Sunday, 29 December 2019

BEST OF 2019

Everywhere At The Edge of Time: Stage 6

2019 LPs/EPs
Mark Of The Mould -Baron Mordant
Cavity Slabs - Moon Wiring Club
Ghosteen - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Everywhere At The End Of Time: Stage 6 - The Caretaker
Facets/Air Example - N Chambers
Giant Swan - Giant Swan
Chernobyl OST - Hildur Guðnadóttir
Melts Into Love - xin
Metabolizm/In Search Of A Third Mantra - Ekoplekz
Negative Legacy - Robedoor
Activated Clown - S. Araw Trio XIII
Tierra Del Fuego - Tayhana
Sisypheans - Xylouris White
Utility - Barker
Geography Of The Abyss - Lo Five
Acreage - Bastion Void
The Debatable Lands - Howlround
My Diary - WOOdy
Baroo - Carl Stone
Ghastly Garden Centres - Moon Wiring Club
Roll With The Punches - Yu Su
Proto - Holly Herndon

The Caretaker

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cassingle

My music listening is the lowest it's ever been since I got my first transistor radio when I was small. The Migraines and cluster-fuck headaches are making me one of those people who hates music! I don't like those people and I don't wanna join their boring humourless club. I only put the radio on a couple of times this year and that was to listen to the footy. Along with the music mentioned above and below I did hear some great tunes in Emma's car from Billie Eilish Bury A Friend and Bad Guy which are a couple of the best pop songs I've heard in years. I thought this LA musician was definitely British though with her evocations of Martine circa Tricky's Maxinquaye (1995), The Specials etc. I didn't buy her album because I wanted to keep those singles pure, was I wrong? Maybe her LP was full of classic tunes?

Facets

The above top ten here is no particular order as any one of these records could be my favourite 2019 album depending on the time and weather of any particular day. There are seven artists in the list and another three in the honourable mentions list who are new to me this year which even surprised me. Why is N Chambers formerly known as Panabrite not in all the end of year lists? He's producing the best music of his career right now including the excellent Facets and Air Example LPs this year. I'm also yet to spot Moon Wiring Club in one of these lists which is odd because Cavity Slabs is one of Ian Hodgson's finest LPs. Nobody talks about Cameron Stallones and his various incarnations of Sun Araw anymore but the S. Araw Trio XIII tape Activated Clown was a brilliant improv-psych-head-trip like no other and Yu Su's Roll With The Punches might just be the first album to be influenced by Sun Araw. Baron Mordant bows out of the music biz at the top of his game with Mark Of The Mould and nary a peep is to be heard from the music press (Simon Reynolds excepted). This just makes me concur to myself that the music press be it electronic or paper is so out of touch it is the embodiment of lame, it's dead. Also I think these are the final LPs from The Caretaker & Ekoplekz. So thanks and farewell to all you retiring legends.

Some other records I also enjoyed include Young Thug's So Much FunUlla StrausBig RoomHollow Earth by Pye Corner Audio~ ~ ~  from Ana RoxanneATØ by ZiurPink Stuff which was Royal Trux remixed by Ariel Pink, Komachi's Meitei, FRKWYS Vol.15: Serenitatem the collaboration between Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki ShibanoHimalaya from Carl Stone and Tropical Fuck Storm's second LP Braindrops. I totally missed some new records ie.  Separate Dimension the 5th LP from The HorroristSpirited Discussion by RangersAndy Stott's It Should Be Us, Kemper Norton's Brunton Calciner and Polymer from Warp legends Plaid.

??? Part 1100 Gecs. Are they pure genius or total shite. I like how they are so synthetic and that they're a big "get fucked!" to so called authentic or roots music. Are they just a slightly noisier Kesha though? Actually that sounds like a bloody good thing. I just talked myself into liking 100 Gecs or have I? Do I want to put this album on again?... dunno... time will tell, I guess.

??? Part 2: Gabber Modus Operandi. The 90s Nostalgia is irresistible but is it anything beyond that? Well the first track on HOXXXYA Genderuwo was black metal meets shoegaze meets gabba. Calon Arang and Sangkakala are pretty cool hardstyle tunes set in Indonesia, gabber exotica if you like. So that's pretty much a winner innit?

??? Part 3: Lingua Ignota. Her 2019 album Calugila is an event like a symphony, an epic pretentious art film or an OTT broadway musical. This impressive Black-Metal-Noise-Folk-Operatic-Mass is definitely worth listening to once for the experience. Going in for another serve might be a bit masochistic though.
 
My favourite score this year was from a HBO mini-series not a movie, Chernobyl by Hildur Guðnadóttir, which was sublime just like series was. She did The Joker score too which was a lot more bombastic compared to the supreme pitch black drone-ology of Chernobyl. Hildur fully grasps the tone of the images she is creating music for generating incredible synergy. As far as song-y soundtracks this year there was Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and The Irishman which were both meticulously curated for your retro listening pleasure.

Psychedelic rock keeps on keeping on and still getting critical praise. I thought after Dungen's brilliant Ta Det Lugnt (2004) LP it was done and dusted. Instead of Dungen being a full stop to the genre they hatched a bunch of acolytes. Perhaps LSD is a much cooler drug than E now which would explain Psych's persistence and dance music's slow death march. Did psych not reach its last innovative peak 20 years ago with The Boredoms astounding freak-out LP Vision Creation Newsun though?

Slowcore and Plunderphonics were the surprise genre revivals of 2019.

Post-Punk revival revival! Jesus Christ.

Dream Pop, Indie Pop, Death Metal, Gabber, Rave and Shoegaze seem to be the other new old trends. Although none of these genres ever really went away did they? Vanishing Twin's The Age Of Immunology is an impressive facsimile that's 50% Broadcast and 50% Stereolab, do I need that in my life though? Art Pop still seems to be the big thing. I've still never heard Angel Olsen. I didn't catch the new Lana Del Ray tunes in Emma's car so I dunno if it's the goods or not. I gave that Weyes Blood LP a go but...

Are there any new genres? Has there been anything new since Gqom? Let me know.


2019 REISSUES/ARCHIVAL/COMPILATIONS
Fingertracks: Volume 1 - Various
Greg Belson's Divine Disco Volume 2: Obscure Gospel Disco 1979-87 - Various
Global Sounds Vol.4: AOR Soul Disco 1977-1986 - Various
The Time For Peace Is Now: Gospel Music About Us - Various
Cumbia Beat Volume 3: 21 Peruvian Tropical Gems - Various
Sicodélicos - Los Destellos
Vanity Box: Vanity Records - Various
Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-86 - Various
Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-90 - Various
Nova + 4 - Yutaka Hirose
Still Way: Wave Notation 2 - Satoshi Ashikawa
Thousand Knives/B-2 Unit - Ryuichi Sakamoto
Al Hadaoui - Attarazat Addahabia & Faradjallah
Leite Quente Funaná De Cabo Verde - Grupo Pilon
Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal - Star Band de Dakar
Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro​-​Funk & Juju 1973​-​1987 - Various
Africa Airways Five: Brace Brace Boogie 1976-82 - Various
Mogadisco: Dancing Magadishu Somalia 1977-91 - Various
Third Noise Principle: Formative North American Electronica 1975-84 - Various
Dancing In Darkness: EBM, Black Synth & Dark Beats From The 80s - Various
Neighborhroods - Ernest Hood
Re4sults, Not Answers - Young Scientist
Next Of Kin OST - Klaus Schulze
Viral Shedding/Spiritflesh - Nocturnal Emissions
Michael O'Shea - Michael O'Shea
All The Young Droogs - Various
Slayed? - Slade
Loverboy - Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti
Kirlian Visionz (2014-17) - Ekoplekz
Water Memory/Mount Vision - Emily A Sprague


These are obviously not ranked. An outstanding year for archival gear. RPM Records, Cherry Red, Ace, Soundway, Strut, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Africa Seven, Cultures Of Soul, Mr Bongo, Dark Entries, Numero Group, Light In The Attic, Wewantsounds, Soul Jazz, Freedom To Spend, Favorite France, Finders Keepers, Mexican Summer, RVNGTIntl., Bureau B and Allchival were on a reissue roll in 2019.

Peruvian cumbia, chica and psych get the compilation (Cumbia Beat Volume 3) and reissue (Los Destellos) treatment thanks to the underrated label Vampisoul. Speaking of Vampisoul they reissued a stack of original LPs from the most prestigious ye olde Columbian record label Discos Fuentes. I bought a bunch of these by the likes of Michi Sarmiento, Fruko Y Sus Tesos, Lito Barrientos Y Su Orquesta, Los Supremos etc. but they have yet to get any air time.

The Japanese deluge continues with Vanity Box which is the entire 7" and LP catalogue from Osaka's obscure subterranean label Vanity. They released minimal, electronic, post punk and experimental music from 1978-1981. Their catalogue is so rare that original copies of Vanity records go for absurd prices. So thanks to Kyou Records & WRWTFWW we can all now experience this cult label's output, most of which is stunningly unique. Special mention must also go to the Light In The Attic label for releasing Pacific Breeze and Kankyō Ongaku two excellent and comprehensive compilations covering 70s & 80s City Pop, AOR, Boogie, Ambient, Environmental, New Age etc. Plus there were reissues of Japanese classic LPs from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yutaka Hirose, Akiko Yano, Satoshi Ashikawa and more thanks to the wonderful Wewantsounds and WRWTFWW labels.

Special mention must go to Strut who put out the 4th volume of Nigeria 70 this year on the 20th anniversary of the first volume which was a total game-changer in the archival compilation game. I still remember buying my copy on Chapel St. in Prahran at either a HMV or Virgin megastore back in the day. All of the tunes on Nigeria 70: No Wahala have never been issued outside of Africa before which is astounding. Ostinato Records had another brilliant year with three outstanding releases unearthing more gold from Cabo Verde and Senegal. Along with those aforementioned labels Analog Africa, Habibi Funk, Awesome Tapes From Africa and Africa Seven also provided choice compilations of African music this year from Somalia, Mali, Ghana, The Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco and beyond. Surprisingly one of the best years ever in African archival reissues.

Then there was all this fabulous sweet obscure gospel disco, gospel, soul disco and choice AOR boogie. These irresistible soundz came courtesy of labels like ESP Institute, Cultures of Soul Records, Favorite Recordings & Luaka Bop. These compilations were a life affirming tonic to the absurd world in which we all now live.


2019 was also the year I finally got into Nocturnal Emissions after Ekoplekz mentioned his admiration for their 1988 classic Spiritflesh LP in a tweet. For a long time I've intended to sit down and give Nocturnal Emissions a good listen and Spiritflesh being reissued has made me a total believer. So I tracked down another Nocturnal Emissions 2019 reissue, 1983's Viral Shedding which is also cool but more beat-y conform to deform industrial than the ominous clanky enviro-ambience of Spiritflesh. Both of these sterling records were reissued by Mannequin Records along with the more song oriented Songs of Love & Revolution (1985). So now I've accumulated another six of their albums and they're all bloody good. This obsession could get out of hand like my Current 93 one has.

Finally we can't forget the miscellaneous archival releases in the fields of Glam-Rock, Soca, Avant-garde, Electronic, Noise, Experimental, EBM, Industrial-Dance, Ambient and whatever the fuck Michael O'Shea's brilliant music is.


2019 TELLY
FLEABAG
I didn't think the charismatic Phoebe Waller-Bridge was going to be able to top the first season of Fleabag but I think she did. The finest cast and best show of 2019.
CHERNOBYL 
The only way to describe this 5 part HBO drama is grim yet gripping. It's hard to watch but you can't look away. A truly horrific catastrophe that happened in my lifetime. Now the mystery of what really happened is revealed. Great gloomy score from Hildur Guðnadóttir.
MR INBETWEEN
Best Australian crime show since Wildside (1997-99)Dark, violent, hilarious and kinda touching.
LINE OF DUTY
Another brilliant season of the best British cop show ever. Some people may not have liked it as much because they front loaded the season with the action packed episodes which in previous seasons were placed in the concluding episodes. It's still all about catching bent coppers.
MINDHUNTER
Top shelf telly based on the life and books of John E Douglas the FBI's original serial killer profiler. Includes the frustrating Atlanta Child Murders case and sit downs with Son Of Sam and good ole Chuck Manson. It's all leading up to the next season though when I suspect they're finally going to track down BTK.
THE CROWN
Very good but you can't top the first two seasons which were TV drama perfection. The episode about the Aberfan Disaster is truly haunting and horrific.
THE DEVIL NEXT DOOR
Five part documentary series on John Demjanjuk. An elderly Grandfather in Cleveland is accused of being a notorious Nazi concentration camp guard responsible for psychotic cruelty and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The best true crime documentary of the year.
THE CONFESSION KILLER
If you thought American true crime documentaries couldn't get any more twisted think again. Get a look inside the demented world of Henry Lee Lucas, Texas Rangers and an absurd justice system. Shocking and infuriating.


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2019 PODCAST
PURE CINEMA PODCAST
Elric Kane and Brian Saur posted their first episode of this podcast in February 2017. It was good but their tastes were so aligned with mine it sometimes felt like I was patting myself on the back listening to them rave about many of my favourite films. Twelve months ago they got sponsored by The New Beverly Cinema in LA which is owned by Quentin Tarantino. Once a month they now do a special episode devoted to going through what's on at that theatre for the month. For these episodes they are now joined by co-host Phil Blankenship and sometimes Jules McLean who are employees of the cinema. The New Beverly is a repertory cinema with a twist which is quite possibly paradigm-shifting. They don't just show the same old cult classics and midnight movies. They often show little known, popular, rare, strange, obscure, unloved, forgotten, and unheralded films from the the olden days, the recent past and even sometimes the present. This year they showed current flicks Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (of course), Dolemite Is My Name, Shirkers and probably a couple of others. They always roll film be it 35mm or 16mm, you won't get no digital there. Anyway these calendar episodes have become totally essential for me as they often introduce me to films I've never seen and sometimes never even heard of. Not only that there is always a total film buff as a special guest to guide us through what is about to be screened. QT turned up for the best episode of the year and I think in that one episode alone he mentioned at least 20 films I'd never heard of. The other highlight for me was when Larry Karaszewski (writer of Ed Wood, Dolemite Is My Name, Problem Child etc.) was there to drop his knowledge on a bunch of New Hollywood Era flicks, oh boy this man knows his stuff. Other guests on the calendar episodes have included Josh Olson, Kim Morgan, Alicia Malone, Pat Healy etc. The outstanding non-calendar episode for me was when legendary movie director Joe Dante (Pirañha, The Howling, Gremlins, The Burbs etc.) dropped in to talk about nothing else but Westerns for an hour and a half. Dante's film knowledge is probably unsurpassable, so that was an incredibly valuable episode. Onya PCP.



2019 BOOK


Happy New Year!

Friday, 20 December 2019

More On Movies - December


Report To The Commissioner (1975)
Five years ago I'd never heard of Report To The Commissioner but thanks once again to the great Kino Lorber blu-ray label for bringing great cinema from the past to my attention. This is another fine 70s crime movie that's under the radar of most because it doesn't make the cannons or the lists. There's no good reason why it shouldn't though. It's just as good as the famous, popular or critically acclaimed crime films of the 70s. For a start it's co-written by the legendary Ernest Tidyman of Shaft, French Connection and High Plains Drifter fame. There is some stunning and totally unique action here. A Dude with no legs who only has a crappy trolly where he uses his hands on the ground to gain momentum ends up in an outlandish chase on the night streets of NYC. There's another crazy chase between a cop and a dealer, this time on foot across the top of the NYC skyline and eventually into the bustling streets. This is all captured with frenetic energy by the cinematographer Mario Tosi. The acting, huh the acting, we've got Yaphet Kotto and Michael Moriarty so it's what you would expect, exceptional. Bo Lockley (Moriarty) a sensitive rookie cop is given the job of finding a missing woman by the name of Pat Butler (Susan Blakely). Little does Bo know she's actually a cop deep undercover. All hell breaks loose from then on. The intense elevator sequence has to be seen to be believed, I mean it should be an all-time iconic 70s film scene that everyone knows because it's unforgettable. If you've seen the film you know what I mean. The more I watch this flick the better it gets. Report To The Commissioner has a wicked street funk score which is surprisingly by Elmer Bernstein. Also look out for Richard Gere in his debut film role as creep Billy. For the uninitiated I recommend.

The Irishman (2019)
Oh god this was tedious and I've still got over an hour left to watch but that's never gonna happen. I don't wanna trash my heroes so I'll just to say it's time to retire Marty. You're still one of the all time great film directors and quite possibly the best. I was confused by Al Pacino who was playing Jimmy Hoffa as an Italian-American. Being an Australian I had to look up who the fuck the real life Hoffa was. He was no Italian-American that's for sure he was an American coming from German & Irish stock. Frank Sheerin played by Robert De Niro is an American with a totally Irish background. So this all had me baffled. Am I being racist? I don't think so. I'm just into good casting decisions. These old-timers don't seem to be making them at this point. Marty had to put his old mate Bob in the role as The Irishman which is pure senility (yeah yeah I know it was De Niro who suggested the entire project). Let it go though, you can cast someone else who would fit the role properly, you know. Oh and really? Ray Romano in a proper film? Crikey, that's mental! It might also be time for good ole Al Pacino to retire too before it gets too embarrassing. One thing is for sure though Marty has not lost the knack of putting together a fabulous and fitting set of songs for the soundtrack. Martin Scorsese was asked five or six years ago "Do you watch movies?" He said he tried but they are too long and he's getting old so there is not enough time to waste. Well fuck me Marty why expect us to sit through the entirety of The Irishman if even you can't?


The Silent Partner (1978)
I was trying to get into the Christmas spirit by watching the best movie of 1978 the other day. It does not get much better than this movie-wise. I've seen this so many times I don't think I can even write about it objectively. This dark heist-thriller is a masterpiece. Turn your eyes away if you think Christopher Plummer is the embodiment of that is pure and good in the world because his character Harry Reikle is not a particularly nice fella even though he's employed as  Santa Clause at the local shopping mall. My minor quibble is that I don't understand Miles Cullen's (Elliot Gould) obsession with his workmate Julie Carver (Susannah York). She's a bit of an unlikeable mole (I mean that in the Aussie slang sense of the word) Anyway I guess that's Cullen's fallibility innit? It doesn't detract from the perfectly realised story-telling from Curtis Hansen (writer) in this film which never misses a beat. I'm always amazed that such troubled shoots can have such impressive outcomes. Bank teller Cullen stumbles stumbles upon a plan for his bank to be robbed so he devises a way to get a cut of the action. This causes a snowball of chaos with frightening consequences. His simple plan becomes a complex and thrilling game of cat and mouse. Gould is at his most nuanced here, probably his best ever performance.

IT: Chapter Two (2019)
OMFG! This nearly goes for 3 hours and it's only half the story! It is one of Emma's favourite books and even she said it could have been cut down to half the length. They even add stuff that's not in the book. Film-makers you are doing something very wrong if you are adding stuff to a Stephen King story, you need to be subtracting. It seems that every horror movie these days has to chuck in some Evil Dead type bits to show off and say I'm cool I love Evil Dead then I felt like I was in The Conjuring universe for a while followed by a visit to a Harry Potter film. I think that really I was just meant to be down a filthy sewer though. Suffice to say this was absolute tedious bullshit that should never need to be inflicted on anybody's eyeballs. The corny letter at the end read in a voice over made me want to be sick. If only the directer had been here to throw up on. This is for nostalgists who love the book's characters, who can will themselves to get past the generic filmmaking side of things. Having said that the acting and directing are good and hey it's got the brilliant Bill Hader but that's only consequential if you're an IT fan. Three hours back please.


Total Recall (1990)
This a hell of a rollercoaster ride of a movie that rarely lets up until the end. One of the original mindfuck movies before it all got trendy and became an actual thing with The Game (1997) Being John Malkovich (1999), Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004), Moon (2009), Inception (2010) and all the other ones I can't recall. Total Recall doesn't take itself too seriously and knows that it is just ultimately thrilling fun entertainment. Peak Sharon Stone rocks a stellar perm. The excitement lies in the frenetic action and trying to decipher what's real and what isn't. This is pure Pop Art.


Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)
This was a first time watch for me. I feel like Christmas tv viewing is more for British telly specials. The best in recent memory have been things like The Office Xmas Special, The Royale Family ones, Sherlock, Inside No.9 etc. Traditionally though the British specials weren't always Christmas-y just spooky stories like those of MR James. Anyway in the last fifteen years I've become a massive fan of a few North American Christmas films like cult faves Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972), Black Christmas (1974) and Silent Partner (1978). I always hated the cheesy American Xmas flicks and all those so called comedies which were shite. Anyway Yanks love a bit of Silent Night, Deadly Night at yuletide so I gave it a go. I wasn't disappointed either. Whereas those aforementioned Canadian & American favourites were sort of proper adult horror movies involving adults this one felt a bit transgressive as it involved a lot of little kids. I kept thinking what if you were 6 and you saw your parents watching this on Christmas eve? It would totally fuck you up. The first third of this is mainly through the eyes of a young boy Billy Chapman (Danny Wagner, Jonathan Best). Really disturbing shit happens to him during the Christmas holiday season. The rest of the flick when Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) is 18 then turns into a top tier slasher with plenty of boobs, blood, Billy's hairy arse, blind drunkenness and more. I think movies like this would have been so much more fun back in the day when you had outraged middlebrow American critics slamming these films as morally bankrupt. That taboo would have been so delicious at the time because it would have felt naughty, not so nice and a bit wrong when you got your hands on a VHS copy of this. Now that even the most demented horror movies seem to be totally acceptable the allure isn't as great. Still, this is fine fucked up Christmas fun.


The Strawberry Statement (1970)
A 60s campus radical film worth a look if you're interested in that kind of thing like Getting Straight (1970) or Zabriskie Point (1970). Quentin Tarantino took the opening tune The Circle Game sung by Buffy Saint Marie here and put it in his 2019 flick Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood. In the Tarantino flick it appears in the scene where Sharon Tate is cruising Hollywood and picks up a female hitch-hiker. It's a breezy breath of folky fresh air in both films. Simon (Bruce Davison) is an apolitical student at a Californian University in the late 60s. He eventually becomes entwined in campus political activism as he fancies Linda (Kim Darby). Events unfold from there. Despite a very cool soundtrack featuring Neil Young, Thunderclap Newman, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Plastic Ono Band and Buffy Saint Marie this film wasn't appealing to anyone at the time. I'd say it was a coupla years behind the times and was probably seen as phoney by real students and protestors of the time. The usual corporations trying to cash in on youth and counterculture. Now though it has that off kilter time capsule appeal.


Anguish (1987)
This is a whole lotta silly fun. You gotta love a movie within a movie within a movie, particularly if it's done well. Kudos has to go to editor Tom Saben and whoever did the sound design. Michaels Lerner (as John) and Zelda Rubinstein (as John's mum) are wonderful in their roles in the movie within the movie called The Mommy. John has a very strange controlling mum and becomes a murderer. I think I like that movie better than the actual movie, if that makes any sense. The movie within The Mommy is an actual ye olde monster movie The Lost World (1925). So in the actual movie Anguish we have a bunch of cinema goers watching The Mommy at a theatre called The Rex. This audience eventually become agitated as they may have been subliminally hypnotised by what they're watching. One man (Angel Jove) becomes totally unhinged and bloody chaos ensues. The plot of Anguish mirrors that of The Mommy which makes it an interesting watch with all the overlapping drama. This might sound slightly confusing or convoluted on paper but it's a testament to director Bigas Luna that watching this film is not one bit baffling. Well worth a look.


The Haunting Of Julia aka Full Circle (1977)
This film has a lot going for it ie. quite possibly the greatest score ever, the beautiful cinematography, fabulous acting, Mia farrow's hair, creepy houses, even creepier old people and stately direction. This is not going to be for everyone however as it moves at a slow pace and remains rather mysterious even by the time the final credits roll. There is spooky stuff and a death toll though. For 70s horror aficionados, haunted house enthusiasts and Mia Farrow fans.     


The Losers aka Nam's Angels (1970)
Well I wasn't expecting much from this so what a surprise that it wasn't just silly fun but a really good movie. I don't know why I was thinking that, maybe because it was a war movie but every Jack Starrett directed film I've seen has been fucking ace Race With The Devil (1975), The Gravy Train (1974), Hollywood Man (1976) etc. This had an absurd premise but was executed consummately and even had some unexpectedly touching moments. A gang of renegade bikers are unofficially hired by the US army to go into the Cambodian jungle to rescue an American agent. This motley crew get up to all sorts of wild antics ie. boozing, fighting & sex. They eventually rig up their motorbikes into insane military machines, one is a fusion of a harley at the front and a Volkswagen at the back suffice to say some mental action follows. The final assault to rescue the American (CIA?) agent Chet Davis (Jack Starrett) is spectacular although things don't go exactly according to plan. Look out for outstanding scenes in the jungle bar-disco with crazy 60s dancing and rock music. This has got to be a blueprint for the only other war movie I like Apocalypse Now, otherwise the similarities are a hell of a coincidence.



Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
OK perhaps I've become fanatical to the point of obsession with Once Upon A Time... This was the sixth or seventh time I've watched it but the first time on my new blu-ray. It looked damn good too. My only quibble is, as mentioned originally here, the Steve McQueen scene. If that crappy 30 seconds was dropped I think we would have film perfection. The jump-cuts I can now deal with, they are fine and have their place within this film's context. Once Upon A Time... just gets funnier the more times you watch it. Every word out of Cliff Booth's (Brad Pitt) mouth is pure gold. Bruce Dern's cameo as George Spahn is champagne comedy. I'm loving the dance sequence at the playboy mansion with Mama Cass, Michelle Phillips and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) to the oh so catchy Son Of A Lovin' Man by The Buchanan Brothers. Everything about the period detail is just so right the cars, the fashions, the restaurants, the trailers, the interior design, the streets, The Theatres, the fucking dog food labels etc. That scene with Cliff Booth fighting Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) has got to be the movie highlight of the last 10 years surely. Then there's the histrionically insecure Rick Dalton (Leo DiCaprio) on the set of the pilot for the western Lancer with the 9 year old girl Trudi Fraser (Julia Butters) where he coughs, splutters, spits and eventually cries as they talk about the crappy paperback he's reading. Then he's hilariously eating chicken during a take where he's delivering his lines to some cowboys. Later he fluffs his lines during the saloon scene and admonishes himself into his trailer's mirror in a maniacal tantrum that is both comical and poignant. But then we get fist pumping victory as he slays a scene in the saloon with Wayne Maunder (Luke Perry) where he throws Trudi to the ground. She later whispers in his ear "That was the best acting I've ever seen." It's all so incredibly bittersweet. I haven't even mentioned the last section of the film where Cliff & Rick return from Italy to have the most bizarre alcohol and drug fuelled night of their lives where there's plenty more comic gold and some of the most satisfying violence ever captured on celluloid. Who would have thought I'd be saying a  Quentin Tarantino film is the best movie of 2019?



Enter The Void (2010)
I'm only ten years late on this one! My cousin couldn't believe that I said I didn't know who Noah Baumbach was the other day after she recommended his new film starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansen. I said I just haven't followed film closely since the 90s. Which is totally true. After getting bored of all those time loop/ultra twisty movies, never liking superhero flicks and getting diminishing returns from old faves Scorsese, The Coens, David Cronenberg, David Fincher et al. I didn't think there was anything out there for me on the big screen which didn't bother me one iota because television was fucking brilliant in the 00s. There was The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Big Love, Breaking Bad, The Shield, The Office (UK), Peep Show, Ashes To Ashes, Black Books, Spaced, The Mighty Boosh, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, 30 Rock etc. and we had to buy each season on DVD (streaming wasn't a thing yet) so we could watch them over and over again. It turns out I had seen Greenberg (2010) a movie by this Noah chap which I fucking hated. He wrote The Life Aquatic which I also detested so I didn't really feel like I'd missed much. After watching Enter The Void though I really feel like I've re-entered the cinematic 21st century again. Although I've seen the films of Park Chan-wook (me love the most) Jonathan Glazer (me love), Panos Cosmatos (me like a lot), James Wan (me sometimes like) and Nicholas Winding Refn (me no like). I think perhaps Gasper Noé is the most visionary director I have ignored during the new millennium. I am aware and have also seen some of the the films of Jennifer Kent, Sandi TanTaika Waititi, Karyn Kusama, Kim Gee-woon, Bong Joon-ho, The Safdies, Jeremy Saulnier and Alejandro G Innaritu. I wouldn't have a clue what people think of Gasper Noé. He might be cool or he might be a complete arsehole I really couldn't give a shit. For starters Enter The Void has quite possibly the best soundtrack ever. I mean talk about appealing to my ears, the soundtrack contains music from Throbbing Gristle, LFO, Coil, Christopher Franke, Delia Derbyshire, Annea Lockwood, Christian Vogel, Alvin Lucier plus a bunch of other outer limits artists I don't even know (which excites me). Noé seems to have obviously taken inspiration from Stanley Kubrick, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Aaronovsky circa Requiem For A Dream, probably Antonioni circa Zabriskie Point and some ye olde avant-garde cinema for Enter The Void. Having said that this is a pretty straight forward narrative. It's the visual style in which it is delivered that is outfuckingstanding. This film is a life/death cycle that follows a brother and sister who live amongst Tokyo's seedy underbelly. Linda (Paz De La Huerta) is a stripper while Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is druggie on his way to becoming a fully fledged dealer. Oscar & Linda's relationship borders on the incestuous. Their story unfolds in a psychedelic blaze of stunning vivid neon colour which is lurid and fantastical. Enter The Void is somewhere between absolute pretentious bullshit and mind-blowing innovation. We definitely see some stuff that's never been visualised previously in cinema. You'll either love it or hate it or both.


You're Next (2011?)
The Davisons gather for a family reunion in their mansion out in the sticks. What could go wrong? Horror/Thriller movies from the 2010s don't get much better than this. We get many creative ultra violent moments, bows & arrows (always a winner in my book), Barbara Crampton, cute animal masks, a tough Aussie chick (Home & Away's Sharni Vinson), many "aw that would have really fucking hurt" moments and a pearler of a climax. Good times.


Starry Eyes (2014)
This satanic/body horror movie is pretty grim with some very brutal violence. I had to look away at one stage as Sarah Walker (Alexandra Essoe) pulled off her fingernail because it was way too realistic. The story is a familiar tale of fame and what people are willing to exchange for it. Hollywood wannabe Sarah needs to sell her soul, suck the cock of an elderly man The Producer (Louis Dezseran), a Harvey Weinstein type character, then sacrifice her friends to become the movie star she's always dreamt of being. There is some pretty gross stuff here to make David Cronenberg proud but it doesn't contain the humour to go along with it, unless I'm missing something. Starry Eyes is noteworthy for two reasons. One is the fabulous synth score from Jonathan Snipes and the other is the extraordinary acting performance from Alexandra Essoe. She is this movie. I don't know who gets nominations and awards but she should have got all of them all in 2014!


Stoker (2014)
There's nothing wrong with this movie per se I mean it's made by possibly the world's finest film director Park Chan-wook. The acting's top shelf, the cinematography is gorgeous and the directing is of-course very fucking stylish. Stoker is based on the brilliantly suspenseful melodramatic thriller Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) directed by Alfred Hitchcock though so here lies a problem. From the moment the film started I was comparing it to Hitchcock. You don't really want to be compared to Hitchcock do you? I mean that's just setting yourself up for failure innit?  Suspense is not really intensely built up like the master would have done, so it's just a bit lacking in the vitality department. Style over substance is something I didn't want to write but exercises such as these are always a little empty. I mean did anyone even bother watching Spike Lee's remake of Park Chan-wook's very own undeniable classic masterpiece Oldboy? Perhaps if I'd never seen Shadow Of A Doubt or wasn't aware that Stoker was based upon it my judgment may have been different. It's still worth a look though.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Moon Wiring Club - Cavity Slabs


It's Christmas time. So there's this LP which arrived in the mail this week. MWC emerge further from their dank torpor of the last couple of years (The great Tantalising Mews, Soft Confusion, Leporine Pleasure Gardens LP etc.) into almost HD focus. Their soggy ambient stupor has been replaced with almost spritely tunes. That's totally overstating things but you get the picture. This is one of their more beat driven records. Cavity Slabs is still spooky squishy electronic psychedelia that's put through the hallucinatory Moon Wiring Club echo-chamber. There's a hint of 90s nuum-y-liciousness here along with the usual mysterious, eerie and wyrd vibes. It's another Moon Wiring Club gold record innit?! The artwork is splendid as per usual.

Front cover

Back cover even better though. Roundy!

Friday, 29 November 2019

MOVIES XXIV

BUT TELLY THOUGH...


I've been watching so much tv that my movie watching has been somewhat curtailed. I finally decided to properly watch The Americans (2013-2018) from start to finish after seeing random episodes on the telly every now and then over the years, thinking I should watch the whole thing one day. Now The Americans has grown in my estimation to become hands down what I believe to be the best drama of the 2010s, crime or otherwise, from the USA. 


Writing about tv is a bit redundant now innit? It probably became obsolete somewhere during the early 00s. When it was announced that Clive James was dead, I thought he lived through an interesting time television-wise. He was at the inception of serious and some not so serious television analysis. Then he was at the forefront of its serious criticism only to see it become obsolete as everyone with a laptop and a mouth became an instant television expert and their well articulated thoughts were immediately expressed and sent out to every corner of the world seconds after an episode of peak television had aired or even during the airing of an episode. By the time we got to read Clive's reflections on his latest box set it was redundant. We had moved on, heard it all before ad nauseam. This is not a criticism of Clive, merely an observation of the swift change of media platforms, how they're consumed and peoples attitudes towards telly. Clive made us all Mini-Clives and that was that.

 

Having said that I am curious as to what Clive James thought of the third series of The Crown as there was none more eloquent than our dear departed Clive. The Crown #3 was finally dumped on Netflix a week ago and well, you all have your own opinions on the matter but for me it was slightly anti-climactical. I did not love or enjoy the cast changeover. When it was announced a couple of years back that they were going to meddle with what had been two seasons of television perfection I couldn't believe it. Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Victoria Hamilton and John Lithgow had all been impeccable in their roles as royal and political figures. I thought if Netflix can spend a hundred million dollars on an internet telly show why can't they just do some amazing make-up on these actors to get them looking a bit older? Surely that's not too hard. It also seemed like such a risky decision considering the amount of money being spent but they went ahead and did it.


First of all the choice of Helena Bonham Carter was the weirdest. She's a divisive actor, actually I don't know anyone who would utter the words "I love Helena Bonham Carter. She's fantastic!" In the end I didn't hate her I was just indifferent to her as Princess Margaret. Vanessa Kirby had been scintillating and unforgettable as the polymorphously perverse and recalcitrant Margo in the first two seasons. Then there was Olivia Coleman. Everybody loves her and she's brilliant in Peep Show, Hot Fuzz, The Night Manager, Broadchurch, Fleabag etc. It's very hard to get past the fact that you are watching Olivia doing the queen though. Coleman's natural charisma and cheeky sunny smile can't help but escape onto the screen. She just has too many qualities that the actual Queen doesn't seem to possess. They didn't change John Lithgow as Winston Churchill thank heavens although 'spoiler alert' he was only in a couple of scenes before his demise. I can live with the new Queen mum, Lord Mountbatten and Prince Charles. The revelation in season three cast-wise has been Tobias Menzies as the belligerent Prince Philip. He is just fantastic and very similar in looks and demeanour to the previous actor playing Prince Philip Matt Smith. I feel like Menzies really did his homework to make this transition the smoothest of all the character change overs. The other great new edition to the cast is Erin Doherty as Princess Anne. Although I don't know anything about the real Anne, Doherty is a great lookalikey and inhabits her apparent frank character with vigour.


My perceptions of the royal family probably differ to that of many Australians and most of the British. I never followed them with interest but they were always in my house from the day I was born to this very day in the form of pictures in magazines mainly and on the telly. I always thought they were fucking dull, inbred and didn't deserve their status in life. So it feels like this show has made them much more cool and likeable than they really are. I mean in this latest season I started thinking Charles was honourable and I absolutely loved Anne. Philip is the one though who I now think is so fucking cool but isn't he just a grumpy backwards twerp in real life? They even manage, particularly in the first two seasons, to make the Queen sexy...ew!


Anyway season three was mostly very good but I'm sorry it cannot compare to the television superiority of the first two seasons of The Crown. The famous faces and casting choices were just too distracting. I would have gone for less famous people than Olivia Coleman and Helena Bonham Carter to ensure a cohesive transition from season two to season three. Still it's a testament to the show runners that I watched it at all, didn't immediately switch it off and rather enjoyed it.  

I've also just caught up with The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story which was from last year. Hey I'm only a year behind on this one! While the tv series is excellent there are a couple of problems. For a start the title is very misleading. It is not a show strictly about the assassination of Versace. It is a series about the serial killer Andrew Cunanan. He killed five people, one of which was Gianni Versace. I would have called it The Killing Of Versace & Other Murders: The Story Of Andrew Cunanan. The telly-makers also make the show unnecessarily confusing by jumbling the narrative to a stupidly knotty degree. There are so many flash backs and flash forwards it becomes tedious and almost unwatchable. If it wasn't for the sublime cast particularly Darren Criss as Cunanan I think I would have switched it off. The story is so bizarre, it is totally compelling. It would have benefitted from a straight chronological telling of the tale with perhaps the flashback device being used only once or twice. Emma and I thought that the suspense would have been much higher had it been a linear narrative. The Assassination Of... is pretty disturbing stuff, unlike say Mindhunter this mainly follows the life and events of the murderer not the detectives investigating the case. You are stuck in Cunanan's world to a frightening degree. This is a depraved and depressing place to dwell. It's almost enough to put you off serial killer shows and movies altogether. The police really only come into it during the final episode. If the last two episodes of this series had been released as a theatrical film it would have gone down in history as an instant classic. 

*I'm well aware of the irony of this article. Go ahead say it. "This is so redundant man."

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED MOVIES

Cobra (1986) 
Berserk entertainment 80s stylee. Panos's dad George P Cosmatos directs this over the top ultra violent action/renegade cop movie with a whole lotta style and pizazz. First of all we get a siege inside a supermarket so Cobra (Sylvester Stallone) is called in for his special services. He is part of an elite team of the LAPD known as The Zombie Squad. Cobra finds out that an evil organisation known as The New World are not only responsible for this hostage situation but a whole bunch of other crimes. The New World might just be an army of serial killers. Holy Shit! What can be done? Cobra & The Zombie Squad need to track down and kill New World's leader The Night Slasher (Brian Thompson) but who is he? And have The Zombie Squad been infiltrated by a Mole? An edge of the seat of your pants delight.


Magnolia (1999)
An epic melodramatic dirge that's very of its time. Speaking of time, is three hours and nine minutes long enough for ya? Magnolia is surely designed to make you anxious and put you at maximum unease which nearly pushes it into horror territory. It's full of OTT actoring from an incredible ensemble cast that includes Phil Seymour Hoffman, Felicity Huffman, John C Reilly, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, Philip Baker Hall, William H Macy, Jason Robards and quite a few more. Magnolia is all about flashy film craft ie. the directing, cinematography, editing and soundtrack are all at a supreme level. This movie seems to be a meditation on people who think parents fucked me up so I'm gonna have a little cry about it instead of taking responsibility for my own actions and life. Magnolia's basically a film full of arseholes who give themselves way too much morbid self attention and who are almost all unlikable. So now I'm done with this  movie for the rest of my life so thanks Paul Thomas Anderson...er...I've probably watched it eight or nine times, that's a lot of hours. Worth watching at least once to experience 90s film-making at its highest level, if you have enough time left on earth that is.

In The Tall Grass (2019)
More Netflix bullshit. There is no need to press the play button on this internet horror movie. They even attempt a time loop scene here to add interest and as the kids say it's an epic fail. Is it time to perhaps consider a Netflix subscription cancellation?


Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987)
El cheapo 80s exploitation but made with obvious chops. The director Andy Sidaris was originally an award winning director of sports TV. This is deliberately cheesy and somewhat endearing. A tale of good versus evil of biblical proportions to be watched off yer head with friends who are in a similar state of inebriation. Hard Ticket To Hawaii includes boobs, a very young Ridge from The Bold & The Beautiful, some pretty funny dialogue, tits, strange acting, a mutant killer snake, smuggling of drugs & diamonds, norks, frisbees of death, jacuzzis, bazookas, nefarious skateboarders with blow up sex dolls, crappy death scenes, breasts and I think there was some kind of kung-fu. Late night movie of the week.


The Laughing Policeman (1973)
This film doesn't get any less odd the more times you watch it. It's interesting for the outstanding performances of Bruce Dern & Walter Matthau. Then you wonder whether the story warrants such an extravagant production that gets into the minutiae of criminal street life in early 70s San Fransisco. Then you think yeah of course it does because it's more of a true indication of what cops have to go through during a murder investigation. Real investigations are not brilliantly twisted crowd pleasing narratives. The world is complicated, not everything is easily explained away and there are not always straight answers. Police work is full of puzzling dead ends, frustration, grimy characters, sad lives, senseless actions, boring stakeouts, daily routines, arsehole shenanigans, casual violence, psychological collateral damage etc. The script is pretty bloody 1973 and it's so good. You can't really fuck up the cinematography in the always scenic San Francisco can you? Jake Martin (Matthau) the grumpy ageing laconic gum chewing cop who's seen too much and Leo Larsen (Dern) the young tactless smart-arse are the two unlikely cops who are partnered up with each other. This cop duo are thrust together after Martin's previous partner was shot dead in a spree killing on a night bus. We get a whole lotta underground 1970s San Fransisco here in gay leather bars, drag queens, male strippers, pimps, hookers, drug dealers, creepy businessmen, jaded cops etc. Amongst the gritty urban realism we get fabulous 70s cars, furniture, fashion and vernacular. Director Stuart Rosenberg is an underrated film-maker probably because his work is so diverse thus not fitting neatly enough into the American 70s auteur model. Critics and fans alike need to drop these antiquated terms and just rate directors on their batting average I reckon. An absolute must watch for any fan of 70s crime films.


The Driver (1978)
Every now and then I have to check if my favourite movies are still great. Check! Bruce Dern's character here could almost be a continuation of Inspector Larsen who he played in The Laughing Policeman (1973). The Driver includes cars, fast cars, car stunts, car chases, car POV shots and car crashes...oh and some robberies, trains, gunslinging shootouts western stylee and Isabelle Adjani! This is a film stripped down to an elemental level. Minimal. You either know The Driver as one of the best movies of the 70s and one of Walter Hill's finest works or you probably don't care.

Stick (1985)
Wow this is just bad. At the start I thought Stick was gonna be some good trashy 80s crime fun but after an hour I couldn't take it anymore. How on earth do you cock up an Elmore Leonard screenplay? After Burt Reynolds directed the near masterpiece Sharkey's Machine in1981 his directing career ground to a halt here with this epic fail. For all I know maybe something bad was going on behind the scenes and maybe this was a troubled shoot. George Segal, Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, Alex Rocco and Charles Durning all reach the nadir of their careers in the same movie no less. Avoid like the plague.


Sorcerer (1977) 
All you ever seem to hear about this movie is its hard luck story. I feel like you're meant to feel sorry for Sorcerer and rate it way higher than it should be because Star Wars (1977) killed it. Let's get real here. This film was never destined to become a box office smash. For a start the first quarter of the film is all pretty much in subtitles. You know how much Americans love subtitles? They fucking don't. The first half of the film is basically flab that could have been condensed into five or ten minutes. The second half is where it's at and is pretty much masterful but hey!, that's only half a good movie. Now I can understand that a movie like The Thing (1982) really did miss out on success because it's a film that is great from the get go and could have had mass appeal. Sorcerer not so much. William Friedkin's earlier classics The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973) had real crowd pleasing exciting/horrific moments that made them instant classics of their respective genres but Sorcerer is pretty much a movie about a truck trying to cross a rickety bridge. Sorcerer was always a difficult film and has been quite lucky to become a critically rehabilitated cult film due to some clever hindsight marketing and repositioning. Four dodgy criminal blokes hiding from their own four countries strangely all end up in the same village of Porviner in the South American jungle. This foursome are also all recruited by an oil company as truck drivers for a perilous journey to move some shonky dynamite a few hundred miles to an oil well. The tension created during this dangerous trip is fantastic, all actors are outstanding and the film finally comes alive. Be on the lookout for Joe Spinell in a tiny role as Spider, a dude who tries to get the the truckin gig but fails the driving test. Why is it called Sorcerer? It's a terrible title that seems to have nothing to do with the film whatsoever. It sounds like some daft fantasy movie which would have been another handicap for its commercial chances.


Impulse (1984)
Now this is what I'm talking 'bout. Impulse is a mysterious sci-fi/rural horror kinda thing that was a total surprise packet in the very best way possible. Once again Kino Lorber (a blu-ray label) pull out a barely known undervalued gem and shine a light on it by giving the film a beautiful blu-ray transfer. A quiet and isolated little country town is rocked by a small earthquake. The town's population then become erratic or as the title suggests start acting impulsively. The usually anodyne community become mean, suicidal, uninhibited, anti-social, violent and even homicidal. What's going on? How can it be stopped? Stars Meg Tilly, Tim Matheson, Bill Paxton and Hume Cronyn. A fantastic premise that's expertly executed. I recommend.

*Weird footnote. Meg Tilly plays a character called Jennifer. So I kept thinking it was Jennifer Tilly. Now I wonder if Jennifer Tilly has played a character named Meg.


Busting (1974)
Why isn't this film considered a cult movie or a classic movie or something? It's quite possibly my all time favourite cop film. Hey it has stiff completion too particularly from the same era in The French Connection (1971), The Laughing Policeman (1973), Electra Glide In Blue (1973) Freebie & The Bean (1974), Report To The Commissioner (1975) et al. Elliot Gould (Michael) and Robert Blake (Patrick) have extraordinary chemistry and are brilliant in this funny lil' caper as the smart-arse, burnt out, politically incorrect, recalcitrant and incompetent LAPD vice squad detectives. I wish they'd made a Busting sequel for every following year up until, I dunno, 1982. Detectives Michael and Patrick just feel like real lived in characters with their warts and all, funny and some not necessarily nice characteristics. They are not meant to be role models. They are flawed and inadequate human beings and thank god for their depiction of these mortal characteristics. You probably wouldn't be able to portray such nuanced individuals in a Hollywood movie in this day and age with all their rules and committees and what not. I recommend.


The New Centurions (1972)
This is a serious cop drama and it's seriously great. Another 70s crime gem that doesn't make the canonical lists. Richard Fleischer's finest film in my book. Roy Fehler (Stacy Keach) is fresh out of the police academy and is paired up with veteran copper Andy Kilvinski (George C Scott). Roy is intending to only work for the LAPD temporarily while he studies law at night school. Roy becomes obsessed with his work as a copper though which causes problems in his marriage. Cops and robbers shenanigans ensue with shoot outs, car chases, hold ups, unorthodox police methods, hookers, gay harassment, alcoholism, illegal immigrants, depression etc. The drama meets the action in The New Centurions and it doesn't disappoint. Also stars Erik Estrada, Scott Wilson, Clifton James, Jane Alexander etc. with a tasty soundtrack from Quincy Jones.


St Ives (1976)
I was thinking 'Did Charles Bronson appear in more movies than anybody else in history?' but before he even popped up on the screen Elisha Cook Jr reared his head and I thought well hang on he's probably been in even more movies. Raymond St Ives (Charles Bronson) is a likeable ex-copper come crime-writer. His solitary life is interrupted by the shifty Abner Procane (John Houseman) who hires him to do a simple go-between job that involves the return of some stolen goods. Things are not what they seem though and soon the plot boils over with murder, shonky cops, a femme fatale (Jacqueline Bisset), a dodgy psychiatrist (Maxmilian Schell), more murder and some kind of confusing conspiracy. Look out for Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund in tiny roles as a hoods #3 & #1 respectively. There are some choice 70s locations including Raymond's Hotel, a laundromat, a Drive-In and a classic dodgy cafeteria all captured rather nicely on celluloid. The Lalo Schifrin score is fabulous. St Ives is an ok movie with some crucial evidence withheld from the viewer thus taking the solving of the mystery out of your hands which was a bit of a shame because it had a cool atmosphere and the film felt like it was leading up to a big ending but that was a little anti-climactical. The ending has a Murder She Wrote type of wrap up which was kinda fitting as Raymond St Ives was writing a crime book.


Sexy Beast (2000)
This is all about the optimum powerhouse actoring, particularly the interaction between the two main characters Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) and Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) then later the brilliant Ian McShane in a small but pivotal role as Teddy Bass. I hadn't watched this since it was in cinemas and totally forgot what a fucking bizarre movie this is. Thankfully it's also very entertaining. Like the aforementioned Magnolia this is all about the flashy film-making but unlike that film Sexy Beast has a plot to compliment its flash. Gal Dove was a successful now retired British gangster who specialised in cracking safes and is now living the good life in sunny Spain. He gets a a call from his old pal Don Logan the psychotic criminal kingpin asking him to join his gang back in England for one last heist. Gal declines the offer. Does he have a choice though? Don eventually arrives in Spain unannounced to menace Gal into taking part in this future criminal endeavour. The plot then unfurls in a spectacular display of pure sound and vision. Don is so vile that his heinous gangster colleagues don't even like him. Ben Kingsley as Don goes all the way and over the top here and is truly terrifying, deranged and absurd. Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, Julianne White, James Fox and Alvaro Monje are fantastic as the supporting cast. Sexy Beast is an incredibly assured debut film for the idiosyncratic director Jonathan Glazer who has only made two films since.


Night Moves (1975)
The grubbiest neo-noir of the 70s. This movie's vibe feels just as gross as the extreme horror and exploitation flicks of the same era. This new hollywood apex from the great Arthur Penn is where the nefarious intrigue reaches a cesspit and the bleakness is infinite. Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman) is an LA private detective hired by Arlene Iverson (Janet Ward) to find her missing sixteen year old daughter Delly Grastner (Melanie Griffith). Just what the hell is Delly up to? Twisted and delirious antics ensue. The plot really thickens from here but never gets bogged down in being too convoluted. We go from LA to Florida and back again and then back again to Florida as the mystery unfolds. Most of the characters here participate is an array of unhinged roguery. Sometimes I think this is the best film of the New Hollywood era or at least the most emblematic. Gene Hackman's greatest role is right here folks plus there's a terrific score from Michael Small.

Sisters (1973)
I thought I'd give this film another shot after 15 or so years but it seems I just don't like Brian De Palma movies very much. This starts out with an intriguing premise and blows it halfway through going from absurd to ridiculous and back again but not in a good way, in an unsatisfying manner. Margot Kidder is damn fine though as is the OTT sonics of the score from Bernard Hermann.



Villain (1971)
Film script writer Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood, Man On The Moon, Dolemite Is My Name) alerted me to this film months ago calling it a masterpiece. I finally got round to watching it. Villain is a whole lotta wrong and yeah it's pretty pretty fucking good. Right up there in the British gangster pantheon along with Get Carter, The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa and Sexy Beast. I don't get why it isn't as famous as those aforementioned titles because the script is full of great quotable dialogue that should be absolutely iconic to gangster film buffs across the world. Maybe the British particularly East Londoners were put off by having the Welshman Richard Burton play the vile cockney crime boss Vic Dakin. Burton as the loving mummy's boy Dakin is an incredibly entertaining miscreant of a character though. The conflicted Dakin's sordid relationship with Wolfe Lissner (Ian McShane) which involves a bit of rough stuff is just one aspect of his brutal, sadistic and disturbed personality. Along with the sordid we get kinky sex parties, crooked MPs, murdered people hung out of windows, sunny days with mum at the pier, blackmail, a payroll heist, snitches, car chases, toilet scenes, smart arse cops, an excellent soundtrack from Jonathan Hodge and general degeneracy.....what's not to love?


The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Cops and robbers crime drama in excelsis directed by Peter Yates. This is not action packed so it's not going to be for everyone. It's a low key drama about the daily grind and minutiae of small time criminal life. We get crooks with short term goals making deals with cops to improve their hopes of longevity or at least less time in prison. Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle put in sterling understated performances as criminals and informants in 1970s Boston. The rest of the cast are spot on too. It's refreshing to see a crime movie of this era not set in the usual NYC or LA. We get some terrific urban Boston locations ie. neighbourhood bars, dodgy cafeterias, tunnels, car parks etc. This film goes along at a leisurely pace but the tension builds in the last fifteen minutes to a good lil climax. Dave Grusin provides an excellent soundtrack. This feels like a Sopranos (1999-2007) blueprint. If you just replaced each character here with a Sopranos cast member this could easily be an episode of that classic HBO television show. Not only that it would be one of its best. The Friends Of Eddie Coyle is probably for 70s crime enthusiasts and Robert Mitchum fanatics only.


Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967)
This film is probably most famous for having Robert Forster riding naked on a horse. It was also his film debut. Reflections In... is a strange and perverse epic. Adult themes include voyeurism, depression, gas-lighting, homosexual repression, stalking, animal cruelty, mental illness, heterosexual repression, eruptive violence, psychological abuse and much more. This is set on an isolated military base where Major Weldon Penderton (Marlon Brando) is a lecturer. Somewhere within the grounds away from the barracks are some lovely houses. One contains Major and Leonora Penderton (Liz Taylor) and the other is the home of another married couple Lieutenant Colonel Morris (Brian Keith) and Alison Langdon (Julie Harris) with their Filipino house boy Anacleto (Zorro David). Needless to say the wives are bored. Leonora has her eyes on Lt Col Langdon while The Major becomes intrigued by Private Williams (Forster) after seeing him starkers on that horsey. Private Williams on the other hand is a creepy perv with an obsession for Leonora and lord knows what else. One outrageous scene has Liz whipping Marlon across the face with a riding crop in front of all of her party's guests. Suffice to say a tumultuous climax is imminent. Liz is at her playful and outlandish best here and Marlon is at his most uniquely Brando-y. Sometimes I wonder what demented person allowed Marlon Brando onto our cinema screens. I can never tell if he's just shite, the strangest creature the world has ever known or some kind of genius. It probably depends on the role. His voice and accent here are just pure fucking alien-ese. Julie Harris puts in an impressive performance as Alison Langdon, a woman who's been through severe depressive episodes after a traumatic miscarriage but sometimes she is the most sound minded character in the entire film. Then there's the wonderfully exotic Zorro David as the über-flamboyant Anacleto making the uptight husbands irritated and resentful. I can't help but think that American Beauty (1999) stole a thing or two from this curious classic.


The Thing (1982)
It's Friday night and the 3 and a half hours of Scorsese's The Irishman (2019) just seemed way too daunting for tired eyes. 1 hour and 48 minutes of The Thing felt just right though. This movie gets better each time you watch it. Masterful film-making trimmed of all fat for your superior scary entertainment needs. Added ice, snow, fire and explosions to further enhance your viewing pleasure. The fucking best.