Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bob Dylan In 350 Words

From Hibbing to Minneapolis. New York to the world. From Robert Allen Zimmerman to the mythic figure that is Bob Dylan, the man has been living open to everything, absorbing all he comes in contact with. The Rock and Roll records of Little Richard and Elvis Presley. Beat Poets and wanderers. Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. All the great artists and songs of American “traditional” music fermenting with his own personal poetic vision, became some of the world's greatest songs.

It began with country ballads, blues, and early rock n' roll carried on airwaves from cities that could only be imagined. Then Elvis and James Dean. Sharing songs with other young musicians. Listening to the songs that make up Harry Smith's, Anthology of American Folk Music.

Bob Dylan to The Times They Are A-Changin' . Dylan tried to find the groove between Hank and Woody. What he saw in the cities, TV screens, and newspaper pages brought the wrath and ire of a boy having to see the world as a man.

After the transitional, Another Side of Bob Dylan, we find Dylan coming back to Chuck Berry, but not yet abandoning his folk roots, even though his now spitting forth verses more akin to the words of Arthur Rimbaud.

His new persona, all ether and mod boots, dove deep into America's psyche and his own. Surrealism and country rock became the vehicle that carried the visions that left lips, intending to wake sleeping ears.

Dylan, torn and frayed, went down into the valley and found the sound, that had come from the Grand ol' Opry long before.

Fallow vanity, desperate pain, a coming to Jesus, a collection of what remained. The plot long lost, Dylan, returned to his blues roots, with Good As I've Been To You and World Gone Wrong.

An examination of death. The resurrection of the poet. Charlie Patton reborn a Japanese gangster in Old, Weird America. Dylan finds Charlie Chaplin drinking with Muddy Waters in Chicago circa 1950. A few years later finds himself, still drunk on whiskey somewhere in Louisiana. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

edge of the invisible

Hands and arms. Wild.
Smashing molecules.

Voice calling to the spirits
Incantations to silence
the city noise.

Heaven reflected in the beads of sweat.

Eyes searching the distant horizon,
for the home that dances,
on the edge of the invisible.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paris Street: Canada 1: The New EP

Paris Street has released a brilliant new EP of folk-pop tributes to Ottawa and Montreal entitled Canada 1. This is the first release by Paris Street since their 2009 album Paris Street is Paris Street. Rumor has it that there is going to be three more releases this year, and possibly a full length musical tribute to The Digital Underground entitled Gutfest! Go here to check out the new EP and all of Paris Streets' previous releases. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Place In The Sun

A Place In The Sun (1951) was directed by George Stevens (Giant) and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters. The screenplay written by Michael Wilson and Harry Brown is based on the novel 'An American Tragedy' by Theodore Dreiser and Patrick Kearney's stage adaptation of the book.

The film opens with a solitary Montgomery Clift, his back to the camera trying to hitch a ride. After no luck, he slowly turns in a Brandoesque way toward the camera revealing his movie star good looks. Then the camera slowly closes in forcing the viewer to take notice and also establishes early on the importance of the close-up on the faces of the two stars. When Clift turns back toward the road, a white convertible drives by. The car is driven by Elizabeth Taylor. From the look on Monty's face, the viewer is made aware that seeing her has changed something in him.

Monty is delivered to the Eastman factory in a jalopy, and we soon find out that he is George Eastman, nephew of Charles Eastman, one of the most powerful men in town. He is soon invited out to the family house to discuss his uncle giving him a job. It's at the Eastman house, that he again sees the beautiful Miss Angela Vickers (Taylor).

The shy, awkward George is given a job on the factory floor, stacking and hauling away boxes of swimsuits. Over time he finds himself becoming attracted to one of the girls he works with named, Alice Tripp, though his heart still belongs to Angela. After Alice and George run into each other at a movie one night, they begin too secretly date one another, which is against company policy.

After dating for awhile the two spend a rainy night together in the room Alice rents. Soon after George is promoted by his uncle from the assembly line to a white collar position more suited for an Eastman. And with his promotion at work, comes a social promotion as well. George is invited to his first party at the Eastman house, where he again comes across the beautiful Angela Vickers. At this party George and Angela dance together all night, all the while Alice is waiting for him at her place. During the ensuing argument that happens after George arrives at Alice's four hours late, Alice reveals that she is pregnant with George's child.

Shortly after their first encounter at the Eastman party, Angela invites George to be her date at another party. As the two dance, the chemistry between them grows. Soon George reveals to Angela that he loves her and has since the first moment he saw her. At first Angela is speechless, then just before she can saw she loves him back, she turns toward the camera with glistening, passionate eyes and says, “Are they watching us?” before taking George by the hand and leading him out onto the balcony.

Then one of the most memorable moments in film history occurs. Angela and George, Liz and Monty, are alone on the balcony. She tells him, she loves him too, but it scares her. Now with the camera locked in a tight close up, alternating between their faces. Monty the male the equivalent of Liz, Liz the female equivalent of Monty, they let their passions over take them.

Even though the passionates fire of love burns between the two, George still has the harsh reality of Alice and her pregnancy to deal with, and soon the two are headed to a doctor to take care of the problem. Unfortunately for George, the doctor won't preform the procedure and Alice is now forcing George to marry her.

George runs off with Angela for a week at the lake with her family and friends. Alice sees a picture George and Angela together in the paper and goes up to the lake to confront George about his lies. George is forced to leave dinner with the Vickers to meet up with Alice after she phones George at the Vickers. When the two go to the courthouse to get married, they find it closed and an ominous feeling takes over the film. George takes Alice up to the secluded Loon Lake where they can spend the night before heading back to the courthouse in the morning.

When they get to the lake, George rents a boat from a man who deduces that George gave him a false name; the man's suspicions are aroused more when George asks him whether any other boaters are on the lake. While they are out on the lake, Alice confesses her dreams about their happy future together with their child. George takes pity on her and decides not to carry out his murderous plan. But when Alice tries to stand up in the boat, it to capsizes, and Alice who can't swim, drowns.

George swims to shore, and drives back up to the Vickers's lodge. He says nothing to anyone about having been on the lake or about what happened there. Alice's body is soon discovered and her death is treated as a homicide. George is arrested and charged with Alice's murder after witness reports place him at the seen. George's furtive actions before and after Alice's death condemn him, despite the fact that it was an accident. His denials are futile, and he is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

A Place In The Sun was both a critical and commercial success earning six Academy Awards including Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Music, and Best Screenplay. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters were nominated for Best Leading Actor and Actress.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Cave of The Yellow Dog

The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Шар нохойн там) is a Mongolian/German co-production that was written and directed by Byambasuren Davaa, and won the 2006 Deutscher Filmpreis Award for Best Children's Picture.

The film's story is a fable about accepting the limitations of life. Davaa blends elements of modern life, folklore, and the customs of the centuries old Mongolian nomadic life, to weave a tale about want and desire, and the hope that comes from accepting the changes and consequences that fill everyone's lives.

Nansal is a young girl who lives with her family of five in a yurt in Mongolia. The family lives off of their livestock. Nansal's father is deeply concerned about his family's tenuous survival because of the wolves that have been attacking their herd.

One day Nansal comes across a cave in which she finds a small black and white dog. She brings the dog home and names it "Zochor" (Spot). Her father takes an immediate disliking to Zochor because he knows that wolves live in the caves where Nansal found him, and they may track his scent, leading the pack to the family and their precious livestock.

Before Nansal's father departs for the nearest town to sell the pelts of the sheep killed by wolves, he tells his wife to get rid of the dog before he returns home. Later, her mother sends Nansal out to watch the herd, but she is distracted and gets lost. Her mother becomes distraught when the herd returns without Nansal and so she goes out looking for her.

Nansal finds refuge in the yurt of an elderly woman. The old lady feeds and shelters Nansal while a storm passes. During the storm the old woman tells Nansal the story of the Cave of the Yellow Dog. In this story, a yellow dog is trapped in a cave with no exit by a man to cure his daughter's illness.

Soon after the storm passes, Nansal's mother finds her and takes her home. In the meantime, her father returns home to find Zochor still living with the family. His anger soon subsides he gives gifts to his wife and children, including a plastic ladle and a flashlight. The father tries to sell Zochor to some wolf hunters, but when Nansal tells them she found him in a cave they call the deal off.

When it is time for the family to move on, they pack up all of their belongings and the yurt and load them onto carts to be pulled by their cattle. The children are put onto the wagons, with Nansal watching her younger brother. Zochor is tied to a stake so he cannot follow them. Nansal is distracted by Zochor and does not see her brother run off.

The family has traveled several miles before they realize that their son is missing. The father turns back immediately and rushes back on his horse. Meanwhile their son is running towards a flock of vultures.
He ventures near a stream, while moving further and further from the still tied up, Zochor. When the son is right next to the flock, Zochor manages to break free and scare them away, before they can attack the young boy.

The father returns with the boy and in the final scene, the family's wagons travel down the road, with Zochor in the wagon with Nansal. As they family moves down the road, a truck driving down the same road is blaring reminders to vote in the upcoming elections.

The strength of this film lies in its story telling. Which is done in a simple and straightforward way but never comes off as overly sentimental or too childish, much in the way great fables or folktales are written. And even if this is not the type of film you wouldn't normally enjoy, it's worth watching for the beautiful cinematography and fabulous score.