Friday, March 24, 2006

Recent Raves

Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) : In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn't want to share... you know what they did?
Ah Ping (Ping Lam Siu) : Have no idea.
Chow Mo-wan : They went up a mountain, found a tree, carved a hole in it, and whispered the secret into the hole. Then they covered it with mud. And leave the secret there forever.
Ah Ping : What a pain! I'd just go to get laid.
Chow Mo-wan : Not everyone's like you.
(Dir. Kar Wei Wong, 2000)

Again sorry for not posting for a bit - I've been too busy working 2 jobs to see many movies lately. Now I have a little time to write so I thought I'd babble 'bout not just movies but some music, books and other whatnot that I've been digging lately in a post I call :

Recent Raves - Film, music, and other whatnot
(or things that have kept me alive lately)

WAL-MART : THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE (Dir. Robert Greenwald - 2005) This may be full of information most already know (small long owned businesses being destroyed when a Walton family owned monstrosity rolls into town, scores of people who are on welfare while being employed by Wal-Mart, repeated crimes in their security-free parking-lots, etc) but Greenwald's heartbreaking documentary makes a convincing case that there may not be anything but EVIL at that discount superstore monopoly. Without much polish - no glitzy graphics or snappy soundtrack - this flick particularly got to me because the company I work for does some of the same shit. The movie is not all depressing doom - it does end on a hopeful note and the parody commercials are great :

Betty Johnson (Susie Geiser) - I'm Betty and I'm a Wal-Mart associate. I love working at Wal-Mart! I love that they pay me less than min. (minimum wage) because that means I can't afford to eat as much and I get
to keep my figure!"

SNAKES ON A PLANE-Mania Internet Style : This hilariously titled upcoming Samuel L. Jackson action flick has created a flurry of web activity - satirical trailers (I actually can't tell the spoofs from the real thing - in fact I don't know if the poster image to the left is real or a joke), excited fan blogs, and even a promotional campaign that involves a songwriting contest - a winner get to have their homemade song on the soundtrack. I'm sure the premise of hundreds of venomous snakes set loose on a plane to kill someone testifying in a mafia case will inspire many a young starving musician. Apparently the movie had some re-shoots in which they added a line the Internet Movie Database says is expected to take on cult status:

Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson): "I want these motherfucking snakes off the motherfucking plane!"

That's a badass line, sure. I'm just wondering if Jackson will say as he has in so many movies "this is some repugnant shit!" In fact I'm betting on it.

If you haven't checked out the suberb site YOUTUBE you really should. Where else can you get William Shatner's riveting interpretion of Elton John's Rocketman , this great live-action version of the Simpsons opening done to promote the Simpsons syndication in Britain, and an archive of TV performances from the Kinks, Iggy Pop, the Specials, Funkadelic, and many other previously uncirculated goodies. My favorite find is the rare footage of 4 members of Monty Python appearing on a Texas PBS station in 1975. Recently discovered after being shelved for 30 years its unfortunately short (only 14 minutes because an engineer taped over the last bit) but a treat indeed to see.

Wilco @ Memorial Hall, March 5th and 6th 2006: I never thought Wilco, who I consider the best band RIGHT NOW, would play at Memorial Hall here in Chapel Hill - the same venue that hosted a historic 1954 Louis Armstrong concert and where I saw Mel Blanc speak when I was a kid (still have the autographed picture that he handed me while doing his most famous voice - Bugs Bunny : "here you go Doc") So of course I had to attend both nights. The place had been renovated in the last year or so and the acoustics were fantastic.

The first night while singing "Hummingbird" Tweedy scooped a young
girl (obviously the daughter of fan parents in the front row) out of the audience and held her without losing the song's flow at all. A wonderful moment. It was to his credit that he didn't try the same thing the next night - he knew you can't turn some spontaneous connection into some show biz move.

"Is any song worth singing if it doesn't help?" Jeff Tweedy's sad-sack vocals beautifully etched out their own precious place in the Hall as the melody stiftened during the opening song "Wishful Thinking" the second night. Despite his saying that the show would be the same even the banter - the whole setlist had been juggled around with less Summerteeth and a couple of new songs (I won't guess at the titles) were premiered.

I was elated to get recordings on disc of both shows from my friend Hook. The sound quality is sweet and to hear "She's A Jar", "The Good Part" and dusted off from the 1996 album Being There the charming as country- rock-can-get "Say You Miss Me" blaring from my stereo and filling up the walls of my house has really soothed a number of sleepless nights lately.

Kar Wai Wong's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and its bizarre follow-up 2046 I had been meaning to see IN THE MOOD... for a long time and the occasion of the release of its somewhat sequel 2046 announced that now is the time. Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) suspects his wife is having an affair with the husband of his neighbor Su Li-zhen Chan (Maggie Cheung). They form a friendship and a unique relationship develops. An achingly lyrical film that stayed with me for days.

2046 is as complicated as its title. Its a hotel room number, it is the last year before Hong Kong would be completely absorbed by mainland Chinese rule, and probably most important it is the name of a science fiction martial arts story that Chow Mo-wan is working on. Less poetic than its successor, disjointed and definitely too long 2046 is still worthwhile - incredible visuals, touching acting, and an unimposing soundtrack make it a fine companion piece.

More soon...