Snailhouse is the name that Mike Feuerstack uses to collect a series of recordings with him at the centre. Collaborative and talented as a singer / songwriter / musician, I saw him perform as Sappyfest and his CDs sold out, so I had to buy The Silence Show online. It’s a collection of simple songs with personal lyrics and great music that are not really folk, not really rock, but very good. He’s currently working on a new Snailhouse project which is eagerly awaited.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Yi Yi (A One and A Two) is a film from Taiwan by Edward Yang that is bold on every level, but never seems to show off. In the film we follow a family through a year with glimpses of moments from their lives. While it seemed a bit slow at first, I realized about a third of the way through that everything was being set up and it all just clicked and I was completely entranced. There isn’t a wasted frame in the entire film and the connections within the film become surprising and completely natural as it all starts to make sense. An amazing film that everyone who has an interest in filmmaking should see.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I have to admit that I delayed watching this film because I knew there was a message to it and that it was an “important” film. I wish that I hadn’t waited as it wasn’t what I expected. Shot with an almost startling beauty, Moolaadé tells the story of a small African village, the people who live there and their traditions. The story unfolds in a deceptively simple way with the characters and conflicts becoming more complex as the story progresses. It’s a remarkable film that has given me a glimpse of a world that is fascinating to watch. The film is even more remarkable considering that Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene directed the film when he was 80 years old.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Abigail Lapell is a singer / songwriter from Montreal who works within the folk genre with a guitar and a wonderful voice. At Sappyfest she performed a few times and I also was able to chat with her a bit too. She has a solid voice with a good live presence as well. Her EP Love Songs is a great collection of simple and personal songs. It's also one of my recent CD purchases and it comes in a beautiful silkscreened cardboard case.
He’s not really that old, but he is a man. Old Man Luedecke is a singer / songwriter who plays the banjo and follows the traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. I saw him play at Sappyfest and his great banjo picking, strong voice, and neat lyrics sound both old and new. He’s a talented guy and when I went up and talked with him I liked him even more. Generous and unpretentious he was going to give me a CD of Hinterland and let me send him a cheque for it. I went to a bank machine and gave him the money and listened to the CD as I drove home from Sackville and have been playing it frequently ever since.
At Sappyfest I saw a man named Chris Eaton perform and found out that he’s at the core of the band Rock Plaza Central . Chris is also a novelist and after his set I chatted with him a bit and bought the RPC CD and one of his novels. With a quirky sense of humour which translates into odd and interesting songs, I really like the acoustic core of the band with beautiful music that puts me in a thoughtful mood. I was able to feature A Town at the Bottom of the Ocean on CC:365. I’m keen on hearing the new CD too.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Irma Vep is a film that simultaneously is very thin and also has a lot going on within it. It’s about a film that is being shot (or not shot) with Maggie Cheung (who plays an actress named Maggie Cheung). It’s a comedy with some wonderful moments between the actors and a fascination with Maggie Cheung’s face as she faces a series of unfamiliar situations. It’s one of those films that becomes more interesting as you keep thinking about it afterwards. It moves along is a seemingly accidental and casual way as the production of the film deteriorates. Visually the film changes style often and ends with a startling and surprising sequence that moves the film from a satire of French (and Hong Kong) filmmaking to an experimental celebration of the cinematic image. A unique film for cinephiles that ultimately transcends clichés.
Julie Doiron has a unique and distinctive voice in terms of singing and songwriting and with The Wooden Stars there is great mixture of music, voice and lyrics to form a personal and enjoyable recording. Quiet, thoughtful and honest in a way that hides the lyrical and musical complexity of the work, I love listening to this again and again.
After seeing “Hero” I wanted to see some of the other films by Zhang Yimou. In Raise the Red Lantern we see the very formalized story of a woman who is a concubine to a wealthy man and becomes his fourth mistress. As we see the world revealed through her eyes it becomes more and more complex as it moves to an inevitable conclusion. Stunningly beautiful to look at, the film moves at a deliberate and precise pace with complex rhythms and interactions between characters who all seem to be trapped within rules and roles. A fascinating and entertaining film.
Some of the tracks from Ethiopiques, Volume 4 were critical parts of the soundtrack of the film “Broken Flowers”: and when I found the recordings, I instantly fell in love with them. The first time I listened to it was on a long drive and I listened to it several times. It’s a wonderful collection of jazz that fits just about any location, mood or time. It captures great jazz played in a very cool way and you feel like you’re in a club on a great night where the music gets inside you head and wanders around inside for hours.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
With perfect casting, writing and performances, Little Miss Sunshine is a great independent look at a family in trying times as they travel to the “Little Miss Sunshine” contest. The quirky characters aren’t too quirky or over the top and there is a fearless quality to the film that I loved. It’s funny and also a bit touching without ever being too sickly sweet. Dark and warm and beautifully shot, it’s a lot of fun and gives the audience credit for being intelligent and also isn’t afraid to take things to their logical conclusion without second-guessing expectations. A smart comedy that I really enjoyed.
While listening to things on last.fm one of the songs that came up was “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” which I instantly loved. It took me a little while, but eventually I was able to buy and download the recording via emusic. Neutral Milk Hotel has a sprawling sound with a strong acoustic overlay that ranges from simple guitar to horns, woodwinds, synthesizers and electric guitar and vocals. With distinctive lyrics filled with vivid imagery it’s a collection of songs that I keep listening to again and again.
Friday, August 18, 2006
With prominent guitar, drums and solid musicianship, Kiss Me Deadly have a great energy and distinctive vocals that are very catchy. The Montreal-based group have a bit of 90s feeling as well as some punk sensibility. I don’t really need to categorize it, but I do love to listen to them. The tracks have generic names and a neat sequencing, so Misty Medley starts with “Dance 4” and then goes to “Dance 2” with “Dance 1” and “Dance 3” showing up later. It’s fun and very enjoyable to listen to without needing to show off too much.
It’s hard for me to categorize Lisa Germano, but she’s a singer/songwriter with rock tendencies and a bit of a folky sound at times. She explores dark territory with a melancholy sensibility and a sense of humour at times. I found out about her from the soundtrack of “Tarnation”: and started exploring her work from there. The songs are catchy and disturbing at times from an artist who doesn’t seem to compromise and follows her feelings.
It took longer than we thought and it was a lot of work, but I am very glad that I was able to put in a new floor with the help of my parents. My Dad put in a lot of hours and a lot of attention to detail. It helped that he had done it before.
I love it and the house feels so much nicer, brighter and open. It’s a big project and a pain, but it gives you a great sense of achievement when you do work on your own house.
I don’t know if there will ever be another film like Snakes on a Plane. A strange combination of low expectations and hype has created a meta-film that is more than the sum of its parts. The key elements are the title and the involvement of Samuel L. Jackson. While he is a talented actor, he will take chances and doesn’t seem to be very elitist when it comes to choosing roles. Without Jackson and the stories around it, this would be a film that would show up on cable and DVD, but Jackson is so much fun to watch that the moment he shows up on screen it all changes. While there was a bit too much gore at the beginning and a somewhat clumsy nude scene, the film hits a good rhythm and is fun. When Jackson says his famous line (which has never been seen until tonight!) – “I have had it with these mo…” (you’re on the internet reading this, so you probably know what it is) – there was a huge cheer and applause in the theatre. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a reaction like that to a new film. It’s an experience and it was fun and as for the excesses and improbabilities in the film… it has built-in anti-venom – it’s Snakes on a Plane, what else could you expect?
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Just about to begin day three of working to Install wood floor in the house. With the assistance of Dad and Mom we’ve been moving along and have about 2/5ths of the area to be covered done. The challenge today is working around the edges and the stairway. It’s neat to see the floor come together like this and I can’t wait until it’s done.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
While it wasn’t exactly what I expected, I was fascinated by The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. It’s a funny and odd look at the bourgeoisie and has some wonderful dream-like sections that creep up on you. It’s interesting because other filmmakers have taken the ideas and built upon them in ways that are more effective, but wouldn’t have been possible without Bruñuel. With an elaborate structure of nested dreams and digressions, it’s a film that sits inside your mind and keeps coming back as you make connections between things.
Friday, August 11, 2006
The big show of the first day of the Sappy Records Music Festival was the concert that ended with the reunion performance of Eric’s Trip. For those who don’t know the significance of the band a brief explanation is that they were the first Canadian band to be signed to the Sub Pop label as well as being the first band from Atlantic Canada to be signed (they came out of Moncton, NB). Aside from their own music and direct influence, having a local people rise to prominence energizes the whole scene and it spawned many bands. But the band broke up about 10 years ago and just before they broke up, Julie Doiron launched her own solo career. Eric’s Trip reunited in 2001, but the show on August 4 was the first time they’d played in long time.
The Vogue Theatre is a great venue and because it’s not designed for concerts (it’s a movie theatre) the stage and theatre are small. So everyone set up in front of everyone and there was a great, casual vibe with the aisles filled with the various bands waiting to play.
Some of the highlights for me were the performances by Snailhouse and Julie Doiron backed up by Shotgun & Jaybird . Julie Doiron’s set ended with my favourite recent song, “Snow Falls in November” in a great reworking that was so good, they decided to end the set there. There was a great, nervous energy in the theatre and on the stage as Eric’s Trip got ready to play and they rocked the joint. It was a great way to end the first day of Sappyfest and to see more live music.
Apparently Hitchcock wanted to buy the rights to adapt the novel that “Les Diaboliques” is based on, but Clouzot beat him to it by 30 minutes. Then the authors wrote Hitch another novel that became “Vertigo”. The title of the film means, “The Devils” and it is about two women (a wife and mistress) who plot to kill the man who is making their lives miserable. It’s a skillful thriller filled with great tension and surprises. The pacing, editing and shooting are all beautifully done in this black & white thriller from France.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
While I was watching Point Blank I kept thinking how it was similar to one of my favourite films, The Limey. Then I noticed that the commentary track featured both John Boorman and Steven Soderbergh, so I knew that it was definitely an influence. While the film is a bit dated, it does feature some amazing shots and a relentless performance by Lee Marvin as a merciless criminal who just wants to get his money back. What also distinguishes the film is that it is a crime thriller, but much of the film is an introspective first-person memory of the protagonist’s past. An overlooked gem for film buffs.
It was a bit worrying with a cloudy sky and light rain, but the show went on and the first (and possibly annual) Sappy Records Music Festival got underway with Julie Doiron performing songs from the recordings that she released under the name “Broken Girl”. It was short, but sweet. The rain then let up and there were performances by Al Tuck, Old Man Luedecke, Baby Eagle, Alden Penner and Chad Van Gaalen. Great performances all around and there was also a barbecue that had both meat and veggie burgers. After the rain earlier there was not another bit of precipitation during the rest of Sappyfest.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I kicked off seeing more live music by going to the Sappy Records Music Festival in Sackville, New Brunswick. I was able to see an overwhelming number of bands and performers over three beautiful Summer days. Some of the musical highlights that come to the top of my mind are seeing Julie Doiron, Shotgun & Jaybird, Old Man Luedecke, Chris Eaton, Windom Earle, Snailhouse, Abigail Lapell, Dave Bidini, The Singing Saw Shadow Show, and a couple of reunion performances by Eric’s Trip. Those are just the things that come to mind right now, there was so much more great stuff that I still haven’t absorbed it all. Seeing live music in small venues with great people is the best.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Agnes Varda has a gift for brilliantly constructing films in a way that makes them seem casual and inevitable. In the breathtaking “Vagabond” we see glimpses of the final days of a woman who is disconnected from society and is living on her own in a tent. It feels like a series of vignettes, but as it progresses the threads begin to weave together in unexpected ways. A quiet, thoughtful, and tragically beautiful film.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Godard takes on the science fiction genre and mixes it with film noir decades before Blade Runner, but being Godard, he does it with a sense of humour and virtuoso shooting. Every now and then I would be amazed at the length of shots and the elaborate framing and movement. It’s a science fiction film that makes fun of the genre by throwing in nonsense names and using existing technology and locations in an sf context. In an odd and ironic way it seems more prescient than films that put a lot more effort into creating elaborate sets and props. At the core the plot is about a detective who is trying to destroy a fascist computer that controls Alphaville. It kind of slows down near the end of the film, but it’s definitely worth watching as part of Godard’s work and development.
I found Mud in one of those neat and accidental discoveries when I was looking up information about the film Stranger Than Paradise. I found out that Eszter Balint has done a lot more than just act in the film. With Mud there is a distinctive and slightly rough tone with mainly blues-inspired songs. It’s one of those recordings that grows on me more and more each time I listen to it. A hidden gem and I look forward to hearing more of her music in the future.