September 22nd, 2003


(no subject)

Another movie watching binge:

My Man Godfrey
The Iowa City Public Library's collections is well-sprinkled with classic films, and I'm making my way through them. This contrasts the down and out with the rich, a popular theme during the Great Depression, but this is a comedy that is as crisp and fluent as you'll ever see. William Powell is brilliant as Godfrey the Butler. Carol Lombard is as good as the role requires, but the roll is stagily giddy; I suspect she had loads more to offer. The real star is cinematic technique, starting with the credits, where the title and credits are neon signs in a waterfront scene the camera pans across, which settles on the Brooklyn Bridge (though the city in the movie is never named), that lap-dissolves from the matte painting to a live scene. The photography and editing are fantastic; I don't know how much monkeying they did in the digital transfer, but the blacks, whites, and greys are sumptious.

Kaspar Hauser or "Every Man For Himself And God Against All." This is one of Werner Herzog's best known and loved movies, and is a great introduction to his style. For Herzog, an unusually straightforward telling of a historical event -- a mysterious young man appears who apparently knows only one sentence in a human language, who is later, just as mysteriously murdered. I saw this in college and loved it, and I enjoyed it a second time around.

Herzog is really a film-maker's film-maker; this movie is full of arresting visual imagery, from the wind-tossed rye field in the beginning, to the strange sequences that represent Kaspar's inner imaginings. These, according to the commentary track, were done by putting a telephoto lens after a fish-eye lens. The pace is pretty slow here; Herzog isn't afraid to let a shot go about 3 times longer than a Hollywood director because he wants you to really see it.

The real attraction is the inimitable Bruno S., the non-actor Herzog found for the film. I won't duplicate his bio but he is absolutely perfect for the role. The look of perpetual surprise on his face, his gait and his diction are unlike anything a 'real' actor would ever do.

If you ever get the chance, check out Bruno's only other feature, Herzog's Stroszek, which is funny, heartbreaking, and an outlandishly bizarre vision of America through Herzog's eyes.

Actually, every Herzog film I've ever seen has been crucial. The pace, always deliberate, may throw you. I've heard from people who've thought his films were boring. But once you surrender to his method, they're the sort of movies that make the real world seem strange when they're over.

And he's prolific; there's over 40 features on He made a fantastic vampire movie in Nosferatu. He explores small-town madness in Heart of Glass. And he sets a cast of dwarves loose to trash everything around them in "Even Dwarves Start Small." And all of his films are leavened with a quirky, dry humor.

(no subject)



Trojan Records is the seminal record label for Reggae -- they released records by literally every reggae artist known outside of Jamaica. Since 1999 the label has been releasing fantastic box sets of the label's output, I got the Dub box set the other day. I also have the Instrumentals box, and the 'History Of ...' set; there are loads of others but Reggae is a genre for which it pays the listener to be very choosy.

As usual, when it comes to dub, the best tracks on the compilation are those of King Tubby and Lee Perry. Tubby has unfortunately left us, but Lee Perry is still around. Perry is famously, outrageously nuts, but his productions are amazing. Anyway, if you have any interest at all in Reggae and Dub, these are highly recommended. Considering that Hip Hop and the Remix owe their existence to Reggae, it's a genre that's difficult to ignore.

And if you don't like Reggae, well ... I'm betting you just haven't heard the right records.

(no subject)

Cool Iowa Rave Horror Story (from here)

DH: What has been your worst experience playing out?? I heard something about a sketchy party in Iowa.

TY: See, I try to leave the Iowa stuff to a minimum, but I can't escape it. I'll make it quick. It started with Mike and I going to play a rave in Iowa. We get there and are greeted by two sketchy ass dudes that say they are taking us to our rooms. We come to find out that it's their house, not a hotel, and it's super ghetto. We arrive really tired from the night before and are greeted by the mullet crew with stray dogs running wild. Some guy is drinking vodka from the bottle trying to give a tattoo. He's drinking to keep the shakes away during his wonderful work. (laughs).

We have to wait six hours before we play so we sleep in some nasty ass beds with fake leopard sheets. A few hours later we found out that we have to drive two hours to the party. We get there, no monitor, so they turn one entire wall of speakers toward our heads. Mike drowned into a mode. I take some... into a mode... (smiles) and play the rave. We have to blaze out of there right after my set because the plane leaves in 2 1/2 hours. They decide to let some tweaker take us back. Her car breaks down half way and there's no cellphone service. She starts crying and curls into a ball and doesn't move.

A dude ends up driving us back to the party in his Camaro, but not after we shoot off some of his homemade fireworks. It's 5am, swamplandshitholenowhere. At the party, the girl who first drove us bought a stolen car to take us back. Ok I'm ending it I promise. She starts to pass out at the wheel of the stolen car and I end up driving Mike and me back to the airport. (laughs) That's Iowa. But I still love ya!