Friday, 19 April 2013

CD's From My Collection: Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-83

What it says on the tin: The equally brilliant follow up to the Soul Jazz Records double CD comp of German rock and electronic music of the 70’s and early 80’s, coined Krautrock rather xenophobically by the Brits. You get all sorts of styles here from psychedelic rock and folk (Agitation Free and Gila) to minimalist ambient electronica (Eno, Moebius & Roedelius and Rolf Trostel) and from relatively well known (Can and Neu!) to obscure (Wolfgang Riechmann and A.R. & Machines.)

Friday, 12 April 2013


Thatcher is dead and as a consequence an outpouring of justified hatred is directed at this loathsome political figure who wrecked and destroyed so many lives. Spontaneous street parties celebrating her death have appeared in Brixton, London, Bristol and Glasgow. Tomorrow a party is arranged in Trafalgar Sq, scene of the anti-poll tax riot of 1990, which is expected to attract 3,000 people or even more. Ding-Dong, The Witch is Dead from The Wizard of Oz is reaching the top five of the charts. The Daily Mail and other right-wing rags meanwhile have launched a vicious personal attack on two teachers who are involved in the ’death parties,’ fanning the flames of all those sick to our stomachs of one of the founders of brutal neoliberal austerity and the darling of the champaigne swilling crooks of the finance sector, not forgetting the whole ruling class. To add insult to injury the British establishment are putting on a virtual state funeral with military honours costing 8 million pounds that will not look dissimilar to Winston Churchill’s!

The response of many liberal media commentators has been to come on all moral. To celebrate an old woman’s death is seen at best as very bad taste, at worst an outrage. What these mostly closeted wealthy people seem to forget is that we have been suffering under the yoke of Thatcherism for 33 years. Now because of the biggest economic disaster ever caused by the bankers, the process began by her is escalating, where such prize gains of the working class, the NHS and the Welfare State (institutions even Thatcher did not dare touch) are being dismantled. But what they fail to realise, cocooned in their privileged lifestyles as they are, is that if you suffer, you want to take it out on those who have caused your suffering if only in words. We are not saints, anger and hatred are natural responses of those who are powerless and are attacked and bullied. Thatcher has become a symbol of all we despise. Calling for her to be murdered when she was alive would have been wrong, but to celebrate her passing rather then mourning is an expression of legitimate protest against everything she believed in and the attempt of the ruling class to canonise her.

I hated Thatcher when she was alive, I hate her now when she is dead. To say otherwise is the worst form of hypocrisy! Celebrate this evil woman’s demise with all your heart and organise for the burial of the horrific social system that she helped to create. See you Saturday!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Seen On The Big Screen (BFI Southbank): Point Blank, Directed by John Boorman (1967)

From allmovie by Rovi: "John Boorman's Point Blank was one of the most interesting and quietly influential films of late 1960s American cinema. Unashamedly violent, void of morality, and full of "European" experimentation, the film ignored the conventions of typical Hollywood crime thrillers. Compared to the stark grimness of typical crime movies, Point Blank was downright phantasmagoric in its narrative structure, camera placement, color schemes, and sounds. Released just three weeks after the similarly revolutionary Bonnie and Clyde, the film was not an immediate hit with audiences; even though star Lee Marvin was coming off the successful The Dirty Dozen, the film got swept up in the "violence-in-movies" controversy. Where Warren Beatty's Clyde and Faye Dunaway's Bonnie were sympathetic and glamorous, Marvin seemed capable of "bashing somebody's brains out," to paraphrase his famous line from The Dirty Dozen. But the actor's icy menace and Boorman's artistic pretensions have gone on to influence filmmakers to come, most notably Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, and Quentin Tarantino."

DVD's From My Collection: Synecdoche, New York, Directed by Charlie Kaufman (2009)

Billed as a comedy (the smash-hit comedy of the year!) on my DVD, Synecdoche, New York is far from hilarious. It’s a cerebral fable/farce about ageing and death with surrealist touches; the sort of film you need to watch a couple of times in order to understand the labyrinthine plot. 

From allmovie by Rovi: "Kaufman has written about this kind of pain in his previous scripts; Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation each carry a heavy dose of existential angst. But the directors he's collaborated with have always found a way to make all that pain and struggle remain meaningful for the characters -- and therefore, for the audience as well. Working as a director for the first time, Kaufman tackles his main theme so unsparingly he provides barely a single concession to the viewer aside from casting brilliant actors like Hoffman, Emily Watson, Samantha Morton, and Catherine Keener. The result is a straight shot of pure undiluted Charlie Kaufman -- he makes Caden's angst and pain and helplessness and self-loathing feel agonizingly palpable from the first moment to the last. The film never condescends to Caden's emotions, and because of this, you get the sense that Kaufman is sharing his own turmoil -- and for his sake, let's hope that darkness is just a small fraction of his inner-self. In an idea that he's hinted at in his previous scripts, Synecdoche is very much about the dangers of the artist confusing art with life, and more so here than it's ever done in the past, this theme seems to insert Kaufman himself into the story. The film doesn't conjure up any of the characters as vividly as it does the idea of Kaufman, sitting behind the camera, orchestrating everything before you as a giant, tangled expression of how he feels.

The thought that Kaufman himself might be this conflicted about his own artistic gifts is disheartening -- especially because it seems like no other topic interests him as much. But by that same token, there will probably be a cult for this movie no matter what Kaufman does for the rest of his career. The emotional commitment from the director, and the film's weird, offbeat rhythms, guarantee that there will be a niche of fans who will respond strongly to it. But, looking forward for Kaufman, it doesn't seem possible he could have much more to say on the dangers of living in your own head. Synecdoche, New York is the kind of movie that only exceedingly talented filmmakers can get away with, and usually only once in a career. Charlie Kaufman is that talented, but he picked a dangerously early point to cash in his free pass."

DVD's From My Collection: Weekend, Directed by Jean-Luc Godard (1967)

An avant-garde road movie from the French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard, where a boorish and complacent bourgeois couple travel through the countryside, confronted by traffic jams, car crashes and lethal social antagonisms. WARNING-This film contains real animal abuse.

From Rotten Tomatoes: "French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's Le Weekend remains his most consistently relentless attack on the bourgeois values of his own country and the perceived imperialism of the United States. Mireille Darc plays the central character, an "average" woman who is systematically radicalized during a weekend motor trip. No sooner have the woman and her husband (Jean Yanne) embarked on their journey than they become enmeshed in the mother of all traffic jams. The motorists rave, rant, burn, rape, murder, pillage and even descend into cannibalism -- all of which is treated by Godard as a natural progression of events. The prevalent theory that Jean-Luc Godard had intended Weekend as the apotheosis of his career is bolstered by the film's last two titles: "End of Film." "End of Cinema." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

DVD' s From My Collection: Santa Sangre, Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky (1989)

A weirdo horror pic from Mexican cinematic surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky, saturated with garish and colourful imagery. If you like David Lynch or Luis Bunuel you'll love this.

From allmovie by Rovi: "A candy-colored, blood-soaked journey into the disturbed mind of a damaged soul, Alejandro Jodorowsky's dark and surreal comeback offers a potent tale of psychological despair with striking, haunting imagery that will linger in the mind long after the viewing. It had been quite a long time since El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973) thrust '60s underground cinema into collective mainstream consciousness, and Jodorowsky proves without a doubt that he still has the power to shock and move audiences as few other filmmakers can. Time has certainly not diluted Jodorowsky's ability to craft the sort of bold and fearless film made virtually extinct with the ever increasing commercialization of the film industry, and his years spent penning fantasy comics has only served to strengthen his ability to portray the kind of complex characters that make his films so compelling. As deeply troubled Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky) is enslaved by his armless mother and forced into a murderous existence following his release from a sanitarium, Jodorowsky instills his protagonist with a desperate sense of fear and helplessness from which there seems little chance of escape. An alternately brutal, hallucinatory, and beautiful film, Santa Sangre is without question a polarizing effort by its very nature, though viewers willing to be seduced by Jodorowsky's alluring cinematic nightmare will find themselves surprised, enthralled, and richly rewarded with an uniquely unapologetic film that's not easily shaken off."