Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ah, David M.

It's almost time for Christmas Alone in No Fun City this year, the 30th anniversary of such shows in Vancouver. Apparently David M. will be doing TWO such shows this year, *and* releasing a (likely fairly limited) CD box (read: baggie) of NO FUN Christmas shows.

Apparently he also likes the band name, NO FUN, all in caps, which I've never realized (until very recently, obviously).

Anyhow, David has a new poster, which may or may not give you a sense of the spirit of a NO FUN Christmas show. Actually, you might infer from David's posters that he really, really hates Christmas, and is determined to take the piss out of it (or piss all over it) at every turn, but in fact, he rather likes it, and has lots of Christmas-themed CDs and movies and such. I know this from firsthand experience of the David M. collection, long may it run.

This is the new poster for the 30th anniversary of Christmas Alone in No Fun City. Brace yourselves! (And click it for a larger version).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kings of the Road soundtrack change, plus Upcoming at the Vancity Theatre and Cinematheque

Some very interesting films, as always, at the Vancity Theatre. Hoping to see the Haida Gwaii and Fractured Land docs later today - the latter a favourite at the VIFF, though I heard insider whispers that the former is a better-crafted film. Related, for local First Nations content, is the adaptation of The Golden Spruce, called Hadwin's Judgment. There's lots else - a Turkish film festival, say - but I'm mostly excited about the chance to see The Fool again, a Russian film from the festival before last that I'd given up hope of seeing a second time, in part because I'd completely forgotten the title. I found it quite compelling, in a grimly social realist kind of way - or perhaps we should call it "social cynicism," in this case? It's a perfect parable for those who believe that all virtue will be punished.
Meantime, at the Cinematheque... I left the screening of Kings of the Road after 45 minutes because, as I feared, I was having trouble "going home again," as they say; the reality of the film wasn't meshing with my cherished memories of it, I wasn't FEELING it like I used to, very early in my cinema consumption, when it routinely appeared at the top of my favourite films list (vying with Cassavetes' Husbands or Love Streams for the number one slot). After establishing that I was simply less entranced by it than I used to be, it seemed best to just protect my past experiences, though I stuck around for awhile to verify that the soundtrack has been officially and finally tinkered with (and that the poo scene is still intact). As I've said before, Chris Montez' bubblegummy "The More I See You" has been replaced with a song by Improved Sound Limited called "If I Could Read Her Mind." That band does many of the other songs on the film's soundtrack, including the lovely, memorable "Nine Feet Over the Tarmac" - which, okay, sounds a bit too close to "After the Gold Rush" at the start, but it's still a great song. Still, it's clearly a recent change to the film, since when Bruno Winter plugs the 45 into his 45 player, if you look quick and close (on the big screen, anyhow), you will clearly see on the label that it is "The More I See You" that is supposed to play. IMDB pretends that song was never featured. I don't know whether this is a copyright issue or a bit of tinkering on Wenders' part; I must admit, the new song DOES fit pretty seamlessly into the film, whereas "The More I See You" sticks out as a bit of a goofy sore thumb, and probably would attract some giggles from savvy cinemagoers nowadays, since it makes the veiled homosexual tension between the two men a little flippin' overt. There's even a moment between them - a brief glance, as the song plays - that may have gotten a bit of a trimming, to make this all a bit more subtle. In any event, it works, but in general I am against this kind of tinkering and it helped me leave the movie early.

Guess I won't be getting rid of my VHS copy of it!
On the other hand, everyone says Wenders' restored five-hour -long director's cut of Until the End of the World is far superior to that disappointing film we all remember (?) from the 1990's. It's premiering in Vancouver and looks to be a must-see. I mean, I love Max von Sydow in pretty much anything, and there was stuff in the theatrical cut (the only time I've seen it, first run in Vancouver) that I remember really wanting to like. More on the director's cut, from someone who has actually seen it, here.

In terms of other upcoming movies, the big deal double bill for me at the Cinematheque is Dec. 3rd. Local artists of note will be introducing some of their favourite films, as part of the Traces That Resemble Us series. Jeff Wall and Greg Girard have chosen two classic bits of 1970's American cinema. Wall's pick is Straight Time (with Dustin Hoffman and BOTH Harry Dean Stanton and M. Emmet Walsh - see the Stanton-Walsh Rule in Roger Ebert's movie glossary; if no film with either man in it can be all bad, as ol' Rog maintained, than is any film with both of them in it guaranteed to be good?).
I haven't see that film in a long time, so I can't really speak to it, but I do love The Yakuza (with Robert Mitchum and a young Takakura Ken), which will also screen that evening as Greg Girard's pick for the series. It's Sydney Pollack at the height of his powers, with Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader, and Robert Towne co-authoring the screenplay: can you afford to miss it? I *have* seen this not too long ago, but I may go again, for the rare pleasure of seeing it on the big screen. It's a great, gritty, 70's actioner that even fans of Fukasaku Kinji and Beat Takeshi will be able to appreciate (it beats the living shit out of the Ridley Scott film, Black Rain, too, especially as an American representation of Japanese culture).
As for First Nations content, to bring things full circle, the Cinematheque will be doing a series called Through Indian Eyes, that no doubt has some fine films in it.  I've only seen three of them, so I can't really speak about the series knowingly: Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is amazing, of course - an Inuit folk tale made into an unlikely but wholly successful Northern Canadian epic - but I barely remember Smoke Signals. It's worth a look for a non-Jarmuschian turn from Gary "Nobody" Farmer.

On the other hand, though I acknowledge its ambition and am happy for its success, I thought Rhymes for Young Ghouls was somewhat befouled and cheapened by the influence of Quentin ("fucking") Tarantino, who I guess makes sense as a postmodern code juggler, but who is positively dangerous when his cinema is taken as primary input and his voice mistaken for an original one. (Yes, I will probably still go see The Hateful Eight; hell, I may even brace myself and watch Django Unchained again, the only film of his so far that I have had no respect for or patience with; hell, I even watched Death Proof twice. But generally I think that Tarantino isn't humble enough for a borrower, and isn't audacious enough as an innovator; whatever early talent he showed - and there was a lot of it, peaking with Jackie Brown - he's the sort of person who cannot possibly survive Hollywood success, once he starts believing his reviews and getting Academy Awards and all that poisonous crap that goes along with fame). Rhymes would have been so much stronger if Jeff Barnaby had grown up on a steady diet of British kitchen sink social realism, or even Cassavetean high drama, than Tarantino.

Speaking of Cassavetes, Tom Charity (who should know) tells me that James White (no relation to the no waver) is quite Cassavetean; it opens Nov. 27th. Might just check it out (but not on a fucking Vimeo screener, thanks; how I wish reviewers could still access DVD copies of the films they're asked to review!). Lots of good movies for cold winter days, in any case...

By the by, Nathan Holiday tells me he'll have some cool Thai movie posters similar to the Yakuza poster above at the Flea Market this weekeend. That also might be worth checking out!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy CD Release, Pointed Sticks!

I doubt very much I'm going to be there but this is going to be a great gig...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dubbin' the Furies

Furies by Vincent Kuan

Fantastic dub mix of the Furies' "Way of Life" done by the Pointed Sticks' Gord Nicholl! Check it out. Thanks to Chris Arnett for putting it out there.

I say hi to any Furies I see, on principle.

Dead Man Down, Spike Lee's Oldboy: DVD patrol

Two recent-ish thrillers consumed this evening that in no way got their due. Both are well worth a look.
Dead Man Down is an ambitious neo-noir oddity that doesn't quite work, but is more interesting than a lot of commercial thrillers that go off without a hitch. First off, and maybe most interestingly, it approaches the most noirish and most recognizable of movie cities, New York, with a highly European eye, almost to the extent - the odd skyline shot notwithstanding - of effacing it, which is no mean feat. Visually, it reminded me of, say, Revanche, though without being quite as chilly. The cinematographer was actually Paul Cameron, who lensed Collateral and Man on Fire; he's from Montreal, which surely is one of the most European cities in North America, while the director, Niels Arden Oplev (of the original version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is Danish, both of which no doubt explain the eye of the movie to some extent. Oplev, tho', seems to deliberately push the European aspect of the film well beyond its look, setting many scenes on tree-lined streets and in suburban residential areas that don't jibe with the usual signifiers of the city, and filling the story with immigrants, turning New York into a staging ground for conflicts between Brits, French, Hungarians, Albanians, and Jamaicans (the list gets longer if you consider that the stars, Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, are respectively Irish and Swedish). Foreign accents even become a plot point. The film is so playful and wilful in its "Europeanization" of New York that I confess that at about the fifteen minute mark I had to pause it to make sure I knew where it was set, as a black American gangster (Terence Howard), a British cohort, and Colin Farrell (who, with no dialogue early on, could very well have BEEN playing an Irish) go to war with a black English rival and his Jamaican crew. I don't THINK I was just being dense, not knowing where all this was happening.
The action of the film, meanwhile, is very aware of the history of noir and plays with familiar figures - the man who must steel his emotions in order to see a complex revenge plot through; the wounded woman who needs his help, and in attempting to use him, falls in love; the loyal friend whom the hero must betray, who has to ultimately be reckoned with... It's a sort of hazard of post-modern cinema; if the codes you play with feel too familiar, if you don't do enough with them, the movie runs the risk of seeming formulaic, by the book. Cinephiles might be able to rise above that to some extent by being able to contextualize, to see the film as deliberately playing with the codes, but self-awareness can only take you so far. Plus the film isn't THOROUGHLY European; unlike the chilliness of a film like Revanche, it opts for a climactic Hollywood shoot-em-up complete with automatic weapons, explosions, and a truck being driven through a wall. Add this to the fact that it already feels a bit formulaic and you can see why the film wasn't exactly a critical success (38% on RT). A final problem with it is that as good as the cast is - I mean, there's a supporitng role for Isabelle Huppert, ferchrissake, and tiny spaces for F. Murray Abraham and Armand Assante - they aren't really given anything to do, seem to exist in the movie not to fill a role that needed casting but rather to have had roles created for them because they were available. It's a bit of a waste of talent, though on another level, is kind of sweet and sympathetic: I mean, if I were a filmmaker, I'd write a character for Isabelle Huppert too, if I knew I could get her in my movie. I think I'd try to give her something to do more interesting than making cookies, though.

All the same, I rather enjoyed Dead Man Down. It's beautifully shot, well-acted - Rapace is particularly good - and has an enjoyably old-fashioned quality and unhurried, generous pace. It's maybe a film more for film lovers than casual viewers.

To my surprise, I entirely enjoyed Spike Lee's re-telling of Oldboy. It's a shame that whole Juan Luis Garcia thing went down like it did, actually (if you recall, Lee very casually and flippantly rebuffed a graphic artist whose work was ripped off to give the film its poster art; the resulting lawsuit has since been settled out of court, with few details having been made public). I remember, back in 2013, being excited to see the movie, despite some misgivings that I already had about Lee (who wore out his welcome with me as an actor as early as Do the Right Thing, though I enjoyed several of his subsequent films as director). Then the Juan Luis Garcia thing broke, and I was completely put off, had a definite fuck-this-guy reaction. Besides, I'm generally against the whole white-facing of Asian cinema; even if it sometimes produces worthwhile films - the American version of Ring, say -  there's something kind of insulting about taking a hit Asian film, and changing nothing but the language the characters speak and the colour of their skin. Why the hell does anyone need to remake Oldboy, when they can just go see the original? It's not like it's some obscure, unheard-of film over here.
But guess what? Oldboy - now available for $5 on London Drugs discount DVD racks, which is where I got it - is just flippin' great. It's very, very smart. There are some playful nods to the original, including a brief (but painless!) acknowledgment of octopi, but there's also a structural elegance that the original, as I recall, lacked; I can't go into too much detail without ruining the film's surprises, but in many ways it doesn't just copy the original, but improves upon it. I mean, I like Park Chan Wook just fine, but he's an excessive filmmaker, and some of the stuff he throws into his films is as distracting as it is surprising, creating moments that are powerful - the octopus, say, or the cutting off of the tongue, or the weird cut to the guy about to be thrown off the roof - but they also threaten to overpower, undermine, or redirect the film as a whole. There are still plenty of startling and memorable moments in the 2013 Oldboy, but there's also less distraction, less confusion; the underlying structural elegance is more apparent, without these individual bravura moments confusing the issue. This in turn makes the film's themes more interesting to think about, makes the meaning a bit easier to access (or so it seems; I am not of a mind to think deeply on it, but it seems less like an exercise in existential-masochism-for-its-own-sake than the original, seems like there's actually something worth contemplating there). I like the final shot a lot better, too.

Sorry to be a bit vague there, but I'm guessing a lot of people have seen the Korean film, and I want to intrigue them as to what Lee has done with it without giving anything away. (I'm even more curious to see Da Sweet Blood of Jesus now!).

Anyhow, it was a pretty great day scrounging the pawn shops, thrift stores, dollar stores and discount bins of Maple Ridge. These were both in today's haul. Over twenty DVDs and Blu's purchased for around $50, total. It's weird to me that so many DVDs and Blu's still get priced at $25 and upwards, when there's so much cheap entertainment available out there... but that's another matter. Tomorrow Mom and I will try Warrior, with Tom Hardy... And maybe Birdman, as part of my homework for The Revenant...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fun with the panorama setting

I've been playing with the panorama setting on my phone. Here are some recent photographs. I'm especially fond of the mossy ones, taken by the wharf near Port Haney train station. Note: all of the ones that I attempted to do with Erika looked HORRIFYING so I'm keeping them off here.

Pretty cool, eh?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kings of the Road this weekend!

An amazing film, screening this weekend at the Cinematheque... Really looking forward to seeing it again on the big screen, but apprehensive that "The More I See You" will be removed from this cut, as it has been on recent international DVD issues; very curious about that, actually. More on my thoughts on Wim Wenders a few weeks ago; if you love cinema - particularly meditative, self-reflexive road movies - this film is simply a must see.

Paris, ISIL and such

I haven't really made time to post on here about Paris, mostly because my blog is a backwater that only about five people look at on a regular basis, anyhow, and they're all people I'm in constant touch with anyhow. So who cares?

But for those who do read this stuff, who expect me to weigh in, here's the thing. I am willing to believe, as the anti-war movement would have it, that the strategy of ISIL - like the strategy of Al Qaeda in 9/11 - is to ENCOURAGE overreaction on the part of the countries they attack. It's "the war of the flea," the guiding principle of guerrilla tactics: you provoke your enemy into excessive violence and thereby win popular support for your cause, uniting the people around you against the common foe. By that logic, bin Laden WANTED the US to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, what-have-you, with 9/11; the Bush regime played exactly into their hands, and drove up membership in Al Qaeda, drove up anti-Americanism, proved to Muslims everywhere in the Middle East that indeed America IS the enemy. That argument DOES tend to come from the anti-war camp, the people who will rationalize a non-violent approach to anything, mind you, so I'm not entirely trusting of it, but it fits a general qui bono logic; I mean, what else COULD Al Qaeda have hoped to achieve with 9/11, besides having America bomb the shit out of the Middle East? If that wasn't what they wanted, they chose the WRONG strategy. And by that logic, what else could ISIL have achieved by the outrage in Paris than making Muslims worldwide a target all over again?

So if that's true - and if the way to defeat terrorism is to stop doing what the terrorists WANT you to do - then it's also true that bombing Syria, say, hoping to destroy ISIL, is a bad idea. (This is what France is doing right now, of course; reports of collateral damage will doubtlessly be downplayed, but each non-radical killed will lend fuel to the radicals fire).

Of course, if bombing the shit out of ISIL targets in Syria IS a bad idea, as it seems, it raises the question of what counts as a good idea, and here's the problem: I'm not sure what that is. "Diplomacy" would seem to be folly, because all indications are that there's no compromising with ISIL, no way of reconciling liberal values with theirs. I suppose I must do what I did after 9/11, and start some reading, to try to figure out exactly what they DO hope to achieve, but in the meantime, I am prepared to take it as a given, that it is nothing that can be made peace with, by anyone who values a liberal democracy.

So what to do?  Whatever it is, it seems very, very important to remain true to the values of liberal democracy in the face of such attacks. The route taken by the Bush regime after 9/11 - Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, what-have-you - was the WRONG one; it made things much, much worse. It's what created ISIL in the first place, it seems. We need to be a lot smarter than that. It's not that I have any problem with the idea of bombing the people who were responsible for the Paris attacks into dust, it's just that I'm pretty sure attempts to do that will make them bigger, stronger, and more popular. That it will help them to prove to the people they hope to recruit that they're right about the west.

I would rather that not happen.

There, I've weighed in. Best I've got, sorry. Now I'm going to go back to bitching about edgewarps, posting about movies I want to see, and letting y'all know what bands I'm excited about (Yob's Clearing a Path to Ascend is really, really magnificent, if you haven't heard it).


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fucking Edgewarps!

I think my days of buying new vinyl might be coming to a close, because it seems like at least one in four new LPs I buy has an edgewarp. They're ubiquitous, nowadaways; often slight, but just enough that the first song on either side of many albums I get skips all the way through it. Usually it calms down one song in, but when the first song on a side is one of your favourites on the record, this can be really, really frustrating.

Part of the problem, mind you, is the turntable I'm using. The weight can't be adjusted, is set kind of light, I guess, and the cartridge rides quite low to the vinyl, so - even if I try old tricks like putting a penny on it - it tends to be very, very sensitive to warps. Albums that play just fine on other record players (and I've tested them so I know) skip and jump all over the place on my turntable, at least for the first track on either side. I end up feeling like I can't just return every warped album I buy; because I know that they'd play just fine on some other cat's turntable.

But fuck me, I want records that work! Case in point: bought two GG Allin reissues at Audiopile; one is warped.

Or try this: returned Titus Andronicus' Local Business to Red Cat today because of an edgewarp, and because I wanted a copy of the album, damnit. The one I brought back was pink vinyl, the limited edition first pressing. The one I got in its stead was black vinyl, but fuckit, I don't care, as long as I can play "Ecce Homo," you know?

But guess what? I traded in a warped record for a warped record. Exactly the same problem, and "Ecce Homo" is track one, side one. Fugggh. Luckily my Yob and Willie Thrasher records I bought there work just fine, but it's too much of a pain in the ass to bother bringing the album in AGAIN, you know? Maybe it will play if/ when I upgrade my turntable, it's a pretty mild warp. Until that day, though, I think I'm going to have to swear off new vinyl. I just don't need the hassle of having to choose between the mild guilt of bringing back something someone else might be able to play, versus the frustration of keeping something that *I* can't play. It's just not a good feelin'.

Fuckin' edgewarps!

Willie Thrasher reissue, plus free show Wednesday!

Well, this looks like a must-attend: Wille Thrasher's 1981 debut, Spirit Child, has been reissued - connected to the Native North America series curated by local son Kevin "Sipreano" Howes; and there's a free show at the Lido (518 E. Broadway) to launch it, featuring Thrasher and other guests. I haven't managed to catch Willie yet but I love the songs of his on the Native North America compilation. Here's a link to one off the new reissue - "Wolves Don't Live by the Rules." Or try "We Got to Take You Higher," say...  See the Straight and the Sun for more...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sicario second viewing

Still a perfectly crafted and enjoyable film, though the tension dissipates a bit when you know what's going to happen next; it's one of those films where the fear of what MIGHT happen, the possibility of shocking violence around every corner, really keeps you on edge, but that only works the first time through. But the craft is astonishing, and I had a new favourite moment this time, that I didn't even notice the first time through: the great big closeup of the "first pack back," when Emily Blunt's character, under the weight of the stresses she's been handed, stops bumming and buys some cigarettes of her own. It rings really true - I had many of those first packs back, when I was trying to quit, in the face of far smaller stresses; plus it resonates nicely against the whole "drug addiction" thing, otherwise more or less invisible on the level of text (but important to it, obviously).

Strong a film as it is, I doubt very much (based on the two other people in the theatre this afternoon) that Sicario will last a lot longer in its run. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. And those topographies!

Friday, November 13, 2015

On his food poisoning

As much as I love Hon's on Robson, they're the most likely culprits in my current bout of food poisoning, since I had no symptoms until about five hours after I ate there.

After which I began with sulphurous belches and intestinal rumblings. Made it through my job and part of a concert (see below), but by the time we went to bed, around 11pm, I knew I'd be getting up to poop a few times, at the very least, and that very likely, my girl and I would both be having a mostly sleepless night.

Flash forward until 2am, and I've been getting up every hour or so for increasingly liquid bowel movements, squirting from an increasingly raw pucker, accompanied by vile belches and unholy, resonant flatulence. Then came the vomiting, choking up one spew, then another round of it by 3am, more of the projectile kind... then again, then again, with chunks of the Vietnamese food we'd had for dinner (after my symptoms had begun, but still undigested in me) decorating the bathroom, since it's very hard to aim projectile vomit all that well... head throbbing, picking up bits of half-digested vermicelli off the bathroom floor with a tissue, then staggering back stinking to bed (I did brush my teeth after each round, note).

So here I am, not working, zoned out and exhausted, still not feeling right but I seem to have purged the system well enough. Going to read a Harry Bosch book (The Drop) and maybe rest a bit more. I really like Hon's but generally speaking restaurants don't stay on my list after an experience like this... it's almost akin to the vows of an alcoholic as he pukes into the bowl - "never again, Jesus, ah swear!"

Phil Minton, Torsten Muller NOW society event

Amazing set earlier tonight in a little room attached to/ next to the CBC building tonight, with the ever-delightful vocal improviser Phil Minton, from the UK, joining Dylan van der Schyff and Torsten Muller on drums and bass, respectively. Minton is every bit as good as he was the last time I caught him, with the only conflict of the night arising from the desire to close your eyes and listen to what he's doing versus the compelling need to watch his dynamic, expressive face/ body as he does it. So privileged to have seen him in half a dozen contexts over the years! But Dylan and Torsten were fantastic too; van der Schyff in particular seems to have added a LOT to his repertoire since I last caught him, maybe seven or eight years ago now; or else I wasn't appreciating him fully back then, because he approached the drum kit with all the creativity and commitment of, say, Paul Lovens (or any other star of the form). A very tiny group of people braved the rain for this; I'm feeling sick - am actually writing this while sitting up between bouts of puking and diarrhea - so I only caught part of the evening myself, but it was a real treat (and I was glad to share it with my girl, too, who had never seen vocal improv before)...

Truth is, I haven't really been attentive to the improvised music scene in Vancouver in recent years; cuts in arts funding and various venue changes seem to have shrunken things down a bit, plus I've been on a rather different musical kick, spending a few years catching up with heavy metal and revisiting the music of my suburban youth. I'm still not really THAT hungry for improvised music, truth be known - its place in my life has changed - but I'm still happy to know that tonight marked the first in a series of events that are planned via the NOW Orchestra INsphere sessions; see more here. I believe these are all going to be free or by donation, too, which is nice. I'll be keeping an ear open.

By the way, Phil performs again this weekend, I believe, up in Roberts Creek, also with Torsten Muller and - what, the Young Canadians' Barry Taylor? That's interesting... Sunshine Coast avant gardists should rush to the show.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

GG Allin Reissues!

Hey, folks - fans of GG Allin should a) read Mark Prindle's GG Allin page and/ or take heed: Brutality and Bloodshed for All and Freaks Faggots Drunks and Junkies have just been reissued on vinyl! Got both at Audiopile yesterday, just spun Brutality now and loved it. I do not actually know what I make of GG the human being - he's a Rorschach test made out of blood and human feces - but I have decided that I am more entertained than horrified by the stories I hear (and by people's reactions to him, pro and con), and that MOSTLY I find his songs really, really enjoyable (tho' not always; he does have moments when he crosses even my line, which is probably for the best; if I embraced ALL of GG's aesthetic I probably would be ungirlfriendable). 

Lenore Herb digitization - a concert at VIVO...

Well, there's a gig to consider: Dec 4 at VIVO's new location, the Judys, Gerry Hannah's band (the New Questioning Coyote Brigade, Gerry? Really?), I, Braineater, AKA, BAMFF, and the Salvos, are going to play as part of a drive to digitize the work of Lenore Herb. Apparently the new VIVO is near Renfrew Skytrain, 2625 Kaslo Street. 

I only talked to Lenore Herb once, and she and Bill Scherk were kind of in contention about how a Young Canadians event that both were involved in was going to go. I got frustrated at having two people telling me different things (get it straight before you talk to the press, folks!) so I didn't really maybe do it justice; she must have been terminally ill at the time, but said nothing of it... no idea where the tape for that interview is now, except it's probably in deep storage!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Godspeed, 3 Inches of Blood! Plus a shopping tip

Shane Clark by bev davies, click for larger version

I really don't know if I'll get to see one of 3 Inches of Blood's farewell shows this weekend (see Mike Usinger on that here, and bless the dude for doing this article, it's exactly what I hoped the Straight might do). I'm missing the (sold out) show with Black Wizard and Bison on Saturday, to see DOA. Sunday is actually kind of tempting, but we will have to see. I'm glad that Bison will be taking Shane from 3 Inches (pictured above, with Bison, at the Hindenburg a few months ago) as their new bassist... people also missing Saturday can catch Shane with Bison when they open for Yob, Dec. 31st, at the Rickshaw.

I'm listening to Long Live Heavy Metal as I type this... I wasn't a fan of it back in 2012, because I was mostly listening to death metal and black metal back then, having returned to metal from a decades-long absence... but nowadays if I want metal I'm more likely to go for Priest or Maiden than Deicide or Gorgoroth, so I'm liking 3 Inches plenty...

...and speaking of that album, fans who missed out on the limited edition gold vinyl version (2LPs, 45rpm) can still get it at a big box outlet store in Maple Ridge, who, with an almost impressive lack of imagination, call themselves Big Box Outlet Store. (They're a Costco liquidator, primarily - lotta Kirkland on their shelves). Other locations might have copies, too, I don't know. I paid just over $19 for mine. It doesn't seem like that hot a collectible - there are copies just as cheap for sale on Discogs - but hey, it was limited to 666 copies, and I'm very happy to have on vinyl, so... fans might want to take advantage o' the deal!

Godspeed, 3 Inches of Blood! 

Gone Girl redux, plus David Wong's This Book is Full of Spiders

I watched Gone Girl again last night (signing it out of the library, once again happy to have done nothing to generate money for the film, which I find somewhat offensive). I liked it better on second viewing, appreciating Fincher's craft, but still agree with my earlier assessment, that it is ultimately a misogynist, audience-insulting film that cheats in a few key areas and squanders its most inspired and interesting material. It also seemed really, really cynical about relationships in a way that I am, as yet, not. Oddly enough, my girlfriend seemed to like it more than I did. I'm really not sure what that means.
Also, I just finished (and highly recommend) This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It, which is the sequel to John Dies at the End,  which was adapted into a very entertaining film by Don "Phantasm" Coscarelli. Both books are by Jason Pargin, of - a site I sometimes find myself on; he writes under the pen name (and the name of his main character) David Wong. Happy to report that This Book is Full of Spiders is in every way a worthy follow up to the earlier novel; it is perhaps a little less trippy, perhaps a little more straightforward - a good portion of it resembles a zombie outbreak narrative - but it also, at times, seems more willing to assume some mantle of responsibility for being about something. I remember thinking after closing John Dies at the End, which I also loved, that, in fact, under much obfuscation, weird humour, and general mindfuckery, there was actually a theme buried somewhere, some level of significant and piquant meaning which attentive/ observant/ intelligent/ determined readers could attempt to ferret out if they had a lot of free time or were needing material for a thesis. There is still plenty of obfuscation, weird humour, and general mindfuckery in This Book is Full of Spiders - these are probably the most whacked-out, ridiculous, absurdly entertaining novels I've read since my Robert Anton Wilson phase, in my 20's - but there are also real-world references to interesting/ significant concepts like Dunbar's number, which seems to serve as a kind of Allen key to accessing the thematic material contained in the novel.

I'm still not sure I understand that thematic material - I'm a bit relieved that there is no demand on me to sort it all out - but it's interesting that it lies closer to the surface this time. In a way, it is the most philosophical zombie book ever written, if, in fact, it is a zombie book. Plus the book is a bit darker and sicker than the earlier one, which is a bit of an accomplishment unto itself.

By the way, there is actually a trailer for This Book is Full of Spiders, here. I wonder who directed it?

Monday, November 02, 2015

Hey, The Gambler is pretty good!

I genuinely didn't expect to be impressed by the remake of The Gambler. Even seeing that original screenwriter James Toback's name was listed as an executive producer, I just didn't figure that it could possibly be any good. Among other things, Mark Whalberg > James Caan, by a long shot, y'know? I have no real fondness for the guy, though I grant that he's not without talent. Plus, holy cow, the original version of The Gambler is one of the grimmest, darkest portaits of self-destructive human psychology ever committed to film; it could only have arisen in American cinema in the context of the gritty 1970's. I mean, no film made now would be brave enough to end with an image of the hero, having succeeded in getting himself slashed across the face with a razor, proudly, narcissistically examining the wound in a mirror, like he's accomplished something. And without that sort of courage, to make your protagonist into something so repellent, so grotesque, why even bother to remake the film at all?
Spoiler: The remake of The Gambler does not, in fact, end by revisiting the above image (though I'l accept their ending as coming from a place of good faith: in context, it seems less like a matter of pussying out than of wanting to leave room for a smidgen of hope). Nor does the remake duplicate a single line of dialogue from the original film - not even obvious winners like the recently- quoted-on-this-blog "once you ain't a virgin, you're a whore." In fact, it seems to want to have fun with admirers of the previous film, by coming close at various points to set ups from that film, then tweaking them, changing them slightly. Like, the gambler of the title - Wahlberg - is still a literature professor, but instead of quoting Dostoevsky, he talks about Shakespeare; his problem is the same, but the moral/ literary framework for interpreting it is slightly, significantly different. And then there are moments of inspired cinematic choices unto themselves, with no precedent in the previous film, like showing us images of people gambling a casino set to Alan Price's "Poor People," from the soundtrack to "O Lucky Man." That's some great repurposing. I have no way of knowing whether people who do not admire the previous film will like this movie - it's 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes suggests not - but my curiosity was very pleasantly gratified... especially since I bought it on the cheap (you can find it on th 2/ $15 racks at London Drugs, and by the way, you don't actually need to buy two Blu-Rays to get the deal). I'm not saying it's a great movie, but it's wayyy better than I imagined it could be, and I think diehard fans of the original - or people who follow the cinema of James Toback - will appreciate it.
Oh, and John Goodman has fun with the Paul Sorvino role, Jessica Lange is as good as ever (and finally is starting to lose her looks, thank God: I was beginning to think she was a Stepford Wife or something). And, whattaya know, George Kennedy is in it! I figured he had died years ago. Good film! It's not the equal to the original, but it's not 1974, you know? And given that, it's way better than I'd ever imagined.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Smilin' Buddha Halloween

Checked out the Smilin' Buddha last night for the first time! The skate ramp on either side made it a pretty amusing place for spectatorship: even before the whole thing was slick with beer, when people were relatively sober, there were vast numbers of pratfalls and faceplants and whatever it's called when you fall on your side, as people tried to make their way forward along the margins (or tried to hoist themselves to the ledges above to sit). But West of Hell was great, and Unleash the Archers was fantastic to see in that context - it was a lot of fun (I didn't see the first two bands). And then there was the costume party: anyone who moshes in a hot sweaty cramped pit dressed like Bender from Futurama DESERVES first prize, I say, though I was equally amused to see a Mr. Peanut in the pit.

(That's what I posted on Facebook just now, and all I'm gonna say about the night - don't worry, Brittney, it didn't show that you were drunk, though you sure smiled a lot onstage! More to come soon from me on Unleash the Archers.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Random (but not very weird) dreams of hanging out with the Shearing Pinx' drummer

So I live (in the dream) in the same building as Jeremy, former Audiopile clerk and drummer for Shearing Pinx, and he's actually there, instead of engaged in nomadic wanderings as is presently the case. I visit him, and we talk - about the environment, about my being Facebook friends with Gary Floyd, and other things. It's mostly quite straightforward and realistic; it's not one of these dreams where things are only loosely pieced together following tangled dream-logics. We decide to go outside together, using the stairs in the building, which are designed so that for certain flights of stairs, you actually find yourself in someone else's apartment, and have to use their door to exit into the hallway, which, in fact, is what we do. I am glad that my apartment - in the corner - isn't designed this way; I think as we walk through someone else's living room that it must be weird to have people cross through your space in the middle of the night.

In any event, we're walking around in Maple Ridge (not where I presently am, as I dream this, nor where I now live, since I've moved in with my girl in Burnaby). He releases into the air a mobile made of balloons, colouful rubber gloves, and bits of plastic, with a framework of dowels and fishing wire, and it floats up into the sky; this is his hobby - making mobiles that float in the air. But one balloon breaks off, and the others deflate, and the whole thing, I see, comes down, threatening to get caught up in a tree. I oblige and pick it up, asking, what do we do now, is it garbage?

He's a little incensed that I suggest this, since that would be wasteful. He wants me to carry his balloon-mobile. I do, though the fishing line is cutting into my fingers a bit. "So isn't this stuff bad for the environement," I ask.

"It's biodegradable," he replies. Well. I'm thinking to myself that it's still going to take a long time to biodegrade, but mostly because I don't want to be carrying his balloon mobile. But I think of another question about his curious hobby, and ask him, "so can you patch these? Because if I know someone who can repair a balloon, it's got to be you."

He gets even more upset at this, and starts to explain that if he'd only known how hard it was to repair balloons when he was  in St. Petersburg (ie., Russia), he would have done something very different with the mobile I'm carrying.

That's when my alarm wakes me, as I'm asking Jeremy to explain...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

GHOSTS... of the Civil Dead

I was, it transpires, unable, due to circumstances of some slight perversity, to preview GHOSTS... of the Civil Dead, screening tomorrow at the Vancity Theatre, despite an Australian DVD of it briefly passing through my hands earlier this week. This greatly limits my ability to plug the event, but it also lets me off the hook for blogging much about it, so there's that. All the same, all you Nick Cave fans, it's the first feature film he was involved in (as far as I know), he co-authored it and acted in it, it was directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road, and Lawless), and it got much buzz at the time of its theatrical release. It's also not at all easy to see in North America, AND the Vancity Theatre is bringing in a 35 mm print of it (at some expense, you might imagine). Beyond that, I know it's an Australian prison drama and that it's mentioned in the Jem Noble film screening just before it. Which has something to do with why it's screening here (for ONE NIGHT ONLY!). More than that I cannot say, however. (Adrian Mack might have some comment on it in the Straight tomorrow).

Speaking of perversities, I would be going to see it, except my girlfriend won Hawksley Workman tickets. So I will be at a Hawksley Workman concert when it plays! I actually have no particular objection to him or his music, and a free concert at the Commodore is a free concert at the Commodore, so I don't mind (plus I plan to drag her into the heart of East Hastings for a show on Halloween night, so I want to be obliging here). Hell, I might even get to see Alice in the Cities at the Cinematheque before the concert. Eventually Ghosts will get released here, right?

However, YOU might still want to go see it at the Vancity tomorrow... right?