Musical CD Catchup

I need to catch up on my recent CD purchases before the year ends, so here they are…

Paul Weller – Wild Wood

I found this in the bargain bins at Hard Off, and at only 108 yen I thought it was well worth a try (I also looked it up online just to make sure).

And for that price it is well worth it, decent and easy to listen to music, but nothing to set the world on fire.

Roni Size Reprazent – In the Møde

I was wondering what Roni Size did after the “New Forms” album, and old favourite, so I found this 2000 (New Forms was released in 1997) follow-up album on Amazon used for only 1 yen (plus postage).

The first song is “Railing Pt.2” which sounds a lot like the original first song “Railing” on New Forms, and upon hearing this I thought that this album is just going to try to cash in on the first album. But, from the second track onwards it turned out to be a new sounding Roni Size.

It still has the Roni Size Reprazent sound overall, but is also a bit more drum ‘n’ bass, and has some jungle thrown in too. I quite like it, I would say it is nearly as good as New Forms.

Sting – Ten Summoner’s Tales

Again, this is a bargain bin find from Hard Off. I bought it because it has some familiar tracks on it like “Fields of Gold” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”, so I thought I would see what the rest of the album is like.

And it is a decent album, not normally my kind of stuff, but I find it to be quite pleasant listening.

Go to 2 min 30 sec for a harmonica solo…

That is it for CDs in 2018. I will not be buying many in 2019, except for bargain bin finds.

Music count 2018: 114

Sleuth

I did a search on YouTube for “70s films” and found this Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier film.

The story is about a detective novel writer, Andrew (Olivier), and his wife’s new lover Milo (Caine). They meet at Andrew’s big old house and after discussing the business about the wife, Andrew proposes to Milo that they stage the robbery of the wife’s jewelery so that Andrew can claim the insurance money and Milo can sell the jewelery to a fence in Europe. But, actually Andrew and his crime-writing mind has other plans for Milo.

What is obvious about this film is that it was adapted from a play. It was mostly filmed indoors in only a few rooms, and Olivier and Caine are the only two actors in the whole film. Their acting is also very theatrical, and it works well, especially as both fellows are awfully fine actors.

Along with the fancy acting, the story is engaging and full of twists, surprises, and sleuthing. The directing too is top stuff, as is the cinematography and the set design. It is a long film at 138 minutes, but it is so well done that it didn’t feel that long.

A couple of facts from Wikipedia:

When they met, Caine asked Olivier how he should address him. Olivier told him that it should be as “Lord Olivier”, and added that now that that was settled he could call him “Larry”. According to Shaffer, Olivier stated that when filming began he looked upon Caine as an assistant, but that by the end of filming he regarded him as a full partner.

The production team intended to reveal as little about the movie as possible so as to make the conclusion a complete surprise to the audience. For this reason there is a false cast list at the beginning of the film which lists fictional people playing roles that do not exist.

A remake was made in 2007 with Caine returning but this time playing Andrew, Jude Law as Milo, and Kenneth Brannagh directing. Unfortunately though it doesn’t have good reviews, and gets only 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 96% for the original.

Date watched: December 29th
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2018: 87

Musical Download Catchup

I am behind in my music blog posts, so here are my latest Bandcamp purchases. Click on the covers to go to the Bandcamp pages.

Edamame – Nightlights EP

This is a cruisy release by a chap from Denver, Colorado who makes electronic music, this being his latest release.

The music is relaxing, and reminds of the music that you hear in the background of many of the well-produced YouTube videos I listen to. No vocals as such.

The name Edamame is Japanese, and is soybeans eaten directly from the pod, yummy too.

Pulp Fusion – Mixes, Mashes & Freebies

This, as the title says, is a mashup album with mashups of songs by The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Prodigy, Queen, and many more, as well as some original material. I have not listened to all 70 tracks yet, but most of what I have listened to so far is pretty decent. I do like a good mashup every now and then, although only in moderation.

Emapea – Random Beats

Emapea is an experimental hip-hop guy from Poland, and this is my second Bandcamp purchase of his stuff. It is pretty good too, 19 relaxing instrumental-only hip-hop tracks.

I Hate Models – Spreading Plague

I Hate Models is a French dude who makes hardcore acid beats, real nasty beats. There are only three tracks, but the whole release is over 23 minutes long…plenty of doof doof. I will have to play this in my car some day, loud, and with the windows down. Will need a large woofer in the back seat.

Music count 2018: 111

Starship Troopers

I had been wanting to re-watch this film for quite some time, so I finally did last night. It is a hoot of a film.

Like Robocop and Total Recall before it, Paul Verhoeven made a completely over-the-top action film with plenty of throw-away violence and gore and satire, while at the same time commenting on fascism, patriotism, and the military machine. I thought the cast did a great job, totally getting into the spirit of the story. They were all overacting either by design or because they are not A-grade actors…either way it worked.

The special effects too were very impressive for a twenty-one year old film. The bugs looked great, especially the “brain bug” which back then must have been quite a bit of work.

The “Brain Bug”, captured

There were a few actors who would have been relatively unknown at the time, such as Seth Gilliam (The Walking Dead), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), as well as the more familiar Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, and Jake Busey.

This did not get good reviews when it came out, reviewers said it was too violent, had wooden acting, and just didn’t seem to get it is a satirical comedy/action/horror film. Each to his own.

An enjoyable film, well worth visiting again some day.

This website has a few interesting facts about the film.

Date watched: December 24th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2018: 86

Superchunk – What a Time to be Alive

It is Christmas Day, but then again it is not because December 25th is just another working day here. So, to cheer myself up I need to write a blog post about one of my fave bands. This is Superchunk’s eleventh album, and this is a Bandcamp purchase at only US$9.

Superchunk usually play uplifting and happy songs, and this album is no different. The lyrics though do deal with some seriousness and angst, and the music itself is quite loud and raw, but it is still happy and catchy. I like it a lot.

Click here to listen to the title track.

Bit of a short post, but I have plenty more music to write about, so more later.

Music count 2018: 107

The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins

This is a 1970 short documentary by Les Blank about Lightnin’ Hopkins, a blues guitarist from Texas.

Les just follows Lightnin’ around as he does his thing, and films him singing the blues. There is no narration at all, just Lightnin’ talking about what the blues means to him, and tells the occasional story. One story he told was of his car breaking down at the side of a road in North Carolina. A policeman turns up and tells him he can’t be parked there, but Lightnin’ says the car can’t move. The policeman takes him to the town butcher, who is also the local judge. Upon hearing his story (with Lightnin’ getting a bit sassy), the judge fines him $500 ($3500 in today’s money) on the spot. Lightnin’ laughed it all off after telling the story, and said black men should never go to North Carolina.

There is great footage of people going about their own business in the dusty old town they live in. There is also footage at a rodeo, and at a BBQ where Lightnin’ entertains.

From Uncut: Although initially keen on the idea, Lightnin’ Hopkins soon tired of the process of documentary film-making. After playing ten songs for Blank and his camera, after only one day’s filming, Hopkins ordered Blank back to California. Whereupon, with the camera off, the men began playing cards. Blank lost, and lost again. The more money he lost to his subject, in fact, the more Hopkins began to see the virtue of keeping the young documentarian around.

Very simple film making, but it is fascinating to watch, and has plenty of blues.

Date watched: December 21st
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 85

Last Year in Marienbad

If this film was a painting it would be a Jackson Pollack…nice to look at, but no idea what it is about. It was released in 1961 and is an Italian/French production, in French.

U.S. title of the film

There is no real story, and the characters have no names. There are three main protagonists, two dapper dudes and a stylish woman. It appears one of the dapper dudes is trying to convince the woman shack up with him, and the other dude, who is either a beau or husband, is scheming a bit. He is a gambler and continuously beats the other dude at a simple but difficult card game, really getting on the dudes nerves.

Dapper Dude 1 about to be beaten by Dapper Dude 2.
Dapper Dude 1, mirror, stylish woman

The rest of the film is just lots of dialogue about statues, gardens, doors, photographs, mirrors, and hotels. Often the dialogue is repeated or recycled, we hear the same thing over and over again. Also, there is a lot of pipe organ music, dark stuff, playing throughout. Sometimes all of the characters including many extras just freezing in unison with the camera slowly moving past them, then unfreeze. Or, they will all freeze except one of the main actors who slowly glides past them. There is a lot of slow in this film, although in one scene Dapper Dude 1 and the woman are slowly walking along one of the many corridor shots, then suddenly speed up for no apparent reason.

Nice corridor

At lot of the film was made inside or outside a couple of large palaces in Germany, quite amazing places. For me that was the most interesting part of the film.

The characters talked about this statue a lot, trying to figure out what it all meant.

This film is a “left bank” new wave French film, just a fancy way of saying it is an experimental film made by ultra-hipster directors. “Right bank” films were more commercially successful, and less pretentious, and included directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. I am definitely right bank.

Contemplating the life of shoes

Most film critics say this is one of the greatest films ever made, some say that it is pretentious nonsense, and some just don’t know what to make of it. Mostly I just found this quite dull, and confusing as heck. Read this review, it gives you a good idea of what real reviewers say.

The director himself said there was no story and no meaning to the film, just take from it what you will…fair enough. For me it was just a very nice film to look at, especially as it was filmed in nice black and white (one scene noticeably changed to greys and whites) , and also in widescreen which suited the location.

If someone asks me what this film is about, I will slowly walk away from them, preferably down the nearest corridor.

Date watched: December 23rd
Score: 5/10
Confuse-O-meter score: 8/10
Film count 2018: 84