LISTENING

So I watched The Doors (1991) biopic last week, so I was inevitably in the mood to listen to a lot of their music. But I was also listening to a lot of Devo. Spotify has a wonderful function where they pick out music you might like and build a new playlist every week tailored specifically to your tastes. It’s amazing. I’ve found so much great music through that playlist, including Devo’s “Gut Feeling / Slap Your Mammy” from Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DevoIt’s insane the way it builds. I’m trying to get more into Devo after hearing their an inspiration for several other artists I listen to. It’s hard with titles like “Slap Your Mammy,” “Jocko Homo,” and “Mongoloid.” I’m seriously like “what were you thinking with these titles. Y’all look like dumb jerks.” But I’m hoping their OK people and just existed in a non-PC era (1970s). I assume so.

I’ve realized if I had to pick a composer who’s music were present in every stage of my life, it could be Mark Mothersbaugh. He did the soundtrack to Rugrats, which was my favorite TV show growing up. He did the music to The Sims 2, which was my favorite video game (I played it all the time in high school). And he was in Devo. So if I enjoy Devo for the rest of my life, I will pretty much have enjoyed Mark Mothersbaugh’s music for my whole life. Also he did the soundtrack to, like, everything: Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen (2003); Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004); the Disney channels Halloweentown (1998); Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) to name only a few. Literally the list must be over a hundred. This dude’s work ethic is insane. OOOOHHHH. I want to be as productive as him in things in my life!

 

WATCHED

There were films expiring from Netflix over the weekend and also I was ill (GASTROENTERITIS FTW) and took a sick day Monday, so I watched many films while my stomach twisted and turned and rejected all forms of nourishment.

The list:

The Doors (Stone, 1991) – WOW. Jim Morrison was kind of a loser. At least, that was my take away from the film. Like, he was either always stoned, or got so stoned so often that even when he wasn’t stoned he seemed stoned and only spoke bad poetry. Like, not normally crafted sentences, just bad poetry.

Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950) – is worth the hype. Sometimes I’m confused when I watch a film that’s deemed a classic because I don’t find anything original or interesting about it. Not the case with Sunset Boulevard. Despite being made over 50 years ago I found it’s look and feel and pacing and dialogue and acting to hold up amongst modern day standards of cinema. THAT is how you know something is a classic. This is the second Wilder film I’ve seen (first was Double Indemnity), but I’m now convinced I should watch all. (This trailer is dumb, by the way. The movie is way better than the trailer. The trailer makes the film look old, but it feels quite fresh as your actually watching. The voice over is dated, but it goes with the film noir territory.)

The Conversation (Coppola, 1974) – was weird. It was also kind of boring when it wasn’t being weird. By weird I mean psychologically mindgamey. Supposedly, Coppola wanted to make a film similar to Antionini’s Blow Up (1966) and having seen that, I enjoyed The Conversation much better. Both have interesting endings, but I feel like Hackman’s character is much more interesting than any character in Blow Up, and thus I actually care about the end. But really the best thing about The Conversation is the score by David Shire. The main theme in particular is so haunting. I don’t think the film would be as [suspenseful? tense? mindgamey?] if not for it’s main theme music.

Frank (Abrahamson, 2014) – was also weird. But in a more accessible/entertaining way. I like how the gimicky premise became sort of a subtle presentation of mental illness. This following is pretty spoilerish: The main character is brought into Frank’s band when the previous keyboardist tries to kill himself. Then later, the manager who was formerly the band’s keyboarder, successfully kills himself. And then you’re kind of like, “when is this dude gonna kill himself,”  but he doesn’t and you realize it’s because, whereas the band brought the destruction of all the other keyboardists, this guy brings about the destruction of the band. Very interesting, in my opinion.

Tangerine (Baker, 2015) – was fun. When I first heard that it was shot on an iPhone 5s, I thought, WHOA that’s amazing that they could make a film look like a film while still being shot on an iPhone. But then I watched it and it very clearly looks like it was filmed on an iPhone. That being said, it doesn’t look ugly, it just looks different than traditionally shot films. But the narrative – a trans woman fresh out of jail walking around looking for her boyfriend – works with the medium (iPhone). And the narrative is so fresh that it’s intriguing. I also like the subplot of the Armenian cab driver. Really it’s a fun film that I think everyone should see. Hopefully films will start looking more like this in 2016 and beyond. I still don’t understand why it’s called Tangerine, though…

Edge of Tomorrow (Limon, 2014) – was as expected. People told me it was a great sci-fi action film and it was enjoyable. Nothing special, but thoroughly entertaining. Should I read the original novel (if it’s been translated into English)?

Manhattan Murder Mystery (Allen, 1993) – was enjoyable despite me wanting to hate it. Woody Allen is probably a child molester and so every time I laughed at something in the film, I felt a little horrible. But mostly just when Woody Allen was on screen. When it was Diane Keaton, or Alan Alda, or Angelica Huston, I was okay. They’re all great. And Diane Keaton’s wardrobe. Guys, Diane Keaton’s style. It’s awesome. Seriously.

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Wild (Vallée, 2014) – was enjoyable as well. I really liked how they integrated the flashbacks – a crucial part of the narrative – into the main story of her on the trail. Makes me excited to read the book once I get home (a friend of mine got me the book as a present but as it was a huge hardcover, I didn’t bring it with me to Taiwan).

 

READING

NOTHING. I was lazy. And then sick and lazy. So I read nothing. I’ve been on this huge movie kick. Laying beside me in bed is Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I really should read it. It’s just laying there. The hardest part for me is starting a book. But usually once I start, I love it.

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