Saturday, September 27, 2003
information wants to be free
festival for spoken word, applied arts and experimental music
december 05th-7th, berlin
freitag / 05.12.03 / friday / december 05th:
00 - 21:00 - open doors
01 - 21:30 - audiokollektiv [germany - festival introduction with ruptured
02 - 22:15 - echokrank [cz - low-fi C64-melodies] [>>]
02 - 22:45 - jean bach [germany - musica abstracta] [>>]
03 - 23:30 - andrey kiritchenko [ukraine - fairy-like clicks-n-cuts
04 - 00:30 - rob[u]rang [belgium - beat box organics and electro dance -
vj: antonin de bemels] [>>]
05 - 01:30 - monokrom/morgenstern [germany - crunchy ritual ambient and
structured noises] [>>]
06 - 02:45 - skanfrom [germany - minimal oldskool robotfunk served on 80s
07 - 03:45 - gridlock [usa - chiseled electronica and broken beats
samstag / 06.12.03 / saturday / december 6th:
00 - 20:00 - open doors
01 - 20:30 - detritus [uk - symphonic downbeat] [>>]
02 - 21:30 - mago [sweden - poetic film music with an edge] [>>]
03 - 22:30 - xabec [germany - floating ambient, dry beats and clicks] [>>]
04 - 23:30 - silk saw [belgium - pulsating soundtracks for emotional
episodes - vj: antonin de bemels] [>>]
05 - 00:30 - 2nd gen/uniform [uk - fragmented hip-hop electronics and deep
06 - 01:45 - cell auto mata [france / germany - genre-splicing electro
07 - 02:45 - vromb [canada - francophone analog beats-n-drones - special
10-year-anniversary performance] [>>]
08 - 04:00 - xanopticon [usa - 'maximum breaks per minute' combined with
intense atmospheres] [>>]
sonntag / 07.12.03 / sunday / december 7th:
00 - 20:00 - open doors
01 - 20:30 - pure + m:l:p [austria/france - sinewave-acoustics and
tinkering static - special-videos] [>>]
02 - 21:30 - des esseintes [sweden - apocalyptic industrial] [>>]
03 - 22:30 - cruelty campaign [usa - industrial radio plays] [>>]
04 - 23:30 - bad sector [italy - extraterrestrial radio signals meats
oldskool electro beats - special videoshow] [>>]
05 - 00:45 - error [latvia - noisy deconstructions]
06 - 01:45 - einleitungszeit/sangredans [cz/sk - harsh noise-performance -
2nd floor [dj-area]:
freitag / 05.12.03 / friday / december 05th:
00 - 21:00 - open doors
01 - 21:45 - k.i. + spherical disrupted [live - noise experiments] [>>]
02 - 22:30 - alesh trash [cz - manic overdriven freak-music]
03 - 23:30 - koi george [freak-animals.org-resident - breakcore]
04 - 00:30 - pct [freak-animals.org-resident - sounds from the
05 - 01:30 - salt [ant-zen-head - technoid noises and related stuff] [>>]
06 - 03:00 - christoph fringeli + hecate [aka crisis theory - ch -
industrial breaks from the darkside] [>>] [>>]
07 - 04:00 - abelcain [usa - low res/zhark/addict - harsh breakcore]
08 - 05:00 - noize punishment [cz - fast digital punk] [>>]
samstag / 06.12.03 / saturday / december 6th:
00 - 20:00 - open doors
01 - 21:00 - cocktail lytique [live ? psychological ambient,
emo-breakcore-mosh and digital punk] [>>]
02 - 21:30 - orange [freak-animals.org-resident - noizecore + industrial]
02 - 22:00 - pure + m:l:p [austria/france - experimental noize -
03 - 23:30 - poingi [israel / berlin - freak-animals.org-resident -
04 - 00:30 - lfo demon [freak-animals.org-resident - breakcore & raggacore]
05 - 02:00 - kids return + electric kettle [france - peace off-crew -
french breakcore] [>>]
06 - 03:30 - something J [kool.pop/warp - raggacore, distorted bigbeat &
07 - 05:00 - amboss+zombieflesheater [kool.pop/mindbender - breakcore and
sonntag / 07.12.03 / sunday / december 7th [chill-area]:
Title: Scarlet Diva
Cast: Asia Argento
Picked Scarlet Diva up on dvd for 6.99, reduced from 19.99 which is has been at for a while. a somewhat bemusing film, loosly auto-biographical story of an italian actress, and her degradation by the film industry as she becomes more and more isolated and desperately attempts to become a director. written, directed and starring asia argento, the daughter of infamous horror director dario argento. probably most well known for her recent part in the vin diesel vehichle xXx. there is a certain experimental approach to the film, an undertone of artyness. the result of which is that the film is disjointed, though the resulting potential for confusion mirrors the characters increasing alienation. the character struggles to seperate herself from what she regards as an exploitative italian film industry - while being surrounded by masochists and abusers. with each step she is confronted with people who are more interested in her for sex, and in some cases her celebrity, than who she is, or what she wants to do. far too often the advances are far from casual or mutual, and we witness a couple of attempted rapes. there are times where the characters life can't be described as anything other than harrowing. the resultant space that the character ends up in is dislocated, where even what looks like a light at the end of the tunnel is just another car crash. the only thing left is a determination to complete the writing for her film "scarlet diva" and see it brought to life.
1. i'm pretty much on holiday now, so updates over the next few days will be at a reduced frequency. i fly to germany on tuesday. so i'll be out of the country, and most likely, off line for 10 days.
2. new DVDs - just picked up donnie darko and scarlet diva on sale. darko i saw in the cinema and quiet enjoyed. diva is new to me, but then it has asia argento, which is a selling point. sat and watched it last night. a little odd. more soon.
3. new books - i gave in, i bought quicksilver. probably won't take it on holiday, weight restrictions you know! picked up magnus mills "three to see the king", which my brother rates highly, and tibor fischers "collector's collector" for £1.99 each in oxfam. i also picked up a variety of books yesterday in a clearance book shop, includes matt thorne (dreaming of stangers?), eric garcia (casual rex), sara sheridan (the pleasure express), alex shakar (the savage girl), um, and a few others (yes, yes, i know, i am shocking!)
4. new graphic novels - been meaning to check out alan moore's promethea for ages. the only one of his serials for ABC that i bought in serial form is the league of extraordinary gentlemen. though eventually i picked up the top 10 trades. then laterly a tom strong trade. i've enjoyed them all. at last i picked up promethea. bought book 1 thursday, read it that night, went back and bought book 2 friday! it fits well with the likes of top 10, and i'm enjoying it a lot. but more later.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
hi everyone, hope u are all well
short notice i know, but:
tonite (thurs) on BBC Radio 1, at midnight to 2am,
London Time, on the One World show, there is a Bip hop label
(who i record for) special with interviews with label
head Philippe Petit and possibly me...unless they
edited that bit out.
i think there will be some Tennis & si-cut pieces as well ;-)
On radios across the UK 97-99FM and the net everywhere else....
(it might be archived later possibly as well)
douglas benford :::: si-cut.db <> sprawl <> tennis partner
bip_hop tennis + si-cut.db http://www.bip-hop.com/
warpmart track sample :::: http://www.warprecords.com/audio.php?id=2628
highPointLowLife ::::::::::::: http://www.highpointlowlife.com
fallt ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: http://www.fallt.com
backGround ::::::::::::::::::: http://www.background-records.de
12k/term download :::::::::: http://www.12k.com/term
sprawl :::::::::::::::: ::::::::::: http://www.dfuse.com/sprawl/
tel (+44) 208-568-3145, mob 07860-649613
with human target one gets the impression that milligan is returning to shade territory. taking the opportunity to use the human target to highlight weird america, to provide a different take on current events. christopher chance is a specialist, he takes the risks for you - he becomes you - he becomes a human target. with the previous graphic novel chance took his absorption of another persons personality too far. he came to believe that he was that person. years of taking on the identities of other people have resulted in him losing his own. the first issue of this series set up chance up, set him up as a lost soul, retreating from who he was before. no doubt this will set us up for a journey across america in classic milligan style.
an america which is post 911 as demonstrated by the second issue which came out last week. on september 11th a man spent the morning shredding documents, convinced that at any moment his company will be investigated for fraud and that his bosses will put him in a very difficult position. then everything changes. staggering through the debris he swears that if he survives who he was will disappear. time has passed though and his bosses have got away unharmed by their financial indiscretions, while he has given up everything. so he returns to new york, and it is there where a chance meeting means he meets christopher chance.
having struggled with his own identity issues and what the future holds chance recognizes this man as someone who is going through similar issues. so when the man makes his move, he has the human target on his side. though even then, things are not entirely straight forward. the result is milligan playing it more seriously than the shade material that went before, though his style is certainly maintained. javier pulido provides the art, following on from the late edvin biukovic, who did the original 4 part series. his style is more along the lines of caricatured, somewhat cartoony, and is reasonably distinctive, perhaps most similar to the work done by gilbert hernandez on his recent vertigo series. the covers are also by pulido, with the cover to the second issue being a particularly striking image.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
infra 921 starts with a hiss of static, an abrasive rubbing adding before the sound becomes a stutter. the hiss becomes more of a digital chatter, while the rubbing takes on more of a strong wind impression. the sound going on these levels, incrementally challenging, with increasing "noise" tendency. varying between agressive and choppy and the slower more textural emphasises.
infra 444 starts with a ticking interface period, shifting slightly to affect the frequency of this micro chatter. building to brownian drumming. distorting into a growling flicker, shifting from speaker to speaker in disoreintating emphases. again chatering through digital noise sequences, mixing with feedback howl and high pitched whines. the bpm of stabs cranking uo to a mad density.
infra 742 sees guitar strings dunted, creating a reverb clatter, brushing back and forth a little. feedback chatters and sswinging around that high sine pulses mixing in to be caught up in guttural swirls.
- UK Sci-Fi/Fantasy publisher Orbit are going to publish NYLON ANGEL The First Parrish Plessis by australian writer Marianne de Pierres in january of next year, with the sequel due in july of the same year. Orbit are a mixed bag, authors like iain m. banks and ken macleod are interesting, but they also tend towards fantasy too much for my taste. reading this extract there is clearly a very heavy style, with clearly derivative results, leaves me undecided, it could work or it could be really horrible. my impression is that it could get really annoying really quick if the book didn't develop fast enough.
Not for the first time admittedly: the whole clan had been dead and resurrected at one time or other, shifted into new identities and names, Cornell, Carnelian, caught up in some karmic witness protection program.
-alan moore intro to Firing the Cathedral, discussing michael moorcock and jerry cornelius.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Fresh songs in MP3 section. Now you can download an opening composition from band's forthcoming full-length album 'Eschaton'. The track is called 'Leviathan' and features great vocals by Pope John Paul II. Also, check out two other tracks - 'Algorithms' [forthcoming] and Trade Network [unreleased].
The first part ['Trivial Pleasures' MCD] of Cyclotimia's 'experimental trilogy' is going to be out in October via Monopoly Records and will be distributed by Stateart. Created using mainly old Soviet analogue synths this works is a bit 'alien' to the previous works of the band, but at the same time is, possibly, Cyclotimia's most radical album.
Keep an eye open for the documentary movie 'One Day In Wasteland' featuring soundtrack by Cyclotimia. Limited to only 111 VHS copies, the movie will be available thru band's official websites.
- LIVE at maschinenfest 2003 "aachen / geilenkirchen (ger)"
saturday 04 october 2003 / 11.00 pm
more information: http://www.maschinenfest.de
tickets sold out!
- tbr. new EP on heckengäu
4 tracks - 12" named "taking nothing seriously"
releasedate: autumn 2003 - watch out! / copies: 300 limit
- all < *@klangstabil.com > and < *@klangstabil.de > email addresses
were deactivated because of spam emails. please update your email
contacts as followed:
maurizio .. maurizio @ megahertz.org
boris .. boris @ megahertz.org
general contact .. info @ megahertz.org
klangstabil .. klangstabil @ megahertz.org
thank you very much!
stammler str. 6
SATURDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2003
Rock Café - národní 20 - 110 00 praha 1 - Czech Republic
WEDNESDAY 29th OCTOBER 2003
Marlborough Theatre Brighton. UK (with Volcano the Bear)
Title: Bangkok 8
Author: John Burdett
bangkok 8 is the third novel by british lawyer turned author john burdett. bangkok 8 is undoubtedly the novel that will make burdett, his previous work having not really made an impact it would seem, while bangkok 8 is building a respectable buzz around it. the fact that is it is very much readable and fun certainly contributes to that vibe.
the feel of the book is no doubt helped by the fact that a good part of burdett's career was spent in hong kong, with thailand being the destination most readily available for when down time was required. so his descriptions of bangkok as a chaotic and vibrant city, complex and alien to the western mind, no doubt comes from personal experience. bangkok is known for its sex industry, and it features as a major component of the narrative, with plenty of commentary on how it fits into the economy of the country.
when sonchai and pichai kill a drug dealer they end up in a monastary to repent. from there they find themselves joining the bangkok police force as arhat officers. the police force works with corruption, everything being about the extra income, the taxes, keeping the wheels turning in a particularly thai fashion. but as arhat's the pair are devout and incorruptible, which works in the favour of the precinct - while they might not contribute to the funds like the other officers, they make up for it in their own ways as well as bringing a certain karmic balance.
with the start of bangkok 8, named after the police district they are working in, the pair are following an american marine. in the process of this the marine is murdered and as part of that pichai dies as well. this leaves sonchai to revenge the death of his partner. the murder of the marine in some ways being secondary, though being an american this does bring the FBI in to the case. getting what he can from the FBI and from his usual means it quickly becomes clear that the marine had connections with the jade trade as well as the drug trade. add to the mix khmer soldiers and american millionares and sonchai finds that he has to watch his step more and more, but he remains unshaken.
bangkok 8 is a heady mix. characters zipping back on forth on death defying motorbike taxis. dancing all night in girly bars. police corruption versus buddhism. the influx and arrogances of the farang - the thai for foreigner. all combinging with the politics and contemporary nature of a city and a country. the result is a vivid and persuasive work. there are times perhaps where burdett's depiction verges on stereotype, though one suspects this is most prevailent in his descriptions of non-thai characters. in some ways though where this is done there is a certain humour involved.
burdett apparently already has plans for returning to sonchai and bangkok. which in some ways has to be dealt with carefully, much of the appeal of bangkok 8 stems from its freshness and originality, and the overall energy. the dangers of repeating characters/scenarious is that of falling into a rut. though even in saying that, i would certainly be interested in reading about the futher adventures of sonchai, i'll particularly be curious to see how he deals with the changes he has made to the character by the end of the book.
"Kleinzeit?" said a voice.
"Yes", said Kleinzeit. "Who's this?"
"Krishna. Are you hiding out?"
"I don't know. I'm thinking things over."
"Thank you. Any message for Sister?"
"No, I was calling you. Cheerio."
Krishna rang off.
-Russel Hoban, "Kleinzeit"
Monday, September 22, 2003
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles
Director: Len Wiseman
has been getting some seriously damning reviews, which perhaps in some ways have some justification. sure it has problems, it is not perfect, but it is certainly superior to many films that are churned out. underworld has an obvious visual impact, a lot of work has been put into that aspect of the film. the plot goes for the rapid and violent, with definite holes, but overall it is kind of fun.
a war has been raging for centuries. vampire against werewolf. the vampires have been winning thanks to the efforts of death dealer's like selene (beckinsale), dedicated to the eradication of their ancient enemy. however when selene discovers lycans tracking a human she stumbles on a plot that turns everything she knows upside down. of particular significance is the revelation that the lycan king is not dead, and that the vampire who claims to have killed him is behind a conspiracy to take power.
both sides have been developing new weapons, so there is a lot of gun play, each side firing bullets designed to play to the weaknesses of the enemy. with this there are times where what each character "is", is not entirely relevant, though one gets a feel from the dress sense of each character which side they are on - the vampires favouring victorian finery, mixed with lots of black and rubbers/pvc/leather styled wear, while the lycans tend to a more urban and ragged appearance. of course as many people will point out the skin tight outfits worn by kate beckinsale don't do her or the film any harm, no doubt being something of the films attraction.
one of the turning points for the film, one which the plot is based upon, as well as one that is used for the set up of a sequel, is the relationship between the vampire selene and the human michael corvin. a relationship complicated by the bite by the lycan king, which means come the imminent full moon he will be transformed into a wolf man. in particular this is one of the films real problems, the relationship happens in true hollywood fashion - which is to say it comes from nowhere because it is convenient and suits the film makers, regardless of how unbelievable it is. of course the front selene projects is one of inscrutability, she is calm, collected and totally focused. with that there is a certain amount of restrained chemistry from the looks the pair give each other, which could, if you were willing to give the benefit of the doubt, be allowance for the relationship.
of course this leads to examination of selene, who is, essentially the main character. which is kind of impressive in its own right, in an industry where the female lead is a token and trivial gesture, only included to avoid accusations of sexism. instead in this case beckinsale is undoubtedly the lead role, and sure there is an aspect of playing with her sexuality from the way she is dressed, but that isn't the whole picture. regardless, selene is a contradictory character, solid in many ways - defiant of kraven who is supposed to be the current head vampire - but also filled with doubt - desperate for the approval of the elder vampire who turned her. this leads to some bemusement with her character, is she more real because of the contradictions, or is this a flaw of the film? either way the appeal for approval from her creator seems simpering compared to the hard determination, a curious weakness in this character.
regardless of any negative reviews underworld is a certain amount of fun, the ending definitely sets us up for a sequel, one which i'll be surprised if it doesn't happen.
-controversy surrounds the opening of the latest film by spanish director julio medem, the director behind films like red squirrel, cows, lovers of the arctic circle and sex and lucia.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
of course i have plenty of other options that i could switch to, but i was in a certain mood when i went round the shops on thursday night. so i decided to buy a couple of books i actually wanted, rather than continually scouring special offers and bargain bins for things that might appear. with that i followed up my recent interest in the work of russell hoban, going through the books on offer i decided to go with Kleinzeit, partly because of the description, and partly because i happened to have enough cash on me to cover that and my other choice. my other choice being a surrender to my ongoing a.l. kennedy habit, one which i am doing my best to resist. teasing myself book by book, rather than splurging on her entire catalogue in an unpleasant exhibition of excess. following on from everything you need, so i am glad and indelible acts, i decided to go for original bliss (read an extract).
saturday, at the end of a long day, not really doing much at all, i decided to chill out some. so rather than going for look to windward i decided hoban was more suitable, so i made a start to Kleinzeit. originally written in 1974, this is a somewhat older book than Amaryliss which i read the other week. it seems strange and off kilter, even more reminiscent of Brautigan than before. especially with the sheet of paper that starts to ponder what is going on. but anyway, i've only made a start, but an enjoyable one.
Concrete Migration is a repetitive piece, starting with the initial wood block beats. The beats become more detailed with the addition of strumming guitar work and a chiming/sheer level – hi hat splashes against a bass line. Vocal element comes in as a repeated dun-dun sound, patterned to give a kind of melody, a deliberate structure. The feel is down beat, quite understated so that it just kind of happens –with that pleasant enough, though tending towards unremarkable.
Middle Passage feels like a conjuring, the words of the start sounding like a spell. With the piece evolving into some kind of primal ritual. “Breathe” is intoned into this more atmospheric buzz – “breathe your wisdom into me”. Bass notes build in a rhythmic, clunking stroke, deeply reverberant. The voice goes into a groaning territory, suiting the building strum of layered strings. Percussion adds as blocks, and shimmering waves. Quite different from the rest of the release, and for me a lot more appealing.
Bird/Flight appropriately has some electric bird noises chirping away. Funny little sounds flittering through the thick bass and solid kick drum. Cymbals patter while the bas becomes strumming and the bird noises become a flute, or similar, a chirpy little feel, quite mellow. The sound of this piece is more in keeping with the first piece, laid back with a certain lounge jazz influence suggested, I guess.
Bridges starts with hesitance, conscious of it’s spatial impact. Slowly filling silence with thrumming bass, little note flickers and flute breaths. Guitars warble, while percussion plays on the tinkle and clunk detail. Even when the spaces are filled and the silence is sound there is a sense of a sparser approach. Even though that provides a certain structure, a deliberation, there is an under current of abstraction to the piece and the way it wanders within the scope of it’s sound pallet.
This release captures something of a certain scene in Chicago, recorded in Chicago with Doug Scharin (Him, Mice Parade, Rex, June of 44), with the various tracks featuring input from guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217), vocalist Glenda Baker (presumably so prominent on Middle Passage), celloist Fred Lonberg-Holm and upright bassist Josh Abrams (Town & Country; being particularly evident on the track Bridges). As a sound scene it isn’t one that I particularly played a lot of attention to, it was never entirely thing, in the same way that this release is not entirely my thing – though I can appreciate it to some extent, even so I know others who may appreciate this release more. Personally the track Middle Passage was a lot more appealing to me than any of the other pieces on the release, but it stands as being from a different mind set than the rest of the material. Of the those other 3 tracks it is most likely Bridges which I would select as being a stand out, admiring the use of space within the piece.
Saturday, September 20, 2003
23rd September Birmingham
Capsule Presents at Custard Factory
24th September Sheffield
Lovebytes Presents at Showroom Cinema
Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX
Tickets available through Box Office: 0114 2757727
25th September Nottingham
Deselect presents At MOOG
Newdigate Street Radford
27th September Glasgow
Transmission presents at Stereo
Kelvinhaugh Street start 9pm
28th September London
Lumin presents at ICA
The Mall London SW1Y 5AH
Tickets: £8/£7concessions/£6 members
Friday, September 19, 2003
- matthew branton's books have caught my eye a few times in the past, the UK covers are consistent and stand out, the subject matter of several makes him sound like someone that could be doing interesting stuff. past attempts to find extracts haven't thrown up much, but i just stumbled across the first chapter of The Hired Gun, which seems to be about an aging hitman.
Title: Whatever [Extension du domaine de la lutte]
Cast: Philippe Harel, José Garcia, Catherine Mouchet, Cécile Reigher, Marie-Charlotte Leclaire, Philippe Agael
Director: Philippe Harel
the film "whatever" is based on the first novel by French writer Michel Houellebecq, a novelist who seems to create a stir with each new book. one would hope that given the controversy surrounding his work that his books are better than this film. the film whatever is a wrist slasher, the kind of film where you feel yourself giving up the will to live as it goes. the only reason I kept watching was the desperate assumption that something had to happen. it didn't.
the main character is a gray man, a man with no life outside his dull little job. even the travelling about as a consultant, installing and updating software doesn't provide him any excitement. the travel becomes the gray grind of living out of suitcases in places with nothing going on. while we watch this gray man going about his gray business he narrates the film, with his gray dialogue. as the film goes on he tries to play games with the head of his colleague, deciding to talk him into murdering someone. for a while it looks like this might actually provide some interest to the film, actually make the pain of watching it worthwhile. it doesn't. he doesn't kill anyone, and nothing else happens. the end.
whatever is one of most startlingly dull films I have ever seen in my life. there is a complete lack of humour. there is nothing that redeems this film and makes it worth watching. I have to wonder what the controversy was about the book, or was that something that only came with the follow ups? Michel Houellebecq and his reputation bemuses me, I've read a variety of pieces and opinions on him, as well as a couple of extracts from his work. after which what the fuss is about remains no clearer. I suspect his work will hold a fascination until I actually give in and read something by him so I can see whether there is anything to him.
-shamanspace -steve aylett -was looking up details of the aylett CD (staring is it's own reward), which led me to the extract from shamanspace. it remains one of my favourite aylett books, a short book, described as a novella, the sort of thing that you can read in one sitting dead easy.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
-wakefield 7E is a short story by Gabriel Brownstein, one of a number collected in the curious case of benjamin button. a man decides to see what his family would be like if he wasn't part of their lives. so he moves into a flat across the street and watches every move of his wife and daughter. always promising that its only for a short time, but years later he is still watching.
re:mote induction updated - 17 Sept 2003
Tim Koch Interview
Sweetmeat : Luke Sutherland
Sombrero Fallout : Richard Brautigan
The Earthquake Bird : Susanna Jones
So I Am Glad : A.L. Kennedy
Nymphomation : Jeff Noon
Slaughterhouse 5 : Kurt Vonnegut
The Man Who Walks : Alan Warner
Felaheen : Jon Courtenay Grimwood
After The Quake : Huraki Murakami
Isabel and Rocco : Anna Stothard
Going Out : Scarlett Thomas
Lili : Annie Wang
The Cutting Room : Louise Welsh
8 1/2 Women
All The Real Girls
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress
Good bye, Lenin!
La Reine Margot
A Snake of June
Sympathy For Mr Vengeance
Water Drops On Burning Rocks
Blue Gate Crossing [Lanse da men]
-tomorrow is international talk like a pirate day. yarr! so you've been warned, dig out those thigh high leather boots, or boot, if you are going for the peg leg look this year. yarr! be training your parrot to be shouting out "pieces o'eight", while polishing your hook and adjusting that nice little eye patch number. yarr!
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Cast: Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu, Nigel Bennett, Timothy Webber, David Hewlett, Kari Matchett, Kristina Nicoll
Director: Vincenzo Natali
the second film by director vincenzo natali, who was responsible for the film cube. this time around he has more of a budget and some stars, so is likely to attract more attention. like the cube there is a certain sci-fi undertone to the plot, though the over riding genre is likely to be considered espionage. cypher plays mind games with the viewer, having a certain philip k. dick feel - think certain similarities to blade runner, total recall and minority report. which is to say the subtleties revolve around personality, identity, the mind and how these relate to the individual and the corporate.
jeremy northam plays morgan sullivan, a man who applies for the job of industrial espionage with one of the big corporations. each assignment sees him sat in a conference room recording key note speeches. sullivan is quickly bored, this is not the thrilling life of a spy that he expected. however he starts to notice an attractive woman called rita (lucy liu) at each of the hotels he stays in. mixed with crippling headaches, jump cut and buzzing flashbacks sullivan is informed by rita that he is being brainwashed to infiltrate another corporation, but with her help he will become a double agent.
sullivan's role is curious. he is seeking excitement, and manages to almost get there by being an agent, then a double agent. but each level brings a routine that isn't as exciting as he expected. though as the film goes on, it becomes clear that once he has fulfilled his role he will be killed. both companies suddenly look like a threat and sullivan has to find some way of staying alive. with the continually mysterious rita looking like his best hope.
cypher at times feels like it could take itself too seriously, to the point where it would become silly. but it is a film that acknowledges the silliness and plays to it, so that overall cypher is a fun film. from the start it is a highly stylized film, relying on the look and atmosphere of each scene. there is something retro about sullivan, and about the feel of the conferences that he finds himself. this is contrasted by the personality scanners and general level of tech that is included. there is perhaps a similarity to gattaca in the textural impressions of the film - colours, clothes - a general undertone. with that there is perhaps also a touch of brazil, the subversion and slightly off-kilter nature.
Title: Spirited Away [Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi]
Cast: Rumi Hîragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
after the success of princess mononoke for disney, they have decided to license another studio ghibli film. spirited away is more in the style of some of his earlier films, films like my neighbor totoro or kiki's delivery service rather than the mononoke or nausicaa style.
chihiro and her family are moving house, when they take a wrong turn. this leads them to a number of abandoned buildings, which chihiro's father decides to explore - insisting that it must be an abandoned theme park. however when they find a feast in one of the buildings they start to eat, despite chihiro urging them not to. chihiro refusing to touch the food explores enough to discover that this is actually a place of the spirits. caught here after dark she can not leave, and her parents are transformed into pigs. with the choice of becoming a pig herself or working for the witch in charge of the bathhouse she ends up working for the witch.
from there the film is about the struggle for chihiro not to slip up and become a servant to the witch forever, and also to watch for a chance to save herself and her parents. along the way she befriends some of the workers, and makes an alliance with haku, the witches apprentice. there is barely time to rest in spirited away, chihiro going from one chore to another - each escalating with the involvement of spirits, monsters and demons.
spirited away is alive with detail and character, hayao miyazaki offering us a wealth of customers at the bath house - sludge monsters, frog men, river deities, radish spirits, and no-faced demons. the colours are entirely lucid, so that the film dazzles and enlivens. with that chihiro is central, the behavior and reaction of the young girl are crucial - as well as being where much of the humour stems from, the manic energy and the utter confusion that she exudes.
i'm just noting that the voice in the english language version is supplied by daveigh chase. who seems to be building a curious career for someone that is only 13 years old. other film credits include the american remake of the ring, donnie darko, AI, and the voice of lilo in disney's lilo and stitch. actually, in reference to the discussion yesterday about brother bear, and the regular problems i have with disney films, i should note that lilo and stitch was actually not bad - one of their best in sometime, though obviously still filled with songs and an excess of sentimentality. issues which it can be said do not apply to spirited away.
spirited away is a joy, perhaps the best film yet to come from studio ghibli. a definite must see!
Sixty-eight percent of Americans do not know that both bears and sharks are on the Endangered Species list.
Chris Bachelder's bear vs shark is one of those books that keeps catching my eye in book shops. from the cover it isn't very clear what it is about. from the extract above it isn't entirely clear what it is about either. but i get the impression it takes a somewhat experimental approach, from the way it jumps about. seems to be curious enough anyway, especially given that i've just spotted a review that declares it as being "no logo meets fight club" - which makes it either complete wank or genius! the synopsis of the book describes it as being about a spectacle of a beat being put up against a shark in las vegas, and the media ho-ha that follows the announcement, and the rush as everyone tries to get tickets. in particular the book follows curtis norman, who wins tickets after entering an essay writing contest. something about the tone of the extract and the feel it creates reminds me of nick walkers black box, which i really enjoyed.
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN VOL. 2 #6 - concluding the second series of this collaboration between alan moore and kev o'neill - both parties delivering some of their best work in years. the first series saw the formation of a group of extraordinary individuals, to become special agents for her majesties empire. this brought together mina murray, alan quartermain, captain nemo, dr. henry jekyl and mr. edward hyde, and hawley griffin (the invisible man) and saw them fight against a chinese gangster. from the looks of the trailers for the film based on the comic, the story is based loosely on the first book. the second book started on mars, allowing moore to play around with some of the martian legends of edgar rice burroughs and the like. this led to the set up of h.g. well's war of the worlds - the martian tripod attack ships have invaded britain and are causing wide spread destruction with league attempting to stop them from spreading. over the course of the series we have seen griffin betray the league, throwing in his lot with the enemy. from that nemo and hyde are in london on the front line, while murray and quartermain have gone off in search of a doctor moreau, who has been developing a super weapon for the government. with the conclusion it looks like moore has managed to take the league apart as easily as he built them up in the previous series, will there be another series? how can there be?! highlights of this second series have been the first issue on mars itself, light on english dialogue, but a striking vision and a chance for o'neill to shine! then there was the memorable revenge of hyde when he gets his hands on griffin. and of course for a lighter relief there was moreau's version of rupert the bear - classicaly wicked moore!
Live performances: Terre Thaemlitz (USA) - Ultra-red (USA) - KK. Null (Japan) - Leif Elggren (Sweden) - Radian (Austria) - Mira Calix (UK) - Pekka Airaksinen (Finland) - Kari Peitsamo (Finland) - Emi Maeda (Japan/Finland) - Ibrahim Terzic (Croatia/Finland) - Shinji Kanki (Japan/Finland) - Helsinki Computer Orchestra (Finland) - Dubbing Mixers (Finland) + more
Moving image: Gunvor Nelson (USA/Sweden) - Mark Boswell (USA) - M.M. Serra (USA) - Lillian Schwartz (USA) - Tina Frank (Austria) - Klaus Maeck (Germany) - Chris Petit (UK) - Abigail Child (USA) - Jennifer Reeves (USA) - Carol Schneemann (USA) - Martha Colburn (USA) - Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay (Canada) - Seppo Renvall (Finland) - Minna Långström (Finland) + more
Avanto is Helsinki’s annual event of non-conformist music and moving image. The fourth Avanto Festival presents a wide spectrum of avant-garde and underground artists from different generations, whose work varies from formal explorations to political activism and beyond. The festival venues are Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, The Finnish Film Archive's cinema theatre Orion, Gloria Club, MUU Gallery and Huuto Gallery.
The headliners of Avanto's live programme are Terre Thaemlitz and Ultra-red from the USA. Thaemlitz' performance Lovebomb juxtaposes violence and love: terrorism as an extreme manifestation of love, state terrorism as the obverse of patriotic love. Technologically sophisticated, the performance is based on a broad selection of historical sound recordings, featuring Italian pre-Fascist futurists from the early 1900s, the lynching of black people in Missouri in 1906, the discrimination of Japanese victims of the 1945 atom bombs, an underground radio station in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the declaration of war against apartheid by the African National Congress, harassment of sexual minorities and much, much more, all digitally manipulated in amazing ways.
Ultra-red's audiovisual performance Transistors (transfer / resistance) is set up like the press conference of a fictitious revolutionary committee of Latin California. "Since the advent of portable computer-based media production, the live presentation of electronic music has settled into its own set of conventions. Lap-top jockeys sit mute behind their power books, couched in technological neutrality. Rejecting artistic neutrality, Ultra-red disrupts the boundaries of art and organizing by assuming a variety of subject positions: community organizer, computer musician, sound engineer and immigrant." Ultra-red's gang of four combine glitch electronica, slogans, videos documenting Californian activists, and questions like "Are immigrants mere victims of war and globalization? Or are they empire’s resisting subjects?"
The Finnish scene is spearheaded at Avanto by Pekka Airaksinen, one of the unsung legends of Finnish electronic music. His first well-known project was the scandalous 1960's noise/performance art group The Sperm, who were equally inspired by the sound of modern electronic music of Stockhausen, Cage et al, free jazz, and The Mothers of Invention. In the 70's Airaksinen developed his own compositional method based on numerologies and aesthetic systematizations found in various ancient cultures. This turned out to be a powerful extra twist in his concoction of influences, and so did the addition of the pre-techno sound of drum machines in the 80's and the strangely skewed echoes of turn-of-the-century electronica. His concert coincides with the release of a compilation CD spanning 35 years of his career as a recording artist complete with a bonus cd of remixes by an international line-up of artists.
Leif Elggren from Sweden is another central figure in the festival programme this year. He's an internationally acclaimed visual and sound/noise artist, whose resumé includes among other things participating in the Venice Biennale this year. His work is often both political, dealing with questions of power and religion, and extremely personal, drawing from personal history and surrealistic fantasies. His possibly best-known project are the virtual Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, which he established together with Carl-Michael von Hausswolff (one of the artists in Avanto 2002), and whose throne they share as self-proclaimed kings. At Avanto Elggren will present his installation "As If I was My Father", as well as an audiovisual performance based on his dream diary and tape-recorded sleep talk.
KK.Null is one of the top names of the Japanese noise scene and beyond that, a true cult artist among the followers of leftfield rock worldwide. His list of collaborations is impressive - Steve Albini, Jim O'Rourke, Merzbow, and many others - but he is best known for the furious noise rock of his band Zeni Geva. In recent years his output has concentrated on solo material, which could be called "cosmic noise minimalism".
In contrast, Mira Calix's soundworld is deeply earth-bound. Calix aka Chantal Passamonte constructs her compositions around sounds found in the UK countryside where she lives - sampled rubbing of wood and stones, sounds of water and more. Her latest album on the revered Warp label has been decribed thus: "neolithic Industrial music though Passamonte also has a taste for Erik Satie-like piano pieces" (The Wire, UK) and "a spacious and emotional female antidote to that phallic trend of increasingly bizarre beats -- the hair-metal guitar solos of the IDM genre" (Imaginary Albums website, Canada).
This year's Avanto guest from Austria is Radian, another proof that Vienna is firmly one of the foremost centres in experimental music. A trio comprised of a drummer/laptop player, synth player/laptop player and a bassist, they have been praised both as a live outfit and for their two beautiful cd's. It's fortunately not easy to categorize their style; it's "a stacking of various rough edges" as they say themselves. Stacked you'll find industrial found-sound samples, jazz rock rhytms, minimal funk, glitch, noise and distortion, free improvisation dynamics, and more.
Kari Peitsamo is probably the most prolific Finnish recording artist with 43 albums released between 1977 and 2003. His music has ranged from Dadaistic singer-songerwriter minimalism to absurdly photo-realistic pastiches of Southern Rock (cf. the cd "Brono Starr's Rock'n'Roll Roadside Attraction). In 1978 he recorded an EP inspired by free jazz, but it sounded more like the anti-music of the Fluxus movement. In Avanto he will perform an updated version of this project.
Helsinki Computer Orchestra, founded in 2003 and comprised of 20 Finnish musicians working in the fields of experimental electronics, free improvisation and noise, will premiere a new composition by the Japanese electro-acoustic composer Shinji Kanki, who lives in Helsinki. In addition to Helsinki Computer Orchestra, Avanto presents several upcoming acts from Helsinki's vivid experimental music scene, such as Emi Maeda (also from Japan and based in Helsinki), Ibrahim Terzic (a Croatian living in Helsinki) and Dubbing Mixers (two Finns and a Frenchman living in Helsinki).
The main guests of the film programme are the Swedish-born Gunvor Nelson who made her career in the USA, and the Americans Mark Boswell and M.M. Serra.
Debuting in 1963, Gunvor Nelson (b. 1931) has directed a wonderful series of short "personal films". Through her visually distinctive work Nelson studies her life, her dreams, her memories of motherhood and childhood, and the communication gap between generations. The three Avanto screenings are a representative cross-section of the avant garde cinema according to Gunvor Nelson. Her latest film Trace Elements will have its European premiere at Avanto.
Avanto will also offer the European premiere of Mark Boswell’s brand new feature debut The Subversion Agency, a paranoia movie combining archival material, fiction, and situationist political satire. The scene is set in quasi-historical 1960’s Cuba and Florida, complete with Black Panthers, anarcho-hippies and feminists. Boswell cites Dziga Vertov, Jean-Luc Godard and Bruce Conner as his influences; Craig Baldwin is another good reference point.
An earlier representative of the same tradition, Muscha’s Decoder (West Germany, 1984) is a cult underground film about audio terrorism, muzak, and citizens under computers’ control, starring FM Einheit (Einstürzende Neubauten) as well as William Burroughs and Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle / Psychic TV) in bizarre cameo roles.
One of the most prominent pioneers of new experimental video in Europe, Tina Frank is also the artist responsible for the distinctive graphic image of the renowned Austrian Mego label. Both her cover designs and many of her music videos are glitch-based, and screening in Kiasma is comprised of various collaborations she has made with artists like Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke, Ilpo Väisänen, Pita and General Magic.
Kiasma will also host some rarely seen 1970’s animations by the virtuoso computer artist Lillian Schwarz from New York. One of the true pioneers of media art, Schwartz has been featured in just about every notable art museum in the world. A collection of restored rarities, A Beautiful Virus In The Machine will start its world tour at Avanto. The programme is curated by Greg Kurcewicz and Will Rose, who will be present to introduce the show.
Avantocore explores the intricacies of sexuality and the history of its representation in avant-garde films as represented in New York City. The film selected into the programme deal with a variety of sexual tendencies, experiences, fantasies, and reflections. The program is compiled by director Ilppo Pohjola in cooperation with the director and curator M.M.Serra from New York's Film-makers Cooperative. The list of directors includes Jennifer Reeves, Abigail Child, Carol Schneemann and Martha Colburn.
Chris Petit's road movie Radio On (UK, 1979) is a truly memorable black-and-white and grey document of the mindscape and the time of its making, complete with a soundtrack featuring Kraftwerk and Low-era David Bowie.
The Avantoscope programme has already become a tradition with its international selection of the latest avant-garde cinema and digital video.
The festival programme will be finalized during September and October. The annual Avanto compilation CD featuring all of the festival's live artists as well as some film soundtracks will be released on the eve of the festival.
Avanto 2003 is organized by the non-profit association Avanto in co-operation with the Kiasma Theatre and The Finnish Film Archive.
For three days, we present a unique installation, a programme of
incredible films, and a series of performances from internationally
acclaimed artists and musicians using specially devised, curated or
commissioned visuals and specially created films projected onto huge
screens on all four sides of the audience as part of their live
experience. It will be an overwhelming, immersive and yet relaxed and
accessible experience, and like nothing else you've seen or heard
before. So forget where it's at, Kill Your Timid Notion is where it
7.15pm Cyclo [Carsten Nicolai | Ryoji Ikeda]
8.25pm Steve Roden
9.35pm Alva Noto
12.45pm Short film programme 01
4.00pm Corpus Collosum: Michael Snow
7.00pm Philip Jeck
8.10pm [the user]
9.20pm Mirror with Phantom Engineer: Haxan
11.00pm Sunburned Hand Of The Man
12.45pm Short fi lm programme 02
4.00pm Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda: Ira Cohen
6:30pm Akaten | Zoffy | Zubi Zuva X
8.10pm Acid Mothers Temple
9.10pm Phonographics. Live [Deutsch | Siewert | Fennesz | Dafeldecker |
[-this follows up the news that cyclo were playing dundee that i posted previously, turns out to be part of this three day festival. cyclo, alva noto, philip jeck, the user, and fennesz are all worth seeing as far as i am concerned. of the rest there are probably a few others, but none that i know well enough to say]
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
on this topic. i have to say that my feelings on confeld are that it is not impenetrable or densely complex, like some might suggest. personally i find it not very dense at all, and overall particularly turgid. confeld as an album is the only thing autechre have ever released which has disappointed me, i just don't find anything on it that is interesting. draft 7.30 on the other hand goes some way to redeeming autechre. in fact listening to LP5 again i got a sense of there being a strong relation to the sound between LP5 and 7.30, which would make sense if there hadn't been another album between the two.
- there is some amusing commentary in this extract from the start of How Soon Is Never? by Marc Spitz. the main character is a 30 year old music writer, trying to keep up with kids today.
there was a recent film where there was an emperor transformed into a lama, i'd make an obvious comparison to that. then of course there is the fact the character meets a bear cub and has to guide him back to his family - did anyone see ice age? it was moralistic shit as well. of course the disney formula includes all the feel good/important moral stuff, but wouldn't be complete without the songs. so everyone will be glad to know that brother bear has 5 tracks by phil collins - because that is how to sell a film! of course there is also an opening for a couple of really funny characters that will keep the audience in stitches, and that role is filled by a couple of moose/deer, who appear to be like every other disney funny character for the last 20 years. from the trailer it is also clear that they have managed to work in one of those stampede shots that they made such a big deal about with the lion king, and have managed to work into every film since.
oh sure, disney is for kids. but surely we can demand something more? especially when disney are supposed to be the best animation company in the world? well obviously the fact that i saw this trailer in front of a studio ghibli film, we can dismiss that theory straight off. personally i would like to see disney move on, get out of its rut, innovate a little! but hey, don't get me started on freaky friday!
Monday, September 15, 2003
Title: Igby Goes Down
Cast: Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Jared Harris, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, Rory Culkin
Director: Burr Steers
igby is a troubled teen, aren't they all? watching his dad's breakdown, and subsequent entry to a mental hospital has left him unhappy with life. he goes from school to school, managing to get expelled in record time. even his time in military school doesn't sort him out. in the context of the film igby has become tired of this broken record routine and run away to new york. there he manages to crash at the studio of his godfather's mistress. between her and a student he meets at one of his godfather's parties he manages to keep himself entertained. but it is something of a down ward spiral from there as he tries to avoid going back to school. igby keeps up an acerbic commentary in his best catcher in the rye style, which most will recognise as being an influence on this piece. there is a definite black humour that comes through in this film which, from the film quality is a low budget outing. though the cast would certainly suggest otherwise - lead roles are taken by kieran caulkin as igby, amanda peet as the godgather's mistress, and claire daines as the student. danes and peet look particularly bad for this piece, both painfully thin, both drug abusers. in terms of the "heavy hitters" we have susan sarandon as igby's mother, jeff goldblum as igby's godfather, ryan phillippe as igby's brother and bill pullman as his father all rounding out the cast. overall igby goes down is a well done piece, humourous and well paced, with caulkin's performance earning him deserved credit.
Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren, Stephen McHattie, Patrick Bauchau
Director: Steven Shainber
secretary is a chance for maggie gyllenhaal to give her first staring role. gyllenhaal has appeared in a number of minor roles, raising her profile over the last few years, with the likes of cecil b. demented, 40 days and 40 nights, adaptation and confessions of a dangerous mind. curiously secretary was actually filmed before several of those films, though it never made it to the cinema, at least in the UK, until those films had been out. secretary will be described by many as a dark comedy, to some it might even be considered a bit weird. but at its core, and despite the undeniable dark leanings, secretary is essentially and undeniably a rom.com - a romantic comedy. which is the biggest weakness, because that is what informs the end, and to some degree the development of the film. quite where it could have gone i can't entirely say, but there is something about the end of the film, or at least the "epilogue" type scene, which doesn't entirely sit comfortably.
gyllenhaal plays lee holloway, a woman who has been in hospital because she is a self-harmer. any problems that she has faced over the years have resulted in her hurting herself, so that she is covered in scars and psychiatric help was deemed as the only way to stop her going too far. however she gets out of hospital for her sister's wedding and has managed to convince those concerned that she is no longer in danger. however it is quickly clear to the viewer that she still has problems. when she finds herself a job as a secretary for a sadistic employer though her life is turned about. the two quickly get a measure of each other, and an incredibly abusive relationship ensues - one which is perfect for both of them it seems.
secretary has a definite dark humour to it, playing with the absurdity of some of the office scenes - the secretary delivering paper work and coffee while in restraints, or up on the desk with a saddle on and carrot in her mouth. while the performances of gyllenhaal and spader are striking and memorable within the context, there is something a little disappointing about secretary, perhaps it is the direction/pacing of the film? or perhaps the film just isn't fleshed out enough passed the basic concept? that said secretary is still worth seeing, but be aware of some of the hype and of some of the flaws.
Title: The Rules of Attraction
Cast: James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Kip Pardue, Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth
Director: Roger Avary
the rules of attraction is the third book by brett easton ellis to be adapted to film. following on from less than zero and american psycho. funnily, the rules of attraction is the only book by ellis, though long enough ago that any recollection of what happened was faded by the time we saw the film. the story follows three teens at a well off community college, one of the three being related to some degree (though not really significantly in this context) to the lead in american psycho. the story revolves around the peaks in the school year - key parties and how each character fits into those. switching back and forth between the perspectives of each of the characters, so that we see scenes from different view points. the director plays around with this aspect, at times offering split screen views, rewinding film back to a pass off point, then following the other character through the scene. this has a certain cleverness to it, and of course a visual impact, though it does have a tendency towards becoming a gimmik. through the course of the film we cover a variety of topics that relate to student life and life in general - drug use, the various attractions between the characters, the attitudes of students to non-students and vice-versa. the results have that sort of clever, knowing attitude that one gets from ellis, at least from the films of his work. even the casting of james van der beek comes with a certain success, as he throws himself into this darker - drunk and bitter - role than he has become known for. in many ways the rules of attraction can be considered superior to a lot of the teen/college films that will make their way onto the market, which is most amusing when you consider how long ago the story was written - though in some ways i think the times it was written in are reflected in the product.
Cast: Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Morris Chestnut, Leland Orser, Louis Lombardi, Paul Giamatti, Brian Van Holt, Dustin Hoffman
Director: James Foley
as the main character in the film confidence says you have to have confidence, and it is safe to say that this is a film with confidence. a slick heist/scam film, where a group of grifters rip of a guy known as the kind, a guy who is the big deal in town. with one of the group murdered by the king's enforcers it is clear that they have to make an effort to redeem themselves or all end up that way. with this in mind they come to an arrangement whereby they will perform a con for the king, against his greatest rival - wherein they will both make a pile of money and they will be even.
of course being a film of this nature things can't entirely go to plan. cue twists, betrayals and general scheming on all sides. as the lead character is keen to point out, there will always come a point where someone asks "what is in it for me?". and this is the point where either they are in, and are ready to be taken for a ride, or the point where they are looking to turn things to their own advantage. this is the angle that is being played from the start and this is the angle where the narrative tries to keep you on your toes, tries to keep you guessing.
on the whole the film does a well enough job. the look and feel of the film work well enough, as does the cast of edward burns, rachel weisz, andy garcia and dustin hoffman. with that if you buy into the swagger and confidence of the film then it is shiny and outstanding. if you don't, you will be more aware of the flaws. regardless confidence is an enjoyable enough film.
Title: The Hard Word
Cast: Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Taylor, Joel Edgerton
the hard word is an australian crime drama, with two of the countries biggest exports in lead roles - guy pierce (memento, la confidential) and rachel griffith (six feet under, muriel's wedding). the story follows the release of the three twentyman brothers from prison. the three are responsible for a number of robberies over the years, and no sooner are they out than they are robbing an armoured car. they seem to have an arrangement with their lawyer and a couple of local policemen which should mean they get away with it. but before they know it they are behind bars again, and dale, the brains of the brothers, is convinced there is something going on - something which includes their lawyer sleeping with his wife. with a series of promises and excuses the brothers are kept in prison for weeks more than they were expecting - finding themselves set up so that they have to do a big job to get out. but things have changed since the various parties started working together, and this job will be the end of it all as each side schemes to betray/revenge/kill the other.
the hard word is kind of curious, it could have been quite a good film, instead is about manages a not bad. the pacing seems a little off, so that there is a lot of down time, a lot of waiting to see if anything is going to happen time. which can work, but here seemed to drag some. from the start there is a definite, deliberate nastiness to the film. an attempt to give it grit. the title sequence is a basket ball game in the prison yard, and it has an undercurrent of violence, which extends through the film - erupting at various moments. with that guy pierce looks dreadful, he looks gaunt, his beard is scraggly, overall looking incredibly rough and filthy. this is a look to some degree that the other two brothers have as well. rachel griffith's smiley face is likely to be one that is memorable in terms of being "wonderfully" tacky.
as the titles go up at the start of the film i notice that the soundtrack is provided by australian electronic musician david thrussel (black lung, snog, soma, etc.). with that his influence on the accompanying music was obvious, some snogisms coming through clearly. at times he is playing up to the whole cliche of espionage/heist film soundtracks, but ramping it up in a self-knowing fashion. there are other times where he plays to a more atmospheric/free-reign approach that is interesting to hear at work.
particularly with the big job that the film is working towards there is an energy to the film. the job going off in a manic fashion, which is enhanced and exaggerated by that gritty/dirty sense and the feel of the sound track. so that this film could work, and to some degree i admit that i did enjoy it. though in the end there is just something, that doesn't entirely click - most likely the pacing.
Tibor Fischer's latest book Journey To The End Of The Room caught my attention recently. i have been trying to find an extract from it, but the only extract i have managed to find at all is the one above which is from Fischer's Collector Collector. reviews for Journey To The End Of The Room seem to be somewhat mixed, but the idea sounds curious. a girl has hit on a good project, which has given her enough money to buy a flat in london. where she spends all her time, refusing to go outside, working as a graphic designer. in someway i'm not clear on, from the little i've read, she manages to meet folk from all over the world - partly over the internet, and partly from folk visiting her. somewhere along the line there is an excuse to cover her past as a dancer in a club in barcelona, she recieves letters from an ex-boyfriend who is apparently dead, and hires a private detective to find out what is going on. of course the fact that i spotted it on special the same day i spotted it on the publisher's website adds to the temptation to follow it up. the idea, as badly as i've described it, appeals to my quirky side.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Friday, September 12, 2003
Title: Fulltime Killer [Chuen jik sat sau]
Cast: Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimachi, Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Cherrie Ying, Suet Lam, Teddy Lin
Director: Johnny To, Ka-Fai Wai
fulltime killer is an entirely average hitman film from korea. it follows the story of two hitmen, one at the top of the game, the other a young pretender. the top reckons he has had about enough, while the bottom reckons if he can prove himself better than the top then he can make a name for himself. through the struggle that is set up between the two as they compete for the kill in a variety of jobs across south east asia, the young gun makes references to other films with hitmen. so that at least to some degree full time killer acknowledges those that have gone before. the most curious and interesting part for me was the english accent of the female police officer from the hong kong police department - it sounded so curious and precise and surprising - shame she didn't have a bigger part as the police struggled to catch the two killers. on the whole it is kind of disappointing, though not quite as bad as shiri, which showed in the same season.
Title: Fausto 5.0
Cast: Eduard Fernández, Miguel Ángel Solá, Najwa Nimri, Raquel González, Juan Fernández, Irene Montalà, Carmen Contreras, Cristina Piaget, Pep Molina
Director: Álex Ollé, Isidro Ortiz
fausto 5.0 was made by art troupe obssessed with the faust legend. from the legend they have made several theatre based productions, and with obviously good backing they took that to the big screen. as a film there is certainly an eye for detail, for mood, for effect. the central hotel draped in a big sheet is striking, there is a near-future grimness suggested by some of the run down streets, old warehouses are used for parties.
dr. faust is dedicating himself to the cure of some plague sweeping the country. his search is tireless, regardless of the fact that it looks like a hopeless cause. on a trip to a medical conference he is met by an old patient, one who should be dead. he can't get rid of the man, who is plying him with temptation, while playing mind games. this sets us up for the seduction of faust and the trap that lies within.
in real terms the film is weak. the plot, dialogue and general development of the film really do let it down. so that the visuals, while they are striking and do work, can not make this much more than an ambitious art project.
the book is set at a time where the black plague was sweeping across europe. robinson extends this with the idea that it was worse than it had been, and europe was wiped out. leaving asia to take history. each section takes us through levels of history, stepping us forward through mongolia and china, with each reincarnation of the characters of an interconnected karmic group.
as i mentioned yesterday, i am currently reading Bangkok 8. the main character in that is a buddhist cop, and when he looks at people he will quite often get impressions of their past lives. this is what reminded me of robinson's book. it is funny how burdett manages to integrate this into a contemporary setting - using it even where two lovers from a past life meet and instantly click. while robinson has his characters barely aware of the fact they keep meeting each other, except when they die and find themselves at the point of judgement where there next lives are decided. i suspect if robinson had managed to be more contemporary with his book it would have been more interesting. instead he has written a series of historical short stories.
the fact that he has this open europe for asia to spill into hasn't made a lot of difference. even when a mongol warrior wanders the land there is little for him to experience. even when a monk goes that way as well it is just a new asian community. these things don't make a difference, it is just explorations of the same culture, which could just as easily have taken place in parts of asia. which is still where much of the narrative takes place. so what difference does the idea make?
as i say i haven't finished it. i do intend to come back to it at some point, hopefully it will all come together and in the end it will all make sense. but for the moment it is on hold, and i am reminded of it by thoughts of buddhism.