Find us on facebook

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Inside Job", the Wall Street World Government

Inside Job

"The politicians do not rule the world, Goldman-Sachs in Government". These are the words of Alessio Rastani, an anonymous stock market trader until this week, when he got interviewed, in all his shameless and shameful honesty, at BBC News, shocking the world with his message. It's not the only one-liner he said that deserves to be remembered. "If you know how, you can make money off a crash!", and "in less than a year the savings will be gone for millions of people without that neither markets nor governments can do anything" are painstakingly examples of what and who leads of the world these days. His position, attitude, words and message are the best summary of "Inside Job", a film that dissects how and who put the world into the economic crisis we are facing. Welcome to the Wall Street World Government.

Director Charles Ferguson, who won the best documentary award at the Oscars, divides the film in a five episodes structure to analyse all sides to take the closest look at what brought about the financial meltdown. The idea and aim is excellent, as we have a comprehensive and very detailed analysis, but the episodes are seriously unbalanced.

After a very good start with the background of the recession in which we go to Iceland before setting the movie at the United States, we move into episodes 2 and 3, where the crisis is carefully explained...with too many facts, numbers and graphics. Don't get me wrong, a serious documentary must inform and give facts, but in my opinion, there's too much and too fast in the film. I have serious concerns about if "Inside Job" can connect with the general audience and not just the people already interested. Worse, I'm among "the already interested" and I admit some of the information provided wasn't fully assimilated, and that I missed some analysis on the role of international institutions (if any) or a wider scope (not just the States). In the other hand, watching the film should be mandatory at schools. Its a documentary that requires to be studied, not just watched.

On the contrary, chapter 4, "Accountability", has to be highlighted on its own. Brilliant from start to finish, offers a side of the crisis completely overlooked. The role of education and economic schools in which politicians, corporations and the markets find their ideological support that seems to have the power to justify that deregulation, bank rescues or lately, cuts on social services, are necessary for the good of economy. "Inside Job" reveals, thanks to sharp and smart interviews, that is a lie. Education has been as corrupted, hypocrite and selfish as banks and politicians, and therefore they are responsible of that crisis as well.

The final chapter "Where are we now" is the other standout moment of "Inside Job". Without any political bias, Ferguson points out how the Obama administration is almost entirely composed by the same people that was behind the crisis, whether in previous political or corporative positions. So you can easily guess what's the conclusion. On the not so good side, there's a slight outburst at the very end of the film, losing part of its remarkable objectivity until that point.

"Why should a financial engineer be paid four times to 100 times more than a real engineer? A real engineer build bridges. A financial engineer build dreams. And, you know, when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it". The words of Andrew Sheng are the best summary of the crisis, so I will save you some time skipping the rants and insults I'm tempted to utter. In what regards to "Inside Job", I believe is a must-see. My suggestion would be to combine it with Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story", as together they provide a complete and powerful picture. Moore is more focused on the people affected by the crisis, the human side, and as it less dense in the explanation of the crisis, while Ferguson's is more objective and informative. Hey! At least there's one thing we have to thank the crisis for. Some filmmakers have been moved to direct great and insightful movies about it.

SCORE: 6,75/10

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Horrible Bosses", crazy and hilarious dark comedy

Horrible Bosses

Sometimes, chaos and craziness works. And in this particular comedy, it makes the difference. The premise of the "Horrible Bosses" is suggesting and funny. Three regular workers that everyday suffer the actions and attitudes of their monstrous bosses until they decide they had enough and want them dead. What comes next is their hilarious adventures in order to achieve that goal.

This movie works for several reasons. One is its rawness and moments of pure madness, with a refreshing amount of dark jokes and twists. Another one is the fun plot, with an unpredictable and eccentric screenplay, with a slight thriller approach, that allows actor having their moments of glory without losing its dynamic, quick pace. And of course, from the very start, the film doesn't take itself seriously, so there are no "ethic conflicts" or a moral end, just a great entertainment, which is refreshing and results in a film without slumps.

A separate reference has to be made for the cast, the major factor "Horrible Bosses" is so enjoyable. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day (both unknown until yesterday for me), are as funny as surrealistically credible. Day in particular provides, with his whiny voice and his one liners, the most amount of laughs and absurd situations. The same can be said about the "horrible" bosses. Kevin Spacey stands out in his impersonation of the cruel villain that presides the company where Bateman's work, while Jennifer Aniston is surprisingly good at her role of sexy but demented maneater dentist. Colin Farrell is also great in his grotesque role, but I had the impression his character deserved more scenes and is underused, without fulfilling its potential.

Unfortunately, the film has several moments where director Seth Gordon slightly loses the tone, with some raunchy, scatological, profane or just forced scenes. That's probably the risk of the slapstick style the film acquires as it evolves into no-hold-barriers adventure. My feeling is that these scenes are a bit out of place. They are forgettable considering the whole movie, thanks to the aforementioned dynamism and freshness, but they certainly lessen the value or the merits of "Horrible Bosses".

Therefore, if you are looking for a film in the vein of "The Hangover", something to provide plenty of laughs without making you feel stupid. Or if you want to watch a light comedy with a different, sardonic, sense of humour, "Horrible Bosses" is an excellent choice. Won't be in a best-of-the-year list, but is a great entertainment, and let's admit it, a guilty pleasure. Not because of the topic of course, I'm very lucky to say my boss is a saint and a friend.

SCORE: 6,5/10

Monday, September 26, 2011

BAM Festival, part II: dancing under the rain

After a Friday with a lot of soul and intriguing folk-pop, Saturday was the day of the concerts at Antiga Fàbrica Cervessa Damm (an old brewery, although the concerts take place in the street where the brewery is located). A triple music proposal that usually is among the busiest of the whole BAM Festival. Plus an unwelcome guest.

4t1a at BAM. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
4t1a. Finally a Catalonian band that, despite doing that sort of ubiquitous indie-folk with a clear pop focus that now seems a synonymous of success here, offers something more. First, lyrics that despite being mundane doesn't sound childish or laughable. Tunes about our everyday lives as adults that are finally recognisable and honest. And second, a music proposal that remains simple but has more subtleties and ambition than their style colleagues. Just a certain sense of repetition in the melodies or approach to the songs, but a very minor concern for a nice and pleasant band.

Herman Düne at BAM. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Herman Düne. Never been a fan of them, that sort of folkie little tunes were always a bit silly for me. That, enhanced by the fact one of their songs has been the song of the summer, in the opinion of a famous advertising campaign in Spain, made my expectations very low. But, I admit I was wrong. The trio presented their songs in an electric, uptempo way, with lots of great guitar solos and a sound close to Americana. So my initial prejudice was completely blown away. Unfortunately, the rhythm and scope of the songs was quite similar during all the set, and of course, they sang that silly advertisement tune, so to me their show was a bit monotonous and tiring.

Mando Diao at BAM. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Mando Diao. Half an hour before the final and most expected gig of the night started, rain appeared. For a long while it rained cats and dogs, and you could feel the serious threat of the concert being cancelled. But they did. And although watching a music show with an umbrella is not the most comfortable option, the show was pretty enjoyable. Sure, Mando Diao staging is impressing. The set, light, and of course their attitude (a bit cocky for my taste, but that's what rock'n'roll is all bout, isn't it?). As Woody Allen once said: "80% of success is showing up". The Swedish know that very well. Their music seems to be the perfect mixture between the sixties and modern danceable rock. Like putting in a shaker The Kinks and Franz Ferdinand. But you have to concede their songs, with the exception of the risible euro-dance sounding "Gloria", are really effective and cracking live. They are capable of giving a thunderous show. They even scared the clouds, that disappeared completely while they were playing, so it was fair to say that, in front of a fervent audience, their gig was a complete triumph.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Discoverer 22: new indie findings

New bands to recommend you!

French Films. You wouldn't associate the music with where they're from, beautiful Finland (Espoo and Järvenpää, close to Helsinki). Because this band, formed in 2010, with an EP, "Golden Sea", and an LP, "Imaginary Future", out now, will initially recall you to sunny places and bands like The Vaccines or The Drums. Humming songs, catchy as hell, full of hooks and irresistible urgency. Maybe is the scent to catch an unforgettable melody, the keyboards, the New Wave hints, or the unusual cohesion during the whole album. This is one of the most enjoyable albums of the year so far.
Imaginary Future (2011) by French Films

Laura K. My EardrumsPop friends did it again. Their ePop 18, completely free and available on their website, is another sample of the best indiepop, besides introducing us new artists to follow, this time a ridiculously young artist, Laura K, between Brisbane and London, where she is now based, with an amazing talent to create sweet gems that seem very simple on the surface. Impossibly cute and mellow, "Saboteur" and the short "This Happens Every Time" are followed by "Beach Comber" a beautiful (handclapping!) rendition of Real Estate, another band to check. Download!!
Laura K - ePop018 - digital single by EardrumsPop

Young Romance. And the third proposal comes from London, in the form of a charming duo, Paolo and Claire. This inseparable couple makes delicate and stunningly gorgeous indiepop tunes, with an intensity that suggests a real emotion and passion in what they do. These few available songs seems really a slowly-built work of art. I'm still blown away by "Swollen Hearts, Bitter Tongues", "She, Me, Him and You" and the candle-fire "Six Sides". Pure pop perfection, as immediate as lasting. From now on, count me as a fan and follower of the adventures of this couple.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BAM Festival, part I: Barcelona meets two great artists

Koko-Jean Davis and Connor J. O'Brien. So different in their music styles, attitudes and movements on stage, but at the same time so similar in what matters. Passion for what they do. They were the main highlights of our journey among the different concerts of Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM) Festival 2011 edition yesterday night.

The Excitements at BAM Festival. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
The Excitements. Our first stop of the night, at Plaça Reial, wasn't really a mandatory one for us. Classic soul and rhythm & blues, didn't sound specially promising. But these low expectations changed from the very first second Koko-Jean Davis entered the stage, making this local band a teleportation music time machine, destination Motown many decades ago. A talented band with a thunderous frontwoman, relentless in her attempt to connect with the audience. Koko is a real, fierce "stage animal". Imagine a XXI century reincarnation of the young Tina Turner, always in motion, with a tremendous magnetism and an excellent voice. Their music is of course light-years from being groundbreaking. But carried by Koko there's no possible argument they are capable of giving a great show and make you enjoy every second of it.

Villagers yesterday night at BAM. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Villagers. At the small but wonderful venue for a night concert the Plaça del Rei is we discovered, better said confirmed, that Mr. Conor J. O'Brien and his band has "that something". It is not quite explicable, is a bit mysterious as a matter of fact. Because being objective, their album "Becoming a Jackal" is far from perfect. And O'Brien has a nice voice but you wouldn't call him an outstanding singer. And besides they don't offer anything that we could qualify as revolutionary. But they thrill you. At times, yesterday night, got completely haunted by them. The musical passages and twists in some songs, the harmonies, the sense of darkness and that there's so much going inside the surface of the tune and the absolute control that Connor has of his songs, the power and meaning he gives to his words, are mesmerizing. I bet everyone at the venue felt the same yesterday. This Irish have that "magic". A very special band.

More concerts in a few hours, if the rain allows us!

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Richard Yates", Tao Lin's insult to literature

Richard Yates- Tao Lin

I'm very sorry for the title of my post. But that's how I feel after reading this book. And the mere fact he is using the name and surname of Richard Yates, in my opinion, one of the best writers this world has ever read, as the title of his novel, to me is offensive. I don't believe he did it ironically. Worse, I don't care if he did. The result is exactly the same. This book is awful.

I didn't know about Tao Lin's over-hype. I guess that not being American it was something completely alien to us. I didn't have any previous opinion about him either, but after reading the novel I made a little search and sadly, it has not helped at all. Read this little fragment of an interview made on a Spanish diary. Again, I don't care if he's being ironic or what. That's the answer of a total jerk (depression is quite a serious thing for many people).

"Are you as depressed and unhappy as is assumed in your books? I don't know. Maybe. But other people depressed is unable to do anything. I have published six books. And I take antidepressants just for fun".

Kafka for the iPhone generation? That's a very offensive insult to the Czech genious. The writer for the facebook generation? Excuse but I know lots and lots of people that use facebook regularly (me included) and are not stupid. 

Sorry if I'm taking my time to write about the author and not about the novel. I am. But that's because there's not much to talk about the book. This novel is a trifle. Maybe it wasn't Lin's goal, just a marketing strategy, but contrary to what the say, "Richard Yates" doesn't reflect the reality of the world we are living, with modern kids who live their life through a social network or a chat. Lin's book just shows reflect the lack of talent of someone who constructs simple verb phrases after simple verb phrases (X says, Y says) and the most tedious voice I ever read in literature. 

Dakota and Haley are impossible characters. Not only their ages and educational levels have no relation with how they talk/chat/sms each other, that would be more associable to 10-12 year old kids, but they are plain clichés too. Just two words that resume my point: depressed and suicide, used ad infinitum. If  the book was just a short story of no more than 20 pages it could pass as a joke, or if, at least, the kids fulfilled their promise and commit suicide...

Empty, profoundly superficial and topical, without a direction (plot? still wondering), I promise that finishing only a bit more than 200 pages has been to me like reading Tolstoy's "War and Peace" twice. Some critics say his prose is the most accurate expression of the minimalist approach. That's another offensive comparison. If authors like Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff where called minimalists was because they wanted to eliminate everything superficial, accessory, irrelevant from their works. But Lin's case is the opposite. What can you do when you have nothing else than superficiality and irrelevance on your book?

Tao Lin has said this is sort of an autobiography, that he wrote for himself. That concludes any debate about its (lacking) quality. In my opinion, it would have been excellent if he had decided to keep it for himself. But opens another one: why was this published? I think that has to do with these tendency of looking for and selling trends. You find that author, you create a categorization for him/her (post-post-modernism? how cool sounds that, right?) and hire/influence some critics that will say this is "the next big thing". Oh, and you can always say people that doesn't get is because they are not prepared for anything new or challenging, or that they didn't get the irony of it. Yes, the irony. Look how I'm laughing.

SCORE: 0,75/10

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Goodbye R.E.M.

I had several ideas for new posts, but as usual, life got in the way....

"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." R.E.M.

I cannot say I didn't expect it. "Collapse Into Now" was a clear goodbye message to all of us, their fans, and now the last chapter of an extraordinary career. It was kind of a final gift. I have been skipping the amazing "Blue", the last song of the album, because I was scared of hearing Michael's words, an obvious and personal, farewell. Anyone who knows me, or anyone that is following a bit this blog, must have an idea of how much I love R.E.M. They are my band. They will always be. They are a part of me.

Of course I respect, and kind of understand their decission.If they felt the time was right, then so be it. Me, I just renewed my Fanclub subscription because I felt it was the right thing to do. There will be more posts about them, about their songs and albums. About the memories shared with or thanks to them. But today I'm too devastated. I feel like I lost the closest, long-time friend. Although, of course, I know I'm not losing them. I know where to find them anytime I want.

Michael, Mike, Peter, and of course, Bill. Thanks for everything. Thanks for entering my life. You will never leave it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"The Tree of Life", the most self-indulgent film ever

The Tree of Life

Beware of someone qualified as an "author". Not saying that Terrence Malick doesn't deserve the adjective. He is a terrific filmmaker, capable of creating scenes of unparalleled beauty. In that sense, "The Tree of Life" is an achievement again, full of striking visuals and imagery. But a film is not just a collection of gorgeous images with a brilliant photography. I'm very sorry to say there's nothing more than that in Malick's film.

What I criticise with the "author" concept, and to me, the main reason why the film is a complete failure, is that Malick made it exclusively for himself, without caring a tiny bit about the audience. It might be the most self-indulgent film I ever seen.

To me, an artist aims to create a connection with his/her art with an audience. That connection can have different expressions: make you laugh, burst into tears, make you think, blow out your mind, terrify you... It links with your emotions and passions, with something inside of you. It's all about our empathy with the characters and or/the story. I remember how I got deeply moved by Malick soldiers' of "The Thin Red Line". Never been in a war, but their fear of death, their doubts and concerns about what they we're doing were completely human and understandable to me. There's no empathy at all with "The Tree of Life".

Seems the film is vastly autobiographical, so while the recreation of the fifties town is vivid and credible, his memories are just too personal to say anything to the regular viewer. What happens is... trivial, and despite the convincing acting of young Jack (Hunter McCracken) and his father (Brad Pitt) the remembrance of this childhood memories and the relationship with his parents and brothers is not particularly appealing or enlightening. Combine that with the aspiration of making a film of cosmic proportions (literally) that supposedly poses all the important questions about life & existence, and you'll have a chaotic, gigantic mess.

But it is much worse. The structure of the movie is a disaster. Every serious critic rating the film as a masterpiece should, at least, admit something's is not quite right in what regards to a film that starts as a mixture of experimental images and a drama, then turns into a long documentary on the creation of the universe, the planet and life, then moves into a drama about a kid's coming-of-age, and then ends into a surreal, experimental way. All with the addition of an ever-present off-voice, and annoyingly epic music, so you don't forget that's an essential moment of the film. Unnamed characters and yes, Sean Penn's brutally edited role, only adds more confusion to an already nonsensical film.

Enough? If not, we can talk about "THE message" of the film. From the very beginning, Malick puts the Bible as the only reference. Loss, grief, fear, desolation, love, are universal feelings that don't need a religious attempt for explanation. So why Malick only has one (extremely conservative) answer to this questions? In my opinion, because he fervently believes it, or because he needed to exorcise his demons of the past. And both aren't reasons strong enough to film this completely unidimensional, pretentious and self-indulgent movie  and getting away with it. No way. "The Tree of Life" only makes sense in Malick's head, not in the screen. Sorry, but the more I think about, the worse it becomes.

SCORE: 1,5/10

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indie music videos to keep you watching

Back from a lovely long weekend, so I decided to start posting again with some very cool music videos to share with you.

As expected, I'm constantly listening the long-awaited, self-titled debut album from Veronica Falls. "Bad Feeling", its latest single, out in Slumberland Records or Bella Union now has a video. Check it out!

Another record just released that deserves a lot of attention. St.Vincent's "Strange Mercy" is a very special, rewarding one, and "Cruel", besides an excellent song, now has one of the best videos of the year.

Fanfarlo's new record is approaching, and now we have "Replicate", the single and video, to prove it. A very curious tune, intriguing and experimental without losing their trademark talent for the most contagious hook. A real grower.

Another well expected debut album is "Welcome to Condale" from Summer Camp. "Better Off Without You" is their new single, and its impossibly catchy and joyful despite its lyrics, feelings that the cool split-screen video is able to recreate with brilliance.

And finally, the premiere of the charming new video from Lisa Hannigan, "Knots". What can I say? Eternal love

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Road trip: a list of records for driving

From tomorrow until Sunday I'll be on a road trip, a small break (somewhat forced) from work. But before leaving and following Kathryn Calder's idea/list you can read on the recommendable music website, here's my list of records that, in my opinion, must-be on any unforgettable indie music trip. That's what we'll be hearing in our car tomorrow. Which would be yours? Have fun!

Highway Revisited- Bod Dylan. Mandatory. A classic among classics. Hard for me to imagine a song that fits the road better that the iconic "Like a Rolling Stone". "Blonde on Blonde" won't we a bad choice either. Perfect start.

The Joshua Tree- U2. The second undisputed and personal classic that had to be included. Songs with a cinematic quality, that evoke landscapes, ideal for the open spaces and long roads.

Murmur- R.E.M. And the third masterpiece. A unique record, mysterious and joyful at the same time.

Suck It and See- Arctic Monkeys. Sunny day ahead on the road? Then it's a perfect choice. Don't forget your sunglasses!

Franz Ferdinand- Franz Ferdinand. We accelerate the rhythm as we drive. Uptempo, dynamic and catchiest indie-rock. Plus is one of the favourite bands of the driver, so I have to concede her that.

I Love Your Glasses/Fuerteventura- Russian Red. On the list 'cause we'll see her gig on Friday at Mercat Música Viva de Vic. Besides, her songs are perfect for a sunny and lazy early afternoon.

Helplessness Blues- Fleet Foxes/The King Is Dead- The Decemberists/ The Rip Tide- Beirut. This trio of records/artists come "in a pack" because this is the perfect music for a trip to the countryside. As a matter of fact, any record from them will do.

The Back Room- Editors/Turn On the Bright Lights- Interpol. Change of mood, more somber, upbeat and gloomy. Great choices for night driving.

Central Reservation- Beth Orton. My choice for late night/early morning driving. What else could be better than returning home lulled by Beth's voice?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spanish Indie 4: suggesting the best national acts

It was a too long impasse, but I'm back with the national indie proposals. Hope you like it!  

Los Últimos Bañistas. Some reviews are easy. Take the homonym debut LP from this young band from Cartagena, Murcia, and click play. First track "Nadia", will grab you. Next one, the brilliant "El Gran Apagón" will blow you out. And then, the hypnotic "El Centro" will do the rest. Insert your own adjectives for the rest of the album, 'cause there's no filler here. Only excellent guitar-driven indie-pop, full of energy, melodies and a rare ability to connect with the listener. Their short story (a demo, a self-released EP and the LP out since June on Ernie Records) only adds merits to this stunning collection of tunes.

Partido. Discovered at Festival Plaça Odissea in April. Went there for Mojave 3, but got haunted by their excellent gig. After checking their web and "The Lost Sessions (1999/2003)" released last year, a compilation of the band's first incarnation, my impression is now confirmed. Tragedy broke that original lineup, but now, refunded with members of La Habitación Roja, Pumuky, Maria Rodés or Xoel López, and leaded by Víctor Partido, they have embraced americana and folk-rock sounds to build their passionate, intense and utterly honest music. Eagerly awaiting for "Leaving It All Behind", their official comeback. 

Sexy Remake. Active since 2008, they come from Barcelona, under the leadership of Said Darbas. After previous lineups, he found stability with a 4-piece-format, adding Charlie and Aitor, from the ashes of the long yearned Stormyclouds. Inventive, surreal lyrics, sung by Said, with a voice that recalls to Ivan Ferreiro and Los Piratas, mixed with Charlie's burning, fearless indie-rock riffs and Aitor and Microciervo's solid rhythm section, they create a refreshing and addictive cocktail. With a self-released EP, "Dolly Depresiva/ Dolly Negativa" and a LP on the works, expectations couldn't be higher. Don't forget their name.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Submarine", superb indie dramedy about growing up


I knew about "Submarine" thanks to Alex Turner's, Arctic Monkeys leader, soundtrack, a mini-LP that should be highlighted among the most exquisite small collection of tunes we have heard so far this year. Then I knew that behind this praised film it was Richard Ayoade, mastermind of "The IT Crowd", a very smart and funny TV show that is on my agenda of "have-to-see immediately". So expectations were pretty high.

"Submarine" has the word "indie" written all over. That means it won't be an easy digestion for some. The ones allergic to the Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze's cinema, or going to the classics, the Nouvelle Vague, should think it twice before watching it. Otherwise, be prepared to enjoy the film.

Because Ayoade's debut is a solid and stylish movie, that behind its artistic intentions wants to tell us a pretty simple and universally recognisable story: the coming-of-age of 15-year-old Oliver Tate, a character to be remembered. Teenage anxiety, social pressures, love, family turning points, an unparalleled imagination and the passion-frustration and indulgent self-reference of that age brilliantly encapsulated, with fun and grace, but also with heart and soul, in a bit more than 90 minutes. Note to self: must check the novel in which the film is based, written by Joe Dunthorne.

I'm amazed by Ayoade's ability, to me his biggest triumph, of creating such an attractive film visually that  at the same time doesn't have a single second that feels redundant. All the quirkiness, imagery (such and appealing and peculiar Wales is portrayed), even Alex Turner's songs, are there for a reason. They are there because of Oliver. They complement his unique personality. And they serve the purpose of "Submarine": capturing the essence, joyful and painful, confusing and engaging, of growing up.

Oliver's is such a complex and rich character that Craig Roberts's performance can't be praised enough. He is the master pillar upon where "Submarine" is built. And is not alone. Yasmin Page as his girlfriend Jordana, mysterious, mischievous but heartbreakingly fragile, or Oliver's frustrated parents, played by Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor (superb in his off-beat, artificial shell he built for himself) are equally outstanding. In their shoulders, the comedy and tragedy of the story flows naturally and recreates a life that we, through the eyes of "our" Oliver, might find surreal or awkward, but is 100% recognisable.

A unique film, with a very personal language and sensibility. Admittedly, it might turn some down, which is a shame, because "Submarine" is the excellent start of a promising filmmaking career.

SCORE: 7,75/10 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Discoverer 21: new indie findings

Back with the weekly proposals!

Elephant Stone. Checking the great Indiecater label, I heard the song "Bombs Bomb Away", and then "I Am Blind", that blow me out. What a discovery! This band comes from Montreal (thanks again, Canada!), leaded by Rishi Dhir. In 2009 they debuted with the stunning album "The Seven Seas", nominated for a Polaris Music Prize. They returned with "The Glass Box" EP in 2010, and  seems we'll have more tunes soon. That would be a blessing, because Rishi and co. are goldmisth genius of indie-pop song. From jangle to power-pop, sometimes with an Indian feel, they offer music gems. Absolute must.

Red Shoe Diaries. Since July we can enjoy "When I Find My Heart", second EP from this five-piece band hailing from Nottingham, UK. After a very well received self-released debut EP, gigs along The Wave Pictures, A Sunny Day in Glasgow or Nouvelle Vague, and playing festivals like the great Indietracks in 2010, the time has come for the Diaries to gather the attention they deserve. Because is hard to find such a perfect collection of indiepop gems. Classic, sophisticated, with a scent of epic and literary skills. It has MASTERPIECE written all over it. Run to grab your (limited) copy!

We Are Trees. James Nee and Josiah Schlater come from Virginia, USA. In July 2010 released their first EP, "Boyfriend", but their sophomore effort, "Girlfriend", out since March, is the one catching the blogosphere attention. Whispering voices, lo-fi acoustics predominates, and with the help of cello and violin, the duo creates a peculiar, intriguing, hazy neofolk that sometimes evolves to indie-rock territory (check the glorious "I Don't Believe In Love").  Reviewers compare them with Grizzly Bear mixed with Guided By Voices or Fleet Foxes. I prefer to say they have a unique and exciting voice of their own. Listen. Have your say. You won't regret it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"My Own Love Song", Southern blues' road movie

My Own Love Song

I like movies where music is a central part of the story. Something completely opposite to musicals by the way, where with very few exceptions, music is an excuse to hide there's no plot. And talking about literature, I love the South, the myth and its legend. "My Own Love Song" combines something of both, so it was logical that this film surprised me in a positive (didn't have many expectations) way.

The first surprise is Renée Zellweger, seriously convincing as Jane, someone who has built a mental cage around her wheelchair. She carries the movie on her shoulders, something remarkable being it so special and uneasy. Forest Whitaker and Madeline Zima also give solid performances, and Nick Nolte's appearance is one of the highlights of the film.

The second surprise is how director Olivier Dahan is capable of moving away of creating a female version of "Crazy Heart", full of clichés, while subverting, at least a little, the trite and busy path of road movies. He does that with some unconventional scenes, where dream, allegory and surrealism collides with reality, giving the film a special, somewhat magic tone, that connects the film with the American literature of the "South". Expect weird colours, atmospheres and odd visuals. And to me the stand-out of the film, a terrific and terrifying visualization of iconic bluesman Robert Johnson's legend.

And the third surprise is, of course, the music. Bob Dylan's soundtrack, although a reason to watch the film, might not groundbreaking, but the presence and relevance of the songs for the development of it is refreshing and moving. And if you choose Woody Guthrie in one of the pivotal scenes of the movie with so respect and heart, you deserve some praise.

Unfortunately, "My Own Love Song" has several issues too. The main one is the balance, Characters seem to be balancing on a very thin tightrope between the emotional collapse on one scene, to absolute euphoria in the next one. We know that the journey to Baton Rouge is a self-discovering one, but the "superficial" trip is weakly solved, having the feeling the adventures they have are unbelievable, and making some of the most visual, artistic moments, a bit like a videoclip where nothing really important, for the development of the story, is being added. The result is that "My Own Love Song" is messy as a film. An attractive chaos, with an special touch, for me at least, in its majority, but also a confusing, unbalanced drama .

SCORE: 6/10

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Autumn in concerts

Oh September, always a month of plans.... This is how our autumn music calendar looks like so far. Some highly expected shows!!


13. Kathryn Calder + Miss Carrusel at Sala Monasterio

16. Russian Red at Mercat Música Viva de Vic
17. Prisma en Llamas + Me and The Bees at Heliògabal
23. Villagers at Plaça del Rei (as part of BAM Festival). More to see that night, to decide...
24. Herman Düne + Mando Diao at Antiga Fàbrica Damm (as part of BAM Festival)


14. Rubik at Sala Nitsa
27. Alela Diane at La [2] de Apolo. A must.


16. Fanfarlo at Sala Bikini. Yeah! Finally!
20. Elbow + Howling Bells at Casino de l'Aliança del Poblenou. Super-happy to see Garvey and Co. after FIB Festival, plus the chance of seeing Howling Bells for the first time!!

26. The Bright at Sala Sidecar. Very excited to see them again, hoping for a full band show...
27. Fleet Foxes + Vetiver at L'Auditori

Except the Russian Red gig, all the venues are located in Barcelona. Not bad for starters, don't you think?