Monday, March 12, 2012

Pussy Cat Triple

The singer Pussy Cat is one of the more underrated obscure French Pop singers of the sixties... here's three shots to the dome

Friday, December 16, 2011

DIM earworm

Once heard, never forgotten jingle.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole with R. Stevie Moore

How did I only find out about R. Stevie Moore a couple of days ago and only by accident? I was trawling youtube looking for cover versions of '96 Tears' and I found this lo-fi, raunchy version that sounded like it was recorded in a bar for ex-cons. So I looked to see what other songs he recorded and I fell down the rabbit hole.

Moore is the son of one of Elvis Presley's key session musicians but he has a back catalogue of pop music deeper than Elvis Costello's; he recorded hundreds of self-produced cassettes of music, in his house - several thousand songs, and the dozens I've sampled have bowled me right over. There are about 100 of them on youtube. The music goes back to the very early seventies but the videos that go with seem to have been made in the eighties, many seemingly edited using 2 VCRs or video toaster technology and topped up with found footage. This is the exact kind of musical discovery I live for - psychotic chord changes, cognitive dissonance between tone and content and a vast catalogue of it too, and all resolutely idiosyncratic and timeless. I remember the first night I was introduced to the music of Serge Gainsbourg. The next day I was scouring the record stores buying up every record of his I could (he had recently died and Polygram had released an excellent career-spanning 9-disc set that I bought in individual installments.) For Moore, it's not so easy. You can buy some of his albums on Amazon, or directly from the man himself) but I find it strange that some millionaire musician/philanthropist hasn't made it his life's work to finance the release of a proper curated boxset, because it's an embarrassment of riches and a missing piece in the history of pop music...

I Not Listening 1974

I Love All The Girls 1974 (technically NSFW)

Sort of Way 1987

I Like To Stay Home 1986

Girl Go 1978

First-Hand 1983

Friday, March 18, 2011

Morricone Trailers

La Califfa (1971)

Vamos a matar, compañeros (1970)

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Grand Slam (1967)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


From the golden age of Eastern European variety shows.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

International Dragons

Japanese trailer.

French one-sheet.

Korean TV spot.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Essential 100

there are only 2 qualifications for this personal list:
1. I love these films
2. films that were included on TIFF's 'Essential 100' list are excluded

titles listed in no order

1. The Godfather Part 2 (coppola)
2. Duck Soup (mccarey)
3. A Night at the Opera (wood)
4. Talk To Her (almodovar)
5. The Killer (woo)
6. Two Men and a Wardrobe (polanski - short)
7. Dr. Strangelove (kubrick)
8. Rear Window (hitchcock)
9. Crumb (zwigoff)
10. Jackie Brown (tarantino)
11. Goodfellas (scorsese)
12. The Conversation (coppola)
13. The Celebration (vinterberg)
14. Il Posto (olmi)
15. Comment Je Me Suis Dispute... (desplechin)
16. The Insider (mann)
17. Punch-Drunk Love (anderson)
18. Manhattan (allen)
19. Sullivan's Travels (sturges)
20. La Maman et Le Putain (eustache)
21. Pierrot Le Fou (godard)
22. House of Bamboo (fuller)
23. Night of the Hunter (laughton)
24. Grey Gardens (maysles)
25. David Holzman's Diary (mc bride)
26. Fanny & Alexander (bergman)
27. Welfare (wiseman)
28. The Empire Strikes Back (kershner)
29. Knife in the Water (polanski)
30. Sans Soleil (marker)
31. Scarface (de palma)
32. Touch of Evil (welles)
33. Two-Lane Blacktop (hellman)
34. Bigger Than Life (ray)
35. Les Ordres (brault)
36. The Dead (huston)
37. Rois et Reine (desplechin)
38. Rebels of the Neon God (tsai)
39. Chicken Ranch (bloomfield, sissel)
40. Very Nice, Very Nice (lipsett - short)
41. Antonio Das Mortes (rocha)
42. North By Northwest (hitchcock)
43. A Woman Under The Influence (cassavetes)
44. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (haynes - short)
45. Le Ballon Rouge (lamorisse - short)
46. Le Samourai (melville)
47. The Manchurian Candidate (frankenheimer)
48. My Neighbor Totoro (miyazaki)
49. A Married Couple (king)
50. Kiss Me, Deadly (aldrich)
51. Year of the Dragon (cimino)
52. Dawn of the Dead (romero)
53. The Wild Bunch (peckinpah)
54. Days of Heaven (malick)
55. All The President's Men (pakula)
56. Prime Cut (ritchie)
57. Paddle To The Sea (mason - short)
58. Central Station (salles)
59. Meshes in the Afternoon (deren - short)
60. Une Femme est Une Femme (godard)
61. Point of Order (de antonio)
62. Toby Dammit (fellini - short)
63. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (nichols)
64. Lolita (kubrick)
65. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (meyer)
66. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (demy)
67. Spirited Away (miyazaki)
68. The Best Years of Our Lives (wyler)
69. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (spielberg)
70. Double Indemnity (wilder)
71. Harlan County, USA (kopple)
72. White Heat (walsh)
73. Once Upon a Time in the West (leone)
74. Stranger Than Paradise (jarmusch)
75. Fox and His Friends (fassbinder)
76. Sweet Smell of Success (mackendrick)
77. Rosemary’s Baby (polanski)
78. The Magnificent Ambersons (welles)
79. Point Blank (boorman)
80. Red Desert (antonioni)
81. Stroszek (herzog)
82. The Power of Nightmares (curtis)
83. Dekalog (kieslowski)
84. Powers of Ten (eames - short)
85. Buffalo 66 (gallo)
86. Anna (koralnik)
87. Robocop (verhoeven)
88. Broadway Danny Rose (allen)
89. Muhammad Ali: The Greatest (klein)
90. L'Eclisse (antonioni)
91. Shoot The Piano Player (truffaut)
92. Aliens (cameron)
93. To Live and Die in LA (friedkin)
94. Femme Fatale (de palma)
95. The Shining (kubrick)
96. Chameleon Street (harris)
97. Rio Bravo (hawks)
98. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (kaufman)
99. Pigs and Battleships (imamura)
100.Smile (ritchie)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bringing It On in Tokyo

Keisuke Kuwata performing a cover of the Hall & Oates song 'Private Eyes' live in Tokyo with the Indigo Girls. This is the epitome of Bringing It On, as far as I am concerned.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blu-Ray Review: Love Happens (Ultimate Edition)

When self-help author Dr. Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) arrives in Seattle to teach a sold-out seminar, he unexpectedly meets florist Eloise Chandler (Jennifer Aniston), the one person who might be able to help him help himself. But will two people who may have met the right person at exactly the wrong time be able to give love a chance? If they can, they'll find that sometimes, when you least expect it…love happens.

Audio / Video (4.5 out of 5)

This Ultimate Edition of Love Happens is sleek to the say the least! Upon initial boot-up, the disc displays a computerized HUD with a map of North America. If your Blu-ray player is profile 2.0 compatible and connected to the internet, the HUD displays your location, the time of day, time zone, the current weather in your location, and the name of your ISP. Clicking "Continue" takes you to the disc's main menu, where you can access the feature as well as a ton of extras.

Through the magic of seamless branching, this dual-layered 50-gigabyte BD contains both the 109-minute theatrical and 105-minute "inflight entertainment" cuts of the movie, as well as the 135 minute "International edition" (released only in select Latin American markets, and the Phillipines). But that's not all. Choosing "Select Version" from the disc's main menu, highlighting the asterisks at the bottom of the expanding menu, and entering the code "5558345" (Eckhart's character's cellphone number) will add a "Play All Editions" option to the menu. This allows you to watch all three versions of the film at once via split-screen (the shorter cuts both play at respectively slower speeds so they will all play out to the international cut's 135 minute running time.) The 1080p VC-1 transfer on all three versions of the movie offers a stark improvement over this month's previous DVD release of the theatrical cut. Color accuracy and black levels are superior, as is detail. The image is pristine, showing no signs of dirt or damage. Unfortunately, the transfer suffers from an overuse of digital noise reduction, resulting in a smooth, glossy image that is a tad weak on textural details (especially in close-ups) and suffers from minor moiré effects. Whatever the case, Love Happens ultimately delivers the kind of stable image that squarely positions the next-gen HD formats above over-the-air high-def broadcasts, which often can't handle 'meet-cute' sequences and suffer from excessive pixelization.

The default audio option is an absolutely bombastic DTS-HD lossless mix in 6.1 surround. Fine detail and spatial imaging are excellent. The dating montage sequences deliver the noise in the form of elevator bell-rings, champagne corks popping and slamming car doors. The mix is a huge improvement over the standard, vanilla DTS track on the original DVD. And both the EX and ES tracks benefit from the placement of the extra surround center channel; granted, pans across the rear soundfield are not as seamless or abundant as on, say, Must Love Dogs, but their presence at all is impressive for a remix. Other audio options include a Dolby 5.1 EX track (in English), Dolby stereo surround tracks in French, Spanish, Korean and Brazilian Portuguese, a special headphone mix in English, a Dolby 5.1 TheaterVision option that includes an audio description for the visually impaired, and an isolated 'music and effects only' track. Subtitle options include English, Spanish, Dutch, German, Malay, Korean, Big 5 Chinese, French, and English for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The International Cut is presented with English, Spanish and Tagalog audio and subtitle options.

(Note: some users have experienced poor image quality when viewing this Blu-ray on the Samsung first-generation BD-P1000 Blu-ray disc player when connected via the deck's HDMI output. Apparently these problems, including decreased resolution and diluted color reproduction, are largely corrected when switching to the BD-P1000's component outputs. It has also been confirmed that both Samsung and Sony have been made aware of the issue, and the problem most likely stems from a faulty internal scaler chip in the BD-P1000. Samsung is reportedly working to fix the problem on future shipments of the unit, and plans to soon issue a firmware patch upgrade to correct the problem on current players.)

Extras (5 out of 5)

It is in the extras that this Blu-Ray edition of Love Happens really shines. Besides two commentary tracks from director Brandon Camp (both feature-length and scene-specific tracks), there is also a commentary track bringing together over 60 of the actors (pretty much everyone who had a speaking part gives insight on their performance methods), a commentary from director of photography Eric Edwards that serves as a cinematography masterclass in itself, over forty deleted/extended scenes, a feature-length making-of documentary by Laurent Bouzereau documenting the film's nearly three-year long incubation process, a one-hour documentary on the founding of the city of Seattle (the film's location) and an informative featurette focusing on the painstaking digital work that went into making Jennifer Aniston's hair look so lustrous (and natural!) on-screen (yes, computers were involved!). Rounding out the list of featurettes are a short doc on the preparation of the inflight entertainment edit of the film, a brief biography of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (who developed the '5 stages of grief' model on which the plot here hinges) and a special round-table discussion on the influence of this film on contemporary American culture, recorded at the Museum of Modern Art in November 2009 featuring pop sociologist Malcolm Gladwell, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Dr. George Bonanno, and Chief of Investigative Projects for ABC News, Christopher E. Isham. Twelve television spots, three trailers and the little-seen red-band trailer are also included, as well as an international poster gallery and downloadable PDFs of nearly 75 international newspaper reviews and thinkpieces about the film thrown in for good measure. In all, there are nearly nine hours of bonus material included on this disc.

Final Thoughts:

I happen to love Love Happens, and with such a wealth of extra material and three different editions of the film to choose from, you might as well get rid of all your other Blu-Ray films, pop this disc in the player, weld the tray shut, tie your remote control to your wrist, and never leave your house again. Love Happens has redefined home entertainment.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tirez Pas Sur L'Ambiance: Tuca

Tuca is a personal favourite musical artist of mine - she is utterly unknown but as I plunged into the investigations of my two main music obsessions of the last few years - sixties/seventies pop from France and Brazil - her name kept coming up.

Tuca put out a couple of records in Brazil in the sixties but then decamped to France, fleeing the dictatorship that took particular trouble to crack down on the nation's artists. In one year (1971) she arranged and played on two records I would take with me to that mythical desert island... Nara Leão's Dez Años Depois (a two-record set of Jobim songs) and Françoise Hardy's La Question (Tuca is also credited as a co-writer on this, Hardy's best record).

Both records are immaculately produced - spare Brazilian acoustic instrumentation captured in the air of a Parisian recording studio... to hear them both together is to realize that Tuca was probably what made the records as great as they are, which was confirmed once I tracked down a copy of her final solo record, also recorded in France, Dracula I Love You (1974), which is steeped in her unorthdox approach (bossa nova guitar enhanced with both symphonic and electronic effects). She died a couple of years later, back in Brazil, her death attributed to an extreme weight loss.

Here's the first track from Dracula I Love You...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Legalize It!

He's a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman... Serge Gainsbourg.

Does anyone know where I can score some Cannabis? I mean on DVD, dig?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Un Hombre Muy Respetado

Los Walkers covering the Kinks on Canal 13.