Viewing recap August

Was a slow month for film viewing, because I've been watching and reviewing documentaries for my marathon. Part 1 and part 2 I already posted, and part 3 is on the way.

Inside Out (2015) (Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen)
There's enough story and emotion to engage both adults and children. Can remind you of what it was like growing up.  I loved the concept, and the animated characters come alive and have personality. The dinner table confrontation between Riley and her dad was pretty funny. A couple of scenes in the second half made me tear up.  I kind of disagree with the movie that so much sadness is associated with the loss of childhood, as I've always remembered those years with fondness myself. The strong last 30 minutes elevate the film to best of the year.
I do have a few issues about the storytelling. The idea of the goofy side of us crumbling seems odd(maybe just becoming dormant?), since we use that when we have kids of our own. Joy and sadness in life-threatening danger also seems wrong, because those are emotions we continue to have whatever happens. Even if you pick these things apart, it's still a highly entertaining and moving story. A film that could be rewatched with an equal amount of enjoyment.
Rating 8.5/10

Phoenix (2014) (Christian Petzold)
Petzold's previous film Barbara (2012) was an interesting look at post WW2 Germany in the 1980s, and gave me reason enough to check out what the director could come up with next.
Let’s start with the good. Good acting by Nina Hoss. She is given the task of playing someone with plastic surgery who looks different than before. I can’t imagine many actors have ever done that before. That aspect felt unique.
Unfortunately that’s the only praise I have. It’s very slow paced, and felt like three hours rather than 98 minutes. To me, it was simply not believable the husband doesn’t recognize his own wife’s voice or posture, and implausible the family/friends don’t question her different appearance. I also can’t believe facial surgery could be so technically advanced in the 1940s.
Christian Petzold’s previous film Barbara felt realistic. Sadly I just couldn’t buy the premise in Phoenix. The idea is simply implausible.
Indiewire gave the film an A- and wrote in their review it's "as much a portrait of a woman longing to find herself again as a portrait of an entire nation longing for a way to re-build."
Rating 4/10

Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) (Thomas Vinterberg)

Very happy I saw this on dvd. I had read mixed reviews, and was pleased to discover that Vinterberg has done a great job. I was captivated during the whole film, the acting was superb. I cared about what would happen to the characters and had an emotional investment in them. I can't compare the 2015 film to the 1998 TV-movie or the 1967 adaptation with Julie Christie, which I haven't watched. They are both longer and are obviously more detailed. What I did learn is I should explore more adaptations of literary classics.
Rating 9/10 

A Swedish Love Story (1970) (Roy Andersson)
Roy Andersson does a great job of authentically depicting first love, the boy and girl exchanging glances is very cinematic. Especially the girl gives a good performance, you can tell what she is feeling by looking at her face.  Andersson juxtapositions this with the world weary adults, and has created a timeless and universal story.
The family life at home was a bit vague, maybe on purpose. The quote below is from a domestic situation, sister talking about her problems, and it feels slightly awkward given the young age of her younger 13-year-old sister, who just listens. The older sister admits to being lonely. In a later scene, we witness the mother who has an angry and frustrated partner John, he yells and laughs at his wife. The mother is a passive character in the film. He also humiliates his daughter's boyfriend for not knowing guitar tunes. John has a habit of saying the wrong thing, insulting the host of a party by laughing at his offer of painting his car, and John insists on bringing in a fridge even though the host explains it’s not needed due to a cold basement.
The end scene is unforgettable, and the glances at the beginning between the boy and girl is what stayed with me the most.
Favorite quote: ”Sometimes I feel panicky because I’m not married. When I see my old school chums with prams, I feel like…people are staring at me”
Rating 8.5/10

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) (Woody Allen)
While it does cover familiar themes such as infidelity, deception, and anxiety, the script is so well-told, the acting so good, and with characters you care about, that it’s an above average Woody Allen movie.
Allen manages to capture the beauty of New York once again, architecture, parks, etc. Has plenty of Allen’s trademark wit. The flawed characters are fleshed out quite well which is not always the case in in his other work.
Favorite quote: “It’s hard to be around someone who gives so much and needs so little in return”
Rating 8/10

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) (Christopher McQuarrie)
The fifth film in the series. Directed by the screenwriter of 2014's Edge of Tomorrow. A suspenseful and entertaining installment. It’s very much in the same vein as Ghost Protocol (2011), not least because of the humor, Simon Pegg’s and Jeremy Renner’s involvement again, and the exotic locations.
The underwater scene and what follows was the highlight.
If I had to point to a weakness it’s that the villain lacks distinguishing characteristics, the only thing I remember the bad guy for was the final scene. Still, I’d rank Rogue Nation ahead of M:I 3.
Rebecca Ferguson did a good job, a very modern action heroine, she was Ethan Hunt's equal. The action sequences lifted the film above average for me.
Rating 8/10

La Vie en Rose (2007) (Olivier Dahan)
As a biopic of Edith Piaf the storytelling is quite linear during her childhood, but becomes messy and a bit confusing in her adulthood, jumping back and forth to different important moments. She was the victim of an unsettled upbringing, moving from place to place, her parents not taking responsibility and not able to give her the love she needed. Perhaps as an adult she wanted everyone to love her as singer due to lack of parental love as a child.
The reason to watch is Marion Cotillard's oscar-winning performance. Edith Piaf's life story is eventful, becoming world famous thanks to an incredible singing voice. As is so often the case, fame changed her.
Rating 7/10

Agree or disagree? Seen anything great during August? As always, comments are welcome

Reviews of documentaries (part 2) (music-related)

Today, for part 2 in this series, we'll look at documentaries about music. I have not previously shared these reviews. So let's get to it:

Amy (2015) (Asif Kapadia)
Right now Amy is my favorite documentary of 2015, I was moved emotionally by the story. A vulnerable person and even though she had problems(eating disorder,drugs) I admire her honesty in the music. For me, just as captivating as Asif Kapadia's 2010 documentary Senna was.
Rating 9/10

Gimme Shelter (1970) (multiple directors)
Interesting enough look at the Rolling Stones. Maybe the documentary is a bit overrated and not as shocking as it once was, it's considered one of the best music documentaries of all time.
Live versions of their hits, mixed with behind-the-scenes clips. We get to hear about their US tour, the audience misbehaving during concerts, the organizations of the events. About celebrity life, and the dangers of attending concerts. The disastrous 1969 Altamont concert can be perceived as the flip side of Woodstock’s peace, love, and groovy. Poses questions about community and responsibility without ever asking them explicitly.
Rating 7/10

Sinatra: All or Nothing at All (2015) (Alex Gibney)
Chronicles the ups and downs of the career of Frank Sinatra. His early success as a singer at Columbia records is derailed by rumors of him being a part of the mob and extra-marital affairs with a wife at home didn’t do him and his popularity any favors.
Touches on his connections to the mob, which at first seem to have been completely fabricated by the press, although in later years Sinatra had connections to the mafia when he was in Las Vegas with the rat pack, and asked the mob to give money towards the civil rights movement. He is depicted as a lady’s man who spent money like there was no tomorrow, this led to him losing his fortune.
He managed to get a part in From Here To Eternity (1953) which kick started his career again. He would win an Oscar for the role. He signed with Capital records and made many hits with them.
Didn’t know he fought against racism and segregation and helped colored artists such as Sammy Davis Jr into show business. Sinatra is described as restless, with many interests, in business, politics, music, movies, segregation, raising money for charity. He led an eventful and exciting life, and similar to the recent documentary about Roger Ebert, it isn’t afraid to look at the man’s faults.
It’s tough for me to be critical and comment on what was left out, because I’m a newbie to his career. I would say at over 4 hours it was detailed, but maybe overlong. Now I want to watch the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960)
Favorite quote: “He used the songs to tell the story of himself, and he tells us our story through his story”
Rating 8/10

Bad 25 (2012) (Spike Lee) 
A look at the making of Michael Jackson’s album Bad (1987). 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the album's release. If you are a fan, there are some interesting anecdotes, and we hear from Scorsese, Quincy Jones and others. Especially interesting was the relationship between Michael and model/dancer Tatiana Thumbtzen in The Way You Make Me Feel video. Apparently he was too shy to have a romance with her, even though Jackson’s mother supposedly convinced her he was interested.
The reason I’m not giving the doc a higher rating is because a lot of it feels like padding and talking heads just praising MJ. A decent effort by Spike Lee, the doc goes into each of the songs, but most of what was said I knew already.
Entertaining enough and you may find a new appreciation for Bad, but in the end, it felt like a commercial for buying the album rather than an in-depth look at the music and its reception, which is a pity. Obviously with no new interview with the late Michael Jackson it could never be a definitive documentary.
Rating 6.5/10

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988) (Todd Haynes)
An unconventional bio-pic about the last seven years of Karen Carpenter’s life. The title is derived from The Carpenters' 1971 hit song Superstar.
The characters are presented as modified Barbie dolls, yet it still resonates emotionally. Parts of the film reminded me of Requiem for a Dream (2000), and there are horrific scenes which are equally as powerful as Aronofsky’s film.
The best film I’ve ever seen about anorexia, which Karen Carpenter was a victim of. Karen was told she was chubby as a teenager, and took this to the extreme with dieting and lost a lot of weight. It’s really a film about all women, because there is an unspoken expectation in our culture that thin is beautiful. Although the songs are used throughout, it isn’t really about her music.
Rating 8/10

New York Doll (2005) (Greg Whiteley)
Thanks to Steven at Surrender To The Void for the recommendation. A moving and unforgettable tribute to Arthur "Killer" Kane, the bass guitarist of the pioneering 70s glam rock band The New York Dolls. Following him in the 2000s, the documentary paints him as a flawed but likable musician, and with this documentary he finally gets the recognition and reconciliation he wanted. Kane lost his way after the group broke up, and didn’t have the same success that the other band members achieved. Having little money, he became a religious man and worked at a library. In 2004, The New York Dolls reunite, and Kane rekindles with lead singer David Johansen, they are now older and it’s moving to see them play again and put their problems behind them. A touching story worth seeing, even if you have no interest in The New York Dolls.
Rating 9/10

A Skin Too Few - The Days of Nick Drake (2000) (Jeroen Berkvens)
As someone who has read a book about the singer, this documentary lasting 48 min felt too slight. I’d imagine it’s a good starting point if you are new to Nick Drake, but if you know about his career already it doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking. There’s an interview with his sister and a friend from college. 
Rating 7/10

Metal Evolution (2011) (Documentary TV Series)
Broken down into episodes about a different piece of metal history. The series includes interviews with many of the faces of metal. I saw the episodes that had interest to me and was interesting to follow the history of metal and how it developed into different subgenres. I didn't know Mötley Crüe were penniless to begin with. People describing the appeal of metal music was fascinating. The interviewer/presenter Sam Dunn is keen to dig into what the musicians were influenced by. I was already exploring heavy metal this summer, and now I have a new list of bands to explore.
Rating 8/10

And You Don't Stop: 30 Years Of Hip Hop (2004)
Episode 3: Gangsta Gangsta, and E4: Life After Death
A five-part look at the history of the hip-hop culture, I haven't seen E1 and E2, which I imagine look at early hip hop, Public Enemy and other bands.
I wasn't following hip hop in the late 80s and early 90s, so this was a good introduction. Very thorough with lots of artists interviewed. Considered among the best hip hop documentaries, and nominated for an IDA award in 2005.
New York is described as the mecca and birthplace for hip hop during the 1980s, and a place with racially charged incidents. The rap music depicted how the black artists felt about social issues and life on the street, and listeners could relate. I'm not surprised the movie Straight Outta Compton (2015) got made now, with the racial tension in the US at the moment.
The angry and controversial debut album Straight Outta Compton (1988) by N.W.A  has been viewed as the pioneering record of gangsta rap with its ever-present profanity and violent lyrics, and was hugely influential on hip hop in the years that followed.
Ice Cube split from the group over money issues and made another defining hip hop album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990).
Later, Dr Dre also left N.W.A and released his successful  debut album The Chronic (1992) on his own label, and it was a major influence on future hip hop, popularizing the G-funk subgenre and introduced Snoop Dog to the world.
Episode 4 discusses Wu-Tang Clan, a group of nine who could all rap. Nas is mentioned, but not explored in-depth. Then looks at the rise of Tupac Shakur, who wrote about thug life and the black panther revolutionaries, but saw no contradiction in that. Tupuc led a turbulent life and the east coast vs west coast rivalry he had with The Notorious B.I.G. is delved into.
Rating 8/10

Have you watched any of these documentaries? Which is your favorite music-related documentary? As always, comments are welcome.

2015 Anticipated albums (August - December)

Depression Cherry by Beach House (August 28)

(NPR First Listen provided me with a preview. Hands down my favorite album of 2015 so far. Good from start to finish. They've still got it!)

Poison Season by Destroyer (August 28)

(listen to Times Square)

(2011's Kaputt I consider among the best albums of the decade, so this follow-up comes with lofty expectations. Played the record on NPR First Listen, and it's not as accessible as Kaputt. I like the track Sun in the Sky, but didn't connect with the other new far)

HITNRUN by Prince (September 7)


(Clearly Prince is past his peak, though he is still capable of making a good song now and again)

Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey (September 18)

(listen to Terrence Loves You , HoneymoonHigh By The Beach

(I loved her last two albums. I was a bit sceptical about these teaser tracks at first, but they are growing on me. My favorite is Terrence Loves You)

 B'lieve I'm Goin Down by Kurt Vile (September 25)

(listen to Pretty Pimpin)

Fading Frontier by Deerhunter (October 16)

(listen to Snakeskin)

(The teaser track is not as great as his older stuff. Hopefully the rest of the album delivers)

 Divers by Joanna Newsom (October 23)

(listen to Sapokanikan)

(The teaser is unmistakably Newsom, and is a song you can listen to 10x and still not fully grasp. If the rest of the output is as ambitious as that, we could have another great album from her)

Which albums are you looking forward to for the rest of 2015? As always, comments are welcome.

Reviews of documentaries (part 1)

In part 1 of this series, I'll review movie-related documentaries I've seen over the last 18 months. I'm only including new reviews I haven't previously shared.

Rewind This! (2013) 
If you are nostalgic for VHS, a must-see. For others I’d say it’s not essential. A lot of it is common knowledge, but the obscure references, Deadly Prey (1987), Everything Is Terrible: The Movie (2009), Best of the Worst Star Search Auditions, Leslie Nielsen’s Stupid Little Golf Video (1997), etc, were new to me.
The doc shows how the industry worked back in the 80s, the evolution of both VHS and Beta machines. Competing for a while, VHS won due to the length of the tapes.
Rental stores were opening up and they needed to fill the shelves with titles. There was a demand, didn’t matter if the films were good or bad. B-movies were making money, because the box was on equal terms with the studio movies on the rental shelf.
They had movie title contests for the employees at a rental store, if you came up with the title that was used, you got $500.
Designing the cover for the VHS box was an art form, and was the way to get you to rent the title. Bad movies had great covers. Frankenhooker (1990) infamously had a talking box that said a quote from the movie “wanna date” when you pressed a button on the box, which increased sales.
Rating 7/10

My Best Fiend (1999) 
Director Werner Herzog goes on a trip, visiting countries he filmed in, looking back on the work he did with Klaus Kinski, a brilliant, troubled actor.
If Klaus Kinski had been alive today, TMZ and the paparazzi would have stalked Kinski night and day in an attempt to capture his craziness. You can’t look away.
Rating 8/10

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) 
A fascinating look at the furore the so-called "video nasties" caused in Britain during the late 70s and early 1980s. I wasn’t aware it took so long for age certificates to be assigned to VHS, and I didn’t know distributors and rental owners went to jail and were fined.
The documentary begins by listing 72 video nasties, such as Driller Killer, I Spit on Your Grave, and Cannibal Holocaust. We see short clips, but the films themselves are not discussed in detail.
Surprisingly, these films were freely available to anyone, and kids saw them at birthday parties. This lead to a censorship.
It is suggested the doctoring of reports and censorship by the government was worse than the content of the films. It is also suggested the regulators and police were not knowledgeable about horror films and therefore incompetent.  
The people who defend the ”nasties” are very passionate, so a slight disappointment  it’s only in the last few minutes the arguments for allowing these films to be available is discussed.
The makers of the doc do seem to be supporters of anti-censorship, although the pro-censorship talking heads are given enough screen time for us to make up our own opinion on the matter. It’s really a historical documentary, which asks the audience to question where they stand on violence in film.
A recent extreme horror A Serbian Film (2010) is labelled as too slick, and without the grainy VHS quality it is not as scary, because with the higher quality visuals you can see everything.
Rating 8/10

Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014)
I also watched the sequel, made by the same people, which looks at the years 1984-1999. If you're interested in controversial horror films, the doc references, among others, The New York Ripper (1982), Nekromantik (1987), and Child's Play 3 (1991), the latter is given special attention because scenes in the film were linked with real-life murders.
This follow-up documentary isn't essential viewing, but it was interesting to see how things changed, underground movements rebelled, and surprising horror movies were still edited by censorship groups in the UK in the 90s.  It's amazing The Exorcist wasn't available on home video in the UK for years.
Favorite quote: ”The bbfc were cutting them to the point, it was worthless, there was no horror in them at all”
Rating 7/10

Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) 
El Topo (1970) became a success by word of mouth, Going to see it at midnight became the thing to do, especially for the counter culture. It became a genre of its own that had a forbidden feeling about it. It was against the system. The movies had to be funny and/or shocking in a surprising way, against the mainstream. Today, everything that was in Midnight movies, is in Hollywood movies (i.e. Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction American Pie, South Park)
El Topo was sold as a midnight ritual, a trip.
According to George A Romero, there was a feeling that the 60s revolution had failed. Made in the aftermath of the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations. Night of the Living Dead (1968) is about revolution, the new society basically swallowing up the old, but the old society don’t see it coming because they are too trapped in their own circumstance. 
Pink Flamingos (1972) could be interpreted politically as a film about rejects being celebrated. Like serial killer Charles Manson got a lot of attention, the characters in the film said thing that frightened you and were Manson-esque. The director says that maybe his mission was to make bad taste a little bit funnier and a little bit more accepted.
Rating 8/10

A Dream Within a Dream: The Making of Picnic at Hanging Rock (2004)
After having watched this, I’m glad the mystery remains intact about the movie.
The author of the novel was asked by director Peter Weir, is it a true story? Joan Lindsay answered: Do not ask me that question again! She did however admit ”it’s based on fact”. Weir also asked her, do you think it’s wide open what happened to these girls? Do you think the girls fell down a hole? Were they abducted by aliens? She replied: ”Any of the above”
To some people, the film is about something lost, hope, promise, potential, romance, suspicion, fear of the unknown, a whodunit. Maybe people are happy to accept it as true, because there’s a longing for those sort of myths in our time.
According to the screenwriter, the story has two major themes, the ill treatment of children, and the anachronism of Europeans in Australia, symbolized in the neo Italian building out in the middle of nowhere. The building is like a great ship.
Rating 7.5/10

Side By Side (2012) 
Narrated by Keanu Reeves. What you see in the trailer is what you get in the film, that is mostly soundbites. So if you want longer interviews with each director, you won't find it here. Film students, cinephiles, and other people related to the movie business are presumably the key audience. About the pros and cons of recording on film or on digital. Does become a bit technical. The last 30 minutes or so are about 3D, I didn't know the entire jungle in Avatar was made in a computer.
Favorite quote, by Sin City director: "Technology pushes the art, and art pushes the technology"
Rating 6/10

Michael H. Profession: Director (2013)
Michael Haneke is interviewed. He refuses to interpret his own films, and is personally afraid of suffering. The actors describe Haneke as a director who doesn’t want to sweeten his movies in a manipulative way. Haneke seeks honesty even when he doesn’t like something.
In regards to White Ribbon, he does admit the visual memory he has of that era is colored in black-and-white, and the scene when the son asks his sister about death is taken from Haneke’s own life.
“For me it was a matter of telling a story about a group of young people, who apply, in an absolute manner, the ideals preached to them by their parents’ generation. And whenever you take an ideal and apply it in an absolutist way, you make it inhuman. That, is, so to speak, the root of all terrorism.”
Actress Isabelle Huppert (from The Piano Teacher) compares Haneke’s humor to the Austrian tradition, that for her includes writers Karl Kraus and Thomas Bernhard, which unites both darkness, humor and wit. 
Haneke: “The role of music is very ambiguous in the film(The Piano Teacher). On the one hand, it’s extraordinarily beautiful, and on the other it’s horror. You might say Jelinek’s novel is a sort of parody of a classical psychological novel of the 19th century. And the film is a sort of parody of a melodrama, just as Funny Games was a parody of a thriller. I wanted at all costs to avoid making a  psychological film. Because then it becomes a personal case, the specific study of someone who is sadomasochistic, because of what-have-you. This doesn’t interest me. I don’t want to make a film that is a clinical study. I wanted to make an “existential” film, which is obscene, but not pornographic. And I’ve always said, I hope my films are obscene. The obscene is that which transgresses that which is permitted.” 
Haneke on Code Unknown: “Because with words, one is amongst all the difficulties of language. And, of course, Code Unknown is about the difficulty or impossibility of communication. At all levels. (…) Although perhaps it has more speech, which takes as its central theme of not knowing the code of one’s interlocutor. Much talk doesn’t imply communication”
SPOILER: Haneke on The Seventh Continent and Amour: “The Seventh Continent was about unlivable lives, that result in death. Amour is about something else. It’s about people who have very livable lives, and who live them, and do, but due to physical suffering, find themselves obliged to leave” 
Rating 7.5/10

Gambler (2005)  
About Director Nicolas Winding Refn and his bankruptcy after the flop that was Fear X, a film he describes as his best film up to that point, that he had spent three years working on. His journey to get out of his debt is to make Pusher 2 and Pusher 3, sequels to his breakthrough 1996 film. A former drug addict who’s an actor in Pusher 2 complains that he’s not playing himself, which the media claims. The actor is also on the verge of falling back into drugs, and the director helps me to avoid that.
Remarkably Refn is able to make a hit film in Denmark despite the financial  pressures.
Interesting to see movie merchandise in his apartment, likely the violent cinema which inspires him, he has posters from controversial films such as Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), A Grande Trepada (1985), Winchester 73 (1950).  Refn goes to a shop and looks at posters from You'll Like My Mother (1972), Revolver (1973), and mentions Sergio Sollima’s Violent City (1970) as one of his favorites.
Rating 6/10

All The Presidents Men Revisited (2013)
With only a superficial knowledge of Watergate, it was interesting to learn, to what extreme lengths Nixon went to cover up his mistakes in the Watergate scandal. He was a complex man, who was paranoid in the white house recordings, and friendly in other situations.The behind-the-scenes about the making of All The Presidents Men surprisingly takes a back seat.
How the pen is mightier than the sword made it a different kind of violent movie, with the enhancement of banging on typewriters. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman also discuss their acting, in which they learnt each other’s lines, so they could make the dialogues sound very natural, and cut off each other’s sentences in an improvisational manner.
But if you know your history, and what subsequently happened about Deep Throat, this probably doesn’t offer any major revelations.
Rating 5/10

Have you watched any of these documentaries? Which is your favorite movie-related documentary? As always, comments are welcome

2015 Blind spot series: All That Jazz (1979)

My contribution to Ryan McNeil's 2015 blindspot series blogathon, where I watch a film each month that I have never seen before.

Based on director/writer Bob Fosse’s own life, and was inspired by his manic effort to edit his film Lenny while simultaneously staging the 1975 Broadway musical Chicago. The story is a semi-autobiographical account of workaholic Broadway director/choreographer Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). He sleeps around with his dancers and his health is not good.

We repeatedly see him each morning, putting his cassette on with Vivaldi, using eye drops, medication, and taking a shower, followed by saying to himself in the mirror “It’s showtime folks”. The showtime sequence works well visually (and may have inspired Guy Richie's Snatch), but the story doesn’t grab me emotionally. Joe is a jerk towards his wife and daughter, and it’s tough for me to care what happens to any of them. A film I admire rather than love. The film is saved by the musical numbers and a superb ending sequence with a great cover of Bye Bye Love, originally by The Everly Brothers.
The opening scene is also a highlight, a brilliant mix of music, dance and editing, using George Benson’s catchy cover of On Broadway.  I have to admit I’ve never been to Broadway, so I can’t attest to whether it’s authentic. On the impressive opening, Bob Fosse is quoted as saying:

“Well, I tried to use a documentary style first of all, and it is what my life has been like since I was 25 years-old, it’s been those sort of auditions. And I’ve seen many film auditions of one kind or another, acted in a few films that had auditions, and they’ve been so unrealistic, that I tried very hard to show an audience exactly what happens. I did it in a very stylized way because you can’t spend that much time, it was paramount to show what Roy Scheider’s did, what his occupation was, and the way he handled people, and how many no’s he had to say, and the few yes’s he had, and how he was gentle with people“

In Bob Fosse's Cabaret (1972), the characters were easier to root for. All That Jazz is darker and more ambiguous. The sequences involving his discussions with an angel played by Jessica Lange are interesting, maybe Joe’s meditations with himself, dreams, or idea of heaven.

In the middle of the film, there’s a script reading scene when they laugh and he doesn’t appear to hear anything, as we watch people laughing out loud in silence. This is quite disturbing. Cinematically it’s very effective, he seems very alone in this moment, and to me it suggests he’s losing his grip on reality. You could interpret the whole story as a near death scenario. An artist who can’t stop creating, can’t stop working.

All That Jazz is a film that champions creativity, and also the invisible creativity going on in the mind we don’t see. Joe really had show business in his blood. Yet it also is a film about a workaholic who can't balance his personal life with his own ambitions.

Won 4 Oscars. Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Music. Was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Writing, and Best Cinematography. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

I'm not a huge musical fan. Even so, it's a technically masterful film I think any serious cinephile should watch at least once in their life. If you are a workaholic, you may relate to the main character.

Favorite quotes: “To be on the wire is life. The rest is waiting”

“No, nothing I ever do is good enough. Not beautiful enough, it's not funny enough, it's not deep enough, it's not anything enough. Now, when I see a rose, that's perfect. I mean, that's perfect. I want to look up to God and say, "How the hell did you do that? And why the hell can't I do that?"

Rating 8/10

Agree or disagree? Have you seen All That Jazz (1979) , and what did you think? Which is your favorite Bob Fosse film?

Liebster Award x2


I've been nominated for Liebster Awards by Pete Turner at I Love That Film and Michaël Parent at Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Thank you to both and go check out their sites if you are not already familiar with them.

When you are nominated, there are a few simple rules to follow in order to accept your award:

1. Thank the blog who nominated you and link back to them.
2. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers to receive the coveted award.
3. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
4. Tell your readers 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Give the nominees 11 questions to answer on their blog when they post their nomination.

I’m just going to answer the questions this time. I’m not going to list random facts or nominate anyone, because I’ve done that already in the past here.

Pete’s 11 questions:
1. If you could work on a film set, what would be your ideal role?
2. What is the best ending to a film ever?
3. If you could have one actor or actresses' career, whose would it be?
4. If you could be any film character, who would it be?
5. What is the ideal length for a film to be?
6. Are there particular things in films that make you cry?
7. Who is your favourite director?
8. What is your favourite film not in the English language?
9. What is your favourite film blog?
10. If there was one film you could destroy forevermore, what would it be?
11. Can a film change your life?

1. Definitely not in front of the camera, I’m too shy for that. Something behind the scenes.

2. Good question. There are so many. The ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) continues to give me chills. The final scenes in Fight Club (1999) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) are great too.

3. Robert DeNiro, and I would say no to all those recent cash grab movies he did. Be more selective.

4. Who wouldn’t want to be 007 for a day?

5. The story dictates how long it needs to be. I prefer under two hours in one sitting, but there are exceptions.

6. Neglected, lonely people

7. Probably a tie between David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick

8. hmm, according to my top 100 it’s The Decalogue (1989), which is technically a TV-mini-series.

9. My own? :)

10. I wouldn’t destroy anything someone put effort into creating. No matter how bad, there’s always someone who loves a particular movie, so I wouldn’t want to rob them of their enjoyment.

11. Yes, if you see it at the right time and the right age.

Michaël’s 11 questions:
1-What is your best film related memory?
2-Citizen Kane or How Green Was My Valley? Why?
3-Frank Capra or Howard Hawks? Why?
4-What is your favorite movie genre?
5-Do you give much importance to lists like AFI’s 100s, the Sight and Sound’s Top 10, etc.?
6-Is your daytime job is related to films in any means?
7-How long have you been blogging about films and what keeps you going at it?
8-What would be the movie that could define you? Why?
9-Name a celebrity that could be your doppelganger?
10-What it the best film you’ve watched lately?
11-Recommend a movie that almost no one has ever seen and that should be more recognized.

1. Seeing Titanic in the cinema changed how I perceive the film medium. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. I still think it contains the best special effects of all-time, because it looked so real.

2. I can’t really answer that. I’ve only seen Citizen Kane, which I admire.

3. Right now I prefer Frank Capra, there’s more warmth in his films. Howard Hawks’ work I often find a bit heavy going in terms of the dialogue.

4. I like drama, although I’m open to most genres. Depends what mood I’m in. I sometimes do crazy marathons when I watch the same genre for a month.

5. I do look at film lists, and take from them what intrigues me, or is deemed must-see. I’m not a completist. I do top 10s by year on the blog.

6. Updating my blog is film related. I don't currently have a job.

7. I’ve been at it since April 2010. I like having a journal of mini-reviews and music lists, so I can go back and read what I thought of a film, or which music I enjoyed from past years.

8. Don’t really know how to answer that.

9. haha, well I don’t think I have a doppelganger in Hollywood. I was told in high school by a girl I looked a little like Johnny Depp because of my dark features.

10. Best film I saw recently was Il Sorpasso (1962)

11.) I don't watch unknown movies anymore. Time is precious, so these days I prefer to stick to films that have a good reputation. You’re Canadian, right? Have you seen Siblings (2004) with Sarah Polley? An underrated black comedy. To me it was funny, in a dark, twisted way.

Halfway point: Best songs of the decade so far (2010-2014)

We are at the halfway point of the 2010s. Let's face it, a lot of contemporary popular music is not created to have a lasting impact. It's consumer music that you use and discard. 
With that in mind, it's tempting to not bother with today's albums and go back and listen to the golden era of popular music.
Still, even if the music of the 2010s is weaker than previous decades, there are nonetheless a bunch of very good songs. And a few great ones. 
I'm excluding 2015 songs because the impact of those has not settled yet. 
Having listened to many new tracks over the last five years, it's going to be a very difficult task to narrow it down to the songs that mean the most to me. Here's my attempt. If there's interest in a Spotify playlist, feel free to ask, and I'll add that.
 I'm splitting the list in two below. The big songs that have had a cultural impact, and then the various songs that are important to me. Enjoy!

Link to YouTube playlist

The big songs:

Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams) by Daft Punk

Seasons (Waiting On You) by Future Islands

Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

Gangnam Style by PSY

Rolling in the Deep by Adele

Skyfall by Adele (Skyfall soundtrack)

Happy by Pharrell

Who Did That to You? by John Legend (Django Unchained soundtrack)

Blurred Lines [feat. T.I., Pharrell] by Robin Thicke

Let It Go by Idina Menzel (Frozen soundtrack)

Runaway by Kanye West

Time by Hans Zimmer (Inception soundtrack)

Nightcall by Kavinsky (Drive soundtrack)

Video Games by Lana Del Rey

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

Jubilee Street by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Good Intentions Paving Company by Joanna Newsom

Hollywood Forever Cemetery by Father John Misty

Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites by Skrillex (Spring Breakers soundtrack)

Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys

Fancy (ft. Charli XCX) by Iggy Azalea

Young Blood by The Naked And Famous

The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars

Counting Stars by OneRepublic

Nuclear Seasons by Charli XCX

Outro by M83

Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør) by M83 (From Oblivion soundtrack)

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire

A Real Hero (feat. Electric Youth) by College  (Drive soundtrack)

Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala

I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix) by Lykke Li

Lotus Flower by Radiohead

Titanium (ft. Sia) by David Guetta

Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys

Can't Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Lazaretto by Jack White

Royals by Lorde

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

Diamonds by Rihanna

Only Girl (In The World) by Rihanna

On Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz

Oblivion by Grimes

Master Hunter by Laura Marling

The Cigarette Duet by Princess Chelsea

Paradise by Coldplay

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

Chandelier by Sia

Levels by Avicii

Don't Stop The Party (feat. TJR) by Pitbull

Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

Whistle by Flo Rida

Riptide by Vance Joy

Till the World Ends by Britney Spears

Good Feeling by Flo Rida 

The Fall by Rhye

Songs that are important to me:

Don’t Walk Away by Chromeo
Take The World by She Wants Revenge
Give Life Back To Music by Daft Punk
The Sun Always Reminds Me of You by Marissa Nadler
Chinatown by Destroyer
Hey Moon (Molly Nilsson cover) by John Maus
Don't Fuck With My Money by Penguin Prison
Five Seconds by Twin Shadows
Don't Do It by Sharon Van Etten
Tell Me A Tale by Michael Kiwanuka
Home (RAC mix) by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Carmen by Lana Del Rey
Sqworm by Ramona Falls
Marijuana by Chrome Sparks
Bourgeois by Phoenix
Emmylou by First Aid Kit
Shameless by Groove Armada & Bryan Ferry
If I Were Me by Dave Grohl (Sound City soundtrack)
Mantra (Sound City soundtrack)
Hero by Family of the Year (Boyhood soundtrack)
What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World? (Man of Steel soundtrack)
Song On The Beach  by Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett (Her soundtrack)
Hiding Tonight by Alex Turner (Submarine soundtrack)
We Take Care Of Our Own by Bruce Springsteen
One For You, One For Me by Bright Eyes
Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave
Disappearing by The War On Drugs
Beth/Rest by Bon Iver
Wake Up Your Saints by The National
Lady by Chromatics 
Clementine by Sarah Jaffe
When You Rest by Sarah Jaffe
Better Than Nothing by Sarah Jaffe
This Love (Will Be Your Downfall) by Ellie Goulding
We Got It Wrong by St. Lucia
What if it isn't out there? by The Silver Seas (listen on Spotify)
The Bay by Metronomy
Come On by Will Young 
Alone in my home by Jack White
Take It Out On Me by Chairlift
Wall Street by Van Dyke Parks
Forget That You're Young by The Raveonettes
Warm In The Winter by Glass Candy
Smart by Girl in a Coma
All The Rowboats by Regina Spektor
110% by Jessie Ware
Sugah Daddy by D'Angelo
I'm New Here by Gil Scott-Heron
Whatever Happened to the Times by Bobby Womack
A Young Girl's World by Daughn Gibson
10 Mile Stereo by Beach House
Shut Up by Savages
Up All Night by Best Coast
Wait and See by Holy Ghost
Wedding Song (feat. Justin Vernon) by Anais Mitchell
American by Sean Rowe
I L U by School of Seven Bells
Over the Border by Saint Etienne
A Pure Accident by Badly Drawn Boy
The Drying of the Lawns by The Tallest Man On Earth 
Play for Today by Belle and Sebastian
Werewolf by Fiona Apple
Sugar by Garbage 
So Sorry by Geoffrey O'Connor
Like They Say It Does by Geoffrey O'Connor
Live Your Life by Yuna 
Wonder (live) by Emeli Sandé
Halftime by Amy Winehouse
Turnpike Ghost (Steel Train Cover) by Tegan & Sara
Take Another Look by The Cars
Black Skinhead by Kanye West
Dark Fantasy by Kanye West
Stone's Gone Up by David Lynch
This Woman's Work (Director's Cut version) by Kate Bush
Cocaine Blues by Escort
On Our Own by Diamond Rings
Soldier of Love by Sade
What Is to Be Done by Stars
Caution Repetitive by Princess Chelsea
Country Dumb by Josh T. Pearson
Cut You Off (To Grow Closer) by Kendrick Lamar
Caregiver by Memoryhouse
Heirloom by Memoryhouse
Fell Sound by Mirrorring
To Begin (live) by Alela Diane
Compassion by Prince
God's Whisper by Raury
Real Good Hands by Gregory Porter 
Zeitgeist by Black Sabbath 
Choices (Yup) by E-40
Not Afraid by Eminem
Cherry Coffee by Kelela
Disparate Youth by Santigold
Cementality by 
King Krule
Song for Zula by Phosphorescent
Hot Peppers by Emily Bear
Pelican by The Maccabees
Spitfire by Public Service Broadcasting


Soon, I will post my top 10 albums of the 2010s. Which are your favorite songs of the decade so far? Any overlaps with my list?


Related Posts with Thumbnails