Friday, October 19, 2007

Morrissey Tickets!

Haha!

Sometimes it pays to wait to the last minute.

To whit: I didn't have the money to get Morrissey tickets until today, two mere weeks before the show in DC, but I just got seats only about 14 rows back from the stage by ordering online!

I'm sure I will now have to at least attempt to shake his hand (or touch the hem of his garment, LOL), sometime during the concert.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cap Packing Heat?

I just cannot get used to the idea of Captain America carrying a gun. Doesn't he always say that his shield is his weapon -- why he does he need a gun?

Maybe I just grew up with a different era's view of the character.

I guess if it's not Steve Rogers, it is not as bad. I cannot see the Steve Rogers that joined the Avengers carrying a gun -- certainly not the Cap as written and drawn by Jack Kirby.

I'm sure Marvel will make something interesting out of this (and then do another big revamp a year or two from now, LOL).

The Civil War was interesting -- the bits I read -- but far too all-encompassing for me to read all of it.

I did like the initial issues with Cap going underground. Those scenes -- to this liberal -- seemed a true representation of the Captain America I grew up on in the 1970s.

Morrissey Delivers Yet Again

Wow, what a great song.

Morrissey was on Carson Daly's show a few days ago doing a new song -- "All You Need Is Me" --presumably from his yet-to-be-recorded album which should be released next year (?) -- hopefully this song will be on the album as I think it's one of his better solo songs, quite similar to the marvelous first half of "Your Arsenal" from 1992.

Link to You Tube here and embedded below.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

New Taxi Driver DVD is edited?

For the life of me I cannot figure it out -- and no one else seems to have written about it so far -- but the new Taxi Driver 2 disc DVD set is edited.

For those of us who have seen this classic a few times, the edit is glaring but possible to miss.

When Travis (Robert De Niro) first takes Iris (Jodie Foster) up to the room, the "timekeeper," played by Scorsese regular Murray Moston, makes some comment like "Cowboy, you can leave your gun here." And Travis checks his gun before taking Iris to her room.

When Travis returns, the timekeeper gives Travis his pistol back, and Travis gives the timekeeper the balled-up $20 he received from Sport (Harvey Keitel) earlier in the film.

Okay, in this new DVD, Travis simply checks in, the line about leaving his gun/cowboy comment is gone although you can still clearly see the timekeeper holding the pistol he recevied from Travis.

At the end of the scene, if you freeze-frame it, you can see the timekeeper carrying the pistol back to Travis but his line is gone and Travis simply says the thing about "this is for you" and he gives the timekeeper the $20.

The edits appear to be intentional and not the result of some kind of film jump or missing frames.

Considering how incendiary and violent the rest of the film is, I do not know why these gun references would be removed -- I cannot envision Scorsese pulling a Spielberg and removing guns a la E.T.'s recent DVD.

Still, it is troubling and confusing.

I can't imagine any plot point it would advance except that, by removing the scene so that the timekeeper is completely unaware that Travis may be carrying a gun, the timekeeper is now seen as being caught completely off-guard in the final rampage scene.

Am I the only film geek to have noticed this perhaps intentional edit?

It's a great DVD set, otherwise, with extras totalling nearly 2 hours along with the Paul Schrader commentary and other goodies.

Siouxsie's First Solo CD out in America

Hard to believe, but in nearly 30 years, Siouxsie Sioux has never released a true solo album.

Until now.

Mantaray was released in America last week and I do recommend it.

I am a big fan of Siouxsie and have enjoyed all the phases of her career (even met her in 1998 but that's another story).

I find myself drawn to mid-period Siouxsie and the Banshees and the 2nd Creatures album -- The Creatures being just Siouxsie and Budgie.

So I was apprehensive at what Siouxsie was going to do on her first, real solo album.

And, after a few listens, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed Mantaray. There are a handful of songs that rank among her best vocal work in decades.

Admittedly, it took a few listens but the album is growing on me as it sounds enough like a 1980s Siouxsie and the Banshees album to please me but just different and mature enough to point in new directions.

Standout cuts include "If It Doesn't Kill You" which sounds a lot like Garbage's "Medication" and that's a huge compliment, and "They Follow You" which sounds like Led Zeppelin in some ways.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Kenickie (or where the kenixfan moniker comes from)

Gosh, ten years on and this song still sounds just as fresh and exciting as it did in 1997!

Only the British can produce indie pop like this!



"In Your Car" cracked the Top 40 in England (not hard to do with twin CD single releases as well as vinyl) in late 1996/early 1997 and it remains one of my favorite songs ever.

The way Lauren sings the lyrics with the right mix of youth, vulnerability, sex appeal, and swagger still wins me over every time -- the type of song car stereos were invented for (or something)!

In America, indie rock willingly creates its own ghetto in a small corner of the music world: bands are content to be quirky (sometimes overtly and annoyingly so) and loved by only a handful of fans and their failure then becomes a badge, a sign of integrity.

In Britain, indie bands are not afraid to aim for the Top 40 while still retaining their integrity, wit, chops, and big tunes -- Oasis owes their entire career to combining indie label cred with mass appeal tunes and classic rock swagger.

Kenickie never sold out -- they tried, God bless 'em -- but they failed.

Lauren Laverne is a TV presenter and DJ over there and I'm glad she's successful.

I only wish her old band had some measure of that success as well.

All the things I enjoyed about the Ramones, 1970's punk rock, and The Primitives bumped up a notch with lyrics that still make me smile and two of the great voices of the 1990's: Lauren Laverne and Marie DuSantiago.

The Pipettes come close to this but they are slightly too ironic to match Kenickie's appeal for me -- though I do enjoy them immensely.

kenixfan = kenix is shorthand for Kenickie based on one of their early flipsides.

I know there is a Chinese actress/singer named Kenix Kwok but, alas, this kenixfan is lamenting the UK band, Kenickie.

For further reference, check out Lauren's guest vocals on this Mint Royale track.

"Don't Falter" could very well be Lauren's best vocal work to date -- so very British in ways I can't even articulate anymore.

You could take this track and some Kinks and Smiths songs and understand everything I love about England.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

The latest Fantastic Four flick, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, is big, empty fun.

Rereading some of George Perez' run on the FF from the 1970s, I recall that the Fantastic Four were never as heavy as the X-Men or as dark as Batman.

Maybe film viewers forget those facts when watching these serviceable flicks.

The makers have gotten the Thing/Human Torch dynamic down perfectly.

Re-reading classic FF stories, I now realize that I read the magazine usually for The Thing's antics or an appearance by the Inhumans -- Reed Richards is dull, Sue Storm even more so, and the Human Torch, while possessing cool powers, was a jerk then and a jerk in the films.

There is not much of a larger message to the FF's antics -- some meaning on the importance of family, but not much else.

And that's okay.

Sometimes comics/films can be just fun.

My biggest complaint is that Jessica Alba, while beautiful, is woefully miscast as Sue Storm.

But Chris Evans is actually more likeable as the Human Torch this time around, Micheael Chiklis is, again, perfect as The Thing, and Ioan Gruffudd looks like Reed Richards which is about all that is necessary.

The biggest geek concern with this film is the rendering of Galactus who appears as a voiceless cloud about to devour earth.

At first, I was one of those purists who did not like this choice for the film but then I reread some of the old comics and realized how ridiculous Galactus looked then -- even when drawn by Jack Kirby.

It was hard to believe that this maybe 100 foot tall guy in weird armor could devour any planet but at least a huge cloud about to swallow up the earth makes a certain sense in comic book-land.

I did miss the drama of Silver Surfer's turn from herald to hero.

And Alba's Sue Storm wasn't very convincing when compared to the original Kirby panels concerning the Surfer's turn.

But, hell, I still enjoyed the film.

Maybe going in with low expectations helps.

It was certainly better than the last X-Men film.

Cheng Pei Pei



I have watched so many Cheng Pei Pei movies this year that I fear that they are now a big blur in my brain!

When the Shaw Brothers re-issues first started in 2003, I decided to buy an all region DVD player with the sole purpose of enjoying these films.

And, the first titles I ordered from Yes Asia were a few Cheng Pei Pei titles -- musicals as well as martial arts films.

So, having watched most of these finally, I ask myself what is it that makes her films so enjoyable?

Cheng Pei Pei was one of the major beauties of the Shaw Studio and her tomboyish good looks are never wasted in any of the films I've watched so far.

In the musical features, one can see her ballet training as it is used in what are essentially Hong Kong versions of Hollywood (namely MGM) musicals.

But, even in the martial arts films, this same dance background can be seen as her films have a certain lithe grace missing from other Shaw films.

I think if I had to describe her work I would be left to compare it to that of Errol Flynn and Gene Kelly.

Lily Ho certainly made similar, great martial arts flicks for the Shaw Studio but she was almost too glamourous compared to Cheng Pei Pei; Kara Hui had enormous skills but lacked the mass appeal of Cheng Pei Pei or Lily Ho (and came too late in the game anyway).

Cheng Pei Pei, like Michelle Yeoh decades later, combined skill, beauty, and grace into something more than just martial arts.

I think it would be impossible to watch any of the Cheng Pei Pei swordswoman films and not reference Errol Flynn or Gene Kelly in your mind.

The fact that I have to pick two male Hollywood stars is telling as I think there is no Hollywood equivalent to Cheng Pei Pei -- certainly no female action star from the same time period.

Start with Raw Courage and then seek out the other, sometimes more famous, titles.



From the blur in my mind, Raw Courage has the most to recommend it all around -- the journey to protect the baby makes the film easier to follow for a newbie to the world of the Shaw Brothers wuxia films and ties it in neatly with similar plots in Western films such as Three Godfathers.

This is only the beginning

Well, I finally started a blog. I have no idea why. We will see where this leads, won't we?