Saturday, January 10, 2015
The story of Aung San Suu Kyi as she becomes the core of Burma's democracy movement, and her relationship with her husband, writer Michael Aris.
Unusual for Besson, this is a subtle, respectful rendition of a historic story, fully centered on the couple's relationship and the leads' excellent performances, but not really as moving as one would expect.
Maltin**: "Real-life story demands more effective screen treatment than this: the movie drags on far too long and only summons real emotions toward the end (too little, too late). Yeoh and Thewlis are fine but have little to work with."
A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland, and events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.
A strange, surreal and unsettled attempt to visualize humanity from an alien perspective, a difficult, but ultimately fascinating experience.
Maltin**1/2: "Contemplative, metaphysical sci-fi doesn't go anywhere story-wise but almost succeeds as a lesson in style as substance, with an often erotically charged, trancelike mood. And with minmal dialogue, Johansson gives an impressively physical performance that captures her character's growing awareness of the strange world - and body - in which she's trapped."
I came across Miranda Sex Garden when their album Fairytales of Slavery was released in 1994 and I was selling it at my cinema/record store I was running at the time. I fell in love with their music. The all-female group had started off as madrigal singers, and their first record, aptly titled Madra, consisted of songs based on traditional English verse and sung completely a cappella. Eventually,"the sound evolved into a blend of their madrigal-styled vocals with sounds reminiscent of gothic rock, darkwave, ethereal wave, and industrial music. Their sound became increasingly dark and sophisticated over the years. Around the time of their third album, Fairytales of Slavery, they said they wanted to create music that evoked a "seductive garden of earthly delights, full of colour and chaos." (Wikipedia). Sadly, they haven't produced a new album since 2000.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Thursday, January 8, 2015
"Formed in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1993, Low were perhaps the slowest of the so-called "slowcore" bands -- delicate, austere, and hypnotic, the trio's music rarely rose above a whisper, divining its dramatic tension in the unsettling open spaces created by the absence of sound." (Allmusic,com) I have their album Things We Lost in the Fir, which is considered their best and most accessible album, and can recommend it very much. Their version of Joy Division's Transmission was their contribution to the tribute album A Means to an End: The Music of Joy Division.
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
A slightly disappointing achievement on a higher level: Scorsese delivers in his usual style a highly energized variation on his own GoodFellas, but this time it's criminal low-lives doing big business, which hardly can produce any empathy in the audience.
Maltin**1/2: "It's a wild ride, and fun at times, but a film all about excessive behavior risks becoming excessive itself: three hours of smutty, in-your-face debauchery (including more cocaine usage than you'll see in the 1983 SCARFACE) is hard to take. It will also never be mistaken for a female empowerment tale. Still, there's no denying Scorsese's storytelling prowess or the robust performances by DiCaprio and Hill, as his out-of-control comrade."
A Frenchman imprisoned for stealing bread, must flee a police officer, and the pursuit consumes both men's lives.
Effective and tasteful adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel, good to watch, but not really that exciting either.
Halliwell*: "Dour version of the classic novel, one that takes itself too seriously, repressing the romantic sweep of its narrative."
Maltin**1/2: "Respectful, well-made adaptation of the Hugo classic, with strong performances...Location filming in Paris (and Prague) is another asset. Yet there is a certain fire missing, especially at the finale, which keeps this from soaring."
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Kluster (not to be mistaken with the later band Cluster) were an early short-lived German band (1969-71) whose music was an amazingly early example of industrial and noise music. Members were Wolfgang Seidel, Klaus Freudigmann, Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. "Closer to avant-garde and noise than space, it shows the influence of Schnitzler on early Kluster material with forbidding violin lines, heavily distorted organ, and an assortment of tape effects leading the way for several minimalist guitar workouts." (Allmusic.com) Most members would later produce other Krautrock music in different ensembles, but - with maybe the exception of Schnitzler - were never as radical as they were here.
While researching this entry I have noticed that the late Schnitzler did reunite Kluster only a few years ago. So I'll be checking the new music out, which may result in another entry.
It is tradition in Bavaria that on Epiphany Day the altar boys (or some other volunteers) from your parish dress up as the Three Wise Men from the Orient and together with the priest they wander from door to door. They're called "Sternsinger" (Star Singers). If you open the door, they will offer to sing you a hymn, and the priest will bless your house for the new year. You donate a small amount of money for charity and for the kids some fruit and sweets. With chalk they will mark your house door, this year it's "20*C+M+B+15", the letters are abbreviations for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
Last time they 'caught' me I asked how much it'll cost me that they don't sing, since it's always a bit of an embarrassing situation. 5 bucks did it. This year coming home from work I found a note in our mailbox stating "We were here and belssed your house in your absence".