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Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in Paris
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Opposite of what I was Expecting, March 26, 2015
Watching this film brought back a lot of reminders of the 2003 film The Dreamers, and no surprise, that's because they were by the same director Bernardo Burtolucci. Burtolucci reminds me a lot of that other infamous Italian Pier Paulo Pasolini, who often used sex in his films to personify power-relations and politics. But where the two diverge is at the cross-roads of eroticism. I couldn't imagine getting aroused to something like Salo (yikes) but Last Tango in Paris, even at it's most downtrodden, never seems to lose it's sense of erotic decadence, and that to me is what makes this film so interesting.

The film follows Paul, an expatriate sort of character who is like a Hemingway character on a Joseph Conrad binge, striking up a relationship with the beautiful eyed and bourgeois Jeanne. Both find themselves creating a cloistered mad little reality as they spend a few days rendez-vousing in a down-trodden apartment with some bizarre characters. Like The Conformist the film is beautifully lit with carefully chosen pinks and somber blues. Pauline Kael said famously that the film's colors resemble rotting flesh, and The soundtrack is equally good with a main theme overflowing with passion and sex. I wouldn't be surprised if this film was the inspiration for every porn film that followed it.

Though the film is certainly not porn, or even erotica for that matter, because Last Tango aims more to provoke our conceptions of sex rather than tantalize them . As a modern viewer I found the film tame compared to more modern films like Irreversible, though the butter scene was still quite shocking, and yet the film remains enthralling, and at times oddly magical. There is more here than just infamy, there is a profound character study and soul behind what Kael called the film's "primitive force."

To Pimp A Butterfly
To Pimp A Butterfly
Price: $13.99
54 used & new from $7.10

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kendrick's Theory, March 23, 2015
This review is from: To Pimp A Butterfly (Audio CD)
It’s only been a week since To Pimp a Butterfly dropped, and like Good Kid Maad City, people are already proclaiming high from the mountaintops that a new Kendrick classic is on our hands. But really there is hardly anything instant about To Pimp A Butterfly, this here maybe the most dense, and complicated rap album I’ve ever heard set to wax. It’s like The Waste Land of Hip-Hop, the odyssey of Funkified Jazz Rap. And if I didn’t have such a disdain for school systems, I would say that 10 years from now this album will be taught in classrooms across the country. It’s certainly a prime example of great writing and execution. Just take a minor track here like “For Sale” where Kendrick masks himself as a female Satan pining for Kendrick’s artistic soul. The track is all about temptation. But what Kendrick does here is beyond clever, he doesn’t talk to us about the pressures of being tempted, or that he’s being drawn into some material entrapments, he shows us, and by showing us, we come to understand just how tempting the devil’s bargains can be. The song is at first warm and catchy, comfortable to the ears “and then I’m gonna getcha, getcha, getcha..,” but when you find out what the song is about, the track turns into something completely different—an unsettling mirror for how easy a person can succumb to the sirens of temptation.

And here I’ve written a whole paragraph, and that was just about one track on the album—and to boot, that was just an interlude! Now just imagine what that says for the rest of the album. Yet I have to admit when I first listened to this album, I wasn’t too much love with it. Sure the opener “Wesley’s Theory” was a stellar George-Clinton backed slab of awesome G-funk, but the rest of the album seemed underwhelming, almost dare I say it, boring. Save for a few tracks, hardly any of Good Kid’s immediacy was here. Looking back, I don’t feel that bad about my original thoughts toward To Pimp. This album is an ultimate grower. While it might take a few listens to sink into its groove, the rewards are more than plentiful, possibly even life-changing.

Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
DVD ~ Various
Price: $52.02
19 used & new from $47.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nun-Tastic, March 13, 2015
I don't know why I am always coming back to these videos by Sister Wendy. Obviously she's an intelligent art-critic, still going strong at the age of 83, but I wouldn't say these videos are at the height of scholarly analysis, certainly not as in-depth as the series from Kenneth Clark or Simon Schama. And yet there's something so approachable and compelling about Sister Wendy. There's a great humility to her that other art-critics lack, she's not only distinguished in her art-knowledge but completely down to earth about it. Her knowledge of old legends, and the way she recites them is at times as moving as the paintings themselves. I could listen to this woman describe Titian all day.
In fact I think I learned just as much about mythology watching these videos as I did about art-history, and I admit I was as much compelled to pick up a copy of Bulfinch's mythologies as I was Vasari's Lives of the most excellent painters. The only thing I always wish about these series is that they were longer. 20 minutes is simply too short a time to spend when your perusing around the great galleries of the world with this lovable, spunky nun. Sister Wendy might not have the thoroughness of some other art programs, Schma's Power of Art is a great one, but her passion for great art, and her charismatic tenacity, more than makes up for it.

The Blacker The Berry [Explicit]
The Blacker The Berry [Explicit]
Price: $1.29

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of K-Dot's Best tracks. Period., February 17, 2015
Kendrick Lamar's career shot from 0 to 10,000 back in 2012 when he released his instant Compton classic Good Kid, MAAD city. And of course now every rap fan is left to wonder if K-dot can produce a follow-up worthy of that instant rap classic--or if he'll live the rest of his life in its shadows like Nas. Well if this track "The Blacker the Berry" is any indication, fans will have little to worry about on that front. All of the trademarks that made GKMC great are here--complex flows, beautiful, gritty production from Boy- 1da, and an inflammatory in your face delivery from k-dot. Lamar is pissed here and it gives the track a sense of intense urgency rarily seen in today's hip-hop tracks. It's a song that leaves the listener with a lot to think about; asking us to ponder the complexities of racial hypocrisy, the black man's problematic place in white America, and the psychology of black America. Anyone who thinks that hip-hop can't be intelligent needs to listen here to what Lamar is rhyming---it's not only fun to listen to, but also profound.

The Hissing of Summer Lawns
The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $11.54
51 used & new from $0.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollin, Rollin, Rock and Rollllinnnnnn, January 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you are looking for more "Court and Spark" or "Blue" Joni, it'd be best to look elsewhere. You won't find many catchy tunes here, but what you will find is an artist at the height of her lyrical powers. The songs on Hissing feel more like short-stories than actual songs--painting passionate and lonely vignettes of characters strolling through overwhelming and almost barren LA landscapes. You could point to the lyric sheet blind-folded and you'd still find something incredible and meaningful. "He put up a barbed wire fence to keep out the unknown/ And on every metal thorn just a little blood of his own/ She patrols that fence of his to a Latin drum and the hissing of summer lawns." I agree with another reviewer who said that this isn't the best place to start for unseasoned Joni listeners, but it's a perfect place for those who want to get beyond the "flower girl with a guitar" stereotype that people so often peg Joni as. Despite being one of the century's most celebrated song-writers, I often think that Joni's musical daring is still highly underappreciated, and the Hissing of Summer Lawns, like her later album Mingus, represents Joni not only at her most artistic but also at her most audacious.

Great Performances: Macbeth
Great Performances: Macbeth
DVD ~ Patrick Stewart
Price: $11.22
35 used & new from $7.18

5.0 out of 5 stars For those getting into Shakespeare..., January 6, 2015
This review is from: Great Performances: Macbeth (DVD)
I would highly recommend picking up this DVD. I studied Shakespeare a bit in high school, but I have only recently began to study the Bard’s work (this due mainly to my being intimidated by Shakespeare’s God-like reputation) as well as the ignorance of adolescence. Alas…

But watching this Macbeth has in many ways changed the way I perceive the Bard.

I have watched a few productions of this play in the past, most notably the McKellan/Dench version which I would recommend highly. But not as highly as this one. While many have their qualms about setting Shakespeare to more modern settings, I feel this Macbeth captures just the right tone for Shakespeare’s classic tale of madness and murder. It’s intense, bloody, brutal, and even at times a little bit scary. Without a doubt my favorite part of this production is Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth. My God…Just wow. There were times when I flipped back the DVD just so I could watch her scenes over again. It’s an extraordinary performance. Very tense, at times howling, but remarkably controlled. Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth serves as a definitive study for how to pull off a great performance of MacBeth. The balance he finds between Macbeth’s apprehension and malice is just magnificent and his version of the “Tomorrow” soliloquy ranks so high for me it cannot see the ground. He encapsulated the whole tragedy of the play into one fleeting word. Nothing.

This production also includes some of the best Macbeth witches (as nurses of all things), as well as a brilliantly vile interpretation of the porter played by Christopher Nolan, No not that one. (To see just how vastly Shakespeare’s characters can be interpreted, just compare this film’s porter with the comedic one from the Dench/McKellan version. Completely different). Ultimately one of the best Macbeth’s I’ve seen to date. Not only for the naturalism of the performances, but for once again bringing new exciting life to a play thats as immortal as its ghosts. Not to mention its really entertaining.

Other Great MacBeths:
Throne of Blood- Really more of an interpretation than an exact adaptation, but still an awesome film. Supposedly a favorite of T.S Eliot and critic Harold Bloom (who I’m not at all a fan of, but nevertheless the man has good tastes.)

Orson Welles’ MacBeth-

Polanski MacBeth-

McKellan/Dench Version- This MacBeth is far more sub-dued and almost funny in how 70s it is (apparently turtlenecks were big back then). But it is worth seeing just for Dame Judi Dench’s steely performance as Lady MacBeth. Also available in whole on YouTube.

Price: $13.69
54 used & new from $9.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotizing, December 26, 2014
This review is from: Benji (Audio CD)
I don't think I've ever heard anyone write a song quite like Mark Kozelek. His lyrics on first listen seem like absolute laziness, but on further attention feel remarkably effective in their emotional power. There are a lot of lyrics on here that many will find excessive or pointless, with Koselek stream-of-consciously sing-talking about blue-crab cakes, his friend's dad being a deer hunter, and of course "sports bar s--t". But others, like me, will fall in love them instantly, finding them rich with insight and detail ("playing scrabble at the chimes of the grandfather clock" "The snoring sun rolled out of bed"). The first track "Carissa"--a tribute to Kozelek's dead second cousin that's nothing short of beautiful in how earnest it feels-- might be one of the most moving songs I've heard in years. I've listened to this song at least a dozen times, and I still get the greatest chills from it.

Other stand-outs here include "Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes," "Dogs", "Pray for Newtown", "I can't live without my Mother's love" and "Jim Wise" But really this isn't an album of pick and choosing. For one there's not a bad song here, nor a mediocre one (though some like "Micheline" might underwhelm a little bit). And second: Benji feels not so much like an album, but like a fleeting landscape, or a dream-- full of sadness and grief but also beauty and tenderness. Benji's ultimately a ballad to the fragility of life and the coming to terms with death. And This I know hardly sounds like light listening, and yes alot of the subject matter here is dreary, but rarily is it anything short of moving. I know that it moved me.

DVD ~ Patricia Arquette
Price: $9.99
28 used & new from $5.91

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 Years a Boy, August 13, 2014
This review is from: Boyhood (DVD)
Typically I don't like to write reviews on films, but seeing the onslaught of one-stars that Boyhood has gotten got me feeling that some things about this film need to be cleared up.

Most importantly, for those who criticize the film for being slow and in need of a story--and that all of the characters are flat and dull--realize that this isn't your typical plot-driven, everything comes to a nice and neat resolution, type of ordeal. Boyhood is a life simulator, 12 years in the life of a young boy growing up in an ordinary suburban dry section of Texas, therefore dramatic story arcs, car chases, explosions, and clear clean cut resolutions aren't to be expected (Though there are moments of drama and excitement). What is to be expected is a director who has taken the ordinary and framed it in such a way that it has become something powerful and meaningful. Linklater's vision reminds me a little of the painter Vermeer, who took dowdy milkmaids and other ordinary things and painted them into immortal gems. Though it's way too soon to canonize Boyhood as a masterpiece, because only time can truly judge that, I believe Linklater has done just the same with this film.

Is the twelve-year thing a bit gimmicky? Yes, but it's a gimmick that works, and it works wonderfully well, I don't think the film would've been nearly as effective if Linklater had made the safe boring move of using different actors. There's something deeply and psychologically moving about watching the same people grow up on screen, and I believe this is what gives the film its ultimate power.

I have to admit with others that Ellar Coltrane is not an overtly charismatic actor, yet to me that's exactly what makes him effective here. He's a bored looking, typical apathetic teenager, and his presence doesn't command anybody's attention, yet that's ironically what makes him so effective here. It's the most authentic depiction of a millennial yet set to screen. Dazed and confused in deed

Though it's fair to criticize Boyhood on many fronts I found the film d--n-near impeccable. Though the film is long, I felt I could've watched it for forever, I felt as if by the end that I was saying good-bye to a great and dear friend, and that even after the credits rolled Mason's story was still continuing out there. It's a film that stays with you for days, weeks, and months after viewing, and it's one that's hard for me to recommend highly enough.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really? Only 1 review?, January 29, 2010
I still cannot figure out why this film is so emotionally powerful. Au Revoir Les Enfants doesn't show the horrors of concentration camps, Nazi brutality, or scenes portraying Hitler's malice. And yet it remains the most powerful film about Nazi-occupied france I've seen. From the opening scene at the train station with Julien and his mother, we are instantly engaged in these characters til the films very last shot. Which remains one of the most emotionally powerful shots in French cinema. There isn't much I can say for this film that hasn't already been said. Except that it is required viewing for anyone who is as fascinated by the horrors of the Holocaust as I am. 5 Stars

Brokeback Mountain (Widescreen Edition)
Brokeback Mountain (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Heath Ledger
Price: $8.77
360 used & new from $0.01

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Achingly beautiful and profound., January 27, 2010
For many days now I have lingered on this film. I recently rented it off of Netflix, and I was stunned by how much it moved me. For the longest time I avoided seeing this film, because I was afraid of how I would feel about it. Not for it's subject matter, I have sat through and enjoyed many gay themed films. I feared more that this was just another over-hyped oscar winning dissapointment, Like so many other oscar winners over the past few decades. Personally I was deeply moved by this film. There are very many lessons to be learned from Brokeback Mountain. Not necessarily about homosexuality, but about the nature of love itself. Brokeback Mountain makes you realize how powerful a force like love is. It can create such beauty and passion. Yet at the same time destroy lives with the intensity of a furious hurricane. The main thing I liked about the picture, is that it doesn't take sides. Every character in this film is a victim. Jack and Ennis are both lonely and miserable, while Alma and Lureen have to suffer through infidelity and loveless marriages. They could have easily turned this film into a mockery of itself, although people make fun of it anyway, it never made a wrong turn for me.

The performances are revolutionary. I really agree with people who put Heath Ledger's performance up there with Brando. He completly embodied Ennis Del Mar, the way Charlize Theron embodied Aileen Wurnos in "Monster. The moment where he breaks down in the alleyway after Jack left just really tears you up. Saying that, I have to say as great as Jake Gyllenhaal was in this film, I did think he was bit overshadowed by Ledger. But I really loved the way that you could guess what he was feeling just from his facial expressions. One scene that comes to mind, is the one where he is dancing with Lureen and you can see this sadness in his eyes as he turns away from her, like he is pining for something pining for Ennis.
Michelle Williams is an incredible actress, I've seen her in Wendy and Lucy and Synechdoche,NY, and it amazes me that she hasn't gotten more recognition then she's already recieved, the moment when she see's Ennis from the porch she shows such a genuine reaction.This was also a huge breakout movie for Anne Hathaway, who before had only been known for playing disney princesses.

Out of all the films Ang Lee has directed this is probably my favorite of his, or at least tied with The Ice Storm. It amazes me how versatile he continues to be from doing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Sense & Sensibility. I recently heard that he was set to do the Film adaptation of "Life of Pi" and if it is anywhere as good as this adaptation of Annie Proulx's story(which is worth a look) then I will be eternally grateful.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2010 1:02 AM PST

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