Saving for later, "Dangerous Sex and Scattered Focus, Fifty Years Apart", an article by American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum comparing Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc (directed by Radu Jude) to WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) ; both films dealing with the representation of sexuality and politics. I tremendously enjoyed Bad Luck Banging's writing and structure, and the spectacular acting. Also, don't want to spoil the ending, but it's so seriously over the top you will NEVER forget it. WR has been high on my list of must-watch so maybe it's time to give it a chance.
Artistically speaking, would the mid to late '90s be as significant as they were without Dave McKean? Would our favourite Doom Metal or Emo albums look the same without his artful collages and graphical explorations (Duncan Fegredo probably should also receive some extra credit here)? Here's a long, in-depth, retrospective interview with McKean that ran recently in The Comics Journal. On a side note, saving for future Christmases: Thalamus, a two-volume hardcover retrospective published by Dark Horse in late 2023 that will only cost you a meagre $149.99.
My good friends over at ED Distribution are set to release in theaters this wonderful film directed by Mark Jenkin. They were kind enough to send me a preview link and I watched it this morning, absolutely mesmerized from start to finish. I'll definitely go see it in an actual cinema once it's out, if only to pick up more clues and get lost once again in this labyrinthine mental island.
Here's an English translation of my Letterboxd review: "Enys Men offers a unique sensory experience, situated at the outskirts of hauntology, this protean non-genre obsessed with the notion of a present constantly shaped by the ghosts of the past. Far from the clichés of traditional fantasy, here is finally the great intimate feminine horror film that Men by Alex Garland and In the Earth by Ben Wheatley could have been, had they both not chosen the path of grand guignol. In a stripped-down, precise, calculated, and naturalistic cinematic style, Mark Jenkin evokes not only the essence of Folk Horror but also the spirit of Bergman's Hour of the Wolf. His heroine, captive in a House on the Borderland worthy of Hodgson's spatio-temporal nightmares, traverses the epochs and sediments that (de)compose reality; on the other side of the mirror, the secrets of the labyrinthine world she inhabits are revealed to us. Some may get lost in it, while others will see a fascinating representation of the nightmares of immanence. A brilliantly inhabited film, to be seen captive in the theater, to drown in the hypnotic dance of the 16mm grain chosen by its director."
And to wrap this post up, I'll direct you to yet another great Guardian article about this wonderful, wonderful movie and the wicked ways of its one-of-a-kind director.
"Enys Men", French theatrical release April 10, 2024.
If you miss good, clever Pop songs with an extra slice of Brit humor (Scottish, in this case), just like Neil Hannon used to write back in the '90s, you could do far worse than listening to this excellent album released by Hamish Hawk in 2023. I only found out about it recently, thanks to the joys of Year's End Top Ten lists, and have been listening to this album in constant rotation ever since. Infectious melodies that capture the golden essence of Pure Pop!
Let's tak about Marvel Comics, the be-all, end-all of mainstream superhero stories. My relationship with Marvel has been a wild ride. I was fully immersed in their superhero universe growing up, practically living and breathing alongside my favorite characters. I can still vividly recall the sheer joy of returning from vacations to reunite with my beloved stack of '80s X-Men and Avengers comics. The excitement was palpable, and I even longed for them while away. However, my enthusiasm took a hit during my stint at a Comic Book Store in the early '90s, where the scene was dominated by flashy gimmicks like Special Holographic Foil 3D Blood covers. Then came Image Comics, shaking up the industry forever.
The following decades were a mixed bag. While some artists and writers attempted to usher in a new era for superheroes, others got lost in the haze of nostalgia. In the 2010s, I drifted away from Marvel Comics when they stopped making sense, only to rediscover my passion about a decade ago. Recently, I stumbled upon a delightful list compiled by Anne Reads Comics! nestled between two hate posts on X. It's a goldmine of Marvel wonders waiting to be explored, and I'm itching to dive into these unexplored corners of "the House of Ideas" anytime soon.
Founder Georges Batard and his pressing plant
French label BORN BAD RECORDS is reknowned for their stellar and wide-ranging compilations. This 3-LP dig into Le Kiosque d'Orphée may well be their crowning achievement. For those of you who don't know the story behind Le Kiosque, let me just say that they were not a label per se, but rather a private press, pay-for-your-own-record company. In the labyrinthine landscape of '70s music, Le Kiosque produced a selection of records that were notably avant-garde, deeply eccentric, and delightfully obscure. Despite their unconventional approach, their creations lay dormant until the diligent excavations of music enthusiasts in the 1990s, long after the label ceased operations in 1991. The allure of Le Kiosque's offerings lies in their enigmatic nature, providing a window into a bygone era of musical experimentation and artistic exploration.
I'm a sucker for radical shifts in music directions. Especially when it involves two people who made one of my favorite Death Metal EPs of all time: Fatal from Detroit and their seven inch classic "A Somber Evocation Of Nihilism", released way back when on the French label that rocked my youth, Thrash Records (Hi Val!)
A few years ago, I was checking the whereabouts of their ex-members as one is wont to do, and I found out that guitar player Tony Hamera and drummer William King had done a few things together in the 2000s. The one band that stood out to these ears was Ether Aura, a great vibey Shoegaze/Dream Pop outfit. I really, really love their second album, "Before We Could Sing" and its sweet radio-friendly 4AD vibe. When I dive into the sounds of commercial 90s/00s rock bands, I love subjecting them to what I call "The Bronze Test." Basically, it's my way of figuring out if they could land a gig at Buffy the Vampire Slayer's favorite hangout. Guess what? I can totally imagine these guys (and gal) rocking the stage there!
Just checked out if they were on bandcamp, turns out they've recently remixed their debut album too! Sounds even better now. Wish they'd done more!
Wow, first time I'm hearing this with the original George Harrison sample! Not so much a sample as a whole track laid over the song. Apparently this version was uploaded on a Stereolab fanpage on Facebook or something, as the band is strictly forbidden to use it anywhere, if we may trust those liner notes on the "Transient" re-release quoted by the uploader:
"It's a real shame that we were unable to use the original recorded version of this track as it featured an amazing sounding reed instrument called a Shehnai taken from a track on George Harrison's Wonderwall LP. It wasn't really sampled as such but just taken directly off the LP and laid over the track. It worked so beautifully, flowing in and out of the song, but unfortunately we were denied permission to use it from Apple, and had to re-record a similar sounding part ourselves. Sean O'Hagan did a great job in trying to emulate the feel, offering something very different but sympathetic to the original instrument's effect on the rest of the track. However a little bit of chance and serendipity was lost. I didn't hear this original version again until just recently when we took everything off the master tapes. That's 25 years since I've heard it and it still sounds great and we still can't use it, not even as a bonus track." Tim Gane.
Here's the George Harrison album in question, for comparison's sake. This YouTube playlist has all the album songs on it, but I don't know the name of the actual song they lifted that sample from.
Following two strokes of genius with Nathan For You and The Rehearsal, the master of cringe humor, meta-fiction, and post-TV, Nathan Fielder, makes a triumphant return with this new TV series co-written and directed alongside Benny Safdie. It stands out as my favorite show of 2023 for various reasons. Firstly, The Curse tackles themes of gentrification and white guilt, which are rarely explored in TV land. Secondly, its humor consistently tiptoes on the edge of the abyss without tumbling, a feat often missed in attempts at the 'cringe' genre. Thirdly, the stellar acting, with Emma Stone delivering her usual brilliance, but it's Nathan who steals the spotlight, portraying a fictional character for a change. Safdie's performance, while passable, suits the character seamlessly. Fourthly, the final episode ranks high on the WTF TV scale, akin to Twin Peaks The Return Episode 8. I recommend diving in The Curse with no expectations, avoiding prior knowledge of characters, situations, or storytelling devices. This brief teaser trailer is all you should see, and if it doesn't immediately entice you, it might not be your cup of tea.
Time does fly when you shouldn't be busy at all, doesn't it? I'll try to upload this blog more often in the future. In the meantime, please gasp at the beauty and merriment that was PAINTBOX from Japan. Seriously, nothing should work in this particular assemblage of different music styles and yet, they make it their own. I've been on a PAINTBOX binge recently and I wish someone'd reissue those records in Europe as the Prank re-releases are already quite expensive these days. If anyone hears me in this bottomless void?