Sunday, November 29, 2015

Scorsese at the Cinémathèque de Paris

I've never been an unconditional Scorsese-fan, and this afternoon it became embarrassingly obvious why : Though familiar with his recent films, I don't remember ever having seen 'Mean Streets', 'Raging Bull', 'Taxi Driver' or even 'Cape Fear'
I have, however and unfortunately, seen 'After Hours', 'The Colour of Money' and 'The Aviator'...

Most of his films were present at the exhibition, much to its credit, though some definitely more present than others...

In all, I found this interesting, instructive and not overly technical.
The exhibition focuses on film extracts, rather than on props and script pages (though these are present too, down to the Scorsese family table...), classified thematically round the recurrent motifs of his work; New York, brotherhood, sin, atonement, redemption...

Exhaustive and engaging.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Feber - Gradvall, Persson, Lokko & Olsson

Four male, middle-aged, high-brow Swedish rock-journalists together created the website from which these reviews are extracted. Of the albums under study many are unknown to me, and most were recorded by male rock or jazz-musicians, and so the testosterone levels in this anthology are excruciatingly high. It says something about the quality of the writing, therefore, that I still leafed through all the 500 pages in the teeniest-tiniest font I had ever come across on paper. Stylish phrasings and knowledgeable authors are an unbeatable combo! 

The reviews are somewhat akin to mine, and to Nick Hornby's in that they are overwhelmingly very positive, as they are bound to when you get to pick what you want to review (Well, in Hornby's case, the white-clad Polysyllabic Spree does it for him, but as they hold him in a firm grip...)   

On the music itself there is much to be said (as they do!). A friend of mine (the knowledgeable Professore) claims rock music is currently assuming the same status as jazz music already has; i.e. an elitist, rather high-brow type of music, enjoyed by people who discovered it in their now lost youth. 
There is something in that, I reckon, although some of us of the lost youth are experiencing difficulties in coming to terms with the situation...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Heart Blanche - Cee-Lo Green

Quite possibly, you may need to share my tast for bombastic music production in order to fully appreciate this one, but then if you do, chances are you'll dance yourself into a hip dislocation. 
Quite reluctantly - from what I gather, Green is a nitwit, to put it nicely - I confess this is high-class, number one, top-notch, super-funky r&b! 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Mars Attacks! - T. Burton 1996

So, this hasn't aged a day and is still absolutely hilarious!

And that is hilarious despite my strong aversion to violence supposed to make you laugh, and despite the current state of affairs in Paris and elsewhere. 
Whenever the Martians X-ray someone to death, I'm in stitches - especially when it's the white dove in the desert..!


Friday, November 20, 2015

A Mary Christmas - Mary J. Blige

Should you care for some pre-Christmas songs performed by a lady so classy it actually physically hurts, but your Phil Spector-album is all worn out, then this wittily-named album is for you!

Love it, and love it even more that it features Rodgers' and Hammerstein's wistful 'My Favourite Things'.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jack The Ripper, Pitkin Guide

More light reading from the Tower of London souvenir shops! 
The subject matter is suitably gruesome and the treatment here balances deftly between prurience and historical facts, the main problem being that there is simply not enough of those (hard facts, that is) to keep going for very long. 
Which is why a thin volume like this is probably just what you need in the Ripper-case, though I am of course aware thousands of pages have been written on the issue.

Did I learn anything new from this? 
Can't think what that would be, I'm afraid. It did however get me thinking about perhaps doing something on Jack the Ripper in English class. A roundabout way to study Victorian England, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

True Detective, season 2

As the only way to go from the top is down, proceeding from a hit show is necessarily something of a quandary.

Mercifully, Pizzolatto sidesteps the main pitfall of simply putting in more of everything, from gory details to victimized women (though there is still more than enough of both, thank you very much). 
He does not, however, quite manage to keep the storyline clear and understandable. 
On the contrary, I found it so convoluted some episodes almost gave me a headache - while this might, of course, also be linked to the constant change of director (Fukunaga, come back!). The final three episodes were way above the rest, to my taste.

The actors are all brilliant, the characters nuanced and subtle and the show has pretty much everything you could reasonably ask from a good detective series (perhaps too abundantly, even). 
Still, it took me a bit of discipline to keep going after the first two episodes...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Friday, November 13

This is all going to take some time to digest. 

For the record, I tend to agree with Joann Sfar : This is not about religion (unless you find solace in it, of course!). 
It has nothing to do with Islam, either. 
And it should reasonably work wonders for our understanding of, for instance, Syrian refugees and their reasons for leaving their country.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Masterpieces in the Van Gogh Museum

A masterpiece of a book from what I think was the best museum I visited all this year!
Vincent's brother Theo, Theos widow Johanna and their son endeavored to preserve and promote Vincent's work, and accomplished this with as successfully as ever Priscilla Presley, albeit with slightly more taste.

The collection of over 200 paintings was kept together and lent to a museum in the 1930s by Vincent's nephew. The institution that eventually became the Van Gogh Museum also houses a whole heap of letters plus paintings by Van Gogh's contemporaries.

Though Van Gogh's art may be an acquired taste - I know it took me some time to appreciate it - this book is educational for all; short, yet informative, texts commenting on the 100 selected masterpieces, all presented in the same order as at the museum. Geography matching biography, they make for a dazzling journey through Vincent's life, up to its precipitate closure in Arles, after a mere decade of highly productive painting.

Wheat-field With A Reaper, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Life Is Easy - Bright Light Bright Light

Behind this oddball pseudo lies an indie Welshman, producing what for all intents and purposes appears to be quite clever and danceable and pop-ish electro-music.

I had never heard of him before - let alone heard him - though he must have been at it for a while, and / or doing well since this album includes duos of him and Elton John as well as Ana Matronic, of the sadly dormant Scissor Sisters.

I somewhat hastily downloaded the remix version of this album - 'Life is Hard' - which I am beginning to regret as I now think the original version might be better. 
You want to buy the original instead. 
(Or perhaps both? Indie artists deserve support!).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Splendeurs et Misères at Musée d'Orsay, Paris

I remember visiting the Musée d'Orsay a good twenty years ago (feels like the day before yesterday, though...) and having been very moderately impressed with its content. 
The low-expectations principle, therefore, automatically applied.

Despite those favourable circumstances, today I was yet again more impressed with the building than with the paintings. 
The bottom floor is horrendous, unless you are into romanticism and symbolism. 
The second and fifth floors were more enjoyable, though the large number of impressionists from a very restrained period (1848-1914) made them all but indistinguishable, with a few notable exceptions (Hello, Cézanne and Van Gogh!).

Initially, we went to see the permanent collection, yet as the imagery of prostitution titillated my significant other, we went through the exhibition as well.
It all became a bit too much for my already overheated brain, but I'll say this much of it : It was extensive and extravagant, overflowing with paintings (few of which were very memorable), photos, ancient erotica, books and even an interesting piece of furniture used by King Edward VII (allowing him to somehow have sex with two women at the same time - no further information was provided, sadly. I'm having a hard time visualising it - all the while carrying his considerable girth). 
In all, I would perhaps label the exhibition history rather than art, but it did avoid the pitfall of the 'happy hooker' myth, so I was thought it was OK.


'Olympia' by Edouard Manet, 1865

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Feu - Nekfeu

For the life of me I cannot figure out why, but the fact remains that French rap just doesn't do it for me.
No obvious reasons spring to mind; they are not all of them Maître Gims. 
Nekfeu, for instance, feels genuine and fairly clever. Still, it simply feels weird. Which is a pity, seeing how productive France seems to be in rap music : It would be so convenient to like it!

On the plus-side to my not appreciating even Nekfeu : What a relief to discover I don't systematically take to all white rappers!...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Haunted London - Rupert Matthews

Well, yes I'll own up; No matter how much tourist junk I already own, nothing can keep me away from gift shops at historical or art museums. 
This I got from the Tower of London; a quick and entertaining read intended for shopping-nuts like myself. With any bit of luck, I might even be able to retain some of it in the future, to spice up my forthcoming London tours.

My favourite haunts are these two :

The 'original' old Lady of Threadneedle Street; not the Bank of England, but the spirit of the elderly woman who for many years returned from the grave to wait for her brother, former Bank employee eventually convicted of fraud.

The hand of Oscar Wilde, penning witty Wilde-isms ("Death is the most boring thing in life, except marriage and dining with a school-master.") at the now demolished St James's Theatre.

A light read, physically and metaphorically.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rocky Horror Picture Show, 40th Anniversary au 104, Paris 19th arrdt

1975 saw the release of the film version of the London musical Rocky Horror Show. 
Although not an immediate success (to say the least), it can still be viewed in selected cinemas today. The viewings are generally quite a trip, as you get your money's worth in rice and water thrown at the audience by the performing crowd (and by the audience itself).

Yesterday's birthday party took place at a roomy venue, filled with people of several Rocky-generations, many of them in disguise.
The film was, of course, the main attraction. While watching it is definitely an experience to be shared, the large number of people who shared it had both up- and downsides.

On the plus-side, seeing hundreds of people doing the Time Warp all together was clearly a kick and nothing you get at the tiny Studio Galande, where there is simply no room to stand up during the film.

At the same time, the room was way too big for any of the usual comments or jokes to be within earshot of more than a couple of people. For the same reason, the screen was out of reach for the acting crowd to touch it, or point to anything on it. The role of the audience - which is really crucial at the RHPS! - shrunk to a mere presence.

So, in short : A one-time experience, but nothing that will in any way compete with Studio Galande.

As for the rest of the evening : 
The Bubblegum Screw are in dire need of a new sound technician. (And possibly better acoustics.)
DJ Moule was an interesting acquaintance I hope to renew!