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Monthly Archives: August 2012

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Flickr Friday: Amos Tutuola Paperback Book Cover

Seems like I’ve had this copy of Amos Tutuola’s novelette The Palm-Wine Drinkard forever without ever actually having read it. The striking black and orange cover design by Roy Kuhlman might be the reason why I’m still holding on. A Pinterest search on Kuhlman reveals many of the other bright, jazzy designs he did for Grove Press in the ’50s.

12:04 to 12:07 p.m.

There’s not a lot of art pieces that have people buzzing like Christian Marclay’s The Clock. The 24-hour video installation is made up of seamlessly edited clips from hundreds of films depicting the exact time of day in which that particular clip is shown, an effect which comes across as both clever and profound. It encompasses scenes of characters looking at clocks and watches, and instances where the time is spoken by the actors (I wonder if Judy Garland in The Clock is included?). The filmed excerpt below, a three-minute stretch from just after high noon, might give you a taste of what it’s like — but I imagine one truly has to see a big chunk of it to get the full effect. Currently showing in bigger coastal cities, it’s in huge demand right now (a massive digital file, Marclay only did a few copies and it has to be exhibited under his strict provisions). The chances of this arriving in a podunk spot like Phoenix are practially nil, but big congrats to Marclay and his acheivement.

This New Yorker article details the creation of The Clock and Marclay’s background in thought-provoking audio-visual mashups.

Flick Clique: July 29 – August 4

Ellis Island (1936). Another cruddy 1930s b-movie which would have otherwise gone past my radar, had Joyce Compton not co-starred. This had something to do with gangsters and a dopey pair of Ellis Island employees who uncover their dirty deeds, but it didn’t hold my interest whenever Joyce (tiny role as the nurse girlfriend of one of the dopes) wasn’t on screen – which wasn’t too often!
Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 4 (2012 DVD set, Warner Archive). We gorged on pre-Code Warner Bros. this week thanks to this set that I reviewed for DVD Talk. Yes, we managed to watch all four flicks over four nights (they’re all less than 70 minutes long) AND I managed to turn the review around, though not as quickly as promised. The set includes Jewel Robbery with Kay Francis and William Powell, Lawyer Man with Powell and Joan Blondell, Man Wanted with Francis and David Manners, and They Call It Sin with Manners and Loretta Young. Although Man Wanted was my favorite (great interplay with Francis and Manners, with some gorgeous cinematography and luxe sets), all four films in the set have something to offer for Pre-Code fans.
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011). This was a lovely, appetite-inducing and surprisingly poignant documentary on Japan’s most esteemed sushi chef, 85 year-old Jiro Ono. The tiny sushi restaurant Ono runs is one of the most exclusive eateries in Tokyo, with one multi-course meal that customers are willing to pay a premium and sit on a months-long waiting list to enjoy. All this attention actually makes the good-natured Ono more humble and devoted to his craft of making the most perfect sushi – a decades-long pursuit that he’s honed to perfection. Still, it’s Ono’s belief that there still is room for improvement that makes this film so inspirational. There’s a lot of scenes of food preparation with Ono, his oldest son and the small stable of employees who have worked their way through the ranks, often for years. This may look like a boring film, but we both thought it was wonderful. It really ought to be required viewing for any youngster of the “instant gratification” generation. At the very least, it made me hungry for a plate of sushi, even for the Americanized stuff that most of us know. California Roll? Phhft.
Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance (2011). This was a good documentary on the Joffrey Ballet, a bit dry and bland in the presentation but filled with lots of great anecdotes and vintage footage from the company’s earlier years. I reviewed this one for DVD Talk and my review is here.
John Carter (2012). Yeeks, what a stinker! I actually came into this one with an open mind, and even on those lowered standards it still disappointed. The film just seemed like yet another bloated Hollywood project that spent too much effort on the CGI and not enough on, you know, story. But it had so much potential with the Edgar Rice Burroughs pre-World War I concept of life on Mars – with a lot of imaginative CGI and thoughtful planning, it could have been a winner. I can imagine the source material being adapted into something darkly compelling that ties in the Victorian-era U.S. scenes with the Mars scenes, with multi-layered characters that hold our attention despite being simple archetypes at heart. Instead, we get scowling, weirdly unsexy Taylor Kitsch as a title character with no personality, humanoid-form aliens, and a completely incomprehensible story with a prologue that might as well have been “this blah blah blah happened, then this blah blah blah happened…” And a dog-creature.
Wings (1927). The first and only silent Best Picture Oscar winner is also one of Christopher’s favorites (he likes Charles “Buddy” Rogers), but we’ve never owned it. So I ended up buying the blu-ray and getting it for C’s birthday recently. The film is pretty wonderful, with its aerial fight sequences still having the power to impress, 85 years later. I wasn’t so much impressed with the plot, which follows Buddy and his friend Richard Arlen as they enlist as WWI fliers, go through intense pilot training, fight off the Kaiser, then become bitter, cynical war veterans as the horrors of war sink in (Clara Bow, unexpectedly poignant as the girl-next-door who drives a Red Cross truck, also figures in the action). I thought the blu-ray was pretty well done, with a new adaptation of the film’s original score that incorporates sound effects in a subtle way. And yes, the film is still worth watching for all the ho yay going on between Rogers and Arlen (and Gary Cooper, in his brief cameo as a hunky fellow pilot).

A Summer Mix: I Just Want To Be Your Friend

This sweet, sticky summer mix has been in the planning for several weeks now, but it seems appropriate to post it today in honor of International Friendship Day. I Just Want To Be Your Friend started out as just another group of songs from albums gotten recently, but the theme kinda grew out of it after noticing that there was more than one “friend” song in the playlist. The mix has a lot of melodic, happy pop (several of which came from CDs bought at the local Goodwill store) which I grouped together in pairs or threes with similar feels. For instance, the 1982 Soft Rock gem “Don’t Talk” by Larry Lee is paired with a tune by Julian Velard, a current musician whose upbeat style draws heavily from the time when the Atari 2600 was hot.

This was a blast to put together and I hope you enjoy it. Bert and Ernie were a no-brainer to feature on the mix cover. By the way, this and the previous three mixes have been uploaded to SendSpace as permanent files. Feel free to check them all out as well:

The download version below is a continuous mix, done as a single 74-minute file. Enjoy the tuneage!

Download I Just Want To Be Your Friend: Scrubbles.net Summer 2012 Mix (64.5 MB Zip file)

Track listing:
1. Electric Light Orchestra — “Confusion” (Discovery, 1979)
2. The Shins — “Simple Song” (Port Of Morrow, 2012)
3. Sambassadeur — “Days” (European, 2010)
4. The School — “Where Does Your Heart Belong?” (Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything, 2012)
5. Mayer Hawthorne — “Dreaming” (How Do You Do, 2011)
6. Nick DeCaro — “Getting Mighty Crowded” (Italian Graffiti, 1974)
7. Phyllis Hyman — “This Feeling Must Be Love” (You Know How To Love Me, 1979)
8. Howard Melvin & The Blue Notes — “Where Are All My Friends” (To Be True, 1974)
9. Larry Lee — “Don’t Talk” (Marooned, 1982)
10. Julian Velard — “No Wrong” (Mr. Saturday Night, 2011)
11. Acid House Kings — “Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?” (Music Sounds Better With You, 2011)
12. The Primitives — “Panic” (Echoes And Rhymes, 2012)
13. Linda Lloyd — “I’m Gonna Love That Guy (Like He’s Never Been Loved Before)” (Columbia single, 1964)
14. Jackie DeShannon — “Oh, Boy!” (Breakin’ It Up With The Beatles On Tour, 1964)
15. The Paris Sisters — “All Through The Night” (Gregmark single b-side, 1961)
16. Elvis Presley — “Guitar Man” (Clambake soundtrack, 1967)
17. Punch — “Peace Of Mind” (Punch, 1969)
18. Liz Damon’s Orient Express — “Walkin’ Backwards Down The Road” (Try A Little Tenderness, 1971)
19. The Brady Bunch — “I Just Want To Be Your Friend” (Meet The Brady Bunch, 1972)
20. Ben Folds — “Learn To Live With What You Are” (Supersunnyspeedgraphic EP, 2003)
21. Diana Lee and Jerry Whitman — “I Might Frighten Her Away” (Lost Horizon soundtrack, 1973)
22/23. Bobbie Gentry – “Jessye’ Lisabeth/Refractions” (The Delta Sweete, 1968)
24. Diana Ross – “When We Grow Up” (Free To Be… You And Me soundtrack, 1972)
25. Pearl Bailey – “Best Of Friends” (The Fox And The Hound soundtrack, 1981)
26. Burt Bacharach – “Where Knowledge Ends, Faith Begins” (early ’70s demo recording for Lost Horizon soundtrack)
27. The Tokens – “Some People Sleep” (Both Sides Now, 1970)