we delve into the story's (somewhat) intricate web of betrayal and social commentary.

Plus the fights are completely bad ass.  But that maybe goes without saying.  I think with martial arts movies, people try to justify their enjoyment of them by attempting to give more focus to the story, as though that would make them seem more high-brow.  But let's not kid ourselves people: This movie is about fighting, with guns and with fists, and I'm here to say that it is some of the best, most surprising fighting I've seen in a movie in a long time.

If all of this doesn't convince you that this movie is fairly awesome, maybe you'll be convinced by the facts that there is a US remake in the works, there's an Indonesian sequel in the works, and the new Judge Dredd movie, so far, appears to be a direct rip-off.  This movie shook up a lot of people who make movies, for one reason or another, and I think there's a good reason for that.

Over all, this movie is just darn fun to watch.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson

p.s. Oh yeah, I should also mention that it was foolishly re-titled "The Raid: Redemption" a few weeks prior to it's American/Indonesian release.

To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

August 27, 2012

SLM Mixtape #24: High Gear

Afrikaan Beat - Bert Kaempfert
Happy City - Sven Libaek
Serenade to a Cuckoo - Estradines Melodijos
Lonely Girl - Dorothy Ashby
Minor Chant - Jimmy Smith
Hot Heels - Barbara Moore
Temptation - Les Baxter
You Ain't Gonna Know Me Cause You Think You Know Me - Louis Moholo Octet

August 13, 2012

SLM Mixtape #23: Psych

Play You Out - Mind Spiders
Revenge - A Place to Bury Strangers
Screwed - Pousse Mort
A Star over Pureland - Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
The Battle of Good and Evil - John Zorn
Captain Brain - Bill Baird
Shock Doctrine - Dark Sea Dream

August 6, 2012

SLM Mixtape #22: By All Means

The first in what looks like a year's worth of mixes. :)

Virginia (Clipse/Lost Woods) - Team Teamwork
Rapp Snitch Knishes - MF Doom
GMO - Fruits of Labor ft. Longshot - Last of the Record Buyers
Roll It - Soom T
Tear It Down - Money Making Jam Boys
John 3:16 - Mathematics
Seasons - Blu & Exile
The Anthem - Onra

July 31, 2012

Tuff Fest II: Great Expectations (1946)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

Great Expectations was the first of three David Lean movies in the Fest, and all three were serious high points.  The poster's claim that this is the greatest Dickens film ever made arguably stands to this day, save for possible the brilliantly executed Scrooged, staring Bill Murrey (I'm only half kidding I think).

Dickens was undeniably an important and terrific author, but adapting his dry technique to the vivid, fluid world of the silver screen is a task that should not be taken lightly.  Just spending half a minute on the Charles Dickens IMDB page, you can read the names of hundreds of Dickens adaptations, mostly of A Christmas Carol it should be noted. The amount of adequately adapted novels on that list can be counted on one hand.  David Lean's Oliver Twist and Great Expectations are clear outliers among the deluge of Christmas Carol adaptations, and for a good reason.

David Lean appears to have a brilliant grasp not only on the tone of Dicken's works, but how to bring that tone up to date, and translate it to celluloid.  The characters aren't the stiff, dull characters that one could so easily mistake them for in the source material, they crackle and pop with life, if even just barely below the surface.  The world they live in may be dusty and stuffy, but the expertly crafted characters bring life to the oppressive surroundings, sometimes by accenting the fetid, confined atmosphere of Miss Havisham's mansion, and other times by emphasizing the chaos of Mr Jaggers' law office.

Great Expectations is a hard sell.  Not just this movie, or the other adaptations, but the story itself.  As the years go by, the audience for a story about a white English boy getting everything he could have ever wanted simply handed to him, and him dealing with the consequences of that, will continue to dwindle.  It's not that it's not an important tale to have been told, it's more that what the world is defining "important" as is changing.  I may be overstepping my boundaries, but I do think it's safe to say that, at this point, Pip's tale of falling into money and generally just doing anything he wants isn't something people either can relate to, or even wish to read about.  It may be that we've just become so inundated with variations on it, or that type of people who are consuming media (books, movies, music, etc.) has finally shifted to the point that old media is no longer written for us or by us, and, because of that, it no longer hits home the way it used to.

That said, Lean's Great Expectations is a piece of history, well told.  Even though a story may seem a little out of touch, a well told story is still satisfying in and of itself.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

July 29, 2012

more mixes coming up. (Olympics on crack)

I have like 300 songs I'm slowly making into mixes.  I do hope you will listen to them.  First one of the new batch will be up this week.

In the mean time, here is a poster I made, inspired by the Olympics, and its ridiculous opening ceremony: