Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clearing The Decks...

I'm going to try to take this thing more seriously and do essays on my favorite movies in the next few weeks but first I want to catch up on a couple of recent views.


This was one of the last films of Japanese filmmaker Shohei Imamura. The Imamura films I've seen before like "Pigs And Battleships" and "The Pornographers" had a black comic, earthy view of the world that was pretty out there. "Warm Water" was still strange but had a more whimsical tone. It was essentially one of those "Local Hero" type films where an uptight businessman visits some remote village and learns to how to really live from the locals, including the inevitable beautiful girl that he falls in love with. Being Japanese it had its own wacko twists, the biggest being the heroine literally spurting like a geyser when she has sex.


I should have known better. Making the hero of a generic action movie a lesbian does not make it a better movie. This was typical cheap stuff about a Secret Service agent saving the Vice-President from mercenaries while shipwrecked on a remote island. The only twist was Mariel Hemingway played the Secret Service agent and she had the usual sexual tension going with a pretty reporter. The strange thing is Hemingway has played a straight version of this part in two previous direct to cable movies. She's also played bisexual or gay characters in several movies before this, not just "Personal Best". Anyway it was by the numbers cheapness that at least moved fast and didn't last too long. You still noticed all the low budget signs though, like "mercenaries" and "revolutionaries" who all had the same New Zealand accent and two people talking in a room standing for all of official Washington's concern about this crisis.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thinking Pink

I recently went through the third disc of the Pink Panther Cartoon DVD collection and I was a touch flummoxed by what I saw. The cartoons all looked beautiful from a drawing standpoint but the cartoons themselves varied wildly in quality. Some were funny and some were just odd with a lot of random visual gags that had no flow or internal logic.
After a little Internet digging, I discovered I was watching the last few theatrical cartoons in the series from 1969 and a bunch of the early made-for-TV ones which started up two years later. These were all produced by Friz Freling's company, De Patie-Freling, so it was no surprise that a lot of old Warner Brothers hands like Art Davis, Hawley Pratt and even Robert McKimson, directed these but honestly, the humor sometimes felt like the crappy Warners cartoons of the Sixties. There were oddities like the Panther being a stowaway on board a cruise ship and running away from an attacking deck chair or his taking a pet fish for a walk (!). I'm still interested to see how the series was in its celebrated early days so I put the first disc in the series into my Netflix queue. Friz himself even directed some of those. Hopefully they'll be more coherent.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pure Pleasure

I finally admit it. One of the most enjoyable things in the world to me is browsing in an honest-to-God record store, one that is full of CDs of every genre both new and old. I didn't realize how good I had it when there was a Tower Records only four blocks from where I worked and I could stop in any time I wanted just to roam around. Now Tower has been gone for a year and a half and I really miss the place.
Fortunately there is still one full to the gills store in town, Melody Records. It isn't close to me and I don't get there very often but I finally got back up there Saturday and I was in heaven, rows and rows of wonderful rare and cool stuff in jazz, folk, classical, electronic and rock among other categories. I had planned to buy only two or three discs so naturally I walked out with four: "The Time Has Come" by Anne Briggs, "Sunshine Of My Soul" by Jaki Byard, "Boss" byMagik Markers and a twofer of The Impressions' "This Is My Country" and "The Young Mod's Forgotten Story". And all the stuff still there for future visits: Max Roach, Pentangle, Cecil Taylor, Carla Bozulich, The Move, The Electric Flag, Kevin Ayers, Philip Glass. That just scratches the surface. I don't care how geeky it makes me look. I love spending hours in a store like that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Reopening The Crypt

Well, I have something of a legitimate reason for stopping for so long. I moved again. I moved out of the isolated, depressing situation I was living in and into a better and more close in neighborhood in Bethesda, and my landlord is an old acquaintance to boot. There are drawbacks to this place mainly that I have a lot less storage room and had to get rid of all my albums and a bunch of CDs, DVDs and books to boot. I still have a lot of stuff though I have no clue as to exactly what. I found some software, Music Collector, that will let me properly catalog all my CDs and that has become a slow, ongoing project.

Culturally I'm still relying heavily on Netflix. I can't get WGN from here so no more "Corner Gas" but the DVD sets are supposed to be getting an American release soon. I did stumble across a disc of another amazing Canadian series, "Robson Arms", that features a couple of the "Corner Gas" actors. Hopefully I'll get around to talking about the few other DVDs I've seen that I think are worth discussing, Hallelujah, The Fugitive and The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection.