A celebration marked by unrestrained revelry and often licentiousness. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule. A stupid act, remark, or idea.
A diary of our journey around New Zealand, October - December 2007
The Rizzos, a family who doesn't share their habits, aspirations, and careers with one another, find their delicate web of lies disturbed by the arrival of a young ex-con brought home by the patriarch of the family, who is a corrections officer in real life, and a hopeful actor in private.
Funny, well-written comedy drama. There should be more of these quirky gems and less films featuring Jennifer Aniston.
Swedish thriller trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's novels about a journalist and a young female hacker.
Excellent trilogy and certainly worth tracking down before the Holywood remake due for release in 2012 which will surely remove the more brutal but somewhat essential scenes from the original and most likely better Swedish version.
Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Considering the material, this is one of Eastwood's least personal and unengaging films of late. Good performance by Matt Damon but Morgan Freeman's Mandela was underwhelming and rather one dimensional. If you haven't seen Gran Torino, rent that instead.
Definitive Jux was an independent record label based in New York co-founded by El-P who announced last month that he was stepping down as artistic director and not be releasing any more products in the immediate future.
A newbie guard for an armored truck company is coerced by his veteran coworkers to steal a truck containing $42 million. But a wrinkle in their supposedly foolproof plan divides the group, leading to a potentially deadly resolution.
Early contender for worst film of the year. Simple plot, simple acting, simply avoid.
Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from heaven.
Possibly the worst Peter Jackson film released to date (and that includes King Kong). The incumbent use of CG and terrible editing detracts from the story and even the acting talent on display can't save this film from being a complete let down. Stick with the book. Triangle
The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas.
Here's something you don't see every day; a horror film with a semi-intelligent plot. More of a thriller to be honest but worth tracking down for rental. Greek myth and modern tragedy.
My New Years resolution for this blog is to try and post more often. Usually I want to review a film, album or gig and then never get around to it. Writing a review usually takes a good portion of my time and since I'm habitually lazy, most often I do not get around to doing anything.
So, in order to get everything in, I won't be writing a full scale review of anything unless it really excites me and I'm motivated to do so. Therefore it's my intention to start a new column as such and update you in a batch fashion. So, let's get on with it.
I've seen a few really good films this year, some of which I hope to see win an Oscar or get a nomination, others I'd ideally like my time back from wasting it.
A post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible.
Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's prize winning novel, Viggo turns in another fine turn as The Man. Slow moving and sometimes chilling, it's a shame that his son, The Boy, doesn't deliver but as entertaining as it is bleak.
2010 is off to a good start with the following albums worth a listen
I watch more films than listen to new albums and it's made even trickier because unlike music that I can look at and know what year it was released, I can't recall all the films I've seen in the last 12 months so if I have missed any great movies it's because I've simply forgotten them so please let me know if you've seen a great cinematic masterpiece that I haven't listed or you think should be in the Top 20.
Naturally, these are in no particular order and if you haven't seen them, check out the trailer and go rent it!
Let The Right One In
Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire
The story of notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine.
Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
A traveling theater company gives its audience much more than they were expecting.
A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.
The Hurt Locker
Iraq. Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.
Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be earning minimum wage.
A Las Vegas-set comedy centered around three groomsmen who lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures, then must retrace their steps in order to find him.
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds" are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis.
Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.
An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.
An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.
A chronicle of the early days of James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew members.
After Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.
The horror comedy Zombieland focuses on two men who have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies...
A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.
A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions -- some that have already occurred and others that are about to -- that lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.
In an alternate 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.
Four friends fleeing a viral pandemic soon learn they are more dangerous than any virus.
A comedy set in the summer of 1987 and centered around a recent college grad (Eisenberg) who takes a nowhere job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world.
There's some great films lined up for 2010 and hopefully I'll get time to review more than I have this year. Have a great New Year and enjoy the popcorn!
In retrospect this year has been fairly interesting with a varied mix and no consistent theme although quite a few coming from NYC.
This is my top 20 albums in no particular order. If you think I've missed a great album, please let me know.
Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Bear in Heaven is a Brooklyn-based rock band formed by Jon Philpot. The sound of the band incorporates influences from psychedelic music, electronic music, krautrock.
Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
An elusive new project from composer Alan Palomo from Vega. Forged after a hazy winter gathering in Texas, this initial batch of tracks were the result of field recordings, record samples, a collection of bizarre synth sounds.
Wild Beasts - Two Dancers
Wild Beasts are a 4 piece band from Kendal, United Kingdom now based in Leeds. Their second album, Two Dancers, was released on 3 August 2009 to widespread critical acclaim.
The Gasoline Brothers - Tsk
The Gasoline Brothers are utterly lazy. They’ve kept silent for two years and now they expect us to be in awe about their new album Tsk!?
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an alternative rock band formed in New York City, New York. Their music melds genres ranging from new wave to art punk and garage rock using heavy guitars, synthetic sounds, and screaming, erotic, bluesy vocals.
Isis - Wavering Radiant
Formed in Boston in 1997, Isis is a band that combines ambience, atmosphere, and aggression to form a unique style of metal music. Isis draws from post-rock, which leans away from the traditional elements of choruses, verses, repetitive vocals, or fast/repetitive riffs.
Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Dirty Projectors are an experimental pop group led by singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dave Longstreth which formed in 2002 in Brooklyn, New York.
Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy
Built to Spill is an indie rock band based in Boise, Idaho, United States. The band is best known for its catchy guitar hooks and the unique voice of frontman Doug Martsch.
Atlas Sound - Logos
Atlas Sound is the name of a musical solo project of Bradford Cox, the lead singer of Atlanta five-piece Deerhunter.
The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To Come
The Mountain Goats is the musical project of singer-songwriter and guitarist John Darnielle. The New Yorker magazine referred to him as “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist”. In its June 2006 issue, Paste magazine named Darnielle one of the “100 Best Living Songwriters”. Darnielle’s lyrics are literate and filled with imagery that reference classic literature, religion and mythologies, pop culture, art and history.
Tortoise - Beacons Of Ancestorship
Tortoise’s almost entirely instrumental music defies easy categorization, and the group gained significant attention from their early career. The members have roots in Chicago’s fertile music scene, playing in various indie rock and punk groups. Tortoise was among the first American indie rock bands to incorporate styles closer to krautrock, dub, minimalism, electronica and various jazz styles, rather than the standard rock and roll and punk that had dominated indie rock for years.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, a New York four-piece who play dreamy shoegaze with boy/girl vocals, blissful melodies and blistering drums.
St Vincent - Actor
Annie Clark (born 28 September, 1982) is an American multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who performs under the moniker St. Vincent. She was a member of The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ touring band. Her second album for Beggars Banquet, entitled “Actor”, was released on 5 May, 2009. It was written entirely by Clark and produced by Clark and John Congleton of The Paper Chase.
Patrick Wolf - The Bachelor
Patrick Wolf is an English singer-songwriter from London. Wolf mixes electronics and samples with a wide range of instruments including viola, keyboards, ukulele, and percussion, all of which he plays himself to form a fusion of jazz, folk and electronic music.
Florence and the Machine - Lungs
Florence + The Machine formed in 2007 in London, England. The band is the recording name of singer/songwriter Florence Welch and a collaboration of other artists who provide backing music for her voice; Florence Welch is the band’s only constant member.
Florence doesn't like having an embedded link on Youtube for public use and the video links here so I may aswell come out and I say that the album is great but I'm not a fan of You've Got The Love. Phew, off my chest.
Fever Ray - Fever Ray
Fever Ray is the solo project of Karin Dreijer Andersson, who is one half of the Swedish electro act The Knife (the other half is her brother Olof Dreijer).
Dan Deacon - Bromst
Dan Deacon is a Baltimore, Maryland-based electronic music composer/performer. He attended the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College in Purchase, New York, where he played in many bands, including tuba for Langhorne Slim and guitar in the improvisational grindcore band Rated R. He completed his graduate studies in electro-acoustic and computer music composition.
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
Cymbals Eat Guitars are an indie rock band from Staten Island, New York, United States. They consist of Joseph Ferocious (vocals, guitar), Matthew Whipple (bass, vocals), Brian Hamilton (keyboards, vocals) and Matthew Miller (drums). They have released one album, “Why There Are Mountains”, which has received glowing reviews since its January 2009 release.
Bibio - Ambivilance Avenue
Bibio is the recording name of British music producer Stephen Wilkinson. A resident of West Midlands, England, Stephen Wilkinson developed a passion for experimental music during his time at Middlesex University in London, where he studied “sonic arts”. He developed his own style of music, drawing from contemporary experimental electronica bands such as Boards of Canada, and incorporating field recordings and found sounds.
Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
Bat for Lashes is the work of British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist Natasha Khan. Khan was born in Hertfordshire, England on 25 October 1979. Khan graduated in music and visual arts; while at university her experimental work was influenced by artists such as Steve Reich and Susan Hiller, and she produced multi-media work centred on sound installations, animations and performance.
Hilarious how my two 'mainstream' choices of Florence and the Machine and Bat for Lashes have restricted embedding the video which you will have to watch directly here.
Stay obscure folks!
I hope you enjoyed the Top 20 and checked out a few songs. See ya next year!
Terry Gilliam films are never known for telling a straight story and his productions are no different. Often both are fraught with setbacks, doomed failure and last minute redemption. His 1999 production of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was a spectacular disaster. On the second day of shooting, a flood ravaged the set causing $15 million in damages and was compounded days later when his lead actor, Jean Rochefort, sustained a slipped disc which forced the film to shut down. However, a second film crew was documenting the entire proceedings and produced the rather interesting documentary Lost In La Mancha.
His latest opus, The Imaganarium of Doctor Parnassus was no different. Starring the late Heath Ledger, whose sudden death caused production to grind to a halt having only filmed a third of his parts, it seemed that once again Gilliam's film would be destined for the cutting room floor.
With developments in technology, Gilliam initially planned to use computer generated effects to change Ledger's appearance akin to those used in The Curious Case of Banjamin Button and finish the film. However, the actors Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law were eventually cast to portray alternative versions of Ledger and production resumed several months later.
The film itself concerns the travelling theatre troupe led by Doctor Parnassus who offers unsuspecting members of the public a chance to enter a magical mirror to unbeknown worlds of an almost hallucinatory nature. These worlds are classic Gilliam animations of a similar theme of those first espoused on Monty Python albeit using modern CGI to create an ethereal reality reflecting the subjects mindset. Those who enter the Imaginarium are manipulated by Dr Parnassus to offer them an experience of a lifetime.
The twist in Parnassus's ability, however, is that his powers were granted by the Devil for a ransom and now he is back to collect on the bargain, his daughter Valentia. The role of the devil is adeptly played by Tom Waits who plays his character as a reluctant anti-hero, seemingly willing Parnussus on whilst simultaneously mocking his ability to beat him at his own game. Indeed, the Devil can also change the landscape of the vision by those who enter the mirror giving him a somewhat unfair advantage.
It's true of Gilliam films that the plot is often muddled by the visuals employed to truncate or assist the narrative and certainly there are moments in The Imaginarium where it detracts from the storyline by an overambitious and needless set piece. Nevertheless, the visual effects are stunning at times and add to the grandeur of the moment.
It is also interesting to see how Gilliam has used the mirrors own powers to change Ledgers character as he enters successive times and how this allows other actors to take his place. It would certainly have been interesting to observe the original idea as subverting the plot to allow Farrell, Law and Depp would have seriously altered the concept of intent as initially conceived.
Ledger's own performance is satisfactory and it's a shame we do not get to see the change in his own character throughout the entirety of the film but which is adequately filled by the performance of his fellow stars.
Despite these setbacks and reworkings, the film succeeds in pulling the viewer into the story, despite how ridiculous it becomes at times. As the race reaches its climax for Parnassus to save what is dearest to him, the fragmented storyline pulls more or less neatly together and it is easily Gilliams best film in a decade although not without it's aforementioned detractions.
This will certainly please fans of his previous work and must have given the studios enough confidence to start production on the ill-fated Don Quixote project which is his next film. Let's hope this is a resurgence in Gilliams ability to match creativity with an ability to deliver a fully formed concept.
I wuld give this film 7.1 mirrors on the wall out of 10
This was one of the best home cooked meals lately and thouroughly recommended.
2 boneless chicken breasts 6 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon without rind 250g spinach (frozen or fresh) 60g goats cheese 200ml chicken stock 200ml dry white wine 200ml creme fraiche 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
1. Flatten chicken breasts. Overlap and stretch 3 bacon rashers on a board. Lay breast on top and cover with spinach (serve spinach separately if frozen) and the cheese in the middle. Season with pepper. Roll up and secure. You can use cocktail sticks to keep in place if needed. 2. Heat olive oil in frying pan and coook chicken until bacon is golden on either side. Add stock and wine. Simmer for 20 minutes, turning chicken over half way. 3. Remove the chicken and stir in creme fraiche and mustard. 4. Serve with (roast) potatoes and sauce.
Lou's made a few delicious dishes lately so thought I'd update the food side to the blog and recommend some great food to try.
This one is good for Sunday evening with a glass of wine since the recipe calls for a 1/4 bottle anyway!
2 duck legs Rosemary sprigs 2 Garlic cloves 1/4 tsp five-spice powder 1/4 bottle of red wine 1 tbsp redcurrent jelly
1. Heat oven to 170c. Place duck legs on a bed of rosemary sprigs in a roasting tin. Sprinkle with slt and five-spice. Roast for 1 hour. 2. Bring the wine and jelly to a simmer and stir until dissolved. 3. Remove the duck from the oven and spoon off most of the fat (using it for the potatoes!) and then pour over the wine sauce and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to finish.