Thursday, January 31, 2013

Long Live the Kings

I'll be honest, when it comes to motorcycles, I pretty much know everything. I'm an expert on everything motorcycle related. They have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a young boy I actually did some motorcycle consulting/stunt work for the film Cool As Ice and Weird Science.  Strange enough, I was actually born on a motorcycle, while my mother was riding it. Needless to say, I know my shit. That is why I am recommending everyone check out this short motorcycle documentary about a road trip to Prague or some shit. The film is beautiful and all shot in 16mm. Well worth a watch, the only bad part about it is their stupid looking helmets. Seriously though, this is a great looking short documentary.
Watch it here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


The first and only other time I'd seen Akira was when I was a freshman in high school. So it's been a while.

I finally re-watched it tonight and it made a LOT more sense than the first time I saw it. My high school brain couldn't make sense of the plot, but now it seems a lot more straight-forward. That's a bit misleading, though. To call it "straight-forward" is a bit of a stretch, but still...I followed it and it made sense both plot-wise and thematically so it was a lot more enjoyable this time around.

The score was really unique. The Director knew how to use silence when to really heighten the tension when he needed to, and he matched up the perfect composer. It sounds like Einstürzende Neubauten at times. I can't think of a better style to score the soundtrack of post-apocalyptic Neo Tokyo!

The film is from 1988. It shows its age, but I don't mean that in a negative sense. There's a certain romance to the late 80's Manga. Again, this is another timeless classic. Part of the reason I wanted to watch it again was honestly because the lead characters are part of a bosozuku gang (violent Jap' biker gang). Kaneda's biker is fucking sweet. (and evidently it has a Reverse gear...I guess in the future anything CAN happen)

Gearing aside, the film is about revolution, gov't controlling the populous, youth culture, and power. It's set in the year 2019, 31 years after WWIII. It's in Neo Tokyo and it looks bad-ass. Some crazy ass shit happens, but hang on for the ride. It somewhat makes sense. And it's worth the investment.

If you only watch one Anime this year, you couldn't go wrong with Akira. It was ground-breaking for its time and it still holds up. Classic.

Sláine – The Horned God

So, like I said before, I couldn't wait to re-read "the Horned God."

You can read the original post above for my initial response, if you're so inclined. The second reading was fucking brilliant. I got sucked into Bisley's artwork even more. Since I knew the storyline already I could focus on his art. It's a goddamn masterpiece. I was constantly in awe of how incredible EVERY panel was. How did he paint such consistently incredible shit? It's such a long book. It's so grande. It's like holding an art gallery in your hand. The caliber is unmatched to this day.

The story is great. So relevant. One hallmark of a masterpiece is being timeless. "the Horned God" definitely ticks that box.

Honestly, it might be the best comic of all time. It's that good.

Bisley's perspectives! So damn dynamic. And his trademark colors are so rich and beautiful. Greatest comic artist ever.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Hard Ride

Groovy. Far Out. I need to start dropping jazz on people's minds more, maaan.

The Hard Ride was great. The last "motorcycle movie night" film we watched was Chrome and Hot Leather. It set the bar for 'Nam biker flicks. Tonight we watched the Hard Ride, and it fucking raised that bar like a mofo'! It raised the bar and welded some rebar spikes on it.

Pizza, cider, and cookies. Twas a good night. The Hard Ride is from 1971. It actually has a plot and a pretty cool ending. We saw two nipples, which is about two more than we normally see in these biker flicks. But this from '71, so things were getting a little bit raunchier. The language was a touch harsher than normal. The cliches were flying. The acting was typically crap. And the music suuuuuucked. There's no excuse for the pussy soundtrack. The bikes were incredible. Choppers in almost every shot of the whole flick. The bikes were glorious. Whoever paired such a killer line up of bikes with such shitty music should be shot. Or at least tied to the back of a chopper and dragged through the desert.

Who cares about the plot. It involves 'Nam, some bikers, and some mamas. "The Man" was conspicuously absent, though. The only cop we see is actually quite cool. Very out of character.

The whole crew was stoked on this flick. If you're after a good period biker flick, you can't go wrong with the Hard Ride.

Keep the shiny side up...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I'd read Covey's son's book, "The Speed of Trust" and thought it was excellent. It's a very eye-opening tome that you can apply to business and social life. Well worth a read. It was just a matter of time before I read Covey Snr's landmark book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

I borrowed the book from our company's lending-library. Clearly it was on old copy and I wasn't the first the learn from it. The title and the book is almost mythic and cliche at the same time. But I dove into it without prejudgement. There had to be good reason that this book had sold over 25 million copies, even if seemed a bit "cheesy."

And it turns out there is a very good reason it's sold 25 million copies.

Covey is an even better communicator than his son. I feel like he's a bit more down to earth. Very casual and matter-of-fact, but clearly educated and intelligent. He writes simply so as to connect, yet with enough mature authority so as to command respect and maintain audience. The book flows well. Covey delivers sage counsel peppered with personal examples chapter after chapter, but it never reads as sermon.

True, sometimes Covey drops some religions allusions or references, but it's clearly his own opinion and he doesn't try to convince you to be religions by any means (thankfully). So you can respectfully ignore that if you so choose and get to the meat-and-potatoes of what he's trying to impart. It's worth it.

I read the book with a business situation in mind, but the habits and precepts go far beyond a business setting. They are daily concepts and morals that apply inwardly, outwardly, socially, in business and in pleasure.

I'm not going to go into the actual content of the book because that would do it an injustice. The subtitle is "Powerful Lessons in Personal Change." Read the book, apply the habits, and hopefully be a better person because of it. It can't hurt. There's good advice or powerful anecdotes literally on every page. The 320 pages are worthy of your investment in time and energy. If you only read one book in 2013, this certainly wouldn't be a bad choice. It would make a great gift, too. I feel a certain responsibility to pass it along...

Covey passed away last year. R.I.P., brotha.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Dark Knight Rises


The Dark Knight was head and shoulders better than any other Batman movie. The acting and the overall depth was a lot more engaging than anything I'd seen prior. I was pretty stoked to see the next one in the franchise, the Dark Knight Rises. But it let me down.

I don't really have a lot to say about it. It was alright. It was pretty much just an action flick. Batman himself was the lest interesting character in the film. I was more interested in the roles of the supporting cast; Gordon, Alfred, Fox, and Robin.

None of the bat-automobiles were worth writing home about. The bike was stupid. The flying bat was cool.

Catwoman was well-played. Bane was a bit anti-climactic.

I'll watch the next one, but I'm guessing that the excellence of the Dark Knight was a perfect storm that wont be repeated. This is probably as good as we'll get from here on out. No bother, because the comics are where it's at anyway.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lost in Translation

I lit some incense, cracked open a cider, popped some Pringles, and put in the Lost in Translation DVD. Friday night gets real exciting around these parts.

Like I said, this year will hopefully see me re-watching a lot of the DVDs I own. I've probably only seen Lost in Translation a couple times since the theatre. It was due for a refresh. Glad I put it on. It's still fucking excellent.

The tension is still there. Holy shit. Where to begin? Let's start with the opening scene of Scarlett Johansson's almost naked ass taking up the whole screen. You've got me hook, line and sinker. Amazingly, the film gets even better from there. I don't know how many times I turned to my cats and talked to them in disbelief at how amazing Scarlett looks throughout the film. The cats didn't care. The crazy part is Scarlett was 19 back then and only got better looking as time went on. But this isn't really relevant, it just needed to be stated.

The tension in the film is more important. Sophia Coppola got inside the mind of a man like no one else. Murray's acting, Sophia's script. It's a perfect marriage. This film should be in a time-capsule. We should send it to aliens to explain being a man. It's a phenomenal distillation of alienation and manhood.

The cinematography is killer. The cold neon lights. The warm chiaroscuro. The DP does everything right. The mood is always perfect. The lighting always tells a story. Loved it.

I believe Coppola said she was inspired by In the Mood For Love in an interview. The themes and situations are pretty similar. This is essentially a westernized abstraction/adaptation of ITMFL.

The soundtrack has literally been in constant rotation for the last ten years on my iPod.

The thing about Lost in Translation is that you connect with Bill's character so immediately. You're a participant in the movie. You never feel comfortable and always feel like you're far from home. Yet there's a weird relief in the isolation.

Awesome movie. Brilliant achievement for Sophia Coppola's second film. Murray's best film.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Man Vanishes

I drove down to the DFT to watch this last night. Always a great way to spend a Saturday night.

I was nodding off a bit about halfway through the flick, though. It was dark and warm and it was late. But if you ever see the movie you'd understand that you could miss a few lines of dialogue here and there and be totally fine. You won't be lost.

This film is from 1967 and is only now getting its US theatrical release. Critics are going apeshit over it. I thought it was alright. It's a documentary about missing persons in Japan. The Director profiles a missing person and tries to find out why and where they could be. But he doesn't get past square one. He interviews friends, family and co-workers and really comes up with a whole lotta nothing.

Sooooo... the Director changes the whole premise of the film and throws in a bit of a twist ending. It's a comment on the very existence of a "true" documentary. It questions fact vs fiction and the illusory aspect of film-making. Perception. Reality. Meh.

The flick ends up being a hybrid documentary potentially mixed with fictional drama. The viewer ultimately doesn't really know what is what.

It was worth watching, but it's not something I'd tell everyone to rush and see before anything else. If you feel so inclined, it appears to be uploaded to youtube.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chrome & Hot Leather

The Flying Skülls watched Chrome & Hot Leather this evening at "Shitty Motorcycle Movie Night." Beer flowed, pizza was delivered, and we even caught some side-boob in this great 1971 biker / 'Nam crossover flick.

As the biker genre progressed and ticket sales started to dwindle they started to add in elements of other genres, like horror, blaxploitation, gay, war movie, etc. They did this to rekindle the fire and bring in a wider audience. And it's bloody weird. But it rules. They even give Marvin Gaye a part!

It's essentially about a biker gang that accidentally offs a couple chicks, and the 'Nam boyfriend comes back to exact revenge on the gang. The protagonist enlists the help of a couple of his 'Nam buddies and they go under-cover to bust these the gang. It's pretty damn funny.

The production of the film pendulums back and forth between surprisingly good and expectedly shitty. But overall, the Director definitely tries to elevate this above the likes of some of the '68 / '69 flicks. This movie has a plot. It's thin and full of holes, but there's a definite plot and legitimate story arc that makes it look like Hamlet compared to the likes of the Glory Stompers or Devil's Angels. And the cast includes many staples from the biker genre.

The old ladies were top class. Best we've seen in any biker flick of the era so far. Wish we would have seen more of them.

The bikes ruled hard. Amazing choppers. That's what we watch these things for, and this flick did not disappoint. Bikes in almost every scene of the movie. Just as it should be. There's also the obligatory swastika appearance.

The music veers into fusion territory at times. A bit of r'n'b. And then militaristic bugle drills when appropriate. Long gone are the fuzzy guitar tones of 1969.

The 'Nam heroes were seemingly trained in Kung-Fu, or maybe that was the influence of the 70's new-found obsession/exploitation of Kung-Fu. You decide. But all I know is those 'Nam dudes sure wielded a mean chop.

What else? Oh, the coolest thing was Larry Bishop, who's a member of the Wizards M/C...being addicted to pinball. Get it?

Good. This flick ruled. Watch it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Four Year Plan

What a good day for football. I watched Man U trash Wigan four–nil and watched a great documentary about Queens Park Rangers.

The Four Year Plan is a compelling doc' about QPR's purchase by four zillionaires and the team's ascension through the league. Bernie Eccelstone (if you know anything about cars you're familiar with him) is one of the financiers, and he's joined by a couple young Indians and Italians. The film shows a lot of behind the scenes aspects of managing a football club. It's pretty interesting and honestly pretty damn exciting. I don't give a fuck about QPR, but that's the magic of a good documentary. It makes you care about something or someone you had no prior feelings for.

There's clearly a clash when people run something like a sport as a business. But it IS a business. How do you balance passion with profiteering? It's a fucking tightrope with millions of pounds on the line. Definitely a love/hate thing happening here. But at the end of the day it's about results. It's about putting the ball in the back of the net even if that means going through half a dozen managers in one season!

It's pretty crazy to see how this all pans out. I'd say this film is a must-see for Le Matin. But I'd easily recommend it to anyone else, too. Stream it on Netflix. Good soundtrack to boot.

DOOM is back! Best of 2012

So all of our subscribers have probably been wondering where I've been. Well as our loyal minions might have noticed, as the weather got warmer I blogged less. That's because the Hammer got a boat and was outside as much as possible, hence I didn't do much movie watching.

In 2011 I watched somewhere around 200 movies. I probably watched less then a quarter of that in 2012.

I apologize for leaving everyone. I promise to do better in 2013.

My favorite films I watched in 2012: (in no order)

My favorite albums of 2012: ( in no order....besides 1-3 )
1. Asphyx - Deathhammer
2. Pallbearer - Sorrow & Extinction
3. Nate Hall - A Great River
4. Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay
5. Kadaver - Kadaver
6. Jess & The Ancient Ones - s/t
7. Incantation - Vanquish In Vengeance
8. Candlemass - Psalms of the Dead
9. Grave - Endless Procession of Souls
10. Alunah - White Hoarhound
11. Windhand - s/t
12. Scott Kelly - The Forgiven Ghost In Me
13. Hexvessel  - No Holier Temple
14. Angel Witch - As Above, So Below
15. Royal Thunder - CVI
16. Pilgrim - Misery Wizard
17. Testament - Dark Roots of the Earth
18. Vallenfyre - A Fragile King

Best books I read in 2012: ( in no order )
1. Blood & Gold
2. In Cold Blood
3. Tony Iommi - Ironman
4. Rosemary's Baby
5. Devil In The White City

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I'm making good on my resolution to watch my DVD's and Blu-Ray's instead of getting constantly side-tracked by Netflix.

Last night I bust out 2046. I don't think I've seen this more than once since the theatre so it was time for a refresh.

It made a LOT more sense this time around. Reality and recollection were totally different. I had thought it was more complicated than it really is. It's actually pretty linear. It's also more of a literal sequel to In the Mood for Love than I remembered. I have a shitty memory, so none of this should be shocking to anyone reading this.

Anyway, 2046 is Wong Kar-Wai's follow up to ITMFL, like I said. It's set in 60's Hong-Kong. The soundtrack is probably one of my all time most listened to albums in iTunes. The visuals are typical Christopher Doyle; lush, saturated...breath-taking. When you watch 2046 you get echoes of everything that Kar-Wai has done prior. You feel everything from Ashes of Time to ITMFL. His signature is all over it. It's great.

Obviously I love Kar-Wai, and I'd highly suggest anyone watch this right after they watch ITMFL. I think they make good companion-pieces.

Wong makes movies about lost love. What's heavier than that?

I'll leave you with one of my all time favorite songs:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Two Things...

First, like the Prez, I joined the great unwashed masses to check out the new film by my favorite director. Simply put, Django Unchained was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. In my opinion, this is Tarantino's best movie since Kill Bill I, and you could even argue it was his best since Pulp Fiction. Django Unchained was the movie that Inglorious Basterds should have been.  Like all of Tarantino's films, the dialogue and banter between the characters was incredibly entertaining and well written. I think this was easily his best scripted film since Pulp Fiction. Not only did the writing shine through, but this film was fundamentally successful on every level, especially the acting. Christoph Waltz gave the best performance I've seen by any actor in a long time. Samual L. Jackson played his best role (and played it superbly!) since Jules Winnfield. And for the first time in my life I was actually impressed Dicaprio!

A couple side notes, without giving too much away, I loved that Dicaprio's character was a Francophile much like myself, who can't speak a word of French. 

And,  was I the only one that thought Rick Ross was rapping about needing a 100 black golfers?

Finally, I think you could make the recommendation on seeing this film based on the Tupac and James Brown mashup alone.

Second, to finish up my 'best of posts', here is what I consider to be some of the best songs I listened to in 2012. Enjoy it here.


Nothing to elaborate on that I didn't already cover here when I first read it last May.

Tatsumi is brilliant. I've added at least three of his other books to my Amazon WishList for future procurement. The thing is, he's grim as fuck, but there's a poetry about his work. A lightness and elegance to the depression and mania. Unlike Stray Bullets (which I just reviewed), when Tatsumi covers neurosis and scum you want to go back and read it again and again. It's more palatable. I just love the simple way he tells stories. You should check him out...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Abandon the Old in Tokyo

So, I had my Remicade infusion today and brought some books to read. I got through Abandon the Old in Tokyo and then promptly fell asleep and didn't get to the others! Next time...

I picked this book up in London over the summer when Hammer of Doom and I were there with our old ladies. I gave it a proper review at the time, which you can read here.

It's fucking brilliant and I was glad to read it for the second time.

Art & Copy

As an Art Director watching a film about Art Directors, I  have a slightly skewed perspective on this film. I showed it at work today to the team and I think we all had similar vibes...

I have heightened expectations about what it is and what it should cover, which get in the way of enjoying it for what it is. It's a documentary about Advertising first and foremost. It gets inside the walls of some of the biggest Ad Agencies in NY and SF. The scope is very specific. It doesn't get into method at all. It's always a 50,000 ft view of how certain ads came about. No deep dive on anything. It's cool to hear about Apple's "1984" ad, for instance.

The film just seems to skim the surface and that's why I'm a bit ambivalent about it. On the one hand, I dig it because it's about my career and it's always interesting to see and hear from famous designers. On the other hand, it doesn't offer much other than some tidbits. Some sound-bites. There's nothing truly revelatory or mind-blowing here. I think Helvetica (the doc) does a much better job, for instance. That was a lot more in-depth and visceral.

If you're in the Advertising or Design field then I definitely suggest watching this. It's worth the 90 minutes. If you're not, it's still worth seeing but I just don't know what you'll really get out of it. I'd actually like someone who's not a designer to see it and lemme know they're unbiased opinion. Maybe it's better than I'm letting on...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Le Matin's Best of 2012 List...

So I'm obviously new to this blog, and I thought posting a best of 2012 list would be a good way for people to get a gauge on my interests. I'm sure my tastes will be similar to everyone else on this blog, but hopefully different enough to make it interesting.


Best Movies I saw in 2012 (in no particular order) 
The Raid: Redemption
Killer Joe
Prometheus (yes, yes,  I know it's flawed at best, but...)
Moonrise Kingdom
13 Assassins
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
Cabin in the Woods

Best Song
"Become What You Are" by Merchandise

Best Album
Best complete album easily is "Bloom" by Beach House.  Choose any song from this album, they're all amazing. 

Best Metal Album
"Sorrow and Extinction" by Pallbearer
Best Show
M83 at The Majestic Theater
Out of all the shows I've ever been too, other than Yann Tiersen, I think this may have been the best  group of musicians I've ever seen share a stage together. Technically, they were spot on. Truly remarkable. 

Best Meal
Going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do. I've had the pleasure of eating and drinking in a lot of great restaurants this year. I recently returned from NYC, where I ate at several of the best restaurants in the city and came back somewhat underwhelmed. That said, I had the best meal of the year in Detroit. I really feel that the Metro Detroit food scene, which has always been solid, is coming into its own.  There are so many new cool restaurants, that I have a hard time keeping up. The best meal I had in 2012 was the House Aged New York Strip with roasted marrow, pickles & horseradish, accompanied by a side of spinach & feta au gratin at Roast. It's hard to be impressed by a New York strip, but this dish transcends a what a steak is supposed to be. Granted, the two cocktails I had might have helped out some!

Best Book 
Zone One By Colson Whitehead 

Best Television Show
I think we are in the 'new' golden age of television. In a lot of ways TV has the potential to surpass film. The writing and production for TV gets better and better, that combined with rewarding story arcs and charterer development have led to a lot compelling TV watching. A "show" that I really enjoyed watching that not a lot of people may not have had a chance to watch, was the BBC's Sherlock. My favorite episode (it's more like a movie) of the series was "A Scandal in Belgravia". For frame of reference my favorite series are Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Girls, and Workaholics, to name a few.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So I'm one of those new authors...

Thanks to the Prez for the invite to post on this blog, I look forward to contributing. My goal is to post less than the Prez and more than Doom. I'll be posting my 'best of list' shortly. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Authors for 2013

Cürrent 451 is going to add a couple new authors for 2013. We might branch out into restaurants and maybe cover more music, too. So expect to see a couple new bylines popping up soon!

Stray Bullets: Innocence of Nihilism

Sanguis told me to check this title out after we were bullshitting about the awesomeness of Criminal and comic noir in general. I respect his opinion so I grabbed a copy from Amazon, since it's currently out of print.

He said it was super gritty and low-life and he wasn't freakin joking. Stray Bullets documents the debased behavior of weirdos and outsiders. The book is made up of a bunch of stories, seven in total, I believe. They all take place within a few years of each other and the characters weave in and out of each situation. It's one big connected universe centered around Baltimore, MD. Have you ever been to Baltimore? It makes Detroit look safe. That's how fucked up Baltimore is.

Stray Bullets is a DOWNER. It's like Sin City if Yoshihiro Tatsumi wrote it. The glamour and romance is sucked out, and you're just left with s-c-u-m. Life sucks, everything goes wrong, people are shit.

I really dig the high contrast black/white art. The stories are well-written. It's a really good book. I'm just not looking to read the whole series. I think I'll stick with volume one for now. There are some interesting plots, and he really keeps you guessing. He sets you up with one expectation and then fucks you up with the next panel. Throws you off track. It's great. It's an original book.