The Bald and the Boisterous

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

I’ve had a bit of trouble settling on a verdict for Hobbs & Shaw, the first(?) Fast & Furious spin-off film. On one hand, it is a very silly, over-the-top buddy cop action movie. On the other, it seems like the product of a bunch of bad decisions that just had to be followed through on because: money. It’s a movie where Dwayne Johnson pulls a helicopter out of the air, like Captain America. It’s also 135 minutes long and feels like it. Is this too much of a good thing?

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License To Killjoy

Bedouine – Bird Songs of a Killjoy

There was something very assuring about discovering Bedouine, the project of singer/songwriter Azniz Korkejian. First, because there’s something inherently calming about the familiar, but nonetheless striking way she sings and plays guitar. Secondly, because after seeing videos online of her performing, despite being a relative up-and-comer, she looked to be about my age. Granted, I can’t actually find her age anywhere, but I did find an interview where she refers to her 20s as a thing of the past. Which isn’t that important, I’m just getting a little burned out on 20-year-old indie phenoms playing bedroom pop. Apparently, Korkejian spent much her early adulthood working as a sound engineer while music was nothing but a hobby, which explains why these songs are so casual but also so effortlessly pretty. Continue reading

Patience Is A Virtue

Mannequin Pussy – Patience

I’ll be moving to Philadelphia in the next few months, and though there are plenty of things I’ll miss about Seattle, I will not miss how it’s become an increasingly hard place for musicians (or non-rich) people to live. Philly, on the other hand, seems to have been a bit more hospitable to its music scene in the past few years. Or at least, this would explain the countless Philly indie bands to break out recently, which has to some extent made it feel like the underdog version of Brooklyn, musically speaking. I can’t say whether I’ll be going to a ton of smaller shows in Philly, since that’s never been something I’ve been great at keeping up with. But a band like Mannequin Pussy has me intrigued to see what other new artists the city has in store.

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Purple Pain

Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains

Now that we’ve made it through Criterion Month, it seems as good a time as any to talk about some music that I was grooving to during July, despite being distracted from listening to music by arthouse cinema.

Anyways, isn’t this a surprise? After spending “a decade playing chicken with oblivion”, as David Berman states in the album’s lead-off track, free from the commitments of his longtime band Silver Jews, the man is back. In the years since Silver Jews broke up in 2009, Berman didn’t seem beholden to the music world, and in fact seemed to have turned his back on it, more inclined to spend his time writing poetry and, reading books, I guess. But in the ten years since the last Silver Jews record, he seems to have gone through a lot personally. Unsurprisingly, his personal troubles (which include a divorce) make for the basis of much of the album, and makes for some of the best material of his career. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 31: Come and See

Come and See (1987)

Flyora (Aleksey Kravchenko), a 14-year-old who recently joined the Soviet partisans, and Roubej (Vladas Bagdonas) have just caught a break. Roubej had led their supply run directly into a minefield which claimed the lives of their two comrades, but these two made it through and found a collaborator who has a cow. They threaten the man and make him roll around in manure, then steal the animal. This cow will save the lives of partisans and villagers if they can get it back. But before they are even out of sight, a German machinegun blasts them. Roubej is instantly killed, but the poor bovine lives long enough to try to understand what just happened as it suffers through its last labored breaths. It’s just the latest in a never-ending deluge of devastating blows thrown at Flyora, made all the more depressing because the filmmakers really did shoot a cow and film its death. Come and See is just that kind of grueling.

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Criterion Month Day 30: Tiny Furniture

Tiny Furniture (2011)

It was funny seeing Lena Dunham in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last weekend because, while I guess her social media presence means she still grabs the occasional headline, it seems like pop culture has decided to be done with her since Girls ended in 2017. Which I don’t think is entirely fair, she seems like an extremely outspoken person who has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth with surprising regularity but that’s nothing compared to plenty of other scumbags in Hollywood who are nonetheless considered less toxic. But the reality of seeing Tiny Furniture in 2019 means being unable to give its writer/director/star any benefit of the doubt, to its detriment. Because like that TV show, I can imagine having liked this a lot more back in a time when I knew a lot less.

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Criterion Month Day 29: Monsoon Wedding

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

Well, I’ve made it to my final Criterion review with what feels like a good one to go out on. Mainly because this might be the most purely enjoyable film I watched all month, almost to the point where I’m a little surprised that this film is in the Criterion Collection at all. Though I suppose the Criterion catalog does have a few crowdpleasers scattered amongst their various films aspiring to be “Art” with a capital A. Also, it does share the Criterion commonality of being a mere “indie hit”, even though it seems like it easily could’ve been a cross-over sensation. Instead, My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the big indie breakout wedding movie of the ’00s. Oh well. Continue reading