Friday, September 28, 2018

it's too late

Nice re-work of Carole King chestnut by Digei Antico. The beat that kicks in during the chorus is sublime 70s AM stuff.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

new light

John Mayer's "New Light" was a nice breezy, catchy adult contemporary summer single. The dance remix from Zookëper really works.

feel me

A cover of a 1982 track from Blancmange, this one from Simon Says is a definite banger. The remixes are good too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

magic tape 83

New Magic Tape from The Magician!


Films about writers can be touch-and-go; the worst are dreary and unmoving, while the best leave you with the ache and desire to dive into an author's work. I came to the film Colette with only a surface knowledge of her life. Perhaps there are those who would find this biopic, mostly of her in marriage to Henry Gauthier-Villars, nicknamed "Willy," inadequate. Not to mention, the movie feels and sounds more like a sun-dappled early 90s period Brit pic than a movie about the French. But to me, Wash Westmoreland's movie is a supple surprise--a deliciously entertaining introduction to an artist. It concentrates mainly on Willy and Colette's complicated rise to fame through the  popular Claudine novel series which became a sensation in its time. The books are Collette's own, somewhat autobiographical, but published under Willy's name. While she freely writes the first, he commands and even locks her in a room to write more in the series, the books fulfilling both his bank account (no mistake that he uses "going to the bank" as cover to visit another woman) and grandiose views of himself as a societal figure. I couldn't decide if he adapts to her flourishing sexuality or if he simply is permissive of it, albeit begrudgingly so, as a form of control. Perhaps there are elements of both. He, and his relationship with Colette, are complex--snarly and gilded with touches of wit. Having recently done marathons of the cooly contemporary prime time drama "The Affair," it was unnerving to see Dominic West so different and in such broad period mode. Nevertheless there are some parallels on display between Willy with Noah Solloway--the grandstanding, the egomania, and, of course, the using of women. Keira Knightley's role is daunting, but she plays it with a seeming ease that is lacking in the forced nature of some of her other work. It's a genuine and sparkling turn.

At times, the film felt awkwardly pieced together, with abrupt cuts. In particular, there was something absent in the movie's portrayal of Colette's relationship with Missy (a quietly compelling Denise Gough). Yet there's something exciting how free they look together on-screen. The lack of quibbling over sexuality and gender-identity is one of the movie's heartening strong points.

Westmoreland's crew does some lovely work. Andrea Flesch's costuming captures Colette's iconic styles and the changing Parisian fashions moving into and within the early twentieth century. Like the most intrinsic film costumes, they complement rather than dominate the picture. I was very intrigued by Thomas Adès' score. Perhaps because he's known primarily for his classical work, Adès' music cues do not sound like a typical film score of now. I was less interested in the seemingly unnecessary thundering strings during the more dramatic moments, but there's a plainsong main theme piano and string line that runs throughout that's both pleasurable and melancholic. Unfortunately no recording has been made as of yet and I yearn to hear it again.

This is a movie, rather unsubtly, about ownership and control and about coming-of-age. Westmoreland's film co-written by himself, his late husband Richard Glatzer and Rebecca Lenkiewicz could have been rote biopic, claiming cinematic ownership over its subject, but it's a lovely and fresh tribute, concocted with care from a modern perspective. ***

-Jeffery Berg

Sunday, September 23, 2018

how do you do

This catchy, underrated AM radio gem by Mouth & MacNeal has been on my mind lately. The video below captures a joyous and super bizarre party scene (maybe New Years?). It definitely all feels of another time.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

o mandy

Mandy is a guttural cry of a midnite film in a pervasive landscape of retro horror. It appeals to
indie movie bros, like the ones at my IFC screening, hungry for something to clap and cheer at--here, it's Nicolas Cage, in rotten ham-my, wheezing, groany gargantuan revenge mode. Director Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow) gives Cage a gift, and let's him run wild, which is the best thing for everyone.

With elements of an acid western, Mandy is appropriately situated in Pacific Northwest--woodsy and barren of much humankind. The setting may be one reason why human interaction in the movie feels so layered and electric. I liked the calm yet foreboding domestic set-up scenes and flashbacks between Cage and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough, raven-haired and raven-eyed, rising to the occasion--all spooky and ethereal). The first half is peppered with moments--usually related to nature and animals (Cage's logging, his tiger sweater, a grim tale of murdered starlings, and a discussion of the planets)--that figure more grotesquely in the second.  When hasty small cult leader Jeremiah Sand (a gripping Linus Roache) notices Mandy walking by, her sci-fi pulp in tow, he immediately wants to capture her for his own.

I seem to come across a lot of genre pics that feel obvious, too much like a pastiche of homage. While there's a mish-mash of influences on display here, from heavy metal to comics to the surrealism of 80s commercialism ("Cheddar Goblin" is already a thing) to splatter pics, Mandy felt fresh and involving--somewhat due to its laconic pacing (fade-outs and multiple title cards break things up) and the director's unusual craft. I also enjoyed the trio of main performances--Cage, Riseborough, and Roache. Roache is particularly oozy and creepy, with his eyeliner and middle-parted blond hair, in an extended scene where he tries to seduce Mandy, playing one of his characters' 70s dittys--"Amulet Of the Weeping Maze"). The late Jóhann Jóhannsson's mesmerizing score booms through, all droning long-tones edified with metallic scrapings, clipped to the beat of the editing (by Brent Bachman). Like the movie, it's boorish, unapologetic and enveloping. ***1/2

-Jeffery Berg

70s main titles

Just stumbled upon this amazing site--The Movie Title Stills Collection--which houses a very extensive gathering of main titles through the decades. I am fond of a few stills from the 70s, which I compiled below.