Thursday, December 31, 2009

MMX

2009: nearly over. It's time once again to relay much thanks for all the great comments and nice messages - always love to hear from you. 2010: hope you thoroughly enjoy what's there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

REVIEW 2

2009 draws to a close, as does another decade. Here are the year's favourite things, which have formed the backdrop, on a personal level, to the happiest of times.

LITERATURE
The deliveries sourced from Amazon and Biblio are still arriving thick and fast. Now having renewed a taste for rare out-of-print works, the cost for this regular literary fulfilment has at times been considerable, but so so worth it when referring to classic works such as Albert Goldman's Disco, David King's The Commissar Vanishes, and Helen Hazen's Endless Rapture.

FILM
Apart from the predictably sublime pleasure that the ever-reliable Saw franchise delivered with VI, there are three films that for me stand out. The knowingly neo-Bergmanesque Daisy Diamond by Danish director Simon Staho; the scandalously fun popcorn horror of Orphan featuring Esther, one of the most badass characters in memory; and the marvellously satisfying Swedish horror Let The Right One In - let's pray there's never a Hollywood remake.

HARDWARE
Despite being an unreformed Sony fanboy, and despite having an instinctive hostility against Apple and Microsoft (along with several other hardware manufacturers), I have to confess to finding my iPhone 3GS a true marvel. But even that doesn't compare to the scandalous magic of the SpiderBox 9000HD.

VIDEO GAME
The ferociously, sadistically, unforgiving time sink from Japan that goes by the name of Demon's Souls (PS3) is not only the best game in 2009, but of this decade. Play it to death.

LIVE PERFORMANCE
Too many incredible memories to choose from: Whitehouse at OutFest in Portugal, Cut Hands concerts in Germany and Poland (not to mention dear Auld Reekie), Benetti at Cocadisco and Bloc 2009, are but a few of the highlights. Thanks to everyone who made these shows possible, and thanks to everyone who came along, I hope you also had an amazing time.

ART
The undeniable excellence of Cologne's Ludwig Museum was trumped only by the visit to Wellcome Trust's exhibits in the history of medicine at the Science Museum in London.

RESTAURANT
And yes, I'm sparing you the restaurant reviews this time around.

ACQUISITIONS 4

reading
Monkey Portraits - Jill Greenberg
Owl - Desmond Morris
The Whisperers - Orlando Figes
Freakshow - Albert Goldman

listening
Familial Readings - Luke Fowler + Toshiya Tsunoda
From The Hip - Ischio Romantico
Emmanuelle OST - Pierre Bachelet
The Monster Of Florence - Douglas Preston

viewing
Collapse
Executions
Louis Theroux Behind Bars
Louis Theroux At The Brothel

ACQUISITIONS 3
ACQUISITIONS 2
ACQUISITIONS 1

FILLMORE DISCOS 36

Collapse (***)
Ruppert is great value until he gets too emotionally carried away with his insights, introducing a dubious moral tone to the otherwise intriguing diatribes

An Education (*)
laughably amateurish UK production

World's Greatest Dad (**)
the balance between black comedy and drama is never coherently reconciled, and as it proceeds through a series of incongruent implausibilities and painfully self-conscious witticisms, the result is a hammy one-dimensional mess

The Silence (*****)
Bergman masterpiece - devastatingly resonant and meaningfully potent: a surrealism that Lynch can only ever dream about

La Marge (*****)
Borowczyk's most underrated work - possibly owing to the common misinterpretation of the deceptive nature of its plot, a psychosexual journey exploring love after bereavement

Der Liebesschüler (**)
this 1974 curiosity is part sex comedy, and also part Austrian absurdist play thanks to screenplay by Wolfgang Bauer; a real treat for us vintage Sylvia Kristel fans

Jennifer's Body (****)
smart, sexy, delightfully misandrous black comedy with a brilliantly maintained balance between satire and horror - memorable turns by Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried as best female friends; unrated version is a must

Big River Man (**)
Martin Strel, seemingly separated at birth from deadringer Sleazy Christophersen, is a fascinating character: a fat alcoholic swimming-obsesssed madman from Slovenia - unfortunately, this clumsily edited documentary about Strel's Amazon attempt is ruined by his careerist son, who, entrusted to do the filming, can't resist upstaging his dad and superimposing his own weedy environmentalist agenda

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (*)
you get everything you deserve by seeing anything starring Nicolas 'Coppola' Cage, however this is dire by even his legendary hammy standards - Herzog should be feeling thoroughly ashamed of himself

Extract (**)
gentle comedy by Mike Judge that certainly has a few stand-out funny moments, especially where drug-taking is involved; a star has been docked for allowing that wanker Gene Simmons to shoehorn himself a role

The Countess (**)
a film that probably needed to be twice as long to do justice to the subject matter; as it is, despite much to like, there is little chemistry between the protagonists, some silly postmodern sexual stereotyping, and an incoherent narrative that exaggeratedly buys into the Jesuit myths about a Bathory bathing in virgins' blood as an allegory of female vanity, followed by an ending that questions whether what you've just been shown really happened

Friday, December 18, 2009

DIETROLOGY 3

DIETROLOGY
The Nature Of Facebook/Twitter Updates

Ana's simple question, so disarmingly articulated, rendered me speechless. It happened about twenty years ago during a chat over coffee, and I would have been effusively babbling on about my day. After listening politely, she hit me with charming directness.

"William, why are you telling me all this?"

Initially seemingly unanswerable
, I contemplated upon it for many months, whilst, at times painfully, reevaluating almost every subsequent utterance I, and others, made. Ostensibly, I'd been telling her about my day, and yet what purpose did that serve her or me? What was behind this communication, for that matter any conversational communication?

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it's little more than a need to be heard.

A need to be heard for existential validation. And to successfully realise this mutual need we: allow for conversational reciprocity; employ rhetorical devices to make our chatter entertaining (e.g. through humour), or intriguing (through common themes of interest); exploit status differences to be heard (e.g. teachers, leaders, priests, etc.); use devices to elicit sympathy; and so on.

It was with this increased sensitivity to the hidden whys of communication that I initiated a fascination with the modern phenomenon of our Facebook/Twitter/MySpace updates. They have two curiously unique features: first, the communication is made to nobody in particular, as if to an unknown second person, to an unspecific you; second, there is a severely tight numerical word restriction.

On the face of it, these updates are just small chunks of trivia, with little depth or meaning. Or are they?

There's an old joke of the apprentice Trappist monk who is permitted two spoken words at the end of each initial twelve months' training in silent contemplation; at the end of year one, he tells the abbot, 'bed hard'; after the second, 'food horrible'; and the third and final, 'go home; to which the abbot exclaims, 'well, thank God for that because you've done nought but complain since you got here!!'.

Paradoxically, it seems the more restricted our opportunities to communicate, and the more remote and less defined the second person is (the you), the more meaningful the utterances become. 'Meaningful' I define here as more revelatory of our identity, along with our illusion of identity. In the case of ostensibly glib online status updates, through the application of dietrological analysis, much can be inferred.

Accepting and bearing in mind this need to be heard to be validated, below is a suggested hierarchy of factors for measuring that need.

- use of first person pronouns (I, me, my, mine etc.)
- frequency of first person pronouns
- proximity of first person pronouns to the beginning (e.g. commencing with 'I')
- use of active or passive voice
- expressions of opinion (an implicit or explicit 'I think that...')
- ratio of factual detail (times, places, names etc.) over process language (feelings)
- degree of assumption of second person interest
- pseudo-attempts to engage (e.g. throwing out a question, attention-seeking, sympathy-seeking)
- enigmatic, in-jokes

The feeling of validation from conversation comes with verbal and nonverbal responses to our utterances which we've already established as often not being a reliable indicator of chemistry or rapport owing to the invisible effects of, for example, our choice of language patterns. This is even more the case here.

coming soon:
DIETROLOGY : What Are Movie Credits For?
DIETROLOGY : Poker Face

DIETROLOGY 2
DIETROLOGY: INTRODUCTION

Thursday, December 17, 2009

DIETROLOGY 2

DIETROLOGY
The Collateral Damage Of Everyday Conversation


Within academia there is a punishment/reward structure that heavily favours a language register that can be generalised in two ways: firstly, emphasis on the precise use of specialised lexis and labels (often of Latin/Greek origin, an historical hangover from the relationship between learning and the clergy); in other words lots of long words, which in turn has triggered a certain inverted snobbery from non-academics. And secondly, the language of detail is preferred to that of feelings and emotions.

This goes some way to explaining why so many lecturers, teachers, and postgraduates evolve programmed into such crashing bores. That said, it's pretty obvious when we are bored with someone: perhaps you lean your head on your hands, perhaps an impatient check of the watch or mobile phone, or perhaps a tactfully stifled yawn. My god, is that the time?

However, what is loosely, but not inaccurately, termed as the 'chemistry' between people is mostly happening imperceptibly - both in terms of the responses, and the specific triggers for such responses. For example, the arbitrary angles we might approach a person we wish to communicate with is a factor that we rarely consider, and yet, critically, a frontal 45 degree approach angle is experienced by the other party as friendly, whereas one from directly in front as hostile; or worse still from the side or behind. What if you passed or failed that job interview based on that fact alone? And without being aware of such a factor, it's easy to see how superstitious explanations for the outcomes of personal interaction predominate.

Academic overemphasis on content language is as ironic as it's misguided: it's from having an acuter awareness of the tiny, oft-ignored words, and the simple patterns to which they belong, that offer far more rhetorical expressiveness and control of desired responses, and therefore chemistry. When we like or dislike somebody, we may have all sorts of superstitious 'I think...' beliefs about what we like or dislike, but they are far more likely to be rationalisations for unconscious biological and chemical responses.

Some of the effects of language usage have been touched on in previous postings (cf. SIGNFICANCES, METASIGNIFICANCES). One of whose number which seems to exist in most languages is the extraordinarily common 'yes, but...' conversational pattern (variants being 'I agree (with you), but....', 'that's true, but....', and so on). This, invisibly, causes enormous collateral damage to rapport owing to its deadly subtext of 'what I'm about to say is more important than what you've said' - in fact, amazingly, outright disagreement causes less collateral damage than this murky use of 'but'. The negative effect can easily be repaired by substituting the word 'but' with 'and', the subtext then being one of friendly corroboration - even when going on to disagree with the original statement in otherwise exactly the same way.

This is a simple example of how the use of two tiny words in a language pattern can have, psycholinguistically speaking, contrasting polar responses of critical importance. Simple, but not easy. Schools and universities might reward your deployment of all kinds of polysyllabic goodliness and convoluted subordinate clauses within the discussion of various hypotheses, but thanks to an historically ingrained institutional ignorance, you won't find out about the really good stuff like 'and'. There's so much more to learn.

DIETROLOGY : The Nature Of Facebook/Twitter Updates
(text coming soon)

DIETROLOGY : What Are Movie Credits For?
(text coming soon)

DIETROLOGY: INTRODUCTION

Friday, December 11, 2009

DIETROLOGY

DIETROLOGY
Introduction

You wouldn't believe the size of the mug of Americano in front of me in this Cologne coffee shop. Total mondo. Not to impress you, it's to help get this tricky post finished.

Dietrology. For quite some time now, I've sought a word to conceptually unite many personal ideas and recent theories within a single domain. For that purpose, I've brazenly co-opted dietrologia (from the Italian 'dietro' - behind). It is, therefore, the study or analysis of the perceptually invisible, of what lies behind language, events, actions, processes, and behaviours.

It's clear we all have a natural tendency to posit instant opinions about subtexts, prefaced explicitly or implicitly with languaging such as 'I think....' - something I prefer to classify under the umbrella of superstition. The other tendency, related, is to assume that that which does not makes sense to us is nonsense; exemplified by the etymological origin of barbarian derived from the ancient Greek term for 'foreign', a derogatory
onomatopoeic reference to the sound non-Greeks seemed to make. Another example is represented by patronising Western attitudes towards African music and art with terms such as 'primitive', or even 'world' or 'ethnic'.

The first lesson of dietrological analysis is to recognise that something that doesn't make sense to us may very well have complex sense, or indeed, may have no sense whatsoever. The directly perceptual is not enough to make the assumption one way or another. The second lesson is relative: the quantity and quality of the perceptually invisible is not measurable.

However, the third and most critical, is that dietrology differs from opinion and superstition in that it represents an inquiry into the heart of the matter, that which is factual. And in an illustrative way, the study of atomic particles, just as they cannot be seen with the naked eye (with or without the aid of microscopes) owing to their being hundreds of times smaller than the smallest light waves, is a form of dietrological analysis.

Anyway, enough dry talk already. Let's launch a few introductory sub-articles for the series; as always, comments highly appreciated.

DIETROLOGY : The Collateral Damage Of Everyday Conversation
(text coming soon)

DIETROLOGY : The Nature Of Facebook/Twitter Updates
(text coming soon)

DIETROLOGY : What Are Movie Credits For?
(text coming soon)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

SHORT BREATHS

Random bits and pieces and comments from the week's goings-on.

Ryuichi Sakamoto concert at Queen's Hall
I surely didn't like the fact that Sakamoto's piano playing is essentially a mime, so much being streamed off computers hidden in the wings, but I hated the moralistic Helvetica'd climate change lecture on the fuzzy back projection; I walked out after 5 songs

Amanda Knox is innocent
you can't trust justice and its corrupt players in any of the world's courtrooms, let alone the highly suspect Italian judiciary, and I for one certainly don't trust this guilty verdict in the case of the death of Meredith Kercher; OK, all I have to go on is all the newspaper reports, but I can't see any reliable proof whatsoever that isn't just the usual bullshit demonisation, or coercion, of the young accused

DJ Benetti buttons
thanks to Marta, I have a small handful of the cute Cocadisco badges specially made for Saturday's fab extravaganza at Brixton; if you'd like one, just send me something for the postage

Cut Hands update
so listed below are the tracks completed for the project, several are being featured in the forthcoming Vice documentary on Liberia, and there'll be a few more too before long

Cut Hands - Who No Know Go Knows 4:08 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Who No Know Go Knows (percussion) 4:07 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Rain Washes Over Chaff 4:11 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Rain Washes Over Chaff (ambience) 2:38 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Rain Washes Over Chaff (percussion) 4:07 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Munkisi Munkondi 5:09 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2003)
Cut Hands - Nzambi Ia Lufua 2:44 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2006)
Cut Hands - Bia Mintatu 6:57 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2007)
Cut Hands - ++++ (Four Crosses) 2:57 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Impassion 2:59 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Backlash 1:53 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)
Cut Hands - Backlash (percussion) 1:52 (written and performed by W.Bennett, 2009)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

MUSTN'T-HAVES 2

We can't blame Nina Garcia for this brief update, and yet the streets seem to be awash with devotees of the latest, quite frankly, repellent examples of celebrity-led tack sold as 'essential' by the ubiquitous paparazzi magazines. At least some 80s and 90s fashion looked good for a season or two. Didn't it?
  • Gladiators: thumbs down for this heinously, mythologically ugly footwear - as emperor, I decree that all transgressors should be rounded up and fed to the lions in the Colosseum
  • Cropped Tuxedos: there are still way too many stuffy male sommeliers in upmarket metropolitan restaurants, don't you agree? it's high time to counter the imbalance, £180 at Karen Millen buys the uniform
  • PeachyBody Pants: these repulsive monstrosities, similar to the laughably named (yet shockingly popular) Scala Bio-Fir range, are designed to have that orange-peel cellulite magically 'melt' away like fog on a sunny hillside; they claim that to achieve the desired effect you should have to wear them for 8 hours a day for 3 weeks - nasty
  • Studs In Everything: please make a serious assessment of all those ageing 70s Iron Maiden and AC/DC fans still sporting their studded wristbands and jean jackets
  • Crop Trousers: notice how every single one of the otherwise attractive models in Exhibit A looks like she's being forced at gunpoint to wear these things in front of a camera
  • Footless Tights: the fugliest of fugly anti-trollwear make the legs of even the young and beautiful look short, stumpy, mumsy, and misshapen whilst simultaneously allowing greater public awareness of corn and bunion issues
  • Oversized Sunglasses: Exhibit B
  • Oversized Handbags: when a handbag is big enough for you to hide in, then I think we can safely declare that the rubicon that runs between functionality and ridicularseness has irrevocably been crossed
MUSTN'T-HAVES 1

Friday, November 27, 2009

PRAVDA 9

For anyone querying why there's another Pravda post so precipitatively soon after the last, well firstly, it's a scientific fact that you can never have enough truth in your life; secondly, these are especially irresistible stories to which to surrender your time; and thirdly, I've little better else to do this Friday evening.

Man Eats His Mother And Says He Dislikes Her Fatty Meat
Offspring are so fucking ungrateful. Sergey Gavrilov, 27, decides to strangle his mum when she refused him beer money after his latest prison release. So, after blowing the remains of her paltry pension on booze and fruit machines, and using her frozen cadaver as food supply to cook soups and pasta sauces, this scumbag has the audacity to rue his not being born to a prize Aberdeen Angus cow.

Now Vodka Can Be Consumed As Food
People make far too much fuss about the ingredients of food, don't they? I mean, if it was only nutrition that mattered, all your meals could just be mixed with a food blender and served poured into your mug as a yummy puree. Like a bairn. So, count me in, I'm all in favour of vodka served on a plate, even if it does taste like an IKEA dinner candle.

Emotional Romanian President Becomes Hitman To Win More Popularity
The seeming sensationalism of the headline gets it about right. You see, in politics, popularity is gained because of, not despite, scandals. This Basescu guy not only looks like a lost child of Silvio Berlusconi's, but has clearly learnt well from his spiritual, ahem, godfather; what do you bet, in the expectation of snagging a few more votes, he deliberately left that mobile phone on?


PRAVDA 8
PRAVDA 7
PRAVDA 6
PRAVDA 5

FILLMORE DISCOS 35

The Fourth Kind (**)
the experiment of having hoaxed stock footage side-by-side with an acted drama is fatally undermined by the director's frantically self-conscious overstylising: annoying edits, revolving camera shots, incoherent Dan Brown-esque plot developments, and a cheesy soundtrack - the creepy documentary bits are superbly executed, if only Osunsanmi had had the courage to ditch the Hollywoodisms

Keep The River On Your Right (****)
it isn't a modern cannibal tale (not that I wasn't attracted by the promise of that), but a tale of that rarest of things: a man with his own mind and following his own star - remarkably heartwarming and uplifting

Fish Tank (**)
typical British kitchen sink drama is requisitely depressing with some great performances - however, personally, as with movies like A Taste Of Honey, Trainspotting, and almost anything by Ken Loach et al, my issue is with the implicit dishonesty: it's a covert middle-class misrepresentation of chav culture sold to you as naturalistic

Chambre Des Morts (*)
this kicks off with moderate promise but soon gets excruciatingly bogged down in endlessly dreary uncharismatic policework, merely to unravel the ridiculous multiple plot threads, all of which are tedious and implausible in the extreme

Private Lessons (****)
a wonderful Hollywood oddity from 1984 featuring a sub-Nabokovian parallel universe where we enjoy a sublime masterclass in advanced tartdom by the delectable Sylvia Kristel

Moon (*)
incredibly lightweight scifi effort - at best Moon would have made a reasonable short, but this 90 minutes of totally ludicrous plot devices and padding has no mystery and a horribly tidy cop-out ending

American Swing (**)
far easier to spend ten minutes reading a Wikipedia article than wade through this tediously compiled documentary of NYC randoms talking about their sex lives in the 70s interpolated with barely relevant archive clips; and not enough Jamie Gillis

(500) Days of Summer (*)
I do like a good romantic comedy - unfortunately, this is neither good, romantic, nor comedic, and incredibly, it features characters even more wooden than the acting

FILLMORE DISCOS 34
FILLMORE DISCOS 33
FILLMORE DISCOS 32
FILLMORE DISCOS 31
FILLMORE DISCOS 30

Monday, November 23, 2009

PORNO FOR CULTURE

Nobody does sex worse than the UK.

When you combine the complexes derived from the legendarily endemic British prudery, vacuous sexual ignorance, deprived opportunity, and covert sublimated desires, you end up with manifestations like the ugly Sun and News Of The World tabloids, the phoney 'sex' shops and clubs in London's Soho, TV watersheds, and arts censorship. The UK's so-called porn industry is, likewise, a complete sham - and when the awful Channel 4 decided to do a documentary series entitled The Dark Side Of Porn, you fear the worst. (Comments on each episode continue below.)

So, yes, they'll titillate you with enough erotic promise to want to watch it - then either deliver nothing, or worse, a fucking lecture on why sex in its various manifestations is so wrong. And like the ugly sweating repressed hypocrites they are, you know they've got semi-hard-ons under the table whilst addressing you in this patronising yet eminently uninformed tone. Whilst watching that shocking scene just one more time to see if it's really as offensive as they first thought. Whilst betraying that enduring paternalist attitude that women could not possibly have extreme sexual impulses of their own.

Thanks to greater integration with the far more enlightened European continent, and the internet's obliteration of the UK gatekeepers' powers, encouragingly it seems that current generations have been largely freed from these hang-ups. Nowadays, young people might be far more focused on their weekly ethanol binges than getting laid, but at least they're not prigs.

And it does seem to have become a generational issue. I know that from my own bittersweet experiences making music over the years, and also something addressed in other posts (KILLING FOR CULTURE - BLACK METAL PENCIL - NOSTALGIE DE LA BOUE).

Me And My Slaves
this study concerns a pint-sized peroxided punk who laughably calls himself a BDSM 'master' - if we'd got more of the fucked-up childhood sexual anecdotes, along with deeper questioning into his weird belief in Jesus, then this would have been far better

Searching For Animal Farm
the poignant story of Bodil Joensen, and her extraodinary relationship with animals, is the focus of this edition - unfortunately anglo-prudery contaminates the entire documentary in its most judgmental and ignorant form; Headpress's David Kerekes gets completely outed as a grade A prig, something to which his writing often alluded

Hunting For Emmanuelle
Sylvia Kristel is an amazing woman: remarkably beautiful and intelligent, with a singularly attractive energy - in this documentary about the groundbreaking original Emmanuelle, she reflects on its making and subsequent events in her life; the excruciatingly beautiful Emmanuelle theme by Pierre Bachelet forms the backdrop to this respectful study into the movie's cultural impact, tainted only by the inclusion of the reactionary opinions of that soulless old biddy, columnist Polly Toynbee

Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered
the presuppositions of the inherent 'dangers' of porn are all over this look at what was just another oh-so-boring porn flick: it's amazing how easily and lazily accepted the docu's producers' notions are that participating in making porn, watching porn, buying/selling porn, all have negative consequences (other than sheer tedium) - what tenuous faith they have in human life that the viewing of DDD, or the participation in the making of, could have such devastatingly far-reaching consequences

Porn Shutdown
a black male porn star goes to Brazil, contracts HIV, and you have the perfect exercise for Channel 4 to darkly propagate the evils of the mainstream porn industry (ironically, one as moralistic and reactionary as any other, especially in the US) - it's like the sensationalist 80s reporting of AIDS all over again, so conveniently does it serve the prudes' agenda; somehow, extraordinarily, the fucktard narrator seamlessly conflates this with the deleterious effects of our being exposed to 'gonzo' porn

Diary Of A Porn Virgin
Amateur Porn
I call bullshit on both these two fake documentaries which seem to be by the same UK production company - the subjects are all just trashy floundering wannabes that are desperate to be on TV, one way or another; also features plenty of the usual myths about the evils of porn

Death Of A Pornstar
a character study into the curious case of Lolo Ferrari, she of the monstrously large lips/boobs - it's a sad tale, and her long-term partner Eric Vigne might be a bit sleazy (and so what if he is?), however I don't accept the programme's sinister insinuations that he had anything directly to do with her death

Does Snuff Exist?
predictably here, all the myths and prejudices come out in full force; the programme makers, the arch-prudes, the institutions of censorship, authorities such as the FBI, all unite as one, all desperate clinging to the hope that such a thing as 'snuff' exists - they rationalise it hard because they need it so bad, just like the illusory Communists under the bed, just like the Al Qaida mirage, it's the existence of the evil without which gives little reason to live

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

PRAVDA 8

It doesn't really matter what newspaper you read, on or offline, tabloid or broadsheet: it's the same tired old ignorant hashed up nonsense scheduled by a lazy diary system. The sum of drunken journalistic dinner-table tittle-tattle. If you want real news, look no further than Pravda.

Paranormal Alien Cloud Hovers Over Moscow
Are you, like me, a sucker for these kinds of stories? Any headline with the word 'paranormal', 'alien', or even dare I say, 'cloud' - let alone 'hovering over Moscow'. Totally irresistible. The pay-off is usually no more than a blurry/grainy highly suspicious polaroid of someone suspending a button on a thread in front of the lens. The accompanying video, on this occasion, is awesome - don't miss out.

Mice Do Not Love Cheese
A highly entertaining list of common myths about animals which highlight the enduring potency of inherited human ignorance more than anything. But really, who would have thought a snail had 25,000 gnashers? Nightmarish.

The Black Archaeologists
This story about 'tomb raiders' conducting independent excavations at WWII sites is unfortunately light on detail, but no less fascinating for that. Thanks to Channel 4 and the BBC, we tend to think of archaeologists as strange bearded anoraks painstakingly sifting through dry soil to find little more than Roman coins, Anglo-Saxon trinkets,
and shards of Greek vases.

And it's this last example which goes back to my opening issue regarding the extraordinary laziness of Western journalism and media: there are an infinite number of amazingly fascinating subcultural worlds within our own society, and of which the vast part is made, all of which are completely overlooked for the endless regurgitating of the stale familiarities. Similarly, we're also used to editorial content being within an extremely narrow range of freedom of expression. One of the most refreshing aspects of Pravda's site is its openness to a real variety of opinions, with much I don't share agreement, yet genuinely celebrate its presence.

PRAVDA 7
PRAVDA 6
PRAVDA 5
PRAVDA 4

Monday, November 02, 2009

FILLMORE DISCOS 34

Two good, three bad.

Daisy Diamond (*****)
the talent Staho showed in previous flawed low-budget attempts comes to glorious fruition here in the superb and extremely powerful Daisy Diamond; this will drag you to the depths of hopelessness and despair and depression, but then deliver where the lightweight Moodysson merely promises only to disappoint; and all of us Bergman fans have something to be smug about again

Saw VI (*****)
a complex 90 minutes wrapping up many of the series' loose ends is also the most gruesomely violent of the lot; the twisted inverted morality plays are at the usual exquisite standard, and there's so much more of the wonderfully badass Tobin Bell to enjoy this time around

Paranormal Activity (*)
this supernaturally dreary movie is cynically aimed at the Living TV Most Haunted crowd: those who believe in ghosts and ouija boards and inexplicable breezes in your living room

Couples Retreat (*)
a two-hour chortle-free zone

My Sister's Keeper (**)
dishonest

FILLMORE DISCOS 33
FILLMORE DISCOS 32
FILLMORE DISCOS 31
FILLMORE DISCOS 30

Thursday, October 29, 2009

THE LORD OF COIN

It's what Hell was invented for. To use as a threat where a simple threat of violence or imprisonment or no pocket money would be ineffective, you naughty wicked bad evil sinners you. God is Love, and if you don't fall into line, expect to be smothered in fire and brimstone and forcibly fed on rats and toads. For ever. I wonder how many confessions priests get on a weekly basis about 'illegal' up/downloading.

It's not that I'm not sympathetic with the issue because it really does impact how much you're able to commit to invest in making your music, and I, like indeed I imagine Tibet does, rely on music for my living. Still, times change, and there's no use in crying and running off to mummy about it. Or some dodgy smelly priest in a varnished upright box.

These days the Holy Noncedom would have you fry in eternal damnation not just for masturbation, sodomy, homosexuality, using a condom, extramarital sex or any other sluttish behaviour - let alone vile witchery and sorcery - but also for not recycling your plastic bags. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, for example, proclaims that the traditional 6th century seven deadly sins (for your reference, conveniently listed below with their exciting range of adjoining punishments) are those of 'yesteryear'. I'm not sure what the bearded sandal'd one up at Hallucinatory Mountain would say about that.

And silly me always thought the seven deadly sins were a qualification for entry to the church. You wonder if they'll ever include arbitrary hypocrisy. Which proves the original point.

pride: broken on the wheel
envy: put in freezing water
gluttony: forced to eat rats, toads, and snakes
lust: smothered in fire and brimstone
anger: dismembered alive
greed: put in cauldrons of boiling oil
sloth: thrown in snake pits

Sunday, October 25, 2009

HK47 3

Thanks once again to Lorin for providing this news. So Hello Kitty is 35 years old? Wow. A collection of pictures from her birthday party to provide the unneeded evidence that proves that HK is anything but a kids' icon. Looks more like a mainstream porn convention.

HK47 2
HK47 1

Thursday, October 22, 2009

BIRDS 7

Though this won't come as new knowledge to the many who've already observed, or long known of, such things - it seems pleasingly ironic that the magpie, the bird which refused to mourn at the folkloric crucifixion of Jesus, is seen to grieve for its dead. Enjoy that Death Reference site - it's truly a good one.

BIRDS 6
BIRDS 5
BIRDS 4

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

MATTER CONSTRAINING MIND

Edinburgh University was the host venue for the latest invitee, Professor Michael Gazzaniga from California, to the prestigious Gifford series of lectures held at the four ancient Scottish universities. The lecture series has the purported intent of contributing to the advancement of philosophical and theological thought: 'natural theology', whatever in hell that means.

It's remarkable how a formal academic gathering in the imposing high-ceilinged Playfair Library with a couple hundred respectful erudite scholars can affect one's perspicacity - even for someone as avowedly hostile to the orthodox academic model as myself. It was only some time later that the extraordinary shallowness of the enterprise became apparent.

Psychologist Professor Gazzaniga wibbled and wobbled his way through his first two talks (Free: The Science Of Mind Constraining Matter), barely able to read aloud the unbelievably lightweight nonsense typed out in front of him. This was all accompanied by an inconsequentially superficial PowerPoint presentation replete with grade school spelling/punctuation mistakes and the inevitable moments of malfunctioning multimedia. If he wasn't inefficiently employing Dawkins' trademark rhetorical device of the absurdist example to prove highly contentious points, Gazzaniga was tossing around terms such as 'mind' and 'thoughts' and 'consciousness' and 'experience' and 'morality' with such inebriatedly undefined abandon that you wondered how on earth he even managed to gain a degree, let alone a coveted invitation to the Gifford Lectures.

However, it was the brief post-lecture Q&As that really found him out. The audience's questions were mostly insightful and pertinent to the topic, yet when Gazzaniga didn't freeze up completely, he invariably chose to misinterpret their focus through brazenly inaccurate rewording; a tried and trusted mechanism by teachers to avoid having to admit to not having an answer, thus preserving the vanity of their given social status as founts of knowledge.

It enrages you even more to consider the plight and gratuitous suffering of the thousands of research animals at the bloodsoaked hands of 'scientists' like Gazzaniga and company. I won't make this worse by relaying some of the nonsensical experiments alluded to - suffice to say that we humans are apparently so special and so unique because the other animals can't play the fucking piano.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FILLMORE DISCOS 33

Food, Inc. (***)
the information is familiar yet presented in a pleasingly visual manner - Schlosser is his usual wonderfully dry erudite self; stars deducted however for the Stonyfield puff piece and Bruce Springsteen in the final credits

H2: Halloween II (*****)
I'm not fooled by the stupid prejudices that Rob Zombie seems to attract, nor by the myth that the snoozefest John Carpenter original is some kind of inimitable classic: finally, after 31 years' wait, we get the definitive Michael Myers experience

Star Trek (**)
Star Trek, for some reason, translates uncomfortably from TV to film - personally, I miss the high camp, the low budget sets, the tremendous original cast, and the lo-cal philosophical allegory - much care and attention to detail has been expended upon this flashy new prequel, the effects and cinematography are tremendous, but ultimately it lacks charm and soul

Angst (***)
an interesting oddity, and clearly an enormous influence on Gaspar Noe in I Stand Alone - there's an irreconcilable incongruence between the calm thoughtful narrative and the killer's flailing lack of premeditation as he commits the crimes; also his clownish ineptitude becomes as increasingly irritating as does the excessive use of shoulder mounted cameras; still, that said, it's well worth seeing and boasts a nice Klaus Schulze soundtrack

The Ugly Truth (***)
oh yes please, the sublimely guilty yet satisfying pleasure of a chick flick with Katherine Heigl

Gimme Shelter (***)
shocking not only for the infamous violence, but also for how rubbish those mockneys the Stones are as a live act

A Perfect Getaway (*)
the scenery of the islands of Hawaii is as spectacular as this film is stupid - Milla Jovovich is wasted in this utter trash

Loft (*)
why let what is a decent story here get in the way of 'cutting-edge' design effects and enthusiasm of Final Cut Pro film school graduates? or the incredibly irksome soundtrack composer that refuses to be quiet for a single second?

The Damned United (***)
perfectly enjoyable film that probably overemphasises the comic moments that at times verge on Mike Bassett territory; this has the effect of making what is a fascinating character study of this extraordinary man Clough seem rather superficial

Dead Snow (*)
silly Norwegian sub-Sam Raimi zombie spoof - and when will directors learn? it's scientifically proven that zombies, Nazi or otherwise, can but shamble never to run

Sorority Row (**)
Sorority Row starts out great, with some nice cinematography and darkly humorous Mean Girls bitchspeak - sadly, the plot flatlines after half an hour or so to become a laboured generic popcorn slasher, with the unscariest villain of all time

Deadgirl (*)
if directed by Pascal Laugier ('Martyrs') then maybe, but as it is, this film is a dreary teen/horror/comedy/romance/allegory hybrid that fails on all counts - in fact, the final act gets so boring that you don't care how the film ends, just that it ends; oh, and anyone making a movie with a premise as sick as this shouldn't get all coy about showing graphic sex and violence

FILLMORE DISCOS 32
FILLMORE DISCOS 31
FILLMORE DISCOS 30
FILLMORE DISCOS 29

WEB EXCLUSIVE

There's a web exclusive track from Afro Noise I featured at The Wire magazine online site, which is to accompany my Inner Sleeve feature on Yoko Ono's Fly 2LP in the current issue (November 09, #309).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

DOGMAGRAPHICAL 2

An introduction to Helvetica cuisine...

Yay, it's Wednesday and it's Steak O'Clock! Presumably the word 'large' is the one blacked out... boo hiss.




'You didn't bring your Privilege Card? I'm sorry, sir, all food is 2-4-1 between 2pm-6pm every day only in possession of said card.'







'Homemade' fish finger sandwich, anyone? Accompanied with the beer battered onion rings perhaps? How about the chili & chocolate burger? Or the highly uncommended Revolution vodka pizza?

One can only guess how excessive the bill was for the design of this horrendous helvetica'd menu; consistent punctuation and correct use of apostrophes clearly come at an unaffordable premium.

DOGMAGRAPHICAL 1

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

QUICK FIX

Here on a few days' break in a sunny yet bracingly chilly Cologne, including some Benetti action on Friday night in Duesseldorf at Salon Des Amateurs.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

YELLOW REFLECTIVE 2

This yellow reflective jacketed stormtrooper might look like an undersized weeble, but woe betide any of you Dundas Street transgressors as you grovel and beg for mercy. In vain.

YELLOW REFLECTIVE 1

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DOGMAGRAPHICAL

You know when something's pointed out to you for the first time, you suddenly start seeing examples everywhere that used to go unnoticed? Or at least in your conscious mind. See, ever since I watched that damned documentary Helvetica, a cursed lucidity has been bestowed. (And another welcome opportunity for me to have a rant.)

So it was the same upon learning of the underhand techniques of major UK supermarkets. One aspect in particular: the fact they're all just big fucking refrigerators - essentially to maintain the fresh-looking appearance of the fruit and veg, which can be up to 12 months old and therefore about as non-nutritious as all the other overpriced multinational mass-produced convenience crap that fill their sorry shelves. Even in a state of ravenous hunger, I can now wander around Tesco's for hours with my will to stay alive through voluntary oral sustenance ebbing away at an alarming rate.

Anyway, back to the horrors of Helvetica Culture. It first became noticeable during the recent trip to the London museums, in particular the wretched Natural History Museum and much of the Science Museum. Things took a further turn for the worse once the full extent of the plague became apparent in eating and drinking establishments. You really do start seeing this typeface everywhere, especially on menus and pricelists. And, truth be told, it's not that I have an issue with the font's creators and its venerable origins; it's the subtext of its usage that's the problem: proprietors paying big bucks to bring in the design squad zealots. The triumph of style over substance. Looks over taste.

Except that,
as far as I'm concerned, and just as with people, without substance and taste you ain't got no style. So when a bistro, gastro-pub, or café, uses Helvetica as a menu or logo font, you just know that the food is going to have about as much flavour as your semi-reheated cardboard croissant on British Airways, and that's if you can even generate some kind of appetite for it in the first place. Ready for your yummy watery microwaved pasta penne freshly slit open from its plastic pouch, or did you go for the 'Mexican' chili? Didn't think so. Problem is, if you're like me, you've suddenly gone and excluded yourself from 90% of the UK's eateries.

To extend this convenient metaphor, the designer's job is to neatly and competently lay the cutlery and glassware on the table before the diners arrive. That's it. That's the extent of their importance.

Monday, September 28, 2009

YELLOW REFLECTIVE

After mentioning it in my recent BIRDS 6, here's another poignant example (for the sceptics) of that most powerful symbol of the new totalitarian state we inhabit. Never, ever, trust a man (or woman) in a yellow reflective jacket.

ACQUISITIONS 3

reading
The Nose - Nikolai Gogol
Red Star Over Russia - David King
Babywatching - Desmond Morris

listening
Clubs - The Durian Brothers (EP)
Il Corpo Di Linda - Riz Ortolani
Big Fat Arse - ACL

viewing
American Swing
Loft
Lunacy
What Happened On The Moon

ACQUISITIONS 2
ACQUISITIONS 1

AFTER SIGHT 4













AFTER SIGHT 3
AFTER SIGHT 2
AFTER SIGHT 1

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FILLMORE DISCOS 32

Is a metaphor mixed if there's inherent double meaning? I couldn't possibly say. No posts for a few days, so I've decided to punish you with an abundant flurry of these movie reviews - actually, it's a bumper crop.

Deadgirl (*)
if directed by Pascal Laugier (Martyrs) then maybe, but as it is, this film is a dreary teen/horror/comedy/romance/allegory hybrid that fails on all counts - in fact, the final act gets so boring that you don't care how the film ends, just that it ends; oh, and anyone making a movie with a premise as sick as this shouldn't get all coy about showing graphic sex and violence

Long Weekend (Nature's Grave) (*)
in this 2008 remake we have on display an implausible, nay senseless, narrative along with the woefully inept acting skills you'd expect in soaps like Home And Away and Neighbours; this is all pleasingly set in the undeniably dramatic and spectacular Australian outback, but even that cannot compensate for what is a dull movie experience

Smash Cut (*)
Sasha Grey's role in The Girlfriend Experience was much better suited to her normal attractively cool detached energy, but sadly her acting skills are badly exposed in Smash Cut, an excruciatingly poor indie horror/comedy verging on the unwatchable, more notable for cameo roles from David Hess and Michael Berryman, neither of whom cover themselves in glory either

Sauna (**)
Finnish mediaeval drama that is pretty to look at, but dour even for my taste, and the overly melodramatic symphonic music is intrusive and annoying

District 9 (*****)
the best scifi film ever made, pure and simple - how a preposterous plot about aliens living in South African slums can be made into something meaningful and believable is simply genius

I Sell The Dead (*)
unfunny in the extreme

Summer School (*)
execrable indie effort

Wild Strawberries (*****)
half a century later it's quite clear how influential this surprisingly heartwarming movie (by Bergman's standards, at least) was

Shame (*****)
a Bergman film about war with special FX is surreal indeed - though once again it's about people, not events, and the trademark abrupt ending hits you hard (as usual) as you attempt to come to terms with what you've just experienced

Persona (*****)
masterpiece

Cries And Whispers (*****)
perhaps the most beautiful horror film ever, and certainly another extraordinary Bergman masterpiece where we ultimately find ourselves transcendentally uplifted by small gestures of love and redemption within an uncompromising descent into depression, lust, self-loathing, morbidity, and pain

Brief Crossing (**)
a brave attempt by Breillat at gender reversal in a casual relationship between a young boy and more experienced older woman on board an overnight ferry crossing (hence the double meaning in the title) - unfortunately, the film capsizes spectacularly as it unintentionally degenerates into a floundering farce not helped by the totally unbelievable interactions, calamitous continuity errors, and silly bloopers; furthermore, the boring-as-hell little pipsqueak French boy inspires no more in you than the urge to punch him, hard - and Alice, the decidedly manly 'seductress', is but a psycho whose interminable insufferable monologues seem little more than extended extracts from a Breillat essay (compare the similarly disappionting Anatomy Of Hell)

City Of Life And Death (**)
what starts out as a well-documented feature of the massacres of Nanking - with some amazing locations and effects ably depicting the sense of widescale confusion and disorientation, gradually descends into the usual stereotypically portrayed human interest war stories and tragedies, none of which seem credible; this has the inevitable effect of weakening the emotional impact such a film should elicit

Riben Guizi (Japanese Devils) (****)
Japanese documentary compiling chilling revelations and atrocity confessions from Japanese veteran soldiers in China, including those involved with the notorious Unit 731 during the occupation of Manchuria; the candour and seeming remorse they display whilst recounting the horrific deeds committed makes it all the more compelling - the film aslo features some extraordinary contemporary footage of street clashes in Japan between those for and against Japan's behaviour during WW2

Winter Light (*****)
a film that plays like a note perfect baroque cello suite - as dazzlling and absorbing as it is grey in tone, Winter Light lingers on in the mind long after its brief symbolic duration from noon till three

Ingmar Bergman Makes A Movie (*****)
highly inspirational 5-part documentary into the making of Winter Light - Bergman has a beautiful zen-like quality throughout: funny, perceptive, wise, calm, thoughtful, candid - with no affectations, apologies, nor signs of vanity

Grace (**)
there's something wrong with baby Grace: although full of squeamish childbirth related moments, this small budget horror fails to deliver (pun unintended, already regretted) on some promising setpieces and characterisations, and you end up feeling thoroughly cheated by the experience (allegory intended, merely hypothesised)

Une Vraie Jeune Fille (****)
Catherine Breillat's debut film is a rare, and likeably surreal journey into the manifestations of the perverse mind of the anomic teenage girl

FILLMORE DISCOS 31
FILLMORE DISCOS 30
FILLMORE DISCOS 29
FILLMORE DISCOS 28

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

DESTINATION FINAL 2

And it did finally come to pass: The Final Destination 3D.

Before getting the chance to see it however, I noticed a review of it in Friday's Daily Mail, which I feverishly read, not in the expectation that such a tabloid paper would 'get it', but in the nervous hope that the producers hadn't blown it by getting big-name real actors on board, a decent script, and a compelling narrative.

The way I see it, anyone whingeing about the FD franchise's deficiencies in these departments completely misses the point; in fact, for the purposes of this unique format, these paucities are compulsory: to avoid upstaging the film's works of art, the consistently brilliant collections of ingeniously gruesome setpiece kill-scenes.

So a huge relief. No sooner had reviewer Chris Tookey j0ked about the one-dimensionality of the characters in a three-dimensional movie, nor had labelled it 'ugly, repetitive, and sadistic... with lots of meaningless sex, and death in spectacularly gruesome ways', nor had given it a paltry single star, than I knew we were on to another winner in the series.

And this was proven to be correct on last night's maiden viewing. It admirably delivers in all the ways you desire; plus there are no good 'performances' nor snappy dialogues to get in the way of the trademark breathtakingly elaborate kills and exquisitely gory thrills. The 3D effects, although often CGI produced, are also an excellent novelty that really adds to the sense of visceral fulfilment.

As a genre, Final Destination occupies its own glorious inimitable domain, one that relies entirely on the endeavour of pure artistic creativity, that most difficult ingredient to imitate.

DESTINATION FINAL 1

Saturday, August 29, 2009

ACQUISITIONS 2

reading
Disco - Albert Goldman
Men And Pandas - Ramona & Desmond Morris
The Commissar Vanishes - David King (on privileged loan...)
Catwatching - Desmond Morris

listening
Afrikan Machinery - Lukas Ligeti (CD)
Junko & Mattin - Junko & Mattin (vinyl)
Reuters - G-Park (vinyl)
Skywalker - Claudio Simonetti (vinyl)

viewing
Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears
I Sell The Dead
Face To Face
The Irony Of Fate

ACQUISITIONS 1

AFTER SIGHT 3













AFTER SIGHT 2
AFTER SIGHT 1

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

RHODIUM 7

A chance conversation a couple of days ago at the awesome Anstruther Fish Bar, that most venerable of fish and chip restaurants, reawakened my love for the music of Karen Carpenter. When even the merest mention of a song title can cause a grown man to splutter over his glass of milk, his eyes welling up in emotion, you know this is music of incredible power: such to elicit meaningful responses that totally belies its common positioning within the otherwise moribund genres of MOR or easy listening.

In the BBC Arena interview special with an eightysomething Ingmar Bergman, he talked about his love of music (of which, by the way, he has impeccable taste). He pondered on the mystery of its origins, asking people along the way as part of an almost Diogenesian inquiry into its whys, yet never receiving a plausible answer. Neither do I have an answer, and my passionate feelings about these songs is a perfect reason for not having one.

The Carpenters : Love Songs (1998)

Compilations are rarely little more than lazy affairs to cash in on an artist's popularity later in their careers, or posthumously - and at their charitable best, a way of creating interest in further exploration of an artist's career. However, in the case of The Carpenters, this affectionately selected and sequenced collection makes perfect sense. Whereas their original albums were rather tepid affairs showcasing a variety of styles from inoffensive soft rock to country to pop, it was the torch songs and love songs that really stood out.

Karen Carpenter's voice is impossibly beautiful. She breathes life into her lyrics in a way that defies all reasoning, in a way that many others have tried yet all have failed - in fact, so painfully sweet and heartbreakingly pure that you have to admire Richard Carpenter's strength of resolve in not having to be constantly having to reconstitute himself from a sorry puddle of tears.

All the Carpenters' songs that I personally love are on this album, ones like
Superstar, (They Long To Be) Close To You, This Masquerade; and there are a few wonderful new discoveries too, such as the soulwrenching A Song For You. A definite criticism could be levelled at some of the fancy post-production applied to this album - it does sound as if they've been '
enhanced' a bit (in my opinion, unnecessarily), and the original version of Close To You was a minute or so longer than the one offered here.

RHODIUM 6
RHODIUM 5
RHODIUM 4
RHODIUM 3
RHODIUM 2
RHODIUM 1

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BIRDS 6

Here in the UK, the luminous yellow reflective jacket is the new uniform of choice for the wannabe Stasi or Gestapo functionary, and other aspiring goons. Alongside the snoopers, informants, finers, interveners, and 'community police', a new squad in Aldeburgh will now also have to be decked out in said jackets in order to enforce a stringent new policy against those that would dare feed the local seagulls.

It's enough to compel you to initiating a nationwide campaign to start chumming the birds with raw meat. Resistance to the oppression begins here, with the gulls leading the way.

In the meantime, I am once again most grateful to Lorin for sending this moving anecdote:

When I was very young (five or six years old), I had two parakeets, a male and a female, who I named Biff and Plumas. They were little splashes of bright color, so, so cute in a way one can only appreciate before the age of ten or after the age of 30. I would open the cage to let them flap around the house a bit and they would return to the cage in five minutes or so. Knowing what I know now, they both would have flown away forever had they not been purchased at the most sickening of all retail spots, the 'pet store' where birds have their wings clipped to keep them seemingly domesticated but ultimately crippled and reliant on the cage.

I recall the day Plumas died. I had a ceremonial shoebox burial in my family's backyard. The strongest memory, though, was Biff's mourning. I am not abusing the word; he had an actual, visible mourning. He lingered upon the place in the cage where my mother found Plumas dead, he refused to eat anything, even sesame treats, and he heaved pained, horrible coos that sounded EXACTLY like human crying. Not a pleasant memory, by any means, but at an early age learned that a bird is capable of (and imbued with) the kind of dynamic passion that humans stupidly mislabel as 'feelings', or worse, 'a soul'.

BIRDS 5
BIRDS 4
BIRDS 3
BIRDS 2
BIRDS 1

Saturday, August 15, 2009

FILLMORE DISCOS 31

A bumper collection to negotiate this time around.

Orphan (*****)
super high quality popcorn horror that's polarised the critics right down the middle - there's the odd cheeseball moment here and there, and I suspect the producers made a couple of minor interventions, but it'd be churlish to give this anything less than 5 stars for so much it does with such wickedly brilliant glee: in particular, its extremely subversive perspective of children and their relationships with adults; Isabelle Fuhrman is incredible as Esther, so badass a character that you find yourself shamelessly rooting for her from the moment she arrives on the screen right to the very end

Antichrist (**)
Lars Von Trier's homage to Tarkovsky, disappointingly, is a failure; Gainsbourg is hopelessly out of her depth as an actress, where even LVT is incapable of provoking her into anything more than to some amateurishly mechanical histrionics, meanwhile Defoe desperately vogues at the directors in the audience to once again take his arthouse credentials seriously; the film's Stalker/Mirror flourishes come across as third-rate David Lynch, and the arty sound design and fancy visual filters seem forced, thus incongruent; and don't get me started on the cheeseball religious symbology and references in the dialogues; this is the first film in Von Trier's illustrious career that I've reacted disfavourably towards, and I can only think that his otherwise likeable arrogance got the better of him in the belief that he could operate outside his usual domain of cinematic expertise and excellence

Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (****)
amazing close portrait of Idi Amin, never anything but compellingly alpha (as well as bonkers), he remains the antithesis of the stereotypically stunted dwarven chip-on-the-shoulder tyrant

En Passion (*****)
a classic masterpiece by the genius that is Bergman

From The Life Of The Marionettes (*****)
Bergman mindfucks you again, and you keep coming back for more - some of the dialogues in Marionettes are memorably, and deliciously, depressing

A Bittersweet Life (**)
what starts out full of depth, a superb cast, visual style, and the promise of transcending the staid genre of stupidass gangster movies, ultimately descends into a vacuous farce in the final act, precisely what you hoped it wouldn't be

Tempo Di Viaggio (****)
as a documentary, as enigmatic as Nostalghia itself

Last House On Dead End Street (*****)
a masterpiece of the genre, and one of remarkable originality and artistic expression; it'd be more useful to compare this with Buñuel or Godard than any Wes Craven trash; we can only dream that the original 3 hour Cuckoo Clocks Of Hell (much better title anyway) might one day resurface

Tokyo Sonata (**)
non-Japanese critics are falling over themselves to present this as a poignant drama study into contemporary social alienation in Japan, a country ever exotic in their eyes - in my own opinion, it's a slow plodding heavy-handed soap opera of very little real substance and an extraordinarily contrived third act

Possession (1981) (*)
I really don't understand some of the eulogies bandied about for a feature-length film that plays like an interminable short - Adjani is little better but Sam Neill's relentlessly ham performance, albeit with a crass dialogue, is truly embarrassing in what is a hokey lo-budget horror; I'll stick to Bergman for tortured relationship dramas, thank you very much - the best thing you can say is that Heinrich has great taste in art

The Human Contract (**)
an erotic drama with good intentions, one loosely based on the moral of the Frankenstein tale; sadly, director Pinkett Smith has the real emotional drama and pathos arrive way too late in the proceedings and thus the film fails to make the meaningful impact it could have

The Cranes Are Flying (*****)
simple tale told devastatingly effectively - the cinematography is way ahead of its time (1957), the movie is filled with incredibly memorable and meaningful moments, and there isn't a single character that you don't care about in one way or another; the gorgeous Tatyana Samojlova would have made her great-uncle Stanislavski proud with her deeply affectional performance (should also be said that the Criterion print is, as we'd expect, outstanding)

FILLMORE DISCOS 30
FILLMORE DISCOS 29
FILLMORE DISCOS 28
FILLMORE DISCOS 27

Friday, July 31, 2009

BLACK METAL PENCIL

There's really nothing like a sweet bit of come-uppance, and after decades of humourless digs at all and sundry in the world of music via his artistically null cartoon, Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil) feels the heat and sweats cold. All because some Wire reader without a life felt the need to write in and complain about Pouncey's inclusion of an utterly obscure heavy metal band in a playlist; and thus it seems panic has broken out at the magazine's offices, and said Pouncey has had to grovel for mercy by means of a public written apologia.

Of course, what he should be apologising about is his singularly embarrassing taste in music, not to mention his crimes against humour. As far as I'm concerned, black metal is what boys listen to after they've finished all their Harry Potter books; I imagine Iron Maiden would also still be cool, but not a band to be namedropped in The Wire. Graveforests And Their Shadows indeed. Seriously, Stars In Their Eyes is more experimental than this crap.

But that aside, here is Pencil's awkward obfuscating squirm from the latest issue, with annotations.

"My inclusion of Walknut's album in my Black Metal 15 was based purely on the group's music rather than any ugly fascist message..."
hang on, 'ugly fascist message' as opposed to 'nice fascist message'?

"...that they may have secretly buried in the mix."
what, like backwards messages?

"Although ignorance is no excuse,"
...

"...I was blissfully unaware that Graveforests And Their Shadows contained material that supported extreme racist viewpoints."
...so ignorance is indeed an excuse

"Instead, I heard what sounded like an excellent example of ABM (Atmospheric Black Metal) that I felt was worthy of mention for its musical and experimental qualities."
I'm sure The Wire complainant will be most grateful for having the acronym ABM explained to him - cf. 'paediatrician' (a doctor who looks after the health of children)

"Should its inclusion in my chart have caused any distress to readers of The Wire,"
'distress'?!?

"...or embarrassment to the magazine's staff, I sincerely apologize and promise to be more alert and responsible in the future. I also agree that racists should not be allowed to have a platform in the pages of The Wire. That said, however, I do feel that Black Metal is producing some of the most interesting and diverse music today, and for that reason alone I shall continue to support it. Savage Pencil"
so, by definition of the 'that said/however' contrast, does it mean Mr. Pencil does feel that it/they should be allowed to have a platform in the pages of The Wire, or that he'll just continue to support it/them for demonstrating excellent musical/experimental qualities?

This was the guy who got so hot and bothered over an erect penis on an album cover? Oh dear.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

PRAVDA 7

Russia does not believe in tears: some of the latest, greatest news stories from Pravda.

Russia Loses Its Poker Face Entirely
Before the sad break-up of the Soviet Union, chess used to be a national sport, if not a valued art form. It was said that any Muscovite cab driver was of international grandmaster standard. So it's a bleak day for the Russian nation when, that most American of games, good ol' Texas hold'em poker has become so popular that steps have to be taken to ban it, and furthermore on the grounds that it's not a 'sport'. It reminds of that recent Haiti documentary I saw (whose name escapes me), whilst hoping to discover some new things about vaudou, learnt that all the kids wear baseball caps and Nike trainers, and are into Tupac, Shaq O'Neal, and drive-bys. So depressing.

Michael Jackson’s Bubbles Probably Became World’s Richest Chimp
If this is true, I don't care what you say about Jacko. I've absolutely no idea on what grounds he was ever hailed as a musical genius - but then the same could be said about Elvis 'The King Of Rock 'N' Roll' Presley (assuming he is in fact dead), Brian Jones, and Jim fucking Morrison. Aside from prurient curiosity, neither do I care what he got up to (or not) in his bedroom at Neverland, nor whether his children are really his, nor whether he actually had sex with a woman. However, if he's left $2,000,000 to Bubbles the Chimp, then he's a damn saint in my book.


Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport Ranked World's Second Worst
Thus one immediately wonders which could be the worst; and there are plenty of candidates that come to mind without ever having suffered the alleged indignities of Sheremetyevo. The joyless purgatory that is Heathrow quickly springs to mind for its universally rude unpleasantly inept officious staff, its unending corridors to nowhere in particular, its retail overkill, and the outdoor queueing; not to forget inevitable delays and guaranteed loss of baggage. Then there'd be Stansted or Luton (alternative so-called 'London' airports), both vortices to oblivion; the vertiginous nightmare landing strip at Hong Kong's Kai Tak (though now no more); O'Hare (Chicago's own version of the Gaza checkpoints on a bad day); and surely many other worthy nominees. Is Moscow's really that bad??

PRAVDA 6
PRAVDA 5
PRAVDA 4
PRAVDA 3