Songs for your iPod

Some folk tunes...strangely I only liked one song on each of below 2011 albums...folk music is a bit hit or miss with me...

Paper Airplane - Alison Krauss & Union Station


For What It's Worth - Stevie Nicks


The Way It Will Be - Gillian Welch

(The vocal is a touch similar to Aimee Mann. The sound is pleasant enough folk/country, unfortunately the new album overall, I found Gillian Welch’s lyrics uninspiring and the monotonous vocal delivery struggled to hold my attention.
Given all the great reviews, maybe its just not for me? An exception was below track, a highlight for me on 2011 album The Harrow & The Harvest, haunting and interesting. An older song by Welch from album The Revelator (2001) that impressed me was: “I Dreamed A Highway”)

Like? dislike? any thoughts, listeners? Let me know in the comments

Songs for your iPod

About time I start posting some 2011 music, a couple of tracks from Vedder's new album Ukulele Songs...

Longing To Belong - Eddie Vedder

(The dreamy album cover design sure is something to behold)


Can’t Keep – Eddie Vedder

(Love the video, the ocean is so blue, look out for the rainbow! Actually its a new acoustic version of an old Pearl Jam track)


Wishlist - Pearl Jam

(From the 1998 album Yield, such memorable lyrics)

Let me know what you have to say about the music in the comments!

Film review: Buffalo 66 (1998)

Haven’t seen any film quite like this indie. Its definitely one of my top films viewed in 2011. Don’t judge the film on the dreadful trailer. I found it to be very original and the atmosphere unique, and that says a lot, as I have seen a ton of independent films over the years.

Written, directed by and starring Vincent Gallo, his directorial debut, it was filmed in and around Gallo's native Buffalo, New York. The parents house was actually Gallo's childhood home.

Has a twisted black humour I really enjoyed, not laugh out loud stuff, but made me chuckle on many occasions.

Amusing how the self-confident female character Layla played by Christina Ricci is kidnapped, but actually sort of enjoys it after a while. She seems sad when she first meets Billy, crying in the bathroom, what is the matter with her current life you wonder?

I was impressed by the inventive use of camera techniques and angles. You can tell they are playing around with the visual medium, super 8 film, flashbacks, etc. The same cinematographer would later go on to make such visually creative films as Being John Malkovich and Lost In Translation.

Spoiler alert! The story is not just a comedy or about kidnapping, also you realize its a character study about the two main characters past. Layla, the odd but tenderhearted tap dancer who provides Gallo's Billy Brown with the only true love he has ever received. Billy Brown, a man who has spent so much of his life pining for love and tenderness that he doesn't know how to deal with it once it is staring him in the face. His character is meant to be a pain in the arse, always whining. Not likeable, but you are drawn to him anyway.

I don’t think the film has any big message, that’s not the point for me. It’s more about having a laugh and watching some quirky characters on a journey.

There was a unique use of music during the running time, which I liked and had never heard before, here are a few highlights from the soundtrack:
Moonchild - King Crimson
Heart of the Sunrise – Yes
Sweetness – Yes

At the time, Empire listed it as the 36th greatest independent film ever made.

Highly recommended, if you enjoy unconventional, independent cinema.

Thanks to Alex at boycottingtrends for the recommendation!

Readers, any thoughts on Buffalo 66 ?



Songs for your iPod

Present Tense - Pearl Jam


Around the Bend - Pearl Jam


Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town - Pearl Jam

Any thoughts on the music? Fourth and final part of my Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder marathon next week.

Songs for your iPod

Society - Eddie Vedder


Guaranteed – Eddie Vedder

(There are a lot of quality tracks on the soundtrack, Hard Sun could easily have made it on here too)


Black - Pearl Jam

(I don't usually like grunge, although I have to admit this is a special track, thanks to bonjour tristesse for the suggestion)

Readers, any thoughts?

Film review: Barney's Version (2010)

I enjoyed Barney's Version, one of the most memorable films for me of 2011. There are a number of funny, touching, emotional and unpredictable moments, some great dialogue, and also dramatic and sad scenes. I preferred it over Paul Giamatti’s Win Win (2011).

We witness 30 years of Barney’s history from the 1970s and onwards, mostly focusing on his love life. Will probably appeal more to an audience with life experience. Did strike me though that each time Barney falls in love he is like a teenager, saying he loves them when he hardly knows them, Minnie Driver's character is also na├»ve. I guess that's part of the charm and partly why they are flawed. It’s probably typical more in movie life than real life to behave in such an impulsive way. I liked the Miranda character the most, even though Rosamund Pike’s acting in my mind was poor, she was more likeable and intelligent than Barney, his self-destructive behaviour was off-putting at times.

Rottentomatoes name it a seriocomic adaptation of Mordecai Richler's award-winning 1997 novel. Apparently, the story of Barney is comparable to Herzog written by Saul Bellow, about the midlife crisis of a Jewish man named Moses E. Herzog, which we see Miranda reading in the train scene. I have not read either of them.

Some reviewers found the story to be uneven and messy, but isn’t life? Maybe Scott Speedman was miscast, he seemed too young to be Barney’s best friend. Others have pointed out its unrealistic that Giamatti is a babe magnet, Barney’s slightly overweight, everyman look and his behaviour being often unappealing, drinking having made Barney’s life a blur.

It reminded me of his wine-drinking character Miles in Sideways. As Roger Ebert points out in his review, the beautiful women love Barney despite his flaws. I agree with a fellow reviewer, who writes the characters start to become your friends, and you don’t want to have to leave them. Perhaps we can relate to Barney because of his mistakes in life. He wears his imperfections on his sleeve, and to me it's kind of refreshing to see someone so unafraid to speak their mind. During the running time, you can reflect on good and bad choices you made in your own life.

I really think Paul Giamatti should of got nominated for an Oscar, perhaps he'll get an academy award for Thomas McCarthy's Win Win. Giamatti won a Golden Globe for his lead performance in Barney’s Version.

Here are a collection of quotes I liked (spoilers)
“She’s a conversation piece, not a wife”
“Oh, Barney you really do wear your heart on your sleeve, now put it away, it’s disgusting to look at”
“The chicken is great. - Its fish”
“Our 3rd date, we are not bored silly or madly in love”
“If you want people to take you seriously, then act accordingly”
“You my darling are as grown up as you’ll ever be”
“Have I ever given up when it comes to you” -never “so what makes you think I’m going to give up now”

In my opinion, a criminally overlooked film more film-lovers should discover, in my top 10 films of 2011. Just avoid the trailer, it ruins many of the surprises.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!



Songs for your iPod

Off He Goes - Pearl Jam


Better Man (acoustic) - Pearl Jam


Man of the Hour - Pearl Jam

Readers, any thoughts on this week's music? What Pearl Jam or Eddie Vedder tracks do you like? Next week some selected tracks from the Into the wild soundtrack

Songs for your iPod

Part 2 of 2 of my songathon in appreciation of the career of Belle & Sebastian

I'm Waking Up to Us - Belle & Sebastian


Marx and Engels - Belle & Sebastian


Piazza, New York Catcher - Belle & Sebastian


Your Cover's Blown - Belle and Sebastian

Any thoughts on the music? Let me know in the comments. Keep an eye out for some Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam next few weeks!

Film review: Tree of Life (2011)

My review will be a little different this week, in that I will write my own opinions, and add pieces from other reviews I’ve read to try and gain various angles on the film. So if you notice your own sentences in the mix, I’ve shamelessly lifted them, take it as a it an interactive review for lack of a better term...

Won Palme D’or at Cannes. Loved the film, I was in awe. In my top 3 films of 2011 and what could possibly budge it out of that slot? I thought this would be an event people would be queuing up for, turns out they only screened Terrence Malick’s new film because I bought a ticket, and it had only been going a few days.

A film that will probably divide audiences, some viewers no doubt will find the scenes of the origins of the universe pretentious and boring or be frustrated by the non-linear narrative, others with more patience will appreciate the extraordinary beauty, symbolism and ambition.

Can take your worries away, and much like a nature documentary I drifted peacefully into the images at times, other parts of the story are highly emotional. I left the theatre with a very calm fulfillment. Poetic and contemplative, and the theme of remembering your childhood has universal appeal. The film makes us the viewers think about our own memories of growing up. I’d call it an innocent film, there is no sex or sexual connotations. A few females may be disappointed that Brad Pitt doesn’t get it on, ha ha. And that trailer has got to be one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The fact the film doesn’t comment much on life in the 50s perhaps is a strength in terms of the films longevity, its about timeless family issues more than the time it was set, as James at centralfloridafilmcritic wrote about in his review.

As Steeve at Cinematic Paradox says in her review, the story looks over many things in life, and doesn't particularly teach anyone how to live their life or what the right path to follow is.

Anna's review at 5plitreel points out it lacks focus as a narration and tends to be more like a stream of consciousness than anything else. But as we’re seeing it all from adult Jack’s point of view, there’s really no reason why it all should make sense to everyone in a traditional way.

Malick is not afraid to stick to his artistic vision, which for Bonjour Tristesse could be interpreted as what the director is talking about in the opening scene. The intro is like a short film, a powerful piece about choosing the way of nature or the way of grace. The parents probably represent different elements, the ambitious father electing the path of nature and wanting to achieve certain goals in life and oppressively expecting his boys to do the same, attempting to make them tougher, while the childlike mother raises her kids with more understanding of their need for playfulness. Success for the father is financial and he is never satisfied, while the mother is seemingly removed from the world around them, not concerned with wealth, but can find happiness in the simple everyday way of life. As Roger Ebert writes, there is a father who maintains discipline and a mother who exudes forgiveness.

The story is about how the young Jack is coming to terms with growing up, split between the mother and father, and beginning to question the world and his father’s actions. The tragedy that occurs puts life into perspective for the family. As filmplicity comments, Malick reflects on the mystery of suffering. Why do bad things happen to good people? If God loves the world, why do we experience pain and loss?

I’m not sure if older Jack (Sean Penn) has a yearning for his father, but certainly a longing for his siblings and mother from his childhood, the way they once were. Most of all I think he would like to go back to the place where he once belonged and be a boy again, he seems lost as an adult. Sky scrapers are the trees of the city, not a very good replacement for the trees of his youth. The mask sinking into the ocean near the end, is this a symbol of older Jack in essence showing us during the flashbacks who he is behind the mask?

The title is interesting. We are all part of a family tree, and on a larger scale a global family. The tree by the family home plays an important part of the childhood memory for grown-up Jack. The tree of life is obviously also a religious symbol.
In Mad Hatter’s podcast, they talk about how The Tree of Life is a critical darling, like going to cinematic church, not in the preachy way, but to do with faith and believing in something bigger, personal religion, not organized religion. Getting to a point where you can question it, as its not a crime.

The visuals from space are to do with the birth and expansion of the universe, while Jack’s character is an example of a human, a drop in the ocean on a smaller scale, growing and interacting with his surroundings. The two levels, the universe, and man, bring in to question how we are all part of the big picture, and how insignificant one person really is in the great scheme of things, yet it is plainly obvious in the case of Jack’s memories of childhood how valuable and essential family and love is. I don’t know if the story is autobiographical, felt very personal, as if Terrence Malick had used his own upbringing as inspiration.

Interestingly, moments of being a baby are quiet, perhaps, as Andina at inspired ground suggested, that dialogue is not key when you are an infant, what is important is wordless love from your parents.

I loved the words of wisdom that are whispered. My favourite quote is: “Don’t let anyone tell you there’s anything you can’t do”. Bitchinfilmreviews was displeased with the sometimes barely audible, mumbled monologues, he could be on to something, which is a weakness of sorts, luckily I watched The Tree of Life with subtitles. Another flaw I identified, and several other bloggers such as limereviews were confused by, (spoiler) was the question of the third brother and his lack of screen time. Older Jack reflects on his childhood on the anniversary of his brother’s death, but which sibling who dies is actually not clear.

Sati at cinematic corner disliked the film: "Ironically though, it manages to make us appreciate life – after 140 minutes of boredom everything will seem fascinating to you. I don't know who Malick thinks he is. I don't need him or his movie to appreciate nature, life, things around me. (...) Nature is full of life, fascinating, always changing, restless. Tree of life is the opposite of that (...) Malick, I think, wanted to make a movie where life itself is a protagonist. But ironically, why waste more than 2 hours of your life watching it if you could just, quite simply, live?"

Most importantly, Malick's film has to be seen on the big screen, as is the case of all his films, I can’t imagine anything else doing it justice, although that’s also a measure of quality I guess, if it holds up on dvd? If you don’t see it in the cinema, then you haven’t really seen The Tree of Life as it was intended to be watched. Comparable to 2001: A Space Odyssey in terms of ambition, the approach to visuals of epic proportion and classical music, and many quiet scenes where the audience can reflect, yet having more of a human element than Kubrick’s masterpiece. Could well become a classic, I’m definitely going to have to get this on dvd soon.

Very simple and at the same time very complex. To be honest, hard to do the film justice in words, has to be watched to be fully appreciated. As filmplicity said in his review, how do you critique a film that will mean something different to everyone who sees it?

More than anything, I think the film try’s to capture the joy of childhood where you experience things for the first time, and Jack’s yearning as an adult to return to that innocence and family unity. For other viewers, it may mean something completely different to them, and if you rewatch the film at different stages in your life, the film will open new doors in your mind, wherever you are at in life, such is the scope.

My rating is 9/10, without the flaws would have been a 10.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments below!



Songs for your iPod

(Part 1 of 2, a songathon in appreciation of a band who have consistenly put out great albums for years)

Stay Loose - Belle and Sebastian


Dog on wheels - Belle and Sebastian


Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying - Belle and Sebastian

Readers, any thoughts on the music? Part 2 of 2 next week... ps Belle and Sebastian have probably released over 50 awesome songs, many I love are acoustic, I can e-mail you my list of favourites if you're interested(I've listened to all their albums), just give me a shout in the comments, as it would be too much of the same thing to share it all here on the blog for months and months and months, ha ha ( :

Film review: Ghost World (2001)

Two rebellious teenage high school graduates despise everything that’s normal in suburbia. This makes for some very amusing, sarcastic dialogue. Enid knows what she doesn’t care for, but has no clue what she does want, she is constantly changing her appearance.

It’s that rare movie where I think it surpassed the comic book it was based on, both are so quotable. Check the memorable quotes section on IMDB here

I love the wicked bummer humour used on many occasions:
"I can't relate to 99% of humanity"

The film does a good job making the actors cartoony, the make up, costumes and the setting, and in my opinion manages to capture the world of the graphic novel. Scarlett Johansson as always is cute, almost as if God decided she was too beautiful, so he has to punish her by giving her a deep voice, ha ha ( : (That is if you find a deep female voice unattractive)

To me, the Greek supermarket scenes are the funniest parts.

The running time just flies by, no dull moments. One of the best films I can think of that portrays teenage angst and insecurity, and just hanging out and being mischievous from a girl's point of view. Quite dense (in a good way), there are a lot of small details and pieces of dialogue which may reveals themselves on multiple viewings. A film you can return to and easily rewatch.

As other reviewers write, a film you can relate to if you’ve ever felt out of place in life. About the teenage fear of being trapped in a grown-up future and choosing the wrong grown-up identity. And it evokes sympathy for the judgmental and cynical Enid, as she finds beauty in others' flaws.

An interpretation of the phrase “ghost world” is that it illustrates the fact that today, everyone seems to be living in their own world, thus making the objective world a “ghost” world. The term can also apply to the way in which both Enid and Becky, but especially Enid, are haunted by the past.

The film won a number of awards for the screenplay and acting. My rating is 9/10




David Boring / by Daniel Clowes

While watching and reviewing Ghost World, I also took the time to read arguably Daniel Clowes other masterpiece, the graphic novel David Boring, which I was recommended by a blogger friend. Was an entertaining read. It features on Times’ ten best graphic novels of all time list. Love that name, David Boring, can you imagine someone saying: Hi Boring! David is our teenage narrator living in 1998 together with roommate Dot. Only 116 pages, so a quick read. The only weakness I could find was the family gathering on the island, where suddenly people started killing each other, which strained believability. More raunchy and with more characters than Ghost World, and again some unforgettable quotes. I’ll share a few of them here:

Page 12: “You can never really trust someone who remembers every embarrassing detail of your adolescence”

Page 47: “Aside from getting shot in the head, David, what have you done with yourself”

Page 73 “More and more, I can’t stand to hurt any living creature. I’m too fearful of revenge...”

Thanks for reading! As always, let me know what you think in the comments below

Songs for your iPod

(2 tracks from the album Brainwashed released in 2002 shortly after George Harrison's passing)

Any Road - George Harrison


Rising Sun - George Harrison


Handle With Care - Traveling Wilburys

(My favourite track by the Traveling Wilburys, a band Harrison joined in the late 80s)

Readers, any thoughts on this week's music? Next time, first part of a Belle and Sebastian songathon!

Anticipated Albums Autumn/Fall 2011

So what new music am I looking forward to? Here are some album selections, and release dates:

August 16th:

100 Acres of Sycamore - Fionn Regan

September 13th:

The Years - Memoryhouse

Era Extrana - Neon Indian

Gravity The Seducer - Ladytron

A Creature I Don't Know - Laura Marling

American Goldwing - Blitzen Trapper

The Old Magic - Nick Lowe

A Winged Victory for the Sullen - A Winged Victory for the Sullen

September 20th:

An Argument With Myself - Jens Lekman

Night of Hunters - Tori Amos

All Hours - Ivy

The High Country - Richmond Fontaine

September 27th:

Grace for Drowning - Steven Wilson

Gracious Tide Take Me Home - Lanterns on the Lake

The Whole Love - Wilco

Velociraptor - Kasabian

Vanity Is Forever - Geoffrey O'Connor

Zig Zaj - Boom Bip

Forever - SLEEP ∞ OVER

In Heaven - Twin Sister

October 4th:

Metals - Feist

Sea of Memories - Pallers

Wolfroy Goes to Town - Bonnie Prince Billy

Amerika - Migrant

October 11th:

Ashes & Fire - Ryan Adams

Turn in the Dream-Songs - Jeffrey Lewis

Dropped Pianos - Tim Hecker

Original Colors - High Places

In the Pit of the Stomach - We Were Promised Jetpacks

October 18th:

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - M83

Days - Real Estate

Like a Man - Adam Cohen

Ragged Kingdom - Oysterband & June Tabor

October 25th:

Bad as me - Tom Waits

AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered - Various artists

November 8th:

Parallax - Atlas Sound (solo project from Bradford Cox of Deerhunter)

Crazy Clown Time - David Lynch

Humor Risk - Cass Mccombs

So Outta Reach - Kurt Vile

Stage Whisper - Charlotte Gainsbourg

Our Own Dream - Keep Shelly in Athens

Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn (Soundtrack)

November 15th:

Album By Korallreven - Korallreven

Replica - Oneohtrix Point Never

November 22nd:

Dive - Tycho

December 14th:

History - Molly Nilsson

(Last updated 3rd of November)

You can probably tell by now I love album sleeves, ha ha ( : I like Ladytron's and the Neon Indian's dreamy artwork the best, they're all pretty impressive to be honest!

Which 2011 albums do you have constantly on repeat? What music are you most excited about in the next few months? Any thoughts on the album covers above?

ps To listen to some of the fall tracks, go here

Or go to my best dream pop songs of 2011, which includes songs from autumn 2011


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