Saturday, December 27, 2014
In the early 80s my circle of friends were fans of obscure, hardly known Britsh bands that all produced pretty little songs full of wit and weird lyrics. I remember the Televison Personalities, The Legendary Pink Dots - and The Deep Freeze Mice, who only existed for about 10 years (the other bands are still around!). All of their records were released in small quantities through the band's labels, Mole Embalming and Cordelia, but you can get them all on cd nowadays. I also recommend their song Teenage Head (In My Refigerator).
Friday, December 26, 2014
In the 1980s Columbia Records dropped Johny Cash, and it was only until 1994 that his career was rejuvenated by his work with the rock and rap producer Rick Rubin and the American Recordings series of albums. The concept was to record his own songs together with cover versions of more contemporary songs. The albums received great critical acclaim and were commercially successful. I was asked why I'd put his version of Bonnie Prince Billy's I See a Darkness (a favourite of mine in the original and in Cash's version) on my Rarely Heard list. Although his famous cover of Hurt has 28 million views at YouTube, his I See a Darkness has 28 thousand. Hurt has been heard 1,000 times more often, although in my opinion his interpretation of I See of Darkness is equally successful and deserves much more attention. By the way, Bonnie Prince Billy himself joins in on the refrain.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding.
As usual the Marx Brothers steal the show of an otherwise nearly plotless comedy and entertain with their anarchic wit.
Halliwell***: "An excuse for the Marx Brothers, and a lively one in patches, though sedate and stagebound in treatment. The boys are all in top form, and many of the dialogue exchanges are classics."
Maltin***: "...suffers from staginess and musical comedy plotting, but gives the zany foursome plenty of comic elbowroom."
A businessman thwarts his wife's bequest of an estate to another woman.
A successful adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel about moral hypocrisy thanks to a wonderful cast and tasteful production.
Halliwell***: "The best of the adaptations of Forster's novels, in which the nostalgia is undercut by an examination of the moral bankruptcy of the ruling class."
Maltin****: "Sumptuous, stimulating adaptation of E.M Forster's novel of class distinction...Extraordinarily good on every level."
I guess it was 1988 when I experienced Bastro (a band I hadn't heard of before) in Munich in a concert package with My Dad Is Dead and Happy Flowers presented by their label Homestead. On stage appeared three young muscular guys with crew cuts and lumbershirts and looked like woodcutters straight from the boondocks. Their sound, however, was incredibly heavy, noisy and powerful. Only later did I learn about their links to Squirrel Bait, Slint and Gastr Del Sol and that their sound had been quite influential.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
A giant octopus is killing in the inhabitants of a seaside resort.
A truly awful mess in all departments; one can only wonder what convinced all those stars to participate.
Halliwell (no star): "Dreary Jaws rehash. Sadly there is no element of spoofing, it's all deadly serious."
Maltin*1/2: "Some unexpected casting and the spectacle of having killer whales emerge the heroes save the picture from total decay."
Young Jim Hawkins has an unforgettable encounter with pirate Captain Long John Silver and his murderous mates.
OK adaptation of the classic novel as family entertainment, lively and likable, but not really too exciting.
Halliwell (no star): "Spiritless and characterless intertanional remake with poor acting, production and dubbing."
Maltin**: "Weak retelling of the classic tale..."
Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
Amazingly well crafted fantasy on a low budget with a magnificent central performance that has even manages to give its story a philosophical dimension.
Maltin***: "Well worth seeing for the rich layering of ideas, production design, and exceptional performances, though life lessons here are sometimes lost in the waters that overflow the community of Bathtub, and the harshness of that world seems at odds with the resplendent cinematography."