Giambattista Valli, I overlooked you. Some of these pieces are really cool. Thoughts?
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Thanks to all the readers. To celebrate the one year anniversary of jdbrecords, please leave a comment below with your favorite Hitchcock film and a random winner will be picked to receive a jdbrecords mix CD of hip new tunes. U.S. peeps only, sorry. Peace!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Some new tunes I'm feeling lately.
Flash Delirium - MGMT
Heaven's on Fire - The Radio Dept.
Round and Round - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Spanish Sahara - Foals
On Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A gorgeous Warren Beatty (in his third film role) makes an impact as the angsty drifter Berry-Berry in John Frankenheimer's 1962 melodrama All Fall Down. Even though Berry-Berry lives far away in Florida--working odd jobs and abusing women--his younger brother Clinton (Brandon DeWilde), eccentric, alcoholic father (Karl Malden) and overbearing mother (Angela Lansbury) idolize him with a myth-like status. Berry-Berry's name suggests a chronic disease and indeed he poisons everyone around him. Once he comes back home, he quickly falls hard for the widowed and damaged Echo O'Brien (Eva Marie Saint) whom Clinton also lusts after.
John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate) and cinematographer Lionel Lindon (Academy Award winner for Around the World in Eighty Days) inject a lot of unique visual flair into a film that sometimes feels stagy. It's well-cast. Besides being populated with unique bit players, all of the principals shine. Lansbury overplays things a dash and disappears into her role. Malden is well-suited as the kooky (and Communist) father. Eva Marie Saint is lovely and sufficiently tragic. And the too-beautiful Beatty is both charming and callously offensive. But the heart of the picture is Brandon De Wilde. What a terrific, handsome young actor (also so wonderful in Hud) who tragically died too young. He pretty much outplays the pros as the isolated, adoring high school dropout who habitually writes down all the conversations around him and eventually grows up. Picnic playwright William Inge's script (based on a James Leo Herlihy novel) is a little too quirky and melodramatic and things don't really pan out in a dramatic or satisfying finish. But the film is still well-acted and nice to look at. ***
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The Runaways is an uneven but stylishly directed film (helmed by the creative music video auteur Floria Sigismondi) about the all-girl American rock band that spawned a few minor hits and helped propel Joan Jett's (Kristin Stewart) career. The film focuses most on lead singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and less on Jett and the other members. A music lover of all types and a wannabe David Bowie, Currie is approached by Jett and record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) in an L.A. club to be the band's lead singer based solely on her looks (Brigitte Bardot-ish) and her style. The Runaways are portrayed as a ragtag group of passionate talents who are oft-discriminated against in the male-dominated world of rock and punk. Fifteen year old Cherie is the group's outsider for her inability to play an instrument or sing (she can barely gets through Peggy Lee's "Fever"). Fowley quickly molds her into a growling, rebellious sex kitten in skimpy attire and glittery platforms. It's in the performance pieces that Fanning (uncannily similar in appearance to the real Cherie) and director Sigismondi are at their best. Otherwise the film lacks an emotional resonance, despite Currie's sad downward spiral into addiction. It seems Sigismondi should have taken more cues from Paul Thomas Anderson's wildly kinetic Boogie Nights (an obvious influence), a similar story set in a similar era with a no-talent at the center who is unethically groomed into a star. While the sets and costuming look great, the script unfortunately isn't very compelling. Most of the scenes concerning Cherie and her upbringing are too slowly paced and the acting ranges from sudden histrionics to down-gazing and muttering. The camerawork is at times too obviously disorienting. Stewart, who is known most for her awkward and dour disposition in the Twilight series, is surprisingly quite good in the film, taking on Jett's mannerisms and look to a tee. Once we watch her (in the film's final act) in moments of inspiration that led to her beloved debut album, the film suddenly has a jolt of life. It's a wonderful characterization and one that the film could have used more of. **1/2
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I recently watched 1974's Claudine with the incomparable James Earl Jones as a garbage man who falls in love with the lovely Diahann Carroll in a role (for which she was nominated the Academy Award) as a welfare mother with six children. She is quite stunning in the picture in a quiet and very real performance. The film is unique for its time period: an all-black cast in a non-blaxploitation flick. It deals with a lot of serious issues but in a comic manner (it was originally taglined as a comedy with "heart and soul").
Director John Berry, a friend of Orson Welles who, after being blacklisted, went into self-exile in France until the early 70s, handles the subject matter in a way that seems much more at ease than it could have been. Because of this, the tone struck many film critics as false. To me, with so few references to compare to, Berry portrays their situations in a way that is more respectful than I think it could have been. The characters are both witty and self-deprecating. And in particular, the character of Claudine's politically-engaged son Charles, is refreshingly real. It also seems to be a film borne out of a love for theatre: the multiple characters, the dialogue and settings. All of it gives a lot of room for his characters to act it out.
The romance between the two lead characters is both plausible and heartfelt as too are the conflicts that ensue among Claudine's eldest children. The film is enhanced by a marvelous score by Curtis Mayfield and a cluster of songs from Gladys Knight & the Pips. The film is a bit dated, repetitious and all-forgotten but still seems influential and an interesting watch for the time period it portrays. ***
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ABBA. They always make days sunnier.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
The Name of the Game
Take a Chance on Me
Sunday, March 14, 2010
In case you haven't heard, MGMT has a new single ("Flash Delirium") and I love it. It's swirly, psychedelic and riffs off of "As Tears Go By."
You can download on their site (for now) for free!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Here are some favorite looks from the Vanity Fair and Elton John AIDS research parties. Thoughts?
Kate Bosworth in Valentino
Diane Kruger in Calvin Klein
Monday, March 8, 2010
OK peeps. Oscar red carpet judging time. Who did y'all feel? I was underwhelmed by many. Not many risk takers this year. Here are my favorites:
Demi Moore in Versace. She really stepped up her game! I think she looks great.