To The Maxx

break into song
May 25, 2007, 8:30 pm
Filed under: film, music


just as i was moaning about how the currnt crop of movies in release right now is really weak, and how there is nothing worth seeing, a little movie came out of nowhere and punched me in the face.


i recall reading a lot of great things about “once” when it played at sundance earlier this year. it won the audience award. fox searchlight picked it up and the next thing i knew, it had already been released. and in los angeles, it’s only at one theater (the arclight, so not all is lost). after seeing the film, i am confident that it could be a big success…… it’s a total crowd-pleaser…. but, who knows…. maybe fox will expand to a wider release soon. it’s the kind of movie that you want to share with others…..

john carney is an irish director who i had not previously heard of… he once played in the irish band “the frames.” the lead singer of “the frames” is glen hansard. glen hansard recently cut an album with czech musician markéta irglová. carney heard the songs and wanted to use them in a film he was preparing, about two songwriters who meet in ireland…. a sort-of musical. he asked glen and markéta to write a few more songs. one thing led to another and the non-actor songwriters ended up starring in the film.

so the film is a sort-of musical…. it’s certainly one of the most naturalistic musicals i’ve ever seen: super-low budget, shot on video, entirely on location in and around dublin, most of the music is sung/performed live….. these characters break into song without, er, breaking into song. it is almost a kitchen sink, european art-house musical…. but it still maintains the charming, old-fashioned, borderline-corny spirit of the classic movie musicals.

it’s a romantic film… sincere and passionate. devoid of any irony or cynicism…. and if you go into it with a cynical attitude, you probably won’t glean much from it.

i implore those of you who are reading this (is there anyone out there?) to go see “once.” it’s a really exciting movie.

and watching the people who actually wrote the songs performing them adds a super powerful dimension to the film…. if the songs sucked, it would definitely be tough to watch an hour and a half of more music than dialoge, but…… fortunately, the songs are as well written as the film is well made.

the scene in which we first hear this song is super cinematic magic! enjoy.

(buy) (myspace)


shirt’s off!
May 19, 2007, 7:54 pm
Filed under: film

some friends shot this entirely with the built-in camera in a macbook.

it’s also incredibly weird.

May 16, 2007, 8:43 am
Filed under: film

this video has nothing to do with “28 Weeks Later.”

which i just saw.

i enjoyed the first one very much, and while the sequel isn’t as good as the original, it’s still pretty damn good. it is extremely well-made… juan carlos fresnadillo, who directed the spanish movie Intacto, which i dug very much takes over the director’s reigns from danny boyle and keeps the frenetic intensity up.

the film also takes the romero route and uses the horror genre as analogy for our current climate… from iraq (especially america’s involvement therein) to the mismanagement during and after hurricane katrina…. the true horror in this film is not what the “infected” do to humans… it’s what humans do to other humans… and that’s what’s really unsettling about “28 Weeks Later,” much more than any gore scene.

on second thought, the video above has a lot to do with “28 Weeks Later.”

yes, it is a little thin on plot…. and there are some dumb moments….but it’s way better than 90% of the current crop of shit. and the names of the young actor and actress who play the brother and sister protagonists are Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots.

And those are the two best names in history.

cvil-rights danceparty
May 14, 2007, 7:09 am
Filed under: music

Mavis Staples, back in the day

so this new mavis staples album came out with little fanfare. i saw an ad for it in harp magazine (which, as far as current music mags go, is so up my alley) and a friend mentioned that it was coming out and then suddenly it was out. people, i had to get it instantly. i needed a hard copy. i needed to own it.

now i don’t own any staples singers records. i sure don’t. i bought this record because it has the good old ry cooder stamp of approval. yessir, when old ry joins forces with another artist (be they obscure cuban jazz cats or malian guitarists or old east l.a. legends) you’ve got to take notice.

add to the ranks soul/gospel royalty. the album is “we’ll never turn back” on ANTI-, produced by ry. personae: mavis staples on vox, ry cooder on guitars, mike elizondo on bass (he’s a superproducer, dr. dre protege dude), jim keltner on drums, joachim cooder (son of ry, drummer of hello stranger) on percussion, featuring ladysmith black mambazo and the freedom singers on backing vocals.

do yourself a favor and go get this album. it’s got such snarl, such intensity and a real sense of urgency and hope… a handful of civil-rights era traditionals recontextualized, rearranged, revitalized by the passion in mavis’ voice and the brilliance of the band. sure, they’re old songs with old messages, but they are currently as relevant as ever.

these jams are for NOW, dig?

(buy) (website)

out of the past
May 5, 2007, 5:51 am
Filed under: film, music

whoops, forgot i had a blog there for a moment or two.

so i moved into my new place. i think i’m officially settled. even though there are still boxes of books and music all over the place… some remain taped shut. not sure when i will open them. when you move, you have a whirlwind few days of opening boxes and arranging furniture and putting things in drawers and then, in my case at least, it kind of stops. and you get on with your life while half of your things remain enclosed. maybe tomorrow i will place more books on the appropriate shelves.

old joy

i finally saw kelly reichardt’s Old Joy which i found totally moving in the most non-aggressive manner possible. it’s an exercise in subtlety. the conversations between will oldham and daniel london’s characters, which make up much of the film, seem so mundane at first. but as you watch, you quickly learn that the film’s modus operandi is subtext. reichardt captures the relationship of these two guys perfectly… effortlessly. and an added bonus: watching will oldham (aka bonnie “prince” billy”, palace) on screen is as pleasurable as listening to his music.

as the film examines an old friendship well after its heyday, here are two songs from the (not too) distant past…

The Field Mice are one of those great “lost” bands. i guess they were only together for three or so years (88 – 91) before calling it quits. everyone says that they were the prototype for Belle and Sebastian, and that’s true: folk-pop, effete male and female vocals… totally twee. this track is a bit jangly, a bit fuzzy, a bit paisley… reminiscent of early R.E.M. stylings.


carter burwell has scored some films you may know and love (coens, jonze). but most aren’t aware that back in the day (the early 80s) he was half of Thick Pigeon (the other half being comprised of one Stanton Miranda, who sang and played bass) an experimental new york duo signed to the one, the only, factory records, straight out of manchester, england. in 1984 they released “Too Crazy Cowboys”. it was reissued in 2003 and is some strange shit. and i’m crazy about it. this is the first track, “troglodytes”, which is among the more sing-alone-able tunes on the record.


BONUS: music video for thick pigeon’s “wheels over indian trails”