Friday, December 31, 2010
The Unabomber, MK Ultra, and so forth
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Get Your War On Returns
Get Your War On has resurfaced.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
For those craving more metallic flavours, on February 7th, Motorhead return to the Vogue, and on February 13th, Cradle of Filth return to the Commodore! Ooh, the decadence...
Swans February 25th at the Rickshaw!
Somewhere sooner than that, I think, the Creaking Planks are having an anniversary gig, maybe with the participation of the Minimalist Jug Band and Petunia... more on that later! (I think it's separate from their January 1st gig at the Railway, but I might be wrong...).
Chris D. anthology published!
...now I wonder if this new book will include Chris' old movie review columns from Forced Exposure...? Oh, by the way, his movie about heroin addicts as vampires is also worth a look...
Friday, December 17, 2010
RIP Don van Vliet
I have nothing in particular to say about him, but for whatever its worth, my favourite Captain Beefheart songs are the early pop-blues stuff on Safe as Milk, andthe slow progression into the longer, jammier structures found on Mirror Man. I wore out Trout Mask Replica a long time ago and have set it aside for some future date; mostly these days when I spin Beefheart, it's Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), or what original Bat Chain Puller demos can be found (there are some on an excellent comp called Dust Sucker that I highly recommend); or sometimes Doc at the Radar Station or Ice Cream for Crow. For some reason, the song of his that most gets stuck in my head is "I'm Gonna Booglerize You, Baby" off The Spotlight Kid. A unique human being, a major force in the world of music; my respects.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
No Fun Alone at Christmas 25th anniversary tomorrow
*Or, I suppose, the solo variant, No Fun Alone on Drugs, which has even more bathos to it, no?
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Faint praise for Inception: high praise for Dreamscape
Tonight, I finally got around to Inception.
A few thoughts: given the success of the movie, there clearly is demand for cinema-as-mindfuck experiences, so I can't quarrel with the film's complexity on the level of marketing; if the only question that matters is, will it sell?, clearly the answer is yes. Still, I was prone to wonder on more than one occasion if the complexity of the narrative - with its various sublevels of dreams, populated by "projections" of the subconscious of the dreamer - served more to obfuscate than enlighten; does Nolan want us to go away thinking about and discussing his film, or is he simply aware that the more impenetrable it is, the more times you'll have to watch it to figure out what's going on? There used to be an old t-shirt slogan that read, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit;" I am not convinced that it does not apply in the case of Inception.
Secondly, so much is attempted by the film, narratively - deftly shifting between different "dream levels," where a host of characters are fighting multiple battles, or undergoing multiple crises, simultaneously - that the sheer density results in a feeling of rather incongruous tedium. One senses you're supposed to be sitting on the edge of your seat, but I was slouched back on the sofa, feeling numb. It was almost like watching the chase scenes in Spielberg's Minority Report, which are boring precisely because Spielberg never manages to make either the characters or the narrative significant to us; it's just another movie with footage of Tom Cruise being chased, yet more sound and fury signifying nothing. The only difference is, with Nolan's film, you have to work a whole lot harder to hold all the narrative threads together, while caring not a smidgen more... Add to this a related complaint, too, about the ridiculous amount of gunfire in the film - I personally have never even SEEN a gun in a dream, that I recall - and a brief whine about the excesses of contemporary special-effects cinema (it appears that anything is now possible in cinema, but that doesn't mean it's interesting) and you begin to get a sense of my boredom.
Thirdly, it was interesting that almost everything I did kind of like about Inception reminded me of William Gibson's Neuromancer. It would be probably be interesting to sketch out the parallels. More work than I intend to do, but I wonder if anyone else has gone there? (edit: yep). It comes closer to plagiarising Gibson than any other film I'm aware of.
All that said, I actually enjoyed Inception more than anything Nolan has done since Memento. There does seem to be some deeper meaning gotten at in the final sequences; while I still find the film noisy, cluttered, and excessive, I am almost prepared to believe that it is sincerely intended to be "about" something - that it has actual, useful CONTENT, in the suggestion at the end, say, that the film is about the fragility of human experience, with the rather nice image of "building a house on a cliff." Those who want to find things to think about in Inception - who are less skeptical than I that it's worth the effort - might find it a fertile starting point for something, and I must not begrudge them.
...Plus it's always nice to see Pete Postlethwaite in a film, even if he's badly underused...
However, for anyone who cares, I'd like to recommend a much, much better movie in which people enter other people's dreams - a rather delightful, archetypally-rich gem from the 1980's called Dreamscape, which I only discovered this year, picking it up on DVD simply because Max von Sydow was in it. (I'll watch anything Max appears in - hence Minority Report, by the way). It begins with an astonishing nuclear holocaust nightmare sequence that will resonate for anyone who grew up during the Cold War; it's very effective and politically rather bold, for a movie that is aimed at a relatively young audience:
The story involves a US President (Eddie Albert) who is plagued with nightmares of nuclear war. Dennis Quaid is an arrogant, cocky, morally naive but fundamentally virtuous young psychic, wasting his talents on picking winners at the track, who is brought in to help enter the President's dreams. Max von Sydow is the mostly benevolent scientist/ father figure who guides him. Christopher Plummer is the Deep Government spook who is horrified what peace will do to his business; David Patrick Kelly ("Warriors... come out to playyy-ayyy") is a rival psychic that Plummer is grooming for his own purposes. Kate Capshaw, the only wasted performance in the film, is a non-credible love interest. While the film does have an innocent cheesiness to it - a friend aptly described it as the sort of dreck he would have loved when he was 11 - it also has interesting ideas, which it is humble and engaging in presenting, as opposed to the noisy arrogance of Inception; if you can get over the naivete of having an anti-war American president (during the Reagan years, no less!), its politically quite acceptable, and I've no doubt that a Jungian with an interest in dreams (and hero's journey stories) could find much to say about the relationships between the various father figures and sons, in the film - Plummer and Kelly versus von Sydow and Quaid (tho' I won't attempt to further fake that perspective myself). And most significantly for a fan such as myself, Max von Sydow gives one of his most charming performances, from a period where he must have felt great delight at where his career was. Some of his monologues resonate directly against those about dreams in Tavernier's La Mort en Direct (aka Death Watch, the mutilated, shortened English language version), another under-seen gem of the 1980's (also featuring Harvey Keitel, Romy Schneider, and Harry Dean Stanton!). These are idea-rich science fiction films that I respect and love; Inception, while not without a few interesting aspects, is mostly just a noisy piece of commerce.
Mom didn't like it, either.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Enter the Void: make no further plans until you SEE THIS FILM
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Gigs this weekend: Bison BC, Little Guitar Army, Theocide and Without Mercy... and more!
Shocking to say it, but while I am considering actually seeing a few shows in the city this weekend, I'm not sure the LGA will be one of them. Neither, I suspect, will be Chris Walter's booklaunch for Sins of the Poor at Funky Winker Beans, featuring Alcoholic White Trash and Aging Youth Gang (comprised of former members of Curious George and the Spores and... and, hm, also including Nick from Little Guitar Army. I guess he's going to have a busy night)! Good bands, and I've long been a supporter of Chris, but if I am lucky enough to be seeing live music in Vancouver on Saturday, I think it'll be the metal show at the Rickshaw,
featuring Fallen Decade, My New Enemy, Until Dawn, Theocide - who are pictured to the right, giving a very energetic and entertaining performance at one of the Maple Ridge church venues that rents out to live shows - and Without Mercy, whose CD I've been enjoying, but have never seen live. Like Arch Enemy, they're one of those metal bands whose singer - buffalo-throated and fierce - you would NEVER guess from the music is in fact female. I will be studying Ms. Alxs' larynx from the pit, trying to spy abnormalities that might make it possible for a woman to sound so goddamn tough. It must be at least LARGER than your average female's... I do not know how she does what she does without her throat exploding in a spray of blood.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Having returned to work, for the time being, means that I will be blogging less during the next few weeks. Various writing projects are in the works, but none for this site. I might try to stick up a Little Guitar Army poster for their gig this weekend... that's all I can think to do...
Oh, and Fake Jazzers will want to note that Ahna's album is in stores, but I haven't heard it, myself... and I don't really know if any Fake Jazzers still follow this blog...
Sunday, December 05, 2010
The answer to the Howard-meets-Tim condundrum
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Bison BC Maximus: Biltmore Dec. 10th
Vancouver's hairiest band, Bison BC, make another foray into the Biltmore on December 10th - the first gig there since a bandmember's injury, a few months ago, caused a cancellation to a show that I gather was sold out (lots of tickets still available for this one, I'm told). I have no idea if the Skinny website, which has mutated considerably, is still hosting my old Bison articles anywhere; portions of a couple of my conversations with the band, about Quiet Earth and Dark Ages, were edited together for Germany's Ox Fanzine a few months ago, but since the "complete piece" has never run in English, I've posted it on the Big Takeover website. Why the heck not - give the boys some more exposure worldwide. Listened to Dark Ages today on the train, actually. It's such a serious, moody, heavy and bleak album that I confess, while respecting it, that I seldom spin it, finding it actually a bit of a bummer; but there are some amazing songs on it no less (I'm particularly partial to the first two cuts, "Stressed Elephant" and "Fear Cave"). I think I'll only be able to see one final show before 2011, and I think this is going to be the one.
Unless it's a metal or a punk show in Maple Ridge... there was a very interesting one just last night...