Sunday, February 29, 2004

All Time Foreign Film Box Office totals...in the U.S.

In the foreign language film market the only truth that matters is how much money the film makes at the box office.

It seems trivial in a world of $100 million box office movies but in the world of foreign language films the magic number is $10 million. If a distributor's film grosses that much in U.S. domestic box office then it's time to pop open the champagne.

But it doesn't happen very often. There are only 26 foreign language films* [that I could find] that have grossed more than $10 million domestic box office in the United States. One - Crouching Tiger made over $100 million, many others hovered between $10 and $20 million. Of course, Miramax has the lions share of these films.

- It should be noted that older films from the 1960's like 'La Dolce Vita', 'Z' and 'I Am Curious (Yellow)' were blockbusters in their day. They would most likely make close to $100 million in today's dollars.
- Also worth mentioning is that sex - or at least sexy foreign women - sells well. Such is the case with 'La Dolce Vita', 'I Am Curious (Yellow)', which earned an "X" rating in 1968, 'Emmanuelle', which is really just soft porn and most recently 'Swimming Pool'.

**'The Passion of the Christ' qualifies because it is in a foreign language and is independently made.** [Thanks MRJEFF3000!]

Below is the list of the top 26 grossing foreign language films [these have not been adjusted for inflation]:

01) The Passion of the Christ - $212,000,000 (Icon)*
02) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - $128,067,808 (Sony)
03) Life Is Beautiful - $57,600,759 (Miramax)
04) Hero - $53,710,019 (Miramax)
05) Pan's Labrynth - $37,634,615 (Picture House)
06) Amelie - $33,201,661 (Miramax)
07) Il Postino - $21,840,154 (Miramax)
08) Like Water For Chocolate - $21,662,873 (Miramax)
09) I am Curious (Yellow) - $20,200,000 (Grove Press)
10) La Dolce Vita - $19,500,000 (??)
11) La Cage Aux Follies - $17,921,489 (MGM)
12) The Motorcycle Diary's - $16,781,387 (Focus)
13) Z - $15,511,000 (??)
14) Iron Monkey - $14,681,661 (Miramax)
15) A Man and A Woman - $14,300,000 (AA)
16) Y Tu Mama Tambien - $13,622,333 (IFC)
17) Volver - $12,899,000 (Sony)
18) Cinema Paradiso - $11,944,329 (Miramax)
19) Emmanuelle - $11,500,000 (Columbia)
20) House of Flying Daggers - $11,050,094 (Sony)
21) Brotherhood of the Wolf - $10,928,863 (Universal)
22) The Lives of Others - $10,688.00 (Sony)
23) Das Boot - $10,527,000 (Columbia)
24) 8 1/2 - $10,400,000 (Kino) [owns it now]
25) Swimming Pool - $10,105,505 (Focus)
26) My Life as a Dog - $10,100,000 (Skouras)

Other notable foreign films:
Talk to Her - $9,284,265
All About My Mother -$8,264,530
Eat Drink Man Woman- $7,293,390
Run Lola Run - $7,267,324
The Wedding Banquet - $6,932,982
The Closet - $6,645,000
City of God - $6,500,000
Nowhere in Africa - $6,173,485
Central Station - $5,969,533
Cyrano de Bergerac - $5,820,020
Kolya - $5,770,254
Indochine - $5,590,893
Farewell My Concubine - $5,214,598
La Femme Nikita - $5,017,971
Three Colors: Red - $4,043,000
Russian Ark - $3,010,563
In the Mood for Love - $2,738,980
Raise The Red Lantern - $2,489,139
Himalaya - $2,378,771
Ma Vie En Rose - $2,280,573
The Color of Paradise - $1,810,145
Delicatessen - $1,794,187

Foreign films that have dubbed versions:
Jet Li's Fearless - $24,633,730
Kung Fu Hustle - $17,108,591
The Protector - $12,044,087
Brotherhood of the Wolf - $11,260,096
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Most of these figures were found at The Numbers the most comprehensive box office site on the web. You can also check out Box Office Mojo. IndieWire also has a good Box Office chart for Foreign and Indie films.

[The top 677 foreign language films can be found here.] [[The accuracy of this list was based upon the numbers put up by EDI and my searching ability, which were lacking a bit. I also have not included 'dubbed' Honk Kong films like Jet Li's Fearless. Also some from the 1960's may be missing]]
*Updated July 07

Friday, February 27, 2004

Christ!...

The Passion of the Christ is first and foremost a film about the death of Christ (i.e. the Passion). Plenty of criticism has been flung at the film saying that it is too bloody, too violent and doesn't concentrate enough on Christ's life or more specifically his teachings. While this is all true it should be noted that this was not Mel Gibson's intention. He has made a film about Christ's death, which fits in closely with some of the work of the art work of the 14th and 15th century done by such artists as Matthias Grunewald and Wolfgang Katzheimer.

This may just be another way for me to say that Gibson has made a movie with Medieval sensibilities. Maybe so but clearly Gibson wants the audience to experience Christs' suffering. The lines by Isaiah 53:5 - which open the film - set the stage. They say, 'But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.' Apparently he was chastised, flogged, whipped, bloodied and crucified for them too.

Yes, blood spills forth in copious amounts and it's not a pretty site but it's not meant to be so why complain?

The film is beautifully lensed by Caleb Deschanel (brought up a Quaker) who gives the film the beautiful look of a Caravaggio painting. The editing is not bad although the obvious scenes like Judas' kiss and such are given extra emphasis in super slow motion.

The film isn't as profound as Scorsese' Last Temptation of Christ, which deals with the man/god dilemma better than any film about Christ. Nor does it have the raw purity of Pasolini's The Gospel According to St Matthew, which deals well with Christ's teachings albeit from a quasi-Marxist stance. Nor did I find it as poignantly ironic as Bunuel's Nazarin, which I believe really gets at the heart of sacrifice. However it does have its own particular power.

The bottom line is that this is just one more artistic version of Christ that we can add to all of the others. And therefore it is as legitimate as any work of art (or entertainment) that deals with Christ. After all, even the Gospels contradict themselves on some finer points. And as has been evident for 2000 years Biblical interpretation has been at the heart of every strand of the Christian religion. So therefore Mel's version - while flawed perhaps - cannot be faulted for being too far out there. Viewers will have to decide for themselves if it is Anti-Semitic, too violent, inaccurate or just an out of the ordinary interpretation of the death of Christ.

In my humble opinion it is not a badly made film even though it clearly presents us with Mel's martyrdom complex and particular fascination with violence. I would have liked to see more Sermon on the Mount (which gets 30 seconds in a flashback) but Mel figures we know all of this so why belabor those points?

From an intellectual point of view - there are some questions about the nature of Christ's death. And this is where the concept of truth gets mighty cloudy. Most notably; who is to blame for his death? Was Christs' death really tragic or all part of God's plan? If it is the latter then it seems obvious that no blame can be placed on the Jewish High Priests, or on Judas or on the Romans. This again comes down to interpretation. Was Christ killed so that he could carry on or was he murdered?

What's most interesting to me - from a film distribution point of view - is that The Passion of the Christ is the kind of film that small art and foreign film distributors can only envy. Here is a film with no big movie stars, it's rigorous to sit through, it's extremely violent, it has a precarious ending, it is spoken in two dead languages and it has subtitles. It's almost impossible to get anywhere close to $1 million for a film that has all of these things yet this film's subject matter and the controversy surrounding it [not to mention the fact that it's a Mel Gibson movie] have people lining up across the country. It should easily make more than $100 million.

Best scene
Christ carrying the cross through a gauntlet of Romans and Jews. It has a certain raw power that, to me, is the most powerful scene in the film. It's also the one scene where a good Jewish character - Simon - comes over to help carry the cross. I'm not so sure this makes him a nice guy but he earnest.

Best use of authenticity
No New York accents are used to disturb the film's validity. The choice to use the Aramaic and Latin languages works well.

Is the film Anti-Semitic?
If I were Jewish I wouldn't be too happy to embrace the movie. The high priests Caiaphas and his cohorts sneer a lot and the Jewish crowds are an unwashed, bloodthirsty lot. But the Gospels themselves can be interpreted as a anti-Semitic too. It simply depends on the viewer or the reader's interpretation.

The problem is that Gibson portrays Pontius Pilate as a sensitive man who is merely a victim of the system. He chooses to put Christ up on the cross because the Jews will rebel if he doesn't and in turn Caesar will get angry; better to kill Christ than deal with mad Jews and Caesar. This is by almost all accounts completely inaccurate. Pilate and the Roman leaders answered to no one and they had no problem putting men up on the cross, which they did with regularity.

The most dubious scene:
When Pilate considers whether or not to Crucify Jesus. Just as it is in the Bible in Verses 10-11 of Chapter 19 Gospel according to John Christ says to Pilate: 'thou couldest have had no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.'

This line essentially puts the blame in the hands of the Jews who shuffle around like a mad mob at the foot of the steps looking up hoping for Christ's death. However, if one wants to take Christ's words further then you could say that Christ means the Lord is to blame. In which case why does it matter how Jesus is killed; it is all a part of the plan anyway?

Most unintentionally funny scene:
The androgynous-woman Satan and her mini-me baby (looking a little like this) drift into a scene to witness Christ getting a beating. It's set up like a creepy horror scene but it actually provides a bit of laughter - especially if you have seen Austin Powers and can make that reference.

Most over-the-top cartoonish scene:
The Roman soldiers who whip Christ into a bloody pulp are like animals grunting, howling and lathered up ready for action. Up until this scene the film has a measured grace of intrigue and horror. After this scene we know we are in for a bloody ride.

Is it too Violent?
For kids, yes. For adults, maybe. But it ceases to be too outrageous after a while. I cringed a little early on during the scourgings but after that it's just simply grim. Although one scene of a bird pecking out a guy's eyes did make the audience jump [that's not in the Gospels by the way].

The only thing I can say to all the Christians who like this movie is this; I never want to hear them complain again about violence in movies.

History in Present Tense
Tha Passion of the Christ is a film that reflects its time. It is unabashadly violent. It's as if Mel realized that he could not get the audience to open their eyes unless he really layed the blood on thick. In doing so he has made the Passion of Christ and the Gospels all his own.

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I haven't read every review out there – who's got the time? But below is a list of some of the reviews I have read.

The most insightful negative review is by Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic

Another inciteful review comes from Michael Ventura's column in the Austin Chronicle. Added 3/5

The most enjoyably humorous but astute review is by J Hoberman of The Village Voice

The best positive (with reservations) review comes from Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald

A Christian view of the film can be read here by Christianity Today [No reviewer is named]

The angriest review comes from David Edelstein of Slate

No wait the angriest review is from Robert Paul Reyes of the Chattanoogan. Added 3/5

The harshest Anti-Semitic accusation against the film comes from Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News

The most praise worthy review is by John Fotte of Hollywood North Magazine. [no direct link]

The most wrong headed review is by David Denby in The New Yorker

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Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Net Escape....

- Feeling GGGREAT. No it's not Tony the Tiger it's a clever Nutrigrain commercial, which is just too good not to pass on.

- You always wanted Action Comic #1 from 1938 [The origin of Superman] but you couldn't afford the $50,000 price tag. Nobody said you can't still read the whole comic right?

- Okay so you're into mechanical tactile things. What about androids and high performance robots?

- Biology is what you like? Here's one of the better evolution sites I've seen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Gay Marriage and the Constitution...

An Amendment to the Constitution with regards to marriage - besides being a reactionary measure - would also be very foolish. At this stage in our country’s history, with so many civil rights gains, it seems odd to make an Amendment that is so restrictive.

I agree with Ted Kennedy who stated that the Constitution should be, "to expand and protect people's rights, never to take away or restrict their rights. By endorsing this shameful proposal, President Bush will go down in history as the first president to try to write bigotry back into the Constitution,"

There is no reason that this issue should make it into the Constitution. This is very clearly a decision for the states, the courts, the churches and the individual citizens of this country to decide.

David Ehrenstein has much to say about this on his Fablog:
- The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself.

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About gay marriage in general I'm all for it. Why shouldn't two people who love each other be allowed to marry as well as get all the benefits of heterosexual married couples? [And spare me the polygamy, incest and sex with dogs argument]. Society won't go to hell in a handbacket over this. Trust me.

Others speak well on the subject:

Nick Confessore of the Prospect writes:
- I think that unless you are a person whose hatred of homosexuality and gay people runs very deep, it was hard to feel threatened by the existence of hundreds of committed couples lining up day and night to join themselves together in matrimony. These people were happy and in love, and it showed. After all, ours is a country that, judging from the ratings, is not terribly offended by either Britney Spears' one-night Las Vegas marriage or "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance," both of them media extravaganzas that mocked marriage more thoroughly than anything I've seen in a while. By comparison, the procession of gays trooping through San Francisco's city hall was a paean to tradition. It was, in a sense, the opposite of countercultural -- and as far from "acid, amnesty, and abortion" as you can get.

A while back when the marriages started Atrios said:

- This, then, is why it is a time to be incredibly proud. San Francisco is slapping this moronic worldview back to the dank basement of subhuman intellect, where it belongs. We have broken the taboo, challenged the ignorant and the easily terrified, made it beautifully clear that what matters most in a modern society is not unfounded, naive fears, not uptight religious puling, but a humane and equal, joyous sense of love for all.

Interestingly Atrios has an excerpt from an interview that Bush did with Larry King back in 2000.

BUSH: It's none of my business what somebody's -- now when somebody makes it my business, like on gay marriage, I'm going to stand up and say I don't support gay marriage. I support marriage between men and women.
KING: So if a state were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest to that state not to approve it?
BUSH: The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into.
KING: You just did. You have an opinion.

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Indeed, and that opinion could make its way into our Constitution.
Film (aka FLM) Magazine...

The premiere art house film exhibitors Landmark Theatres has a quarterly film magazine called FLM that lets the filmmakers write about their own films.

Here are a few good ones:
Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasion) writes about why he hates Clint Eastwood.
- A week later we had a big opening night in Montreal, a large press conference and then the usual circus of print, television and radio interviews. Right after that we went to Cannes. It was a zoo as usual. I must have given thirty thousand interviews. Meanwhile Clint Eastwood flies into town...

Kevin MacDonald (Touching the Void) writes about making a movie at high altitude in the Peruvian Andes.
- My nails were bleeding around the edges and seemed to be coming loose, my face felt like someone had rubbed it with a belt sander, my lips were split open like a ripe tomato, and every time I so much as moved I found myself gasping for breath.

Errol Morris (The Fog of War) asks himself 13 questions about making a film with the Interrotron.
- I got tired of sitting so close to the camera. (In my early films, my cameraman would grab the back of my head and pull me back because you could see the side of my head in the lens. When he yanked me back, it often hurt.) And I started to wonder, what if I could become one with the camera. What if the camera and myself could become one and the same?

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The paper magazine [old media] addition of these magazines can be found for free in Landmark's movie theatres.
Global warming report...

The Guardian reports that a secret Pentagon report has surfaced that warns Bush about Global warming and other such catastrophes.

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.


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Yes, that's right the Pentagon. That bastion of progressive environmental thinking.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Coffee, tea, treats and...teats?

If the coffee doesn't wake up the customers this will.

Facing stiff competition from nationwide coffee shop chains, one Maine businessman wants to offer more than just a regular cup of cappuccino to perk up his customers -- so he's hiring topless waitresses.

Normand St Michel submitted an application with the town of Madison, Maine, to open a topless coffee bar named the Heavenly Angels Coffee Shop.

"He has the go-ahead as far as the town is concerned," said Robert Dunphy, the town's code enforcement officer, adding that the project does not violate Madison's obscenity ordinance.


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What next, a candy shop with strippers?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Ralph's Nadir...

So Ralph Nader has decided to run.

I confess I voted for Nader in the 2000 election. I truly believed - and still believe - that we needed a third party as a counterweight to the two-party corporate friendly juggernaut system that has been in place for far too long without significant challenge.

At the time I wanted the Green Party to get 5% of the vote they needed in order to secure matching funds from the Federal government which would strengthen their base. I too believed that Gore would beat Bush and that since I live in California a vote for Nader would not hurt Gore. It didn't in California but it sure did elsewhere. Other Nader voters - specifically in Florida - didn't understand the tactical necessity to vote for him only in states where Gore would easily win.

Nonetheless, here we are in Bush's America. Blame me and yell at me if you must - just please don't spit.

Look, in both 1996 and 2000 I felt Nader was trying to legitimately get a third party up and running. And maybe he thought he was too. However, now I feel that this is just Nader stroking his ego, backhanding the Liberal-left members not only of the Democratic party but of this country. On top of this he is - perhaps unwittingly - attempting to kill the Green Party - at least in the eyes of 99% of the electorate.

[On a side note Google search shows Nader's reputation for egotism is bigger than his reputation for advocacy]

Call me a traitor from the Progressive platform but this election is way too important to continue to let Bush and his buddies run this country into the ground. It's time for the Leftist, the Liberals and the Moderates to work together to insure a Democratic victory. This time Nader won't get my vote and I hope he doesn't get yours.
Warning Labels and the Law...

If you bought a stack of burnable CD’s at Best Buy look out.

The new warning label on CD's and DVD's will say:
"The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000."

However, at first they considered this warning:
"The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, bad mixing of music genres on a burned CD, faulty recordings of good music as well as badly pixilated transfers of DVD's, improper aspect ratio transfers, inaccurate home subtitling of foreign language films and re-editing of Oscar® winners will be investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison, broken knee caps, black eyes and seizure of your video and music collection by agents who wish to add to their own private collections as well as a fine of anywhere from $250,000 to a $100,000,000 according to your tax bracket."

Apparently they backed away from this label since they are currently being sued for Al Capone like tactics.

Friday, February 20, 2004

News on the Original Outcasts...

- Paul Zimmerman and friends over at Hollywood Bitch Slap pay a visit to Gonzo legend Hunter S. Thompson.

The sun sets over the Rockies as we pull through Thompson’s wooden gates, pass his free range peacocks and twisted trees. We approach the darkened house with trepidation, bearing gifts to the Gonzo King: a Swiss Flag, a court jester’s hat, a $50 high powered cigarette lighter and a videotape on ventriloquists. We’ve got it all except the eight-pound beef tongue we’d wanted to bring for target practice. “Now don’t freak out if you don’t see him right away,” Wayne cautions. “He once invited me over and suddenly appeared dripping wet brandishing a sawed off shotgun. When he blew away the doorframe next to me I realized it was just a test.”
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- Bernardo Rondeau on his weekly Filter Magazine Future Forms Column has the low down on a bunch of new CD's from bands and personages you need to know about such as a much anticipated new remix album by the original pioneers of industrial music: Throbbing Gristle.
Recommendations from friends...

- Archive.org is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. They provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public. Most notable is the Prelinger archives, which is comprised of thousands of educational films and old TV advertising.

One particulary enjoyable [an unintentionally bizarre] one is an anti-pornography film produced by financier Charles Keating that links pornography to the Communist conspiracy and the decline of Western civilization.
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- There is something brilliant about Tim Davis' photographs. He purposely takes a common indoor photography accident and makes it into his own piece of artwork.
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- Who is Jandek?

This article starts:
The longest-running, weirdest, loneliest enigma in popular music is a guy from Texas who calls himself Jandek. His album 'The Beginning' has just been released on the Corwood Industries label (Box 15375, Houston, Texas 77220), which has put out all 28 of his albums and nothing else that anyone knows of.

He now has 35 albums which can be bought for about $10 a piece. Other than his voice the only thing most people know about him is that he lives in Houston and has a P.O. Box number where orders spill in regularly.

He would make JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon proud.

I've been told to be on the lookout for a cool documentary about this mysterious musician titled Jandek on Corwood. You can watch the trailer here.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Net Escape...

A busy day here so I'll just pass on a few cool web sites and other stuff.

Here’s a good digital photoblog from the Digital Streams collection.
The photographer(s) have a good eye and seems to be into patterns a lot.

For you who like movies [especially old B-Movies] here the Movie Title Screen page

And look - a woman clock for men.

Just for fun David Gallagher will email you photos directly from his camera phone to you.
Don’t worry he’s legit no funny stuff.

Lastly MoLuv recommends a clever and original [flash required] site of Moon TV commercials.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Poetry...

A plug for the family.

My dad has a new book of poetry out title 'The Bearing Tree' and it's getting fine advance praise from the likes of Tony Hillerman , Will Hobbs and Mary Sojourner.

Here is one of the poems:

OLD SONG UNSUNG

Tell me Muse, how do I sing destruction,
The elimination of vibrant worlds,
Cities melting under nuclear suns,
Citizens vanishing on the instant,
Leaving panic shadows of sterile walls,
Just now a home, school or venerable
Temple where ardent celebrants sought peace,
Brief benedictions of divine justice,
'Mid God's assurance of embracing love?
How should I sing it, my sister? Tell me.

War? There's no more song for that. Combat's killed.
Proud paeans of slaughter are heard no more
From reeking shores high-piled with Spartan dead.
Earth embraces each disciplined legion,
Overwhelmed by ill-fortune and Vandals.
Steel knights serve marble queens in dusty halls.
All merry cavaliers, gay-plumed, perfumed,
Have laughed and winked and galloped to glory,
The hero's meed and honor's home. No more.
War's now plain murder. Why should you sing it?

- Charlie Langdon

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The front cover is of a really great painting done especially for the book by friend and painterPaul Folwell.
The book can be purchased here and should soon be up on Amazon.
DESERT ISLAND / BURNING HOUSE MUSIC POLL... Addendum

So successful was this poll that I had a couple come in after the fact. Below are two more completely different all time best of music lists.

Sirsa ShekimMusician [music can be purchased here].
The Sundays - Reading Writing Arithmetic
Garbage - self-titled
Sade - Love Deluxe (the one with No Ordinary Love on it)
Samba - compiled by David Byrne
Lauryn Hill - Miseducation of Lauryn HIll
Radiohead - The Bends
Suzanna Vega - Solitude Standing
U2 - Joshua Tree
Meshell Ndecello -Bitter
Tracy Chapman - self titled

Andrew Ian Dodge of andrewiandodge & blogcritics
1. Live After Death - Iron Maiden
2. Chemical Wedding - Bruce Dickinson
3. 1987 - Whitesnake
4. Operation: Mindcrime Queensryche
5. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
6. Metallica - Metallica
7. Tosca
8. Live in Midgard - Therion
9. The Complete Ring Cycle - Richard Wagner
10. name tba Growing Old Disgracefully

- Check out the sites especially Sirsa who has a golden voice.

If you want to check out the other posts of lists go here. Or look below at the February 10th post ↓

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

DVD's...

Many great movies are being released in DVD this month. Some of these films deal directly with themes and ideas that the movie Rashomon deals with, which is the subjectivity of truth.

Listed below are some of the cool DVD's released recently with a brief explanation of how they deal with subjective truth:

Blow-Up (Warner Bros) - A photographer unwittingly photographs a murder but he cannot seem to seperate the reality of 'real life' from that of life behind his camera. The movie is about him coming to grips with not only what he has seen but with reality itself - in effect waking up to reality. He encounters others who also help him question reality; most notably a group of mimes who play an imaginary game of tennis in the films famous final scene. Truth for him is a matter of control. He learns that there is a different perspective on truth depending where he is. But he also confronts the reality of past and present reality; most notably by visiting an antique store (yesterday's world) and a night club (today's world). He works in a studio where everything is controlled by him but he learns his lesson visiting a park where the nature world - which he has no control over - takes precendent. His loss of control of truth is his loss of perspective. Some say he has lost touch with reality in the end. I say he is just beginnng to see it.

Persona (MGM) - In Ingmar Bergman's great film a naïve nurse and an actress who refuses to speak are together for a few days out on the Swedish coast where the nurse reveals deep personal secrets about herself and then is 'betrayed' by her interlocutor. The nurse becomes unnerved and the actress learns that her silence has a real power in revealing the weakness of others - yet it does little to alleviate her doubts about life. The film deals with subjectivity in a unique manner. The beginning prologue is essentially a visual interpretation of the actress's frame-of-mind. The rest of the movie is from the nurse's point-of-view - except on one occasion when the film breaks. The nurse loses her mind because she thinks that she has been talking to someone she can trust but really she is just talking to herself. As the movie carries on the nurse imagines that she and the actress come together as one person - that is why she feels the betrayal is so outrageous to her. She has projected herself onto the actress. The truth of the film is that truth is not also solipsistic - especially when someone else is in the room.

Salvatore Guliano (Criterion) - Salvatore Giuliano deals with Francesco Rosi's primary theme; the consequences and mysteries of death. But the heart of the film deals with subjectivity and memory. It is primarily about the legend of Salvatore through the eyes of others. All of the other bandits who knew Salvatore talk about him, are put on trial and try to explain who he was. But who was he? We learn who he was through the eyes of those who knew him. Yet to add to the authenticity - and legend - some of the actors really knew Salvatore and the woman who plays his mother really is his mother. She recreates some of here anguished feelings she had over his death. Even though she is acting one assumes she sheds real tears.

Wisconsin Death Trip - (HVE) An ingenious work of history this documentary of sorts - based on the book of the same title - uses authentic news reports from the newspaper of record in Black River Falls, Wisconsin circa the 1890's and includes actual photographs of the people in the region taken by Charles Van Schaick. The film recreates the news items in a most artful way. In the process we learn about the heartache and pain of people and the ensuing insanity, suicides and deaths in the region. Had anyone lived in the era - like today - they probably would not only concentrate on the more gloomy aspects of the day. This film does in spades. Is it all true? Yes, but only partly. It's a microcosm of a place and a time that ultimately can be any place at any time. But it is thrice removed from reality. First, we have to believe that all the news items are true. Second, we have to understand that the author of the book selected reported stories that fit his vision. Third, we have to understand that the filmmakers chose selected reported stories to fit their 90 minute vision.
Special interests ha!

The anti-Kerry ad that notes his tie to special-interests is humorous on a couple counts.
As The Washington Post points out:

The ad accurately points out that Kerry has raised $640,000 from lobbyists, "more special-interest money than any other senator." And it fairly questions whether Kerry is disingenuous to accept money from those he would vanquish.
But the Center for Responsive Politics, which calculated the figure Bush cited about Kerry ($638,358 raised from lobbyists since 1989, to be exact), has some bad news for Bush, too. The president raised $842,262 from lobbyists in the current election cycle -- almost four times the $226,450 Kerry raised. And if you take away the funds Kerry collected for the presidential campaign, he is no longer the Senate's top recipient of special-interest funds.


Obviously, Bush has a glass-houses problem here.

But what's also been brought up - even by Republicans - is just what are special-interests anyway?
If any group wants something from you and they give money to your campaign they are definded as a special-interest. That's a pretty broad definition and obviously there are few politicians - especially Senators - who don't take special-interest money, which means this ad is nonsensical.

It only matters if Kerry is being disingenuous in his stance for or against special-interests.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Copyright wars...

EMI's lawyers have sent a 'cease & desist' letter to DJ Danger Mouse for his Grey Album, which remixes The Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's The Black Album.

It's actually pretty good. It's very tough to find the CD at this point but if you want to give it a listen go here.

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Meanwhile funferal.org cites a story from Ireland that the James Joyce Estate 'has informed the Irish government that it intends to sue for copyright infringement if there are any public readings of Joyce's works during the festival commemorating the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday this June. (...) which means that there can be no public reading during the festival, and a planned production of Joyce's Exiles by the Abbey theatre must be cancelled.

- This is crazy. Perhaps the Joyce Estate will pull all copies of the book at some point. Stay tuned.
Christ, that guy can act...

Jim Caviezel talks about playing Christ in the upcoming 'The Passion of Christ'.

You need to register for the article and it costs money – damn! So here are some excerpts:

Caviezel has raised eyebrows among journalists for talking about visions of the Virgin Mary and for not wanting to do nude scenes with Jennifer Lopez in "Angel Eyes" or Ashley Judd in "High Crimes" for fear of offending his wife of eight years, Kerri, a schoolteacher.

…Perhaps it was a role Caviezel, a devout Catholic active in the religious community, was raised to play. Certainly, he was put through a physical test during five months of filming that included a brutal Italian winter. He was struck by lightning on the set. He endured daily eight-hour makeup sessions (from 2 to 10 a.m.) before filming the many bloody scenes of Jesus' scourging, during which he was actually struck several times — Gibson later said this allowed the makeup people to get a realistic idea of what a welt looked like.

For the crucifixion he was tied to the cross but could hang there for only 10 minutes at a time, which meant it took days to shoot, during which he separated his shoulder and aggravated a previous chest injury. He also got hypothermia from hanging on the cross in a canyon with chilling winds. He also suffered a spinal form of pneumonia and then an infection in his lungs.

"Eventually I had to get to a place that was deeper than my head, I had to get into my heart," he says. "And the only way I could get there was through prayer. It was painful."

But perhaps the most painful experience was hearing charges, leveled by critics who had not seen the final film, that "The Passion of the Christ" was anti-Semitic or had the potential to fuel anti-Semitic attacks.

Caviezel says he was initially concerned how the story would be told. For centuries the Passion plays were used to fuel charges of deicide against the Jews and subsequently years of anti-Semitic attacks. And Caviezel says he wanted no part in that.

"When we first got together to talk about it, I was concerned about what we were going to do with it," he says.

"It was very hard," he says of the weeks when charges of anti-Semitism were made against Gibson and the film. "This [movie] does not condemn an entire race for the death of Christ. It's a movie for all people. It is very important to do it the way it is in the Scripture. That is our faith. It condemns no race."

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We’ll see.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Documentaries are...

Documentaries are really just another form of fiction.

Okay, before anyone freaks out about that statement, let me explain.

A year or so ago Ben Fritz of Spinsanity wrote a scathing article on Michael Moore's 'Bowling for Columbine' that was printed in the Orange Country Register. There he made the bold claim that Michael Moore had broken the one rule of documentaries, which is to tell the truth.

After reading his article and agreeing with some of his analysis of Moore’s inaccuracies, which can be read here, it occurred to me that Ben knew little about the history of documentaries and even less about the true nature of almost every documentary ever made.

I’m not saying that documentaries are purposely false or that they are the same kind of fiction as a feature film. But we should not be surprised when a documentary filmmaker's subjective point-of-view gets in the way, which is exactly the case with Michael Moore. Yet it should be noted that documentary filmmakers are not the nightly news; they are entertainers with an agenda.

Documentaries give us insights into the way that filmmakers and the subjects of their films think. One of the things most documentary filmmakers attempt to do is capture the essence of truth not necessarily truth itself. And in so doing they invariably will manipulate the facts; purposely or not. But this is important because the essence of truth in a documentary is as important as the hard facts of truth. Few filmmakers will ignore the actual facts of an event but the truth of those facts is sometimes presented in a completely different way by various filmmakers [or historians].

The one truth about documentaries is that they can never capture an entire event as it is happening or as it happened, which means that real objectivity is gone once the editing begins: Some would say once the camera is turned on. Therefore filmmakers must make choices when they are shooting and editing. And, of course, on top of this the audience takes away their own view of what they just saw.

Documentarians use many of the same manipulative tricks that fiction filmmakers use such as dramatic music, select shots, shuffling of facts, differing editing rhythms and voice-overs. They do all of this to tell a story as well as present a point-of-view.

It’s no secret that filmmakers may purposely leave out some facts or emphasize specific facts all in support of their theme. But it is also realistic. Especially in the editing process when a filmmaker faces tens and sometimes hundreds of hours which they must whittle down to 90 or so minutes.

The other thing to consider is that the stories people tell about themselves are always subjective and people have faulty memories. The stories they tell about an event or about their past is their reality. In other words, even though they may not be lying there is no doubt that they will not remember everything clearly and their version of the truth is often skewed.

I’m not arguing that this is cool or that I agree filmmakers should skew the facts but I am arguing that documentaries by their very nature are a form of fiction.

There are all different kinds of documentaries such as interview style (Shoah), fly-on-the-wall/cinema verite (Don't Look Back, Primary), subjective host (Roger & Me, Sherman's March), archival footage recreations (One Day in September) and voice-over style (Civil War) to name a few.

Documentaries also have elements of staging (Nanook of the North, Salesman), propaganda (Triumph of the Will), speculative recreations (The Thin Blue Line), complete fictional speculation (From the Journals of Jean Seberg), fiction used to make reality more interesting (Lesson's of Darkness) pejorative liberalism (American Movie, Paradise Lost), fawning worship (Dogtown and Z Boys, Scratch), hand holding propaganda (Grass) self reflexivity (Crumb), artful reality (Man with a Movie Camera) and heavy-handed artistic reality (Koyaanisqatsi).

In every documentary listed above fiction plays a part even if the overall message is very real and true. If Michael Moore can be accused of making a fictional film rather than a true non-fiction film then so can all of these filmmakers.

This brings us to the concept or truth. Very often the 'truth' [or the message] of a documentary is not at the surface. It needs to be gleaned from the entire experience of the film.

Listed below are a few of the more interesting documentaries of the past couple of years and some comments about the truth in them:

Bowling for Columbine
Need I say that Michael Moore has a point-of-view and that he strains to make it work? Sometime floating facts that are untrue? The film is so scattershot one has a tough time following all of his ideas some of which are not true or spun to his point of view. Nonetheless the essence of his argument about America’s culture of fear is not without merits. The truth here is that the filmmaker is an entertainer with a political agenda; so listen up there are grains of truth in this malarkey.

Bus 174
This may be the most accurate documentary of the bunch because it shows a lot of the actual footage of the hostage taker and hostage on the bus. But it often repeats some of the more harrowing moments with close ups and slow motion for effect – taking away the real time feel of the film. It then takes that episode and expands it though insights and inrerviews to grapple with the political, economic and social situation in Brazil. It’s brilliantly done even when it makes the felon into a victim. The truth here is about the present sad political and social state of Brazil.

Capturing the Friedmans
Using interviews and a lot of archival footage the filmmaker tries to probe the truth about a sex / child rape case that shook an entire neighborhood. The interviews present both sides of the case but it is pretty clear that the real victims were those accused of the crime. What seemed like pretty far fetched allegations took on a life of their own. The film poses a basic question; who is telling the truth? The truth here is that if you are accused of a serious crime good luck getting a fair trial much less getting your life back in order.

The Fog of War
Robert McNamara has the last say on the Vietnam War. More importantly he comes across as a pretty nice, intelligent and sensitive guy. At one point he says that he cannot recall whether he gave the order to use Agent Orange. Pleeeese! Yet the film is hardly propaganda. It is very engaging and in it we are led to reexamine some of the events of World War II and Vietnam. Is the subject of the film war or Robert McNamara? If the former it succeeds if the latter it fails. The truth here is he who enlightens last enlightens loudest.

My Architect
A son’s search for his father reveals some things about his father but more about other people’s opinions and memories of his father. The filmmaker has to reconstruct what people remembered and put it all together to approximate facts about a man he barely knew. The title is appropriate Myarchitect. The memories of the man in some ways become more important than the man himself – because those telling the story are still alive. Are the memories true or just selective opinions of the truth? The truth here is about the subjective perceptions of those long gone by those still living.

The Revolution Will Not be Televised
This documentary provides an extraordinary front seat view on a coup and counter-coup of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. But, no doubt, it is a pro-Chavez film. And a lot of questions have been raised about its accuracy. Especially with regards to the shooting death of numerous civilians which happened during a protest on the capitol. The media reported Chavez’s men shot people while Chavez and this documentary claim it was Anti- Chavez snipers. Specifically here. There are two very different sides to this story but the documentary really only gives credence to one. Still it does give a good inside look at Venezuela’s four main TV stations and the way they skew the facts against Chavez. The truth here is whoever has the camera and an access to the airwaves (or the cinema) has a lock on the 'truth'.

The Same River Twice
In this insightful documentary a handful of 40-somethings recall the carefree river rafting (nudist) days of their twenties. Old footage of their rafting trip is shuffled with new interviews and we see not only the physical way that they have changed but how they have psychologically changed and otherwise; i.e. some are now parents. The film takes one event and contrasts it with their entire life. In some ways it doesn’t matter if their memories are faulty because the film’s main message is about the nature of reflection; theirs and ours.The truth here is even though we have different experiences in life we all basically learn the same lessons as we get older; our youth is gone but life goes on.

Spellbound
This documentary succeeds in exploring kids and spelling bees but there is something very conscious in the choices that the filmmakers made to show the diversity of the kids that they follow leading up to the bee. One doesn’t feel they know the kids better but instead that this one moment in time and this specific event is captured in time. It is the kind of film from which the viewer can reflect on their youth or on their children. The truth here is that smart kids have different ways of studying to hone their natural talents; plus they can be cute and charming.

Touching the Void
The amazing story of one climber's survival on a mountain is recounted in interviews and then recreated using actors. Viewers must rely on the memory of the two men as they recount the horror of their tale and on the filmmakers to recreate as accurately as possible what really happened. It is an extraordinary film but there is no doubt that the recreation of the events becomes the reality. The truth here is that this extraordinary event happened but our explanations won’t suffice – so let a filmmaker show you.

Weather Underground
If a group existed like this today they would be down in Guantanemo Bay denied council. The film tries to present some of the members of the Weather Underground in a complex light but it mainly succeeds in making their cause a good one even if their actions were not. When watching the film I asked myself could a filmmaker achieve the same sympathy if he made a documentary about people who bomb abortion clinics? The answer, I think, lies in the political persuasion of the viewer. The truth here is that revolutionaries never die they just grow up, the times changed, they pay their dues and now they have regrets.

Winged Migration
This film is unbelievably contrived. Most of the migrating birds shown are actors. They are in captivity (they have been imprinted) and were taken to various locations in cages, let out of the cages and then flown to and fro over fields, by buildings, at sunset etc to make it look as though they were migrating. It’s a beautiful film and we learn about birds, which is valuable but the method used to give us the facts about bird migration is manipulated to the max. The truth here is birds do this; trust us.
Simple stuff...

Can you pass the third grade?
I don't recall the this kind of time limit when I was a tot. It's easy but watch that clock!

While doing that give a listen to epitonic radio. It's the future of radio.

The Liberal Media?

Look at this photo on CNN.
It's John Kerry in the same vicinity as Hanoi Jane! What will we tell our children?

And now another tale of sex with an intern? Editor and Publisher asks will the mainstream media begin to run with it.

Drudge is going ape over it. But, of course, we all know he isn't liberal.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Pazz & Jop Poll...

Okay, it's officially music week around here.

The Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll has just come out. The Voice polls about 300 music critics nationwide and, to no ones surprise, #1 and #2 go to OutKast and The White Stripes respectively.

More curious though is #3 which went to Fountains of Wayne. I hadn't realized that so many critics liked that album.

Here are the top ten:
1 OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
2 The White Stripes - Elephant
3 Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers
4 Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
5 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell
6 The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
7 New Pornographers - Electric Version
8 Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash
9 Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day
10 Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner

Here are some of my favorites - that didn't make the top ten - and where they placed:
Blur #54 (deserve to be higher)
Postal Service #17
Delgados #96 (deserve to be way higher)
The Libertines #23
Wrens #43 (up and coming)
Super Furry Animals #86 (last year they placed 30th)
Raveonettes #56
Jay Z #13 (his last album?)
The Go Betweens #201 (forgotten among the crowd)
Four Tet #29 (not bad for a guy with a laptop for an instument)
Broken Social Scene #40 (up and coming)
Dandy Warhols #62 (placement about right)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

DESERT ISLAND / BURNING HOUSE MUSIC POLL... Part II

More from the top ten all-time music poll.
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Madeleine Kane of Madkane
Billy Joel Pianoman
Meatloaf Bat out of Hell
Beethoven's Nine Symphonies (New York Philharmonic or Philadelphia Orchestra)
Brahms Four Symphonies (New York Philharmonic or Philadelphia Orchestra)
The Very Best of Dr. John
Complete Beethoven Piano Concertos, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Pianist
The Best of Blondie
Franz Schubert's The Trout, Alfred Brendel and the Cleveland Quartet
Judi Carmichael Chops
A Treasury of Artie Shaw

Matt Langdon of Rashomon
Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
J.S. Bach – Brandenburg concertos
Brian Eno – Another Green World
Jackie McLean – (anything from 1961-63)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love
Roxy Music - Siren
Grateful Dead – Live/Dead
Pixies - Trompe le Monde
Dave Grusin with Lee Ritenour – Harlequin
Led Zeppelin I

Michelle Parisi: (aka Radiochel) Radio DJ
- Good Lord, there are so many but I narrowed it down to this
1) Spooner "every corner dance / wildest dreams" Boat Records
2) The Replacements "pleased to meet me"
TIE Bodeans "go slow down"
3) Marshall Crenshaw 'its so easy' the best of MC rhino records
4) The Ramones 'pleasant dreams' sire records
TIE Bad Religion "recipie for hate"
5) Peter Himmelman 'from strenght to strength' epic records
TIE Sam Phillips "martinis and bikinis"
6) The Supersuckers "the sacrilicious sounds of the supersuckers"
TIE King's X "gretchen goes to nebraska"
7) the Swinging Steaks "southside of the sky" capricorn records
TIE The Jayhawks "tomorrow the green grass" american recordings
9) Drivin N Cryin "mystery road"
TIE Tommy Shaw "girls with guns" a&m then re-released
10) Brother Cane "wishpool"

Benjamin Pike from the Art Department of Landmark Theatres.
The Beatles, Revolver [1966]
Led Zeppelin II [1969]
The Stooges, Fun House [1970]
Tom Waits, Small Change [1976]
Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks [1977]
Killing Joke, self-titled debut album [1980]
Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel, Nail [1985]
Nirvana, Nevermind [1991]
Beastie Boys, Check Your Head [1992]
Tool, Aenima [1997]
...FWIW, here are my other serious contenders (in no particular order):
James Brown, 20 Greatest Hits [var.], The Who, Sell Out [1967], The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland [1969]
Loop, A Gilded Eternity [1990], Ministry, The Land of Rape and Honey [1988]

Bernardo Rondeau from Filter and Junk Media
1. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
2. Os Mutantes– (Any of the first three albums)
3. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
4. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
5. Love – Forever Changes
6. Kraftwerk– Computer World
7. David Bowie – Lodger
8. The Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2
9. The Cure – Pornography
10. Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Honorable Mentions: Tom Zé – Todos Os Olhos, Joy Division – Heart and Soul (Box Set), Arnaldo Baptista– Loki?, The Pixies – Trompe Le Monde and Lilys– Better Can’t Make Your Life Better

Sahalie of Sahalie
1. Tom Waits- Rain Dogs
2. Wire- Chairs Missing
3. Patty Griffin- Living With Ghosts
4. Elvis Costello- Extreme Honey
5. Soft Boys- Underwater Moonlight
6. Omar Faruk Tekbilek- Mystical Garden
7. REM- Reckoning
8. Various Artists- Gypsy Fire
9. The Clash- Combat Rock
10. Nirvana- Unplugged
11. Gillian Welch- Time the Revelator

Ian Steaman of Notes from a Different Kitchen
Jackson 5: ABC
Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation....
The Clash: London Calling
The Specials: The Specials
Buzzcocks: Love Bites
Stevie Wonder: Innervisions
Marvin Gaye: I Want You
Dr. Dre: The Chronic
A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory
NWA: Straight Outta Compton

Clyde Smith of Hip Hop Logic
Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold
Us Back
The Goats - Tricks of the Shade
Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - Hipocrisy is the
Greatest Luxury
Aesop Rock - Labor Days
The RZA - The RZA Hits
Mr. Lif - Enters The Colossus
Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein
Fugees - The Score
Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill
Rage Against The Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles

Chris Teodorescu from TBWA \ Chiat-Day:
- Ok, these albums are what I’d bring to an island, aside from the power generator to make my disc player work.
David Bowie: Hunky Dory
Scott Walker: Scott 4
Roxy Music: Stranded (appropriate, huh?)
Radiohead: The Bends
Stone Roses: The Stone Roses
Pascal Roge: Piano Works vol.1 by Erik Satie
Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
Brian Eno: Another Green World
Astor Piazzolla: Tango-Zero Hour
Mercury Rev: Deserter’s Songs
-Now, I do have pretty big hands, so I’d be able to pick up 15 discs and make a run for it easily.
Talking Heads: Remain In Light
Cannonball Adderly: Something Else
The Kinks: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Velvet Underground: Velvet Underground and Nico
Tom Waits: Rain Dogs

Andrea von Foerster a music supervisor in Hollywood
- At This Very Moment In Time (In No Particular Order):
Franz Ferdinand - Darts of Pleasure (specifically "Take Me Out") Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (specifically "Step Into My
Office, Baby")
Audio Bullys - Ego War (specifically "The Things")
Halloween, Alaska - self-titled album I think (specifically cover of Bruce
Springsteen's "State Trooper")
Snow Patrol - Final Straw (specifically "How To Be Dead")
The Thrills - So Much For The City (specifically "One Horse Town") Electric Six - Fire (it's not new but you try getting "Gay Bar" out of your
head...it's impossible!)
South - With The Tides (specifically "Loosen Your Hold")
Iron & Wine - The Sea & The Rhythm EP (specifically "The Sea & The Rhythm") The Postal Service-Give Up (specifically "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"
and "Such Great Heights")
The Elected - Me First (specifically "7th September 2003) Caesars - 39 Minutes of Bliss (In An Otherwise Meaningless World)
(specifically "Jerk It Out")
Clinic - Walking With Thee (specifically "Harmony" and "Walking With Thee" -
not new, but so good)
Kylie Minogue - Body Language (specifically "Slow" and no I am not kidding)

Frank Yang of Chromwaves
- Here's my list, keeping in mind that it could well be a different ten discs next week...
Belly - King
Ride - Going Blank Again
Elvis Costello - King Of America
Luna - Bewitched
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque
Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

Paul Zimmerman from Hollywood Bitchslap
- I assume box sets are a cheat, otherwise I would have picked the Velvet Underground box set and the Clash on Broadway. So if the flames are licking around my ankles these are probably the ones I'd grab today.
1. Exile on Main St. (Rolling Stones)
2. Small Change (Tom Waits)
3. London Calling (The Clash)
4. White Album (The Beatles)
5. Rock and Roll Animal (Lou Reed)
6. All For Nothing (Best of the Replacements)
7. Barry Lyndon (Original soundtack)
8. Never Mind the Bollocks (The Sex Pistols)
9. The Harder They Fall (Original sountrack)
10. Physical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin)

- Addendum: I just ran back into the burning house and switched Sex Pistols with Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power.

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I want to thank everyone again. These are great lists. I am also particularly grateful that no one put Hall and Oates, Sammy Hagar or Enya on their lists.

If any reader out there are curious about some of these titles check this site for guidance

Most importantly please visit the sites of those who participated in this poll!
DESERT ISLAND / BURNING HOUSE MUSIC POLL...

Despite the opinions of some the album is not dead yet.

Everybody loves music, everybody has their favorites and people still listen to complete albums in this world of Mp3s and File sharing. So the question was put to the bloggers, writers and acquaintances of the web world; what ten (or so) CD / albums would you want on a desert island and / or what would you grab from your burning house? Below are the results.

I thank everyone who participated not only for taking the time to get the lists to me but because each list offers CD's that I had long forgotten or possibly never heard of. Now, in this era of file sharing maybe we can trade some files....

Enjoy.

[p.s. this is a long post so I will do it in sections throughout the day]

James Alex from Jockohomo
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Bix Beiderbecke - Bix Beiderbecke (1924-1930)
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Organisation
Flipper - Album Generic Flipper
Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
The Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground & Nico
The Human Switchboard - Who's Landing in My Hangar?
Kraftwerk - Computer World
The Chocolate Watchband - No Way Out
Grace Jones - Nightclubbing

Greg Beato of Soundbitten
- Here's a list of the albums that I continue to play regularly, year after year, i.e., my favorites.
1. Clash, London Calling
2. The Birthday Party, Hits
3. X, Los Angeles
4. The Stooges, Fun House
5. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
6. Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
7. Big Black, Songs About Fucking
8. Nirvana, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
9. Flesh Eaters, Forever Came Today
10. Imperial Teen, On

Cindy Bellai from Landmark Theatres
- Impossible to be limited to just 10.
1. Dean Martin—Late At Night With Dean Martin
2. Arlo Guthrie—Hobo’s Lullaby
3. Matchbox 20—Mad Season
4. Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors
5. The Beatles—The White Album
6. Buena Vista Social Club
7. ABBA—Gold
8. Louis Armstrong—The Ultimate Collection
9. Paul Simon—Graceland
10. The Eagles—Hotel California
11. Jackson Browne—The Pretender
12. Sheryl Crow—C’mon C’mon
- I don’t go anywhere without a little Dino!

Larry Calloway of Larrycalloway.com
Modern Jazz Quartet "One Never Knows."
Miles Davis "Porgy and Bess."
Grateful Dead "American Beauty."
Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms."
Paul Horn "Jazz Mass."
Bob Dylan "Hard Rain."
Ry Cooder "The Buena Vista Social Club."
Glen Gould "Bach's Goldberg Variations."
Arvo Pärt "Tabla Raza."
Phillip Glass "Koyaanasquatsi."

Matthew Clayfield of Esoteric Rabbit Films
Amadeus: The Complete Original Soundtrack Recording (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) The Beatles / 1962-1966 a.k.a The Red Album (The Beatles)
The Beatles / 1967-1970 a.k.a The Blue Album (The Beatles)
The Best Of The Doors (The Doors)
Elton John - Greatest Hits 1970-2002 (Elton John)
Girl (Eskimo Joe)
I'm Telling You For The Last Time (Jerry Seinfeld)
Odyssey #5 (Powderfinger)
Unit (Regurgiator)
(What's The Story) Morning Glory? (Oasis)

Jessa Crispin of Blog of a Bookslut
Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground
Weather Systems - Andrew Bird
Zooropa - U2
You Do Not Live in This World Alone - Veda Hille
Rain Dogs - Tom Waits
Different Class - Pulp
University - Throwing Muses
Gentlemen - Afghan Whigs
Post - Bjork
The Essential Willie Nelson

Jeff DeVries of MRJEFF3000!
- Really, in this era of giant mp3 playlists set on shuffle play, and iPods and minidiscs and mp3 cds, and downloading services, the album, unless it really is a single coherent and cohesive work, is becoming less and less important to me. (I’m my own Morning Becomes Eclectic!) That said:
1. suddenly, tammy!, (We Get There When We Do)
2. The Beatles, The Beatles
3. Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
4. Riders in the Sky, Riders Radio Theater
5. Cosmos (Sountrack)
6. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
7. Lawsuit, Kind of Brown
8. Frou Frou, Details
9. X, Los Angeles/Wild Gift
10. Hem, Rabbit Songs
11. Cowboy Junkies, The Trinity Session
12. Dave Alvin, King of California
13. Remy Ongala and Orchestre Super Matimila, Songs for the Poor Man
14. Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas
- It’s more than ten. Don’t worry, I can make up the space by tossing out this useless old flare gun, and the shortwave radio...and do I really need a first-aid kit?

Eric Halona Hananoki of The Hamster
Bob Dylan, Highway 61
Coldplay, Rush of Blood to the Head
The Cure, Bloodflowers
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Facing Future
No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom
Radiohead, OK Computer
Radiohead, Kid A
Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire
Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind
Wallflowers, Bringing Down the House

Jay Hinmon of Agony Shorthand
1. Velvet Underground "The Velvet Underground and Nico"
2. Flesh Eaters "A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die"
3. Skip James "Complete Recordings 1930"
4. Stooges "Fun House"
5. Dream Syndicate "The Days of Wine and Roses"
6. Black Flag "The First Four Years"
7. Gun Club "Fire of Love"
8. Charley Patton "Screamin' and Hollerin' The Blues" box set 9. Big Star "Radio City" 10. Mission of Burma "Vs."

Stacy Jane: Writer
- I don't think I could possibly list my ten favorite CDs. My favorite changes with the tide. As for what I would have on a dessert island - The complete works of Douglas Adams and a pen and paper. What would I pull from my burning house? My cats.

Emily Jones of It Comes in Pints?
- I actually still have most of these on vinyl, but here goes...
Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Husker D ü – Zen Arcade
Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material
Joy Division – Closer
The Reverend Horton Heat – Liquor in the Front
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking
Concrete Blonde – Bloodletting
Galaxie 500 – On Fire
The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash

Vincent Jones of About US Liberals
Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope
Janet Jackson - Janet.
Mary J. Blige - My Life
Nas - God's Son
Nas - I Am
N*E*R*D - In Search Of...
Pink - Missundaztood
Everything But The Girl - Walking Wounded
Madonna - Madonna: GHV2
Guns and Roses - Appetite for Destruction

[Part Two of this poll right above this post ↑ ]

Monday, February 09, 2004

Berlinale...

Coverage of the Berlin Film Festival is not as thorough in the media as it is for Cannes but there are some web sites that are doing good work.

The best movie blog on the web: Green Cine has daily coverage.

IndieWire also has updates.

Screendaily has a bit on the fest too.
Around the net...

Today's a busy day so I'll just mention a few links.

That darn liberal media forgot that Howard Dean is a liberal and now they say they were unfair.

Trademark blog has something to say about parody (and breast flashing).

If you are too dumb to figure out what kind of movies you want to rent go to this site. (Okay, sorry, I mean if the choices at Blockbuster have you flustered).

If you're into throwing rocks at boys go here (have fun).

Feeling artistic? Check out MrPicassohead. (Here's my masterpiece)

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And Hey Ya! way to go OutKast. It's about time a really good Album wins the Grammy's.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Revolution over...

Bernardo Bertolucci's latest film 'The Dreamers' is getting a lot of press because it is the first big movie to get an NC-17 rating since David Cronenberg's 'Crash'.
He is a director I have always admired but with this one he may have hit the skids.

Critics have not been kind.

Jonathan Forman of The New York Post:
A kind of art-house Showgirls -- which actually exceeds Showgirls in its self-indulgence, shallowness and sheer stupidity.

J Hoberman of The Village Voice:
The Dreamers, Bernardo Bertolucci's unforgettable, if daffy, paean to youth, cinephilia, and the student revolt of May '68, opens by flooring the wah-wah pedal and ends with Edith Piaf warbling "Non, je ne regrette rien." You may or may not regret indulging this chamber exercise in heroic solipsism, marathon sex (or at least copious nudity), and applied cinephilia, but risible as it often is, there's no doubt that Bertolucci made it his way.

Peter Ranier of New York Magazine adds
Despite the film’s NC-17 rating, don’t expect a meltdown; frankly, the film could have done with less ’68 and more 69.

John Anderson Newsday hates the movie too but he adds something I hadn’t thought of considering the film is made by Fox Searchlight; a company in the Robert Murdoch empire:
Had Miramax released "The Dreamers," don't think Brit Hume and Co. wouldn't be calculating, by micrometer, how ABC and Disney were contributing to the fall of civilization.

Instead the movie may just be the fall of Bertolucci's cinema.
Lies get press...

Even though Counterpunch contends that the failure of the media is as much to blame why we went to war it's good to see how many articles are coming out now on the overblown distorted intellegence reports.

And since Bush has appointed a commission that should obviously clear the whole thing up.

Then there is the Plame affair.

Bush's approval rating is not too hot now either.

Me thinks this bodes well for the Democrats come election time.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Cinemania stuff...

What do 'Broken Blossoms', 'Casablanca', 'Citizen Kane', 'Lassie Come Home', 'Gone With the Wind' and 'Animal House' have in common?

A) Each are films?
B) Each have scenes with characters eating?
C) Each have four syllables in their title?
D) Each are part of the National Film Registry?
E) All of the above?

The New York Times has an article on why the National Film Registry selects some of the films that they do.

The National Film Registry site is here.

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Somewhat unrelated (but worth a plug) I've just written two 1500 word reviews for DVD Talk on Jean Renoir's 'The Rules of the Game' and Michelangelo Antonioni's 'Blow Up' - both of which just came out on DVD.
Booby slapped with suit...

Terri Carlin of Knoxville Tennessee didn't like Janet Jackson's stunt so he's filing a lawsuit on behalf of America.

Terri Carlin, a 47-year-old Knoxville bank employee, contends that Jackson's exposure and other "sexually explicit conduct" during halftime festivities caused viewers to "suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury."

Yes, he's doing this for you good people.
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Let me just add that I hope all cheerleaders stay covered and away from TV cameras from here on out. Who knows what injury they have caused us?

[Thanks to MrJeff3000! for this scoop.]
Bush's Re-election chances...

Recent polls show that Bush is trailing would be candidate John Kerry.
But Bush and his team have plans.
The Independent has an article on Bush's Spring Offensive in Afghanistan and Pakistan to capture Bin Laden.

Meanwhile Arianna Huffington speculates that Bush may choose a new running mate: Rudy Giuliani.

Although in her mind this would be a good thing for the Democrats:

Cheney is the Democrats' best -- though sorely underutilized -- weapon. A loose-lipped loose cannon who threatens to torpedo the Bushie ship of state every time he half-opens his mouth.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I just found out...

Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü, Sugar and his own relatively successful solo fame has his own blog.

Who would have thunk?

I saw Bob play at the Hollywood Palladium back around 1994 in what had to be the loudest show I'd ever heard. His guitar sound is substantial as it is but in a live venue he takes no prisoners.

He walked onto the stage, threw down his cigarette, picked up his guitar and started right in on his songs. The one time he stopped playing was to tell the security to take it easy on some members of the mosh pit who had begun to climb onto the stage.

When he was done playing he simply walked off the stage without a wave or a farewell. It was one of the best no-bullshit sessiond I've ever witnessed.

First a guitar demigod now a blogger.

A lateral move?
The Truth about Lies...

Low Culture pulls no punches.
Passion PR campaign in overdrive...

From the LA Times:

At one recent screening Gibson was asked who the critics of his film are. According to David Elcott, U.S. director of Inter-Religious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, who was a member of the audience, Gibson replied: "They are the forces of Satan or the dupes of Satan."

As if Gibson needs any more help promoting his film Christopher Hitchens has a column in Vanity Fair has this to say to Jews:

"If Christian orthodoxy is valid, then Judaism is futile: A pointless hanging-about for the arrival of the Messiah, who has already shown up. "Why not just admit this, instead of whining with Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League about negative stereotypes and all the rest of the self-pitying babble. If the Jewish leadership had any guts, it would turn on those who taunt it with 'Christ-killing' and say, 'Yeah, all right, since you keep mentioning it, we did you a favor. Judas, too. Where would your faith be without us?'"

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So there it is; if you criticize the movie you're doing Satan's work and if your Jewish then just turn the tables on Christians.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Photo sites of the week...

Bobby Neal Adams age map photos - Fascinating and creepy but cool.

Snow Crystal photography - Intricate designs found in nature by using technology.

Meccapixel gives us Brooklyn - check the archives for photos like this or this

And what would we do without the Museum of Hoaxes?

Monday, February 02, 2004

Advice to Democrats selecting a Vice President...

More people watched the Super Bowl yesterday than will vote in November. This is, sadly, always the case. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Vincent Jones at About US Liberals has some advice on how to - at least - potentially get out the black vote in large numbers.

...Why is the field of potential veeps so narrow? More importantly, why is it so devoid of color? Why not have a Black running mate?
(…)
Race has been the proverbial elephant in the room throughout the primary season. Howard Dean ruffled some feathers by conjuring the image of the Confederate flag to highlight the Republican’s continued use of Nixon’s Southern Strategy. The good doctor from Vermont was also chided for not having any Black people in his cabinet when he served as Governor. John Edwards’ whole campaign is rooted in the idea of two Americas, separate and unequal. While the North Carolina Senator does not cite race as the only factor responsible for two Americas, he does acknowledge it is a major cause.
(...)
With the focus on race and diversity this year, why don’t the Democrats use it to their advantage? Besides, Black people are the Democrats most loyal supporters come election time.
(...)
As it stands the potential Democratic tickets bantered around face an uphill battle in sparking the interest of those who can have the greatest impact on their chances of victory.

That would all change the second the eventual Democratic nominee for President chose a Black person to help him defeat President Bush and set America on a new course. African-Americans reared in the Civil Rights era and those of the Hip Hop generation alike would see that ticket as an opportunity to vote for someone rather than merely vote against someone else, as many Black people feel when voting for a Democrat.

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Yes, this strategy would be playing the race card. But is it any worse than Democrats only tipping their hats to the black community every four years? This would certainly go a long way toward concretizing their ideas to many black voters and giving them something that would speak directly to a community that seems to be used for convenience by whomever is running the country.
Boob Tube...

The half-time show when the Janet Jackson's right breast paid a visit into the bars and living rooms of America has - of course - caused a bit of a furor among the Right.

The fat cat business world is demanding an apology and now CBS and the NFL are telling MTV that this outrage will not go unpunished - they'll never eat lunch at another half-time show let alone stage one.

What gets me though is that if you watch the video of the half-time show the shot lasts for a fraction of a second and then cuts away to a further shot which lasts for just over a second - but it hard to really see clearly; it almost doesn't register. You have to know it's coming to really see it.

I had to go over to one of the the right wing media outlets - The Drudge Report - to actually see a close-up shot or to notice the pierced nipple. But now thanks to the media [and I'm part of that media] this thing will get a lot of airtime.

No matter how you look at it Janet Jackson - not to be outdone by Britany or Madonna - has done a pretty good PR stunt.
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This morning I received an e-mail alert from The Kevin McCullough Show, which asks, 'Did Janet Jackson violate America's youth?'

To which I can only reply, 'Yes, and they will never recover - the poor darlings.'

They even have a poll [actually you have to e-mail Kevin] which asks [I'm not kidding] 'Should Janet and Justin be prosecuted for public indecency?'

To which I ask, 'should Kevin be prosecuted for puritanical reactionary stupidity'?

I know we will survive this affront on our innocence and so will America's vulnerable youth.
Fortunately, we have the FCC on the case.