Thursday, September 13

Music of the 00s

I've sort of parted ways (as of now) with my film adoration -- it's still "there" but I've sort of reverted back to my original passion for well as had the urge to further educate myself in other various fields: journalism, astronomy, neuroscience, and reading (ethnography and non-fiction). I guess my recent apathy for film continuance is the same logic that many students arrive on in order to fulfill their passion for the medium: film is about experiences, many of which need absorption through hunger for various academia. What advantage does a film-centric individual have over an economically-inclined individual when viewing a film like Thief? Or against a sociology major when talking about Cache? I'm not attempting to suggest any sort of slippery slope warrants notice here, but I feel that my continual education and enthusiasm can only and should only be further groomed with my desire to fulfill (and admit to) other curiosities.

And there's music.

If there is an argument for the "perfectionized medium" -- and film is it -- then where does music rank? Well, firstly, I'm not going to really answer that question (yet) or concede that it is inevitably inferior to film -- or books -- simply because I'm still attempting to rid myself of dogmas that have risen from not keeping up with music for the last 1-2 years. It seems harmless, sure, but I've been sort of conditioned by the recent output to be a cliched naysayer despite the distinct fact that when I was in a "music phase"...I really liked modern music. Part of it was the fact that the intricate syncopations, Neptunesque hyper-production, and synthesized^78 vocals actually are being readily appreciated by the mainstream. There's always a quick write-off about contemporary music by simply saying, "Well, I just miss the great music of the 60s...heck, the 90s" without actually perceiving that a lot of that really great stuff was properly retrospected over time instead of actually being appreciated--for its inherent worth. In other words, the numerous deconstructions of Beatles song structures or Morrison lyrical composites weren't as quickly congested, dialed up, and matter-of-factly recognized by the general public of its time. They understood that something great was going on, but they didn't know what. Flash forward to 2007, and you've got a sense of incapability from scrutiny, an exponentially observed sense of not only "now" but "what's next". Listening to something like "Sexy Back" amidst all the hoopla, you've got to really give it to Timberlake's collaboration team for actually pushing the envelope on how dense everything is -- even if you really hate "Sexy Back" (like me). And its not only the internal properties of music, but how it is externally distributed. Living in a city like Austin has allowed me to observe a few tragic/impressive principles/concepts about the state of modern music:

1. The past is both unfairly worshiped and misguidedly underrepresented.
2. Modern indie rock is not objectively better than popular music. In fact, I bet more individuals can make a case for its inferiority. We're in a state of post-scene, which makes us actually "behind the times" instead of in front of it like we want to be. (Rehashed Gang of Four melodies (see Britian's post-punk scene catching up to the U.S.) and New Wave grooves/ philosophies only prove this)
3. The massive access of music through the internet tragically has led two music scenes (independent/pop) in two directions instead of working as one. But ultimately (and paradoxically) they ultimately will coincide.

These are fairly vague and will be further explored through further posts on this blog as time permits. I'm going to start out my next entry by listing my favorite songs/artists of this decade and all time.

'Play it as it Lays'

"Play It As It Lays ironically supports conservative values by showing their utter absence in the characters' lives. We see a Hollywood society with no sense of history, of the links between then and now, and we watch this world disintegrate into suicide, abortion, sexual promiscuity, divorce, and neurotic lethargy: into nada....Maria and the other characters are cut loose from the bonds and values associated with the family, and by extension, from any sense of continuity with the past." (Brady 53)

8/10 (2nd viewing)

Tuesday, September 11

Ben's 20 Favorite Films

I should be posting more stuff in the future. Enjoy!

Shindler’s List (Steven Spielberg)
Time Bandits (Terry Gilliam)
Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola)
Shichinin no samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
Buono, il brutto, il cattivo (Sergio Leone)
Eternal Sunshinge of the Spotless Mind (Micel Gondry)
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson)
Everything Is Illuminated (Lieve Schreiber)
Russikiy kovcheg (Aleksandr Sokurov)
Sjunde inseglet, Det (Ingmar Bergman)
Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron)
Spaceballs (Mel Brooks)
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (Sam Jones)
Cidade de Deus (Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund)
Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson)
The Truman Show (Peter Weir)
Angels In America (Mike Nichols)
Un long dimanche de fiancailles (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

Saturday, September 1


I suppose some are still chewing away at Damian's faux-apologia (see: Nixon's "Checkers" speech)--how ironic was the timing of my second-to-last post--and rightfully so. My favorite bits would be "I can't do that. It's not that simple" (in reference to denying to the claims of plagiarism) or "It may seem like that should be easy to do, but when you're the one sitting in your chair staring at the blank computer screen, it can be quite a daunting task." I'm not trying to be a churlish ass; I've been guilty of my fair share of plagiarism in my lifetime (in some senses, haven't we all?) but I think I learned in the elementary school that owning up rather obvious mistakes or poor judgment is better than denying it--or worse, skirting around the circumstances and downplaying the actions. Rhetorical analysis might have gone over the American public 50+ years ago, but the film-going community is a bit less saccharine, if you will. I'm still going to keep Windmill's of My Mind's link up on my blog, but it will be more of a reminder of how side-stepping one of basic fundamentals of human nature (apologizing) really beats a horse once presumed dead.

Great article about the debasement/ascension (?) of modern film--> Here
David Bordwell proving once again that he is one of the least pretentious individuals in film criticism--> Here
That guy who has the coolest last name discussing Roger Ebert, monsters with eyes in their hands, and the underrated nature of Ebert's pre-I-own-the-AMPAS film enthusiasm--> Here
Fairly straightforward look at the general theories of Artaud--> Here
Overview of Renoir Boudu and how he really perfectionized the long-take--up to that point. Cool site, too--> Here

I'm sort of at a stalemate with my Inland Empire analysis, but I've got a good one on the way comparing My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, discussing how each film takes a "quiet" approach to spirituality/wonderment and how tragedy evolves in each.

Just for fun:

Album of the Week: Animal Collective "Sung Tongs"
Movie of the Week: Tokyo Ga
Song of the Week: "Message of Love" - The Pretenders
Book of the Week: Pledged - Alexandra Robbins
Obsessions of the Week - 'The Office', Amy Adams, and college football
Quote of the Week: "A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." - Groucho Marx