Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Crush...

I am a movie guy, I will always sit down and watch a movie if it grabs me, even if it's dumb. For the longest time I would get interested in about 85% of the comedies out there (excluding childrens ones), and any movie somebody said was good, I would check it out. And that is where my problem began, I kept watching and renting dumb movies. What a bummer.

As I like foreign films a lot and the films that come to the indie movie houses around Santa Monica, I always feel like i'm playing eternal catch-up. So many good movies that are here today, then gone tomorrow. That is the gift of netflix and the fact that the turnaround from arthouse to dvd is quite quick. I have seen some lovely indie films locally as of recent like The Lives Of Others (wiki) and Who Killed The Electric Car? to name a few.

My search for good movies landed me on the Criterion Collection web page which made me very happy. Restoring classic arthouse foreign films is a great thing, and the collection includes some very important films. One of my favorite films (which I have blogged about) is For All Mankind about the NASA missions to the moon. Recently I blogged about The Battle Of Algiers another great Criterion Collection film. My netflix has been bustling with foreign gems like Port Of Shadows, Fritz Lang's M, and Army Of Shadows.

Absolutely amazing stuff, I highly recommend researching the collection and renting a few whose synobsis you find interesting, you won't be let down.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Movie: Electroma

Like 18k other hooligans, I went to go see Daft Punk perform at the LA Sports Arena recently. It was a great turnout for a great French group that I consider "Electronica for Dummies." After the show I was conversing with my uber daft punk fan friend Cesar who remarked, "I can burn you the "Electroma" dvd if you'd like, I hated it." At first I was like yeah whatever, but then I thought, oh why not, free is free isn't it. A few days later I decided to pop in the movie as I was still vibing off a great show and day (saw Beckham's premier). I knew the movie was going to be slow, and after Interstella 5555 which I thought was a cool 2 hour music video I wasn't expecting to be wowed.

On the contrary, I was wowed. In fact, super wowed. This film is a truly love it or hate it kind of thing, but as I am an artsy movie buff I found it quite interesting. I'd say it's a mix of Kubrick and The Man Who Fell To Earth (which starred David Bowie). As the movie didn't really wow many people and ended up on the midnight circuit in Paris of all places I'm sure the general public doesn't have a clue about this jig. Basically you have 2 robots in a place that is like earth in all ways except everybody are robots. The 2 main characters happen to have the outfits of Daft Punk's stage persona, go figure. They strive to be Human, and for an hour and a half they do that, and that is it. There is absolutely NO DIALOGUE in this film, and the determining factor of emotion is music. Now that is why I love this film, the music supervision is flawless to the T and not one piece of Daft Punk music is used. Brian Eno, Sebastian Tellier, Curtis Mayfield, Chopin, Todd Rungren, and more make up this fascinating soundtrack that by all means sets the tone of the whole movie.

The film was shot in 11 days in Independence, CA a beautifully barren town and desert base of the Sierra Nevadas, 90 miles south of Mammoth. The scenic beauty adds a lot depth to an otherwise easily misinterpretted film. Another realization one must make before viewing this film is that it is slow, scenes drag on for many minutes, the opening scene is 7 minutes of basic driving through the desert, and at the end of the movie things are at a crawl. Daft Punk wanted to make a film their way and by now they should have that right. I commend them for doing what they have done and really not caring about the outcome or critic's point of view. It was the perfect time for me to see this movie, mood and setting were on point, and that lends a lot to my feelings about it. What could essentially be 9 or 10 music video's put together wonderfully tells a simple story of the constant sorrow associated with the stuggle of being like everybody else. The simplicity of the film is a breath of fresh air as so many movies today depend on bad jokes, bad action, bad storylines, and bad stories. Why not embrace a calming experience like "Electroma"?

"Electroma" is out on Vice Records in September (total bummer, piss poor label). For a zipped file of the soundtrack head over here, it's really worth it, bravo to the music supervisor. The last thing I can say is in a world in which we are handfed most of our entertainment (Perez Hilton, TMZ, Transformers) it's nice to see a pair of artists make a film that completely disregards what is expected of entertainment.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bear Grylls: My Hero

Stop Hating On Bear!

Bear Grylls resume is outstanding. British Special Forces puts him in the top percentile of the world of elite human machismos. Climbing Mt. Everest (the youngest englishman), and crossing the frozen sea of the Atlantic puts him in a class of survivalism that only a handful have obtained. So now this controversy is uncovered in which people are stating that on the popular show "Man Vs. Wild" Bear is getting help from consultants and not really sleeping in animal carcasses. People are claiming that this reality TV is not really reality. Wait...go figure...TV not realistic?

Reality itself, is not interesting for 99% of the population. Therefore people have seemed to enjoy watching shows about people whose reality seems to be wild and crazy and more interesting than theirs. The problem with that is the TV producers are spending a lot of money following around a schmo for days and days only to find them grocery shopping or watching TV or whatever. So for the show to continue on, REALITY must be forced and tweaked. These situations usually revolve around a conflict, an altercation, or acts of stupidity. You know you wouldn't watch if it was boring.

So Bear Grylls allegedly doesn't sleep the whole night in a freezing snow cave, or his raft he can't complete by himself. Okay, not cool, but I know from watching the show, that it is TV! Of course there is a "Local Survival Expert" or whatever credited, because Bear isn't going to know about Native American survival techniques without sitting down with somebody from the area and learning it. I love the show "Man Vs. Wild" it is my favorite show on television, why, because it is something that interests me and something I grew up doing on a way lesser scale. I am an Eagle Scout and I was in the Boy Scouts for many years of my early life. I went camping once a month and the most important lessons ("merit badges") I learned from the program was Emergency Preparedness, First Aid, and Wilderness Survival. In a few instances I have used those First Aid techniques in car accidents and mini "disasters" or whatever. I take it all very personally because saving peoples lives is an amazing thing, and there are many situations where a person can do so. Bear Grylls is my hero because he films situations in which the normal person would die or be scared shitless and he walks you through the steps towards making it out alive. He teaches survival techniques on TV and that is a hell of a lot better than watching young girls get drunk and make out like most reality TV. Most "stars" of reality TV are embarrassed (you know you have watched the Real World reunions and they always say that). This is noble television, and I always knew that there is definitely some fudging going on because Bear has an unidentified camera crew and it's REALITY TV.

I have worked in music since I was 15 1/2 years old in which I have truly gone from innocence to experience. On occasions through my career I have seen payola take place, interns forging stars autographs, discussions about the use of auto-tune on a record, and many more "behind the scenes" bullshit that the consumer and common man would shun. It is also such common knowledge of the use of "Ghost Writers" that it has become completely acceptable, nobility is out the fucking window at the first hint in the Entertainment Industry. A "Ghost Writer" is employed when a songwriter or producer has gotten to the point of fame where he is too lazy/lost his touch and hires up and coming creative songwriters/producers to write his shit for him to put his name on. This is never mentioned in articles or liner notes, but it happens with almost all mega-stars and nobody bats a lash. Even now a days due to some discovery or partial morality these ghost writers get a small percentage of the hit songs they wrote but the press still hails the big name attached to it. The exact same filthy techniques are employed in all television, especially reality tv!

What the "bewildered herd" doesn't know, doesn't hurt them. The NY Post who is infamous for slander and uncovering bullshit about anything of course goes to town on this. In my mind Bear has earned enough respect through his unfilmed acts of survival and human drama to be able to film a show in which things are setup and facts are withheld, it's called television. I dont know about you, but when I saw Bear drink his own piss, bite the head off a snake in which he eats, and eat a fish that came straight out of a river raw I squirmed. That type of TV is good TV because in that situation who knows what we would do to survive. It's not like he doesn't show himself skinning a dead animal for it's hide so he doesn't freeze, there is no stunt double around. Along with that "drama" I have also seen a man explain how to use the sun, moss, and small icicles as a compass which uncovers one of the most important parts of survival, finding your direction a la North, South, East and West. Finding a water source in the desert, building a snowcave (which is basically the only way to survive when in a barren snowy region), or the proper feet first method when you are in the rapids without a boat/canoe/raft is all very useful information. My Boy Scout experience has touched on these things and I'm glad that the masses enjoy watching this stuff and hopefully learning a bit. Who knew all snakes are edible as long as you don't eat the guts or head?!?! I will also state that not all boy scouts are angels. I am a very proud Eagle Scout and I'll admit I spent many nights out in the wilderness drinking beers with fellow boy scouts at an early age (along with other contraband). Oh the shock, oh the horror!

The fact of the matter is that all TV is manufactured in the "Wizard of Oz" type way. Behind the scenes a lot of bullshit goes down and until recent years it was all unknown to the general public. "The Day of the Locust" depicted true Hollywood in 1939 and it was a huge success because people were intrigued that those involved in amazing movies were treated like shit, poor, and miserable. Entertainment is only entertaining if you are intrigued and if it's something you dont know much about. The public's desire for dramatic entertainment has cost people their dignity. In my eyes Bear Grylls will always be a hero, and I don't mind if not every aspect of his show is him absolutely cut-off from human contact because in the one hour show the lessons learned and the entertainment value is much more valuable. A man like Bear Grylls has already earned his credibility, let the ghosts of entertainment do what they do so we can continue to enjoy "Man Vs. Wild."

Monday, July 16, 2007

You Know You Live In Los Angeles When...

...Diamond Dallas Page teaches your yoga class.

Now my life is complete! I grew up watching WCW, I know what the Diamond Cutter is. The class was not easy, I was sweating like a dog and dang I'm sore tonight. It's not bogus, and the stretches were very nice. Check out his site, www.yrgworkout.com aka Yoga for Regular Guys/Gals. Looking forward to going again...next time Radio Perfik is cancelled.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recent Development!

Mark E Smith: Douchebag Extraordinaire

I wrote off Mark E Smith (wiki)/the Fall (wiki) a few years ago. Mark E is a douchebag, and I found the music too discombobulated for my taste....especially when on a classic Manchester kick. I got the old school "A Sides" album but it never really grabbed me. Finally I tried again and bought "50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong: 39 Golden Greats" and sat on that for a bit. A few weeks back I was feeling a little giddy so I found the double album in my office and popped it on. For some reason it stuck with me, and I am now really getting into it. I'm discombobulated and weird...so it's perfect. Looking forward to the next time the Fall plays the Knitting Factory (yearly I believe) as I will definitely attend.

Here are two of the newer tracks on the "...Greats" album, who'd a think a dude who has released like 90 albums would still pump it out.

The Fall - Green Eyed Loco-Man (2003)
The Fall - Crop-Dust (2001)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bummer ALERT!


"I bought the new Justice album at Starbucks!"

Yes, it is true, now that Tower Records has croaked, and Penny Lane is dead, there is only one music store on the Promenade....HEAR Music aka STARBUCKS. "Baristas" sell me music...yeah whatever. Tuesdays = new releases day, so I make my way over to HEAR every now and then to get up to speed.

Yesterday included the following:

Justice - (Cross): Had all the tracks already, whoops, but hey, gotta support my French Electro!

Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta!: You can't beat this, and ever since Eugene Hutz did an amazing job acting in "Everything Is Illuminated" I'm an even bigger fan. First listen shows a lot of promise, produced by Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave, Billy Bragg).

Interpol - Our Love To Admire: See below...Artwork is okay...so minimal!

Ulrich Schnauss - Goodbye: First listen, this album has more vocals, still sleepy, it had a "Brian Eno" reference so of course I checked it out, but what I always find is that those references are rarely true!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Interpol: Our Love To Admire

First Listen: I like the first track, heard that live twice. The album is a little "choppy" not sure I like this new take on their "direction." Pitchfork is going to take a dump on this album.

Second Listen: What happened to the poppy kind of tunes from the Antics album? I definitely dig the first song, but not into the strings/keys/last tunes.

Third Listen: Hey Carlos R, you love this album, weird? Wait, remember it took a few listens to get into the 2nd album which you didn't like at first?

Fourth Listen: Okay these little buggers are growing on me. I see some good reviews, it's growing. Perhaps Pitchfork is going to love it and not discredit them for signing to a major.

Fifth Listen: "Pioneer of the Falls" (Track 1) is the shit. "Scale" (Track 3) is a winner. I get it, it flows, still not too keen on the latter tracks. The single I skip, neither here nor there.

VERDICT: Interpol is a very good rock band. I had the pleasure of forcefully attending all of their shows after their debut was released as my A+R boss at the time was going after them and attendance was mandatory (on both coasts). I have seen them probably 15 times now...live show has definitely improved...they used to not move ya know. The lead singer will always be a dick, the drummer is amazing, very unique, and who doesn't like Carlos D or Daniel? Recent business developments have further intrigued my interest in the band, so yeah, I am a fan of "Our Love To Admire." It's a solemn album, no pep during the writing periods. The band has also grown "sonically" (horrible music term, but had to) with the addition of some pedals, strings, and more keys. I hope that isn't their Major Label/New major manager jerkfest that says hey you should do this because Interpol needs no guidance...just a stronger radio dept and urban marketing shit. So I give it an A-/89%/4.5/5 Stars/etc.

Go buy the album for fucks sake, I am even though I already have it. Go to Best Buy, first week it will be like $9.99 or some shit.