Friday, August 31, 2012

Fire in Babylon

Yeah, I just watched a documentary about the West Indies Cricket Team in the late 1970's. And you know what? It fucking ruled.

Another topic I don't know shit about; cricket. And do I ever really care to know about it? Not really. But this is a compelling story about people, struggle, politics, athleticism, the most winningest sports team of ANY sport (undefeated in their Test Matches for 15 consecutive years!!!), rasta, racism, unity and broken bones.

These dudes had heart. It's an incredible story. Watch the trailer. You might get a different opinion on cricket.

The flick has pretty good production value. Interviews with all the major players of the time, as well as various rasta royalty. If this Bunny Wailer clip doesn't make you wanna watch it... Seriously. I and I give up, rasta man. Na badda me. One love.

Streaming on Netflix. Add it to your queue already, mofo.


I had low expectations for this, but wanted to check it out anyway just in case. A prior motorcycle doc I saw that Ewan McGregor also narrated had set the bar low for me, but it was unwarranted in this case cuz this flick was surprisingly dope!

This is like the moto' equivalent of Senna. Ok, it's not on par with Senna, but it's the closest we've got from a moto' perspective. This was intense. This is a gripping film.

I know as much about Moto GP racing as I know about calculus (which is nothing). So I was coming into this with a clean slate and no preconceptions about what or who it should cover. Turns out it focuses on Valentino Rossi (current GP sporting icon), and follows him for a few years. But this isn't a Rossi doc per se, so it tracks some other guys and documents some exciting rivalries. The film also gives high level overviews of the bikes, the safety, the crashes, a little history, and other such things. It does a great job of introducing you to recent Moto GP racing at a high level.

I was riveted and I don't think this is just for bikers by any means. Anyone with a heartbeat could enjoy this film. It's all highlights. It's exciting. It's interesting. The on-board camera shit is just breath-taking. These guys are on 220 hp bikes going 200+. Their reaction times are just beyond comprehension. Fitness, skill, balls... massive.

Everyone should watch this. Streaming on Netflix.

I subsequently added Faster to my queue. That's the first installment from 1993. This one is from 2011.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the Dhamma Brothers

Bad Eye suggested I peep this hour-long documentary. I'm glad he passed it along. It was fucking good.

The doc is pretty low budget, but the content is what matters. It's about a super violent prison in the dirty south that opens its doors to a couple of Buddhist monks to teach meditation to the inmates. The film documents the prisoners before, during and after their 10 day vow of silence and their intense meditation sessions.

The outcome is pretty profound. 1) It's a testament that these murderers and lifers had the balls to take a class like this considering prison culture and 2) it's brilliant that years later they are still meditating and sticking to their practice. This program genuinely changed lives for the better. 

Most people don't understand that Buddhism isn't really a religion; it's a philosophy. And as such, it can be applied in a secular manner. In this case they weren't even really overtly teaching Buddha's precepts or ideology, they were teaching the art of meditation as a way to journey into the self. And they were teaching mediation and self-realization as a pathway to love and understanding.

Watch it and see. The trailer gives a pretty decent high level overview of the content of the film so you don't need me to recap that.

Steaming on Netflix. Aaaaaaauuuuuuuummmmmmm......

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster?

Architecture documentaries are generally pretty slick, because if you're passionate enough to care about doing a freakin doc on an architect, chances are that you've got a keen eye for aesthetics to begin with.

This film is a good example of that assertion. The cinematography, the music, the pacing, the all works in harmony. It's really well done.

I'm not an architecture nerdario so I didn't know who Norman Foster was, but I was clearly familiar with his buildings. And I had admired them from afar. On a recent trip to London I must have seen a half dozen of his works. From the Gherkin to City Hall, Foster's aesthetic is clearly stamped on the London skyline.

I really admire Foster's work ethic. The dude is in his 70's and he flies gliders, has a commercial pilot's license, does bloody marathons on skis in the freezing winter, and runs one of the most influential architecture firms on the planet. He has a global presence and his work will live on for generations after he passes. Oh, and he beat cancer. The guy is phenomenal.

I like that he's not a pretentious art fag, either. He's down to earth, and the kind of artist that junior architects can admire and aspire to be. He's not untouchable. Seems like a cool, approachable figure, who has a passion for buildings.

I think this doc is well worth watching. Go stream it on Netflix. Great stuff.

Millau Viaduct in France

2001: A Space Odyssey

I'd never actually seen Kubrick's, 2001: A Space Odyssey until 2 nights ago. Bizarre.

Actually, "bizarre" is an appropriate word indeed. Not counting the monolith, everything was pretty damn linear and then the third act hits and you're thrown for a bloody loop. I need to do some serious reading about this film to find out what happens in the last portion of the film cuz it's not exactly immediately obvious. I'm interested to find out what's going on...

Nevertheless, as a whole, it was awesome. The effects were Earth-shattering for 1968. Fuck CGI when you've got good ol' smoke and mirrors. And miniatures. Way more realistic.

Of course, Kubrick is highly revered, and deservedly so. If this was his only contribution to cinema, he'd still be the legend that he is. Never mind the fact that he wrote and directed so many more ground-breaking films. A true auteur of his time. Not that you care, but my unpopular opinion is that Eyes Wide Shut is my favorite film of his I've seen. What can I say? That movie fucking floors me. But maybe that says more about me than it needs to...

Kubrick is about desolation. And he serves it up in spades in 2001. At times it reminds me of THX1138. At times it even reminded me of the Seventh Seal. It has a quiet majesty to it. Stoic and incredibly dense. HEAVY.

Good to see Leonard Rossiter making an appearance.

Anyway, I need to do some research on this. There's not a lot to say right now. I'm sure you've seen it if you're reading this. I don't wanna give anything away. Powerful film. Marie loved it, too. I've got Lolita on deck. I have the bloody dvd and haven't watched it yet...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Conan: the Hand of Nergal

I guess I should temporarily rechristen the blög; Conan451, with the amount of Howardian reading I've been doing as of late. What can I say? Shit's dope.

Except for when it isn't. This was my first time reading the Hand of Nergal, and I was a bit disappointed for once. Based on this book I'd say that Busiek and Nord make a much stronger collaboration than Truman and Giorello. But things can change. We'll see what the next book has in store soon enough. I felt Truman's writing wasn't as personable or inviting as Busiek's. Not as relaxed. It felt more formal and more like what you'd expect to read as an REH adaptation, but not what you want to. It seemed less original and comfortable than the books I've been reading prior.

As for Griorello's was one hell of a dense and dark book. The story was borderline horror and the art was heavy and brooding, too. It just didn't feel as sharp as I'd prefer. Too phantasmagoric overall. Too foggy and dismal.

I don't want to give away much of the plot. It's probably polarizing. Those of you who prefer a sword and sorcery thing won't like it as much (maybe), but those of you into Lovecraft may drool.

Why did Griorello seemingly model Lord Than after James Brown? That's what I wanna know... Bel, Mitra, and Ishtar!

Look at his pimp collar and that hair. Homie looks like James Brown.

I don't know karate, but I know k-razy! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Conan: Rogues in the House

I read this one last night. I freakin flew through it. It just has a raw intensity to it. I wish I could slow down for a second and enjoy the art more, but the story just propels you forward.

The full time artist switches up with this book. I honestly prefer the original dude, but I'm not complaining about Giorello. He has a more painterly technique. It's deeper and looser. At times reminds me more of classic Hammer Horror (which is nostalgic in an appropriate way) and in a couple scenes even reminded me of Glenn Barr. Jiara just looked so angular and stylized. It's not a step forward, but we could call it a lateral move of equal quality. Just different.

This book takes some acerbic barbs against religion, as well as some critiques of modern man. It's typical Howardian commentary. I dig. We learn about trust and so-called barbarism.

I mentioned Conan picked up a couple characters in the last book that seemed to carry forth into the next adventure. In this book we get to see what fate has in store for the loyal Gunderman and the gold-digging Jiara. If people were appalled at how she was treated...fuck that...she got away with her life, which is plenty more than she deserved...

Anyway, I'm gonna end this here so I can tuck into the next installment the Nemedian Chronicles before I retire for the evening.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Conan: The Hall of the Dead

Finally, up to date on my postings. For now.

Conan's settled in for the time being in Zamora, the City of Thieves. And as such we see some characters sticking around for more than 5 minutes. Jiara is his his main squeeze at the moment, although she's causing him quite some aggravation. She keeps Conan happy in the sack as long as he provides plenty of shiny objects for her. Such is life.
And there's Nestor Gunderman, who's weaving in and out of Conan's adventures in Zamora.

We actually see the three of them riding off at the end of the book together. Nestor joining the duo for who knows what may lay ahead. But that's skipping ahead. The Hall of the Dead story is pretty cool. Very magical. Overall though, this book is more about the life of thievery in Zamora and the politics that go along with it, than out and out sword and sorcery. It's a bit more of a morality tale. Maybe slightly slower in pacing than some of the other books. But nonetheless, well worth the read and a great continuation in the saga of the Nemedian Chronicles.

Crom's balls!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Watain: Opus Diaboli

Watain did a spooktacular job capturing their live show on this DVD. If you've never seen them, then this is as close as you can get without actually smelling like cow's blood. The production value and editing is freakin excellent. 

The show is full of bombastic energy and explosions. The setlist is killer. It sounds amazing. It's everything a Watain show IS. Truly an unholy experience. 

However, interspersed throughout the live show are some little vignettes of E talking about how evil and solitary they are. They're channeling Satan's work etc. He pretends to take himself so seriously that it's all quite silly. There is no God, and there is no theistic Satan, I'm afraid, E. Magick, spells, incantations, etc, are all a load of bollocks. But I don't care. As long as Watain keep churning out amazing album after amazing album, coupled with the greatest live show on Earth, and the best marketing/merch in the metal world...then I don't care if they worship the Smurfs. Something's working out for them cuz they're the greatest Black Metal band in many, many, years. Even if they do take themselves a bit too seriously. 

Hail Watain!

Last Days Here

First impression: Bobby Leibling is a loser.

I dig Pentagram. Seriously good band, and Bobby is a talented-ass song-writer. Of this there is no doubt. But he's also a grade-A loser, immortalized for all to see in this pretty good documentary.

This is a pretty low budget, kinda low rent doc, but it's pulled together by the raw talent of the editing. It's well-paced and stays on track to tell a good story. It revolves around Bobby's friend and manager, Pellet, and their relationship. Later on it brings in Hallie, his love interest, and we see his parents and bandmates throughout the flick as needed.

I don't know why I find the need to bash Bobby, but seeing a 50+ yr old dude living with his parents, doing heroin and crack for 30+ years, covering in open wounds, and generally acting like a child is pretty disgusting. He's asking for it. Anyway, he's only destroyed himself...well, he's fucked people along the way, but he's definitely his own worst enemy. Let's hope his new wife and baby are a sincere, positive step towards clean living and a brighter, drug-free future.

Pentagram rule hard. This is worth watching.

Classic Albums: the Dark Side of the Moon

I think this was the first Classic Albums I watched. I just got around to re-watching it.

Just like I said with the last post, you know what you're getting. Again, like the Doors one, this is particularly good. Nice mix of archival photos and videos with contemporary interviews. Dig it.

Classic Albums: the Doors

This is a good Classic Albums doc. There's a wealth of archival footage and it's woven together very nicely with interviews of the remaining band members.

As with all the other Classic Albums reviews on here you know what you're getting. I'm not gonna rehash it. This one keeps your interest and adds another layer of respect for Jim Morrison and the Doors. Watch it.


I watched this again the other day and cried like a baby.

Saw this opening day in the theatre and loved it. It brought a wee tear to my eye then, but the other night I was just a mess! To be honest, I think my emotions are out of whack due to the sickness and medications I'm on, but that's a tragic story whether you're on drugs or not.

The sadness to me is similar to that you feel for Freddie Mercury. They were both bringing joy to millions of people, they meant the world to their country's, they were pure artists, and they simply didn't deserve to die so young. You can't fault those dudes and you feel a sense of deprivation because they had so much more to give. They could have done so much more and enriched more people's lives. That's the tragedy. The unwritten potential to lift people's spirits.

Anyway, sadness aside, this is a great story of a driven artist becoming the greatest on Earth through his talent alone. He didn't fuck with the bullshit politics of his sport, he just raced. Pure racing.

And he gave back to his country and his community. The dude was an incredible athlete. Great documentary.

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

After reading so much Conan, I wanted to give Conan the Barbarian (2011) a fair shake. See if it was even tolerable.

I knew I'd have to cut it a lot of slack as 1) I hate almost all CGI, and 2) it looked shit. Surprisingly though, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. As a Conan fan it certainly didn't suck you in like the comics do. There was an obvious degree of surface entertainment. It never dug as deep as a comic. But it wasn't total bollocks.

The Morgan Freeman narration in the beginning is pitiful. It sounds like he totally phoned that one in. No enthusiasm for the subject. Bah.

They make a couple references to stories like Born on the Battlefield and the Tower of the Elephant. There's a good amount of decapitations and and boobs, but not really enough of either. Still, they tried. My biggest gripe is trying to find an actor who sounds like how I expect Conan to sound. I think this dude manages to get one line out in the whole film that I thought was a good example of how Conan would speak. He seemed a little too whispery overall...not enough baritone. I dunno.

I tried watching the original Conan the Barbarian a few months ago and I only got 10 minutes into it and turned it off. So if that's any indication, then this one was pretty good.

I'd only suggest die-hard Conan fans watch this. And cut it some slack.