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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Carnage", the darkest verbal comedy


Verbal comedy. Is that a movie category? Because that definition fits "Carnage" incredibly well. The film is a dialectical battle of two couples, the Cowan, Nancy and Alan, and the Longstreet, Penelope and Michael, gathered to resolve, as the civilised and sanctimonious people they are, a quite serious "issue": the Cowan's son has beaten the Longstreet's kid with a stick, seriously injuring the latter's teeth. But soon the viewer will realise the four are not what they suppose/presume to be...

"Carnage" is clearly the screen adaptation of the play "God of Carnage" (Yasmine Reza, the original author, also co-writes the film script). Wait, it is more than that. It looks as if t we were watching the play itself. It all happens in virtually one room (the Longstreet's living room), in one afternoon and (almost) with only the four characters being on screen. And this fact has several virtues, as well as a few limitations.

Director Roman Polanski has to be praised for not "throwing" his ego on the film. The short length and straightforward timing in "Carnage" are key elements that allow the film to exude rhythm and dynamism. Together with the simplistic setting and lack of grandiloquence serves the comedy very well. What matters are the characters and its collection of one-liners and bourgeois traumas. I also liked Polanski's clinic eye to give, with subtle and noteworthy talent, such importance and presence to the objects on the Longstreet's apartment.

Of course, if we talk about characters, a major factor are obviously the actors. And Polanski relies on a very experimented and reliable quartet. Penelope Longstreet, played by Jodie Foster, is the more histrionic of the four, a passive-aggressive wife really wanting to push the boundaries of her guests as she is not only the concerned mother of the injured son, but a moral watchdog of Western civilisation. She is the hardest role to play and Foster's mannerisms are arguably the more dubious. Foster is closely followed by Nancy Cowan, performed by Kate Winslet. She, as the stressed mother of the "abuser" kid wants to be nice at first, but she turns, on the most extreme transformation of the lot, into an uncontrolled beast, physically speaking too.

In my opinion, the husbands are the most satisfying characters. Michael Longstreet, played by John C. Reilly starts being the kindest and accommodating person of the quartet, then evolving into a much more complex character, and amalgamation of frustration and resignation. Reilly excels in giving a natural and convincing force to Michael. And then we have Alan Cowan, performed by Christoph Waltz. He probably steals the show with his mobile phone addiction and his aggressive-aggressive, malicious nature. He for sure has the best and funniest one-liners of the film.

Unfortunately, "Carnage" also suffers from the "play structure" constrictions. For sure, the spectator has to make an effort and believe on the credibility on such an awkward situation. The first half of the film is funny and subtle, as we know that each character is hiding (well, except Alan Cowan) his/her real nature for the sake of showing her/his good manners. We could say the film shines for what it insinuates and not for what it shows, in one word: tones of hypocrisy. But the turn of events and evolution of the characters on the second half of "Carnage" is a social example of the "snowball effect" taken to a hardly credible extreme. Funny still, and somewhat understandable as we are in front of a play, but the conversation derives into a very different territory from the initial abuser-victim too quickly. Hard to believe such solid social masks would crumble so easily after a couple of whisky shots (enough said). But hey, the truth is that before you will start complaining, the movie will reach its end. So overall, there's not a lot to regret after a straightforward, smart, funny and entertaining dark (very dark) verbal comedy, packed in less than 80 minutes.

SCORE: 6,75/10

Monday, July 30, 2012

"The Union", everybody must get stoned!

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

Quoting Bob Dylan, the title of this post could be the joking summary of "The Union: The Business Behind Getting High". I'm exaggerating... but only a bit.

As a documentary exposing the hypocrisy and brutal amount of lies from the different American governments, pressured by the big, gigantic, pharmaceutics industry and their greedy interests, the film must be overtly applauded and celebrated. It has a particularly good "didactic" quality. First, on demystifying marijuana as the EVIL, something decades of propaganda and partial use of the media resources has achieved in the USA. Second, and even more importantly, because it reveals how the penalisation of cannabis has created an enormous illegal industry (called "The Union"), and several legal structures that benefits immensely from that prohibition. "The War on Drugs", which targets marijuana as its prime villain is finely exposed on the film as a combination of paranoia (John Ashcroft, Ronald Reagan, George Bush I and II* have some amusing/pathetic moments) and perverse, shameful manipulation. And third, because it doesn't hide these policies are only a way to help the powerful and politically valuable lobby of pharmaceutics industry.

But as much as "The Union" is thought-provoking and revealing, it is not entirely satisfying. As a documentary itself, in terms of film quality, is quite mediocre. Filmmaker Adam Scorgie structures his film on a never-ending off-voice, giving data and more data, occasionally truncated by the opinions of growers, criminologists, economists, doctors, politicians, famous people (I suppose) and street interviews (probably the most revealing, as they show how ignorant is the population on this issue). The development of the film for the viewer is quite boring. It seriously lacks dynamism.

There's another big issue. "The Union" is heavily biased. Not referring to the part devoted to the "pot industry" or the politic interests, which I already say are brilliantly documented, being the main reason this movie is worth the watching. I'm talking about the nature of cannabis. Never been a pot consumer as I never felt the need/interest/curiosity to do so. I know that cigarettes and alcohol are spectacularly more dangerous than marijuana, that can be very beneficial (and much more healthier) for the treatment of several diseases and chronic pains (have cases in my own family). But this is a "stoner film" (that definition exists?), and hey, cannabis in Spain might be also illegal (the law here is quite ridiculous, you can have your daily dose for self-consumption, but you can be arrested by police if you are seen smoking on public spaces while trade and advertisement in determined places is accepted) but is commonly accepted, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE, knows from the personal experience, familiars/friends, etc, on how regular pot consumption affects people. "The Union" doesn't even try to collect a single opinion of the possible consequences of its consumption. Marijuana is portrayed like a wonder that nature has given to us, and we silly humans, are prohibiting. And that is not exactly the case.

SCORE: 6/10

* Dear Americans, as we should do too, please think when you vote. It has obvious consequences ;). What a monsters parade....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Fargo Rock City", did 80s heavy metal's matter?

Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural Nörth Daköta 
Chuck Klosterman

The things we do for love... like reading this book. Just kidding. I'm too obsessed with music not to admit I was really curious about Klosterman's attempt to defend the indefensible (in my opinion). Hair metal, heavy metal, 80's hard rock: did it matter? So when my girlfriend (confessed fan of this style) bought the book and vividly encouraged me to read it... well, I had to.

Don't tell anyone, but for the majority of this "wild ride" I was seriously amused. That has to be credited entirely to the author's brilliant writing skills. I was utterly entertained and laughing at the mixture of personal anecdotes, detailed account on bands, records, tunes, and the elaborated music theories on the importance of the 80s metal. I will definitely seek out more of his writings.

But not everything works. Or maybe, the problem is Klosterman's level of exposure here. Occasionally, but more times than it would be recommendable, you will find his reasoning attempts truncated by unnecessary, even silly anecdotes, making you miss the point of the argument. In other few cases, the book gets just boring, like the never-ending account of his favourite metal albums (didn't get the "value thing" anyway), the chapter about the "band issue", or directly dubious, like the chapter about sexism on heavy metal.

One can easily feel related to the book and understand Klosterman's fierce opinions. I did. He bursts with passion on a subject that vividly matters to him. Just like a would do with regards to alternative music. Arrogance is just around the corner, or is just a matter of interpretation or interest on the topic. At the end, nobody can argue his reasoning. Did 80s metal matter? Its obvious that it did for many many people. Like himBut he (in my opinion, of course) cannot defend the "quality argument".

Like Klosterman's, I do have my own "teenager stories" with heavy metal. On the book, he makes himself look like the "victim", as fans of 80s heavy metal now seem obliged to constantly justify themselves for what they like (or liked). But I do remember the musical isolation (heavy metal fans have a strong sense of community) during high school, as I was the one saying Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" was simply boring, or that Axl Rose's voice was extremely annoying, or that I didn't need an everlasting Slash solo in every single song. Yes
, I have always been a hater of heavy metal. My guitar hero will always be The Edge. I will always prefer "Country Feedback" outro than, let's say, "Stairway to Heaven". Lyrics will always matter to me (and that makes metal look reaaaally bad, at least as bad and/or ridiculous as Tolkien). I will never get how someone who is mentally healthy can take Van Halen's "Jump" seriously. Or that playing faster or louder means playing better (I had this sort of reasoning with bands like Manowar). Or that can consider Bon Jovi's metal (or simply worth listening).

To me, hair metal was plain silly, and therefore could only be taken as (a silly) amusement, one that was recreated and I would add, tributed, by "This Is Spinal Tap". But I cannot consider it seriously now, as the majority of people do. Klosterman arguments end saying that the music you loved when you were a teenager is the music that matters. I see the point, but I can't agree with him. "My teenage music" was britpop. I still love some few bands and many tunes from that period. But I evolved, and probably only Pulp would be included now among my favourite bands. And there's nothing wrong with evolving. One band brings you to another, then to the next. That's one of the greatness of music. The amount of possibilities, new discoveries and passions while your favourites remain no matter how much times passes. Luckily, it is not a static thing. Music cannot be static.

I would love to read a "Fargo Rock City 2", to see if his opinions have changed over the years. As a matter of fact, did anyone really listened to "
Chinese Democracy"? 

SCORE: 6,5/10

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Indie Anthology 16: essential songs

After a short break on vacation (in Italy) we are back online. It's officially summer period and (almost) vacation time, so the next song of our Anthology is one of these perfect tunes, from a much beloved band, that defines that "summer vibe", that spirit... personal opinion of course.

Song: You Can Hide Your Love Forever
Artist: Comet Gain
Year: 2001

What does it make a song "ideal "for summer? For being on the road? For adventure, discovery or just fun? It's hard to explain. Mainstream music (and beer advertisements) try every year to ruin it with their despicable elections and intrusion. But there's something. An unstoppable joy, driven by guitars an melodies, a sun-soaked chorus and that SING-ALONG part, coming like a magic force, propelling you and your throat. Comet Gain's "You Can Hide Your Love Forever" is that sort of song. Vibrant and vital. I imagine the band in the studio, realising "they got it", feeling powerful and pleased, when they finished it. As anyone who listens and sings it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"We Need to Talk About Kevin", maternity's guilt

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Proceed with care. One of the most sacred taboos in history (I assume in the majority of cultures, but I'm referring to Western tradition) is, without a doubt, maternity. Maternity is always linked, defined with tenderness, sacrifice, courage, sweetness, love, knowledge... and learning. But "We Need to Talk About Kevindynamites this taboo. Warning made. 

Director Lynney Ramsay, adapting the homonym novel by Lionel Shriver, explains us a maternity case that is a terrible process. Doubts, extreme pain, utter defeat and desolation. That's maternity for Eva Khatchadourian, played Tilda Swinton, a masterful actress that gives another lesson in an incredibly difficult role, dealing with a monstrous kid, Kevin. Swinton is the movie, and she carries the weight in her shoulders with fierce conviction. 

Ramsay's structures the film as a constant back and forth in time, but despite being confusing sometimes (especially during the first minutes) it makes sense. The focus is always in Eva's drama, and it largely takes place in her tortured, and isolated mind. From her now desolated present, she remembers her romance with Kevin's father, Franklin, played by John C. Reilly, her trips, but also how she got pregnant, how Kevin was born, how he grew up, and how she struggled, from almost the very beginning, in her attempt to understand his devilish son. Like the theme images, the tomatoes, the red paint, the blood, all is connected in Eva's mind, With the mixture of different periods of their past and the present, we soon realise the parents failure will have a horrible climax. We see that Eva tries to piece together her life after that, but one wonders if she wouldn't prefer to be dead instead. 

"We Need to Talk About Kevin" is disturbing, not for what is shows, but for the number of questions it poses and how unafraid it is to push the boundaries of maternity's preconceived notions. Intrigues the viewer, and removes something inside. Praise Ramsay for being that brave. And as I already said, praise Swinton to portray so well, so convincingly, the face (and physiognomy, that serves so well to her role) of the devastated mother. 

But not everything works in the film. Sure, Kevin is pure evil, so bad that, no matter his age (he's played by three different actors) he has such an evil look that makes any movie villain pale by comparison. Is that credible? And Franklin, the father. Can anyone be so clueless about his son? How can he ignore it? While watching, I had the impression he was the dumbest character I ever seen on screen, giving the magnitude of the disaster. A couple of relevant facts for the development of the story were also strange/ bad resolved for me. Foremost the aforementioned climax (leaves quite a lot to the simple acceptance of the viewer) but also, the trial, the cruel treatment of the neighbours (understandable just to a certain point) and office colleagues. And the resolution of the film looks a bit tricky to me (don't worry, won't spoil it). Yeah, maternity impulses, a collapsed mind through we see it all, and the willing to know the reasons can justify almost everything. But as the poor Eva, looking for answers, not many will come. 

Intriguing, thoughtful, brave, with a fantastic Tilda Swinton, but not fully convincing.

SCORE: 6,5/10

Bye Bankia! (#LiquidarBankia)

Here we go! A campaign is been launched today in Spain by #15mpaRato asking for the judicial intervention of the bank Bankia. Sorry it is in Spanish, but if you can please read the following link:

Please retweet, re-send, spread the word! Let's #liquidarBankia!

Dedicated to the ones who said 15M is dead

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Discoverer 36: new indie findings

Back with new bands for your listening pleasure!

ExLovers. "Moth", the debut album of this London band, formed in 2008, is quickly becoming a recurrent part of the soundtrack of my summer. And with a reason. Cute boy-girl harmonies, jangly guitars, an incomparable talent for finding perfect melodies, and a ton of catchy hooks. Evocative, bittersweet, and instantly addictive, their graceful dreampop/indiepop merges the best from both sides of the Atlantic (think on Teenage Fanclub meeting Pavement, or Stars with hints of Belle and Sebastian). Out since May, "Moth" confirms the expectations of previous EP and singles (2009-2011), being a pure indie delight. 
This Love Will Lead You On by exlovers You Forget So Easily by exlovers Just A Silhouette by exlovers

Pale Sunday. Matinée Recordings strikes back! Another amazing band discovered from their great catalogue. They say they are from Brazil, but I bet you'll think this is a forgotten band from Scottish finest hour, or Sarah Records, the first time you hear their music. This is pluperfect jangly indiepop that will immediately make you nostalgic or euphoric. Its shiny, warm and addictive. "The Fake Stories About You and Me" is their latest EP, just out now, but like me, I'm sure four gorgeous tunes won't be enough,. So I have more good news for you. Check here and here. The band has been active since 2003! So many songs to enjoy!
Summertime? (2005) by palesunday

Picnic. From sunny Brazil to cold Estonia (wished trip for ages)! This trio formed in 2006 and debuted in 2010 with "Winter Honey", gathering critical praise and recognition from Shelflife records, who is (very limitedly) releasing now a wonderful double-sided single with versions of classics "We've Only Just Begun" and "Say a Little Prayer", in anticipation of their sophomore release. Unlike the covers, their music blends shoegaze and dreampop with traces of unconventional instrumentation and electronics without losing pop, melodic structures. Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Mum or Sigur Ros come to mind, but their sound, remains mysterious and haunting as Marjus Taukar's ethereal voice.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Sexiest Men of Indie

After two depressing, politically charged posts (I'm afraid won't be the last ones), here's a drastic change of topic. As promised on the previous post "The Sexiest Women of Indie", here's the male's list, compiled by my girlfriend, with the same criteria and her unique opinion/taste...

10. Thomas Mars
9. Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)

8. Hamilton Leithauser
(The Walkmen)
7. Nick Valensi (The Strokes)
6. Daniel Kessler (Interpol)
5. Anthony "Caleb" Followill
4.  Joshua Tillman
(Father John Misty)
3.  Kristian Matsson
(The Tallest Man on Earth)
2. Tom Smith (Editors)
1. Ryan Gosling
(Death Man's Bones)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bastards Out of the Spanish Congress Now!

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, THIS (please watch the video below) happens

As you can see on the video, Andrea Fabra, deputy at the Congress for PP, yells "Fuck them all"  while Mariano Rajoy was announcing cuts in unemployment benefits (5 milion citizens are unemployed in Spain). A political representative insulting the citizens. This is the lowest moment I ever seen in Spanish politics (democratic times). 

It shouldn't be that surprising, in all honesty, as she's the daugther of Carlos Fabra, former president of the Province of Castellón, president of PP there for 22 years, and one of the most corrupted politicians of this country ever. After all, this is a country where a bunch of powerful families have always had the control of the territory, in particular during very dark times (not that long ago) where they were fascists chieftains. The manners may have changed, but sometimes, like Andrea's yelling, the inner truth explodes. Of course, her excuses (she says she reacted against the PSOE congressmen) is ridiculous. Makes absolutely no sense. But what can you expect of a majority of the Congress that applauded, vividly, the most drastic cutbacks of Spanish democratic history.

If we want to restore our democracy, people like Andrea Fabra must disappear from politics. You can help signing the petition for her resignation here at We need to clean out the bastards from the Congress!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spain: betraying citizens, betraying democracy

"The time to rise has been engaged/ You're better best to arrange"
R.E.M.   "Finest Worksong"

Enough HAS to be enough.

Methods to get out from the crisis:
I. Becoming rich
II. Becoming even richer
III. Run away

Vignette by El Roto
Yesterday, our Spanish government certified another brutal series of measures, the biggest ones we haver ever suffered during democracy, against us, the citizens. Our president, Mariano Rajoy, also proved that Spain is no longer a sovereign country, but a piece of land ruled by the European Union. Did we vote for that last year? Did anyone who vote in that election, no matter which option you voted, or even if you voted blank or null, knew our president was going to be in the hands of someone else (that we didn't choose)? I don't remember it. Which is weird because I do remember casting my ballot then (as I have always done since I'm legally allowed to). 

Rajoy justified the measures explaining us, citizens, that we have to make another effort, and pay more while we earn less, because is the only solution. Which is a FLAGRANT, unacceptable, outrageous LIE. Because:

We, citizens, ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for the BANK abuses. We don't have to pay for their rescue.  
We, citizens, ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for the vile and corrupted behaviour of our political leaders
We, citizens, ARE BEING IGNORED by the ones that are supposed to represent us. We should never forget that they are representing us, they serve us, not the contrary. If they are not capable of solving the situation without harming us, they should resign. IMMEDIATELY.

The sort of cuts the conservative government are imposing are not the only way out. It is only a political decision that responds to a very contested way of understanding economics. Many voices, in a very open way, around Europe and the rest of the world is asking for another kind of economic policies. Take the announcement of increasing VAT to 21%, for example. It's a measure that will ballast consumption, therefore aggravating the crisis. Misery is just around the corner with that sort of policies. It simply doesn't make sense. The argument argued by our politicians, saying that we had a very low VAT before is a complete, perverse MANIPULATION. Look at this numbers:

Germany VAT: 19% Minimum Wage: 1.993€
United Kingdom VAT: 20% Minimum Wage: 1.201€
France VAT: 19,6% Minimum Wage: 1428€
Netherlands VAT: 19% Minimum Wage: 1446€
Spain: 21% Minimum Wage: 641€

Besides, and never forget, that among the political decisions taken in this terrible 6 months there has been one that is particularly revealing: the "TAX AMNESTY". Until November 30 2012, individual and corporate taxpayers (the millionaires of this country that are evading their capital in fiscal paradises) will be permitted to voluntarily disclose unreported income or assets by paying a special 10% levy on the amount or acquisition value, with no criminal or administrative penalties, surcharges or interest. They are demanding drastic efforts to the vast majority of the population while they are alleviating the much needed pressure to the biggest fortunes, who by the way, are committing an obvious economic fraud. That is an ABERRATION, that invalidates any of their political justifications when announcing an unpopular measure. There are several alternatives instead, but it is clear who they are trying to protect... even at the cost of ending with our welfare state.

I could keep on and on (justice, education, health, freedom of expression, repression, don't even let me enter into football) but its all pretty obvious. Our political leaders are either puppets in the hands of biggest powers, or rats trying to take benefit of their position while they are in charge. THEY DON'T REPRESENT USOur government is against us, the citizens. And by doing so they have sentenced the concept of democracy to death. They are destroying our rights. That is unacceptable. 

Then, it's time for us, citizens, to restore it. We are the only ones that can revert the situation. It's our duty as citizens. We have to kick them out of the power. Today, more than ever, we need a Real Democracy Now!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Something More Beautiful", Beth Orton is back!

What a surprise today!

Sorry if don't even try to hide my enthusiasm, but one of my favourite artists is finally back! Beth Orton, after a too (depressingly) long hiatus of 6 years returns with new album "Sugaring Season" in October 2nd, being her debut release with ANTI- Records. It has taken me by surprise, as she is supporting Bon Iver in Barcelona in a couple of weeks (unfortunately the gig is too expensive/don't really like Justin Vernon to pay that much), so please come to Barcelona some time soon.

Here's the new song "Something more Beautiful”, a delicate, fragile and hauntingly wonderful piece, beautifully arranged. All to show, to prove the world SHE'S back.

I missed you dear Beth. Welcome back!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Sexiest Women of Indie

Ok, today a very different sort of post. Don't take it too seriously. 

Last week, Nerve magazine posted a very peculiar list on their website, "The 10 Sexiest Women in Indie Rock: 2012". I usually wouldn't care (not to say post) about that sort of "issues", but the list has provoked a "seriously" funny discussion with some friends and my girlfriend. So, after a long (kidding) deliberation process, here's mine. As you will see, they are not just beautiful women, but foremost, great indie musicians. They are all artists I like/love. So, let's talk about girls who play guitars (or keyboards, or cellos, or just sing, whatever)!

11Miriam Gutierrez
(The Bright)
12. Jenny Lewis
(Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis, Jen and John)

10Kate Jackson
(The Long Blondes, Kate Jackson Group)
9Rose Elinor Dougall
(The Pipettes, Rose Elinor Dougall)

8Basia Bulat
7Annie Monroe (The Like)

6. Lourdes Hernández
(Russian Red)

5Gemma Hayes

4Chan Marshall
(Cat Power)
3. Lisa Hannigan

2. Annie Clark (St. Vincent) 
1. Zooey Deschanel (She & Him)

 Coming very soon, the male list, done by my girlfriend....

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Delicacy", drama, comedy & awkward love

Delicacy (La Délicatesse, French original title)

Romantic comedies (rom-coms) might be the most exploited film genre ever (scary kids announcing paranormal activities on a haunted house rank close), so it is hard to find something original or fresh on the overwhelming majority of movies on that vein released over the year. "Delicacy" might not be groundbreaking, but at least has a notable amount of charms and some remarkable freshness in its development.

"Delicacy" could have been a major disaster. It starts with the extra-cute / but cool (a bit annoying really) depiction of Nathalie's, played by the always charming Audrey Tautou, (although she looks extremely thin this time imo) life along her husband. Love, happiness, in that sort of "Amélie"'s vibe, so delightful for many, so irritating for others. But out of the blue, tragedy appears with the death of Nathalie's husband.

In a radical change of scenario, and with little information for the spectator, we see the transformation of Nathalie into a fierce executive director that buries herself (and her desolation) in work. But just when it seems we are moving towards a conventional drama until she's able to "love again" (I know, this last line is worryingly unpromising, right?) there's another drastic turn of events... and comedy makes its "apparition". 

I completely understand the critics or reviewers that claim "Delicacy" suffers from a muddled development in its storytelling. It does. The tone switches might be too much for many, and debuting directors David and Stephane Foenkinos (adapting the former's novel), are on the verge of losing a natural, credible rhythm in their narration of situations (some secondary roles doesn't help either,with their odd behaviour), leaving the viewer with a wonder of where is this story going?. But somehow they manage to emerge from that little sense of chaos.

It might be thanks to their ability of avoiding drama, presenting a very light-hearted film, the lack of pretensions (no moralizing remarks), but foremost, it's a matter of chemistry. While Tautou's is capable of giving credibility to the different states of her emotional turmoil throughout the film without losing her natural "spell", is Markus, played by the unknown (for me at least) actor François Damiens, the "Swedish" (no spoiling), who really steals the show. The directors make use of our pre-conceived notions on what sort of person "fits" the other, and building up on this flesh & bones "beauty and the beast" topic they create an unlikely romance that is quite amusing and rewarding, with several awkward moments that are really funny. When Tautou and Damiens are on screen together, the scenes look genuine. And that makes "Delicacy" a pleasant "ride".

Overall, a film with charms that overcomes its erratic pacing and weak structure with the great, effortless charisma and chemistry of their leading couple. A bit bland and confusing (these unnecessary dramatic scenes near the end), but also quite entertaining and pleasant.
SCORE: 6/10

Thursday, July 5, 2012

This is Spain, where I live

Sometimes, it is not necessary to say much to capture and express what matters. Forges and Quino, two of the few artists in this country that have that precious ability. Two vignettes that very much define the situation in Spain, the shameful country where I live. Not very different from many others, I'm afraid.   

How come you are not paddling more!!!???... 
I'm so surprised, Fernández!
Aren't we all on the same boat?

I'm free... 
I can choose the bank that squeezes me; 
the tv channel that vilifies me; 
the oil company that brutalizes me; 
the food that poisons me; 
the telephone network that cheats me;
 the informer that misinforms me 
and the political option that disappoints me. 
I insist: I'm free

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Indie Anthology 15: essential songs

If there's a Festival I would die to go, that's Indietracks. This weekend they will celebrate its 6th edition, again with a line-up that is an indie-pop dream. So the next chapter of our Anthology serves me also as a little homage to this fantastic Festival, recovering an amazing song from one of the bands, an unexpected return, that will be playing there!

Song: Tara Mascara
Artist: Language of Flowers
Year: 2004

"Songs About You" was a delicious record, a kaleidoscope of everything that makes indie-pop irresistible. Tara Simpson's adorable, fragile voice, jangly guitars, a touch of psychedelia here, a glimpse of twee-pop there, several upbeat tunes, ready to make you dance, a few others to feel nostalgic... I fell in love with the Northern Ireland band from the very first moment I heard "Tara Mascara", with its 12-string rickenbackers shimmering, just before Simpson's appears with her sweet voice. Think on The Smiths meeting Lush. Yes, that good. In hiatus since 2007, they are back for a special performance at Indietracks. What a great comeback (hope its for long). Lucky indietrackers!!   

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Live Forever", the days of britpop

Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop

My teenage years were the britpop years. It was a very fun and exciting time even from the distance, Spain, because there was music on tv (quite a lot if you compare with the desert that is now tv in that regard) and Oasis, Blur, Suede, Pulp, etc, were also artists able/capable of topping the charts then. Something unthinkable now. Those were better times (thanks technology for the internet though, you have made tv completely useless for music, which is something good, considering how awful it is here in Spain). I will try to restrain my nostalgic impulses from now on, although nostalgia is an important factor on “Live Forever”, the documentary.

Live Forever” tries to analyse the “boom” of popular music in the UK on the middle 90s, and its importance/weight on the British cultural and political landscape. It bases part of its strength on the contributions of the artists themselves: Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis, Damon Albarn of Blur and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, with occasional interventions from Massive Attack’s 3D and Sleeper’s Louise Wener, among others (Damien Hirst, Ozwald Boateng, music journalists and members of the industry).

There’s a lot of fun in this “rockumentary” about this unusual period on the recent history of music. In particular, Noel and Liam are two fantastic comedians on their own, justifying watching the film with their opinions (Liam is hilarious). The film flows with rhythm despite the amount of interviews. But director John Dower is able to go much further than just the battle of Blur vs Oasis (Albarn’s reaction to the question speaks by itself) or the records. “Live Forever” aims to be a study of popular culture in the UK.

It almost achieves that ambitious goal. The renaissance of British music is clearly contextualised. Thatcher (always Thatcher) spent more than a decade to destroy the country, and, of course, that included the annihilation of culture. But after her, at the beginning of the 90s, the landscape changed, first slowly (Noel saying how bad was the electronic-house music on the clubs is amusing), with the landmark gig of The Stone Roses, but then accelerated, to the years of madness, from 1994 to 1997. A reaction against the conservative period, the Americanization of culture, and the reinvention of “everything Brit” to adapt it to the emerging momentum are well documented, resulting in a very engaging documentary.

It gets even better, when the bastard of Tony Blair appears and the so-called New Labour's tries (with significant success) to seek the alignment of britpop with them. When the term "Cool Britannia" appears. And when the consequences of the huge and sudden triumph arrive (the obvious presence of drugs, Jarvis comments about the struggle while making “This Is Hardcore”) before the inevitable, also sudden, fall of the movement, replaced (with cruelty) by Pop Idol and Robbie Williams. Its even more depressing if you consider that, 15 years after, we are still surrounded by the same kind of rubbish (I would add sadly multiplied).

Unfortunately, “Live Forever” is also a “hit & miss”. The film dates back from 2003, and many things seem outdated, or incomplete with the perspective of time. Think on Oasis' split, on Blur, Pulp, Suede and The Stone Roses reunions... Think on the current vindication of the 90s in music (in particular American indie, neglected on the documentary). Think on how awful, terrible is mainstream music nowadays, when during the 90s, britpop was the mainstream... That is not covered by the documentary.

But if that’s understandable, what it is hard to assume is the limited scope in what regards to bands. Sure, Oasis, Blur, Pulp were the leaders of the movement, but where are the rest? Just to name another big name, where’s Suede? Where are the precursors of the movement, in particular The Smiths/Morrissey? And the vast amount of groups that were also part of it, or jumped into the britpop bandwagon, with more or less fortune? And the ones who didn't want to be related with them (Radiohead, PJ Harvey)? Also, if “Trainspotting” was so referential, why there’s no interview with any of the people involved? I could keep going on and on... but I think you get the idea. Too many interesting things are presented, but very few are sufficiently explored, while others are ignored. It is one of the rare occasions when the length of the film is evidently not enough to "fulfil its promises".

“Live Forever” is a highly valuable documentary. It offers quite a lot in a quite engaging way, and benefits from the interviews of some of the fundamental artists of the music movement, that are revealing and/or very funny. But it falls short. Like being in front of an iceberg named brit pop, you know you are only seeing a relatively small part of the whole thing. Hoping for a bigger, bolder, better documentary covering that music period soon.

SCORE: 6,5/10

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stop Awful Covers 5

This next chapter of the music artwork "gallery of horrors" comes much earlier than I would desire. I'm getting really really worried by the huge amount of crappy, terrible sleeve covers you can find out there. Please stop...

Donnie & Joe Emerson: Dreamin' Wild
We start with this 1979's reissue. You can laugh. Out loud. Is going to be much worse below

Dz Deathrays: Bloodstreams
Death rays, x-rays, skulls, sure you get it: not very remarkable, don't you think?
Sébastien Tellier: My God is Blue
Emm... dear Sébastien, be careful with the hallucinogenic substances... Just my advice

 Kelly Hogan: I Like to Keep Myself in Pain
A bit disgusting, quite annoying, seriously lame

Bloc Party: Four
Usual dose of zero effort in the artwork. Now in circles!

TALWSTAlien Tentacle Sex EP
Graphism that fits well with the also "poor" (polite euphemism) title

Rye Rye: Go! Pop! Bang!
Horrendous! Tacky! Ridiculous!

Animal Collective: Centipede Hz
If the award exists, it will probably get my vote for worst artwork of the year...

Paul McCartney / Linda McCartneyRam
Another reissue. That's why home-made sometimes is a pejorative term. Poor animal