Sunday 3 March 2013

Listen to David Bowie's New CD free & prior to release

In an unprecedented move, Itunes are presently steaming on demand,  Bowie's new, and might I say best in years, album The Next Day prior to its official release. And whats more for free. I wouldn't normally encourage Itunes with free advertising but in this case... To listen log into the Itunes store on whatever device you normally use (or go here if you don't) and it will appear on the homepage. Or alternatively simply click THIS LINK. Hear it 8 days before its official release.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

New Short Film From David Bowie

Well, some might call it a music video but Bowie has been at this for far to long to throw out anything so "crass". And given his latest set of videos seem to be ruthlessly ridiculing the odd rumours about him that have circulated since his "retirement" 10 years ago... The video to the new single "The Stars (are out tonight)" proves no different. While the music shows a more than solid return to form. Musically closer perhaps to Outside then his previously released single which lay closer to the rather maudlin "Hours", the video features British actor Tilda Swinton, directed with Floria Sigismondi's usual flair for "jittery camera work" and cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Hitchcock - one of the only good things about Hitchcock its worth noting).

Is it also satirizing the blog Tilda Stardust which attempts to "prove" that bowie and Swinton are one and the same? Perhaps, but given Bowie's strange sense of humor - and that the fact that the blog looks like a number of others that have appeared over that years regarding Bowie whose author seems suspiciously familiar - I would hate to guess. Although interested readers might want to investigate the "Nate Tate Affair"

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Oops! @Twitter And the Silent Years of Slapstick

Well now. Isn't that embarrassing. Sorry, just found out the follow me twitter button was not working. Fixed now though

Review. Django Unchained: Nietzsche's Siegfried Not Wagner's?

4 Out Of 5 Stars

"Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women and even slaves often attain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of it — that is great, that belongs to greatness." Nietzsche: The Gay Science

"Moreover, Africans faced punishments designed not to only correct but also to degrade and humiliate. William Byrd, Virginia planter and a sophisticated colonial gentleman, noted, without embarrassment, in his diary how he forced a slave bed-wetter to drink a “pint of piss”: The Routledge History Of Slavery

It is nearly impossible to discuss Django Unchained without discussing Richard Wagner's Ring cycle of dramas and Siegfried in particular. How could it not be when both Tarantino and Christoph Waltz have discussed the influence of Wagner's work on Tarantino's newest movie - especially so in the German media. Add to this  that Django is searching for his wife Broomhilde (Brunnhilde) and the clear links between certain characters and those found in Wagner's dramas. However, like everything that Tarintino "steals" from, he manipulates them for his own purposes - while often doing little more than nodding at the original. And I don't just mean the written narrative here but all of the narrative structures at a film makers disposable: sound, music, dialogue, mise-en-scene, titles,  costumes, framing,  etc. Indeed, one feels sometimes that perhaps this alteration of the original source allows him to add a further narrative message - even if one needs to be familiar with the source to see how he does this and perhaps what he he might be trying to say. This would be no different in the manner that he adapts Wagner's work then he does that of  the other two main pieces of source material: Sergio Corbucci's original Django and Pietro Francisci's Hercules Unchained. However, I think that Tarantino's distortion of Wagner's Siegfried (Django) is so important in this movie that it needs far more attention than has been provided by those perhaps less familiar with the source. But don't worry, we will keep things simple. Don't I always?

Monday 25 February 2013

Review: Cloud Atlas. Time Becomes Space

"But life is short, and truth works far and lives long: let us speak the truth". (Arthur Schopenhauer, 1818).

"O Brahmana, it is just like a mountain river, flowing far and swift, taking everything along with it; there is no moment, no instant, no second when it stops flowing, but it goes on flowing and continuing. So Brahmana, is human life, like a mountain river". (Buddha)

"Here time becomes space" (Parsifal, Richard Wagner) 

Anyone with even the fainest knowledge of film history - or those that have actually experienced some of it - will note an interesting phenomenon: often the movies that have gone on to be considered both "classics" and redefined or influenced future cinema in someway, were either, (and frequently both on initial release) box office or critical failures. At the same time, there were a small, but not always un-influential group of critics who seem to see something else in such film and praise them greatly. This often leads to the strange phenomenon of such movies appearing simultaneously on "best" and "worst" movie of the year lists. Such movies have included, although many younger readers might find it hard to believe: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner (the back tracking by critics over these two movies in particular over the years has been amusing to behold) and even Citizen Kane. Cloud Atlas, has so far shown an initial pattern very similar to these landmark movies.

Lets look for example at a small section of the critical response:

Even as I was watching Cloud Atlas the first time, I knew I would need to see it again. Now that I've seen it the second time, I know I'd like to see it a third time ... I think you will want to see this daring and visionary film ... I was never, ever bored by Cloud Atlas. On my second viewing, I gave up any attempt to work out the logical connections between the segments, stories and characters. Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

"Finally, what sinks "Cloud Atlas" is not the largeness of its ambitions but the lack of skill it displays in terms of writing, directing and acting". Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times

Some will balk at its excesses, but breathtaking action, profound emotion and a dark sense of fun make this the most ambitious, original movie event in years. Hannah McGill The List

The best thing about Cloud Atlas is that it could, and should, turn into a properly divisive film... but one has to ask: does it allow for immersion? Even as we applaud the dramatic machinery, are we being kept emotionally at bay? Anthony Lane New Yorker

It's funny, violent and prodigiously romantic; it has immense heart and more gorgeous cinematic moments than I can describe. Andrew O'Hehir

And on it goes, with negatives making up the majority of reviews (a score of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes if such things influence your film viewing).

I am about to step out on a limb here, I can hear the branch cracking as I balance precariously on the end, but I will predict the same amount of back peddling from those so dismissive of Cloud Atlas as I saw from the same critics around other movies already mentioned.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Reefer Madness: Or "Go Tell Your Children"

Financed by a church group in 1936 under the title Tell Your Children,  the movie was renamed Reefer Maddness when it was bought for general cinema release by Dwain Esper. Originally designed as a morality tale to dissuade cannabis use among teenagers, Esper, an early exploitation movie director and producer (and one time exhibitor of the mummified body of Oklahoma Outlaw Elmer McCurdy)  re-edited the movie to turn it into the legend of an exploitation movie you find below.

Whether its is worth your time to view it in full (It is. Nothing even by Ed Wood can compare) - as found below - can be decided by quickly viewing the following clip.

See, never say I don't provide public information. You have been warned.

By the way, as an interesting aside, director, Louis J. Gasnier, had been, prior to the arrival of the "talkies", a highly successful Hollywood director. See for example, the somewhat legendary, and much copied and even parodied,  serial "The Perils Of Pauline". After retiring from directing, he went onto make a number of "guest" appearances in other movies. His last being as  elderly Frenchman in the Steve McQueen war film Hell Is for Heroes in 1962. He died aged 87 a year later

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Review: The Lincoln Lawyer. Can Hollywood make "Hollywood" movies for grown-ups again?

Finding just one of the following things in a movie is likely to provide solid evidence that it's not going to be very good: a film based on one of those books that fill the stands at train stations (who the hell does read Andy McNab and considers his output either literature or even readable anyway?) , a handheld camera operated by an infant who has just had a sugar overdose and can't keep bloody still (it's one, - although far from the only - reason I dislike Dogme 95 so much), or if it stars Matthew McConaughey (all Romcoms should be taken out and shot - humanely or not I really don't care.) Imagine then my surprise to find, right from the opening credits, a film containing all three that was not only good, but worth more than one run through

The Lincoln Lawyer, (directed by Brad Furman - who now sits firmly on my "to watch list") is a thriller, perhaps a sort of "neo-neo-noir", and the best film that Michael Mann  never directed - either in the 80's or 90's. By this I mean it is "old fashioned Hollywood entertainment" but entertainment dense in characterization that is echoed across a large cast of of characters . And these are people that have conversations, long conversations that actually make some sense within the logic of the movie and to which you not only really need to listen to but more importantly want to listen to. Oh, don't get me wrong, there is - should you need such a thing, and who doesn't  occasionally - suspense, "action" and "twists and turns" but most importantly it is a "grown-up",  movie for adults that is "talky" but not in away that is desperately trying to win "best picture" (its no Lincoln - forgive the reference)

Saturday 16 February 2013

Review. Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady: Or The futility of Power.

"And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
Ozymandias: Percy Bysshe Shelley

Back in 1974, when I was probably to young to, I saw Roman Polanski's  "China Town". While there is much to remember from this film -  an excellent cinematic experience, dealing with a number of different subjects -  one of things that oddly stuck with me for many years was the fact that the provision of domestic water  in the USA was run by private companies. That a corporate entity might make a profit from providing such a basic necessity  as water seemed somehow repugnant and out and out mercenary. So much so,  that after seeing the film I had to check that it was correct.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Total Recall 2012: or "We can dumb it down for you wholesale"

2 Out Of 5 Stars

Clearly Len Wiseman wanted to remake another P.K. Dick story turned film, Blade Runner. Instead he remade Total Recall. Maybe he got the stories confused? Maybe he couldn't get the rights to remake Blade Runner. Maybe he thought better than to risk remaking a better directors film? Who knows, but he remade Total Recall and now we must all suffer. The odd thing of course is that 1990's Total Recall isn't as good a movie as film fans memories or nostalgia for late 80's kitsch movies staring the ex-governor of California, and general misogynist, Big Arni make it out to be. Like many of P.K.Dick's weird and wonderful stories, it has yet to filmed adequately.  So Wiseman's job, and with a budget of  $125,000,000, should have been made easy. But no. Even after hiding it in enough lens flair to make J. J. Abrams  blush, he still manages to make a flat, unintelligent and simply boring mess. Oh, well.

Guess what? At the end of a 21st century a global war devastates the earth, leaving much of it uninhabitable. Honest! But, not to worry, for some strange reason both the UK and Australia are OK. Maybe the orchestrator's of the final world war just liked "Neighbours" and "Coronation Street"  and felt that destroying the homes of both series would leave them with only re-runs to watch?  Or maybe they had holiday homes in both countries? Your guess is as good as mine but there you have it.

Most of the jobs and economic wealth are in the UK. Sorry, I mean "The United Federation of Britain - UFB). This means those poor sods from Australia - sorry I mean The Colony -  must travel to the UK each day to mindless and dangerous jobs working in factories making robot policemen that the UK then uses to suppress Australians further. Why? Again who knows. Maybe Coronation Street is more popular than Neighbours?

Wednesday 6 February 2013

"In space no one can hear you moan": Disney announce Star Wars Spin--Off movies.

Lets be honest, after the Star Wars prequels, Jar Jar Binks - and even without Lucas - the announcement that Disney was to take over and continue the Star Wars series, some of us were left  with a deep feeling of dread - or was that just me?

OK, so things improved a little when we were told that the first part of the post-Return of the Jedi trilogy would be directed by J. J. Abrams (assuming he can learn to restrain the use of "camera flare" of course) but what are we to make of the latest announcement?

It now seems that in addition to the already announced next Star Wars trilogy, Disney are to release a number of stand alone Star Wars films featuring characters from the series. While Disney Co has remained silent as to what form these will take, EW claim, not that unrealistically, that two of the spin-off projects will include a Han Solo "origins" movie and a film dedicated to the "adventures" of Boba Fett, to be released between 2015 and 2021.

Whether these will be cinema releases is unknown although given Disney's propensity to dismantle their own franchises with a series of straight to video releases anything is possible.

Am I worried worried? Nearly as much as when I first saw "The Star Wars Holiday Special. Maybe we will get Lumpy and Itchy spinoffs?

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Prometheus: Or Ridley Scott remakes 2001 Space Odyssey in his own image

4 out of 5 stars

Prometheus is less a prequel to Alien - although it is - than it is a remake of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Albeit one that may ultimately deny 2001's Nietzschean origins and philosophy . It is certainly a film in Scott's image rather than that of  2001's original creator. I was going to call to this review, "Prometheus: or 2001 for the ADHD Generation" but thought it might suggest I did not like the movie,  although I do. Or even that it was a lesser movie , which it is not. Its just a very different type of movie. But why then this comparison? Not only has Scott himself compared his film to Kubrick's undenied masterpiece, but he has filled Prometheus with references to it: in the script, visually and even in the dialogue (Scot steals dialogue directly from 2001). It is even possible that Scott references Kubrick's movie more times then he does his own "Alien" - and he does that often enough as one would expect from a film set in the same universe. However, Scott's film is a very different beast, both to 2001 and Alien,  and people going to see it for its similarities to either maybe very disappointed.

Saturday 2 February 2013

Cowboys and Aliens: Or how I learned to stop worrying and look for the Wagner references

3 out of 5 Stars

The bankers destroyed the world . Inhumane, soulless demons. Working deep within the earth - out of sight, out of mind. They raped the land and stole the gold -  while hypnotising you. "Everything is fine" they made you believe. "Nothing to see here". But not everyone. No sirree. Because there were some, like you, who - while not fully understanding the "demonic" nature of the "great manipulators" -  benefited from participation with them. Or at least you did until their unthinking, unemotional lust for gold turned on you too. Yeah, there was clearly something-up. Don't pretend you didn't know something was wrong because you did - didn't you?. Oh, most of us might have been totally hoodwinked but you? Well you knew it all along didn't you? Deep down? You may have ignored it, pushed it to the back of your mind, but there was something up - wasn't there? But not to worry because there is still time for you to redeem yourself. Time to awake. You can turn your gaze on the Nibelungen, see through their manipulations, wake the sleeping masses,  redeem the world and return the gold to the Rhinemaidens  You may need the help of the god like powers of Siegfried and Brunnhilde to do so but you will - and without you even they are nothing

And thus we have the plot (or at least subplot) of Cowboys and Aliens, an entertaining if confused, episodic and ultimately disappointing movie that, while owing much to Richard Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen opera cycle (or at least a Marxist reading of said work  - either consciously or unconsciously)  and the recent economic "meltdown", is ultimately only saved by much of its cast - especially Harrison Ford.