Monthly recap: What have I been watching in June?

My current goal is to catch up on older films that have been on my watch queue forever...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Western. The music score is legendary. Also remembered for the classic close up shots of eyes moving from side to side, and hand hanging down ready to grab pistol (above). I'm not going to complain about the running time of 3 hours, because that's no doubt been done 100x before. I loved that there was no dialogue the first 10 minutes. Remarkably, the tension is maintained on a knife-edge during the whole film, one memorable scene after the other. These cowboys talk really cool, but have one-tracked minds. I wouldn't call it the 5th best movie ever made, as IMDB does, probably the best western I have seen to date. I don't know if it holds up to repeat viewing, though
Favorite quote: "If you're friends stay out in the damp, they're liable to catch a cold, aren't they, or a bullet...."
Rating 8.3

The Word (Ordet) (1955)
Reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman. Won Golden Globe for best foreign language film. By acclaimed director Carl Th. Dreyer.
August 1925 on a Danish farm. Patriarch Borgen has three sons: Mikkel, a good-hearted agnostic whose wife Inger is pregnant, Johannes, who believes he is Jesus, and Anders, young, slight, in love with the tailor's daughter. Examines the manipulative power of organized religion, the debate concerns who the "real" christians are. As James Blake Ewing writes at cinemasights: "Religion seems to only have distanced them from each other." Events occur that impact the faith of both families.
Everything works, acting, story, cinematography, well-made drama. The time issue held me back from identifying on a personal level. Recommended if you are interested in faith, or enjoy a period drama.
Rating 7.6

Harriet Craig (1950)
I've enjoyed other Joan Crawford films: Possessed (1947), Mildred Pierce (1945), and Autumn Leaves (1956).
Based on a Pulitzer prize-winning play, Harriet Craig (1950) was dull, preachy and the relationship to me unrealistic, only gave it a chance because was a BAD MOVIE WE LOVE. Next stop is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which has more acclaim and popularity.
Did not finish

3 Women (1977)
Recommended by Sati at Cinematic Corner, an atypical Robert Altman film with only a few characters. My first thought was, why the ominous music in a peaceful old peoples home, and why are the nurses that are being hired so young?
I had a feeling this was going to be a girly film, the title was a warning, and that turned out to be the case. The key audience are females, I still quite enjoyed it.
Especially liked the character Millie (Shelley Duvall), who talks but nobody listens, and is a classic case of wanting constant reassurance, maybe out of a feeling of inadequacy, unworthiness or lack of parental love. You empathize with her predicament, she is trying really hard (maybe too hard?), and feel sad when people laugh at Millie behind her back.
Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is so naive, that she doesn't notice Millie's weaknesses. Pinky is childlike and in need of a mother figure to guide her, and calls Millie perfect...Sissy Spacek's performance was amazing when you consider her character's journey. The more I think about 3 Women, the more it grows on me.
Rating 7.8

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
Satire/comedy. You will never look at a Coca-Cola bottle in the same way, having seen this film!
The car scenes where like slapstick, Chaplin or something. The voice-over of the bush man when he meets the white folks is hilarious. Funny stuff!
Favorite quote: "So now its children are sentenced to 10-15 years of school, just to learn how to survive in this complex habitate that they were born into"
Rating 7.9

On The Beach (1959)
The premise is, what would you do, say or feel, if you only had a short amount of time left to live due to the spread of radiation?
I could have done with some captions indicating which country we are in, that was a little confusing, because characters don't have noticeable Australian accents. I didn't get the point of the first 45 minutes of the film, nothing happens, apparently this was to introduce the characters.
Oh dear, this adaptation should have been a lot better and more engaging than it is. So many scenes seem unnecessary and only sporadically interesting. Don't think it captured the atmosphere or sense of doom of the novel. I read Nevil Shute's bestseller in school some years ago, and the characters were more captivating in the written word. Read the book instead.
Rating 6.6

Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Rewatch. Wonderful, loveable characters. Based on the Italian director's own life, a love letter to the old movie theatres, and the joy of watching film with an audience, before the era of TV.
The story has a lot of warmth and universal truths about childhood, adolescence, and nostalgia, which transcend being set in Italy. A masterpiece of the 80s, I loved it on first viewing, and again for this rewatch. If you view the director’s cut, I suggest you split the screening into two, because it clocks up to 2 hours 45 minutes.
Rating 8.0

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
The tone was unusual, I had a tough time coming to terms with that approach. The decision to explain so much so early in the film may have killed some of the scares for me during the first 3/4 of the movie. Cabin in the Woods gave up its secrets a little too freely, while a more ambiguous angle early on may have kept me on edge. I couldn't care less who lived or died, and I didn't identify with the humour at all, barely even a half smile at the jokes. Not my sort of humour I reckon. Perhaps I'm getting too old to get thrills out of horror movies of this kind. The only scenes that had real suspense to me were the last 15-20 minutes, which pushed my rating up to a 7/10, despite being very far-fetched.
Maybe I was expecting too much given the reviews. Am I the only blogger who thought, aside from the ending, the rest of film was average? I have read there are plenty of subtleties and inside jokes for horror movie buffs(just didn't do a lot for moi)
Rating 7.0

Akira (1988)
Apocalyptic science fiction anime. The futuristic city atmosphere of 2019 during the first 20 minutes reminded me of Blade Runner, and that is a compliment in itself. The visuals were breathtaking, and the action so lifelike that I sometimes found myself forgetting I was watching animation. I liked the action-packed anime more than I liked the confusing story.
About having certain abilities, and the control of those powers, but not using them for good.
Favorite quote: "In the end, you won't be able to control it, and it will control you."
Storyline is fueled by the fear of nuclear destruction and the unpredictability of teenage rage.
Making Akira as a live action story would have cost a fortune, the anime gives them a lot of freedom to create imaginative sets and epic action sequences before CGI was available. If you enjoyed The Matrix, Akira could be for you. If you love animation, Akira is mandatory viewing. Those orange tracksuits and motorcycles are super cool, by the way ( ;
Rating 7.6

Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012)
Based on a true story. Great cast. I liked Nicole Kidman's performance as war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. Clive Owen on the other hand was unconvincing as Ernest Hemingway, particularly his accent let him down.
When the screenwriter doesn't know how to end a scene, we a) get a sing-song, b) a sex scene, or c) a character downing a drink (and I'm not saying scenes are ended like this once, but at least 5-10 times!!!)
Lacked memorable scenes, I did enjoy the onion-eating moment. My problem is that the character's interactions in the film pale in comparison to the written legacy you can get at the library. Even Hemingway himself proclaims half way into the film: "The last thing a writer should be asked to do is talk..."
Favorite quotes: Hemingway: "Best way to know if you can trust someone, is to trust them" "You never really know what your fighting for (during war) until you lose"
"Writing is like mass, God gets mad if you don't show up"
Gellhorn: "To expose the lies, that mask evil with glorious rhetoric"
Rating 6.4

Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Directed by Woody Allen. Doesn't require an interest in jazz or guitar playing. About guitarist Emmet Ray. Rumour has it he was the second greatest guitar player in the 1930s, and idolized the greatest Django Reinhardt. Sean Penn stars as the sometimes unlikeable, sometimes charismatic guitarist. Basically a road movie, as he moves from place to place.
Woody pops up now and again as the narrator to fill us in with details, how much of the tale is rumour based. Great performances by Samantha Morton as the mute and Sean Penn as the eccentric genius.
Favorite quote: "This is my one day off, I want a talking girl!"
Rating 7.7

Patience (After Sebald) (2012) (documentary)
Currently has a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. About author WG Max Sebald and his novel The Rings of Saturn (1998), a fictional account of a walking tour through England's East Anglia. Marks ten years since Sebald's untimely death.
I have not read The Rings of Saturn, so I was obviously at a disadvantage. Sebald was asked by his publisher what category he would like his book to be in, and he replied: I would like my book to be in all the categories, I want biography, autobiography, I want travel, I want history.
The doc is presumably part of a marketing tool, if only all books/novels got such a thorough treatment. Is a very visual book in that it similar to Lord Of The Rings can be mapped, so seeing images and film of the locations is worth-while.
Favorite quote from the doc:
"The British tradition is of recovery, and the American tradition of walking is of discovery. That striding forward into the oncoming air of the world from the British romantic tradition, is a way to strip away the accretions, the hawking and hammering of time lived in cities, and return yourself to some original state, Rousseau, its European as well as its British. The American tradition is there in the road movie, it's there in the sense that we travel to liberate ourselves, to discover new ways of being"
Another quote I liked: "The Gods in there playful glee put us down in the wrong place, and we spend our entire life trying, not to find the place we are supposed to be, but to find who we are supposed to be."
Rating 7.5

Alps (2011)
Currently has a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A new film belonging to the 'weird wave' Greek contemporary cinema, from Giorgos Lanthimos writer/director of Oscar-nominated Dogtooth (2009). Alps is the name of a company that provides a service for relatives of the recently deceased, offering a 'replacement' of the departed family member. The premise was original, at least to me. The lead character has a lot on her plate, and my understanding is she is not happy, and filling in the emptiness, or absence of a mother figure by helping out. She is constantly working either at her job at the hospital, and for Alps, maybe to avoid thinking about herself and her own loneliness.
Too unfocused in the first half, the remaining 45 minutes were more involving. Who is a stand-in relative, and who is a buyer of the service is uncertain, and we the audience play the guessing game. Because everyone assumes many personas, we don’t know who the real person is. I suppose as in real life we have many faces, we behave differently when we spend time with various people, at work, with family, alone, going shopping, at a party, etc, etc.
Reading the premise beforehand I was expecting the story to go places, which I have to admit, it didn't. There were no real surprises. Hats off for the experimental idea, however I am deducting points here for the screenplay, which I would have liked to be more inquisitive about the subject matter. Not for everyone, Alps is a slow art film. Has grown on me a little, by writing my thoughts down. Felt a little bit like a wasted opportunity, this could have been great, and was only good.
On the flipside, it’s tough to criticize these arty films, which are so open to interpretation and misunderstanding. I’m sure there’s an audience for this somewhere, though I was the only one in the theatre besides some grandpa.
Rating 7.2

What's Up, Doc? (1972)
A comedy directed by 70s wonderkid Peter Bogdanovich. Contains a brilliant chase sequence on the streets of San Francisco (likely inspired by 1968’s Bullitt), you should see the movie just to witness that. The hotel fire scene was extremely laugh-out-loud funny too. My only problem was the dialogue, which was so fast I could hardly keep up, and the final scene wasn't plausible.
Wonderful performance by Barbra Streisand, she was cute back in those days. Bogdanovich sure put together some gems in the early 70s: The Last Picture Show (1971), Paper Moon (1973) and What's Up, Doc? (1972) included.
Too bad his career came off the rails and faded into obscurity after that, Mask (1985) I believe is his last hit?
Rating 7.7

White Nights (Le Notti Bianche) (1957)
Directed by acclaimed Italian director Luchino Visconti, and based on a story by Russian author Dostoyevsky, White Nights is a deceptively simple story of a man who tries to seduce a woman who night after night awaits for the return of her lover. The only problem I had was that the quiet woman character was portrayed having little will of her own on first encounter, a helpless, naive weakling ready to be rescued. Of course, it is possible to be shy even today, not all women are openly strong-willed(and even strong willed can be cliché)
I could relate to the pain of a woman saying neither yes nor no to her courter (Marcello Mastroianni). If you have personal experience of "a tease", you will know that it's a mix of frustration and exhilaration. A few words of appreciation to the evening cinematography, the film has a night time atmosphere all of its own. I have not seen any Visconi films before, but after this film I certainly intend to. Next stop is Rocco and His Brothers (1960)
Rating 7.8

Out Of The Woods (2004)
If you want Robert Smith interviews, this is not the one to watch, there are precious few soundbites. Mostly outsiders, journalists and musicians, who talk about the career of The Cure. Quite interesting for someone who knows very little about The Cure, but I don't think fans will get much out of it. Not endorsed by The Cure, so an unofficial documentary.
Rating 6.5

Johnny Cash: The Last Great American (2004)
Research for my upcoming music posts
Rating 7.5

Captain EO (1986) (Short)
An obscure 20 minute short film made for Disneyland, starring singer Michael Jackson. The story takes place in a Star Wars-esque universe, George Lucas is credited as a writer. Francis Ford Coppola director. The opening scene everyone is talking at once, so I didn't know what was going on. If you are a MJ fan, worth a look, otherwise don't bother. Features the rarity "We can change the world", which is similar to "We are the world", and "Heal the World".
Rating 5.0

Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)
Little-known drama starring Shelley Winters and Bette Davis. Good story and dialogue. Especially loved the first 40 minutes in the airport, and on the plane. Worth a watch.
Rating 7.3

Notes on a scandal (2005) (My review)
Rewatch. Powerful performances by Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. The music is very dominating, which I didn't notice the first time. There is a lot of denial going on in the story. The film questions who the villains and victims are and it seems like it’s blurred. I cared about them despite the mistakes they make, they got under my skin almost like in a book, which is not surprising, as the film is based on a novel.
Rating 8.0

My top 5 of June:

1.) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
2.) Cinema Paradiso (1988)
3.) Notes on a scandal (2005)
4.) The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
5.) White Nights (Le Notti Bianche) (1957)

6.) 3 Women (1977)
7.) Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
8.) What's Up, Doc? (1972)
9.) Akira (1988)
10.) The Word (1955)
11.) Patience (After Sebald) (2012) (documentary)

Readers, any thoughts? Have you seen any of the above? Agree? Disagree? What was the best film you saw in June?

Funny screenshots

I'm not even sure this was supposed to be a funny scene...from The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

You've gotta laugh at those one-liners by Dennis Hopper from Easy Rider (1969)...I did anyway...His hippie character was probably stoned out of his mind, and maybe Hopper was boozed up too...

Readers, any thoughts?

In appreciation of The Cure (part 1 of 4)

Album: Seventeen Seconds (1980)

If you have any suggestions that you think I've overlooked, feel free to post your favorite Cure songs in the comments ( :

Originally called The Easy Cure, the band formed in 1976. Since 1979, a total of 13 people have played with The Cure, with Robert Smith being the only constant. Several have returned after leaving.

Beautiful sonic sound and guitars. Seventeen Seconds (1980) was featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The album reached number 20 on the British album charts. Due to budgetary restraints, the record was recorded and mixed in seven days costing between £2000 and £3000, which resulted in the band working 16 or 17 hours a day to complete the album. In 2000, Q magazine placed Seventeen Seconds at number 65 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.

In Your House - The Cure

A Forest - The Cure

Play For Today - The Cure

Album: Faith (1981)

When The Cure was first formed, Smith did not intend to become the lead vocalist; he began singing after the original singer left the band, and fell into the role somewhat by default, since no better replacement appeared.

Robert Smith: “It was never the point of the group, it never has been and never will be, to be successful. But the point of the group was that I can do what I want. And I think people just like that”

Faith (1981) is generally a brooding, atmospheric, and sombre album, although it has a flash of anger in the form of the song "Doubt", and some edge in the driving single "Primary". It is often seen as the mid-point in a 'Dark Trilogy' that begins with Seventeen Seconds and ends with Pornography. At least two songs on the album, "All Cats are Grey" and "The Drowning Man", are inspired by the Gormenghast novels of Mervyn Peake.

It is the first album by The Cure to feature baritone guitar/six-string bass. The front cover, designed by former and future member Porl Thompson, is a picture of Bolton Priory in the village of Bolton Abbey in the fog.

All Cats Are Grey - The Cure

(Atmospheric, reminds me of the Lost in Translation soundtrack)

Other Voices – The Cure

The Funeral Party - The Cure

(Love the dreamy)

Album: Pornography (1982)

Despite the acclaim and the brilliance of below tune, this is actually one of my least favorite Cure albums to listen to.

Robert Smith: “I’ve been in five bands, all with the same name, that’s the way I look at it”

A Strange Day – The Cure

What do you guys think? Do you own any The Cure albums? Have you seen them live? Which is your favorite record by the group? Check back next week for part 2 where I look at their 80s work!

Robert Smith quotes from:
The Story Of The Cure - Much More Music (2000)
The Cure on That Was Then… This Is Now (1988, BBC documentary)
Out of the Woods - The Cure (2004) (Chrome Dreams)

100 film facts about me

I had a fun time putting this list together, a meme which has been circling the web for the past few weeks at among others And So It Begins, Cinematic Corner, Inspired Ground, Let's Be Splendid About This , Taste of Cinema I hope you enjoy reading mine, and get to know me a little better. And no, that's not me and my dog on the fire truck, I'm not THAT old, can you guess what movie?

So, on to the first one...

1: I still own lots of VHS tapes and don't care abot the picture quality issue

2: Love the scenes when Ned (Stephen Tobolowsky) keeps approaching Phil (Bill Murray) in Groundhog Day over and over...and over

3: A guy from my school used to walk like Ace Ventura (for fun). Good thing he didn't make the most annoying sound in the world...

4: I don’t get the love and acclaim for Melancholia, which is to me is Lars Von Trier's most uninteresting film for years

5: I think Antichrist is misunderstood

6: Seldom watch movies on TV anymore, because the selection on youtube is amazing.

7: Prefer to view films by myself, when I see them with a crowd I only take in 75%

8: I love 80s movies, because I grew up in the 80s

9: I think Jim Jarmusch is overrated, except Ghost Dog, first half of Night on Earth, and a few random scenes from Coffee and Cigarettes

10: The Big Lebowski (1998) I really wanted to like, just don't get the appeal. Sorry

11: I regret calling my site movies and songs. Mainly because I found out afterwards that the term "movie" is inferior to "film". I guess calling my posts Film reviews gives them more esteem ( :

12: Excessive swearing and extreme violence turns me off, in movies, and in the real world.(explains why I hate Kill Bill vol 1 and Tyrannosaur)

13: Despite hating violence, I am strangely fascinated by Patrick Bateman. There is no "why" with him

14: At Christmas or birthdays I usually give friends and family dvds or bluray

15: I spend too many hours in front of my laptop every day

16: During 2012 I have watched a great deal of movies recommended to me by fellow bloggers, and will continue to do so.

17: Watching movies I use for escape, to inspire, to educate, to challenge me. To experience what I'm unable to experience (sailing on the Titanic comes to mind)

18: I wish that was me in Before Sunrise, or at the conclusion of Midnight in Paris

19: Every year I threaten not to watch the oscars because too mainstream, but I always watch anyway

20: I think Josh Brolin is a talented impersonator, George Bush, MIB3, next stop an oscar?

21: I bashed the Social Network and Inception, but because 2010 was a poor year for cinema, both films feature in my top 10

22: My dad introduced me to 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Sting, and Sophie's Choice.

23: My mum loves Scent of A Woman

24: My sister didn't start watching movies until she was almost 20, and her film knowledge is limited. Besides movies, she's smarter than I am

25: I love the last 10 minutes of About Schmidt

26: The tears in the rain speech from Blade Runner makes me all emotional too

27: I have seen most of the IMDB top 250, except the westerns and animated films

28: I like to analyze and dissect films. Interestingly, the best ones, you can't figure out. Because that's what a masterpiece of art is.

29: I watched all the Bond movies before I was a teenager, and today I find them a little childish.

30: Even though a film is a favorite of mine, I couldn't watch it more than ten times, then I would get bored.

31: I have a poor memory, soo if five years has passed, I often don't remember the plot (a good thing I suppose for a lover of films)

32: The first film I recall is The Wizard of Oz, the witch was the scariest thing I had seen up until that point

33: I used to be able to instantly answer what year a film was from, that had been made in my life time. After I stopped reading tv-schedule my powers are not as effective

34: I love reading director on director interview books. Fascinating

35: The disturbing scene listening to the radio in Wild At Heart I believe sums up why I dislike the news media today (of course exaggerated in Lynch's film)

36: I love screenshots

37: I think Seth Rogen is a pain, and really annoying, especially his laugh

38: I once wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo GTV6 as seen driven in the car chase in Octopussy (1983). Sadly the car model drinks a lot of gas I discovered.

39: I think David Lynch got ideas from Tom Waits lyrics, and Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins

40: I love the moment in The Shawshank Redemption when Red (Morgan Freeman) finds the box by the wall and looks over his shoulder to ensure nobody is spying on him

41: I wonder if I will ever reach a point when there are no more good films left

42: In The Space Capsule (The Love Theme) from Flash Gordon, makes me feel like a child again. I don't hestitate to name it THE most underrated film on IMDB...Flash Gordon (1980) is as good as Star Wars in my opinion.

43: When I was very young (before the age of ten) I misunderstood the ocean diving scene in Bond movie For Your Eyes Only (1981). "This is 3000 years old". I thought they were talking about the submarine, duh...the statues obviously, how stupid can you get

44: My favorite Bond movie is A View To A Kill, despite being unrealistic, and one of the most hated by critics and bloggers. That villain (Christoper Walken), the sidekick (Grace Jones) and the beautiful love interest (Tanya Roberts) are why. oh and Roger Moore is my favorite Bond.

45: My favorite movie year is 1999

46: I think too much analysis can ruin a movie that was simply there to entertain. Do you enjoy Prometheus more by ripping it apart? I think you might enjoy it less. So why am I discussing it all over the web? Hmm...

47: The opinions I value the most about films are what my parents think.

48: I have never thrown away a dvd (yet)

49: I'm a very nostalgic person, like the teenager is in Catcher in The Rye. I'm just not angry as he is.

50: Saw Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner 3 times in cinema in 1991, a record for me.

51: I have hardly seen any of the classic westerns

52: The best new film I saw in 2012 was the documentary Dreams of a Life (2011)

53: Jim Carrey is not funny anymore. maybe I grew up, or he ran out of ideas

54: I love great dialogue, cinematography, and originality depicted on film.

55: William Friedkin has the coolest voice ever by a director

56: David Lynch has the most annoying voice of all the directors. I still love his films luckily. With that in mind, incomprehensible how Lynch's Stone's Gone Up ended up as my 2nd favorite song of 2011...I guess I can tolerate his vocal if the music is good. Notice how I'm having a little argument with myself here ( :

57: I am an introvert and can relate to what David Lynch said to Mark Cousins: "I didn't like being in the world so much, out in the world, I like being inside"

58: I don't think there are enough films starring characters in their early 30s

59: There are too many films about teenagers and 20somethings

60: I'd like to see a movie adaptation of What I loved by Siri Hustvedt, the story is so visual, among my favorite books of all time.

61: I don't know why I blog anymore

62: Asked to recommend an obscure film to see, for girls I would name My Life Without Me (2003)

63: I may go insane if someone uses the words "glad" or "thanks!" in comments...kidding of course...Or am I? ( :

64: When I sat down for Indiana Jones 4 in the theatre, I could barely concentrate because fat guy in next seet smelt so bad

65: I love to be challenged by a film, but often I don't have the energy and settle for being entertained

66: My least favorite types of movies are westerns, gangster, and animation (There are exceptions)

67: I enjoy finding obscure films, which is like finding buried treasure

68: If my life was a movie it would not get made

69: My favorite film was Fight Club as an 18-year-old. Today I don't have "a favorite", many favorites.

70: If I could meet a celebrity in heaven from the world of film, my choice would be Kieslowski or Kubrick (both dead)

71: I'm addicted to "Five Favorite Films" each week on rotten tomatoes

72: I think Tilda Swinton is a wooden actor like Keanu Reeves, even so love several of their films

73: Recently I was told I have child-like curiosity, I hope I never lose that

74: Once whn a family member was yelling about something important, I commented " oscar moment..!"

75: I don't think there should be any more Terminator films with Arnold Schwarzenegger. If there are, I will watch them, though.

76: My favorite actors are Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, Paul Giamatti, Bill Murray, Corey Feldman, Roger Moore, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, etc.

77: My favorite actresses are Naomi Watts, Scarlett Johansson, Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, Sarah Polley, etc.

78: I won two awards: Liebster blog award, and 7x7 award. Will there be more?

79: The ending of The Shining is the greatest ever, or maybe 2001: A Space Odyssey. Either way, three cheers for Kubrick. Genius

80: I don't understand the logic of Robin Williams or John Travolta in terms of picking scripts.

81: The mother in Hitchcock's Psycho is the scariest thing I saw on film as a teenager.

82: Only once did I give a film a 10/10 score, Fight Club

83: I like The Dark Knight (2008), but love Batman (1989) more.

84: Scarlett Johansson should start making indie movies again, shame she's gone mainstream

85: Feel the same way about Edward Norton...(Moonrise Kingdom is a step in the right direction...)

86: and Ethan Hawke...Untitled Before Sunset Sequel (2013) is also promising

87: I love Catherine Keener's facial expressions in Nicole Holofcener movies...

88: The film that took my breath away for special effects in cinema was Titanic (1997) I sat in the front row close to screen. WOW. I was onboard, and survived! However I feel bad that the casualties are there as popcorn entertainment.

89: The time I laughed the hardest at a film this year was when they said "beloved those who sit down" in Songs from the Second Floor

90: Movie I thought I would love and disliked was Brick (2005)

91: Oscar-winning film I hated: The Barbarian Invasions

92: Favorite directors: Lynch, Kubrick, Kieslowski, Mike Leigh, etc

93: Never understood Memento, until it was explained

94: My favorite films as an 8-year-old were The Neverending Story and The Goonies.

95: No Country for Old Men is not THAT good. I kind of...maybe...don't love the Coen brothers, so that more or less explains my reaction.

96: I never notice The Wall (1982) ANYWHERE in the blogosphere. Why? Amazing film

97: or Birdy (1984)...

98: or Siblings (2004)...

99: or Unrelated (2007)...

100: or What Happened Was (1994)...Am I the only one who has found these gems?

I'm done for the they said in the old PC game Street Rod...Feel free to write your own 100 facts, or as many as you can manage. Thoughts, readers? Let me know in the comments!

Funny screenshots

The images today are from Douglas Sirk directed movies. I just had to share them! In case you're wondering, I have a habit of taking these screenshots, even when a film is not actually a comedy...I have a pretty dry sense of humour, as will become evident in future funny posts...

(This first image is my favorite of the three)

(Hopefully that box is not too heavy...)

(Not exactly a joke, still amuses me!)

As Anthony Fantano from the needledrop always says on youtube. What do you guys think of this thing. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Why?...

Album review: Closer - Joy Division (1980)

Album: Closer - Joy Division (1980)

While the album might be too dark and morbid for some listeners, there is no denying troubled singer Ian Curtis was at the peak of his powers in terms of songwriting, and his honesty and raw emotion is what makes the music so powerful. Martin Hannett was still producing, but seems to have taken as many chances as the band itself throughout -- differing mixes, differing atmospheres, new twists and turns define the entirety of Closer, songs suddenly returned in chopped-up, crumpled form, ending on hiss and random notes.

Pitchfork Media listed Closer as 10th best album of the 1980s, and it is 72nd on NME's "100 Greatest British Albums Ever". In 2003 the album was ranked at number 157 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It claimed the number one slot on NME Album of the Year, and was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The sleeve by Peter Saville is inspired by a magazine he read. The photograph on the cover is of the Appiani family tomb in the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa, Italy, by Demetrio Paernio. Both the cover art and the bleakness of the music and lyrics amplified the already strong mystique surrounding the album after Curtis' suicide.

Band member Peter Hook: “We chose the covers for Closer and Love Will Tear Us Apart well before Ian died without any thought that when they appeared they would seem so inappropriate, and yet horribly appropriate, one was like a tombstone, one was like a funeral”

Band member Bernard Sumner: “The sleeve seemed like a horrible cash-in. That’s what it seemed. That was obviously not the case. The sleeve was designed well before Ian died. It was like the title, we didn’t think of the connotations until after it happened.”

On Closer, there is a sense of a lyricist (Ian Curtis) blotting out a private reality that has become too much to bear. The title is interesting, closer to death, or the closer of a life? In hindsight, Closer was a series of blatant and liberating suicide notes to a number of people in Ian’s immediate vicinity, who at the time simply looked upon the songs as immensely powerful. Closer is about the end of a life, about feeling out of place in the universe.

The cult status lead singer Ian Curtis has obtained over the years is reminiscent of the lives of Kurt Cobain or Jim Morrison. We are drawn to these enigmatic and charismatic icons, we never saw the decline of a career, and each remain young and mysterious, with no definite answers.

Band member Stephen Morris: "On Unknown Pleasures (1979), I think that what Ian was doing was assuming characters, and he was writing from someone else’s point of view. From what I could gather, he was writing from another perspective. I felt at the time that he was doing the same with Closer (1980), it’s only with hindsight you realise that that’s not necessarily the case. It wasn’t a character he was writing about anymore. It was all about him and his life. Perhaps he (Ian Curtis) was trying to say something to us, although God knows what we could have done about it. He was clearly bothered about things. Now you think, well, why didn’t you say anything at the time? (…) He wouldn’t talk to us about any problems he was having. Well, you don’t, do you? Or you didn’t. We didn’t. Not then”

Ian Curtis' wife, Deborah Curtis: "in the main he was reading Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse, J. G. Ballard. Photomontages of the Nazi Period was a book of anti-Nazi posters by John Heartfield, which graphically documented the spread of Hitlers ideals. It struck me that all of Ian's spare time was spent reading and thinking about human suffering"

Stand-out tracks:

Isolation - Joy Division

(Has been described as danceable, poppy, synth heavy. About loneliness.)

Heart And Soul - Joy Division

(Was one of the few Joy Division studio recordings to feature lead singer Ian Curtis playing the guitar. On this song Curtis used a greater vocal range than usual, starts every verse in a soft, high voice and goes lower to his usual cold bass-baritone singing-style. The song's second verse opens Anton Corbijn's 2007 Joy Division biopic Control.)

Decades - Joy Division

(Songmeanings has a few interesting interpretations, how the track could be about the affects a war will have on the young men who are forced to fight it(Curtis was reading about WW2 so it seems to fit). He pens the words vividly as if he had been a soldier himself. Curtis obviously was in the centre of a relationship tug-of-war that took its toll. Or might even be perceived about someone who's died looking back, being able to look back at their life.)

The non-studio album tracks:

Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division

Tender, sorrowful, heartfelt, poetic, and perhaps among the most haunting songs of the 80s. Many have taken it to be lead singer Ian Curtis’ most personal song drawing parallels between the lyrics, and the turmoil he was feeling at the time due to an extramarital affair. Curtis was torn between being a rock star with a Belgian girlfriend he met on the road, and on the other hand family life with his wife and daughter at home.
People can very easily side with the mother, because she had a young child. Curtis didn’t handle it very well at all, and couldn’t speak about it very clearly, and could have been a big reason why his life ended, feeling guilty and confused about what he really wanted.
As the lyric reads, Curtis was being torn apart by love, work, stress, songs, and the first signs of fame, which would come after he had died.
It has been suggested Love will tear us apart was sung as though Curtis knew when he was going to die. Perhaps a song about the death of love, delivered as if it was a near-cheerful pop tune.

Peter Hook: “It was always important to us that we were radical, that we were rebellious. All the other bands sold out, they put their singles on their albums. Love Will Tear Us Apart didn’t fit so it didn’t go on”

Music writer Paul Morley on the song Love Will Tear Us Apart: “the extravagant introspection of a song where everything had been remembered in the just cold light of day, the way the confused past was interpreted using the intelligence of the future, the way an exalted lack of understanding was channelled through a system of opening and closings, that this lack of understanding alone set into motion and kept in motion, about the whole relation between absence and presence, between too many things and never enough things”

Atmosphere - Joy Division

Possibly my favorite Joy Division song. The jingle sound production is beautiful, and the lyrics give me chills.
Atmosphere was originally released in 1980 as a France-only single under the title Licht und Blindheit. The video released with the song's re-release in 1988 contained characters wearing black-hooded cloaks and white burial shrouds. It was directed by Anton Corbijn, who later directed the Ian Curtis biopic Control (2007). It could be because of this, that some editions of the film contain the video as an extra. Perhaps the posthumous 1988 video adds to the enigma of the song, who knows. Curtis had trouble communicating his problems to band members, so perhaps lyric "don’t walk away in silence" is a pep-talk to himself to open up, and for his friends and family to stick by him.

Music writer Paul Morley on Atmosphere: "This song helped me define myself, to find the most comfortable place between ‘here’ and ‘nowhere’, to almost come to terms with the suicide of my father, to learn how to cheer up in the eyes of the world. Seriously though, it’s nice, isn’t it? (...) He sang the lyrics as if he felt that, despite the pain, he was going to live forever."

(My favorites of the lesser-known tracks)

Dead Souls - Joy Division

Digital - Joy Division

These Days - Joy Division

Rest in peace Ian Curtis

Peter Morley’s favourite cover versions of Joy Division songs: Susanne and the magical orchestra’s Love Will Tear Us apart, Low’s Transmission, Grace Jones’ She’s Lost Control, New Order’s first single Ceremony, which was a Joy Division song.

Readers, was my review useful? Any thoughts on the music? What is your favorite Joy Division song?

Did you miss last week's album review of Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division (1979) ? Here's a link.

Quotes from:
Joy Division Piece by Piece, writing about Joy Division 1977-2007, by Paul Morley

Joy Division (2007) (documentary)

Joy Division: Under Review (2006) (Documentary)

Allmusic review

Album review: Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division (1979)

Joy Division were an English post-punk rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. I have to confess I mainly like the singles these guys put out. What make Joy Division songs hold up today are the emotions, which will still be relevant in 100 years. The band consisted of lead singer Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Stephen Morris (drums and percussion). Hook, Morris and Sumner all played as if they were the lead instrument. The bands anger was not that of banal punks lobbing scowls at the everyday targets of frustration, but more mysterious, less domestic, rage aimed at time, history and the gods, aimed at the self, and fate. A unique, haunting vocal, that was somehow mature beyond Ian Curtis' years. Credit is also due to Martin Hannett's production work on the record, bringing it all together. According to article in Rolling Stone, Joy Division created arguably "the most influential sound of their scene and era."

The group was originally called Warsaw, named after a David Bowie track from Low (1977) called Warszawa. Their first gig was in May 1977, supporting the Manchester Buzzcocks. They changed their name because of a London punk group called Warsaw Pakt, and instead became Joy Division, a name they found in an obscure book about the German concentration camps, The House of Dolls, written by an inmate, Ka-Tzetnik. The ‘joy division’ was a term used to describe units where female inmates were forced to prostitute themselves for Nazi guards. Singer Ian Curtis was interested in history, though there is no evidence to suggest he was sympathetic to Nazi’s, and this is regarded as a misreading of the band to see them in that light. The band name seemed to flow into and out of history, and pointed at an inquisitive group of individuals, always hovering out of reach.

The poetic lyrics may have been inspired by William Burroughs (authour of Naked Lunch), who's world view is similar to Ian Curtis' words. That of post-industrial nightmare, bigotry, lack of ethics, cynical, hate-filled, totalitarian underside, greed of western society gone mad, the nature of perception.

Album: Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division (1979)

The album cover sleeve depicts the radiograph of a dying star, and has become an iconic sleeve. According to the Joy Division documentary (2007), the designer had not heard the music when he made the cover.

Unknown Pleasures (1979) was critically acclaimed from the start. The New Musical Express staff put Unknown Pleasures at number 3 of their list of the best albums of 1979. In 2000 Q magazine placed Unknown Pleasures at number nineteen in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. Pitchfork Media listed Unknown Pleasures as 9th best album of the 1970s.

Stand-out tracks:

She's Lost Control

She's Lost Control (live)

She’s Lost Control, perhaps the closest Ian Curtis got to portraying the effects of his debilitating epileptic condition, he was famous for his unique “epileptic” dancing. Curtis was quoted in a radio interview: “Instead of just singing about something, you can show it as well”
People thought it was Ian Curtis hinting as his own epilepsy, but he always claimed, because he used to work in an epileptic unit, that the song was about a girl with epilepsy. When he finally got epilepsy himself, it’s what created the fear and panic for him, because he had seen really extreme bad cases of epilepsy, and he thought that was his fate.
Strobe lights could trigger a fit. He would always have the sense of being on the edge of control.
The music seemed to lift Curtis up and fling him about, as if he was possessed by its power. (see live performance in above video)

Candidate - Joy Division

Insight - Joy Division

(He sings "I'm not afraid anymore", but you don't believe him. Allmusic describes the song as a: "nervous drive toward some sort of apocalypse")

I Remember Nothing - Joy Division

New Dawn Fades - Joy Division

Band member Peter Hook on lead singer Ian Curtis:

Peter Hook: “When Ian was with us, he would go along with that, become a bit of a lad himself – perhaps out of politeness – I don’t know. But he didn’t like to be like that in front of (his girlfriend) Annik. He was the sensitive artist in front of Annik, and we were the buffoons. Maybe he just went back to how he was with (wife) Debbie, quiet and unassuming. With us, he joined in the larking about. I don’t know. Maybe that’s what he was really like – and he just pretended with us that he was the bloke into wild bloke things. Or maybe he was pretending to Annik, to Debbie. That was the thing with Ian, he could be all things to all people. Keeping it all up, wearing the right mask in front of the right person, he could do it, but it was a problem for him. It added to the pressure. And then Annik started to say to Ian that she didn’t like the keyboards, that it sounded like Genesis, and that made him panic”

“The sad thing is, when he was well, he was the type of bloke that really didn’t want to cause any trouble. And when he was ill, he wanted to hide it from you. He didn’t want anyone to know how much trouble he was in, physically and mentally. He didn’t want things to go wrong because of him, You’d ask him, are you okay? Definitely, he’d say. In hindsight, it’s obvious he was a people pleaser. He was more and more in a mess, emotionally, domestically, physically, but he seemed okay more or less to the end, in terms of how he acted in front of everyone. But really there was no one to give him the kind of care he needed”

“To be truthful, I would just think Ian’s lyrics were fantastic, not that they were really about anything to do with him, or his life. In the end I was so wrapped up in myself that I didn’t notice he was desperately trying to say something to us that he didn’t really say in everyday life. I just thought, well, that’s his job, and he’s delivering, and they’re great, and they’re about something, but not something real, and on we go”

“We had great strength as a group, but as individuals we were all in our ways prone to stress. Being in such a situation sort of exaggerated what you were deep down, and I escaped the chaos in my way, which was to be loud and laddy”

“It’s amazing. It amazes me – the aura that surrounds the group. I just do not know where it came from, thinking of how we were so young and naïve at the time, even though we didn’t want anyone to know. Maybe we were putting on this front, and that was something that made it into the music – we were trying so hard not to be found out, that we couldn’t really play, or write, or make records, or look good, and somehow we convinced everyone, even if not ourselves.”

“I sometimes think if Ian had lived, the band would not have lasted as long as it ultimately did, as New Order. There’s no way he could keep up with the pace. That was the bloody problem – we were going too fast for him, and he couldn’t keep up.”

Band member Bernard Sumner:

“I don’t think if Ian had survived, the group could have lasted much longer, not considering the state he was in. It would all have ended a long time ago. In a way his death extended the life of the group. His head couldn’t take it. (…) but Ian would have been the first to have stopped playing so many gigs if he could have done without feeling he was letting us down. In a way he wanted a quieter life. He talked about owning a bookshop. If he had lived, in some ways I imagine him writing novels, not living the rock star life”

“If we really thought about it, at the beginning of the year, because Ian was so ill, the band’s future looked really bleak but we didn’t want to acknowledge it because we were at a creative height and everything was starting to happen for us”

Musician Genesis P. Orridge talks about Ian Curtis in the 2007 documentary, "Every week he was becoming more and more shut off from what people perceived him to be. Ian Curtis was two people, the media figure singer, and the actual Ian Curtis, who was hurt, angry, lost, very lonely. And didn't think people would treat him with respect if he (Ian Curtis) explained who he really was."

Readers, was my review useful? Any thoughts on the music? Next week, a look at Joy Division's album, Closer (1980), and the classic non-album singles Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Atmosphere.

Quotes from:
Joy Division Piece by Piece, writing about Joy Division 1977-2007, by Paul Morley

Joy Division (2007) (documentary)

Joy Division: Under Review (2006) (Documentary)

Rolling Stone


Songs for your iPod

New tracks I'm enjoying from 2012...

Fell Sound - Mirroring

(floating in space...the song comes alive at 0.26 )

Mirroring - 'Fell Sound' by BOILER ROOM

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings - Father John Misty

(The album Fear Fun was released May 1st. I'm loving this tune! Amazon listed it among the 20 best albums of 2012 so far.)

Father John Misty - Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings by subpop

I'm Writing a Novel - Father John Misty

I'm Writing A Novel by subpop

The Narcissist - Dean Blunt (ft. Inga Copeland)

Dean Blunt - 'The Narcissist ft. Inga Copeland' by BOILER ROOM

(I already shared the amazing Man on Fire, here are a couple more I like. Could be the groups best album yet, pity about the album sleeve which looks embarrassingly amateurish! If you haven't already listened to their track HOME, I urge you to do so!)

Mayla - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Dear Believer - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Cold Sand - Teen Daze

(beautiful uplifting ambient)

Lighthouse - Patrick Watson

Words in the Fire - Patrick Watson

The Quiet Crowd - Patrick Watson

1904 – The Tallest Man On Earth

(His new album hits June 12th, and is currently streaming on NPR first listen )

The Tallest Man On Earth - "1904" by Dead Oceans

Criminals - The Tallest Man On Earth

Revelation Blues

Bright Lanterns - The Tallest Man on Earth

The new album is available this week on NPR first listen. I previously shared the promising Flutes. Track 9 and 10 are the best of the non-hits for me...

Ends Of The Earth – Hot Chip

Let Me Be Him – Hot Chip

Listeners, any thoughts on this weeks music?


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