Celine and Julie is long and hard to explain; there's a murder mystery, time travel, sublimated eroticism, and not only a movie-within-a-movie, but then a late-game enactment of said movie-within-a-movie as a play-within-a-movie. Primarily, it's a tour de force of performance, sustained rapport, and sheer joy. It exists at that point where sophistication and silliness not only feed off of each other, but need each other. It is surprising, compelling, enigmatic, and, most of all, delightful as a film-viewing experience.
Postedsdfon May 4th, 2012 2:19pm
By the time of The Last Waltz, the song "Dixie" had become the battleground it was never meant to be, as Helm savagely laments the end of another kind of idealism, and Robertson, who spends much of the concert fiddling with the new-fangled pick-harmonic, rips apart at their very fabric of the song in much the same way they once laid waste Dylan’s musical universe. The introduction of tension into a song whose entire achievement was acceptance and compassion is pretty much the sound of irreconcilable differences—not to mention squandered idealism.
Postedsdfon April 20th, 2012 12:25pm
If, like me, you're the child of Boomers, Mrs. Robinson was an irresistible pop tune about an old lady long before Anne Bancroft polluted your mind. This distortion is telling; the idea of The Graduate was more important than the film itself, which wasn’t passed down. It became their movie, like Easy Rider, and I didn’t bother to watch it until college. Both of those films felt fiercely protected, somehow inviolate, wrapped up with a whole mess of concepts and feelings that don’t crop up in either movie. But The Graduate is useful when seen as a film that could only be made, or at least find a mass audience, right as American society opened up. It’s less radical than we want it to be in retrospect, perhaps, but then again, so was America then.
Postedsdfon April 11th, 2012 2:26pm
The sound of her voice was always the main attraction, and when she made the turn from pop princess to full-fledged diva, it was mostly only the tempo that changed. When she recorded with Bill Laswell's shambling avant-funk ensemble Material alongside hoary free jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp (nothing if not left-of-center), Houston was neither out of place nor in on the joke. She was just Whitney Houston, voice unstoppable.
Postedsdfon February 13th, 2012 12:01pm
"At Last," a Mack Gordon/Harry Warren standard first popularized by Glenn Miller, tells of love long waited for and finally found. James's terse, shimmering version splits the difference between toughness and vulnerability. As she sings it, Etta James, who passed away late last week, is overcome with joy, but there's an acknowledgment of all that came before—the cold expanse of loneliness, the opposite of bliss. Shooting stars are also burning up into nothingness. And even if "At Last" proved to be a crossover smash because of its overt romance, there remains a hardness to it. James' is a lived-in performance, and she was just the right age to channel both fairy tales and cynicism in a three-minute side.
Postedsdfon January 24th, 2012 3:40pm
In Bresson's hands, preparations for the prison break become incantatory, even trance-like. Instead of sinister shadows and deceitful crooks or looming guards, there's light, clarity, and community within the prison population. A Man Escaped an idealistic film. How many prison-break films can say that? Not only did the story resonate with Bresson—himself a former P.O.W.—but it also allowed for an intersection of spirituality and realism, two of Bresson's primary concerns as a director.
Postedsdfon January 20th, 2012 10:41am
Produced by Danny Glover, The Black Power Mixtape isn't exactly the snappy movie-as-mixtape the title leads you to expect. It's something more like a remix with guest verses, or maybe a rough demo for a multi-layered track of recognizable cues and samples. Anyway, it's more document, or collage of documents, than straightforward documentary. Director Göran Hugo Olsson, also the writer and editor on the project, wants to make sure long takes of Stokely Carmichael signing books overseas, or hanging out with his mother in Chicago, get the airing they deserve. Some of the footage sans the big personalities of the movement prove more evocative: 1967 interviews with African Americans in the streets of Hallendale, Fla. offer stark snapshots of life in the segregated South. In the film's closing act, a visit to 1975 Harlem features a wrenching monologue from a teenaged junkie-turned-prostitute, minutes after an appearance by a young Louis Farrakahn looking to get the Nation of Islam back on track.
Postedsdfon January 13th, 2012 3:07pm
Bradley isn’t Solomon Burke, a titan of soul who found a new, boutique audience late in life; and he isn't Howard Tate, a young star who was buried in decades of personal and professional disappointments before being excavated for a comeback just before his death. Bradley’s No Time for Dreaming (Dunham Records) is the culmination of nearly five decades spent trying to make it, but always hovering in that gray area between professional musician and relentless wannabe.
“I was gonna never give up because I love music," Bradley said in an interview with Capital. "It just took time for somebody to find me. But I was praying for it all my life, for this opportunity. And this came later in my age, it just hit me. In a lot of ways, I still don't really believe it. I tried so hard.”
Postedsdfon December 29th, 2011 9:54am