Monday, January 31, 2011

1.2011 Top 25

I've decided that if I can remember, I'm going to start posting my Top 25 (according to ifuckUtunes) at the end of each month. Even if it's totally embarrassing. This time around, it's not horribly interesting as I still have yet to put all my music on my iTunes. I've only got 141 songs on it at the moment, and this record of songs has only been being logged since sometime in November, I think. I also only use the program maybe once a week, mostly cos there's nothing on it. (Hopefully talking about all this will inspire me to get out ye olde harde-drive and remedy the situation.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Machinist. Eh.

Sooo. . . the Machinist-- I grabbed this from the library since I've been wanting to see it since it came out. I remembered reading all the reviews and the articles about Christian Bale dropping like 50% of his body weight-- which, by the way, he's a total nutter, right? I mean, dedicated? On a Daniel Day-Lewis scale?-- though he's much more subtle actor than Daniel D-L.

This movie was fine; it was okay. I was expecting something on the level of Momento, in terms of the mindfuck/creative narrative, and something on the level of Kontroll in its treatment of mindfuck/insomnia and the surreal elements that come from such things. It does deliver on the atmosphere and look that those two expectations would promise; if this movie did one thing well, it was mood. In fact, halfway through, we paused it to put our dishes in the kitchen or something and I looked out and there was a green jeep-thing parked in front of our house with a plastic-wrapped Christmas tree on top of it. Which is weird at the end of January but mega-creepy if you're watching a creepy movie at the same time. So it was a mood that sticks to you while you're watching the film.

Throughout the film there are some nice visual hints-- the cigarette lighter in the car and the clock at 1:30 were good notes-- and the parts of Christian Bale's character cleaning things, included his bare hands, with some hard-core chemicals (lye, bleach) adds to the themes of destructive absolution that, it turns out, make up the core of the story.

Which is part of my quibble. By the end of the film, the reveal felt like too much all at once mostly because there was just one answer for all the little things, and the sense of mystery-- the atmosphere, the visuals, the paranoia-- didn't have the impact that would have made this a film that lingers. Granted, it all makes sense, and the fable-like arc of repressed memories and self-inflicted doppelgangers is something I like in theory, but the ending, much like in the film's referenced-Crime & Punishment, doesn't feel like something that is necessarily built up to, despite the constant baby step hints we get throughout (again, the cigarette lighter, for example), but instead is dropped in our lap all of a sudden, a big huge reference at the end that then simply inspires a game of who-can-spot-all-the-hints in retrospect, that isn't as satisfying as the build-up of so many hints would suggest.

The other part that brought the film down was that before the ending, there were certain parts that were clearly in his mind. Christian Bale's character becomes convinced of a conspiracy against him after he is the inadvertent cause of a gruesome accident; unfortunately, the film makes it immediately clear that this is a product of his exhaustion and paranoia, rather than keeping it a matter for the audience's speculation for any amount of time. There wasn't that unsettling uncertainty that a film like, say, Shutter Island, had (in spades-- my problem with Shutter Island is that they never give a statement about the film's reality--what was fake; what was real-- something I have a problem with on a theoretic and narrative level.) The Machinist does keep some of those aspects in question until the end, but not as a whole, which seems a missed opportunity.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"David Watts" The Kinks ≤ The Jam

The Kinks - -

The Jam - -

There's something about the Jam's version that makes me come back to it more often than the Kinks' original. It might be the slightly "harder" sound, but both are honestly great in my book so it's kind of a toss-up.

"I Started a Joke" - Bee Gees < Faith No More

I think it might just be that I really like the Faith No More video. . . but either way Mike Patton has an excellent voice.

oh no he di'nt

So I absolutely don't agree FOR SURE that Van Halen's cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" is superior to the original. What? What?! And Eric Clapton's "I Shot the Sheriff" makes me wanna shoot myself after I've taken down the sheriff (but not the deputy.) But I do agree with this list of "10 Covers Better than the Original" on "Hallelujah" and "Hurt"-- while I don't think Johnny Cash's cover is "better," I think he transcended the original material and made it firmly his own. I don't even listen to the NIN original these days.

NOW. On the other hand, coming up, I'll be posting a few covers I think at least rival the original, if not surpass em.

Monday, January 10, 2011

omg she is a 100-year old BALLER

ok, 73, but still, this is from last year y'all--

Stuck in the Middle With You

Heard about this on NPR the other day while driving to the mall, I think. Wow, yeah, good idea, driving in early January near the mall. Stealers Wheel vocalist Gerry Rafferty had passed away, and honestly, I had no idea he was associated with the band, a band I don't know by name, but like many people my age are instead intimately familiar with thanks to that Michael Madsen scene in Reservoir Dogs. So I felt a little guilty, especially because the other song they played by him made my toes curl (that 80s sax passive-aggressive synthesized sort of thing.) But on the other hand, this track is a perfect little rock track, so we can blame the 80s for that other one, and it's hard not to get the urge to cut someone's ear off bogey a little when you hear it.

Here is a much more knowledgeable posting on Mr Rafferty's passing from Berkeley Place, along with some covers of his work.


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