Monday, May 28, 2012

Bill Cunningham New York

Two documentaries in two nights about octogenarians. I'm so bloody exciting it hurts.

Bill Cunningham is another weird dude. He's a fanatical fashion photographer who's been influencing and documenting the fashion industry for longer than I've been alive. Now he's 80 and he still pedals his bike up and down the streets of New York capturing image after image. He still uses film, too.

He seems like a nice bloke. His passion for his work is inspiring. But the documentary isn't quite as inspiring as Bill is. The doc is less about Bill and his life and more about Bill at 80. There's very little back story and I found that to be detrimental to the film. This guy's lead a long, rich life that could have been mined for content. But instead it's a very shallow film. It doesn't dig too much. It just sort of follows Bill around. I think they could have really charted his life a lot better and made for a more compelling narrative. But whatever.

Marie liked it a lot. I thought it was alright.

The Invention of Dr. NakaMats

I saw this pop up on Netflix somehow. Related movies or something. I needed something to watch for an hour last night and since this clocked in at 57 minutes I gave it a try.

Dr. Nakamatsu is pretty fucking awesome. He holds over 3500 patents in Japan, including the floppy disc. He's a true genius, as his inventions span an incredible range of products and ideas. Some are very scientific or mechanical like his water-powered engine, and others are more bizarre. Speaking of which, Dr. Nakamatsu is a bizarre character himself. He sleeps 4 hours a day maximum, he starves himself of oxygen to spur brain activity, and he eats one meal a day. He expects to live to be 144.

You should see how he determines whether or not a camera is good quality or not.

It's weird, b/c the doc seems to be a genuinely respected inventor and innovator, but he does some pretty wacky things that you would think would compromise people's perception of him in a negative fashion.

I think the film is worth watching for the opening credits alone. I thought they were fucking sweet. Real cool typographic treatment. It's only an hour. Pretty interesting stuff. And funny.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Classic Albums: Who's Next

The greatest album by one of the greatest bands ever.

I've probably already gushed over the Who before on this blog. No need for me to give them all literary handjobs again. I never tire of seeing Who footage of any sort.

Unbelievably good. Catch me on the right (or wrong) day and I'll tell you the Who are better than Sabbath.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Classic Albums: Machine Head

I probably shouldn't have reviewed each one these individually. A set would have been less boring, but as a fastidious completist I shall continue upon the path upon which I have already started to blaze.


So yeah, I watched another Classic Albums. It's the same ol' schtick as the rest. And it's about another album you probably already knew a bunch about. BUT as a nerd, it's still always worth the 50 minute investment. You glean new tidbits of info you didn't know before. And it's always cool to hear them remix the songs on the fly.

What makes this one pretty cool is the cast of characters. Blackmore is a bit of a fairy. Lord is a big fella. Phenomenal musician. I really dig his approach to music and songwriting. It's be amazing to be in a band with him. And Gillan freakin rocks. The archival footage is sweet. I think they're such an odd group of people (like most bands tend to be) that it pushed and pulled their music in so many directions. Often to their detriment. But this is Machine Head. It's an amazing record and this short doc is worth streaming.

Looks like they're about to gig in Sherwood Forest with that get-up. Ian Gillan and his Merry Men.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

London Boulevard

Lock Stock, Snatch, Layercake, Sexy Beast...add this one to the list of cool ass British gangster films.

An ex-con fresh out of the joint trying to live the straight life but they keep pulling him back in...a familiar story indeed. But this version has enough layers to make it stand out from the rest. Ray Winstone, Ben Chaplin, David Thewlis, Stephen Graham and Eddie Marsan all deliver some great performances. I'm not usually a fan of Colin Farrell but even he did a convincing job.

The movie is extremely fast paced...almost to a fault. You get introduced to a lot of characters very quickly. And at an hour and 43 minutes I wouldn't have minded another 20 mins of story to get a better fell for all the different sleaze bags. A lot of the background to the characters, as well as some of the side stories are told through the dialogue so you really have to pay attention to whats being said.

Graham and Marsan both have small, almost insignificant roles that I wished were a bigger part of the story. Especially Marsan playing the dirty copper.

Cool soundtrack. Definitely recommended. Streaming on Netflix. Dig it.

It's not a love story like the preview kinda makes it out to be.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

the Debt

I forgot about this flick, but I was glad it was playing on the airplane and I was a captive audience. This freakin ruled!

In a nutshell this is based on the "Angel of Death", Josef Mengele. Although, in the film he is called by a fictitious name, but clearly that's who the character is based on. He was a horrific "doctor" who mutilated Jews in the operating theatre by conducting fucked up experiments on them like switching their hands and feet or creating fake conjoined twins.

So, without getting into too much detail and giving away spoilers, there are three Jewish characters who are tasked with capturing the aforementioned Nazi war criminal in 1965. The plan is to take him to Israel so he can face trial and ultimately get executed by the state.

But things don't always go to plan and so this film takes place over a 30 year period.

I really enjoyed this flick. Acting was intense. No weak links in the cast. Editing and pacing were great. It looked suitably grim. It was a very riveting film and reminded me of The Lives of Others, which won a bunch of Oscars (not that that means a whole lot).

If you're in the mood for a fucking great thriller/drama, then peep this!


I was on a plane for close to 8 hours. Didn't have a lot of stuff that looked appealing. I picked this first cuz it had Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender and Antonio Banderas in it, so it wasn't exactly a B-List line-up.

It looked like a second rate Bourne Trilogy film and that's exactly what it was. Except with big knockers and an interesting score.

Don't see this.

Sláine – The Horned God

Unquestionably one of the greatest stories ever told.

After Bad Eye got me into Conan and then Northlanders I got really excited about well-written barbarian books. I bought all the Dark Horse Conan TPB's, starting collecting Northlanders, picked up the Viking hardcover, and in London I got my hands on the Horned God.

When I was growing up 2000AD was my first exposure to comics (the Beano doesn't count!). The Horned God was being published at the time but as I didn't cotton on to it right from the get-go, I couldn't really follow the story. It didn't make any bloody sense. So I just looked in awe at Bisley's jaw-dropping paintings. The writer, Pat Mills, is actually the creator of 2000AD, so it's one hell of a power duo creating this thing.

Clearly Danzig was paying attention because he commissioned Biz to paint the cover of Thrall: Demonsweatlive. Which is fucking amazing.

Anyway, Pat Mills draws from many traditional Celtic folklores and infuses them into Sláine's mythos. He creates a rich story that is many levels deep, but doesn't leave you scratching your head. It's compelling and vast, but still manageable. He strikes a perfect balance.

I really dug the story thematically. It's very focused on establishing a harmony with nature. And Sláine isn't as one-dimensional as Conan can be, for instance. Sláine is more like the thinking-man's barbarian. He's just more tempered than Conan. His feral nature is actually MORE intense than Conan, but he doesn't go running around turned up to 11 all the time. I think Mills made Sláine more human and it helps ground in when you're reading such a fantastical story with dragons and multiple dimensions.

Bottom line is that this book is one of the greatest achievements in the history of comic books. No doubt. When you're talking about all time greats, this has to be included. I can't wait to read it again.


I'm going to go ahead and assume you just read the previous post which talks about Tatsumi's 2nd compendium, Abandon the Old in Toyko. This is his 3rd and it's called Good-Bye.

So, like I was saying, he brings in a little more politics into this one, particularly touching on Hiroshima. It works for me. The only difference I see in the first collection of stories vs. the next two is that they seem a touch shorter in Pushman? I think he was writing for maybe a variety of different pubs with varying lengths of weekly installments. Anyway, more of the same in Good-Bye. More perversion, more salt in the wound, more shame and inner demons. More spotlights on Japan's quiet subconscious.

I actually really dig that many of his characters look the same. Tatsumi draws the "everyman" and I appreciate that the "everyman" looks pretty similar in each story. I think it's important to his storytelling. I mention this because I've seen some people deriding his art for its same-ness.

The fourth book might be out right now. I'm gonna go check on Amazon and add that to my cart. I'll also get around to reading his bio. Cool thing is that there's a film being made about him based on his bio. Pretty psyched.

Tatsumi is definitely one of my favorite comic book artists of all time. Go buy the Pushman...

Abandon the Old in Tokyo

Picked this up in London at Forbidden Planet. It's been a long wait.

I got the Pushman years ago in Thailand and loved it. My good friend turned me onto Tatsumi and I couldn't get enough of his 60's/70's output. I kept passing the book around to friends telling them they HAD to read it.

I kept trying my local comic book stores and none of them would carry any of the subsequent collections of his work. The only thing I'd see would be his life story (part one is 800 pages), and that wasn't the gnarly, nasty, fucked up kinda story I was looking for (which is what I got with the Pushman collection).

Fast forward to two weeks ago and we're in London. I found the second and third collections of his macabre 70's work. First one on deck was Abandon the Old in Toyko.

I don't think I'll ever be able to read any of his stories, regardless of how good they are, and have the same connection as I did to the Pushman. The virginal experience with Tatsumi can't be replicated. Before you read your first story you don't know what you're getting into. Then when you get hooked! Always chasing that first high...

Anyway, Abandon the Old in Tokyo is great. Another collection of his work that focuses on exposing the ugly underbelly of Japanese society. Tatsumi talks about things that I'm sure no peer would broach if their lives depended on it. As his career advanced he seemed to inch slightly more towards bringing in politics. I think we see that even more so with the third book, Good-Bye.

This is 70's sex, scandal, self-depravity, introspection, exposition, and all around societal fucked-up-ed-ness.

A true classic. Essential.