Division of Planes

Thursday, 31 May 2007

I first heard Division of Planes on MetaFilter Music. I told them to come to Cleveland be­cause I thought they’d go down well. One of the band mem­bers con­tacted me for more info. Well, they’re com­ing to Cleveland, and they got the gig on their own gump­tion. If you check out their web­site they’re de­scribed as post-punk math-rock; but all I know is that I want to take off my head and scream at it when I lis­ten to the two tracks they have avail­able on their site. [Seriously worth down­load­ing]

Now That’s Class
June, 8 2007
11213 Detroit Ave @ W112th
Cleveland, Ohio 44102

Also play­ing:
The Vapids
Hollywood Blondes
Chrome Kickers

Unfortunately, I’m go­ing to be out of town on the night of their show, which has me roy­ally pissed. Someone needs to vol­un­teer to pick up a copy of their EP for me.

I Only Come Out At Night

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

I’ve had this rash that has re­cently be­come a full body thing; it itches like a cayenne por­cu­pine. Miracle of mir­a­cles, I man­aged to get not one, but two doctor’s ap­point­ments to­day; one with my pri­mary care physi­cian and one with a der­ma­tol­o­gist. I was pleased to dis­cover that every lifestyle ques­tion they asked about was an­swered in the healthy di­rec­tion, but what I wasn’t so pleased about was the di­ag­no­sis. I’m al­ler­gic to sun­light. Polymorphus Light Eruption, to be ex­act. I ended up get­ting a cor­ti­sone shot over the week­end to re­duce my scratch-mad­ness, and to­day I got dumped on with 4 pre­scrip­tions, two steroids and two al­lergy pills. I’m sup­posed to wear 30 SPF sun­screen all the time now, too. Boy in the moth­er­fuck­ing bub­ble. Thankfully my County health care kicked in at the be­gin­ning of the month, oth­er­wise I’d be up itch creek with­out a backscratcher. The days are much too bright.

Beastie Boys Video Anthology

Saturday, 26 May 2007

A part of this view­ing list: Criterion Collection Spine #100: Beastie Boys Video Anthology.


I have a dis­tinct mem­ory of danc­ing Intergalactic stop-mo­tion style at some dance or other with my high school bud­dies se­nior year. I was never a huge Beastie Boys fan, though I cer­tainly got down to their mu­sic. For a per­son my age, it is pretty much im­pos­si­ble to quan­tify the many ways their im­pres­sive ca­reer has af­fected the pop­u­lar cul­ture I was ex­posed to in my teen years. That’s pretty much Criterion’s rea­son for putting this col­lec­tion to­gether. The main sell­ing point for the Criterion edi­tion is the wealth of ex­tras that come with it, mul­ti­ple an­gles, remixes, spin­offs and other ac­cu­mu­la­tions of mu­sic video loose ends are all gath­ered here for a Beastie feast.


The videos them­selves sort of run the gamut, from pure stock footage to height of their power pro­duc­tions to hand­held base­ment hi­jinks. The trade­mark low-an­gle fisheye fronting is present in just about every video, and it is this, cou­pled with the fre­quent home-movie as­pect of many of the videos, that de­fines the tech­ni­cal side of their video con­ceits. This is a good thing, since the rough-cut feel makes the Beastie’s seem like your friendly neigh­bor­hood MCs. Even their videos with higher pro­duc­tion val­ues have an air of de­lib­er­ate whim­si­cal­ity to them. I’d never ac­tu­ally seen the video to Body Movin’ so it was with great de­light that I pegged it as a spoof of the ul­tra-campy 60s spy flick Diabolik! which is prob­a­bly one of my fa­vorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes as well. The hand-painted an­i­ma­tion of Shadrach was also a sur­prise, and re­minded me of Gondry’s Lego-an­i­mated White Stripes video.


My fa­vorite video of the col­lec­tion was Three MCs and One DJ, mainly be­cause of its ef­fec­tive sim­plic­ity, it is a bit goofy, of course, but also prob­a­bly their most in­ti­mate as well, and you re­ally get to see Mix Master Mike go nuts. I don’t re­ally have a lot more to say about their videos, but the two-disc an­thol­ogy is a choose-your-own-ad­ven­ture romp through Beastie cul­ture that is worth any audiophile’s time and money. Check out the links be­low, es­pe­cially the Paul’s Boutique one and their an­no­tated lyrics. And don’t sleep ’til B-lyn.


• Paul’s Boutique Samples and References List.
Official Site.
Beastie Museum.
Beastie Mania.
Mic to Mic weblog.
Annotated Beastie Boys lyrics.
• Beastie Boys YouTube Group.


A part of this view­ing list: Criterion Collection Spine #164: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.


My Dostoevsky pro­fes­sor once said that Russians are more Oriental than Occidental in tem­pera­ment, and the con­tem­pla­tive pac­ing and con­stant im­por­tance of the unim­por­tant through­out Tarkovsky’s Solaris seems to sup­port this as­ser­tion fairly well. For those used to Stanislaw Lem’s whim­si­cal cy­ber­netic sci­ence fic­tion, Solaris is more rem­i­nis­cent of Philip K. Dick, es­pe­cially with its psy­cho­log­i­cal bent and hal­lu­cino­genic at­mos­phere. These par­tic­u­lar as­pects give the work and the film both sig­nif­i­cant stay­ing power; the fic­tion is phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal in­stead of tech­no­log­i­cal. Eastern Europeans and Asiatics al­ways seem to pull off pen­sive mad­ness with much more be­liev­abil­ity than less thought­ful cul­tures. So Kris, Kelvin can stag­ger around Solaris Station in naught but his box­ers, eyes in­ward, but when he be­gins to talk about con­science and con­scious­ness and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, his out­ward dis­or­der is merely the sign of a com­plete in­ter­nal fo­cus on more im­por­tant prob­lems.


Kelvin be­comes a re­flec­tion of Solaris Station, an ut­ter ruin it­self; both ig­no­rant to the means and ef­fects of the Solaris Ocean which they are study­ing. Communication seems to be the theme of this film. Communication with the self as man­i­fested by the ap­pear­ance of Hari, Kelvin’s long-de­ceased wife, the planet’s at­tempt at com­mu­ni­ca­tion by proxy through the man­i­fes­ta­tion of Hari, tête-a-tête com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the sci­en­tists and the sci­en­tists at­tempts to com­mu­ni­cate with the planet via ra­di­a­tion. On a meta-level we also have Tarkovsky’s at­tempt to com­mu­ni­cate the dif­fi­cul­ties of these processes to his view­ers. In the end it be­comes eas­ier to toss the dice and hope that ex­pla­na­tion through evo­ca­tion and im­agery will suf­fice.


Kelvin seems ad­mirably suited to his job as con­sul­tant for the con­tin­u­a­tion of the Solaris project. He is not so much ob­jec­tive as com­pletely re­cep­tive and in­stead of sit­ting in in­dif­fer­ence, he ex­plores in ac­cep­tance. Because of this, he be­comes, un­will­ingly, the first per­son to suc­cess­fully com­mu­ni­cate with the sen­tient ocean. After this oc­curs, the hal­lu­ci­na­tions cease, but the reap­pear­ance of Hari has ex­humed his old skele­tons, and his is dis­qui­eted. At this point, Tarkovsky’s sub­tle mas­tery fi­nally re­veals it­self, the small peace­ful nat­u­ral clues we’ve re­ceived through­out the film, flow­ing wa­ter, sway­ing plants, swirling vis­tas and ob­scu­rant clouds be­come vi­sual rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Kelvin’s pri­vate thought processes, and the Solaris Ocean of­fers him full com­mu­nion with them. A form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that we all only wish for.


Criterion Essay by Philip Lopate.
Andrei Tarkovsky on Solaris.
• Senses of Cinema ar­ti­cle by the Strictly Film School guy.
Movie Martyr re­view with stills.
Official site of Stanislaw Lem.
• Exhaustive site about the film and the book.
Roger Ebert Review.
• YouTube Clips: 1, 2, 34.

Bicycle Thieves

Friday, 25 May 2007

A part of this view­ing list: Criterion Collection Spine #374: Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.


Bicycle Thieves is one of those films that ends up on every Film History syl­labus. It shouldn’t be avoided, but I think that it ap­pre­ci­ates to a viewer who has ac­tu­ally had to live and scrounge to make ends meet in the real world. It cer­tainly has done so for me and will prob­a­bly do so again when I have chil­dren of my own. In post-war Italy, times are tough and jobs are non-ex­is­tent. Ricci, the main char­ac­ter, some­how man­ages to get a job post­ing bills. The only re­quire­ment is that he needs a bike for trans­porta­tion. Currently his bike is sit­ting in a pawn shop. His wife de­cides to pawn their sheets so that they can get the bike back and Ricci can take the job. On his first day, his Fides gets stolen by a gang of thieves. Thankfully it is the week­end, so Ricci can spend the rest of the movie look­ing for one bike and one thief among thou­sands in all of Rome. If this brief sketch isn’t hard­core enough for you, the rest of the film, and its at­ten­dant de­tails should do the trick. At every step of the way De Sica makes sure that Ricci gets the merda end of the stick.


This Passion is made all the more pow­er­ful by the ac­tors play­ing the parts. Lamberto Maggiorani [who plays Ricci] and Jim Caviezel bear an eerie re­sem­b­lence to each other, both have long-suf­fer­ing but stoic faces. Enzo Staiola [who plays Ricci’s son Bruno] is per­haps the cutest and most feisty lit­tle guy in any film ever. As they travel to­gether through­out Rome, search­ing for the bi­cy­cle, Ricci must con­tin­u­ally put on a brave face to main­tain the hope in his son, even as his own des­per­a­tion grows. They search the bike mar­ket to no avail, and Bruno at­tracts a child mo­les­ter while Ricci ac­costs a bike me­chanic. Nothing bad hap­pens to Bruno, but it is ob­vi­ous that Ricci is be­ing dri­ven to dis­trac­tion by the loss of his Fides. Later, he even dis­rupts a prayer ser­vice [for a Roman Roman Catholic to dis­rupt a Catholic ser­vice in Rome…] as he tries to track down the boy who stole his bike. Even when he suc­ceeds at this, the boy turns out to be epilep­tic and an en­tire neigh­bor­hood turns against Ricci. In the end, he at­tempts to steal a bike in front of his ter­ri­fied son, and even fails at this. Only at the mercy of the vic­tim is Ricci set free. Ricci and Bruno, both cry­ing, walk into the crowd.


It is def­i­nitely the small things that turn this film into a mas­ter­piece of de­struc­tion. Ricci, the man of the fam­ily, has no job — al­though his wife and even Bruno are em­ployed. He is com­pletely emas­cu­lated through no fault of his own, and in the end, his young son is the only one who can of­fer him love and sup­port. Bruno doesn’t un­der­stand why his fa­ther would have done some­thing so hor­ri­ble as steal a bike, but he re­al­izes that papa is in se­ri­ous pain and of­fers the only thing he has to give, his hand. When Ricci’s con­trol fi­nally breaks, the viewer is sit­ting right at the bot­tom of the bar­rel with him. It all sounds a bit mawk­ish in my de­scrip­tion, but the film isn’t melo­dra­matic at all. It is heartrend­ing be­cause of its re­al­ism; and the ded­i­cated, ex­act­ing de­vel­op­ment of the plot. The small things add up to some­thing that no man can face alone; a so­ci­ety with no use and no pity for him, in that or­der.


Criterion Essay by Godfrey Cheshire.
Movie Diva re­view.
Strictly Film School syn­op­sis.
Interview with Suso Cecchi d’Amico, screen­writer.
• Trailer on YouTube.

End Round GMMC Meeting

Monday, 21 May 2007

We had the end of Round 9 meet­ing tonight at the Cleveland Foundation. This was a good meet­ing, even though Joel is gone and there isn’t a new di­rec­tor in place yet, we dis­cussed what was on our minds in terms of im­prove­ments that could be made to the process, ad­di­tional and dif­fer­ent as­sis­tances that can be given, and how to im­prove or ex­pand our own du­ties on the com­mit­tee. There is a lot of wis­dom held by my fel­low mem­bers, and I’m lucky to have the chance to lis­ten to their pre­ci­sion.

Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Blk Tygr was play­ing again at the Beachland last night, so I went and heard one of their new songs. It was an odd bill for them, since all the other acts were rock­a­billy as­soc­iates. I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival. Their act is just as cog­ni­tively dis­so­nant as their band name. For in­stance, one of their songs is called “I Banged a Sinner;” and they would talk about Jerry Falwell be­ing in hell, read one of his ridicu­lous quotes and then sur­pris­edly say “Oh, but that’s true.” They re­minded me a big of Fat Possum’s Bob Log III, what with their singing into CB mics and gen­eral duct-tape and gump­tion play­ing style. The drum kit was ba­si­cally a portable junk yard. At one point a hefty chunk of the cym­bal fell off.

You can lis­ten to a few of their songs here, but for some rea­son only the last one will down­load for me.

I also had a deep-fried PBJ while I was there.