Monday, February 27, 2012

Beautiful Cinema and DRIVE


I finally had the chance to see DRIVE over the weekend. Originally I wanted to see it in the theater but I'm not much of a movie-goer anymore. I have faith in Ryan Gosling in a 'serious role' and feel as a homegrown Angelino I have to check out a movie all about my home. Trying to coordinate a movie screening in my household is nearly impossible so I put the movie on alone around 12:30am Friday eve (Sat really) while it was all quiet all over the city. The result is easily one of the best films I've seen in years.

At points in my life, out of nowhere, a movie has struck a chord that resonates and sends me deep into thought. Like an amazing album or a great book, it can change perspective on how I view things. Looking back, I also find it interesting that I usually see these movies in the wee hours of the evening in solitude. My favorite part of many days is when it's late, dark and quiet and it's just me and my thoughts. Don't get me wrong though, I talk too much and love the company of others, but 'my time' has always been when the rest of the world sleeps. I remember being a rambunctious teen and seeing 'Fight Club' and being mesmerized. Arguably my favorite movie of all time (certainly horror movie), the original Dawn Of The Dead, I saw on IFC at around 2am while in middle school. It was polarizing, it was frightening, and it scared the shit out of me for years to come. Another key piece to this puzzle is all these movies have great music. Closing 'Fight Club' with The Pixes "Where Is My Mind?" was beautiful and perfect. 'Dawn of the Dead's simple oddball 70's electronic sounds defined eerie. Music can compliment anything exquisitely and a good movie will always do that.

Enter DRIVE. I absolutely loved the cinematography, the music, the acting, and the storyline. Driver doesn't waste words and Carey Mulligan perfectly portrays a wounded sorta-single mom. Your mob villains are believable as are the sorry petty criminals. The execution of each scene makes the story very believable and the only plot hole I can dwell on are "what are detectives doing with all these killings?" So you have a great story that would be fine on it's own so how do you compliment it? Cinematography and music of course. The shots in the movie are very well executed and the driving scenes are great. It's hard to make driving in Los Angeles romantic but luckily homeboy doesn't hit any traffic. The lack of dialogue in scenes between Driver and Irene make the actors act through their locked eyes which always tells a story. Blossoming love is all about a feeling which may come from dialogue but at times can be beautifully unspoken. Long shots and slow motion are used perfectly, especially when complimented by a stellar soundtrack. Cliff Martinez's (ex-RHCP) subtle score lends to the picture but the true beauty comes from great retro laced nu-disco tracks from Desire, Kavinsky, and College. The songs play in their entirety for the most part which shows the respect for the songs but also helps stylize the movie. I love when I'm introduced to great music in a movie but in this case I wasn't. I'm quite familiar with these artists and never could I envision such a great use of their songs. It is simply beautiful and resonates well past the end credits.

Any movie that blends a solid story and acting with great cinematography and exquisite music is sure to send me into days of thought and hopes for more. DRIVE is that movie for me. Stay up late, relax yourself, put in the movie and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Albums Of The Year; 2011

Every December I take some time out of my (not so) busy day to look back at albums that I would consider my own 'Albums Of The Year'. I use a few factors in making my list so it's not just some jerkoff "i hope people will think this is cool" addition to the blogosphere. My #1 album is always the album that I truly listened to the most throughout the year and 'craved' listening to at times. I find it therapeutic doing a list and don't really expect to sway folks but some people read this. With Spotify taking over this year the least you can do is listen to a few of em.

Due to my lack of time and patience i'm not going the full length of writing a full out blurb for everything and i really can't definitively do a 1 - 20.

#1 Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
This is just an amazing album from start to finish. Kurt teamed up with a solid producer (John Agnell0) and finally made an album that ties together his great ideas with solid songs. I played the shit out of this album and will continue to do so for years to come. This album is so solid that upon catching Kurt live on his first run of shows after it's release I had to leave after 5 songs. It just wasn't going to be the album, it was late, i've seen him before, and i rather just keep it as lovely as I want to. Smoke Ring is a hit from the 'constant hitmaker'

#2 EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
Out of nowhere comes an album that sounds great and is so lyrically honest you have to give credit where credit is due. I couldn't put this album down, had the chance to talk about this album with Erika and realized she poured her insides into making this album and wasn't going to give further details. It's harshly beautiful.

#3 Javelin - Canyon Candy
This album came out of nowhere for me. I bought it in 'button' form (WTF, lookey here) because i was interested in the technology and had heard of the group. What a buy. It's a genius album. It's a concept album around the West (and Westerns) and includes redone/remixed versions of Slim Whitman and some other old timey country folk. I can't say much else about this album, but I love it and love the vibe I get from it.

THE REST IS ORDERLESS TO SOME EXTENT

#Cults - Cults
Great debut from a group I enjoy very much for many reasons. A great pop record.

#Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Beautiful eerie album with exquisite guitar playing and singing from Anna.

#Cold Cave - Cherish The Light Years
#Austra - Feel It Break
#Prurient - Bermuda Drain
These 3 acts toured extensively together and in 2011 released defining albums. Great stuff for what they do and infectious.

#Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, ULTRA
Great sample based hip-hop mixtape. Sampling "Hotel California" is a quick way to my heart.

#Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise
Out of obscurity comes a nice mix of Massive Attack and DJ Shadow. Great Electronic music.

#Metronomy - The English Riviera
An easy listen and Metronomy's finest album that finally puts all the pieces together.

#Mastodon - The Hunter
Great Metal album, the best album from Mastodon and the first I love.

#The Descendants - OST
Hawaiian compilation that I love as I spent most of November having the time of my life in Hawaii.

#High Places - Original Colors
I cannot stop loving High Places and want them to continue to put out music.

#Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
A deep album of great songs and one persons struggle to find normalcy. Emerging from drug addiction and a Jonestown like upbringing this is why artists are unique and make wonderful art.

#Elite Gymnastics - Ruin
Throw me back to The Hacienda, great stuff.

#Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX - We're New Here
It's like a mellow mix-tape from GSH's XL album. I put this on when I'm on a plane or I want to relax. Mellow mix and Jamie XX is a true talent.

#Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles
"Out In The Streets" is the track but this dubstep album is a great part of the fizzling genre.

#Crystal Antlers - Two-Way Mirror
Self released gem from my friends, 'the hipster Mars Volta' Artwork by Raymond Pettibon only makes me love it more.

#Glasvegas - Euphoric Heartbreak
This band is great when they put out music, the rest of their lives are catastrophes.