In appreciation: The music of Jim Croce

I already shared I Got a Name, the Jim Croce song from Django Unchained soundtrack. So since I loved that tune, I decided to give his albums a listen. These are my favorites so far:

Which Way Are You Goin’

Ol’ Man River (cover)

and from his greatest hits:

New York's Not My Home

Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)

Time In A Bottle

Are you new to Jim Croce as I was? Which music are you listening to at the moment? As always, share your thoughts in the comments.

Monthly links from the blogosphere: January

Chip has put together a quiz, How Well Do You Know Your Oscar Winning Performers? Let’s Find Out.

Josh lists his top 10 films of 2012

Eric has also compiled his Top 10 of 2012

Alex Withrow writes about his Top 10 Documentaries of 2012

Alex Thomas brings us his Top 50 Films of 2012

Bonjour Tristesse spotlights the winners from 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and 38th Cesar awards nominees

Shala from Life Between Films was at Sundance Film Festival, and provides us with reviews and news. You can also listen to her thoughts on Sundance in The Film Pasture Podcast.

Nostra asks: What throws you out of a movie?

I've just seen Djanjo Unchained, so will be reading Pete's Tarantino special, which he says took a lot of time, and a lot of research.

Steph from On Page and Screen wrote Interesting Facts About Me, which was a memorable and fun read.

Dan Heaton tells us his Top 5 Movie Resolutions for 2013 and Beyond

Dan at top10films lists Top 10 Second Films by Directors since 1970

Sati was underwhelmed by Zero Dark Thirty, but loved Silver Lining Playbook

Courtney gave the new documentary The Invisible War 5/5.

Tippi kicked off their new blog series with a look at movies about World War 1

Steven at Surrender to the Void reviews Blind Spot 2013: Citizen Kane

David Zou from Taste of Cinema loved Wong Kar-Wai’s long-delayed The Grandmaster

SDG from U Me And Films writes about 10 Movies he is looking forward to in 2013

Andina reviews one of my favorite films, Wizard of Oz

evl keith at obscurendure reviews another favorite of mine - Random Harvest (1942)

Doccortex provides us with his 50 favorite song discoveries of 2012

Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, and other funny men star in the web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

konekonoir at listology lists top 100 films by year, 1920-1966

In appreciation: The music of Burial

Prompted by Eric from The Warning Sign, I recently ventured into the world of dubstep, more specifically the music of the producer Burial, who has been releasing LPs and EPs from 2005 to the present.

Album: Burial - Burial (2006)


Album: Untrue - Burial (2007)

Etched Headplate

Album: Street Halo - Burial (2011)

Stolen Dog

Album: Kindred - Burial (2012)

Loner (previously shared on the blog)

Album: Truant / Rough Sleeper - Burial (2012)


For me, Burial's material works best by listening to the atmospheric albums in their entirety, so recommending individual tracks is a tricky thing. My experience is that especially the two LPs from 2006 and 2007 are fairly melancholic, so would be good for a rainy day, or after a break-up. I didn't love all I heard, some of it, Night Bus for example, is very powerful, just too gloomy for my taste. Anyhow, above are my personal selections.

Listeners, thoughts on the music of Burial? Which are your favorite dubstep albums or artists?

In appreciation: The Jesus And Mary Chain (2 of 2)

Album: Honey's Dead (1992)

Almost Gold

Album: Stoned & Dethroned (1994)

Everybody I Know

You've Been a Friend

Album: Munki (1998)


While the band's albums from the 90s in my opinion are not as impressive as what they did in the 80s, there are nonetheless a few tracks here and there I liked, and have shared above.

Which are your favorite tracks or albums by The Jesus And Mary Chain? Are you new to the band as I was? As always, share your thoughts on the music in the comments.

Recent soundtracks I'm enjoying

Django Unchained (2012)

Who Did That to You - John Legend

I Got A Name - Jim Croce

Broken (2012)

Colours - Eloise Laurence (Blur cover)

Life of Pi (2012)

Pi's Lullaby - Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri

Laurence Anyways (2012)

At The Bar 10 Years Later - NOIA (score composer)

The Chauffeur - Duran Duran

Let's go out tonight - Craig Armstrong

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Once There Was a Hushpuppy - Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin

Marley (2012) (documentary)

Redemption Song - Bob Marley

Small Axe - Bob Marley

The Hobbit (2012)

Song of the Lonely Mountain - Neil Finn

Misty Mountains - Howard Shore/Tolkien/The Dwarf Cast/Richard Armitage

Skyfall (2012)

(If you read my twitter, I actually disliked the song the day it was released. I don't know what happened, since I listened to it in the opening credits of the movie, the tune has grown on me. Well done Adele on winning the Golden Globe!)

Skyfall - Adele

Which are your favorites from Tarantino's latest soundtrack? Any thoughts on the other mentions above? Which scores or soundtracks are you listening to at the moment?

In appreciation: The Jesus And Mary Chain (1 of 2)

Album: Psychocandy (1985)

Just Like Honey

(Probably the band's best known single, and my personal favorite from the group, which was used to great effect during the final moments of Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation)

Cut Dead

Album: Darklands (1987)

Happy When It Rains

April Skies

About You

Album: Automatic (1989)


(Another track I fell in love with during a movie, 2010's under-appreciated The High Cost Of Living)

I had only listened to a handful of songs by the group over the years, so took the plunge recently, and went through their entire discography. Part 2 of 2 next week.

Which are your favorite tracks or albums by The Jesus And Mary Chain? Are you new to the band as I was? As always, share your thoughts on the music in the comments.

Monthly recap: What have I been watching in December?

The Hobbit (2012)
The Hobbit is an amazing trip back to Middle Earth, I was more impressed by the high-frame-rate technology and sfx, than the story, which was too close to Fellowship of the Ring (2001) for my taste. That huge battle scene near the end, with all those rope bridges, and with camera flying around, was remarkable filmmaking, especially witnessed on the big screen.
I prefer 24fps, but it was a fun experience to try the 48fps HFR in 3D, which looks almost like TV. It’s a format I thought worked for this type of blockbuster extravaganza, but I wouldn’t want them to try it out on low budget films.
If no Lord of the Ring trilogy existed, I would have rated The Hobbit higher. I was never bored, but lacked the freshness of Peter Jackson’s earlier films.
I have not watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy for about 10 years, so I think that helped me enjoy Hobbit more. As was also the case with Prometheus (2012)-it was entertaining mostly because I have not watched Alien films for ages.
Rating 7.5

The Color Wheel (2011)
Fun, quirky, with well-written dialogue. Overlooked independent film that deserves more love.
About a brother and sister, who go on a road trip.
Prior to its 2012 theatrical release, The Color Wheel was named the best undistributed film of 2011 by the Indiewire and Village Voice polls of film critics.
Rating 8.0

A Royal Affair (2012)
The language here and there is too modern, other than that, well-made mainstream period drama, which depicts a slice of European history. The running time of over two hours means you get to know and care about the main characters. The beautiful cinematography, set design and consumes transport you back to the 18th century. For history buffs a cinematic treat. The film is also effective in showing the blurring of personal and political ends. Word is it has a shot at an Oscar nom for foreign language film.
I quite liked it, even though period films are not my favorite, and I rarely watch them.
Rating 7.4

Life of Pi (2012)
Loved the special effects, especially the CGI tiger impressed me. You really believe Pi is out on the ocean. The story feels like an old-fashioned classic like Robinson Crusoe, which is unusual in modern storytelling. Even though Ang Lee’s film is a little predictable, it will probably be in my top 20 of 2012.
In terms of faith, it keeps its mind fully open to all possibilities, so in that way appeals to basically all viewers. Perhaps the story asks us to believe in what we want, as long as we pick something. The boy is told by his father that to believe in everything is essentially to believe in nothing.
For me, the journey at sea had little to do with his faith, but more to do with basic survival instincts.
Rating 7.5

Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
I don’t think it’s a great film in terms of actual story, but having watched a bunch of Italian giallo films in 2012, it was fun to see how the sound effects are put together. Berberian Sound Studio is a film about filmmaking.
My favorite part of the film is the last 30 minutes, which becomes illogical and open to interpretation. I think it’s about how filmmakers can feel they are starring in a film, even though they are behind the camera. Perhaps rewatching the same sequences over and over, the filmmakers become lost in the creative process, start to imagine things, which are not even on camera. Each person involved in the production has their own unique perspective and experience, and we witness Gilderoy’s (Toby Jones). Perhaps it’s about alienation, Gilderoy becoming detached from the world around him, he speaks no Italian, and knows very little about horror movie productions.
The more I think about it, the more I like it. In my opinion, the film works better afterwards as a think piece, than as a movie.
The director has said: “Here, the film is out of view, and you only see the mechanics behind it"
Rating 7.2

Palme (2012) (documentary)
Documentary about former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, which is not another conspiracy theory film about his assassination in 1986, but instead about the man’s career and how he was/is perceived. He was a somewhat controversial politician, who still managed to achieve things along the way, and, if you believe what they say, with his heart in the right place. He neglected his children, because he had a busy working life, and this was perhaps his greatest failing.
Rating 7.5

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Nominated for 6 Oscars, and #103 on IMDb’s top 250, an old-fashioned courtroom drama based on an Agatha Christie short story. Nothing wrong with Billy Wilder’s film, good story, good acting, and a brilliant twist ending you will never guess.
I just personally found the whole thing a bit shallow, which can happen within the crime fiction genre. I still enjoyed it.
Rating 7.8

Notorious (1946)
A Hitchcockian post-war, psychological suspense/thriller. A threesome scenario, who is in love with who, this is part of the mystery. At the time featured the longest kiss in movie history.
Not as compelling as I had hoped it would be, a bit surprised by the praise everywhere, looks like I’m in the minority not loving it. It didn’t have me glued to the screen. Worth watching for the performance of Ingrid Bergman.
Rating 6.5

Floating Weeds (1959)
A remake of Ozu's own black-and-white silent film A Story of Floating Weeds (1934).
I could admire the trademark low-level camera position, colours and cinematography, but the story was uninteresting to me, and I struggled to get through this one.
I’m surprised 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die lists it as an essential Ozu.
The story feels quite messy, a group of guys want to bang some 20something girls, an older guy goes fishing with a young man, and the wife is jealous. The strongest story in my opinion is of the young couple in love. Similar reaction to Ozu’s Tokyo Twilight (1957), in that the last hour is more focused and memorable, than the first hour.
I prefer Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953) or, I was born, but… (1933)
Rating 6.5

Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
A Robert Bresson directed film. A young priest craves acknowledgement and a compassionate word, yet his elder says he should not try to be loved, and instead be respected and obeyed.
A lot happens, and a little tricky to follow, so I feel a second viewing is almost required to comprehend all that takes place.
About a young, frail priest, who looks like a young Johnny Cash. He’s told he has no common sense, and that his great schemes don’t hold water. He feels guilty for not praying, and struggles to please the townspeople. They question what he is doing and this makes the priest question himself.
I’m not too sure what the overall message is, I think there could be several relating to faith. It was pretty heavy-going and draining with all those subtitles, maybe some of that could have been cut out, but a unique film you should watch.
The story is based on the novel of the same name by Georges Bernanos, and maybe would be better to read at your own pace, who knows.
Favorite quotes: “She’s a fool and a coward. Never could stand up for her own happiness. “You’re not one of those who can speak and say nothing”
Rating 7.9

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
A cult classic, and goofy Christmas comedy. A bit uneven, but very funny in places, especially the dinner scenes cracked me up.
The third installment in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, written by John Hughes, and based on his short story in National Lampoon Magazine, Christmas ‘59.
Rating 7.4

Nosferatu (1979)
A remake and tribute to F.W. Murnau's classic silent Nosferatu (1922). I liked the way director Werner Herzog slowly builds the tension on the journey up to the mountain. I was also impressed how the wind outside created an eerie atmosphere, and how uneasy breathing at the castle keeps us on edge, and this was obviously thanks to the performance of Klaus Kinski.
My favorite Herzog film so far.
Rating 8.0

Double Indemnity (1944)
You care about the main narrator, even though he is up to no good, he is a cynic, but also a nice guy. Partly this could be due to we get inside his head with plenty of voice-over.
The film demands to be seen twice, so you can go back and listen to the voice-over sections in the first part of the story.
The film has no real weaknesses, great acting, cinematography, direction, suspenseful plot, you name it. The only small issue I had was that what is spoken could have been said with fewer words. I still loved it. A masterpiece of film noir, no doubt.
Rating 8.2

Field Of Dreams (1989)
Let me tell you, I love the 80s. I've read people praising Field Of Dreams as a classic. First off, I'm not a baseball fan at all, so that was an obstacle, and maybe why I’ve avoided it over the years. I'm surprised Field Of Dreams got a best picture nomination, the story feels very contrived and sugar-coated. I did like the James Horner score, which was also Oscar nominated. Perhaps if I had watched it when I was younger, it would have worked. Struggled to finish.
Rating 6.2

The Ninth Day (Der Neunte Tag) (2004)
The main character looks creepy (see above image), you get used to it, though. A German Holocaust film about a priest facing adversity in Luxenbourg. Thought-provoking questions are addressed about WW2.
An ambiguity is that Jesus was a Jew, yet the Nazis were against Jews, but wanted the support of the church.
Also, about whether the church is supporting the Nazis. According to the film, the Pope congratulated Hitler on his birthday, and addressed him as "Most respectable Mr. Hitler", but maybe this was before the Pope knew the cruel intentions of Hitler. I don't know how close to the facts this film was, the story was quite unsettling, particularly the scenes from the concentration camp.
It wasn't that clear to me what the director was attempting to convey. This approach could have been intentional, because the priest is confused why the Nazis need him. Still, an ambitious think-piece with a heart.
Favorite quote: "How can people believe in God, and in Christ, his just Son, and at the same time do what you do?"
Rating 7.0

Mean Streets (1973)
Martin Scorsese drama that I had never watched before. Love the opening voice-overs: "You don't make up for your sins in the church, you do it in the streets, you do it at home, the rest is bullshit, and you know it" (...) "Pain in hell has two sides, the kind you can touch with your hand, the kind you can feel in your heart"
The rest of the movie is about the kind of uneducated gangster characters I find cliché, but it does have a certain realism, and the soundtrack and visuals are powerful. The acting is solid, especially Robert de Niro. Explores male camaraderie and street violence in a humorous, spontaneous, and nonjudgmental way.
Rating 7.4

Thief (1981)
The name on the screenshot above amused me (: Crime thriller directed by Michael Mann, and starring James Cann. The soundtrack by Tangarine Dream opened me up to a new band to explore.
Thief was likely an atmospheric precursor to Drive, as Josh at The Cinematic Spectacle talked about in his review.
Gangster films were never my favorite, and violent, swearing, uneducated people who build their self-worth from possessions usually turn me off, so I was skeptical I would enjoy it once it got going.
The film has an ambiguity where it's tough to say who the good guys or the bad guys are, still there is something about Theif, that kept me from loving it.
A little overlong, and you have to wait 1 hour 15 minutes until we get a heist. The last 10 minutes worked the best for me, and were the most thrilling. I prefer Mann's other films like Heat or Collateral. I wasn't blown away by Manhunter either, also directed by Mann in the 80s. I think he was still learning his trade back then. If you like gangster movies, worth seeing. This film needed more action sequences or car chases in my opinion, maybe the budget wasn't able to provide that.
Rating 7.0

Hell in the Pacific (1968)
Kind of like Cast Away (2000), only set during WW2. Two guys fighting for survival, but also fighting each other. You can tell the Jap and the American on the island will not remain deadly enemies for the entire film, but that predictable story development didn't stop me from finding it enjoyable. Almost a silent film, surprisingly no subtitles for the Japanese bits? Was this a comedy? Sure did feel that way a lot of the time.
Rating 7.5

Sling Blade (1996)
Atmospheric story of a simple-minded man (Billy Bob Thornton in an amazing unrecognizable performance) who is released from a mental institution.
It won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, and Thornton was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Rating 7.8

House (1977)
Showcases highly inventive visual tricks and bright colours. A group of girls go and visit an old aunt, and her house offers a few surprises. Has the atmosphere of a dream. The last half hour becomes faster and faster, and I wished it would just slow down a bit. I would call it the Asian Suspiria, unique and mind-blowing. See it for the spectacular visual style, don't expect that much in terms of story. Included in the Criterion Collection.
Rating 7.6

Revolutionary Road (2008)
Great acting, and beautiful cinematography from Roger Deakins, but didn’t care about the characters. Lacked memorable scenes, I barely remember much about it. Not bad, just not as powerful as American Beauty, also directed by Sam Mendes.
Rating 6.5

Agree? Disagree? Have you seen any of the above? What are the best films you saw during the month of December?

My Top 5:

1.) Double Indemnity (1944) (8.2)
2.) The Color Wheel (2011) (8.0)
3.) Nosferatu (1979) (8.0)
4.) Diary of a Country Priest (1951) (7.9)
5.) Witness for the Prosecution (1957) (7.8)

6.) Sling Blade (1996) (7.8)
7.) House (1977) (7.6)
8.) The Hobbit (2012) (7.5)
9.) Life of Pi (2012) (7.5)
10.) Palme (2012) (documentary) (7.5)
11.) Hell in the Pacific (1968) (7.5)
12.) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)(7.4)
13.) A Royal Affair (2012) (7.4)
14.) Mean Streets (1973) (7.4)

Monthly links from the blogosphere: December

The links below are mostly year-end lists. My monthly recap of December watching is a bit late, and will be posted at the weekend.

Bonjour Tristesse reveals his top 10 foreign films of 2012

Josh lists his Top 10 Older Films seen in 2012

Mette looks back at her best and worst films of 2012

David lists 10 Best American Movies – 2012 Roundup. He also listed his 10 Best European Movies and 10 Best Asian Movies.

Alex Ramon shares his 15 Favourite Films of 2012

Nostra and Jaina list their top 10 films of 2012

Steven at Surrender to the Void releases his "Unofficial" Best Films of 2012

Pete lists Most anticipated 2013 Movies (Jan-March), and shares his top 20 films of 2012

Slant Magazine list The 25 Best Films of 2012. Probably my favorite year-end list so far, because it features so much variation: small independent films, documentaries, foreign language, mainstream.

SJ Honeywell provides us with his annual 10 Films That Should've Been in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Dan shares Top 5 Blog Discoveries of 2012

Jake from Not Just Movies lists The Best Films of 2012

SDG reveals choices for 2013 Blind Spot Series

Sati wrote a wonderful review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Andina, Niels85 and Jessica loved Life of Pi (2012). A film I intend to watch this week.

Eric loved Lawrence of Arabia [1962], a perfect score of 10/10. I have it on my watchlist for 2013.

Amiresque reviewed Holy Motors, and agrees with me the film is praiseworthy, but lacks emotional impact.


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