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All reviews - Movies (1) - DVDs (5) - Books (4) - Music (6)

Louise Brooks lights up the screen!

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 4 October 2006 02:51 (A review of Future Sport)

Lulu in widow's veil taking the stand in court. Lulu seducing her stepson. Lulu dancing with her lesbian admirer at her own wedding reception. Oh, and somewhere in there Jack the Ripper comes into the mix.
I would most certainly recommend watching this film. It's a masterpiece.
This particular R2 edition truly brings the film back from the dead/dreadful past cuts and 'restorations'.
Louise Brooks gained immortality mostly in this single film - though it would be almost 30 years until the fact was in any way acknowledged - and Pabst had a big hand in it.


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Rufus triumphant

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 4 October 2006 02:45 (A review of Want Two [CD + DVD])

Some extraordinary songs (The Art Teacher, Hometown Waltz, Memphis Skyline, Crumb by Crumb, Old Whore's Diet) 2 gorgeous bonus tracks in french(Coeur de Parisienne, Quand Vous Mourez de nos Amours) and a live concert at the Filmore,SF on the DVD revisiting present and past delights including L.Cohen's Hallelujah, another chanson and the almost forgotten(by me) but wonderful Liberty Cabbage... Sounds / Looks too good to be true? I still think so, yes.


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Superb! Jane moving away from Gainsbourg

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 3 October 2006 06:50 (A review of Fictions: 20/03/2006 Paris)

Moving away from the influence of Serge Gainsbourg in her career - which after all he created, svengali-like - though still fiercely protective of his legacy, Jane Birkin 's latest album is her first in a long time (ever?) to be mainly in English and she has surrounded herself with some pretty impressive talent as well as picking songs that were not obvious for her to cover but turned out to be from sublime to average.
Composing new songs for her are the likes of Neil Hannon which these days pretty much *is* The Divine Comedy, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Gibbons and a new generation of french musicians which give added power and rythm and poignant lyrics to the effort. Her cover of Alice by Tom Waits is eerie, haunting and highly effective. The Kate Bush cover more or less proves that no one is supposed to do that sort of thing but by going from immense vocal range to subtle phrasing she manages to salvage the song.
Highlights of the album are Home, Alice, Living In Limbo, Où Est La Ville and La Reine Sans Royaume.


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Poignant, Fascinating, Too Real

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 3 October 2006 05:34 (A review of Forgotten Voices of the Great War: A History of World War I in the Words of the Men and Women Who Were There)

Too Real for our times, perhaps. These times of war without the individual perspective to root us.
This is a truly magnificent book, not because of its epic scale - The Great War has that in itself - but on account of the many people of all walks of life that suddenly became people of all walks of life at War, both on the military and civilian fronts, truly the first People's War. Trying to make sense of the War would never do. So trying to make sense of each individual experience would perhaps be the logical step if you somehow wanted to felt a connection to the experiences of those times. They're still within living memory - but only just so. Before this conflict becomes 'historical' in the worst sense perhaps all of us should read this book. European domination of the World mostly died here. The seeds of WWII are all too clear. But more than that - it seems to be a whole innocence lost along with the Lost Generation.
This is not a sentimental book. But perhaps your reactions to it may be so. Mine were, and I felt it did me some good. I'm not preaching here - but as this War gets further away from us in time it's ever more difficult to understand the terrible introduction to most things worst about the XXth Century that it initiated.



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Rita Lee's first solo effort doesn't dis

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 3 October 2006 05:08 (A review of Build Up)

It's a little unfair to place this first solo effort by Rita Lee in the same league as her Os Mutantes records as it simply won't hold up - unlike her second, third and fourth solo efforts "Hoje É O Primeiro Dia Do Resto Da Sua Vida"(1972); Atrás Do Porto Tem Uma Cidade"(1974) and "Fruto Proibido"(1975).
Goofy songs are less funny (one of them is actually a macarroni recipe, another a bolero in portunhol) and some songs are crippled by nonsense lyrics sung to broadway show tunes-like melodies and orchestral arrangements taking themselves seriously and trying hard not to go over the top. The cover of The Beatles "And I Love Her" (here "And I Love Him" is also below her usual quality).
Out of 10:
1.Sucesso Aqui Vou Eu(Build Up) (3/10) (wrong for her, still...)
2.Calma (8/10) (similar to her Mutantes stuff)
3.Viagem ao Fundo de Mim (6/10) (sweet, but throwback to the early 60s)
4.Precisamos de Irmãos (8/10) (most psychadelic thing in the album)
5.Macarrão com Linguiça e Pimentão (3/10) (just silly)
6.José(Joseph) (7/10) (cover of a cover of a Moustaki song)
7.Hulla-Hulla (9/10) (calypso-hawai trip - delicious)
8.And I Love Him (5/10) (doesn't add anything musically new)
9.Tempo Nublado (9/10) (down-beat lyrics to up-tempo rythm)
10.Prisioneira do Amor (6/10) (mock-bolero, improves with each listening)
11.Eu Vou Me Salvar (5/10) (endlessly repetition of chorus in the shortest song in the album - aspiring to be bluesy)

It's an essential album for Rita Lee fans and 'completists' and has some good songs. The worst thing working against it is that it's very uneven - maybe she was trying to break out of the mould. In some cases she did fine.



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The true Carmem, before Hollywood turned

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 1 March 2006 12:44 (A review of Balancê (VINYL))

She was an icon and an idol in Brasil for good reason. Her voice. She dominated the radiowaves and even had a couple of successfull movies. She was still happy and carefree, as her voice playfully shows here. Then came Hollywood - she mutated from Carmem into a spanish-like Carmen, made fun of herself, and on her first journey back home after all the dollars was booed as "too americanized". She was hurt and only came back once more, near the end of her life. Reconciled, happier. This album is a poignant witness as to the mystery of why she never got the great recognition she deserved and so deaperately seeked in the US. Well, she got it on Broadway, to a certain extent. But Hollywood made mincemeat out of her.
Listen to her here at/on the top of her form as an entertainer and vocalist - despite some poorly kept recordings - and understand why when her body went back to Rio for burial half a million people lined the streets. Mutual forgiveness? Whatever it was - it was fiercely linked to clumsiness back in California. Neglect, even.
Let the pleasure of the songs wash over you and redeem all of whatever and feel her so ebullient again.


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