Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

This is the latest album by Deafheaven, a band I wish I got into a long time ago, but it ain’t no thing.

I pre-ordered this on Bandcamp a couple of months ago, and last Friday I was glued to Bandcamp, waiting for it to finally be released. I downloaded it and listened to it shortly after.

It did not disappoint. One song was released before the album came out, “Honeycomb” which I mentioned in a post back in April. I was wondering if maybe that song would be the highlight of the album, but as it turns out each and every song are works of metallic-shoegaze art (labelling Deafheaven is a tricky thing, I like to call them shoegaze metal).

Definitley not to everyone’s tastes, but I think it is pure bliss.

Music count 2018: 71

Solo

James and I went to see this today in the early afternoon at Nagano’s only multiplex theatre, which today was the best place to be as it was extremely hot outside. This film is titled “Han Solo” here.

I went into this not sure what to expect as there are mixed reviews around, and the talk about it being a box office disappointment didn’t help. But, as I walked out of the theatre later, I just didn’t care what was said about it. I thought it was very entertaining, maybe not quite as good as Rogue One, but it was still very worthwhile.

Ron Howard did a pretty good job of taking over the direction. There is a good article here explaining what went on with the change of directors. It sounds like Ron did things a lot more efficiently, and did things “the Star Wars way”. It mentioned that Paul Bettany took over from Michael K. Williams, who could not finish the film due to other obligations. All of his scenes had to be completely re-done with Paul.

Before seeing this I had read criticism of Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Hana Solo, some saying that he was a bit wooden and didn’t capture the character well. Well, I disagree. I thought he did a pretty good job of it. No one could ever play Han as well as Harrison Ford did, but Alden was not a disappointment at all. He did a good job of recreating Harrison’s mannerisms, and Harrison himself gave his seal of approval to Alden.

Woody Harrelson was great as always, Emilia Clarke was stupendous, Danny Glover was fabulous, and I think Chewbacca had the most fun he has ever had in a Star Wars film.

Every Star Wars film needs a new droid character and with this one we got L3-37, a sassy female who loves equal rights for droids, and freeing other robots from slavery. She was very entertaining, and I would rank her as one of my top three fave’s (along with C3-P0 and R2-D2).

There were a lot of references to previous Star Wars films, they really packed them in this time. And everything you wanted to know about Han, such as how Han met Chewie, all about the Kessel Run, how he won the Millenium Falcon, how Han shoots first, and how he procured his blaster were all there and neatly explained. A lot of the back-story originates in the Star Wars comics and animated series, neither of which I have consumed. The story of Darth Maul prior to this film is long and very involved. This video explains it all.

Solo is a worthy addition to the Star Wars series, and I am looking forward to the sequel. As I said before, this was entertaining, and that is all that really matters to me when it comes to this kind of film.

Something that you will notice when going to a film in Japan is that the audience is completely quiet throughout the whole film, no matter how exciting a scene may be, or how funny a joke is…perhaps a quiet titter from those brave enough to make a sound. Another thing you will notice is that most of the audience will remain in their seats until the very end of the film. They all sit there quietly and just read the credits, no talking at all. Even the theatre lights don’t go back on until the film has finished and the screen has gone black. Yep, going to a film in Japan is quite different. The theatre though is perfectly clean both before and after a session.

Date watched: July 16th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2018: 45

The Empire Strikes Back

In preparation for Solo, James and I watched half of this this last night, and the other half today after we got back from Solo.

I have reviewed this a few times before, so I won’t go into it much. What I will say though is that there are several references in Solo to this film, nothing major but I like how the Star Wars films do that, it makes you feel like a real geeky fan when you can pick things up that Muggles won’t.

I am undecided whether I like this or Episode 4 better, so for now I will just call it a draw.

Date watched: July 16th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2018: 44

Three Steps to the Gallows

I was able to fit in one more film yesterday, making it three films in one day. I randomly chose this 1953 British crime story on YouTube. This was titled “White Fire” in America.

It is the story of an American in London who tries to find his younger brother who works there. But, he finds out that his brother has been tried for murder, a murder he is innocent of, and he is going to be hanged unless big bro can solve the case.

The story though quickly becomes convoluted with so many people to keep track of, some of them are just names so it is hard to remember who is who unless you see their face. By the end I had given up trying to figure out how it all fit together, even when one character sums up the plot for the audience’s sake. I did watch this late at night though, so my concentration powers were a little dulled.

The acting was fine, nothing special, and it was good to see fifties London. At least four of the actors were American. I was reading somewhere that many American actors who couldn’t make it in America went to England in the fifties and were able to have a decent career there. The direction and cinematography were reasonable.

If the story was just a bit less complicated it could have been a lot better. The story that I could follow was quite engaging and fast-paced. There were some good action bits in it, mostly chases on foot, and a few fisticuffs.

Farewell, My Lovely was the best film of the day

Date watched: July 14th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2018: 43

Farewell, My Lovely

The hot day continued, so I browsed for another film on YouTube, and came up with this particularly good 1975 film, another Raymond Chandler story.

Robert Mitchum starred as Philip Marlowe, hired to find an ex-convict’s girl. The story starts getting complicated quickly with plenty of characters and sub-plots to follow. The ending was not predictable at all, and for it all to make complete sense I think I need to watch it all again, or read the book which as fate would have it I loaded onto my Kindle yesterday, so I will get onto that.

At first I wasn’t sure if Robert Mitchum was going to be a good Philip Marlowe, but soon I was enjoying watching him play the part. I dare say that he was as good, if not a tad better than The Bogart, but perhaps that is the heat talking. Robert is the only actor to play the role of Marlowe more than once on the big screen. Richard Burton was the first choice for the role, but he was too busy to do it.

Also in this film was Kate Murtagh who was great as the gangster-like madam of a brothel, apparently based on a real life person by the name of Brenda Allen. You will also recognize Kate from the cover of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” album (see below). Ah! The lives some people have! She is 97.

We also got to see a young, and not particularly brawny Sylvester Stallone.

Left picture: Kate on the left, Stallones on the right.

Other well-known faces in this were Charlotte Rampling, Anthony Zerbe, Harry Dean Stanton, and John Ireland.

The actor playing “Moose Malloy”, the ex-convict, is Jack O’Halloran who you will recognise from Superman II.

It was well made, engaging, and the entire cast were all great. I can’t think of any complaints at all, except that maybe there could have been a bit more action. If this was made today with Tom Cruise or Liam Neeson as Marlowe, then it would certainly have a lot more action with epic gun battles and ten minute car chases added in for 21st century audiences…so I am glad this was made in the seventies when story and quality acting were all that mattered.

Two good films in one day, not bad.

Date watched: July 14th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2018: 42

Jail Bait

There is little to do on a very hot and humid Japanese summer’s afternoon except watch a good B-grade crime film with an electric fan by your side, so I chose this Ed Wood-directed film.

The story is about a young man who gets in with the wrong crowd, panics during a bungled heist and offs a night watchman. From there he feels guilt and with the help of his world-famous plastic surgeon father, prepares to turn himself in. But, the mastermind behind the heist is out to get him because he thinks he will also go to the joint. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it makes the film worth the watch, even if it was a tad predictable, and it involves a face change.

So for an Ed Wood film this has a pretty coherent story, nothing spectacular, but it is a decent tale. The acting though is very Eddy, some of the actors are quite wooden, although the main cast do a pretty good job.

There was a very bizarre comedy/dance act scene in the film, it seemed very random. It involved a real act, a blackface performer (one of the last) by the name of Cotton Watts, and well, it is best if you just watch the actual scene here.

There was this scene (screenshot below) where I was wondering why Eddy wanted to have this guy show off his ripped chest as he put on a shirt. Turns out he was Steve Reeves, a bodybuilder in the day and this was his second appearance on film. He would go on to a successful film career, especially in Italian peplum films. Unlike most other films he was in, his actual voice was used, he was dubbed in the others.

Just changin’ my shirt, and lookin’ good.

The fellow who played the plastic surgeon, a Britisher by the name of Herbert Rawlinson, died from cancer aged 67 the night after shooting finished. His character was originally intended for Bela Lugosi, but Herbert was a good choice.

The young man was played by Clancy Malone who was an aspiring actor, and who delivered Eddy’s groceries. This was his only film.

The Cotton Watts scene was not filmed by Eddy, rather it was footage taken from one of Cotton’s shows. From Wikipedia:

The inclusion of the footage in this film probably reflects the sensibilities of the intended audience. Jail Bait was primarily released in areas of the Deep South, where blackface still held a nostalgic appeal.

This is not essential watching, but I liked it. Watch it here why don’t you?

Date watched: July 14th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2018: 41

The Brasher Doubloon

This is a 1947 crime film and is based on a Raymond Chandler story called “The High Window” (also the film’s title on release in the U.K.).

It is a B-grade film starring George Montgomery, who had a reasonable career, but worked mostly in low budget films. He was though an excellent wood craftsman and opened his own successful furniture business, so that is nice. He retired from acting in 1972.

At first the film felt rather B-grade, and George was definitely not A-grade leading-man material. But, I quickly warmed to both the B-gradiness as well as George’s take on Philip Marlowe, which The Bogart would of course have done better. But George did all right. It was light-hearted for most of the film with little violence although there was some black and white blood in one scene, a thug with a funny eye, and a good amount of sleuthing,.

“You laughing at my hat, bud?”

The cinematography was pretty decent, and the all-important crime-noir lighting was also worthy. For a B-grade film is was really well-done.

The Brasher Doubloon if you are wondering was a rare and expensive coin that the story revolves around. There is also blackmail, a gangster, a damsel, a crotchety old lady, three dead bodies, and plenty of other characters and plot twists in the story to keep you on your toes. I really must read a Raymond Chandler book sometime.

George and the damsel.

Favourite line:
Mrs. Elizabeth Murdock: There you are and I hope you’re worth it. To tell you the truth, I was expecting an older man – more intelligent looking.
Philip Marlowe: I’m wearing a disguise.

An enjoyable 72 minutes. You can watch it here.

Date watched: July 13th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 40