Saturday, April 28, 2012

Top 100 Albums: #100-90

100. Sunn O)))- Monoliths & Dimensons (2009)
Nihilism never sounded so beautiful.

99. Dead Can Dance- Within the Realm of A Dying ASun (1987)
Not as cohesive as a whole. But the second half is so good that it merits inclusion on the list.

98. Cryptopsy- None So Vile (1996)
"Go ahead and run. Run home and and cry to mama!"

97. Cat Stevens- Tea For Tillerman (1970)
Harold + Maude is carved somewhere on that tree.

96. Can- Tago Mago (1970)
Know your roots Radiohead fans.

95. Secret Chiefs 3- Book of Horizons (2004)
An alchemical rollercoaster of electicism and proficiency. A must for fans of Mr. Bungle.

94. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
It deserves the hype and attention it has received.
93. The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
Their follow up to Soft Bulletin is just as heavenly in its genre hopping consistency.

92. Genesis- Wind & Wuthering (1977)
Some people are pro-Gabriel. Other are pro-Collins. The truth is that the best years of Genesis belonged to the Steve Hackett era. Kicking off with Trespass in 1970 and bowing out with this gem. Although Patrick Bateman would strongly disagree.

91. Spacemen 3- The Perfect Presciption (1987)
Stoner music refined with a wandering coolness.

90. Robert Fripp- A Blessing of Tears (1995)
Fripp's soundscapes always existed as the soothing underpinnings of the King Crimson ouevre. Now he gets to fully explore them here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Obsessed With Jest

After 40 days of complete, unbridled obsession, 1079 pages and 388 footnotes, I can finally say I have conquered Infinite Jest. The challenge given out by a website called Infinite Summer required the book to be read over the summer at 75 pages a week. Having hit my own personal goal, it already told me something I already knew, I have a severe case of OCD when it comes to being passionate about something. This including film and music. Yet, I have not edited a single frame or shot a single foot of film. I don't know exactly what went wrong at what juncture in my life, but I'm willing to venture a guess- conditioning and the willingness to be extroverted in a way that supresses what I want to do while doing what others want to do in order to keep them happy. There are so many times I just wanted to delete this blog, but I keep coming back to it. It's that need to create in any way or form.

The fact remains that finding people outside of the internet who actually share my interests has become harder. Carl Jung stated that loneliness does not come from not having people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you. That's where this blog comes in. But at the end of the day, it is a blog. It is not a person. Because the only things that are important to me in terms of interests are film, music and literature. Yet it's still not good enough. People keep telling me to be a film critic. I'd rather create than critique.

So in March, I decided to pick up a book I heard about. Supposedly, it is said to be an incredibly challenging read. Always being willing to take on challenges when it comes to art, I dug deeper. Upon hearing that a bulk of it takes place in a tennis academy, the first thing I thought was NO. No sports books. Oh, is there a plethora of more than just sports.

All I know is that this book has hit me at the right time and just the right moment in my life. It is exactly what I needed.

PG. 201-203
"That you do not have to like a person in order to learn from him/her/it. That having sex with someone you do not care for feels lonelier than not having sex in the first place, afterward. That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do. Then that most non-addicted adult civilians have already absorbed and accepted this fact, often rather early on…That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused…That purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape. That gambling can be an abusable escape, too, and work, shopping, and shoplifting, and sex, and abstention, and masturbation, and food, and exercise, and meditation/prayer…That loneliness is not a function of solitude…That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt…That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness…That the effects of too many cups of coffee are in no way pleasant or intoxicating…That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way or form trying to get credit for it, it’s almost its own form of intoxicating buzz. That anonymous generosity, too, can be abused…That it is permissible to want…That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels.

That the people to be most frightened of are the people who are the most frightened. That it takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak. That you don’t have to hit somebody even if you really really want to. That no single, individual moment is and of itself unendurable. That clique alliance and exclusion and gossip can be forms of escape. That, perversely, it is often more fun to want something than to have it.That logical validity is not a guarantee of truth. That evil people never believe they are evil, but rather that everyone else is evil. That it is possible to learn valuable things from a stupid person. That everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. That it takes effort to pay attention to any one stimulus for more than a few seconds.”

"People of a certain age and level of like life-experience believe they're immortal: college students and alcoholics/addicts are the worst: they deep-down believe they're exempt from the laws of physics and statistics that ironly govern everybody else. They'll piss and moan your ear off if somebody else fucks with the rules, but they don't deep down see themselves subject to them, the same rules. And they're constitutionally unable to learn from anybody else's experience: if some jaywalking B.U. student does get his car towed, your other student's or addict's response to this will be to ponder just what imponderable difference makes it possible for that other guy to get splattered or towed and not him, the ponderer. They never doubt the difference — they just ponder it. It's like a kind of idolatry of uniqueness."

"You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do."

Upon reading it, the obsession with this book got pretty fierce. Followed by a track-down-everything-this-author-has-written type of affection.

Particularly when I heard this speech from him.

I've always held that Magnolia was that one piece of art that I've connected to the most.  That the older I get, certain themes and emotions comes to the surface that weren't there upon the first, second, umpteenth viewing. Consider this correlation between the two: "And the book says We may be through with past, but the past is not through with us." Wallace's book says "The truth will set you free, but not until it is finished with you."

So what is it about?

Well, at over 1000 pages, it's about alot of things.  Taking places primarily in a tennis academy and a halfway house and featuring a enormous cast of characters. One that would make Altman weep. All being funneled through addiction and how we choose to define our lives by the pleasures we seek. There is humor scattered throughout. At the same time a tragic undercurrent that concerns people who are lost within their families and themselves. There are tennis players, filmmakers, drug addicts, alcoholics, clinically depressed patients, wounded parents and damaged children. Regardess of occupation or defining characteristic, all of them are crying out for some sense of purpose, community and love.

Infinite Jest has become a companion to me and is one of the few pieces of art that is a catharsis to the anxiety that I have. There is an profundity in its tragedy and an absurdist truth to its comedy. I don't know when I will return to this book as it's exhausting in verbosity and at times, emotionally. But I do know, one day I will go through it's riches again.

David Foster Wallace would choose to take his own life in 2008. Leaving behind a small but incredibly important body of work. I can't imagine the levels of anxiety he had. It casts a haunting shadow over his work since he never wrote a word regarding his own problems with depression. Yet he understands the human condition so totally that it almost seems like it is codified in some of the passages in his books. I have to thank DFW for making the work a challenge. He is that type of artist that I respond to the most. Sincere, thought provoking and honest about the human condition and the experiences that we are going through. Above all, his work challenges me to continue creating regardless of how introverted or different someone may be.

If you suffer from some form of anxiety (come to think of it, we all suffer in different ways. just some more than others), then I implore you to check out Wallace's work. Taking on Jest is a challenge. One of those very rare books in which you'll need two bookmarks- a normal one and another for the footnotes in the back. Your best bet is to start with his essays, Consider the Lobster or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (containing an excellent essay on Lynch's Lost Highway). At the very least, listen to his "This Is Water". It may just help you become more aware and conscious in an increasingly unconscious world. I am a better person for having read this book and discovering this endlessly talented individual. I hope you will one day take it on and feel the same.

An interview with Charlie Rose concerning the Lynch article, Wallace's thoughts on film, literature, etc.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Potter, Frodo, & Edward, Oh my!

As a child, the element of fantasy was something that was not only maleable in the form of a film, it was also bearable. Neverending Story (Limahl's theme still being diggable), Little Monsters and Beetlejuice all had this "escape the real world" quality that appealed to a 7 year old who already was finding it hard to relate to others in terms of interests. What differentiates those films from what would be considered a "fantasy" based movie today can only be pointed to a subjective experience that is deeply rooted in childhood nostalgia.

Having seen the first 5 films of the Harry Potter franchise, I can only come off with a feeling of uneasiness followed by bouts of frustrated confusion. The first two being directed by Chris "still unable to escape the Home Alone feel" Columbus. The third by Alfonso Cuaron and the rest of the installments helmed by David Yates. Now, popular vote would contend that Cuaron's installment is the best. From the first four films, at least. A potent mix of just the right amount of childlike humor and dark elements to streamline it to an audience ranging from child to adult. If that is indeed the case, then I still find it hard to care about the elements that make up such story- characters being the key here. The story does indeed get darker as Voldemort is introduced later on. & as a villian, his lineage can be traced back to the franchise villian to end them all- Darth Vader. A reoccuring motif of darkness that would pervade as Harry would grow older. The problem? Everything is is painstakingly null in void. From Weasley right on down to Dumbledore. These are not memorable characters. They are people that come off as annoying. This is not even getting to the special effects department.

This frustration goes well beyond the fantasy genre and into a whole other one- book adaptations. Or to put it even more appropriately, franchises rooted in a series of books embraced by popular culture. Kicking off with Lord of the Rings in 2001, followed by Harry Potter, Twilight and currently, The Hunger Games.

The problem for me is that, having been aware of the source material for these adaptations, the books themselves never really jumped off the shelves at me. There are some things I could just never get into- pokemon, Japanese anime, wizards and sorcery. It's not like the inner child is dead inside. (Holden Caulfield would be greatly disappointed if that was the case) No. He just didn't grow up with a wand in his hand. I never even knew about Dungeons & Dragons until college. Something I am ungrateful for having now known about.

Machete wielding maniacs and chainsaw wielding butchers will still be abundantly cooler than hobbits, wizards and sparkling vampires.


Watching a character implode can be just as soul wrenching as watching one explode. Muffling their problems until they won't even bother to pick up the phone to their own flesh and blood. The insatiable appetite for sex is a near paralyzing addiction for Brandon. Having crossed the line from "wanting sex" to "needing sex" many years ago.

Shame plunges headlong into an abyss of sexual addiction with a galvanizing, unflinching eye that supercedes its predecessors with something seldom seen from cinema these- unwavering honesty.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


There are only a handful of cop movies that I could call out as being succesful. The early 2000's gave us two of them- Training Day and Narc.

The latter being entrenched in gritty realism and bolstering Liotta's best performance since GoodFellas. Joe Carnahan's script splinters apart the good cop/bad cop genre and infuses it with a befitting punch-to-the-gut style not seen since the grimy tenacity of To Live and Die In L.A. It feels like modern Friedkin but on speed. This all points to the opening scene.

Narc's quick and sudden bursts of violence right off the bat arrive like a shotgun blast to the face of an unsuspecting drug addict. The ability for Carnahan to sustain it all and propel the movie to it's visceral conclusion shows that in 2002, this was a director who had promise. I just wish he had lived up to that promise on subsequent pictures.