April 26, 2017

Jonathan Demme 1944-2017

Sad to hear of the passing of director Jonathan Demme today. Here's a quick look at his films. I was surprised to find I'd seen six feature films and two concert documentaries:

  • Swing Shift [1984] - I have a fond memory of watching this movie with my mom at home when I was a kid.
  • Stop Making Sense [also 1984] - The best concert film I've ever seen, I didn't actually see it in full until the 2000s.
  • Something Wild [1986] - I saw this at the Brattle Theater once (I have no record of when, and no blog post for it) and I remember it was a oddball ride from silly to screwball to terrifying!
  • Married To The Mob [1988] - I love this screwball romantic comedy. Very shaggy and eccentric, it's bursting with personality. A good-natured jab at Italian-American Long Island gangsters and their wives. (I suspect I saw this at the Brattle too but I'm really unsure.)
  • Silence of the Lambs [1991] - The best and scariest horror movie, period. I didn't see it in the theater; I must have seen it for the first time circa 1993-94?
  • Philadelphia [1993] - powerful stuff. Haven't seen it since I saw it at the long-gone Janus theater in Harvard Square.
  • The Manchurian Candidate [2004] - at the time I called it a "A dark and creepy thriller, with quality performances from top to bottom, a good script and intense direction from Jonathan Demme." but 12 years later I don't remember anything about it.
  • Neil Young: Heart of Gold [2006] - great concert doc. Click the link for my wife's review!
  • Ricki & The Flash [2015] - I didn't see this, but my wife did and she loved it. She couldn't stop talking about it!

April 11, 2017

161 Impossible Marquee

Created in February & March 2017, completed April 11.
  1. Television "MARQUEE MOON" I had heard about this band for many years but never actually heard their songs until 2013, when Wilco put on an amazing "all covers all by request" live show at their Solid Sound festival. Their cover of "Moon" was amazing...and four years later, Television the band is playing that same festival!
  2. Wilco "IMPOSSIBLE GERMANY" The song "Marquee Moon" sounds like it was written for Wilco, as if the current version of Wilco was based on it. This Wilco original embodies that feeling.
  3. Passenger "ANYWHERE"
  4. Chuck Berry "PROMISED LAND" RIP Chuck! Here's the song I first heard covered by Elvis in the movie Men In Black!
  5. The Wild Feathers "THE CEILING"
  6. Level 42 "LESSONS IN LOVE" Back in the late 80s I loved "Something About You" by Level 42, and the singles from their subsequent LP. I bought the "Lessons In Love" cassette single which also featured "Freedom Someday" - these two songs remind me of listening to music on my beloved cassette Walkman in the car while road tripping to Alabama to pick up my brother as he completed Army Basic Training.
  7. The Jam "TOWN CALLED MALICE"
  8. Paul McCartney "MY BRAVE FACE" Paul's Flowers In The Dirt LP is getting a critical reappraisal as it's just been reissued. It's his first album that came out after I became a Beatles fan, and I have some loyalty and nostalgia for it.
  9. Elvis Costello "VERONICA"
  10. ABC "WHEN SMOKEY SINGS" I've been learning to play bits of this song on the piano lately. I love this song!
  11. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas "NOWHERE TO RUN"
  12. Nick Lowe "SO IT GOES" Somehow I have never placed this classic on a playlist before?
  13. Bob Dylan "LIKE A ROLLING STONE" Take 5, Rehearsal (Short Version) I've been learning this song on the piano lately. Very rewarding.
  14. Fleetwood Mac "RHIANNON" I picked out the riff of this song on the piano lately.
  15. Johnny Cash "THE MAN COMES AROUND" The final Wolverine movie LOGAN used Cash's cover of "Hurt" in the trailer, but this is the song that features in the closing credits.
  16. Willie Nelson "THE MAKER"
  17. Nirvana "ALL APOLOGIES" Original Steve Albini 1993 mix; One of the advantages of Spotify is the ability to listen to bonus tracks of special edition reissues...of albums I already own and don't want to buy again just to hear some bonus tracks! The differences between Albini's mixes and Scott Litt's remixes may seem minor today, but Albini was seen as a radio unfriendly producer when "grunge" was a musically political label.

April 9, 2017

What We Do In The Shadows

Goofy, shaggy vampire comedy, in the same vein as Flight of the Conchords (pun def intended). Presented as a documentary, three out-of-step vampires (led by Jemaine Clement) and their Nosferatu-like roommate try and catch up and get by in 21st century New Zealand. Essential viewing for FOTC fans.
On Amazon Instant Video. I don't remember the exact date we watched it!

April 8, 2017

Ghost In The Shell

This movie owes everything to The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Akira. What does it contribute to this genre besides terrific special effects and Scarlett Johansson?
There are some germs of good ideas here, but they don't go anywhere. I'd sum this up as a workmanlike leveraging of a well-known property, with a bankable movie star attached, financed through half a dozen global sources (I think I saw five production company or studio logos at the opening) with the ultimate goal to sell the feature to world audience.
Indeed, this does not resemble an American movie in any way and any success in the American market feels like a secondary concern to the producers. I don't have a problem with this - another action movie filled with white male Americans is tedious! Shell only includes two or three white men in speaking roles!
Based on all the TV commercials I only planned to see this on home video, but on this particular weekend I needed to get out of the house...and I couldn't find a showtime for Kong: Skull Island. My Stub Hubby grade: C-minus.

See Also on Stub Hubby \ The Dytopian Action Heroine Collection:

  • Aeon Flux [2005] "The secret history of the last city on Earth is a cool premise which offers limitless possibilities for a cerebral sci-fi examination of self and the human condition, but this potential is squandered on lots and lots of gunfire."
  • Ultraviolet [2006] "A fairly intriguing if cliched two-hour sci-fi shoot-em-up, where half an hour of interesting detail has been edited out"
  • Lucy [2016] "A thinking-person's superhero origin story...without the heroics"