IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.91
J Church/Honey Bear July `04
A minute of silence can last a long time… a whole eternity
SOCIETY IS A CARNIVOROUS FLOWER
I am finally looking at the record with my very own eyes. Our sixth full-length
record is finally here and it sounds much better than I remember. I was
a little worried that I was gonna hate if after all this time. But not
listening to it for the past year has made it seem really fresh and new.
While this record may be our only foray into Pro Tools and analog may
be the way to go for a band like us, it's an interesting new sonic area
for us. It sounds different. It's an interesting change of pace.
The songs are faster than I remember (for the most part) and I do think
that these songs are by far the best part of that recording session that
also reaped the five songs from last years split with Storm the Tower.
I'm left feeling like there's a world of possibility for the next record.
It will be something different again, I hope. But still marching on in
the general J Church direction.
I think the title of the CD on Snuffy Smiles will be Seishun
Zankoku Monogatari. It's the original title of the Nagisa Oshima
film that is known in the states as Cruel Story of Youth.
It's one of my favorite films of all time and he's one of my all time
favorite directors. With the songs a mixture of new material and covers,
it seems oddly appropriate. Still, that is subject to change.
I thought the new Spider Man movie was okay. I used to love that comic
as a kid. I like Sam Raimi. I think I like this
even better. Check it out, it's cool. My friend Bobby from Vulcan Video
and Waterloo sent it my way.
Our pal Sonja in New York (though on her way to Boston) sent this.
It's strangely satisfying. But you need to do it with the sound on.
STEVE LACY (1934 - 2004)
If you are at all familiar with avant-garde or free jazz, and I mean the
real stuff from the `50s, `60s and `70s, you'll know the name Steve Lacy.
Inspired by Sidney Bechet, he was one of the most fluid and inspired soprano
sax players of all time.
Like many players of that generation, he seems to have had some sort
of great epiphany in the mid `50s. In one year, he went from playing Dixieland
to complete free composition. In the subsequent years he worked with Cecil
Taylor and was equally known for some adventurous solo performances.
He did some great recordings with Walter Zuber Armstrong and Don Cherry
and Roswell Rudd. But I think my favorite record is a solo concert on
Emanem recorded live at Avignon in 1972. For many, this was really late
in his career. But his solo, unaccompanied playing is bold and forceful.
Each piece is a tribute to a different influence ranging from Gil Evans
to Roswell Rudd. More interesting are the non-musical influences he chooses
like Kafka and sociologist Elias Canetti.
It makes sense, as another thing I loved about Lacy was his need to
combine ideas and formats culminating musical accompaniments to Melville,
Burroughs and Beckett.
Lacy died in Boston of cancer.
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
DREAMERS, THE (directed by Bernardo Bertolucci)
The first time I saw this film, I really felt like it was made for me.
You can probably understand why. First of all, Paris, May 1968, you know
what goes down. Second, three people brought together by their love of
film in the `60s. I was at the edge of my seat slack jawed. It's the kind
of movie I wish everyone could appreciate and made me desperate to find
someone to talk to that could understand this movie the same way I did.
The story follows Michael Pitt though your identifying with him as a
main character comes and goes. He is a young student studying for the
year in Paris in 1968. He meets two fairly affluent twins, Theo and Isabelle,
whose poet father and British mother are going away for a while. They
meet at Cinematheque Francaise, which was the most important place at
the time for film lovers. It's where Truffaut, Chabrol and Godard and
others would come to discuss film. It was the essentially the birthplace
of Cahiers Du Cinema. The first time we see Michael there, they are showing
Sock Corridor and we get to see some of the key moments
of one of Sam Fuller's greatest works.
With their parents away, they invite Michael to move in with them. They
are intrigued by his intellect and his encyclopedic knowledge of film.
From there they live a life half in and half out of film constantly quoting
and referring to films such as Breathless, Freaks,
Blonde Venus and one of my all time favorites Mouchette
while the director encourages them by switching from the three characters
to the actual film footage seamlessly. In one amazing sequence, the trio
reenacts the classic scene of Anna Karina and friends racing through the
Louvre in Band of Outsiders. The three are determined
to break the films record of nine minutes and 45 seconds. Bertolucci switches
back and forth between the original Godard film and his recreation to
dizzying effect. For fans of the film, it's titillating and decadent far
beyond any of the sex the film (as well as director) is known for.
Sex is a big part of the film as the twins try to be aloof, but are
as ultimately affected as Michael. During one of their many film quizzes,
Michael is drawn into having sex with Isabelle. Only when they're done
does he realize that for all her freeness and sophistication, she was
a virgin. It is one of the few moments when she is completely emotional
and not playing a part as she cries in his arms.
The twins themselves are trapped in what can best be described a Platonic
incest. This is where Bertolucci starts mining in familiar areas. His
exploration of sexuality and un-discussed areas of possibility have been
a theme in most of his twenty or so films. I first remember being fascinated
by Luna when I was a kid. I had been in love Jill Clayburgh
for some, probably Oedipal reason. In that 1979 film, she has an affair
with her teen son. While moody and erotic, the film was dealing with such
a taboo subject; it seemed like know one knew how to describe it other
than surreal. It really wasn't. It was very real only dealing with an
area of sexuality in a mostly objective manner.
The backdrop of the film is Paris in 1968. I've probably written too
much about this already. The student over-population in Nanterre mixed
with their isolation outside of Paris mixed with the boredom of being
a student while the world was erupting lead to massive political upheaval.
By May, the students and workers were together having brought the entire
country to a standstill. It was the closest thing to revolution in Europe
since the Spanish Revolution. The three characters in this film don't
represent what was really happening in the streets and that is probably
a good thing because a lot of the film's success is its hands off attitude
towards politics. Mathew is smug in his bourgeois ideas of non-violence
and his fear of collectivization. Theo is completely dogmatic in his ill-informed
Mao-ism ignorant to the fact that he is from the bourgeois and has totally
alienated himself from the street battles happening daily. Isabelle lives
for her brother and is ultimately un-phased by the world outside of their
Bertolucci, for me anyway, is sort of hit or miss. It's fascinating
to me that a man that can make The Conformist and Last
Tango In Paris could also make Besieged. It's
hard to separate analysis and my deeper feelings about this movie. It's
a love letter to May '68 and it's beautiful.
FLOWER OF EVIL (directed by Claude Chabrol)
Incest that isn't incest is also a theme in Chabrol's latest La
Fleur Du Mal. A brother and a sister, who are engaged in a physical
relationship, are siblings due to a marriage and not blood. Again, guilt
is so far removed that even their parents had always hoped they would
become a couple.
The film starts with the brother returning from a four-year stint in
the states. He is picked up by his father who seems to be an affable and
simple guy. His stepmother is a local politician who comes across as grossly
ambitious pushing her family to the side with the characters vaguely implying
at some infidelity with her running mate. His sister, it seems, is attracted
to him while he rejects her.
But all this is half-truth as slowly unravels in this light mystery
about upper middle class decadence and what they think is communication.
There is the mystery in the foreground, in public discussion, about the
family's relationship to Nazi collaborators in the past. There is a secondary
mystery out of the public eye that becomes the most important about the
father, his own motives, and how they grow closer and closer to the family.
Chabrol's influence from Baudelaire, well as a fan of both, I don't
really get it. I see this movie, like some of Chabrol's other critiques
of the petit-bourgeois, more of an alternate reality that I'm not privy
to. It's socialism of the privileged, and it's intriguingly perverse.
The incest is safe while alluring. The murder is secondary and unresolved
by the films end. The film closes with credits running during a party
while a corpse waits unacknowledged. What will become of the characters
ends up being unimportant.
In many ways, this is Chabrol at his most sophisticated. The need to
move between audience-aimed actions is replaced by built-up realism. The
dialog is smart and the uneven story progression seems especially real.
He's sacrificed his scathing wit to allow for the characters to organically
develop at the limitations of their own wisdom.
Part of the original nouvelle vogue and as important historically as
Truffaut and Godard, this is just one part of a larger body of work matching
that of Eric Rohmer and Stephen Frears.
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