Monday, May 30, 2011

26 films: Shame



95 Minutes

Shame is one of those films that I picked up because it sounded like a interesting little exploitation flick. The plot is pretty simple; Asta Cadell is out driving her motorcycle though the back roads of Australia when she stops to fix her bike she gets caught up in the gender and class politics of the town she has landed in. She is treated with hostility by the locals at first, but slowly becomes friendly with several of them, including Lizzy the daughter of the mechanic she has been staying with. Lizzy has been date raped, and many in the town seem to think that she deserved. Asta at first just wants to be on her way, but finds that she is has been pulled into the gender dynamics of the town, and steps up and encourages Lizzy to bring charges.

The film moves along pretty swiftly, and despite a more than a little melodrama comes to a conclusion without over staying it’s welcome. In many ways it is a time capsule of a time and a place. The attitude of many adults towards the victim of the date rape is of the puritanical 80s blame the victim variety that might seem out of date, but I am sure is still held in many quarters. There is also an undercurrent of class privilege threaded through the film, as the main date rapists is son of local factory owners. This element isn’t really explored very deeply, but is simply acknowledged.

Over all I was underwhelmed by the film, although I give it points for tackling the subject of date rape. I also liked that it was a strong female who is able to inspire the young women of the town to stand up for themselves. That said I don’t know that I am going to revisit it any time soon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

FFB: Let It Be by Colin Meloy

This weeks Friday’s Forgotten Book is the 16th entry in the33 1/3 Series of books, which reflects on the album Let it Be by The Replacements

I first heard of The Replacements in High School, when my locker mate and writing sparing partner Shawn Dykehouse thrust and article for the Communicator (our weekly high school news paper) and told me to sign it. He wanted a co-author for an, and to help me with a little needed credit. I don’t recall anything about the article other than it praised The Replacements as the best band of the ending decade. In college I had a TA who was teaching some ridiculous integrated general ED class that I got friendly with, we were on the same wave length somehow, and I recall him telling me about The ‘Mat’s as he called them, still I didn’t bite… it was only later, when I was residing in their home town of Minneapolis –Saint Paul that I got hip.

It was Bastards of Young, it was Left of the Dial, and then it was I will Dare. All of this is to say that of the half dozen or so installments of the 33 1/3 series that I have read so far this one has been the most engaging, the most enlighten, and the best. It’s that Colin Meloy (yes of the Decembrists) hits home for me, a couple of years younger than me, he writes of a time that was part of my youth, part of my reality. He hits the teenage themes that I knew, he talks about books that I read, and a world that I knew, and he doesn’t let some lengthy catalog of recording sessions and time spent writing songs fill his pages. Instead he talks about how it related to him, at the time that it did.

He ends the book talking about his first visit to the 400 Bar in Saint Paul, in May of 2003 and seeing all the ‘Mat’s stuff on the wall. That was only months after my first visit to the same place, November of 2002, the first week in town, my brother and I staying at an extended stay looking for a place to live so that we could go out and find work. The Swedish group The Soundtrack of Our Lives played the 400 Bar and we dutifully went to check them out. I don’t recall the photos on the wall, only that TSTOOLs were awesome and that I met a girl, her name now long forgotten, who I never saw again, but left me feeling like MSP was going to be a good place to be… and it was for a while…. As was the trip down memory lane that is Let It Be.

More Friday Forgotten books can be found at Patti Abbotts blog HERE.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Final Thursday Forgotten Music: Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's Twentieth Century by The World/Inferno Friendship Society

The World/Inferno Friendship Society

The Dark cabaret was one on of those blip on the radar musical movements of the last decade or so. Mostly it's mix of cabaret, rock and punk. World Inferno's Addicted to Bad Ideas is one of the great albums of that genre. It's a suite of songs about the great Peter Lorre with repeating musical motifs via different musical genres, mush like the theme from Altman's Long Good Bye. It's a fresh, energetic mix that hold together well and with titles like "M" is for Morphine, Everybody Comes to Rick's, Addicted to Bad Ideas and Heart Attack '64 there is a intrigue promise to the album that I can't deny. There is also an element of the kind of show tune sound that we have heard more recently due to the show glee, and I have to point out the Jim Steinman, sound that more than a few of the songs incorporate, which I do dig. Addicted to Bad Ideas in particular could have been (and maybe should be) a great Meatloaf single. I picked this album up after seeing that amazing German 30s impressionistic cover, but I had heard of the band, and heard good things about them.

The band followed up with the album The Anarchy and the Ecstasy which was released a couple of months ago and I am still in the process of decoding and engaging with it.

You can find the band on-line HERE
More Final Thursday Forgotten Music at Scott Parker's Blog HERE

Thursday, May 19, 2011

26 Soundtracks: Control

Control OST 2007

Any films about a band is going t o be filled with songs from that band, and the bands around them. In this case the band was Joy Division, and the music is the dissonant ringing mournful post punk of youth trying to escape industrial sticks of the UK. The music is repetitive and droning, just like life in those places during the economic times of the 70s. At the same time there is an energy and intelligence hovering under the surface. With both Joy Divisions music, and that of the peers along with bands that inspired them it’s a solid collection of tunes that should appeal to anyone who is a fan or wants to check out music of that time and place.

Track List

Exit by New Order

What Goes On by The Velvet Underground

Shadowplay by The Killers

Boredom [Live at the Roxy] by The Buzzcocks

Dead Souls by Joy Division

She Was Naked by Supersister

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division

Hypnosis by New Order

Evidently Chickentown [Film Excerpt] John Cooper Clarke

2HB by Roxy Music

Transmission [Cast Recording] by Joy Division [Performed by the Cast]

Autobahn by Kraftwerk

Atmosphere by Joy Division

Warszawa by David Bowie

Get Out by New Order

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

26 Films: I Went Down

I Went Down


111 Minutes

I Went Down is one of those indie crime films from around the world that got some play in the States (which are brilliant apparently) mostly due to an indie film boom, home video, and the commercial, critical and cultural success of Pulp Fiction. It features a cast of faces from the UK, most of whom you might have seen somewhere, but mostly it features the great Brendan Gleeson showing why he could carry a film like In Bruge.

I’m not going to get into the plot to deeply, Git and Bunny (Gleason) are sent to Cork to pick up someone with a packet of money for gangster Tom French. Git and Bunny both owe Tom a debt and he leverages that debt to send them on the errand. Along the way nothing turns out the way it was planned. There are great performances, mostly from Gleeson who has a charm and charisma on film that many actors do not. It is easy to see why he was such a stand out element of In Burge.

Like In Bruge the film at it’s core has theme of betrayal and loss of social connection. There are contrasting betrayals, and in fact both of the debts that Tom French holds over Git and Bunny, are debts that any sane man would have walked away from. For Git it’s that Tom is holding his best friend who has hooked up with Git’s Ex-Girlfriend while Git was locked up. Git’s been betrayed by both his best mate and his woman, and still comes to their rescue, even though both have proven that they don’t deserve it.

Bunny’s wife has left him, and the film makes plain that she’s gone and no longer wants anything to do with him. Yet, Tom French knows something about Bunny that he threatens to tell the MIA wife, and that leverages Bunny’s participation in the goings on. Once again any sane man would have just cut their losses and moved on.

Shot in Ireland, the film shows landscapes, roadways along with Bars and Hotels that you don’t see in film all that often. The accents are a bit thick and that prevents untrained ears from picking up all the banter, which is witty and has a zing like the best indie films of the era. There are a few murky areas of the story that could have and should have been fleshed out a little better, but over all it’s a above average gem from that end of the VHS period. As far as I know it’s not on DVD, but if you run across it I highly recommend checking it out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

FFB: My Lovely Executioner by Peter Rabe

Jimmy Gallivan is counting down the final days of his seven-year prison sentence, when he is swept into a break out and roped into helping a drug dealer finding incriminating evidence that threatens to become public. Jimmy starts out disoriented by the events of the breakout and escape, not sure where he is going or who is behind everything he drifts, mostly drunk though the events swirling around him. He lands in jail, a sanitarium, and at a couple of parties where he mostly drinks but manages to get laid a couple of times as well. Towards the end he finally pulls it all together and figures out what’s been going on around him, and what is expected from him in exchange for his release, and in the end has to make one final choice.

This isn’t the first Rabe that I had read that would be Murder Me for Nickels, which I liked but didn’t love. I was a bit apprehensive about cracking open this one and didn’t know how involved I would get in the story. I found it engaging and liked the way chaos of the start of the book managed to disorient the reader the way that Gallivan was disoriented, before coming together and have all the pieces fall into place. This is nifty read, and is in print along with Agreement to kill in one volume from Stark House Press.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Decline of the Western Civilization Part III: The Big 4

I have known Ryan since we met on the playground, he was in the second grade I was in the third. He's a big music fan and been on board with the music, films and books that have informed my life.

Decline of the Western Civilization Part III: The Big 4

by Ryan Anys

The self-proclaimed “Big 4” of Thrash Metal: Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer & Metallica threw down two weekends ago amid the blazing heat of Indio California’s Coachella Valley.

Marking the first ever North American collaboration between these titan of thrash metal (Europeans have enjoyed a number of summer festivals featuring this line-up), this is also the only show scheduled (to date) in North American. This happening has been hallowed as a must-see, a one-of-a-kind event for Metal-Heads of all vintages and creeds. And the Big 4 did not disappoint, from start to finish, the ferocious seven hour onslaught of pulverizing metal brought unrelenting joy to many a head-banger.

Though all of the bands are missing at least one member from their formative days (each band now having been in business for the more than a quarter century), they were all in top form, belting out a bevy of trash metal's Golden Hits.

It warmed my heart to hear Joey Belladonna's soaring vocals anchored by Scott Ian's crunching rhythm guitar on such blistering classics and Among the Living and Cry for the Indians.

Dave Mustaine's trademark rasp was potent as ever while ranting: "What do you mean I ain't kind, I'm just not your kind..." on the Megadethclassic Peace Sells, But Who's Buying?

Waiting in line to take my turn in a port-a-potty, I watched in awe as the crowd began sprinting from the make-shift rest area toward the stage in a demonic cattle call, as the opening chords of South of Heaven rang out, announcing Slayer's arrival. And who could blame them?

But with such a hefty offering of hor d'oeuvres (more of a meal than most could consume in one sitting), what entree could possibly be appropriate for such an auspicious occasion? In a flash of blazing pyrotechnics, elaborate strobe lights and a three screen backdrop, Metallica answered that question with the crushing fury of For Whom the Bell Tolls, and proceeded to absolutely ravage the crowd, tightening their metallic death-grip with each successive sonic assault.

In short, the musical performances can be described as nothing less the spectacular: two thumbs up, 10 out of 10, five stars, and on and on...

The real star of the show, however, was the crowd. As I mentioned above, most of these bands began their careers more than 25 years ago, and experienced their heyday somewhere between 1985 and 1992. Yet, still going strong these metal stalwarts attracted an estimated 50,000 concert-goers.

So who are these vast and dedicated faithful? A fascinating breed all their own. During the show, I derived as much joy from people watching, as I did from the musical performances. I commented to a friend in attendance with me, that we were awash in the sea of humanity, or more specifically, gliding along the underbelly of the sea of humanity. With a range of ages spanning from late teens to early fifties, several generations of metal-heads were represented, many looking as grizzled, intimidating and downright scary as ever - and I loved it!

Misfits, miscreants and mutants from all walks of life letting their metal flag fly to a soundtrack of the genres elder statesmen and greatest performers. How could anyone resist the undiluted purity fueling their belief... the belief in the power of metal - in its power to overcome, and defy the injustices mainstream society continually foists upon all nonconformists.

A Desert Storm veteran missing both legs, enjoyed the show in state of elation, providing a particularity moving portrait of metal’s power to overcome and unite. How good are the odds that this young man took to the field of battle in Iraq to the strains of Slayer and Metallica?

Plus the, the wardrobe was way-cool! Not much leather (damn desert heat), but tons of denim and spikes, long hair, short hair, Mohawks, chicks with sunburns in bikini tops, and the tee-shirts... oh yes, the tee-shirts... Nowhere else in the world would you find more people clad in black tee-shirts, thumbing their noses at the 80+ degree weather - scorching desert heat be damned!

The tee-shirts were definitely the subliminal hit of the show. Every vintage of metal tee-shit you can imagine, with more classic Metal up Your Ass Metallic tee-shirts than you could ever hope to find in one spot. Other highlights include a tee-shirt with Slayer transcribed in Arabic, and my particular favorite; an enormous bald man sporting a Cal-Trans orange tee-shirt embolden with the phrase: "ever ride a fat boy?" In a word... classic.

In total, the event was absolutely fantastic! The good metal vibes and heavy tunes have, weeks later, continued to reverberate through my head. Fun, sun, copious amounts of alcohol, the kings of thrash metal, tons of cool metal gear and 50,000 raging metal-heads - this may be the description of the best time anyone could possibly have on planet earth. If you have the opportunity to partake of the Big 4 experience, I highly recommend you do so.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

26 Soundtracks: S.F.W.

S.F.W. Soundtrack


Gen X films of the 90s are a passion of mine, I never intended it to be that way, but as I get older it’s harder and harder not to notice that following the mythic world changing youth of the Boomers, that the Generation following them, Gen X, have been shut down, suppressed and largely ignored…. But for a few years there was a moment when a generation was able to present at least some of their realities, anxieties, and pathos on film.

S.W.F. was an in your face indie film about the survivors of a hostage situation in a Mini Mart that was broadcast on TV live. Cliff Spab, our protagonist is having a hard time with the fame, feeling guilt over the fact that no one seems to care about his best friend who didn’t survive ordeal, and isn’t really sure what to do next with his life. I haven’t seen the film since it’s initial VHS release, and it tanked at the box office.

The Soundtrack however is something that I have kept all these years. Take a moment and look at the release date and note that it was 1994, there were several of these bands that were between notable albums, coming off albums which had been well received or were about to explode on to the world stage. I am going to comment on each of the tracks that appeared on the released soundtrack, those not on the soundtrack are shown in red.

According to the IMDB these are the tracks that were used in the film, I am going to comment on each one and then I have a few words about those not included on the soundtrack release.

"Jesus Christ Pose" Performed by Soundgarden

This was and is classic Soundgarden, it’s easy to forget the power of those first few hit tracks from them. It’s a howl at the world, but it’s also an up front commentary on the voyeurism of the public and their demand for martyrs from the ranks of the famous. When you consider that the film was about reality-TV fame it’s a fitting song to have on the sound track.

"Get Your Gunn” Performed by Marilyn Manson

I can’t say that I was ever a Manson fan, I did own the first album and was left unimpressed. I thought they had a great idea for a band, but never really had the music to back it up. This track, it’s, well, it’s a Alt rocker with industrial undertones and while not awful, it’s just kinda unmemorable…. Next….

"Can I Stay?" Performed by Pretty Mary Sunshine

Can I Stay? No…. ok, I don’t recall this band at all, but listening to this track for the first time in years as I type, I find it to be a mid tempo wha wha petal instrumental with breathy female vox that are just a tad slower than the music. I can hear why it wouldn’t have made an impression on me back in ’94, it’s kinda lost in the swirl of testosterone driven anger of the rest of the record…. But I will have to Google the band and see what their story is/was.

"Teenage Whore" Performed by Hole

I have never been a fan of Hole, mostly because by the time they came along I was already tired of the whole Riot Gurrl thing that they seemed to be marketed as, an was already on the path of listening bands who were talking about the same issues and doing it better…. Die Monster Die, Insane Jane, Legal Weapon, Day 28, Die Cheerleader and was on the cusp of discovering The Avengers, The Nuns and 45 Grave.

"Negasonic Teenage Warhead" Performed by Monster Magnet

I have written about this song a couple of times before as I love it and think that is the next track in the chain starting with Search & Destroy by The Stooges, continues with Sonic Reducer by The Deadboys, and the comes to rest on the shoulders of Monster Magnet. The song like those others wasn’t a hit, but should have been, it captures everything about not only the film, but also about the moment that it arrived on the airwaves. It is the lost classic of the era that I can only hope will be discovered, embraced and covered by young bands to come.

"Like Suicide" (Acoustic Version) Performed by Chris Cornell

Like Suicide was on the hit Superunknown album, but not a hit. Here it is presented as just Cornell and his guitar, and as with his tracks on the Singles soundtrack lead those of us who were fans to expect great things from him as a solo artist… and we all know what happened with that. :(

"No Fuck'n Problem" Performed by Suicidal Tendencies

Skate Punk hold over’s who managed to have a career during the first wave of alternative music before sinking into the realm of cult bands once again. This is a solid mid tempo track that isn’t’ the best thing they ever recorded, but isn’t the worse either.

"Surrender" Performed by Paw Written by Rick Nielsen

PAW, where do I start, they are my favorite forgotten band of the era, their two albums Dragline and Death to Strangers are classics of the early 90s. This track is of course a cover of the Cheap Trick song. It’s gritty and howled and where the original was a Hi Energy pure pop classic, this

"Creep" Performed by Radiohead

The only Radiohead song that I have ever liked and with each passing year I grow more and more fond of it, sure its obvious, but at the same time I think it taps into something more clearly than others who have tried to express the same ideas. I also think that the one sharp loud guitar part that disrupts the whole song is a masterstroke. I would also add that the Richard Cheese did a cover of the song that is the definite cover of the song and the best answer to it as well.

"Two At A Time" Performed by Cop Shoot Cop

I recall wanting to like these guys, I think I owned an EP by them at one point. They were a thrashy alternative band with gravely vocals, but they never seem to have the songs to reach out and touch me.

"Say What You Want" Performed by Babes In Toyland

Better than Hole, and on the same level as L7, I just wish that they had been… I don’t know, more accessible. This isn’t an awful song, it’s just as with Hole there were plenty of others who were doing something similar that hooked me more.

"S.F.W." Performed by Gwar

Let’s be honest, GWAR has never been about the music, It’s always been about the show… but this is perfect for them, a blasting, blistering chanted theme for the film, So Fuckin’ What, isn’t that what GWAR was always saying in a nutshell?

“Spab n’ Janet Evening/ The Green Room” Graeme Revell

This track is Cue music, and I never really noticed it before, upon listening to it, I like it. It’s nice slow tempo surfy instrumental rock, I think I can add Graeme Revell to that list with Pretty Mary Sunshine of acts from this soundtrack that I need to make further inquiries about.

The following tracks were not included on the CD

"Speedball" Performed by Therapy?

"Nosepicker" Performed by 3 Dot 5

"Light In The Black" Performed by Rainbow (as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow)

"Mary, Mary" Performed by Mantissa

"Also Sprach Zarathustra" Performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy & the Cleveland


"In Anger" Performed by Ken Ramme & Lawrence Shragge

"All Systems Go" Written by Nikki Bernard

"Remember Slow Fox?" Written by Ole Georg

"At The Waldorf" Performed by Steve Cairn & Richard Johnson

"Carry Me Away" Performed by Steve Cairn & Richard Johnson

"As Long As We Got Each Other" Performed by Stephen Dorff & Reese Witherspoon

"America the Beautiful" Written by Katherine Lee Bates (as Katherine L. Bates) &

Samuel A. Ward (as Samuel G. Ward)

"Spabs Theme" Performed by Stephen Dorff Written by Stephen Dorff

A few thoughts on the tracks not released on the album are in order. First I am not sure why Therapy? were not on the record, they were part of the early days of the Alternative Music scene, and seem to have been forgotten. I know of the band Rainbow, but not that song, it should be worth checking out. The rest of it looks like music cues and score music, along with a version of America the Beautiful …. What stands out is that there are two tracks sung by the actors which would have been great hidden/ bonus tracks. BTW, yes that is THAT Reese Witherspoon, like everyone else she had to start somewhere and before Election she was in Freeway along with a little film called So Fuckin What!

If you happen to come across a copy of the soundtrack I recommend picking it up, for the songs, but also for it’s place as an artifact of a moment in music and the culture that has recently had it’s momentary revival, but is worth further investigation.

As an addendum I would add the following, which is from Wiki

The director [Jefery Levy ] had this to say: In a way this story parallels what happened to (Kurt) Cobain, says director Jefery Levy of his S.F.W. (So F -- -ing What). It's a movie about a regular kid (Stephen Dorff) with an extraordinary sensitivity. That's why Levy wanted to include Nirvana's All Apologies on the S.F.W. soundtrack and asked Cobain to screen a rough cut shortly before his suicide in April. Kurt really responded to the movie, says Levy, who has not yet been able to secure permission to include the song. Meanwhile, Levy is using Teenage Whore, a tune by Kurt's widow, Courtney Love, and her band, Hole. When she was responding (to Cobain's suicide note in a taped broadcast) she kept using the term 'So f -- -ing what', Levy recalls. It was weird.[1]

Generation Hex: Jefery Levy tries to get All Apologies on the soundtrack for his new film [Entertainment Weekly, June 3, 1994.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

26 FIlms: Avenging Angel

Avenging Angel 1985

Angel was the story of a girl abandoned by her parents living a double life. By day she was the shy honor student, by night a streetwalker paying the rent and keeping up the appearances that her Mother was still around. There was a plot about a killer on the loose and the adults who finally figured out what was going on and came to her rescue.

It’s 4 years later and Molly is about to finish college and head off to Law School. Only her mentor, Andrews is killed and the police don’t seem all that interested in figuring out what’s going down. Molly and her crew hit the streets to try and find the killers, with the results you expect.

Avenging Angel is one of those titles that I used to see on the video story selves and wonder about, but it was until now that I took the time to watch it. It was fine as far as story, narrative and action went, but what really it me was just how 80s everything was. The image of Hollywood as a land of plastic, neon and shiny reflections all cast in a sickly unreality was perfect. The weapons of the day were interesting as well, everyone seemed to be using revolvers and the only really hi tech gun any one used was Tim Rossovich as Teddy caring a SPAS 12 Italian Combat shotgun.

I really don’t have a whole lot more to say other than I liked it enough, and having seen the first film in the series I feel like I really need to give the third entry a look.

The fantastic House of Self Indulgence blog has reviews of all three films that are worth checking out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April 2011 Monthly Reads

Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamspawn by Christa Faust

See this the latest FFB post for details

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George Higgins

I have seen the film based on the book a couple of times, and after hearing raves about the book and read it. It’s pretty much the same story as the film. The talk and actions between the characters are what make it special. Higgins is a great with getting the small moments, the talk and the utter basic actions of work a day criminals. I highly recommend it.

Lawrence Block book of the Month:

The Canceled Czech

Evan Tanner is enlisted by some unknown organization to make his way behind the Iron Curtain and retrieve a old Nazi whom is about to go on trial, and try and get his hands on the documents that the old Nazi still has hidden away. Along the way he meets up with Nympho 18 year old Nazi women, semi bumbling group of Israeli extremists, and other odds and ends characters. The story is a travel log of a kind, and Tanner is a fun guide, and it’s all light and breezy spy fun.

The Spy by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott Book on CD

It’s been many a year since I have read a Cussler book, and longer since I felt one had the energy, drive and fun of this book. Part of a new series with Co-Writer Justin Scott, The Spy is part of the Van Dorn detective agency series, set in 1908 and dealing with the Dreadnaught race of the era, Isaac Bell – a top man with the agency – is on the trail of the titular Spy who has been causing chaos across the east coast (with a side trip to San Francisco). It’s a adventure that has been set in a time that often isn’t thought of as being a time of adventure. It have enjoyed the Book on CD presentation to the point that I am going to have to check out the first in the series, The Wrecker.

Stark House Press novel of the Month:

My Lovely Executioner by Peter Rabe

Jimmy has three weeks left on his sentence when he is whisked out of the yard in a prison break. He is carried along with his companion Rand and before long finds he’s being manipulated into helping a crime lord uncover missing, well I don’t want to spoil it. It’s enough to say that this is mostly an engaging crime romp and if you are a Rabe fan you won’t want to miss it.