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Quasar Sniffer

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Posts posted by Quasar Sniffer

  1. Late to get into this, my apologies. I realize that the point of a lot of art school projects is to be transgressive and to test boundaries, so I probably shouldn't judge this too harshly. With that said, comparing it to other art school music output at the time, like Talking Heads or Devo, even if those bands didn't do full-length movies like this, it doesn't really hold up to those standards. There's definitely some Monty Python influence as well, what with the animation and nonsequiturs, and one can imagine how popular Monty Python was amongst college kids in the late '70s. I realize that a lot of this breaking of narrative form is to be pointless on purpose, but with the real life animation style here, including the racial and ethnic stereotypes, I don't really know what they were trying to say at all. Maybe some esoteric point about how those cartoons were racist? I doubt it. I think "offensive to be offensive" stuff is fine for high school and college kids, because they are testing their own boundaries and trying to find their voice, trying to discover what societal limits are compared to their own . That's important for our development. But that doesn't mean it will make a good movie.

    But yes, the music was good.

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  2. My thoughts on "When Love is Gone:" I wish it worked better. It would have served as more of an insight into both Scrooge and Belle's characters, but the way the scene works is that we're watching past Scrooge's story through present Scrooge's eyes as another human sings a slow, mournful song in a Muppet movie. It's just too much of a shift in tone and too far removed from the rest of the film, especially since the rest of the songs are so damn catchy and sung by those Muppet characters we're all already familiar with. "When Love is Gone" simply grinds the film to a halt. Plus, without it, you don't get a human character singing until after Scrooge has his magical Christmas Eve and is on a path to redemption. That way, his character turn, his mystical revelation, is all the more powerful.

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  3. As for this one, the idea of using Gonzo and Rizzo as narrators is genius. They're both such wonderful comic relief and get a lot of the exposition out of the way to make room for songs and character development. I love how unique the three spirits all look, and how genuine Caine's performance is. He goes from being the perfect embodiment of the greedy Scrooge archetype to a joyous lover of humanity in such a believable way. And hell, this is probably the best Tiny Tim: a mythological ideal of childlike innocence, one impossible to create with an actual human child. But an adorable little frog puppet? Holy shit, I believe in that Tiny Tim. He's like Baby Yoda, buy fuzzy and with an adorable singing voice!

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  4. I think the only other version that comes close to this one, at least in my affection for it, is the Alastair Sim 'Christmas Carol' (aka 'Scrooge') from 1951. When Sim wakes up on Christmas morning and feels the relief of happiness about him, it's absolutely magical. He's definitely the funniest Scrooge (other than perhaps Bill Murray). Speaking of the Murray version, I do like that one a lot, but I think it swings too far in asking the audience to believe that Karen Allen would get back with him because he makes one speech after a decade of greed and being a sociopath. The supporting cast is KILLER in that one though.

    Patrick Stewart does a great Scrooge, but I really prefer his one-man show / audiobook version of the story over the TV movie he did. If any of you have a chance to listen to him do the whole book, I don't know if it's still available on audible or something, but it's pretty amazing.

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  5. I really liked this film, atmosphere, misery, music and all, and it only deepened my respect for Steve Martin as a performer and as the architect of his own career. When comparing the film to the series, a BBC miniseries is going to, by necessity, be of a much smaller scale and confined, maybe even claustrophobic. While this may be appropriate thematically for the story's motifs of isolation, delusion, and base desires, but you lose the grand 1930s Hollywood Busby Berkeley-style musical numbers. Why, I think, they work in the film is that they initially provide some respite from the grim setting (especially the Bernadette Peters number with her class in the gleaming white performance space), but once we get to the Christopher Walken performance in the seedy bar, the musical numbers become just as much a nightmare as real life. Even the fantasy is despairing. Ultimately, the film goes back on that with the sort of "dream" ending, which strikes me as just as outlandish as Steve Martin, due to a wild set of coincidences, going from arrest to hanging in what seems like two hours, so I'm still on the fence on the ending as a whole.

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  6. 53 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

    I agree with this. That stuff made it get into Universal Soldier territory for me, and I would have preferred less explanation. 

    Yeah, if Reddick was just Stevens's former commanding officer that the military brought in to "decommission" him, it would have saved a lot of plot shoe leather, and maybe more room for developing the other characters.

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  7. Sorry for the late reply, but 'The Guest' just really works for me. I have a couple close family members who served in the military, and what the family does in this movie, at least in the first act, doesn't ring false to me. At certain points in my brother's military career, he had a... rough time, so I thanked the heavens for the one or two friends he had in the service and they stayed with us a few times. Granted, my brother was THERE at the time, but if my brother had been killed under shadowy circumstances and one of the people who made his time in the military less burdensome showed up at my door... I might welcome him with open arms. I know, again, 'The Guest' is different because Dan Stevens is a total stranger to the family, but I still bought it.

    I guess I also get frustrated when movies over-explain things. For me, franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare and Elm Street get worse when we get into the lore and motivations of their respective monsters. I don't want to know that Freddy is "the bastard son of a nun and a hundred madmen" and that you can subdue his spirit if his bones are buried in consecrated ground or whatever. He's just a vengeful, evil ghost who loves Christmas sweaters! So the military super-soldier program stuff is actually the least interesting parts of 'The Guest,' but I think it's worth it for the presence of Lance Reddick, whom I will take being authoritative and intimidating in a Rice Krispies commercial.

    For me, horror is so much about aesthetics, which is why I enjoy a lot of the anachronisms or weird costume choices.. Dan Stevens being sexy as hell and charming, yeah, sure, I'm down. The 80s music obsession? Yes please. Illogically powerful fog machine? Cool.

    I also think this movie definitely qualifies for discussion here, as musical moments, especially "Haunted When the Minutes Drag," are integral to that atmosphere and mood for the film, and even character development. I think it's closer to a musical than most horror films because it accomplishes these things with specific songs in the way the 'Halloween' theme or the Friday the 13th "ki ki ki, ma ma ma" noise establish mood. Clearly, it's not 'Anna and the Apocalypse' with song and dance numbers, but characters still discuss and listen to music, and the songs listened to diegetically are then used as score, so it's a film that makes its song choice very prominent.

    And I was the dude who asked us to do 'Long Dumb Road,' so I guess I'm up for the discussion of any movie if the person proposing the film wants to talk about it. We've been doing these discussions so long (which I am very thankful for!), an occasional change of direction is welcome.

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  8. I love Rush, and I also love Joan Jett. It seems to make sense that the Runaways would have a chip on their shoulder, it was probably something Kim Fowley sort of ingrained in them. Make a scene with a big headliner that doesn't have much crossover with their fanbase for the publicity. He's a real fucking piece of shit. As for Ayn Rand (speaking of pieces of shit), I never understood how anyone in the arts can love her, but she certainly has her followers. 🤮 Peart is unassailable as a drummer though. 

    As for Japanese rock girl groups, there is this niche subgenre of Japanese women doing great power metal (nobody does cool niche stuff like Japan). Not the manufactured sort of thing Baby Metal did/is doing, but actual musicians writing and making music. The connection to The Runaways is tenuous at best, since the micro-genre owes more to Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, and, most prominently, Japan's own Galneryus, but because of the previous discussion, I though I would post an example. Here is the great Mary's Blood:



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  9. 14 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

    Not as egregiously as they do metal, but they also rip on new wave at one point, I think right before Trent Reznor's band plays. Michael J. Fox basically laughs them off and makes a sarcastic jibe about their music.

    True, which is sort of a weird take for a movie from 1987. "This film is about the redeeming power of rock n' roll! Not Heavy Metal or New Wave though. That shit sucks."

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  10. Super late to this, so I apologize. I guess Springsteen talk brings me around eventually.

    In Springsteen's autobiography (it's great), he talks about how his greatest fear early in his career was being, basically, The Barbusters. A good band with some great songs but who couldn't fill a club outside a ten mile radius of their hometown and were thus destined to die forgotten. A lot of the local New Jersey bands he grew up worshiping suffered that fate, and it was only until he began struggling with his own music that he realized what a sad end some of the met.  I can definitely see why this sort of story might appeal to him, at least on paper.

    Like everyone else, I had problems getting into this, from the creepy closeness (physical and otherwise) between Patti and Joe, to the emotional flatness of everything. Also, there is a definite few... similarities between the way that Patti treats her family and the way one of my siblings treats my family. No real corollaries in specific behavior, but the way in which Patti emotionally manipulates her family with seemingly no remorse, and going so far as to use her child as a buffer for bad behavior... well, I recognize a lot of that shit. So pretty early I was kind of like, "fuuuuuuck youuuuuuuu I don't care about your struggles."

    Also, being a metalhead, I do kind of take umbrage with the metal fans in this movie being represented as slobbering drunk morons who bray at equally moronic musicians who spend more effort posing with their guitars in phallic positions than actually playing. Of course those stereotypes existed, and still do (we've all seen Heavy Metal Parking Lot), but it was weird that metal was the only genre of music (in this movie about how great and life-affirming rock n' roll is) singled out for such derision.

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  11. So I've been thinking more about this film, especially in light of the "Talking Heads To My Talking Heads" podcast. In the podcast, Scott and Scott do talk about how a lot of the songs on Fear Of Music were written in a jam session with the band and Brian Eno, and here, we've discussed about whether or not David Byrne was the driving force in the band or whether those jam sessions were where the magic came about. My take on it is, especially in light of the different versions of events created by distance and memory, is that... maybe it's both? 

    U2 have written a lot of their songs, even entire albums, in similar jam sessions, but retained the "all songs written by U2" practice in all credit and publishing, which has undoubtedly helped them stay together as a band for over four decades. Talking Heads jam sessions were, I'm sure, incredibly collaborative, but I don't know what would have happened if David Byrne wasn't there. From his perspective, it probably does seem like he was the main songwriter contributor, while everyone else felt like it was equal contribution from the band members... which is why that U2 strategy is such a good idea in the long term. And honestly, I do think he was the unquestionable musical genius of the band, and that might have made him difficult to deal with personally, especially because he seems like he was on the autism spectrum at a time when that wasn't understood nearly as well as it is now. 

    So even if everyone was present for the songwriting and jam sessions, it was David Byrne who enabled those amazing songs to come out. Sometimes when you are throwing in all these different ingredients together, you need an emulsifier to make things come together in a final way, to be cohesive. It seems like he was that ingredient, and without him, it Just wouldn't have worked. Obviously, it would be different if any ingredient was left out, and it would have been nice if he was more generous in giving songwriting credit (or not done straight up dick move things like telling a reporter the band had broken up before he'd actually told the band), but I think Talking Heads owe their magic to David Byrne.

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  12. Since we're talking iconic Canadian art, this is one of those most Canadian things I have ever encountered (at least from an American perspective), and one of the most depressing. Secret Path is a multimedia art project collaboration between Gord Downie (of the Tragically Hip) and Canadian writer/artist Jeff Lemire (whose previous work includes the graphic novel Essex County, the semi-autobiographical chronicle of growing up in small town Canada). Among the last things Gord Downie did before he died of cancer, it chronicles the true story of Chane Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy who died in 1966 while trying to run away back home after escaping an Indian residential school in Ontario, a journey that would have been about 600km. It features mournful, beautiful songs and art centering on abuse, loneliness, the erasure of one's culture, and freezing to death in the Canadian wilderness, all put down as a final testament by an artist who is staring at death the whole time the project was being completed. It is... heavy stuff. 


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  13. Honestly, I really enjoyed the hell out of this. I've known about the musical for forever but had never seen it, neither on stage or in film. I guess... I've been sort of pushing against the mythos of the Founding Fathers for a long time, and while the film does play in that sandbox (especially with Jefferson), I found 1776 generally irresistible. I love that it pointed out the hypocrisy of both the South AND the North in their mutual complicity for slavery, even as the Northern representatives decried the practice for its inhumanity. And, like @Cameron H., I really do admire John Adams, and I enjoy seeing these events from his perspective. He spoke more eloquently and forcefully against slavery (having never owned one) than any other of these rich white dudes, and just... as someone with a cold, desiccated heart, I can't help but be warmed by his genuine love and respect for his wife. The lifelong love affair and friendship between those two is so remarkable, especially for the time, that I can't help but look at the two of them with great fondness. Two brilliant minds buoyed by their connection to one another.

    • Like 3