Thursday, February 25, 2021


With some Prince "The Beautiful Ones"-vibes, here is the dreampop single "Castaway" from LA-based group Tashaki Miyaki

Preorder their new album on vinyl here.

The music video was directed by Paige Stark.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

retro movie love podcast: jan + feb films of '91

I had so much fun recording this podcast with Meep (Michael Ferrari of the Retro Movie Love Podcast) of films released between January and February 1991, 30 years ago. Stalwarts like The Silence of the Lambs and Sleeping with the Enemy figure but also some hidden gems like Queens Logic and Men of Respect. Loved hearing Meep's recollections of seeing many of these films for the first time in the theater!

Links below!

Friday, February 19, 2021

all again

Austrian group Wallners delivers with this dreamy EP Prolog I. Song "All Again" is a highlight in particular. 

The music video was directed by Rupert Höller.

Wallners on Instagram

Sunday, February 14, 2021

art by william johnson

 A few pieces from painter William Johnson.


William Henry Johnson (1901-1970), a Black American painter, was born in Florence, South Carolina. He became a student at the National Academy of Design in New York City, working with Charles Webster Hawthorne.

via tumblr

Saturday, February 13, 2021

one day

I just discovered this new single "One Day" from Swedish-based group Vivii & I love it.

The accompanying music video was directed, shot and edited by Rikkard Häggbom.


"This is my story as I remember it..."

So begins Maria Sødahl's sensitive, assiduous film HopeAndrea Bræin Hovig, in a strong, detailed performance, plays Anja, a dance and theatre director who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Anja has been in a long-term relationship with Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård), with different sets of biological children. The grim diagnosis, given around the wintry, end-of-the-year holidays, and the brief amount of days Anja is told she has left, tests and reshapes the relationships she has between Tomas, her children, and her friends (her closest in the picture is Vera, played by Gjertrud L. Jynge, who gives a lovely turn in a small role). 

Anja and her family live in a tasteful home of high gloss white painted walls with moulding, hardwood floors, antique rugs, abstract paintings and flickering candles (the thoughtful production design is by Jørgen Stangebye Larsen with set decoration by Kaja Raastad). It's a cozy, appealing place to be, and the perfect reflection of Anja's smart, artsy, and unsentimental personality. But Anja's anxiety, sadness, fear, and deteriorating health, including the loss of being able to read, is visibly consuming. Her medicines leave her ravenous--bread and sheets of shaved cheese--the food curbing her nausea; ravenous also in an emotional sense: desperation in the face of finality. As the film counts down the days, Anja declares at one point: "Before... My memories were never in the right order... But now, when I see the end, I see everything laid out in chronological order..." Statements like these feel real and close, perhaps borne from Writer / Director Sødahl's own personal experience with cancer.

The picture could be a sister film to Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's Still Alice. Both films are somewhat simplistic, straightforward portraits of illness. What complicates both, however, are the modulations within the relationships. Here, Anja and Tomas, is the compelling core. An emotionally-wrought sex scene between the two is wrenchingly executed by the actors. And Hovig continuously conveys her wreck of nerves, including a scene before relaying her diagnosis to her children. Overall, the ensemble plays the flawed naturalism of familial tension and affection well. The film is aided by the careful photography (by Manuel Alberto Claro), with some hand-held shots conveying tension and unease. The lack of a music score, makes the movie a bit sluggish but also gives it an appropriately disquieting feel. While the film runs a bit long and never quite hits the emotional punches and heights it seems to be aiming for, the distinctive performances and atmosphere help carry it along. **1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Thursday, February 11, 2021

the mole agent

Maite Alberdi's Chilean film The Mole Agent is a curious one. It's a movie that feels fuzzy in its delineation between documentary and fiction. It's also a movie that feels fuzzy in its ethics, while completely benign in its intentions. The mild-mannered and debonair 83-year old widower Sergio (Sergio Chamy), gray-haired in sharp, well-tailored clothes and gray canvas slip-ons, is hired by a gruff private investigator Romulo (Romulo Aitken). Sergio's mission: to infiltrate himself into a nursing home to report back and record its supposed poor conditions. 

This stunt-like intrigue set-up is one of the more artificial parts of the doc. There's a lot of easy, jokey play with old people and techs (using iPhones and spy cameras on thick-framed glasses) in the beginning and sprinkled throughout. Predictably (and thankfully), the tech that Sergio is forced to use and aspects of recording "proof" ends up being pretty much useless as the film wears on. 

More vital, and similarly where the film gains its strength and momentum, are the relationships Sergio begins to forge within this new environment. He is seen as a "gentleman," as gracious and a good listener, and attracts some of the women in the home, especially the memorable Berta (Berta Ureta) who fancies him and his company. She asks for him to accompany him on her short walks to the bank, one of her few moments of outside intimacy, with hopes of establishing a deeper bond. She even imagines a wedding at the home--for her, what would be one of the most exciting things to happen there ever. While the most compelling parts of film, Berta's yearning for Sergio can be a bit hard to watch, and it made me question the doc's boundaries between examination and exploitation. Yet, Berta emerges as a figure of strength, humor and independence. Sergio's good-natured attitude and compassion for her, poignant. 

Where The Mole Agent lands isn't too surprising, but in an era of harsh and necessary docs revealing the extremities of human existence and injustice, there's a certain relief in that the worst folly of the home is that un-pinnable, that un-data-specific sense of pervasive loneliness. Overall, through parties, the individual quirks and mishaps of the elders, and the banal everyday (the film was whittled down by Alberdi and editor Carolina Siraqyan from hours and hours of footage to a tight 84 minutes), The Mole Agent ultimately eschews its initial cutesiness and makes a strong case for relationships and listening to and caring for an age group left to the margins of society.  ***

-Jeffery Berg

tell me you love me


Music video for Sufjan Stevens' "Tell Me You Love Me" from the album The Ascension

The video is directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name).