Sunday, August 26, 2007

Beautiful Scars

I can't find a picture of this album cover bigger than 150 x 150 anywhere.
There is (count'em) one review from the BBC, linked here.
This is a beautiful, thoughtful and soulful CD that deserves to be listened to, over and over. Sure, "Bad Mouth", his collaboration with Ishmael Reed, just came out last year and spits into the wind of absurdity that grips the United States, was likewise ignored, but "Beautiful Scars" is personal, and universal in a way "Bad Mouth" is direct and on message.
"Scars" is hardly apolitical, but hardly controversial. Cuba and everything that country means has been going since America first got nervous. Sexual politics has been going on nearly as long :) and is explored here, quietly, beautifully, with plenty of rhythm to keep the spine lubricated.
Jump in with this as your first Hanrahan Cd and, well, like jumping straight to Calculus without Algebra, one might be lost. Start with "Coup de Tete" from way way back in the day, pause and notice "Desire Develops an Edge" then respin this disc. It deserves your attention, and will reward those with hearts and minds and ears engaged.

MIA Kala

I could talk about her VISA nonsense. We all know if I go down that road I will be talking about immigration, the great wall of Mexico and the absolutely ludicrous notion of "stopping the invasion".
Then I would link it to the Hanrahan records I'll be reviewing that aren't even available here (USA) yet...then it goes to films we can't see for years and when we do they are cut or dubbed...
Which leads to our embarrassing uncompetitive Broadband rates, tariffs, penalties and laws restricting trade and artistic freedom -- "in the land of the free" and by this time the review of this terrific CD will be lost in the chaff of ideals and reality...

Music from a Third World Perspective in full knowledge of the First World's bogus promises and veneers of civility and Reason that demands to be heard should be!

MIA has crafted a brainy multi cultural love letter to the world.
Pop hooks and deep beats attempt to foment change with this multilanguaged cult crit/rave/favela stomp from the edge(s) of known civilization.

Globalization is here to stay, and, as frightened as our elected officials think we are, we can all grow from the input of our brothers and sisters across the planet. MIA makes the lessons bittersweet, humbling and exhilarating all at once..

WAR- Jet LI Jason Statham Trailer

...and review...
I like the embed feature of YouTube, and I'm not saying this because I'm a Google stockholder!
Went to this Friday after work...bad HD not showing. Boo Hiss.
Theater back up by Sunday, went to the matinee.
This was no Crank, but better than I had hoped. The titles in the film roll from from Chinese to English, and, with the pace amped up and fast, high contrast film, this could be an old school Hong Kong Triad film..which is a good thing!
Guns Guns Guns as Clarence Boddiger would say...
Which was a touch disappointing, as watching Jet Li is all about the physical stuff. He seemed to be on autopilot here, but Statham wasn't. He played his role for keeps, cementing your eyes to the screen then shaking your head around.
Decent car chases and a guest visit by Miho make for a second viewing in my near future..

Godzilla: Final Wars (Japanese Theatrical Trailer)

Got this one on DVD.
Frenetic Pace, great production, and absolutely chock full of:
Earth Defense Force Vehicles
New York
Gigan Mk 2
...and a bunch I don't know the names...
This is old school effects, "man in suit" stuff. Lasers, smoke and miniatures..absolutely gorgeous if these films resonate in your memory...
There is a moral tale buried somewhere in the plot, but don't let that stop you from cheering Mothra as the two miniature woman summon her to defend the Earth. Kung Fu like that isn't really possible -- unless it is being done by M Base mutants!
When was the last time an interview with the UN representative was aired here in the states? Oh those crazy Japanese!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Yes, Mark Dascascos is one of the bad guys.
This is a no CGI all the horses are real epic movie about big battles that took place long ago...the closest to modern day armament is some foreigners bearing cannons. White guys you say?
The closest recent comparison would be "Kingdom of Heaven"-- particularly the section of the siege of the city.
This is the story of a chosen one, a spiritual if not actual descendant of Genghis Khan, born to unite the various tribes of Nomads against marauders who had already got the "join forces and conquer" message a few villages ago.
The biggest impression is one of authenticity...that being said there are some nice action scenes, some terrific training footage and, of course, a duel to the death with the guy who made "Brotherhood of the Wolf" more than just another Templar Conspiracy kung fu costume drama..
I paused it after that fight...little did I know there were at least 30 more enjoyable minutes before the big crescendo.
A fascinating, vivid glimpse into a people we have no understanding of..

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Sunshine Directed by Danny Boyle seen by nearly no one here in the cultural wasteland of Kansas. We got Eternal Sunshine, we got Little Miss Sunshine, but no Sunshine from the director who just said no to convention and said I am here to make Movies.
"Trainspotting", "28 Days Later", "Millions" and "A Life Less Ordinary" each one pulls at it's respective genre like taffy, stretching the bounds of convention -- and still tastes good.
Sunshine is a visual feast.
Characters are drawn in short, quick strokes, that, deconstructed, paint as vivid a picture as any 20 minutes of exposition could hope to, without the sticky mess. Pay attention, read between the lines, draw your own shape of this near future.
Science fiction readers have been doing this since they started to read, as a book that explained it all would be longer than "Dune" and would spawn discussions on each of the detours of a supposed timeline...and not tell the story.
Sunshine reminded me a lot of Soderberg's Solaris. Both are bold films with a finger firmly in the eye of the viewer, daring you to watch, daring you to understand and still enjoy yourself.
Soundtrack is fabulous, Michelle Yeoh learned to say "asshole" like she means it, and the ship is pretty darn cool to boot!
Highly recommended.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Round 4: "The Invasion"

Not Doctor, not Psychiatrist, not Milla the Terminator, but a "left my brain at the office Mom".
A shame really. Kidman looks great. Film looks great, time is unhinged, the fourth wall is down, and we are watching a simple story we have seen 3 times before.
Kidman could pull off doctor or psychiatrist, her eyes are alive with that kind of intelligence. The prop guys made her home cold enough, her office modern enough, and yet she panics like a "mom" we only know from TV.
No doctor takes pills by the handful. Period.
No doctor tells a child to stick a needle into the chest--too many damn bones.
Those things need to be as right as the "office look".
Many of the other critical blogs take shots at the film style, but style is a choice, one to judge subjectively, not for veracity.
I would love a smart, capable woman beating the odds...but the last time I saw actors fake emotionlessness with so much emotion it was Christian Bale in "Equilibrium", and you know I loves me some Gunkata... It is shocking Kidman was able to fool the pods for more than 10 seconds at a time.

I went in hoping for the best.
I have seen worse this year, but that is hardly high praise.
When this hits video skip it and rent Kidman and Hopkins in the "The Human Stain" -- same theme, lower budget, and characters that act in character.

Blue Ray Night - "300"

Mr Frank Miller's 300 was a treat in the theater last year, each time I went. To deconstruct that for ya: I am a Frank Miller Fanboy. Yes, I own original the original of most of the Sin City comics that I bought throughout the nineties.
This adaptation of 300, like Sin City before it, has the blessing of Frank himself, and the attention to detail only a true fan would have included. The good news is that the directors devotion must have been catchy, as all parties involved seem to have gone above and beyond on the presentation of this material.
One does need to separate the source from the movie, particularly this material, at this time. By "this time" I mean while the United States is occupying a foreign country and simultaneously stripping US citizens of rights and privacy. The exultation of Spartan values in 300 rings hollow when my jaw is clenched in shame for what has been done in my name in the Middle East...we are the invading horde, not the tiny group of valiant freedom fighters we cheered for in 300.(end digression)
There is already a review of 300 on this blog, this was a Blue Ray taste test...
I must stress that this is hardly unbiased -- I was A) in the company of good friends, 2) slightly inebriated and C) happy to pour over each scene with the sharpness lens screwed directly into my optic nerve.
Detail, color, contrast all looked superior to conventional DVD. This film is nearly animated with the full blue screen filming technique so I was not at all concerned with the unnatural presentation, and indeed welcomed it. Style over content is not the bad thing in movies that it is in music.
This movie has style. Blue Ray revealed details lost on the huge theater canvas, and let us look into the nooks and crannies of the striking images. I loved the intentional flattening of the screen into nearly 2-D on some of the shots -- in deliberate and warranted homage to Frank Miller's original material.
A good time was had by this reviewer, maybe next months Blue Ray night will be on a film I haven't seen so many times...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Last FM

More music stuff here. I just ordered Kip Hanrahan's new record from CDJapan...and while playing around on the site realized that a) I don't have Japanese character set loaded and 2) there was an English version. It also looked like there were some Kip Hanrahan podcasts available somewhere..
I got to Last FM and discovered a personalized radio station.
Feel free to press play below:

Yes, I resisted skinning it in pink...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Call it an Hiatus

I Know. 3 months. Blame Google Docs. I have been cataloging DVDs and CDs in my spare clock cycles and have gotten most of the brute force data entry done. In the meanwhile I have seen things you people would not believe..
(I know, a weak use of a great quote)
A little music from back in the day courtesy of a too serious but fine Blog, Mog. Right.
Plenty of music/movie/book reviews may be backlogged, but for now:
Gang of 4!