Here's something from Welsh musician Steve Andrews...
The Unforgettable Music of Lorraine Jordan.
Albums: Inspiration (River Music,1991), Crazy Guessing Games (Club Records, 1994), This Big Feeling (Unforgettable Music, 2000).
It was nearly a decade ago that I first encountered Lorraine Jordan singing and playing guitar in a Cardiff folk club and I was instantly hooked. She was playing her own material and brought to my mind a Celtic Joan Baez. Lorraine had that clarity and passion in her vocals and she still does now.
As a singer/songwriter myself, I got chatting to Lorraine and we ended up trading cassettes. The cassette she gave me was an early version of her album Inspiration, a title very well chosen indeed, as I was soon to discover.
Lorraine moved away to Scotland and we lost touch, but the same could not be said for her music, which remained and has been played regularly on my cassette deck ever since. This sort of long-term playing-power is usually reserved for people like Dylan and Joni Mitchell, to give you some idea of how highly I rate this album.
Many of the songs are simple in structure and arrangement and Lorraine is backed only by a couple of other musicians on instruments like the bouzouki, viola and accordion. Lorraine, herself, plays guitar on most songs and effective but basic percussion is provided by bongo drums. Her lyrics too, are easy to understand and straight to the point. But in the simplicity of her musical arrangements lies their power, whilst Lorraines lyrics speak directly to the heart and soul. Lorraines voice is one that you and I can trust. So Much Love is optimistic: if you just hold on your dreams will come true. Wishful thinking? Well, perhaps? But, you know what, I believe her!
Songs of love and longing are tempered with an air of melancholy at times and the desire of the dreamer for a better world. An awareness of the beauty of Mother Earths creations is contrasted with the craziness of our world. In Branches and Ivy Lorraine sings Dont be surprised if you see me running off to live in the green trees. A definite song for all eco-warriors!
The spirit of protest is also present and Lorraines stirring and soulful Winds of Freedom, although portraying the lamentable fate of the ancient Scots at the hands of their invaders, could equally be applied to what has happened, and is happening to tribal cultures worldwide.
So thats what Inspiration is like and it inspired me to want and need to hear more of Lorraines music. Sadly this was not to be for many years, but imagine my absolute delight to discover she had a website and had recorded and released another 2 albums.
The title track of the first of these Crazy Guessing Games- is a catchy and pretty commercial number but my pick would be Called and Pulled, a moving love song. Those of the Pagan path may well appreciate Ring a Dang. This is not a typical Eurovision Song Contest entry but a description of the transition from the dark days of winter to the warmth of spring and summer set against the background of archetypal folklore.
Music Scotland stock and distribute all of Lorraines records and having discovered this, I lost no time in buying all 3 on CD. I had been meaning to treat myself to the new albums by All Saints and Lena Marlin but I spend my money on Lorraines music instead. I am really glad I made that choice.
In her third album - This Big Feeling Lorraine really excels with songs like The Lonely Road and also tries something a bit different with the inclusion of her hauntingly effective versions of the traditional folk songs Lord Randal and Once Loved a Lass. This album is a testament to Lorraines enduring talent and also highlights the remarkable fact that after 10 years she still manages to find the inspiration to make truly unforgettable music.
Contact: Lorraine direct for Inspiration and This Big Feeling @ Unforgettable Music POB 23316, EDINBURGH, EH7 5HQ. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.musicscotland.com/lorrainejordan
MusicScotland.com for more info on their releases and to obtain Lorraines album Crazy Guessing Games: MusicScotland.com POB 28018, EDINBURGH, EH16 5WN, Scotland. E-mail: email@example.com Tel: + (0) 131 662 0061 Fax: + (0) 131 662 0440 Website: www.musicscotland.com
Review by Steve Andrews aka The Bard of Ely
Some music reviews from Steve Zimmerman of MONOSTER e zine and the Orange Entropy label...contact Steve at:
James Richard Oliver - PsychoBilly Joe Bob CD James Richard Oliver's 6 cut
E.P. is gloriously gut-drenchin', beer- guzzlin', drivin' my pickup drunk
cowpunk at its best. Raw and home-made countrified pluckin' guitar accompany
Oliver's slapback vocal in songs like "Lord Of The Flies", "HillBilly Monster
In Arkansas", and the bluegrassy "She's A Burnout". Imagine the Cramps, a
4-track, a guy who can play and produce like nobodys business, and more beer
than the cast of Cheers could cumulatively consume in a fortnight, and you
might have an idea of whats going on here. I tip my hat. Get in touch at
The Punsters - Lord Of The Dunce CD True, comedic genius...there is no faking
this kind of schtuff, from the whacky theatrical "Morning Edition" auditions
to the brilliant Brian Wilson-y "Singing Songs With Stacey". Tim Korzun(Duf
Davis, Breetles) is really coming into his own as a producer, adding extra
sparks to already fine-tuned crafty melodic pop numbers. They seem to cross
every style imaginable style(rock'n'roll to Hip-Hop to Lounge to new wave pop
to bar-room sing-alongs). And they sing about Matzo Balls, Batman, Barney,
NPR and even Long Division(in the best Steely Dan parody ever). Contact'em at
A fellow named John sent me this review of a tape by Timothy Gilbert, also known as TIMO.
Timo is strange. There's no pinning him down to one particular genre of music. Just when you think he's an old punk rocker he'll turn into Neil
Young or Frank Zappa or twist off into some other thing altogether. Personally, I'm not familiar with much of his music- I only discovered him about a year ago. But the more I dig, the more there is. Appearantly he's been at this music thing for about a hundred years. This newest (?) release from him is, as far as I can tell, a good representation of his talents. His mainly guitar based songs are played out with some damn fine musicianship that never gets pretentious like someone who's TRYING to be popular. In fact, it's quite obvious that he doesn't care about all that flavour of the month business. He takes equally from old and new musical styles without ever being a blatant copy of anything. It's all got his stamp on it. His words are often bitter but not defeatist. He's got a good insight into the crappier side of things and often vents his anger or distaste of things like religion and social structures in ways that make you think. In my opinion his lyrics are most definately his strongest point. When he's sarcastic, it' with a biting venom and when he's humble it can make you want to cry. I find myself listening to this stuff over and over and always finding something in it that either makes me smile to myself and nod in agreement or fling dirty socks at the stereo shouting at his ghostly presence that he's an idiot. His music is a lot of things, and pretty well recorded, too. But one thing it is not- it 's not boring old twaddle. Like it or loathe it, it'll make an impression on you. And that aspect, unfortunately, is missing from so much recent music, mainstream or underground. This guy's no dummy. And he's no sell-out wanker trying to kiss the record company's butt. I highly reccommend a dose of Timo every now and again to keep you truly alive. His music can be had from the likes of Don Campau's excellent LONELY WHISTLE MUSIC (<http://lonelywhistle.tripod.com>) and KAW TAPES (www.geocities.com/srmband/kaw.html <http://www.geocities.com/srmband/kaw.html>) among others.
Don Campau reviews the following music:
Gypp REUNION CONCERT (CD)
Dave-id Busaras and Toshi Hiraoka BUSHY LUXURY (CD)
Huttemann/Powalla/Franzkowiak FANTASY LINE 3 (CD)
Broceliande BROCELIANDE (CD)
The Migs THE MIGS (CD)
Godboy SILENT TREATMENT FROM A TALIKNG HORSE (CD)
Billy? RHIZOME (CD)
Francisco Lopez UNTITLED 1998 (CD)
Ant CURES FOR BROKEN HEARTS (CD)
Mimetic Mute NEGATIVE (CD) and POSITIVE (CD)
Vocabularinist VORSICHTSMASSNAHMEN (CD)
C.D. YO VIBRO (CD)
Gypp REUNION CONCERT (CD)
Take a bunch of old English mates that used to have a band and bring them together again for some live shows and a CD.Sound familiar? Well, if one of those chaps happens to be underground legend Martin Newell you just might have something.These guys manuver their way around some pretty good tunes although something seems flat here.Maybe its the pristine recording, perhaps a digital thing.The performances are fine enough, especially on the numbers where Newell carries the vocals but something is missing and I'm not sure what.It sort of lacks the umph and excitement I generally associate with a project Newell is connected with. His mates are certainly decent enough musicians and on a few numbers get going pretty well but 17 tunes is a bit much for me.On the esteemed Jarmusic label from Germany.
Dave-id Busaras and Toshi Hiraoka BUSHY LUXURY (CD)
This Japanese/Irish collab is an odd thing. The backing tracks are lush sounding techno exercises from Mr. Hiraoka and Mr. Busaras limited vocal range is enhanced by the fullness he is given. To me, there is sort of a desparateness to the proceedings, a pleading for mercy, a cry for the malformed and misused. I'm assuming that Busaras wrote the lyrics even though at times they seem almost like translations. Mr. B's vocal delivery is kinda cool and definitely not slick or pretentious.Sometimes it seems like he's going to fall down and not get back up but Hiraoka-san props him up and gives him the energy to keep going. Check out how these fellows rock the party especially on the Talking Heads-wavish track, DISEASE OF CONCEIT.
Huttemann/Powalla/Franzkowiak FANTASY LINE 3 (CD)
Groovemeister Jorg Huttemann drives this spacey, jazzy and occasionally funky euro workout featuring some ripping axe slinging from Herrs Powalla und Franzkowiak.Ambience runs amok and the aural paint is splattered everywhere redecorating one's mind, blowing it a little on monster tracks like STARSHIP CARAVAN and RECENTLY AT THE FREE SPACE CLUB.Tasty blues and hot rock riffing in the outer dimensions.Ja, alles ist klar.
Broceliande BROCELIANDE (CD)
Beautifully recorded British Isles inspired music from this talented Bay Area quartet.They stick to the traditional side on this 12 track CD and although no new ground is broken this group has a real feel for what it takes to do this kind of stuff well.I would imagine they are a popular live group indulging the crowd with magnificent harmonies and tasteful and well played arrangements featuring that pleasant folk sound. Makes me wish I wasn't fed up with traditional things Irish and/or English. Its a phase I'm in, sorry. This would make a good holiday present for acoustic music lovers, it has that kind of feeling.
The Migs THE MIGS (CD)
Oh no, I said to myself when I first got this.Not another college/indie rock CD from some slacking bunch of losers who want to make it. Well, a big dose of humor will always get me off and I'll admit I was taken and spanked by these rocking southern californians. 1600 ARMADILLOES reminded of that great home taper project, THE RUDY SCHWARTZ PROJECT with its country rock approach and funny business.In other places, I hear lounge influences lurking and threatening to bring me a cocktail, at other times some space funk shakin my lilly white ass . If the Russians had this much talent maybe they wouldn't have lost the cold war.Open fire you Migs!
Godboy SILENT TREATMENT FROM A TALIKNG HORSE (CD)
This goofy Jersey band knows how to pitch the game. Keep it short, catchy and weird. Vocalist Matt Savage makes Jad Fair sound like Caruso but it only enhances the insanity of what gives here. Upbeat and nicely arranged with dynamic breaks, this band is damned kooky but I've got an idea they are crazy, yeah ,like foxes. With the instant classics, YER BUTT MAKES ME PUKE and ANALINGUS. Released on the ultra cool, Orange Entropy label.This is fun.
Billy? RHIZOME (CD)
Incredible sound collage and noise messings from this japanese quartet.It is indescrible stuff that you avant conniseurs are gonna eat up for sure.It never sits still and gets all mellow.It is a sound freak out, a ride in the washing machine on acid while 8 different radios are playing.I wonder if they do live performances? This is like if Christian Marclay ate some bad sushi and put it straight to DAT.Billy? You rule!
Francisco Lopez UNTITLED 1998 (CD)
You know Lopez modus operandi by now. Its the silent treatment and you think something is wrong with your CD player.Maybe its not turned up loud enough, perhaps the speakers are cracked.Minutes go by and I forget the CD is even on.My mind wanders and I begin to think about the days activities and whats going on.Maybe a quick nap, maybe a snack.
Is something wrong though? There is an uneasiness somewhere, a distant early warning feeling.Did I leave the stove on? Hmm, listen to those birds outside and the cars go by.Crap! I'll bet I forgot to pay the phone bill again.And that is just track one.
Headphones are the optimal way to hear this composer in my humble opinion for the full rich flavor and essence it brings.
Whoa! Check out track two-I can actually hear it. At times, Senor Lopez music reminds me of a much quieter Xenakis.
Dense clusters of sub sonic atmospheres and then..they are gone..but is it over?
Ant CURES FOR BROKEN HEARTS (CD)
Acoustic guitar driven songs from this British singer, Anthony Harding.I like his voice and his songs are hooky and personal so its a strict well done from me.Whats cool is that he is sincere and heartfelt but not all mushy.Very nice arrangements that are not overdone and really quite perfect for his material.Thumbs way up on this one.Only 5 songs and it makes me want to play it over and over.Hey people! Do what this guy does...go shorter! On the excellent Fortune And Glory label.
Mimetic Mute NEGATIVE (CD) and POSITIVE (CD)
Released on two different labels at the same time (Moloko and Lytch), Jerome Soudan's latest project is a sprawling masterwork.Sort of psychedelic trance techno weaving snippets of dialogue and found sound and then coming on with the huge beat when least expected. I can hear the composer at work when I hear Soudan's music as evidenced by his classical type development and recapitualtion.This isn't music for dancing although the rhythm gets very big. Much is under the surface here and it isn't just thrown in at random.Although the discs are NEGATIVE and POSITIVE I do not easily sense the difference between the two and perhaps on repeated listens it will become more obvious to me. There are vocals here and there but not songs in the way one might think.This deep stuff my friends, this is the music of the 21 st century.
Vocabularinist VORSICHTSMASSNAHMEN (CD)
Tongue twisting Aussies come on a little bit mellower than their last release which seemed like a real party with everybody throwing something out at the same time.They seem like a big extended family to me with all sorts of members with goofy names.All the lyrics here are improvised and the result is chaos, mirth, sarcasm and much more.The music goes from horror show soundtrack to danceable ditties.I always like the spirit of this group and even though there are few "hooks" it is fun to get lost in it.With everyone else trying to go commercial and be easily understood, VOCABULARINIST is as refreshing as a cold six pack found in the outback. Nice foldout pacaking too.
C.D. YO VIBRO (CD)
The C.D. stands for Christian Dergarabedian, a musician from Argentina. Extremely eclectic and very interesting material throughout this 15 song CD although there are few songs as you might know them.Lots of strange instrumental passages and sound cut ups.He gets all funky from time to time too so it is not just head music for the serious or somber gardist.This has new stuff for me each time I hear it, many layers and depths. This was a unexpected and welcome find for me.
FAVORITES OF 1999 as heard on "NO PIGEONHOLES" radio program hosted by Don Campau on KKUP FM (SF Bay Area) and RADIO MARABU (Europe).
These are listed in rather random order.I hope you take some time to contact some of the artists and inquire about their music.To me, making the personal contact is the essential part of the "underground" scene.It's not a contest, it's a family.
PANAMA "Panama"(CD) This frisky power pop quartet from Philly really moves me with their stuttering sound.Cool lyrics about their city, the Panama Canal and other silly things.Get up and go!
(Two Street Recordings)firstname.lastname@example.org
AMY K "Original Sins"(Cassette) Nice folky songs with a slight rock influence.Amy's unique voice and phrasing highlight this and her friends accompaniment is very tasteful.A pleasant and lilting experience.
( PO Box 120, Roxbury CT 66783) email@example.com)
BODY FULL OF STARS "Welcome" (CD) High quality progressive rock from Brit veterans Tim Jones and Terri B who also run the Stone Preminitions label.This excellent CD showcases the slinky guitar talents of Mark Dunn and the outstanding production they are always known for.
(Stone Preminitions, 271 Park Road, South Moor, Stanley,Co. Durham, DH9 7AP England) firstname.lastname@example.org
LEO KUPPER "Ways OF The Voice" (CD) This amazing release features the incredible vocal talents of Anna Marie Kieffer.It's a scary ride taken, similiar to an early Diamanda Galas album.Dark, penetrating and ghoulish.We played it on Halloween for the neighbors and scared the shit out of the candy kids.
(Pogus Productions, 50 Ayr Rd, Chester, NY 10918)email@example.com
SCIENTIST SAM "Sam's Experimental Music" (Cassette) Toe tapping sampled madness with spoken bits, jazz breaks and big beats.
(Scientist Sam, 11514 N. Rockaway Dr, Spokane ,WA 99218) Messiah070@aol.com
ROBIN O'BRIEN " The Aftermath" (CD) German re-issue of Robin's personal and deep folk music.Stark and powerful vibrations.
(Editon Neumann, Gruner Hang 26, D-18151, Munster Germany)firstname.lastname@example.org
LETTUCE PREY "Blood From A Stoner Witch"(Cassette) Lo-fi folk pop with an earnestness I enjoy. This comes from the Italian Best Kept Secret label which gets my vote for Tape Label Of The Year (many excellent releases).
(Best Kept Secret, Via Biron di Sotto, 101,36100 Vicenza Italy) email@example.com
AMY DENIO "Greatest Hits"(CD) From the flannel shirt city comes the goddess of american creative music.Her name is Amy Denio and if you don't hear her music your poor life will be even poorer.Blending ethnic traditions and her own eclectic musical talents this CD rounds up some of her best work (and she has plenty).She plays bass, saxophone,and accordion and writes incredible songs that she sings with one of the most amazing voices on this, or any other planet.. Snooze and you lose.
(Unit Circle Rekkids, PO Box 20352, Seattle, WA 98102) firstname.lastname@example.org
ANDREAS BICK "Sono Taxis"(CD) Herr Bick has an idea: record crickets and frogs and turn it into an album of sensual, almost techno pleasure.How he makes it work is a mystery but he does.Croak.
(Andreas Bick, Weserstr. 30, 10999 Berlin, Germany)email@example.com
JESTERS LONGEVITY "Analog Dub Report"(CD) They follow up last years killer "Fluency" release with a massive, reverb drenched, bass heavy, large beat monster.It's sick and good for what ails you.Neat box, button and packaging too.
(J Mundok, PO Box 116, Barnesboro, PA 15714) firstname.lastname@example.org
BECKI DIGREGORIO "Ascension" (CD) 4 songs of pure beauty from this excellent singer/songwriter.Jangly guitars (and solos from XTC's Dave Gregory) frame this hypnotic and captivating music.Sometimes I see Sandy Denny smiling from heaven when I hear this.Evidently extracted from her full length CD this is a must have in my opinion.
(Jarmusic,OT Jabel 6,D-29439, Luchow,Germany) email@example.com
DAUERFISCH "Crime Of The Century" (CD) Great Europop with a nutty danceable edge.Incredibly infectious at times, deftly sampling and changing gears at will, this German duo (aided by vocalist Laura Carleton) is post modern pop at its finest.Relax after the dance and have a cocktail.
(Bungalow Records) www.bungalow.de
THE CREAMS "The All Night Book Man" (double CD) Former home tapers step into the studio for some organ/guitar pop that is really cool.Manyexcellent tracks, psych at times and always catchy.
(Jarmusic,OT Jabel 6,D-29439, Luchow,Germany) firstname.lastname@example.org
RUTH SHERBOURNE "Inside Outside Reality" (cassette) Stark,lo-fi folk from the UK.Beautifully raw.
(Lonely Whistle Music, PO Box 9162, Santa Rosa CA 95405) email@example.com
ORANGE CAKE MIX "Red Rose Speedway"(cassette) More lo-fi folk pop by Jim Rao.It's stripped down and heartfelt.(Best Kept Secret,via Barin di Sotto 101,36100 Vicenza, Italy) firstname.lastname@example.org
SECRET ARCHIVES OF THE VATICAN "Reformed"(CD) High class drum 'n bass with gurgling synths.
Great production job throughout on this with hints of middle eastern melodies.
MIMETIC FIELD "Overated"(CD) Powerful beat rock with classical overtones.Superior production.
(Jerome Soudan,Lowerstr. 5,D-10249, Berlin, Germany) Mimetic1@aol.com
LIFESMYTH "Self titled" (cassette) Moody folk rock nicely sung and played.Nice harmonies,rather dark.
(Scott Smith,7096 West Old Highway 64,Lexington, NC 27295) email@example.com
WHITE URBAN NIGGER "Young, Fast, Cheap and Out Of Control"(cassette) 60s sounding pysch folk from Jason Butler with a touch of decay and scum.Life is hard then you die.
(Jason Butler,6881 Amherst St,San Diego CA 92115)
AMANDA THORPE "Too Many Spirits"(CD) A jazzy, folky release from this excellent singer/songwriter.Nice hooks and a rainy day feel.(900 West End Ave,New York City, NY 10025) firstname.lastname@example.org
CLIFF BROWNE JR "The History Of Clowns"(cassette) A home taper with the right touch: He's got real drums, weird sounding synths, guitars and overlaid vocals and songs,good ones that I remember.It's kind of pyscho in spots and he does instrumentals too.A whole batch of goodies.
(Lonely Whistle, PO Box 9162, Santa Rosa CA 95405) email@example.com
or the artist at: firstname.lastname@example.org
LOCKGROOVE "Rewired"(CD) Dynamic rock from Massachusetts that refers to The Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth but cuts its own swath through the feedback.I like how it charges along and builds.
(Krave Records,229 Union St#3, Brooklyn NY 11231) KraveRec@aol.com
VINYL BILL "Too Lazy To Rock"(cassette) From the UK comes Shawn Skinner who likes the Neil Young folk sound a lot.That's good though,he has good songs and a serviceable voice.At other points he rocks a bit to fine effect.
(Best Kept Secret,via Baron di Sotto,101,36100 Vicenza Italy) email@example.com
ARTEMIY ARTEMIEV "Mysticism Of Sound"(CD) This is electronic music at its thoughtful best.Beautiful textures,melodies at times,ambiences supreme.Highly recommended.
(Ul. Krilatskaya,31-1-321,121614, Moscow, Russia)
FRANCISCO LOPEZ "La Selva"(CD), "Untitled #91"(CD) These two discs from Spain's master of the sublime are quite different from each other.The first CD is sounds from the neotropical rain forest-rich enviroments,wet, thick jungle floors of mystery recorded in Costa Rica.The second CD is an almost invisible, absolute masterwork of quiet.I felt it more than heard it.It's comforting like hearing the heater go on when it's cold inside.
(Apartado 2542,28080 Madrid,Spain) firstname.lastname@example.org
WESTERN SOD "Trans Appalachian Tracks In Sound"(CD) Smarty pants garage rock with excellent pop ingredients.Lyrically fresh and musically invigorating this is a damn fine release. Very catchy.
(Eric Meckley,1128 Masonic Ave#B,San Francisco,CA 94117)
SHOMA & NEL "Shoma & Nel" (CD) Can drum 'n bass be timeless? This duo answers absolutely affirmatively with a fabuluosly paced and executed work featuring a few sublime vocals.It sways, rocks and drives me mad.
(Land c/o Organic , 10 rue Elerlot,381100 Grenoble, France) email@example.com
INTER NOS "Futuro Calpestato"(cassette) An unlikely combination of Italian pop style vocals and fuzz bass grind.I dig it.( Claudio Faggion,via Colvera 2,33170 Pordenone, Italy)
DAN SUSNARA "Maypole"( double cassette) This sprawling two tape epic contacins some of Susnara's best work.Drawing from modern rock,blues and even showtunes he thickens it up with multiple guitars,keyboards and vocals,sometimes obscured by effects.He's a home taper with a lot of ideas and uses them all here.
(7806 S. Kilpatrick, Chicago, IL 60652)
JASON PRINE "Desh Pardesh"(CD) Big beats here and well done.Well paced drum 'n backbone shaking.
(Tar Media,331 Elmwood Dr,Suite 4-213,Moncton,NB, E1A 1X6 Canada) firstname.lastname@example.org
JLIAT "The Ocean Of Infinite Being"(CD) "The Nature Of Nature"(CD) "Hilberts Hotel"(CD) "A Long Drone Like Piece..."(CD). Mr. Jliat from England immerses himself and listeners in drones.While it sounds simple and repetitive in theory it is far from it.Texturtes swirl, the imagination travels,the ear or is it the mind?-starts hearing things that may or may not be there.Sometimes he is harsh and sometimes gentle.Where will your mind go today?
VITAL IMAGE "The Legend Of Quinn"(double CD) Although I don't really understand the concept one thing is clear.This is a well considered and exceuted rock opus.Progressive and modern sounding, the production quality is outstanding.Yes, it is rock music mostly with lots of vocals but many other sounds as well.Lots of effort went into this and it shows.Good musicianship and pacing.
(Deep Blue Records) Dbrecs@aol.com
DITHER "Dither"(cassette) 3 pieces of ambience deep inside the terrain called your head.Some feedback guitars appear and some distant thumping.I would say "neat" but who says that anymore?
(Jerome Soudan,Lowerstr. 5,D-10249, Berlin, Germany) Mimetic1@aol.com
THE BROTHER EGG "The Brother Egg"(CD) A very fine 3 song CD of moody pop that suits me just fine.Real nice melancholy action the kind I go back to often.
(PO Box 3767, Portland,OR 97208) email@example.com
JOE SCHMOE (JOHN BARTLES) "Dirt And Roll"(cassette) Funny, filthy and frankly spoken/sung blues rock with the ever usual cut ups from JB.Offend someone now.(PO Box 106, Livonia Center,NY 14488)
FRANK PECK "Year Of The Rat"(cassette) Talk about your lo-fi sad core.Mark Ritchie is the Brit doing these musings about life.He strums his guitar and mopes.Folky.
(Kaw, 2 Carmuir, Forth,Lanarkshire,ML11 8AR)
EDITION NEUMANN "Swing Your Body"(CD) High tech atmospheres expertly produced.A bit techno in spots, the CD jacket claims that this "is not the final version" but I'm tellin' ya:it's real good.Way to go Siggi.
(Edition Neumann,Gruner Hang 26,D-18151 Munster,germany) firstname.lastname@example.org
HINTON "Those Mabey Days"(cassette) Melodic Britrock with dynamic flashes.Pretty hooky in some ways.Guitars at the ready.
(45 Mill Way,Grantchester,Cambridge,CB3 9ND, UK)
REYNOLS "Dohdo Vehdohdo Rulo"(cassette) A truly bizarre relaese from this Argentinian quartet about fishes heart attacks.Yeah, you read me right.Tortured Spanish vocals,out of tune guitars,fuzz bass,weird percussion.Want to annoy someone? (Courtis,Virrey Cevallos 592 1-2,1077 Buenos Aires, Argentina) email@example.com
SKUZZY CABLE "Deep Raved"(CD) In past releases lead man Bob Xark sang/ranted his lyrics to sampled beats but here he gets a full band and it works to real good effect.It's smart,it grooves big time.House style beat poetry.Yeah.(Bob Xark) firstname.lastname@example.org
TATSUYA NAKATANI "Green Report 5"(cassette) Minimal avant garde percussion.
Rattle,chort,spittle,crunch,buzz,tinkle.Me likem odd sounds.
NAPALMED "Mixes"(cassette) Wild manipulations of raw sounds.Noisy and interesting.
You need more noise from The Czech Republic.So get hip ,OK?Cool packaging too.
(Radek Kopel,Lipova 1123,43401 Most,Czech Republic) email@example.com
THE STINKING BADGER OF JAVA "Dermo In A Highland Eden"(CD) I guess this band locked themselves away at a moutain retreat for a few days to record this album of bittersweet rock.It reminds me of an Aussie, X, because of their male/female vocal tradeoffs.Nice changes in their songs and well done overall.
(PO Box 194,Rosanna 3084,Victoria,Australia) firstname.lastname@example.org
KITCHEN CYNICS "The Quiet Ones"(cassette) Mainly a "folkie" Alan Davidson gets a bit tripped out on a few numbers here.He spaces the light fantastic ala Syd Barrett occasionally and is a generally good tunesmith.Solid guitar work and singing.( Kim Harten/Bliss Tapes,68 Barlich Way,Lodge Park,Redditch,Worcs,England B98 7JP)
TEN "The Stamp Album"(CD) Dean Cook is a tremendouns pop writer and singer.The second track is so catchy("Too Pure") you could get the flu from it.
These are 3 minute pop gems.You've hit the vein.Now,dig it!
(Shotgun Charlie,35 Winnington Rd,Ward End,Birminghaam B8 2QH,UK) email@example.com
TIMO "It Was More Than Communication We Lacked" (cassette) People seem to either love or hate Tim Gilbert.Me, I'm in the former category.First,his sarcastic lyrics give a good reflection of the tough life he's chosen to live.Secondly,he is a tremendous rhythm guitarist,one of the best.He also cuts some nice,swarthy leads here and there too.There is an inherent sadness about Timo.Where are you Tim?
(Best Kept Secret,via Baron di Sotto 101,36100 Vicenza,Italy) firstname.lastname@example.org
RAY CARMEN "Correct Me If I'm Wrong"(cassette) Is popsmith a word? If it is, Ray is one.He's a true home taping vetetran deftly laying down the tracks.On this tape he does some weirdly chosen covers from The Residents to Sarah McLachlan to Michael J Bowman.Yeah, it's a word alright.
(PO Box 152, Green, OH 44232) email@example.com
KEN CLINGER "KCollab .14"(CD) "KCollab .12/13"(CD) Another future Hall Of Fame Home Taper,KC joins up with other underground figures on these two discs to come up with some tasty goodies.Nice to hear him in collab with Arnold Mathes,electronic musician from NY.Ken knows just the right touch to put on a track and may be the master of the collaboration, home taper style.One of the most important individuals of this scene ever.
GARY KAY "Hawkin' The Chalk"(cassette) Reverb soaked acoustic guitar miniatures that are very pleasant and almost Satie-like in their elegance.A good early morning tape.Not obtrusive but not just ear candy either.
(Best Kept Secret,via Barin di Sotto 101,36100 Vicenza, Italy) firstname.lastname@example.org
PROTOTYPE EARTHBORNE "Rosemount"(cassette) Let's say you take the last tape I described and removed the reveb,used old batteries on the tape deck and partially re-recorded over it with random keyboards and percussion.These duet improvs wander over the border of sanity at times although it is not purely noise.
It is quite mad however.
(FDR Tapes,1258 E.25th St,Des Moines,IA 50317)
BLUES PERSUADERS "Come On Funny Feelin"(CD) I must say that I am getting very weary of blues bands (and reggae too for that matter) but for some reason this CD from this Ohio outfit hits me more than just right.That guitar player is frigging hot for one thing and the band has a great live feel with a decent singer and tunes.No doubt they are hot in person and somehow they bring the heat to the recording.Solid stufff.
(Greg Thomas,3017 Marshall Ave,Cicinnati,OH 45220) email@example.com
ANTHONY DISTEFANO "Untitled"(cassette) Collection of experimental tracks,mainly keyboard realized.I like his different ideas and doesn't seem to be linked to one style of experimentation as many do.Sort of dark and mysterious.
(1720 62nd St, Brooklyn, NY 11204)
EYELIGHT "Eyelight" (cassette) Nice loopiness from Jehn Cerron.Very fine and seldom heard use of voice loops that is most welcome.Lots of solitary feeling.
Stunning.(Jehn Cerron, 651 Woodward St #B,Orlando, FL 32803) firstname.lastname@example.org
GUIDER PROJECT "Guider Project" (CD) Booty shakin techno flavored millenium chanting with remixes.Just try to stand still.(Deep Blue Records) Dbrecs@aol.com
IDIOM "Waterglass" (cassette) Lovely instrumentals from this British quartet.
Nice use of sax and the way the band arranges its material keeps me interested.
Kind of floaty mainly and melodic.
(c/o Rachel Trimmer,298 Vicarase Road,Longwood,Huddersfield,W,Yorks,England HD3 4HJ)
THE INFANT CYCLE "Old Plus Four" (CD) Intriguing sampling and experimentation by Canada's Jim De Jong who also runs The Ceiling , an excellent and challenging label.All instruemental kookiness and fucked up good and I mean that in the best possible way.
(Austenite Recordings,PO Box 26142,Kitchener,Ontario N2H 6T4 Canada) email@example.com
ONQ "Nothing You Could Be Happy For"(cassette) Songs with guitar but in no way "folkie".Very bizarre performances (not unlike that weirdo Jandek,remember him?) by Onco Galuppini from Italy that combine strange sounds with the voice and guitar.A moody tape and very different from what you might expect.
(Kylie, 509a Old York Road,Wandsworth,London SW18 1TF,UK) firstname.lastname@example.org
FOUL LICK "Explorting The Bulbous Drain" (cassette) In a way this type of tape really exemplfies the true nature of home taping.There are songs,weird noises and a general, lets-do-what-we-want attitude that is refreshing in this formatted everyone-has-their-formula-hyphenated world.This is fun, amateurish whack offs.
(Anthony Cobb,2136 S. M ST,Tacoma,WA 98405)
TIM JONES "666+1" (CD) Tim has been kicking ass and taking names for so long in music he could write a book.He and Terri B also run the Stone Preminitions label which I've touted many times before and this outstanding CD (actually Tim's first solo release) only underlines what I already knew: He's a mutil talented monster on the loose with guitars and solid songs,lyrics and production.His voice is very distinctive and emotive.This is rock music with an edge and very fine musicianship.Can he do no wrong?
(Stone Preminitons,271 Park Road,South Moor,Stanley,Co.Durham,DH9 7AP,UK) email@example.com
VINYL BILL "What Lo-Fi" (cassette) Very pleasing performances by the UK's Shawn Skinner who writes good tunes and plays the usual home taper assortment of guitars and keys.He's a good singer and the lo-fi in title may indicate the fidelity but not the heart and soul.He's real, believe it.
(Best kept Secret, via Baron di Sotto 101,36100 Vicenza, Italy) firstname.lastname@example.org
TODD SHUSTER "My Report Card" (CD) Very fine poppy rock the way it should be: short, to-the-point songs with hooky melodies and nice harmonies.This goes down easy, my friends.
(961 Manor Ave,Meadowbrook, PA 19046) email@example.com
ACTIVITY SET "Drift" (cd) Psych sounding rock schtuff with progressive overtones.Rather subdued in many places, this is not pop sounding but laden with minor key broodiness.Dreamy time.
(John Lisiecki,1327 and1/2,Church St,Evanston,IL 60201) JohnL16500@aol.com
LUXUS "Sunken Sailor" (CD) This rock group from Luxembourg sounds like they stopped by the kaffe in Amsterdam along the way aand picked up some inspiration.Kind of funky.kind of messed up.thats what you'll find here.Pass the menu, OK?
(Claude Franck) firstname.lastname@example.org
LOS OTROS " Radio Chon" (CD) This Bay Area band sounds best when sticking to their Hispanic music roots.
Excellent production and use of some ethnic instruments gives this a pleasant feeling.It's not new music but a solid achievement of updating what's timeless.
(Son Del Barrio,123 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107) email@example.com
VOCABULARINIST "Hasznasznasz" (CD) This spaced out Aussie extended family grabs, shakes and fucks the house up with noise,punk style, goofy banter and who knows what else.Songs develop from weird places and disintegrate again.A goofy, fun ride.
(7 Seater Records,PO Box 341, Fivedock,NSW 2046 Australia)
RUSS STEDMAN "Cracked" (CD) Long time home taping vet and local band leader reveals his hatful of tricks on this CDR.It's rock music alright with nods to Bob Mould/Husker Du and maybe The Replacements but if one knows Russ' music like I do over the years it becomes obvious how much of his own man he is.He can mine many styles and is an excellent musician overall.One of Americas best for sure.
(Hell Bent For Lather,PO Box 89224, Sioux Falls SD 57109) firstname.lastname@example.org
BILL FOREMAN "Building St Petersburg" (CD) When I hear Bill I feel like I'm listening to history.Sort of like playing a record from The Library Of Congress or an old Folkways disc.He has some kind of genuineness to me, a folky easy ramblin' touch.He has produced many albums and this is certainly one of his finest.Yes, he references Dylan quite a bit, even his vocal phrasings sound like The ZimmerGod but that doesn't stop me from digging the hell out of this.
(General Ludd,3342 Brockton Ave,Riverside, CA 92507) email@example.com
EVAN PETA "Lord High Sheriff Of Shakin Street"(CD) Very hot lead guitar thrashing with riffing chords and the nasally voice of our hero.The songs are well worked out but less important to me than the solos which just rip.This is hot so you better be ready.
(Scorched,309 W. 12th St, Mitchell, SD 57301) firstname.lastname@example.org
FREDDY KRUEGERS HAT "Freddy Kruegers Hat" (CD) Tasty blues rock from Canada which appears to be the new hotbed for this genre.Head Hat Bryan Leckie has an appropriate voice and some decent songs with far better than average lyrics that set up up his guitar work which is very good.
(Larry Dickinson) email@example.com
CLOUD "Blunt Shade Artcore" (CD) This is home taper Michael J Bowmans instrumental project and he has ideas galore as usual.He has always firmly grasped the concept of a good song and this album features a variety of approaches.This is the essence of what underground/independent means to me.Don't miss out.
(Semper Lo Fi, 11 Orchard St,Cold Spring NY 10516) firstname.lastname@example.org
MONOPHON/TU M' "Untitled" (CD) Split release from Monia De Lauretis who is also busy with a radio show and a zine.Highly experimental stylings that change from track to track.From noise to avantechbient with jazzy overtones.It's hard for me to tell the difference between the groups only because there is so much diversity.Nice fold out cover as well.
(Itself, Via Albegna 4,65128 Pescara Italy) email@example.com
MOTION CONTROL "Untitled" (CD) Electronic burblings that evolve into drum 'n bass moments at times.
Spacey, nice work.(Jamie Ballinger,4 Ashfield Ave,Morley,Leeds, England LS27 0QD)
MYSTERY HEARSAY "99 Tracks" (CD) Another true vet of the experimental scene, Mike Hunnycutt goes far out out this CDR.It's hard for me to describe the various sounds and noises here but they are sculpted like a craftsman.I think he has been influenced somewhat by being a DJ.His idea of sequencing and pacing is like a good program.He might even play your music if its weird enough.
(Mystery Hearsay, PO Box 240131, Memphis TN 38124) firstname.lastname@example.org
MATTHIEU HA "Bruxelles Paralelles/Fragment" (CD) This is haunting vocalizing and accordion I guess.You could tell me this music is from a thousand years ago and I would believe it.Sort of early music meets ECM chamber quality.Beautiful, extremely.
(First Cask Records,48 Ruer D'Ophem, B-1000 Brussels Belgium) email@example.com
CROWN GENIUS "..To All The Nonbelievers" (CD) A mixed bag of freeform sampling,Suckdog type songs and a don't-give-a -damn attitude that is refreshing.This is not pre-formatted college rock ,dear colleagues.The duet of Crown Genius is in your face with screaming and out of tune nuttiness.Gotta love 'em for it.It's real people.
(Crown Genius, PO Box 190, Ridgewood NJ 07451-0190) firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
DANIEL PRENDIVILLE "Tantrum Ego" (CD) This Irish singer sounds quite American to me.From the upbeat and snappy numbers that sound like a cross between Boz Scaggs (in his Steve Miller Band heydays) and The Beach Boys to the moodier ballads, Mr. Prendiville creates a pop sound that is at once retro and current.
(6, Clonaslee,Menagh,Co.Tipperary,Ireland) firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMES RICHARD OLIVER "The Mud, The Blood And The Beer" (CD) Good times abound on this rockabilly tinged classic.Country rockin',beer swillin',guitar pickin'.These are some good 'uns.
(Illbilly Records, PO Box 924, Blue Ridge, GA 30513)
IF,BWANA "Clara Nostra" (CD) An absolute classic of deep ambience just perfect for this CD re-issue.Somehow sound designer, Al Margolis (and label honcho) builds up layers and layers of manipulated clarinet until there are 106.476 of them.Not that you will recognize the sound however.Caverns of dark.
(Pogus Productions,50 Ayr Rd,Chester, NY 10918) email@example.com
KOPECKY "Kopecky" (CD) Springing from a place where progressive instrumental music meets ethnic curiosity, this disc is ambitious and enjoyable.First rate musicianship all over the place here.Great production values too.
(3335 Hamlin St,Racine, WI 53403) firstname.lastname@example.org
PHIL NARO "Ten Year Tour" (CD) Powerful collection of hair metal bands featuring this excellent Canadian rocker/crooner as the frontman.Some amazing songs here including , "Hashimoti" my choice for song of the year.I could not shake this song for weeks.Exquisite production and tip top rock playing.
(1901-141 Davisville Ave, Toronto, Canada M45 1G7) email@example.com
JARBOE "Anhedoniac" (CD) Is self torture your thing? Does groveling before your master suit you?
Not only is the package a wicked X rated creation but the music is quite startling too.Quite literally from a whisper to a scream, this bass heavy,soul itching, flesh rotting disc is painful but rewarding.Time to face your demons.
(PO Box420232, Atlanta, GA 30342-0232) firstname.lastname@example.org
EDWARD ARTEMIEV "Solaris, The Mirror,Stalker" (CD) Beautifully wrought soundtrack and electronic music stylings from this noted Russian composer.One of the originators of electronic music in that land,Mr. Artemiev has a soft touch on this disc and the dreamy soundscapes are just right for dusky moments of solitude.
(ElectroshockBox 183,1/20,Petrovskie linii,Moscow 103051 Russia)
OLI GUZUL "Agents Des Lichts" (CD) Scrumptious electronic works expertly assembled that use delicate timbres and rhythms to dazzle, comfort and delight.
(Edition Neumann,Gruner Hang 26,D-48151 Munster, Germany) email@example.com
LARRY DICKINSON "No More Stormy Weather" (CD) Blues influenced rock music with very fine production and some flashy playing.Fans of ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughan should take note.Journeyman effort here.
(Larry Dickinson) firstname.lastname@example.org
TIM GRAY "Oh, Come Now" (CD) From the goofy cover I thought this would be some Zappa like cutups but lo and behold Tim trots some major, serious work here.Classical sounding, organized compositions wrought on computer I'd say that reveal a real depth of ideas.Evidently done for some Theater productions this CD holds together very well just for listening.Lots of meat,many changes of direction.(Tim Gray) email@example.com
BLACKLIGHT BRAILLLE "Into The World Of The Gods" (CD) This veteran ensemble comes at one from many directions.From all rhythm pieces to rock ballads to the fairy tale poetry of Owen Knight, the musicianship is high, the inspiration timeless, in fact, I always feel part of a different ancient century when I play this.
(Owen Knight,530 Flatt, Cincinnati, OH 45232)
MARK HARRINGTON "Trash Icon"(CD) Social commentator Mr. Harrington plays his rock music fairly straight with references to Neil Young and Tom Verlaine.It's got hooks and good production.A solid effort.
(TEA,250 Holmes Ave,Toronto,Ontario M2N 4N1 Canada) firstname.lastname@example.org
FUNHOUSE "Silver Lining" (CD) Rock, with that poppy dramatic edge I like.Good songs,nice harmonies too.
If I heard this on the "regular" radio I wouldn't be surprised.It would fit in nicely I think.
(101 Burlington St, Toronto, Ontario M8V 3W1 Canada) email@example.com
J MUNDOK "Saturated" (CD) MR. Mundok has many facaes: his dub project JESTERS LONGEVITY (also reviewed here), his solo pop rock work, and this,an all instrumental disc of exquisite sounds well suited for early morning or late night relaxing.Don't misunderstand though: this is not mindless ear candy.The pieces have heart and purpose and are well thought out.I'd have to say we have a major talent here.(PO Box 116,Barnesboro,PA 15714) firstname.lastname@example.org
UZIMA "Mouth Wide Shut" (CD) Peter Gullerud's long time instrumental project is anotther entry into the late night category.He focuses on the quiet side and I've never heard him really go harsh.He stirs up gentle rhythms and guides his synths over the top usually in some modal way.Sometimes the voices of angels appear.
(Flat Broke Records,PO Box 124, Burbank, CA 91503-0124) email@example.com
CULTURE BANDITS "Noise Is For Heroes" (CD) The title is a bit misleading I think because the music is hard charging modern rock with all the appropriate dynamics.This Detriot area quartet uses the big guitar sound and a few hooks to grab the ear.Good stuff live I'd bet.Play loud.
(Static Records, 17215 Mack Ave, Detroit,MI 48224) firstname.lastname@example.org
SPOOKY PIE "Poisonberry" (CD) The cover suggests a Cramps-like Beggars Banquet and the music has a ragged edge with allusions to surf, rave up,and The Go-Gos but more grungey.Good time rock music.
(Boo Records,PO Box 691138, Los Angeles, CA 90069)email@example.com
TOSHI HIRAOKA "Untitled" (CD) Big beat sequencing and galloping synths on this all instrumental CDR.
For me, it has a very German character,like a harder Kraftwerk.
(Hard Disc,3-77-8 Nisshin,Omiya,Saitama, 331-0044 Japan) firstname.lastname@example.org
JO & JOE & FRIENDS "Injams" (CD) Jazzy one take improvs featuring some tasty group and solo work from this Bay Area quintet.The guitar playing is especially nimble and the rhythm section is well programmed and augmented by live interaction.Good mixing and editing keeps these pieces entertaining.
(736 Mountain View Ave#3,Mountain View, CA 94041) email@example.com
WALKING WOUNDED "Artifice" (CD) The title track is particularly engaging to me because of its urgency.The pulsing folk elements mixed with a Pogues-like delivery are attractive and fun.At other moments it is reminiscent of a Bert Jansch album with a full acoustic guitar sound, hand percussion and harmonica in spots.Nothing artificial here. (4 Dunlace Road,London E5 0NE England)
JIM DENLEY "Sonic Hieroglyphs" (CD) Disjointed sound manipulations and wind instruments evoke a different dimension where sound has shape and substance.This is aboriginal future music.Cracked, and better for it.
(PO Box 445, Potts Point 2011,Sydney, Australia) firstname.lastname@example.org
COUNT ZEE "Collection 1994-9" (CD) Fragments, some grand, some small, some noisy team up on this all instrumental CD.Many diverse elements that include both gentle and rough going.Challenging variety.
(Johnno Jonsin) email@example.com
BOB BURNETT "Loops & Lines" (CD) A very novel approach for what could have been just another soft jazz album by Mr Burnett who samples and loops various backings including Stravinsky,Coltrane,John McLaughlin.
Burnett is a very fine and restrained guitarist and uses space in a tatseful way.Neat concept.
(Bob Burnett) firstname.lastname@example.org
UNCLE TOM "Uncle Tom" (CD) Snotty, whiny white boy punky rock that I really go for.Somehow it separates itself from the pack of other whiners with good lyrics and a pushy sound.Some good accents and hooks too.
DUF DAVIS "Shut Up And Detune Your Guitar" (CD), "I Hate People...No Exceptions" (CD) Two different approaches on these discs. The first features weird guitar tunings beaten into oddball songs and instrumentals.Very nice,out of tune sounding pieces.Imagine Harry Partch as a modern day folk singer with a pleasing voice.The other disc runs out on the field with some rocky moments of sarcasm combined with grabby hooks.Going,going,gone.
(Galactic Recording,51 Grover St,Suite 13A, Princeton, NJ 08540) OrangeEntropy@aol.com
MARK SEGAL "Wisdom Of The Ancients" (CD) Extremely tasty guitar featured album with great playing.Picture John Scofield in a groove with Santana.Self recorded jazz/rock/blues feast.Yum.
(PO Box 1362,Santa Monica, CA 90106-1362) email@example.com
ELECTRIC COMPANY AND VAS DEFERENS ORGANIZATION "More Pelvis Wick For The Baloney Boners" (CD) A the end of the year I received some magnificient CDs from the Tekito label each highly diverse and full of creative ideas.On this one two different studio "bands" combine to whack out some weird shit,funked up rhythms,noisey wah wahs,montage effects and Residents-like vocals.Very entertaining ride.
(Tekito, PMB#432,828 Royal St,New Orleans,LA 70116) firstname.lastname@example.org
VAS DEFERENS ORGANIZATION "Drug Bubbles" (CD) An instrumental tumble leaning in the prgressive direction I suppose although it is a turbulent ride.So many sounds-sometimes like Halloween in Hell and sometimes a strange hidden basement club where anything goes.
(Tekito, PMB#432,828 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116) email@example.com
MATT FRANTZ "Red Rum Trance" (CD), "Liars Paradise" (CD), "Graphic Verses" (CD) Actually Matt does not attribute his work to his own name but to the individual projects.Each is quite varied and different from the others.One disc has guitar improvs and sound effects,the next a chaotic bag of confusing voices and layers,and the last is a strange struggle of self exorcisms.If Trent Reznor had a non commercial side project it might sound like this.Non compromising, unique collages of texture and sound.
(Independent Opposition,PO Box 31248, Cincinnati,OH 45231) firstname.lastname@example.org
EHI "Small Object In Eye" (CD) Master noise maker and sound collager, Brian Noring throws his instruments in a blender, turns it up high, spreads it out on the table for us to look at.It's a foreign collection for the palette.The taste of conctete and wires and big ole chunks of ruin.
(FDR Tapes, 1258 E. 25th St, Des Moines IA 50317-2619)
~STICKLER "All About The Washingtons" (CD) Russ Stedman's punk trio mashes it up in his always fun style.More Husker Du-isms for sure: the short songs,the slidechord hammer guitar, the innsistent vocals.
Loud is better for this day time album.Good to get things done by.
(Hell-Bent For Lather, PO Box 89224,Sioux Falls, SD 57109 email@example.com
KEN CLINGER "KCM .20/Elizabeth Appears" (CD), "KC .48/49"(CD), "Faucet Dream" (CD). Mr. Clinger's personal vision includes the following: sweet keyboard melodies,classical counterpoint,ambience and collaboration.Each of these visions are secured by his inimitable grace and style and amazing consistency.
There is only one distinctive and slightly eccentric Ken Clinger.Know him.
(Bovine Productions,311 STratford Ave #2,Pittsburgh, PA 15232-1108) firstname.lastname@example.org
MICHAEL J HEX "The Hiss Explosion" (CD) Guitar jamming with a radio playing in the background, sounds appear and disappear, weirdness ensues, the guitar strums, feedback happens.Drums and noise.Nutty Kiwis.
(Noseflute Records,18 Peterborough St, Christchurch, New Zealand) email@example.com
AUTUMN "Taciturn Tales" (CD) Gothic rainy day keyboard drizzlings with a dramatic flair.Definite forms take shape, timpani rolls,the orchestra swells, the rain stops...then begins again.
(Kronprinzenstr.106, 40217 Dussledorf, Germany) firstname.lastname@example.org
KITCHEN CYNICS "Come Little Memory"(CD) Scottish home taper Alan Davidson keeps calm, picks his guitar nicely,his keyboard is sparing, his voice pleasant and lilting.A delightful album with many songs.Quite a value.
(346 Holburn St,Aberdeen AB10 7GX Scotland)
ARNOLD MATHES "Endless Flights" (CD) Armed with an arsenal of electronic devices Mr Mathes protects and serves proudly by revving up the synths and rhythm boxes, gurgling, wheezing and chugging as he goes.
(Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave, Bayside, NY 11360) email@example.com
FLETCHER/ZZAJ ".Calm" (CD) Freeform keyboard based improvs usually with some tonal center and some concurrent bluesy kind of jamming.Occasional vocals pop up but it is mainly instrumental spaciness.
(Zzaj productions,5308 65th Ave,Lacey, WA 98513) firstname.lastname@example.org
BLUE HOUSE "Almost 10" (CD) Bay Area folk rock trio featuring the alluring vocals of Amy Beasley and Marlies De Veer.Poppish songwriting teamed with well thought arrangements and excellent harmonies.Non confrontational and mainstream but done with a nice flair.Good tunes.
(178 Ciro Ave, San Jose, CA 95128) email@example.com
ZAKAS "Shunk Daddy Grind" (CD) Unusual mix of rock, ethnic sounds and percussion distinguish this CD.Rappish type vocals here and there, hard rock moments, cling clang vibrations.Variety would be the word.
(McC Music,3830 Flamingo Rd C-1#173,Las Vegas,NV 89121) firstname.lastname@example.org
MARY OTT "From My Room" (CD) Singer/songwriter material that might fit well on "New Country" stations, Ms Otts hearty voice is strong and in good form here.The backing musicians do an admirable job too.Think Joni
with a country twist.(PO Box 1362, Santa Monica, CA 90406-1362) email@example.com
"Pop Goes The World" (CD) 24 bands of pop oriented stuff fairly well done.A bit XTC here,a little college rock there.My fave is the track by the Japanese band, ZETTAIMU.It's a smooth mid tempo rock number with mellow harmonies.(RPM Records, c/o Greg Colburn,PO Box 10216,Baltimore,MD 21234) firstname.lastname@example.org
POL SILENTBLOCK "Ou Est Ma Gomme?" (CD) This is an excellent Pink Floyd tribute album with some nice tracks from Trespassers W, Human Flesh and Pol himself doing "Another Brick In The Wall".Of course it is spacey,the lyric sheet is printed backwards and the whole thing is freaking me out.Help! my face is melting.
(BP 54,B-6820 Florenville,Belgium)
"Anonmalous Silencer 3" (CD) Noise and chaos from worldwide terrorists like Daniele Brusachetto,Outermost,Reynols,Napalmed and many others.Now clean up the corpses.
(Radek Kopel,Lipova 1123,434 01,Most, Czech Republic) email@example.com
"??? Pinata"(CD) A truly bizarre lineup but is it really a comp or just one person masquerading? Who knows and who cares you say.When the going is this weird, does it matter? Yeah, it is noisy and fucked up.Lunacy loyalty test.
(Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave, Bayside, NY 11360) firstname.lastname@example.org
"Blind Herd Of Sheep" (CD) Diverse comp from Berkeley High School and the results are pretty startling.Mandatory punk, rap and even a teacher singing a folk song with banjo.Why couldn't I have gone to a school like this?Cool guys.You all pass.
(El Sabado Records) email@example.com
"Electroshock Volume 4:Archive Tapes Synthesizer ANS"(CD) A fascinating and historical look at the first (probably) Russian synth recordings.The tracks themselves are amazing in their insight and timelessness.This is big time serious electronic music by men AND women.A fabulous document,extremely valuable.
(Electroshock Records,Box 183,1/20, Petrovskie Linii,Moscow 103051)
"Unsound Series Volume 1:Pop" (CD) 24 tracks assembled by Gary Pig Gold and Shane Faubert who have a real taste for that good old pop sound.Hear The Beatles,XTC and remnants many other pop masters as filtered through the current day stylings of home tapers like Lane Steinberg,Ed James,Ray Carmen,Rick Harper and of course Messers Mr Gold and Faubert.(565 First St #5,Hoboken, NJ 07030-6544) firstname.lastname@example.org
"Unsound Series Volume 2:Guitars" (CD) The second CD in this series is even better than the first.Very cool songs from Kurt Reil,Randell Kirsch (an amazing Beach Boys-like track), Cranbury Sauce and even 60s icon Ian Whitcomb.Dee-lightful.(565 First St #5,Hoboken, NJ 07030-6544) email@example.com
OK-enough already.These are only a few of my favorites from 1999.Thanks to everyone for submitting all this great music for my radio show, "No Pigeonholes".Keep on sending it in.I accept all styles.Sorry if I didn't mention your band or project.I just ran out of time and energy.
(Don Campau,PO Box 9162, Santa Rosa, CA 95405) firstname.lastname@example.org
More film reviews by Joshua...
Movies reviewed: Planet of the Apes, Logan's Run, The Kingdom II and Vatel. Enjoy.
Planet of the Apes (1968, USA) 3-2 Astoria w/ Robert Schrader
A few days ago I became a member of the dvd owners world with the purchase of a player. I hooked it up to the stereo and rented the widescreen version of this sci'fi classic as the first dvd to hit my machine. I'm very excited about the new Apes movie this summer and that director Tim Burton is helming it. So excited I wanted to re-watch the first, and by far the best, of the Ape movies. The Planet of the Apes has a few dated moments that are unintentionally funny but I don't care, that only adds to the charm and appeal for me. I love the idea of the film: a world run by apes, where humans are the animals who reside in zoos or live in the wild, trying to avoid capture. The idea is so engrossing to me that I can ignore the dated moments or the overacting by Charlton Heston ("Get your stinkin' paws off me you damn dirty ape!" came very close to ending up on my answering machine). Set late in the 38th century, Heston plays Taylor, one of 3 astronauts who crash onto an unknown planet. They begin to look for other forms of life and when they find it, aren't they surprised as all get out as a bunch of apes ride up on horses carrying and shooting off rifles in their direction? Yes, Taylor gets a confused, stunned, what the hell is goin' on look on his face when the apes start to speak to one another. This is a real classic of the period when science fiction meant ideas, unlike to-day, where effects are at the forefront of any sci'fi movie. This movie can mean a lot of things and makes statements on evolution, race relations, science and the role of man/ape, oppression and class, or it can just be an entertaining yarn about apes controlling man in the future. Co-scripted by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling, it has his earmarks all over it and full of his paranoid vision from the get-go. The dvd had all the trailers from future ape films and boy do they get cheesy, so unworthy of following this first film. Rob compared it kind of to the Rocky movies. The first Rocky was great and serious but the others were laughably bad. I have a very fond memory from my youth connected to these ape films. I was 11 or 12 and sick, home from school. At around 10 in the morning the tv began an all day ape festival with all the films from the series. I lost myself for the next dozen or so hours in a haze combining my illness and the ape universe. I so loved these films that day I was happy to be ill. The sequels don't look good at all but this first one is good and worth seeing, whether ill or perfectly healthy. Let's hope Burton and co. can deliver another good one with Helena Bonham Carter in an ape suit and Heston making a cameo as an ape! I can hardly wait. Joshua: 4 Robert: 4
Logan's Run (1976, USA) 3-4 Astoria
Another sci'fi tale from my youth that finds its way to the dvd player in a lovely widescreen depiction of the 23rd century. Logan's Run freaked me out when I saw it as a kid and was an early foray for me into the fantastical world of science fiction. I've seen it a few times but not since I was in my teens. It's kind of hard to separate this from my youth and watching it with impartial eyes but I tried. I still really like the first 45 minutes or so of this as a utopianesqe pleasure world is created and inhabited by those 30 and under and all beautiful. When a person turns 30, their time is up and the chrystal installed in their palms begins to blink. You turn yourself in or become a runner. Runners are chased down by men known as Sandman who look at it as if sport, to hunt a runner down and kill them. Michael York plays Logan 5, a sandman who begins to see his world in new light after he meets Jessica 6. They begin to go on a run that leads them outside this world in a bubble. THe last part of Logan's Run becomes silly and drags itself down, but as I said, the first of it does a good job of trying to create a future city. Does it without all the computers that are used nowadays, lots of miniature work and other tricks. It may not look as real but there is something very appealling about this kind of sci'fi effect and period to me, a path to my childhood I suppose. I wish the second half of this was good but it's still an enjoyable, sort of dated, moment from my youth and was a chief introduction to the world of science fiction and the myriad of ideas it spawned in me as a dreamy kid. Joshua: 3.5
The Kingdom II (1997, Denmark) 3-5 Astoria
I've had this Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Breaking the Waves) film hidden away on tape, hoping to find someone who had seen the first but finally couldn't wait any longer and watched it alone. The Kingdom (1994) is one of my favorite films of all time as it is over 4 hours of genre bending Danish tv madness blown into epic proportions. Kingdom II just isn't as exhilerating, weird or funny as the first unfortunately. It feels a little forced and relies too much on comedy. Plus, The Kingdom was genuinely creepy and eery while part 2 relies on more gross horror rather than the effectively done ghost horror of the first. Von Trier is planning 4 more hours of the Kingdom sometime in the future as this is a big hit in Denmark. It has the washed out, brownish, video to film to video to film look that is common to a von Trier film that might off put some. Also utilizes his fondness for the old hand held camera. I don't even want to go into the plot of the Kingdom II but it is a combination of genres: hospital drama, macabre comedy, vulgar horror, mystery w/ psychic overtones, it's got a little bit of everything in it but it just isn't as fresh, funny and twisted as the first. I watched part one on two separate occassions in Seattle with a full audience which certainly affected my enjoyment. Alone in an apartment is no comparison. Ernst-Hugo Jaregard as the displaced Swede in a world of Danes is still highly enjoyable. I could watch Jaregard for hours and never tire of him. The Kingdom II is entertaining but is no where near the madcap and twisted genius of the first Kingdom. Joshua: 3.5
Vatel (2000, France) 3-6 NY w/ Molly
Another Miramax screening, I like these free screenings! The star of Vatel is without a doubt the production design. Jean Rabasse is the man who deserves the praise because it's his work that gives the chief reason to see this dry, uninvolving and underwhelming movie. Vatel is one of these fake foreign films that Miramax is often connected to (I don't want to rip on Miramax 'cause I'm at their screening after all!). You know, set in France or Italy, yet peppered with American or English actors using a variety of accents. French icon Gerard Depardieu plays master steward Vatel, whose duty it is to please visiting King Louis XIV (Julian Sands) to get his province out of debt. Vatel is a saint of a man and goes around working like a dog without sleep, organizing obscenely opulent feasts and splendor to please the king. The details in Vatel (the movie, not the man) are amazing, from the endless parade of food, to the gowns and beautiful, ornate 17th century clothes, Vatel (again, the movie) seems more concentrated on these small and large recreations rather than the story itself and therefore the film itself suffers and isn't the greatest. Uma Thurman, in corset and heaving bosom mode, takes a liking to Vatel (the man) while also being pursued by the kind and one of his slimy sidekicks (played by Tim Roth). Everything in the movie is disposable to the king and she's no different. I never bought into the romantic triange as it is pretty thinly set up and fleshed out. The betrayals are underplayed and poorly constructed and not all that painful or moving to witness. I just think this lacked heart beneath the sheen of all the extravagance and spectacle. Period eye candy and nothing more. Maybe that was the intention? Joshua: 3 Molly: 4
Chunhyang (2000, South Korea) 1-18 NY,NY
Chunhyang is director Im Kwon Taek's romantic epic of young lovers set in rural Korea in some unnamed period of history. Lavishly photographed, the colors are so bright and vivid they almost glow on the screen. In fact, things are shot so beautiful that it lends an air of artificial splendor to the film. The way Chunhyang was told was really different than anything I've seen before because Im Kwon Taek uses a pansori narrator to describe what's happening. Pansori sounds like nothing I've heard before as it is a combination of singing, hollering, shouting out poetic phrases and preaching, all swirling into this frenzy as we see the pansori's tale come to life. He tells it on a modern stage somewhere in Korea and we get cuts from the story and the stage throughout the film. Cho Sang Hyun is the pansori narrator, and what makes this so unique is the fact it isn't used every now and then to update events, but is used almost through the entire film. The pansori is heard over dialogue, is heard saying the same thing as characters only his cries are more full of woe and pain. The story is of a nobleman's son who falls in love with a courtesan's daughter and the length they go to to stay together and the story is not the most original of ideas, but fused together with the sumptious photography and the otherworldly sounds of the pansori narrator, these things create a romantic film with heartache and sweet little joys with an erotic touch. Joshua: 4
State and Main (2000, USA) 1-22 NY w/ Molly Torsen
David Mamet's latest film is a charming, humorous send up of Hollywood mores as a film crew descends on a sleepy, quiet Vermont town to shoot a movie. Mamet's background is as a playwrite, and as with his other films, the background is really evident in State and Main. Lots of witty barbs directed at each other that occupy the bulk of the humor. The film could easily exist on the stage. There are no large belly laughs or guffaws but there are a plentitude of chuckles and smile enducing moments throughout the film. Although, I wish the satiric aspects would have been even more biting. The large ensemble cast includes Mamet regular William H. Macy as the director, plus Alec Baldwin is a movie star who likes teenage girls, Sarah Jessica Parker is the vapid actress who doesn't want to bare her breasts despite signing a contract to do so, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the screenwriter working on his 1st movie who dreams of returning to the purity of the theatre, and so on and so on. I absolutely loved seeing Hoffman in such a different role for him. He's playing the romantic lead in State and Main and comes off as a sweet, lovable guy. I enjoyed the literate wittiness of State and Main, the Hollywood vs. locals aspect and Hoffman playing against type. Joshua: 4 Molly Torsen: 4
Liberty Heights (1999, USA) 1-29 Astoria, NY
Liberty Heights is writer/director Barry Levinson's fourth film in his personal, more autobiographical, intimate Baltimore films (the previous three: Diner, Tin Men and Avalon--all recommended). I much prefer these kinds of films from him as they all are kind of bittersweet character studies set in the '50s. Liberty Heights is no different as it is set around a trio of stories based in a Jewish family in the fall of 1954. Two of the three storylines were strong but one was not and I kept wanting that part of the movie to just go away and return to what I was interested in. This is especially the case near the end when Van (Adrian Brody) and the WASPy soman he has a thing for steps to the forefront of the film. This story really bogged down Liberty Heights and it should have been lessoned as it was by far the least interesting. My favorite part of the film was the coming of age, illicit, sweet in the heart romance between Ben (Ben Foster) and Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson). He's white, she's black, yet they connect in '54 Baltimore. Their courtship is innocent, based around talking, music and comedy records (I believe I heard a snippet of the late, great Redd Foxx making a joke how he never had time for college because college didn't teach you how to win a brick fight, ha!). I would have liked Liberty Heights even more had this been the main focus of the movie. The third story had to do with the father's (Joe Montegna) troubles running his numbers operation and burlesque show. One of his co-horts was a silver haired guy who I couldn't place til I realized it was Richard Kline, better known as hairy chested and swingin' neighbor Larry on the tv sitcom Three's Company. First time I've seen Kline in anything in about 16 years. Boy, I would have liked Liberty Heights a lot more had it focused only on the coming of age romance and the small time numbers running. But I did like those parts of the film and the ideas of race and religion that weave itself throughout the movie enough to recommend it and give it a fairly decent score. Joshua: 3.5
Reviews by Joshua of Kinetoscope
Blood in the Face (1991, USA) 2-12 Astoria
I was in Pittsburgh for a week in 1991 and they were having some kind of film festival. I had to choose between Blood in the Face or Jane Campion's Angel at My Table. I chose Angel and loved it. Ten years later I see Blood in the Face and find out I made the right decision. Blood in the Face isn't bad but it just doesn't blow me away. Maybe it's because I've seen a lot of films about nazis or white supremicists and don't find it as all-out frightening as some might (I find them scary but I'm familiar w/ their twisted views). I'm interested in sub-cultures of all stripes and the one involving the Ku Klux Klan and other like minded groups happens to be a subculture I find fascinating. I've seen a lot of documentaries and read about these types for years. The same old hate mongers spew their rhetoric about who is polluted, who is pure and who will be killed in the upcoming race war. Interestingly, one of the people doing the interviewing is one of my favorite leftist rabble rousers, Michael Moore. A good deal of these people are so serious and devout in their beliefs that they seem sternly silly. If you haven't seen much about these kinds of people and are curious, check out this low budget doc that gives a brief overview of hate groups. The title refers to how to tell if you are a true aryan. Either have someone slap you on the cheek or slap yourself and look in a mirror, if you get a blush of blood, or blood in the face, you have more of a possibility of being "pure" and therefore less in danger when the race war comes and these people decide to start killing. Joshua: 3.5
Manhunter (1986, USA) 2-17 Astoria-AMMI
I'm back at the American Museum of Moving Image for a double feature. A strange pairing of films it is (My Man Godfrey is next) as the critic Owen Gleiberman (from Entertainment Weekly) chose this thriller from director Michael Mann. This is the 3rd film I've seen at this NY critic fest and the previous critics, A.O. Scott and Andrew Sarris, were brief, informative and entertaining but this critic would not shut up! He stood up there over pontificating and heaping undue praise on this '80s thriller---the greatest thriller since Psycho he proclaimed, one of the best films of the past 20 years. Every one around me was muttering how we just wanted him to shut his trap and get on with it. How lucky can you be to be a film critic at a magazine like EW. Their reviews aren't exactly long, probing or full of theory. I do these in a few minutes, without revision and off the cuff for the fun of it, but allowed to take hours and even days like that doofus Gleiberman? I think I could handle it based on what I've read of his and heard today. The man is positively insane if he thinks Manhunter is one of the best films made since the '70s. Is it entertaining? Sure. Is it worth watching? Sure. Is it an all time great? Not hardly. Manhunter is based on Thomas Harris' first novel Red Dragon. The character of Dr. Hannibal Lector first makes an appearance in Manhunter and Brian Cox does a good job creating the character that Jonathan Demme and Anthony Hopkins would borrow from a few years later in Silence of the Lambs (speaking of which, has anyone seen Hannibal? I've not heard good things and doubt I'll see it). Similar to Silence, Manhunter has a character seek out Lector to help get into the mind of a serial killer (played by the creepy Tom Noonan). The FBI agent is played by William Peterson and he gets a little hammy and melodramatic at times when he talks to the killer like he's in the room with him. Dennis Farina and a youngish Joan Allen also are in the film. Plus, when Chris Elliot makes an appearance, a soft ripple surged through the audience. Mann cut his teeth on Miami Vice and at times Manhunter has too much of that feel (o yeah, during Gleiberman's lengthy fawning session, that tv show was also highly praised by him, which I don't agree with either) and is sort of dated. The music especially puts the film in an '80s lock box and is used way too much in the forefront of the action. Another hinderance is sloppy editing a few times with scenes abruptly fading out or ending when they felt like they shouldn't or should have earlier. Mann just doesn't seem as sure or as confident as he would in later films (The Insider, Heat, Last of the Mohicans). Worth seeing for people interested in the origins of Lector or fans of the thriller/serial killer genre but one of the great American films as Gleiberman claims? The answer is a definate no. Joshua: 3
My Man Godfrey (1936, USA) 2-17 Astoria-AMMI
Carole Lombard and William Powell star in this screwball comedy that was chosen by the critic Leah Rozen from People Magazine (another cush critic job!). Luckily, Rozen kept her comments short and got off the stage, unlike that windbag Gleiberman (I so love getting a good rip on a "real" critic! Can you tell?) My Man Godfrey is thought of as a classic of the screwball genre of the 1930s but I am a little disappointed by it. Chief complaint is that there is absolutely no chemistry between Lombard and Powell--zero. Also, the overbearing and shrill voiced mother has way too much screen time and is quite annoying well before she ought to be. My Man Godfrey was comical but it lacked the romantic spark of other screwball comedies from the same era that I love (It Happened One Night for example w/ Clark Gable and one of my favorites, Claudette Colbert). The lack of chemistry hampered the film as it evolves but it just seems a tad dated. I could see why Lombard's character would be in love with Powell's butler but I can't imagine what he would see in her pretty, but very ditzy, socialite. The plot is pure romantic comedy: Powell is Godfrey, poor, a "forgotten man" living next to a dump in a rickety shack. Lombard plays Irene, she and her snobby sister are on a scavenger hunt for blue bloods who are unaware a depression is going on. Irene hires Godfrey to be the family butler and he proves to have more class and dignity than the entire family combined. Some physical bits of business, a slight look at the plight of the downtrodden (not a serious one of course), but I didn't find this anywhere near the level of Rozen and other critics. Joshua: 3
Afterlife (1998, Japan) 2-18 Astoria
This Japanese film takes a look at what might happen after we die and it has a simple, understated power to it that I enjoyed. Afterlife's premise: you die, you then show up at this drab, bare building to meet these counselor types, they talk you through the procedure of how you have 3 days to choose your favorite memory, they then try to recreate it on film (why? who knows), you watch it and are transported to a place to have this single memory for an eternity. The bulk of Afterlife consists of dead people combing their memories outloud as they try to find a single one that is good enough to last forever. We also get glimpses of the workers who are basically beaurocrats for the dead. You'd think that whoever is in charge of overseeing this first stop after death (God, maybe?) would have nicer digs. This building is sort of old with peeling paint from the walls and just sort of soulless and cold. The film has an interesting idea in the choosing of a single memory that will last forever. If I were given the same option, what one moment from my life would I pick? I have no idea. I've thought about off and on since I've seen Afterlife and it's kind of a nice after effect of the movie. I'd like to spend 3 days thinking it over and watching the best moments on videos culled from each of our lives. Afterlife is quiet, contemplative and simple and has a haunting power that I liked. Joshua: 4
Next time: The Heroic Trio (1992, Hong Kong), Pollock (2000, USA) plus more as always....
Movies reviewed: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), My Night at Maud's (1969), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000, USA) 2-4 NY
Finally getting around to seeing the latest Coen brother film. The title of this is taken from a great old screwball road comedy from Preston Sturges. In Sullivan's Travels Joel McRea plays a director who wants to shoot a film called O Brother, Where Art Thou? 59 years later, the Coens have shot a movie using at least that title and what a major disappointment it is to me. Considering the talent involved and the track record of the Coens, a movie this erratic, spotty and infrequently delivering can only be judged as a failure. This isn't some braindead film for the teenage male, this is the Coen brothers and for them I have higher standards than for lesser filmmakers. There are funny moments in O Brother but it is never as humorous as it could have been. George Clooney, John Turturro and Okie Tim Blake Nelson play 3 escaped convicts on the lam with madcap adventure in Mississippi that is supposedly drawn from Homer's The Odyssey. Talking to a friend yesterday (hello Scott) as he railed against Clooney's performance and while I agree somewhat that Clooney isn't the greatest of actors, I don't blame Clooney for the forced gags and overblown dialogue that was written for him. I just can't believe a man from rural Mississippi is going to talk and act the way he does. What really surprised me was how so many of the jokes just fall absolutely flat. You just don't expect such a thing from the Coens. The entire film is doomed by a thinness throughout. The best thing about O Brother is its old timey circa '37 soundtrack that uses bluegrass, old school gospel hymns and country and western--the kind with the sweetest harmony singing. The Cox Family, The Whites, Allison Krauss, Gillian Welch among others make appearances. This is a bit of a downer for a fan like me to write but I expect much more from the Coens other than half baked, forced and sadly not all that funny or interesting films like O Brother, Where Art Thou? Joshua: 2.5
My Night at Maud's (1969, France) 2-10 NY
The Film Forum is having an Eric Rohmer retrospective over the next month and they're using all new 35mm prints, so, New York not only has an incredible amount of new films to choose from, they also have old ones to tantalize me. I'm in the mecca for a film geek! Tomorrow I'm seeing Shop Around the Corner on the big screen at the American Museum of Moving Image. My Night at Maud's has a slow creep of a beginning as the first 5 minutes are in a church watching mass. The first 15 minutes or so I was enduring when all of a sudden, whammo!, I was enthralled with some of the on screen happenings. If you have never seen a Rohmer film, let me give you a hint: lots of intellectuals pontificating about life, philosophy and their own particular bents about EVERYTHING. If you need action, violence, sex scenes or explosions, avoid the world of France's most French of directors. Rohmer was one of the older members of the French New Wave and his films are always awash in dialogue. It's incredible the way the characters talk to each other compared to the fare in America. Serious discussions ensue after a man sees an attractive young woman at mass, he runs into a friend he hasn't seen in a while and goes w/ him over to Maud's apartment for supper, where they spend the night talking. That's pretty much the movie in a nutshell. Action packed? Yes. With words and ideas. Lovely black and white photography as well. Once this terrific movie kicks in it really seeps into your system. Joshua: 4
Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan (1982, USA) 2-10 astoria
As you can see by the last two films and how vastly they differ, I'm no film snob! Earlier today I go into Manhattan to see cinema in an intellecual vein and then I return to my apartment to watch me a little Star Trek! I'm an admitted lifelong trekie (there's no shame in it!) and like a lot of people, my two favorite films in the Star Trek series are parts 2 and 3. It's been at least a decade since I've seen Wrath of Khan and it still warms the cockles of my Federation lovin' heart. Ricardo Mantalbon is back as the genetic superhuman Khan and he wants revenge on Kirk, who sent him into exile on a great episode of the original tv series. The one time Fantasy Island actor is wonderful as a villain. He hams it up in his beefed up rubber muscles suit in very entertaining ways. There are bits of humor, action and suspense as Admiral Kirk returns to the spot he loves: the helm of the Enterprise. Khan wants to get his hands on the Genesis Project to start again on a newly invigorated planet but he wants to kill Kirk even more. Revenge is a disease in Khan's mind and he can't control it until he either kills Kirk or dies trying, it's good stuff people. I'm a Spock man and would have liked to see more of the genius Vulcan and much less of the always annoying Kirstie Alley (who was seriously miscast as a Vulcan--she doesn't deserve to step on board the Enterprise!). Will try and see Star Trek III: The Search for Spock soon to compare the two. Don't even try to tell me this isn't good. Joshua: 4
The Shop Around the Corner (1940, USA) w/ Molly
Returned to the American Museum of Moving Image to watch this classic romantic comedy from director Ernst Lubitsch. I'd seen this before a few years ago and thought it wonderful but I didn't remember it as being so funny and so great. Something about being in a full theatre that turns the flickering light from the projector into magic. Lots and lots of terrific one liners from the entire excellent cast. Very smart, rapid dialogue, perfect timing from the cast, this is the highest quality. Jimmy Stewart (young and skinny) plays a salesman in a small shop in Budapest. He's got a pen pal who he's fond of and spends time at work battling with a co-worker played by Margaret Sullavan. The two have a spark and it is captured by Lubitsch and co. on the screen. This was a part of the NY Critics Circle film fest and the critic Andrew Sarris introduced the film with rambling, entertaining stories. He ravaged the crap film You've Got Mail (it was based on this) which i approve of and was won over by. The Shop Around the Corner reeks of class like a good deal of old Hollywood films do. This is romantic, warm hearted, funny, worthy of the term "classic" and one of my favorite old movies of all time. Behold a rare thing: double fives! Joshua:5! Molly: 5!
Here are two quick book reviews/blurbs from books I read in early January. This is turning into a review site more and more.
The Genocides (1964) Thomas M. Disch
This book from the '60s is a sci-fi ish tale about an earth overrun by alien plant life. The plants are so all consuming they have destroyed the cities, most farmland and have killed off the bulk of the population. There are bands of marauders and at least one small group of survivors who battle the Plants in Minnesota. Led by the very stern Anderson, they scratch out a meager existence of survival in harsh conditions. Horrible things happen to them and they are forced to push their will to live up a notch or two. I'm a fan of this kind of end of the world fiction and eat up books involving some kind of catastrophic situation, usually atomic related but here it's alien plant that are the culprit for our doom! The Genecides is written in sparse, terse language with a distinct quasi-biblical feel to it. Biblical imagery and language is definately a strong aspect to the story and style in which it is written. The Genocides is short but is pretty intense and is kind of a downer but if you are like me and into such things, it is worth checking out.
The Great Gatsby (1925) F. Scott Fitzgerald
Never read this American literature classic and finally got the chance. Short book with elegant, timeless, streamlined prose that tells the story of a small group who live priviledged lives in New York. The novel really exposes the characters as vacuous and hollow, living in a stunted, bubbled existence because of their wealth. The book is also an indictment of the happy go lucky roaring '20s as none of the characters are accountable to their thoughts and actions. The Great Gatsby has a strong current of bleakness and hopelessness to it that is magnified by the spare, dry prose. Every character is so aloof that it's hard to like or get behind them but yet it is interesting to see the story unfold, plus the writing is really good.
Next time: Blood in the Face (1991), Manhunter (1986), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Afterlife (1998)
In the Mood for Love (2000, Hong Kong) 2-3 NY-angelika
Hong Kong's bad boy auteur Wong Kar-Wai brings the world a beautiful, sometimes frustrating, work of longing that has a real intimacy to it, which is odd, because the two romantic leads in it are rarely shown being intimate with one another. Set in Hong Kong 1962, cramped living quarters lead to an affair between Chow (Tony Leung) and Chan's (Maggie Cheung) spouses. This affair, by two people we never directly see, lead Chow and Chan directly into contact with each other. The two obviously have feelings for one another but the film suppresses them and doesn't show them ever surrendering to their desires. No, this film isn't about sex as much as it is the ache of wanting that is the key to In the Mood for Love. Their love is completely unattainable with an intimate distance separating the two of them throughout. For those who haven't seen a Wong Kar-Wai film before, forget about storyline because if you don't you will find the film meandering. Just absorb the mood and atmospherics of '60s Hong Kong. Sink into the hyper visuals where rain is filmed against stone in gorgeous tones and neon is electric with color. The way Wong Kar-Wai films Cheung going to and from a take out noodle stand over and over in slow motion, with music pulsing, her hips swaying in time, is practically devilish. I never knew going for take out noodles could be such an eroticized moment in life but that's the way Wong films it. The lush photography, as always, is one of the key highlights of a Wong Kar-Wai film. Maggie Cheung is stunning in all these incredible period dresses and comes off as the luminous, radiant, beautiful star that she is. In the Mood for Love took about 2 years to film and Leung and Cheung didn't really know much about their characters and it was written on the spot, so it is kind of a surprising to me to find this so focused on its subject matter of love with lines between these two people. News on Wong Kar-Wai: he's working on a project set in Hong Kong in the year 2046 with Faye Wong as star. This excites me to no end as I'll admit I've got the hots for Faye Wong. Something to look for if it ever comes out, who knows with him though, it may turn into something entirely different. In the Mood for Love is not for everyone, I could see some of my friends claiming its boring and that nothing happens, but I became lost in the artsy haze of atmospherics and the ache on film. Joshua: 4
The Filth and The Fury (1999, UK) 2-3 Astoria
Very entertaining documentary from director Julien Temple on the rise and fall of infamous UK punk rock band Sex Pistols. All the famous events are discussed in interviews and archival footage and it is naturally a tad slanted to however the person talking sees events. Both Malcom McLaron and Johnny Lyden (Rotten) maintain different kinds of stories of the events so who is to believe? Both aren't shy when concerning the pumping of their own ego that's for sure. Seeing Malcom's interviews in this fetishistic leather/rubber thing over his face kind of damages his credibility a tad! The best thing about this was the loads of colorful concert footage that was utilized. From the early days to the last gig in San Francisco. Lots of great super 8 stuff. If you've seen this and want more details, check out the mammoth book England's Dreaming by Jon Savage. It is THE book for UK punk rock and is worth the time and $$ if the subject interests you. Joshua: 4
The Player (1992, USA) 2-3 Astoria
Saw a nice 35mm print of this Robert Altman movie at the American Museum of Moving Image, which is about a 15-20 minute walk from my apartment in Astoria. I love this movie! One of the best films of the '90s and is probably in my all time top twenty. From the brilliant opening shot that lasts at least 8 minutes we are taken into the world of studio exec Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) as he deals with the Hollywood pressure of staying on top in the industry. He is also trying to stay alive as a writer is sending nasty, threatening cards and this leads to a deadly confrontation that thickens the plot so to speak. The Player is part scathing satire of Hollywood and moviemaking morals and part homage to that shared history of movie making itself. Nods to this occur every now and then when the camera will find an old movie poster with lurid ad copy that corresponds to the action on screen. I hadn't seen this in 8 years and didn't realize the amount of humor involved as there are lots of funny insights, jabs and smart, witty dialogue that produce dark laughs and chuckles. Tons of cameos and a large cast that includes Fred Ward, Greta Scacchi, Vincent D'Onofrio, Cynthia Stephenson, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Gallegher, Richard E. Grant and Dean Stockwell. All give fine performances and Robbins gives perhaps his finest moments in front of the camera. One thing about The Player that makes it so enjoyable is that none of it feels forced. Altman and company seamlessly weave the story forward without any misteps. The Player will appeal more to someone who is enough of a film fan to get some of the filmspeak jokes but it should also be appreciated by those who like a comedy/mystery. All I know, from start to finish, The Player is my favorite movie ever set among the Hollywood tableau, especially because of its fearless target practice on Hollywood (a subject matter that needs a few satiric blows now and then). The AMMI had an actual Kinetoscope machine on display. It's not working but at least I got to put my hands onto the wood and place my eye to the veiwhole like they did in the century gone Kinetoscope parlors. What was working was a Mutoscope. I hand cranked a version of A Trip to the Moon and enjoyed every low-tech second of it. Computers be damned! Find this movie! Joshua: 5!
42 Up (1999/2000, UK) 2-4 Astoria
The profound documentary series by British director Michael Apted returns with its latest installment. Here's the idea behind it for those who don't know about it. The Jesuits have a saying that goes something like this: show me the child at 7 and I'll show you the adult. Taking that premise in 1964, Apted interviewed a diverse group of British 7 year olds. Every 7 years the cameras return to see how they've changed. The children are now 42 years old. The complete series is 7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up and now 42 Up. All are recommended. What makes this profound to me is by watching the rapid passing of time in film clips, it really forces into your mind the complete fleeting, shortness of our own lives on earth. How quickly we are children, then teenagers, then adults, then fathers and mothers and then sinking into middle age. As I get older I think about lost time, lost moments, and in seeing these lives, encapsulated into film clips, it really rings home those blunt ideas of what has been lost or misplaced in my own life somewhere behind me. 42 Up is not a downer, it's just a thought provoking film that will cause you to inspect your own life a little. The sad and heartbreaking Neil is the one person I was eagerly waiting to see what had happened to. In 28Up he was living in a powerless, shitty, tiney RV in a remote locale in Scotland. In 35Up he was still rambling philosophical and living like a hermit in the north of England, talking about madness like he knew how it was spelled backwards and forwards. 42Up saves Neil for last and the only thing I'll say so as not to ruin this for the one person out there who I know is concerned about Neil and has seen previous Up films (hi Amy!), Neil is not wandering homeless around London as he feared he might be. THe thing about these Up docs once you've seen one is that they really get into your system. In 7 years I'll be anxiously waiting to see 49 Up and find out what happened to these people. And it makes me think, in 7 years, how will I have changed, what will I have done, where will I have gone, who will I have met, what will I recall about the 7 years that have passed since I saw 42Up, when I was living in New York, dreaming these dreams that may or may not come my way? That's the kind of gift watching 42 Up can give you. This would have scored a 5 too but a couple of the people aren't as interesting as Neil. Joshua: 4.5
Next time: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, My Night at Maud's and Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan. Plus maybe a book blurb or two or three.
Movies reviewed: Me Myself & Irene, Nurse Betty, Bring It On, Teacher's Pet,
Love In the Afternoon.
Me, Myselt and Irene (2000) 9-14 Tulsa @ $1 movie with Shane
Went to the $1movie to watch the Farrelly Brother film starring Jim Carrey
and Renee Zellweger. If you're familier with these guys' brand of crude, over
the top humor, then this film will offer no surprises as it does many of the
same things their previous films (Kingpin, Dumb & Dumber, There's Something
About Mary) have done in terms of sheer audacity. The story in this is weaker
than their most recent film ...Mary, as a character develops split
personality and then gets mixed up in a life and death situation with a
woman. No real story as it is just a weak excuse that leads to the next gag
or outrageous, silly bit of humor. But the question in a film like this is
did I laugh? Yes, I did, plain and simple. Absurd story, no characters or
plot, yet the jokes often hit target despite the feeling I get that the
Farrelly's are really trying too hard to be scandalous with their humor. A
lot of borderline offensive jokes and bits of business but I did laugh and
that's the only way to measure a goofy comedy like this. Not as funny as
Kingpin or Mary but still worth watching for a dose of low brow, gutter
humor. Joshua: 3.5 Shane Davis: 3.5
Nurse Betty (2000) 9-18 Tulsa alone
Nurse Betty is one of the best new American films I've seen this year. I had
high expectations and the film upholds the expectations which doesn't always
occur. Very smart writing, on the ball direction, a capable and terrific
ensemble cast and a story with great depth that combines to make Nurse Betty
a wonderful film. A strange story that has too many ups and downs to detail,
but is mostly about a Kansas housewife (Renee Zellweger) who witnesses her
asshole husband (Aaron Eckhart) getting killed and goes into a fantasy state,
where she lives in the world of her favorite tv soap opera. The two hitmen (
Morgan Freeman & Chris Rock) pursue her across the west with Betty heading
for L.A. where her dreams might come to volition. Nurse Betty is at once a
classic American road movie, with scenes in dimly lit bars on the side of the
road, dingy motel rooms, diners and with plenty of shots of the beautiful
empty western terrain. Yet director Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Your
Friends and Neighbors) pushes the film into into less obvious directions.
Nurse Betty turns into a film about the dreams and fantasies of ordinary
Americans. Each person seems to be playing off the subtext of a dream or
fantasy as they head toward their destiny. Zellweger turns on all her girl
next door charm that gives the ultimate girl next door, Meg Ryan, a run for
her money. Freeman and Rock have a lot of wonderful, quasi
philosophical/comical conversations on the professionalisms of their career.
Greg Kinnear plays the smarmy, grinning soap star and even Crispin Glover
steps from his cult favorite shadows and has a welcome turn as a small town
reporter. Glover is a great American eccentric and it's great to see him in
something once again. Has anyone ever seen Twister? This doesn't have the
vicious biting satire that LaBute's previous films had, although it does have
a little toward the Hollywood tv people in the film, Nurse Betty is mostly
about dreams, splashed with doses of road picture and the like. After all the
atrocious summer films, it is so great getting a good American movie on the
screen! Joshua: 4
Bring It On (2000) 9-18 Tulsa
I did not pay to see this movie! Don't want any Kinetoscope readers to
question my movie going taste, although I did sit through this hideous piece
of crap, which might be just as bad as paying. When I came out of Nurse Betty
I just walked into another theatre and sat down for a free showing of Bring
It On. Those multiplexes are such easy targets, I don't know why I don't just
get lost in their catacombs of tiny theatres more often. Bring It On is
really bad and I probably should have just kept on walking and not been
tempted to stay for a free film, but I did. Bring It On is so bad that it
takes on an entertaining air as we get a bunch of vapid, hardbody teen
cheerleaders who discover their cheers are stolen as they head toward a
national competition in Florida. Kirsten Dunst play the captain who tries to
rally the troops for the cheer showdown at the end. The main reason this is
so bad is it can't figure out if it wants to be a satire, a teen romantic
comedy or a cheerleading drama ala ABC afternoon school movie about the all
important idea of cheer theft. It fails horribly on the first two and the
third--come on, only dimwitted, frozen smiled perk pots care anything at all
about the creative originality of pom poms and phony cheers. This film I
think wants to be a satire but there is never any bite and in the end comes
off as a celebration of everything cheerleading can offer a person and
according to the film, these things are hard work, self respect, self
expression and teamwork are a few of the lessons to be culled from the peppy
enthusiasm of cheering. Can you tell I don't think a lot about this premise
and of cheerleaders in general? Well, I don't, and this film is a pathetic,
high gloss promotion of absurd, shallow people. Joshua: 1.5
Teacher's Pet (1958) 9-19 Pryor Creek
Charming romantic comedy starring Clark Gable as a veteran New York
newspaper- man who is told to speak to a college journalism class. He writes
an insulting letter to the teacher and then when he shows up and sees the
teacher is Doris Day, well, he regrets that letter. He pretends to be a
wallpaperman taking a night class to be around her. You get the jist of it,
mistaken identity comedy and people competing with one another for the
interest of Day make up the bulk of this movie. The only word for me to use
for this was the first one I wrote down: charming. Joshua: 3.5
Love In the Afternoon (1957) 9-19 Pryor Creek
Another old romantic comedy, this one set in Paris and starring Audry Hepburn
and Gary Cooper. Hepburn plays a young cellist who is attracted to a much
older man after seeing him in her father's PI files. Cooper is a wealthy Don
Juan type who flits from city to city and bedding women of all types, whether
they are married or single, blonde or brunette, young or old--well, not too
old! There is no real charisma or chemistry between the two leads and that
hurts this film. Cooper is just too old and Hepburn too young for them to
make a believable pair. But the film is quite charming, as all these old
romantic comedies often are. And, the dialogue is also on the mark crisp.
There is one very funny scene involving a gypsy band, alcohold and Cooper
that had Mom and I laughing very hard. Other than that it was a lot of
chuckles at the cuteness of this film. Hepburn was such a raving beauty
though. Her eyes dark and large with wonderful eyebrows to match. The last
two sentences don't have much to do with the film but something I noticed
anyway. Joshua: 3.5 Lillian: 4
Okay, here comes five more reviews direct from the pages of my movie zine
Kinetoscope. If anyone knows a movie fan/geek who would like to get blind
copies of these reviews, let me know, and I'll add them to the list. Since
Kinetoscope may be dead after this year, I'll do the reviews like this if I
get enough interest in them...let me know how this is to read and such.
Scoring system: 1-5.
Movies reviewed: The Cream Will Rise (1998), Almost Famous (2000), Shower
(1999), A Mongolian Tale (1997), The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970)
The Cream Will Rise (1998) 9-24 Pryor Creek
Documentary on singer Sophie B. Hawkins that follows her on a tour across
America. The film also digs into Hawkins' childhood, where some kind of abuse
took place at the hands of some family member or parent of a friend/s. We see
a lot of interaction between Sophie and her mother, who also comes off as
kind of troubled and messed up. Hawkins had a hit in the early '90s with a
song called "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" but I haven't heard fromher
since. She is still out there, occupying some space on the periphery of fame,
with fans and people willing to make a documentary about her. The most
interesting thing about The Cream Will Rise is the point when Hawkins decides
the movie is only causing all the painful events to bubble to the surface,
she blames the filmmakers for turning her life into a turmoil of memories.
This struggle is vastly more interesting than the rather bland music of
Hawkins, although the two seem to be connected in many ways. Also, I got
tired of the technique of using slow motion and freeze frames from shot to
shot. I bet it was used a hundred times at least. This was okay, but nothing
more than that. Joshua: 3
Almost Famous (2000) 9-25 Tulsa
My second great American film in a week (Nurse Betty was the other). After
the dismal summer of mindless blockbuster fare, it is so good to get to the
fall movie season, when quality takes a rise. I had doubts going in for
Cameron Crowe's latest but this is the best film of his career (Jerry McGuire
, Singles, Say Anything) by a long ways. Almost Famous is about many things:
the spirit of rock n roll circa '73, friendship and all the entanglements of
loyalty and betrayal that are connected to it, family--the one you're born
into and the one you choose and most evident in the film is love. Crowe loves
rock music, he loves the hangers on, the musicians, the crowded tour bus, the
untrusted journalists, the groupies. Almost Famous has this gigantic, open
hearted love affair with everything on the screen and I got right into it
from the very start with the camera hovering above all these tickets and
pictures in a drawer. The joyous pleasure in the way the music is portrayed
hit home for me. I was in the 2nd grade when the spirit of rock n roll
engulfed me and the Beach Boys were to blame with their sunny, Brian Wilson
led harmonies. By the time I hit 6th grade I was lost in the dreamworld of
vinyl and rock magazines. Cheap Trick, Styx, KISS and other '70s/early '80s
rock bands were my obsessions. I'd hang out for hours at Pryor's only record
store--BJ's--and listen to music and finger the rows and rows of beautiful
records while standing on the store's lovely shag carpeting. Kids today, who
only know CD's, no offense, but they have no idea just how captivating and
gorgeous a record can be as it spins round the turntable (this sounds like a
Dead or Alive lyric), while the sleeve is memorized and creased in the hands.
I was the only kid in my grade going to see these rock bands at the Pavilian
and Convention Center in Tulsa. The moment I almost caught Bun E. Carlos'
drumstick while in the 5th grade is still fresh and wonderful in my mind (not
to mention the mad, general admission sprint I made to the second row of the
arena). Bun was the coolest non-cool drummer in the world! The point of this
little side bar is that I have truly loved rock music for almost my entire
life and for once, a movie gets it so right that all my love for the music of
my early childhood comes to the surface. Almost Famous is about a 15 year old
named William (Patrick Fugit) who gets to write an article for Rolling Stone
and hits the road with the up n coming '70s style band Stillwater (not a real
band). After getting sage advice from rock journalist Lester Bangs (played by
the scruffy genius that is Philip Seymour Hoffman), William gets to
experience all the usual sort of rock events, the tension in the band, the
hijinks on the road, the relationship with groupies. But the film does such a
wonderful job of telling the story that it never feels unoriginal at all.
Almost Famous is bolstered by a great cast. Frances McDormand plays William's
overprotective mother. Billy Crudup (Jesus' Son) and Jason Lee play band
members who connect with William in varying degrees. One of the band members
is played by head Red House Painter Mark Kozelek for the music geeks out
there. The band manager is played by the fine young Aussie actor Noah Taylor (
Flirting, Year My Voice Broke, Shine). Taylor should be in more movies! And
Kate Hudson plays Penny Lane, a teenage groupie who prefers the term Band-Aid
and who is the presence at the center of the film. Penny Lane is loved by
both William and the guitarist played by Crudup, but she loves the music, the
songs, the rock n roll. Hudson, who is Goldie Hawn's daughter, just radiates
and glows on the screen the way only a chosen few do. Everything about Almost
Famous is high quality and is an example of why I love cinema and music so
much. These two things aren't just passing interests of mine, I have the
dediacation of 20 some odd years and the memories, emotions and stories to
prove it. Highly recommended.
Shower (1999) 9-27 Tulsa
Absolutely beautiful and moving film from China and director Zhang Yang that
is the best foreign movie I've seen this year. Second viewing for Shower and
it holds up extemely well. If you let it, this simple film can move you and
touch your heart in ways most films only dream of. Shower is a delightful,
bittersweet tale set mainly in a Beijing bathhouse. The oldest son returns
home to find his father and retarded brother much different than he is. They
love their existence in the neighborhood but the son seems awkward with it
and he wants to return to his wife in the city but is drawn to the simple day
to day lives of his family. We meet all the eccentric locals who are regulars
at the bathhouse, my favorite being these two oldtimers who fight crickets
against one another. Lots of non-professional actors among the cast and they
all add to the humor and drama of the film. I saw another Zhang Yang film
while at the Seattle Film Festival, Spicy Love Soup, and it was quite good as
well. I'll say this bluntly: Zhang Yang is an extremely talented and
promising young director. Both of his films I really enjoyed as they are
romantic, clever, funny and touching, just great stories and filmmaking on
display. Shower has a simple innocence to it that I loved and it is also
highly recommended. Mom loved it as well.
Joshua: 4.5 Lillian: 5!
A Mongolian Tale (1997) 9-28 Pryor Creek
Aspects of this Chinese film set in Mongolian grasslands I enjoyed while
there were other things that didn't strike my fancy. The story is set mainly
in a single yurt as an older woman raises a granddaughter and an adopted boy.
The two agree to marry at an early age but when the boy goes away to school,
there is trouble waiting for him on his return a few years later. Some of the
scenery in this is breathtaking but the story gets a little bogged down by
some amateurish acting and a tendency for melodrama too much. Also, on tv,
many dark scenes in the film are virtually impossible to make out what's
happening. Glad I saw this because I love Asian movies but this film never
could break out of itself to become remarkable. Joshua: 3
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) 9-29 Pryor Creek
This is the sixth film I've seen this year from director Vittorio de Sica (
Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D, Miracle In Milan are three of them) and every
single one of them score at least a four. The man can do no wrong in my book
and this film gives further evidence that he is one of the great directors in
film history. His career spans decades, and although mainly rooted in the
realm of Italian Neorealism, his career offers so much more than that as his
films hold up very well to the passing years. The Garden of the
Finzi-Continis is the only de Sica film I've seen in color (maybe his only
one?) and is about a small group of friends in 1938 Italy. Some of them are
Jews, some are not. The Finzi-Continis are Jews but are quite wealthy and
their garden, tennis court and house becomes a place of refuge against the
growing horrors of Hitler and Mussolini. At the heart of the film is the
unrequited love that Giorgio feels for Mical. They were close as children but
as adults Giorgio wants Micalas a lover. De Sica uses this doomed love story
to let the subtext part of the story, the insidious treatment of Jews and
others outside of the Aryan fence during this time. I really felt for
Giorgio! When he yearns for the beautiful Mical, I yearned with him. When she
hurt him, I hurt as well. These are things that make a good movie--an
attachment to the emotions of a character on screen. De Sica uses a lot of
extreme zooms and also utilizes close ups to give the film an intimate feel.
The close ups were of faces but de Sica would also focus on hands, parts of a
face, parts of the large garden or objects next to the people on screen. De
Sica is in complete control of his medium and has made another well crafted
and moving picture that blends art and message. A highly recommended video
rental, plus seek out de Sica's other films and bow down to a master
filmmaker. Joshua: 4.5
Send me your submissions
Tell us about some of your favorites.Come on.
Tom Wilms briefly reviews some European music...
Scratch Pet Land: solo soli iiiii
Scratch Pet Land hasnt chosen the easiest way. Their previous recordings, released on the French label Source, where more or less in the French style. On their new album Solo Soli iiiii they have clearly chosen an other way in dealing with music. <br>
In the bio I found some surprising references going from electroacoustics to free-jazz. No wonder that they left their poppy sound for a more abstract sound.
Scratch Pet Land is situated in a strange in-between area. On the one hand they come from a pop tradition on the other they are dealing with much more serious contemporary music. Witty melodies are mixed with musique concréte kind of things. Experiment in form as in sound. Escargot Couleurs! has a Kreidler kind of melody, the next song abeilles a.s.b.l. has a more electroacoustic feeling. You can make comparisons with Twisted Science, The Aphex Twin and Kreidler as with soundwizard Pierre Schaeffer.
Further you can compare Scratch Pet Land with Khön. Both Belgian projects are interesting for there combination between humor and experiment. Their experiment doesnt lead to pretentious egocentrism. Solo Soli iiiii is a must for each unconventional music lover.
Kris wilms (email@example.com)
RM74 is a project that you can catalogues under the file Expressionistic Abstractism. In the digital compositions of Reto Mäder aka RM74, is a world created with playing with microsounds. These so-called microsounds are comparable with Adrian Moores Hidden Sounds. Sounds are recorded as if it was with a microscope : small sounds are scaled out to big sounds with an own clear texture. Adrian Moore has used the sound of a ballpoint writing on a paper, Reto Mäder used sounds from sources as flirring neons or little digital mistakes.
He uses these sounds to create minimal and repetitive compositions, something between Kit Clayton and Pierre Henry. His scarping sounds are unique but also the strange minimal compositions in which these sounds play the main role are more than interesting.
Kris wilms (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Holon is the collaboration between the Belgian musician Koen Lybaert and Riou Tomita from Japan. Koen Lybaert is already known from his projects Starfish Pool and Starfish Enterprises.
The first song Check and run doesnt sound strange for the Starfish Pool fan: strong and repetitive techscapes. But how further on the CD, how more you hear that Koen Lybaert use more soundscapes than normal. The repetitive breakbeats are left behind to create dark atmospheres. It is strange to see that the collaboration with Riou Tomia brings Koen Lybaert closer to his first project Starfish Enterprises. Blanket is one of the most interesting examples on this album it is a coalition between the soundscapes and the repetitive basses.
Japanorexia is maybe already one of the best releases of the year. The clash of the two musicians result in a variable album.
Kris wilms (email@example.com)
Adrian Moore: Traces
Adrian Moore first came into contact with electroacoustic music in his hometown of Nottingham at a concert given by Denis Smalley. The performance of tape pieces using multiple loudspeakers interested him and his further study under Jonty Harrison at the University of Birmingham offered the opportunity of composing and working with BEAST (Birmingham ElecrtoAcoustic Sound Theatre). He is currently Lecturer in Music at Scheffield Universtiy and he is also a director of Sonic Arts Network, the UK's national organisation for the promotion of creative use of technology in the composition and performance of music.<br>
The works on this disc fall into three categories: those verging towards the abstract (Junky, Dreamarena), those focusing upon re-hearing natural sound-objects (Study in Ink, Foil-Counterfoil) and the 'radiogenic' (Sieve). <br>Junky and Dreamarena, that part that tensions the abstract, is to describe as 'electroacoustic ambient, Junky has simple melodic and harmonic structures, Dreamarena is more abstract. <br>
Adrian Moore: "The works on Traces offer a search for the hidden, both within the piece and within the sound. It is this hidden property in certain sounds that still excites the ear. The microphone offers us the chance to examine these hidden qualities, such as the sound of a marker pen on a whiteboard, the sole sound-source used for study in Ink. An everyday sound that could perhaps be described onomatopoeically by the word "squeak" offers surprising versatility when examined through the microphone, extending even to 'human' characteristics of strength, weakness, enquiry, frivolity, humour and self-parody." Foil-Counterfoil works with different sound sources. Here he has searched also to hidden sounds: he puts the microphone extremely tide to the sound source.
Sieve, is a 'radiogenic' work dealing with natural sounds and the electronic manipulations of these sounds. "In Sieve, a huge amount af sonic data is thrown at the listener, who naturally is asked to make sense of it.
Kris wilms (firstname.lastname@example.org)
VA : Bip Hop Generation v.1
(CD/ Bip Hop, www. Bip-hop.com also a webzine)
The first issue of the Bip-Hop generation compilation is already a must and it is their intention to release an issue once in the tree months! For the next issues they already attracted people as Köhn, Kit Clayton, Onganu, Christoph de Babalon , etc. You probably already noticed it, all gorgeous rare electronics.
Two weeks ago I went to see Masumari live in Antwerp, but he didnt show. A shame, but he made it already up with opening this Compilation, with these very witty songs. Masumari is probably the funkiest artist on this record. After this gentle begins we are already confronted with the most experimental and aggressive song of all, by, maybe surprising, Schneider tm. The next one Massimo is a real surprise for me, his ultra-straight and minimalist and repetitive sounds is really heavenly.
Frans de Waard, famous from, as example, Staalplaat do you really met in every corner of the experimental music scenes. His contribution on Bip Hop is one with Roel Meelkop and peter Duimelinks and shows that he also knows something of repetitive electronic sounds. The French Ultra Milkmaids can you compare with the Chessie sound. Phonem let us hear his very basic drumn bass beats.
By L'entrepot http://users.skynet.be/entrepot
Joshua from Kinetoscope magazine takes a look at the following films:
Remember the Titans,Girl on the Bridge,Sunshine,Outside Providence,Cecil B. Demented,Meet the Parents, Nowhere to Hide (South Korea), Seventeen Years (China), When the Rain Lifts (Japan), Suzhou River (China), Audition (Japan), X-Men, Sweet Revenge, Best In Show ,Dick and Hate.com, Chicken Run, Pay It Forward, Dancer In the Dark, The Legend of Drunken Master
hello again , KINETOSCOPE, the zine, is available
for years '98 and '99 for $1 and $2, let me know if you are interested in
getting a copy. all opinions are mine and strictly mine.
Remember the Titans (2000) 9-29 Tulsa with Shane/Sherrill Davis
Remember the Titans is the kind of movie that will have audiences enraptured
while critics pick it apart. It's just that kind of movie. Remember the
Titans offers a spirited, uplifting, feel incredibly good about yourself
message and ending will say the satisfied viewers. The critics will point out
the mryiad of sports film cliches and predictable storyline that bog the film
down. A happy audience membe might praise the film's ability to combine humor
with serious issues such as race. The critic will respond with thoughts on
how the film's portrayal of race is extremely simplified, polarized between
the good and evil. Who is right? The correct answer may be both are right at
the same time. Remember the Titans is the most blatant form of sports film as
life lesson boosterism since the unmitigated champion of the the underdog,
Rudy, hit the field for one glorious afternoon in Indiana. The film has many
things to impart on those who watch and this isn't always a bad thing, but
the messages become obstacles to the greater success of the film as a whole.
At every turn, Remember the Titans, tries to impart a message, and this
sticking a message onto all scenes hurts the film most in my eyes. I prefer
something less blatant and more grey and undecipherable. I admit to being a
cynical person, I don't know, the rest of the packed theatre left feeling
good about life, while I, thinking like the film geek critic I am, just
wanted to pick this movie apart in all the ways it gets it wrong. Well, I'm
not going to do that. I'll praise the film for trying to say that different
races can unify in brotherhood and friendship with common bonds, effort and
honesty toward one another. I like seeing such an optimistic outlook on race
in divisive culture we currently live in. I like seeing the good guys win the
big game at the end while overcoming all the obstacles placed in front of
them on their path to victory. Those are some of the praises. Negatives? Too
obvious and predictable, and so so sacherine sweet where everyone comes
together much too easily on the football field. What's this film about? A
black coach (Denzel Washington) is head coach at a newly integrated high
school in Virginia in 1971. Naturally, whites aren't into it. Lots of
bickering and hostility between teammates of both races. But they are a team
and this is a Hollywood movie, so you know they ain't goin' 0-12 with a few
race riots tossed in. Will Patton plays one of the white assistant coaches
and it is refreshing seeing him in something other than a trademark heavy
role he's made a career of. I won't even mention this was produced by the low
minded crap meister Jerry Bruckheimer (too late!) who I guess is trying to
find his serious side. This is like all his other films as it is low on the
depth meter and attempts to please everyone by being so watered down and
likeable that no one is upset by what happens to any of the characters. This
should be hugely popular in America but it should take my generous 3 and be
very happy about it.
Joshua: 3 Shane Davis: 4 Sherrill Davis: 4
Girl on the Bridge (1999) 10-6 Dallas-Inwood w/ Lillian
Went down to Dallas to watch Oklahoma play texas in football at the Cotton
Bowl in the 95th edition of what is known as the Red River War. Sat in the
cold, the drizzle, unbelievably delerious with joy at the outcome of the
game. OU gave the no good texans a complete tail kickin' from start to finish
(63-14). I watched the game with Scott, Shane and Mom and we were all jumping
up and down (my knee cap is bruised from banging into the chairback in front
of me but it is worth it!), laughing wide mouthed to one another, high fiving
and yelling out the taunts to the other side. A wonderful day to be an
Oklahoman. Drove to the Inwood and saw this disappointing French film. The
Inwood is such a lovely little gem of a theatre. It is so welcoming with its
warm neon glow marquee and old style ticket booth, lobby with winding
staircase and adjoining bar that buzzes with conversation. It's one of my
favorite theatres of the ones I've spent a fair amount of time in. Here's a
couple of my beloved movie places. The Allred in Pryor, Oklahoma: classic
small town movie theatre, falling apart, out of date with the latest
technology, but I saw so many movies here growing up that it has left a
permanent impression on me. I saw all kinds of films here, from kung-fu to
horror to Smokey and the Bandit and Road Warrior over and over again. I guess
you could say this is the place where I fell in love with movies. I also love
the Egyptian in Seattle quite a bit. Seattle is a movie city with some great
movie theatres. The redone Cinerama is incredible, the Seven Gables is small
and intimate and above a great Italian restaurant and snug across the street
from a library, the Grand Illusion is for the very independent and is kind of
squalid and tiny, but my favorite is the boxy Egyptian that is housed in the
one time Masonic Temple. It's got all this Egypt themed decor and is lit up
in soft red lights and is now air conditioned! I loved seeing movies there
when I lived in Seattle. The Bowman Twin in Tulsa also was a place I liked
when I was growing up. Long since dead because of the attack of the megaplex
and the homogeneous boring sameness they offer, The Bowman was this dark
theatre with a lobby that split down the middle between the two large screens
it had to offer. Despite being very young, I recall seeing Apocalypse Now and
Raging Bull (thanks to my dad for taking me to see movies I probably
shouldn't have been watching. The sight of Brando's image in Apocalypse now
and the slaughter scene game me plenty of nightmares!) plus a lot of other
films there in the late '70s and early '80s. It's where I saw such films as
Star Wars, E.T. and Jaws for example. The Inwood in Dallas hold warm memories
too despite most of my visits there occuring in one of the worst years of my
life: 1990. It was the refuge aspect that the theatre offered me that made me
embrace it so. A vivid memory of watching The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and
Her Lover there in one of the small upstairs rooms when some heavilly
perfumed texan ran from the theatre to throw up in revulsion (I was one of a
few to make it to the end of that film). I went to a lot of midnight movies
at the Inwood, most of which were cult favorites such as Henry: Portrait of a
Serial Killer or Wild at Heart by David Lynch. There is nothing in this world
better than old theatres that are still living, breathing, darkened caverns
with the flickering light of cinema projected onto the screen. This is
supposed to be about Girl on the Bridge. Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depp's wife)
and Daniel Auteuil star as knifethrower (Auteuil) and muse to knifethrowing.
They find each other desperate on a foggy bridge and then experience
tumuluous circumstances that might be love and destiny and fate and all the
warm, fuzzy things those words offer. I didn't find this particularly
romantic despite its attempts to make me feel that way. Actually, I found the
story a little silly and off putting. It was shot in beautiful hues of
silvery black and white and the look of the film is the best quality it has
going for it.
Joshua: 2.5 Lillian: 3
Sunshine (1999) 10-9 Tulsa
Three hour epic I didn't see at the Seattle film fest in May/June because of
its length. Ralph Fiennes plays three roles in director Istvan Szabo tale
that follows a Hungarian Jewish family over three generations. I'm not a huge
Fiennes fan as he can be a bit pretentious (witness the goofy, old english
way he wants his name said--Rafe!) but he is very impressive in Sunshine. I
liked this film that is actually 3 one hour films all strung together,
connected by the family name and the legacy of a person's ancestors. The
length of this film allows for it to concentrate on all the little details of
these peoples lives and the beautiful, small details of life are often those
missed by us. Despite the length, this goes by in a hurry as each story was
interesting and entertaining to me. Having spent a good deal of time in
Budapest, I loved seeing it in different eras throughout history. The first
story is set around turn of the 20th century, then we get a story set in pre
world war II and finally one around the communist ruled period of Hungarian
history. This is recommended for those who have the time to invest in a film
with a wonderful amount of depth and detail and beauty to offer.
Outside Providence (1999) 10-10 pryor
From start to finish, this coming of age tale set in Rhode Island and a
Connecticut prep school in the early '70s is a flimsy, complete waste of
time. Nothing about this seems fleshed out as it lightly moves ahead and
comes off unbelievable, annoying and not humorous in the slightest. Young
long hair stoner is sent to prep school at 17 by gruff father (Alec Baldwin,
who is the only thing to like in this mess of a film) where he finds teenage
love while biding his time at the school. No real relationships are ever
created between the characters, especially the this as paper romance, as
every character is hackneyed and slapped on. There is no depth whatsoever in
this film that is partly penned by Peter and Bobby Farrelly (Something About
Mary, Me Myself & Irene) and based on a novel by Peter. I generally enjoy
coming of age films but this was poorly underdeveloped and flimsy, flimsy,
flimsy. JOSHUA: 1.5
Cecil B. Demented (2000) 10-12 Tulsa
The latest film by John Waters is an interesting idea that turns into an
unfunny and major disappointment. Some lucky readers will know just how
hurtful writing that sentence was for me. I'm a longtime fan of Waters'
trash/kitsch comedies such as Pink Flamingos and Desperate Living and have
defended their merit to a few friends in the past. While Waters' recent films
have not had the same zeal and bite (Pecker, for instance, was no where near
as funny as it should have been), I still had hope for Waters and Cecil B.
Demented, but this film fails miserably. This is an attempted satire of both
Hollywood and independent filmmaking but the numorous references and jokes
will fly over a majority of the population's heads. I can only think of a
couple of film geek friends who'd get all the seemingly postured references
to past cinema outlaws and all the evils of filmmaking today that is
connected more to bank accounts rather than to ideas. For a satire such as
this to work it should be at least humorous but Cecil B. Demented is
surprisingly extremely unfunny to me. The jokes are either obvious or fall
flat over and over again. The film is set around a mad, obsessed with the
film underground director (Steven Dorf) and his group of freaks (Alicia Witt
among others) who are cast and crew to a film called Raving Beauty they are
making with NO budget. The group kidnap an egotistical halfwit movie star
(played by Melanie Griffith) and force her at gunpoint to "act" in their
movie. The rapidly aging Griffith (despite all the plastic surgery she has
undergone) maintains her status as one of the worst actors in Hollywood with
this role. How can a woman be as consistantly wretched as Griffith and still
have a fairly succussful career? Blackmail, sexual favors? Since this is a
Waters film, the bulk of the acting is over the top and amateurish, and
unlike in the past, when this might be a charming atribute, for this film I
got tired of it quick. Usual cast of characters, including Mink Stole and her
ubiquitous f-words. I just can't believe how unfunny this was to me! I do
agree with Waters that all megaplexes should be burned to the ground by
hordes of digital video, super 8 wielding bands of guerilla filmmakers!
Meet the Parents (2000) 10-13 Tulsa,OK with Shane
After disparaging comments on a John Waters movie, I watch this mainstream
comedy starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro and love every second of it.
There goes my indie hipster credibility, o, well. Unlike Cecil B. Demented,
Meet the Parents is a comedy that's actually very funny. Is there anyone in
film who can capture pained neurosis and awkwardness in such humorous ways as
Stiller? With this film and his role in There's Something About Mary, he is
the king of the put upon outcast who goes through humiliating experiences,
all in the name of love. Stiller plays Greg Focker, male nurse, in love with
Pam (Teri Polo), the oldest daughter of a hyper protective, ex CIA father
played by De Niro. Focker wants to marry his par amour but first must win
over the parents during a weekend visit to attend a family wedding. From the
moment Focker's bags are lost by the airplane, the weekend devolves into a
series of events, each funny and laugh enducing, that doom Focker in the eyes
of Pam's parents and friends. Owen Wilson plays an ex-boyfriend of Pam and
I'll say it again, the guy has the best nose in Hollywood since Karl Malden!
Directed by Austin Powers helmsman Jay Roach, Meet the Parents is much
funnier to me than Powers films because it doesn't rely overtly on cultural
references as its main source for laughter. I didn't think the premise of the
film would hold up for the duration of the movie but it does, providing solid
entertainment to the very end. De Niro brings a variety of grimaces and faces
that poke a little fun at some of his heavy roles of the past. De Niro and
all his recent comedic roles, is turning into some sort of Leslie Neilson,
but with better roles. Stiller and De Niro have a good chemistry together and
it is such a joy to watch Stiller mine every conceivable nook of his neurosis
as things get further and further out of his characters control. A sequel to
this is already in the works as it doesn't take Hollywood long if something
is making them fistfuls of cash. It's titled Meet the Fockers by the way.
This is a painfully funny and entertaining comedy that I recommend.
Joshua: 4 Shane Davis: 4
When I was at the Seattle Film Fest back in May/June, I saw a lot of good
films from various countries in Asia. I think there are some great, original
movies coming out of that part of the world. I've already reviewed Shower, so
here are reviews of a few of the others I loved. People in big cities who
read this might keep a heads up as I'm not sure when or if these will come
out in the u.s. but you might have the best chance to see these films. These
are worth seeking out!!!
Movies reviewed: Nowhere to Hide (South Korea), Seventeen Years (China), When
the Rain Lifts (Japan), Suzhou River (China), Audition (Japan).
Nowhere to Hide (1999) 5-20 @ the Egyptian
South Korean crime thriller from director Lee Myung-Se. The film is similar
in style and attitude to another Asian director, Wong Kar-wai, in the fact
that Lee attempts just about anything and everything in this--although Wong
Kar-wai (Chungking Express, Fallen Angels) is not so anxious to film such out
and out action scenes as Lee does. The first 15 minutes are incredible as we
get an explosion of ideas, manipulation and technique. Rapid fire editing
fuses together black and white images, still photography, animation, freeze
frames and slow motion, oversaturated hyper colors to the extreme--the entire
proverbial kitchen sink. In American action films you hardly consider them
aesthetically pleasing but Nowhere to Hide has some memorable, striking
images and the cinematographers Jeong Kwang-Seok and Song Haeng-Ki deserve to
be mentioned. The story of the film is mainly focused on a detective named
Woo and his fellow rough and ready homicide cops as they try to find an
assassin. The hunt for the man lasts a long time and includes numerous fist
fights, brawls and chases while trying to catch the man. A lot of comedy,
including a hilarious scene involving the capturing and questioning of a
criminal named Meathead. To say that these South Korean cops get overtly
abusive in ways some u.s. cops only dream of is a serious understatement. The
action was good, the story true and tried, maybe a little long toward the
end, but this is a visually striking and interesting film that is far better
than the bulk of brain dead American action films that rely on nothing but
how many angles of explosions can be squeezed into the frame.
Seventeen Years (1999) 5-21 @the Harvard Exit w/ Joshua & Emily
Arranged to meet up with the recently married Joshua and Emily to watch this
quietly powerful Chinese film from director Zhang Yuan. 17 Years is rather
simple and direct but builds in tension as it evolves. The film tells the
story of forgiveness in a family that has been destroyed. Tao Lan (Liu Lin)
is an outgoing and rebellious 16 year old, at least compared to her
stepsister Xiaoquin. After Xiaoquin makes it look as though Tao Lan has
stolen some money she is killed by Tao Lan during a confrontation in a fit of
rage. Seventeen years later she is let out of prison to visit her mother and
stepfather. This reminded me of all the Neorealist films I saw recently at
OU. It was shot entirely on location and is very simple, with the bulk of the
film composed of Tao Lan's journey to the house she'd been separated from for
nearly two decades. When she makes it to the house, with the aid of a prison
guard who was unaware that Tao Lan had killed her stepsister and caused this
rift in her family, emotions of shame, anger and sadness are palpable in the
small house when Tao Lan arrives. The directness of the film adds to its
power to move or stir and is just like the emotionally devastating Italian
Neorealist films that this resembles. Seventeen Years stabs you in the heart
with a direct hopelessness--a very good thing in my opinion to be touched
this way by a film.
Joshua: 4 Emily: 4 Joshua M: 4
When the Rain Lifts (2000) 5-28 @ Pacific Palace
This Japanese film by director Takashi Koizumi was a simple, old fashioned
samurai story that was very well done and so honest that I was really
touched. (After the festival, I named this film as the tops of the 75 that I
saw in the 3+ weeks--Joshua) Takashi was in attendance and he received a
standing ovation at the end of his Q & A, that's how appreciated this movie
was by the audience. I, along with many others, watched this story, the last
script by the master Akira Kurosawa, and directed by his associate director
of 28 years and was completely blown away by it. When the Rain Lifts is
Takashi's first film and I truly hope it's not his last. The story is just so
direct and straightforward as we see a group of poor people gathered at an
inn, waiting for a heavy rain to stop so they can cross a rushing river.
While at the inn, a humble samurai meets the lord of the fief and wins him
over and is thought of as a possible fencing master. But the samurai's past
may hurt him as it has before. From this simple idea, the story unfolds
slowly and wonderfully. There is only a couple of sword fight scenes but one
of which has an incredible shot of bright red blood plummage spray after a
person is hit in the jugular. It was like a jet of liquid from the neck!
Don't think this is a violent film as it wasn't that at all. When the Rain
Lifts is a quiet, beautifully direct film that I was completely engrossed and
mesmorized by. Watch this film! Joshua: 4.5
Suzhou River (2000) 6-1 @ the Egyptian
This Chinese film from director Lou Ye is kind of difficult to articulate
into such a quick little capsule review, but I'll try. The story begins with
a videographer as he narrates the action in front of his lens. We never do
see who this man is as all action connected to him is seen from his eyes or
his camera. Through him we meet Meimei (played by the extremely fetching Zhou
Xun), a mysterious woman he's in love with who makes her living by swimming
around in a giant tank in a bar as if she's a mermaid. The film spins off to
the story of Mardar, a bike messanger and his young girlfriend Moudan. Moudan
has disappeared after jumping off a bridge and Mardar dedicates his life to
finding her. He then meets Meimei and believes she is Moudan (Zhou Xun plays
both women). That's the story in a nutshell although it jumps from timeline
to timeline between past and present. The editing combined with the non
linear frame of events help give the film a disjointed, hallucinatory quality
to it I liked a lot. The entire film is filmed practically with the use of
hand held cameras and this helps give the film and the setting of Shanghai a
rawness, or energy that just jumps off the screen. There is not a lot of
actual dialog in Suzhou River and this adds to the haunting nature of the
images and story. Suzhou River is a stylish, suspenseful, cooly detached
mystery that is erotic, baffling and edgy and interesting from start to
finish. (adding to that as I write this in October--I can't stop thinking
about this movie and I saw it over 4 months ago--that's how this film will
Audition (1999) 6-8 @ Cinerama w/ Laura,Nancy,Josh M.,
Psycho sexual creepy thriller from director Takashi Miike that slowly builds
to an over the top and out of control ending that you'll either squirm with
joy and love or despise. Audition will leave a person asking "What the hell
just happened?", which is often a good thing. A man holds an audition seven
years after his wife is dead to try and find a new wife. The women think they
are auditioning for a movie but this movie is just to introduce possible
wives to Aoyamo. He likes Asami but she may have some entirely dark areas to
her he should never get near. But if that happened there wouldn't be this
cringe enducing film from one time porn director Miike. I liked the way this
was shot and edited. Lots of long takes and angles, filters on the lens,
video and other elements were utilized by yet another Asian director with
style to burn. Audition has some incredible and violent, disturbing moments
that also were darkly comic and it is the combination of all these things
that make Audition certainly worth checking out.
Joshua: 4 Laura B: 2 Nancy C: 4 Joshua M: 4 Emily
Hi again. 5 short reviews this time. Last time I reviewed a South Korean film
called Nowhere to Hide, for those of you who wrote me and said it sounded
interesting, I just read in a film mag that it was picked up for the U.S., so
be on the look out for it in big cities and later maybe on video. It's worth
watching out for.
Movies reviewed: X-Men (2000), Sweet Revenge (1999), Best In Show (2000),
Dick (1999) and Hate.com (2000)
Scoring: 1-5. 1 being a disgustingly awful piece of crap and 5 being a piece
of genius that the whole world should see and digest. Middle scores are
middle of the road films.
X-Men (2000) 10-17 @ the dollar theatre in Tulsa,
I was in Tulsa messing about, trying to take some decent photos in downtown
Tulsa w/ this Holga camera I just got, decided to take in a .50 cent movie at
the $theatre (here a matinee is a half dollar, can't beat that). I'm not one
who gets into films that originate as comic books but I enjoyed this
variation of the Superman/Batman mold. In the future there are mutated
humans. These genetic outcasts are reviled by society, yet they have special
powers and can be either used for good or for evil. An evil mutant Magnetto
(Ian McKellan), who has strong mettallic abilities and his fellow baddies
Frog, Sabretooth and Mystique all want to turn the world's leaders into
mutants during some United Nations shindig on Ellis Island in NY. Good
mutants Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm and Rogue must fight them to prevent it
from happening. I know this sound kind of goofy with all these silly names
that promote each person's mutated skill (Storm has the ability to do what?
create storms! Frog has a 75 foot super tongue that gets violent and he can
swing on!) but it isn't as silly as it may sound and some of the mutated gene
stuff in this was pretty interesting to a sci-fi nut like myself. Directed by
Brian Singer, this is a very different film for him than his first one (Usual
Suspects) as X-Men is an interesting blend of effects and atmosphere that I
liked a lot more than I was expecting to. Plus it cost a whole .50 cents and
it was worth every single penny! Joshua: 3.5
Sweet Revenge (1999)
I watched this British film primarily for the fact it has Helena Bonham
Carter in a dark comedy set in modern times. Sweet Revenge is kind of a take
on Strangers On a Train with the meeting place a foggy bridge rather than a
train. A plan for revenge is hatched by the pair, one who feels more strongly
about it than the other. Carter goes into costume to get close to the guy
she's to get revenge on--she's got bad teeth, wig, large glasses, she's a
sight. Sam Neill plays the other person who is to get revenge but he develops
feelings for the woman he's supposed to hurt (she's played by Kristen Scott
Thomas). This was slightly humorous, with all these cliche British eccentrics
romping around this small little village. Worth seeing for Carter fans in a
role lighter and different than what she normally get to do. Joshua: 3
Best In Show (2000) 10-20 Tulsa w/ Lillian
This mockumentary reunites most of the people involved with Waiting For
Guffman, only this time, they have their sights on the world of dog show
competitions. Although I enjoyed aspects of this film, I don't think the
characters were as fleshed out as they needed to be to truly make this great.
Too bad. The funniest person to me was Fred Willard as this buffoon of
vulgarity tv announcer who has these silly, meaningless observations that
torment his British partner on the air. Other players include Christopher
Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Michael McKeon. The film
is mostly improvised and whittled down to 90 minutes from over 60 hours of
footage. There are laughs to be found in Best in Show, but not as many as I
was expecting as it is missing some of the depth that made Waiting For
Guffman such a mean spirited and hilarious dig at small town America.
Joshua: 3 Lillian: 4
Dick (1999) 10-24
Sort of cute and semi-humorous comedy that kind of pokes fun at the Richard
Nixon Watergate break in scandal in the early '70s. The film exposes who the
deep throat sources were--2 dimwitted 15 year old girls who stumble onto all
this information and then use it to bring Nixon down. The two teenagers are
played by Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On) and Michelle Williams and they have the
hots for Nixon (Dick to them) until they find out he hates dogs and has a
"potty" mouth, plus other assorted nefarious government shenanigans that got
him and his staff booted out of the oval office. I enjoyed the scenes where
the 2 Wash. Post reporters who broke the story (Woodward/Bernstein) were
lampooned. One time Kid in the Hall Bruce McCulloch was one of them and he
hams it up pretty good. He was always my favorite Kid in the Hall. There were
2 Kids in this as Dave Foley also has a role. One of my favorite character
actors, Dan Hedaya, played Nixon and he did a credible job considering the
lightweight nature of this comedy. Hedaya is always someone worth watching.
This is harmless and produces enough chuckles for a video rental if you're in
the mood for goofy, mindless fluff. Joshua: 3
Hate.com (2000) 10-24
Short HBO documentary on hate groups who spread their message over the world
wide web and how the technology has produced a boom in their number of people
they can attract. Blacks, Jews, Asians and gay people are the main targets of
these techno bigots. These are hideous and despicable people on display but
what makes them even more frightening is these aren't the old style hillbilly
kkk folks burning crosses in some laundry sheet in backwoods Alabama. No,
these men wear suits, they part their hair just like an accountant, they
speak like they've got an education-- what they say is the vilest form of
ignorance and hatred yet--the presentation somehow legitimizes their message
toward the more mainstream and vulnerable ranks of society. To see the way
these groups target kids is very alarming and usually involves some sort of
racially charged game to lure them into the hate-web. Interesting to see how
these people use the Bible to promote their hatred, to justify it and most
use the word "Christian" in their names to strike a chord with those who are
into the message as the right thing to do because "the Bible says so". If
you've got HBO, this is an interesting documentary on the racist fringe, as
they try to become less fringe and more middle, but make no mistake, these
people and their ilk are the enemies of any decent human being. Joshua:
I give two scores of 4/5, one 4.5/5 and a 2/5 for these films reviewed,
pretty good ratio of good films this week. Read on to see which of 'em got
the fours and which got the 2.
Chicken Run (2000) 10-25 Tulsa
I went to the $ movie during a torrential downpour to see a different movie (
the Kid) but the film was eaten by the projector, so, I made my way next door
to see this G rated claymation film. I like the prison breakout genre and
this film belongs in that category despite it being populated by chickens.
And what feisty chickens they are in their relentless attempt to escape their
imprisonment. This was incredibly sweet and entertaining and charmed the
pants right off me! Various British, Scottish and American accents provide
the voices (Mel Gibson and Jane Horrocks are a couple of them) and hearing
the accents is a part of the film's charm. I guess this is like the Toy Story
films of late, satisfying equally to adults and kids alike. The story is
quite simple: egg laying chickens want to escape their coops before they are
killed in an automated chicken pie maker. An arrogant American rooster shows
up and convinces the hens he can teach them to fly over their barbed wire
fences. That's it and it is more than enough to keep you thoroughly
entertained for 85 minutes. I loved the innocent creativity of the chickens
as this was an uncynical blast of fun that I'm glad I saw. Without a doubt
the best claymation film you are likely to see all year and that's a promise!
Pay It Forward (2000) 10-27 Tulsa w/ Shane, Sherrill, Shelley
Movies often try to influence your emotions as you watch them. Comedies want
to make you laugh, horror films want to frighten you, thrillers want to fill
you with suspense, and then there are films like Pay It Forward, that eagerly
want to uplift you and make you feel good and sad at the same time. I didn't
like this movie because I found its message so strained and manipulitive that
I could sense the presence of puppeteers hovering outside the frame, toying
with the emotions of the audience. While every single performance by the cast
was pretty good, the extremely over earnest quality this film possesses
really turned me off. The story revolves around a smart little 7th grader
(Haley Joel Osmet) who lives a damaged life thanks to an alcoholic mother
(Helen Hunt). His social studies teacher Mr. Seminet (Kevin Spacey)
challenges his students to come up with an idea to change the world. Well,
little Trevor comes up with pay it forward, an attempt to help three
strangers who then agree to help three strangers and so on. The movement
spreads like wildfire, although this seems neither plausible or believable in
its depiction. It attracts the attention of a reporter (Jay Mohr) who begins
to track down the source for the pay it forward idea. The film transitions
from Trevor, mother, teacher to reporter to other various burnouts along the
path to The Big Heroic Conclusion. The inclusion of these reporter-on-a-quest
scenes were both unnecessary and a mistake. The timeline of the search was
confusing and didn't make a lot of sense as events were appearing to occur
simultaneously after the screen tells us it was 4 months earlier. Very
awkward filmmaking and editing between these scenes. The story would have
been more interesting to me had it been about this boy, his burn ravaged
teacher and his messed up mom as they come together, but this being a big
Hollywood "star" vehicle, it had to include all the silly pay it forward
storylines. These scenes just seemed so hollow, phony and manufactured to me.
The ending of Pay It Forward is one of the most sickenly manipulative pieces
of Hollywood garbage I've endured in a long, long time. I won't ruin it with
a spoiler but to say the puppet strings were out in full force is no small
understatement. So manipulative is the ending that I felt almost insulted.
The only reason I'm giving this a 2 is because of some decent performances
from part of the cast--Spacey and Jim Caviezal as a junkie reclamation
project by Trevor that helps spread the pay it forward ideology. I like
Caviezal as an actor as he has an understated quality in his acting style (
Thin Red Line, Frequency) that I enjoy. A completely underwhelming film that
I hope doesn't attract a wide audience with its hollow, manipulative message.
Joshua: 2 Shane: 3.5 Sherrill: 3.5 Shelley & Rig:
Dancer In the Dark (2000) 10-30 Tulsa
The Danish bad boy of cinema Lars von Trier writes and directs this genre
busting film that set Cannes afire earlier in the year. The film was awarded
the Palm D'Or (best film) and Bjork won as best actress. Dancer In the Dark
is supposed to be one of the most divisive films made recently as critics and
audiences either praise it as visionary genius or as pretentious garbage.
I've been a fan of Lars since I saw his mind scrambling Zentropa in 1992 and
have rushed to see all his films since then. His 4 1/2 hour Danish tv series
turned into epic filmmaking The Kingdom is one of my favorites of all time.
That film has it all: laughs, chills, suspense, ghosts, medical
romance/drama, gore. Trust me that The Kingdom isn't something you'll forget
after seeing. Von Trier, one of the creators of the dogme 95 film movement,
brings his dogme sensibilities to the aesthetics of Dancer In the Dark. Lots
of natural light, handheld camera jerks and blurs, grainy digital video to
film look but von Trier breaks out of the confines of dogme by using fantasy
sequences, props and the utilization of various genres within the frame work
of the movie (all a no no in the dogme world). Dancer In the Dark is part
musical, part melodrama, part courtroom drama and part prison film all
swirled into an intoxicating blend. I was completely blown away by the raw,
intimate, emotions on fire intensity of Dancer In the Dark and think it is a
better film than von Trier's much lauded Breaking the Waves (another
controversial film of his). The story is set in 1964 Washington state as we
follow a Czech immigrant named Selma (Bjork) as she works very hard to save
money for her son't impending eye surgery. Selma herself is rapidly going
blind. She loves old Hollywood musicals and often is lost in these
fantastical electronic led musical numbers. Von Trier makes a distinct
difference between the drama of reality and the unreality of the musical
fantasy. Reality is pure hand held cameras and tones of brown and grey while
the songs are bright, vibrant colors and are highly stylized with rapid
editing and stationary cameras. There are some incredible images that take
place during these songs. The second song and dance number takes place near
and on a moving train and it is an absolutely a stunningly gorgeous thing to
hear and see. Some song and dances are better than others and the
choreography takes a back seat to the songs and images. A great thing about
the songs is where they occur: factory, train tracks, courtroom, field,
prison, all such unordinary places for characters to burst into song. I don't
know if Bjork should have won the best actress at Cannes but she does have
this odd charisma around her and the role of Selma was a beast to pull off
with all these horrible ordeals she endures. Bjork gives Selma a sweet,
grinning goodness (some might say too good) that is quite effective. Von
Trier treats his lead actresses a little disturbing in his big films. They
endure all these hardships over and over and it seems von Trier likes to see
them suffer. Something to watch for in his future films. The rest of the cast
is comprised of Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Marc Barr, Peter Stormare, David
Morse, Joel Gray. Dancer In the Dark is just so different than anything I've
seen recently and it bolsters the opinion that von Trier is a maverick auteur
who carves these films as he wants and doesn't seem to give a damn who hates
them. I didn't like The Idiots, his most recent film, but Dancer In the Dark
is a welcome return to fine form. Unlike the phony Pay It Forward I saw the
other night, this film packs a serious emotional wallop. Any person reading
this interested in non mainstream, innovative, daring and challenging
filmmaking should run to the theatre and embrace this unfiltered, bruised and
savagely beautiful movie. Lars von Trier is alive and kicking and I can
hardly wait to see what he does next.
The Legend of Drunken Master (1993) 10-30 Tulsa
Snuck into this Jackie Chan film after watching Dancer In the Dark. These
megaplexes are too easy, I could watch 3 or 4 in a row without even a hint of
worry about getting caught. This is Jackie Chan before watered down by
Hollywood and a little too old for the lightning quick fighting and no holds
barred action. This film is the sequel to the 1979 film that made Chan a star
in Hong Kong action cinema. Horribly dubbed, Legend of Drunken Master tells
the story about British thievery of Chinese precious aritfacts with Chan and
a few co-horts involved in stopping. Chan's character is a proponent of a
style of fighting known as drunken boxing despite the stern, disaproving
father. A lot of comedy is mined from both the drunken boxing and the
mischevious trouble within the family. But this film is about fighting and it
has some unbelievable martial arts sequences. If you only know Chan from Rush
Hour or Shanghai Noon, you have no idea just how good of a martial artist he
is. The film has gravity defying kicks, leaps, falls and stunts that are a
joy to watch. The final showdown is great with an intense battle that uses
kicks with feet so fast it might be sped up film but it isn't. Chan has an
almost Chaplinesque quality to some of his fighting with the body control
reminiscent of some of the things I've seen Chaplin do. If you've liked
Chan's recent Americanized films, go see this to see just what a good fighter
he was when still in his prime. Joshua: 4