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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Indie Anthology 39: essential songs

What can I say? This is simply one of THE SONGS, sooner or later it was going to be featured in the Anthology, and after hearing a nice live version on Saturday (at the strangest party/gig I ever been....) this was a very nice occasion... An indiepop myth, Sarah 12. One of the greatest pop songs ever written.

Song: Emma's House
Artist: The Field Mice
Year: 1988

13 seconds and you already know you are listening to a very special tune. 45 seconds, when the guitars burn, to be absolutely taken away. Hear it a zillion times, and still feel disarmed by the magic of the music and the mystery of lyrics. In my opinion writer Alistair Fitchett is not making Bobby Wratten sing just about a girl that moved away. On an unmatched combination of fragility and intensity, the song's house is not only a physical place, but life's account of missed chances. The lines "You have nothing to live up to / You have nothing to live down" are devastating. The Field Mice weren't mourning about an impossible love, but putting words & feelings to the instant when you admit your defeat. While the band does so, they are rippling along your spin. Now tell me pop can't take you places. Deep inside yourself.    

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox 3

Third round of our newest blog section, the Friday's TOP TEN playlist with the tunes I have been enjoying the most this week. Lots of wonders in this playlist, several coming from recent of very recent discoveries, plus some favourites and a classic band returning to form. As the previous sets, this is available at the blog's soundcloud. Hope you like it!

Direct links to the previous Jukebox weeks
Week 1
Week 2

Welcome to the Jukebox!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing Watoo Watoo

Oh! What a great band (well, half of it) is answering our questionnaire today. It took me a while to discover them, but thanks to their fantastic latest album (look for it at the blog Best Records of the Year list, and yes, I'm aware we are just ending March), now I'm a converted to the Watoo Watoo "cult". Would you like to join me? I'm pretty sure you will fall for them too. These Go to 11!

Michaël Korchia, Watoo Watoo
The Korchias, indiepop alchimistes
Hailing from Bordeaux, France, Pascale & Michaël Korchia have a extensive career on their backs as their first release, the EP Un Peu de Moi" from 1997, proves. Since then, the couple have released three albums, "Le Fumalin" & "Curiosites?" in 2001, and "Le Fuite" in 2007, plus two  EPs, "Picture of a Lost Friend" in 1999 & "Le Tourbillon" in 2011, that came out on Dufflecoat Records. This year they have returned to action with the release of their 4th album, the mind-blowing "Une Si Longue Attente", via Jigsaw Records since January. Pluperfect indiepop, sophisticated, rich (try to listen it with the lights out, with good headphones), like gathering their beloved Stereolab, Young Marble Giants or Gainsbourg on a private party, just to come out, like pop alchimistes, with something no one, NO ONE, should miss. Here we go!
Mr Gardner, pop-looking

1. First record that you bought (be honest)
I used to love tapes, so I didn’t buy a vinyl until I was 16 or so. Probably an obscure punk band. First CDs were a Russian new wave band called Kino (not very good) & Lou Reed’s "Rock & Roll Animal".

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
I saw “Le grand orchestre du Splendid” when I was 12. A mix of salsa, ska, jazz, French chanson & lots of humor. Last gig was 5 days ago, Jacco Gardner (excellent)

Ok, that's shocking
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
I like a lot the 1st Depeche Mode album a lot (I find this quite embarrassing) & also a couple of Black Sabbath albums!

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
My 1973 Fender Jazz Bass – best bass in the world!
Gainsbourg, a French legend

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Probably from Gainsbourg – maybe the album «L’homme à la tête de chou».

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Dead: Gainsbourg, without a doubt. Preferably in the early 70s. I would love to meet Lawrence from Felt but I’m afraid I could be deceived… Or Iggy Pop, he’s fantastic & I know I would have fun with him!

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
I love Blue Notes records from the 50s/60s. Also some punk covers, such as "Never Mind the Bollocks", or also the first Stooges album: impressive photo & great band logo. The first Velvet album is also very striking.

Les 400 Coups
8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
All the movies by François Truffaut, particularly the ones with Antoine Doinel: the "400 blows" & the others after. Unfortunatly I gave up reading books long years ago –music & photography take me too much time, & in my job (professor/researcher) I have lots of things to read (& I don’t, because I don’t have the time).

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
“Perdu”, maybe. It’s fast yet very melodic –some people think it sounds like Stereolab but I don’t think so. I still don’t know which is my favorite band in our new album, though.

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
Most of the time, It only means that big record companies just don’t want your band.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In front of my computer, like always!

Zillion thanks Michaël!

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Jack Goes Boating", Indie Movie Sinking

Jack Goes Boating

I've been delaying this review, for personal reasons, but mainly because I wanted to put some distance between Philip Seymour Hoffman's death and writing the following lines. ""Jack Goes Boating" was his only movie as a director and, needless to say, I was hoping for the best. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Something that hurts.

"Jack Goes Boating" is an odd relationship's drama, adapting the 2007 play, directed by Peter Dubois, where Hoffman starred in. He and two of the three other lead stage actors (John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega) also reprise their roles in the movie. The story itself is pretty simple. Jack (Hoffman) is an extremely shy, socially awkward (anti-social?) man whose married friends Clyde (Ortiz) and Lucy (Rubin-Vega) arrange a blind date with Connie (Amy Ryan), a woman with even bigger social problems than him (mental illness?). There's a connection between the two, one that impulses Jack to take risks in his life and try to learn doing things that would please her. 

Jack's character is ultimately sweet and, to some extent, optimistic. He realizes the interest Connie has in him, and that makes him change. The screenplay puts the weight in what look as mundane activities, like learning to swim or cook (eventually also going boating), but the spectator feels compelled for what it seems a conscious transformation of a curious man trying to improve, get out of his extremely lonely and narrow world. For love. Add some fascinating scenes at the pool, the special lightning the snowy city seems to have, and we could be in front of an odd sequel of the wonderful "Punch-Drunk Love". That's not the case.

Why? Because this is an actor's movie (it should be) but I couldn't believe them, not to mention be engaged, with any of the characters. Characters are exaggeratedly closed-off emotionally and we don't know anything about their past, so the spectator lost them (imo). To my view, this is an example of a movie on which we clearly cross the line between the much needed ellipsis to an under-defined, insufficient script. Trying to be more precise: with the amount of information we have while watching, to me Jack and Connie have serious emotional and mental issues, but that's left wide open. "The normal couple" that helps Jack, Clyde and Lucy, soon reveal as not so normal, as they have been struggling with pretty bad relationship problems themselves, but again, the spectator is left to fill the plot holes by itself. For me, it was completely unbelievable. And although this could be just a personal impression, the lack of engagement with the actors provokes the disappointing feeling of watching a very slow, dragged, lifeless movie with very occasional sparks (the foursome dinner, the friends conversation inside a car) and what could have been a very interesting take on sentimental relations.

To my understanding, "Jack Goes Boating" tries so hard to be quirky. It's "indie" in that annoying way that makes a vast amount of people avoid this sort of "small" movies. In this case, I would blame a script that looks too secluded and airless, relying too much on the physical presence of the characters, as it we were still in front of the original play at the theater. I still owe you a last discovery, a last amazing performance Philip.  

SCORE: 4,75/10

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Discoverer 88: new indie findings

It's been an non-desired hiatus, but here we are, back with a trio of great discoveries, enjoy!

Angel Olsen. Raised in St. Louis, Missouri but relocated to Chicago, Illinois, as a teenager Olsen began performing in local coffee shops and becoming part of a network of like-minded artists, being part of the Cairo Gang collective, or joining Bonnie "Prince" Billy's band in 2010 and 2011. After self-releasing 2010's "Strange Cacti", a cassette of original Americana songs later reissued as a 12", her proper solo debut arrived in 2012 with "Half Way Home", a unique, personal folkie affair via Bathetic Records. In early 2013, while she worked with Tim Kinsella (Cap'n Jazz) and LeRoy Bach (Wilco), she formed a full band, signed with Jagjaguwar and released single "Sweet Dreams" announcing her new electric, punchier, music direction. As a trio, she has just released sophomore LP "Burn Your Fire for No Witness", a powerful, defiant affair, crowned by Olsen's arresting, singular voice. Dying to see her live at Primavera Sound...   

Making Marks. Formed in Oslo in 2012, the Norwegian quartet arose from the ashes of band My Little Pony, who recorded two charming albums between 2007 and  2011. Under their new incarnation, they have toured Europe and the US before releasing debut 7" single “Ticket Machine/Like Spinning” on Fika Recordings in October 2012, with follow-up “Barcodes” arriving in July 2013. On December 2013 they came out with another single, “Uten en tråd”, sung in Norwegian, via Snertingdal Records, before offering us debut album “A Thousand Half Truths” in February 2nd 2014 on Fika Recordings. Warm, melancholic indiepop songs honouring the eternal Scandinavian tradition, with a folkie, eerie touch, arousing male-female vocals, jangling guitars and lushy instrumentation. Lovable.
Cosines. Self-defined as a mathematical pop band from north London, Simon Nelson and Alice Hubley met on the City's underground after a Stereo Totale gig in 2009. The couple started doing music together helped by Alice's former The Loves bandmates Daniel Chapman and The Late Jonny Drums and A Smile and A Ribbon's Kajsa Tretow. The group debuted live in April 2012, since then playing with Comet Gain, Shrag and at Indietracks. Cosines' first single, the irresistible “Hey Sailor Boy!” came out in May 2013 on Fika Recordings, with "Commuter Love" arriving this forthcoming May, in anticipation of a full release. Bits of Camera Obscura, Stereolab, hints of krautrock... a lot to be excited about!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox 2!

It's Friday, so time for our second TOP TEN playlist with the tunes I'm enjoying the most this week. Many promising bands (some already featured at the blog, others that you will see pretty soon) and a couple of undeniable classics. As the previous one, set is available at the blog's soundcloud (that you can gently join too) Hope you like it.

Direct link to the Week 1

Welcome to the Jukebox!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing Me and the Bees

Next band answering our questionnaire is... Me and the Bees! You know when a band is more than just their tunes, more than how they sing & play their instruments, more than how they hide & show their influences, more than what they say in the lyrics, more than the sum of their members... When a group, just HAS it. That something, that special, genuine, something that makes you go back to their tunes. Once and again... Does it makes sense? Love them. These Go to 11!

Me and the Bees
The Bees conquering SXSW
A band named after a The Softies' song surely was going to catch my attention. Friends Esther Margarit and Eli Molina began this story by middle 2000s around their personal adventures and day-to-day life. The amateurish, unpretentious affair kept evolving until 2008, when two videos uploaded on MySpace got the attention of Hans Krüger (Montreal Studios), immediately asking them to record some tunes. Next turn of events came that same year when Artur Estrada (Nueva Vulcano, Aina) convinced them to play at a show at Sant Adrià. Demos were recorded, and the increasing gigs demanded a more stable line-up, so Verónica Alonso and Carlos Leoz (Half Foot Outside) completed the band. The quartet signed with La Castanya in 2009 and, in a meteoric jump, only a year after arrived debut LP "Fuerza Bien", with gigs, critic praise and single "Cleopatra" following. Think on K and Sarah Records, Guided by Voices, Pavement, vital, carefree, golden lo-fi indiepop. Although Eli left the band to focus on her also exciting project Fighter Pillow, the now trio of Bees are back in this 2014 with sophomore album "Mundo Fatal" scheduled for this May. Needless to say, dying to hear it. Here we go!

1. First record that you bought (be honest)
Carlos Leoz: "Master of Puppets", Metallica.
Esther Margarit: Honestly, I'm incapable of remembering the first record I bought, but for sure one of the first was the Vértigo compilation, the original.
Verónica Alonso: Michael Jackson's "Dangerous". I had to order it by catalogue. No record shops in my hometown...

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
C: First concert...don’t remember, probably Jugos Lixiaviados. Last concert was Red Kross.
E: Jajaja! Can't remember first concert either, but I do remember the 98' Dr. Music Festival where I got blown out with Beastie Boys, Pulp, Bod Dylan... among many others. Last one was just a couple of days ago, Furguson and Traams at Sidecar.
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
V: First one was...Celtas Cortos, and last one has been, thank god!, Dead Meadow

3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
C: Army of Lovers “We Stand United”
E: Wouldn't know where to begin...
V: Linkin´ Park....I am sorry

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
C: Spectrum's ”Soul Kiss (Glide Divine)”, transparent gateofold edition with green liquid.
E: Have a special fondness for a Triffids singles compilation (early singles) that was a gift a friend gave me years ago.
V: My L supraphonic snare drum!
Las Ruinas, heavy-pop & killer lyrics

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
C: Las Ruinas lyrics.
E: I'm more of devastating verses, but if I had to choose one of my favourite bands because of their lyrics i would be Las Ruinas without a doubt.
V: “Going Blind” but if Melvins are performing it much better

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
C: Thurston Moore.
E: Jad Fair, Kim deal, Robert Pollard, Kim Gordon, Calvin Johnson, Georgia Hubley, Beyonce, etc..
V: Neil Young, Steve Albini and PJ Harvey

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
C: Arthur Lyman “Yellow Bird” album.
E: I'll tell you just the one that comes to my mind right now: "Beat Happening", from Beat Happening.
V: The Make-up, "In Mass Mind".

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
C: Movie: Marco Ferreri’s “La Grande Bouffe”
E: Fanzine: "Chilena Comando".
V: Both! Last book I read was John Waters, "Role Models!", and film...maybe the one I am never tired of "The Great Gatsby" (but the old one!!! no remakes could be better )

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
C: "Fun in summertime (the Watterparties)"
E: "Spiderman (Silly Walk)"
V: Maybe..."Love and Fun", new one in the new record

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
C: Indie=not mainstream music.
E: The one that wants to be a cowboy but prefers dancing (literally "El que quiere ser cowboy pero prefiere bailar", the blogger is completely speechless after this answer).
V: It means an independent way of expression in all types of art.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
C: No need to know...
E: I'll have a puppy.
V: I will be 43 so I guess doing the same but having ten years more of experience : )

Zillion thanks Bees!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spanish Indie 18: suggesting the best national acts

And another blog section we recover. Some of the best Spanish bands, for your ears only!

Burrito Panza. El Genio Equivocado's has started 2014 just as they ended 2013. On a roll. Hailing from Albacete, behind this peculiar name there’s Carlos Cuevas, Jose Manuel Mora and Carlos Flan from seminal bands like Surfin ‘Bichos, Mercromina, Travolta and Alienistas of Fernando Alfaro. After signing with El Genio first materialized in 2011 with digital single “Tu Lado Salvaje“, followed that same year by highly praised debut LP “Solo y Mal Acompañado“. Expanded to a quartet with the addition of Rafa Caballero, the group has just released their sophomore album, “Una Familia Desestructurada” this February. Classic pop in capital, kaleidoscopic letters (like LP's artwork), on a giant leap forward in what regards to sound, shiny and round despite a slight of darkness on the lyrics. Join the family! 

Matrimonio. Based in Barcelona, Juan Carlos Fernández (Dos Gajos, Penélope Trip) and visual artist Gloria Vilches met in Gijón on the summer of 2011. After a collaboration, love blossomed and as a consequence, also the music. First tunes appeared late 2012, with S/T 7" EP following in November 2013, courtesy of Snap! Clap! Recs. Intimate, irresistible lo-fi pop (self-defined as a devotional blues combo, aren't they lovely?) with intertwined vocals, charming melodies & bittersweet lyrics. With debut LP expected very soon, write down Matrimonio on your agendas! You'll thank me.  
Casa Celia. Discovered at Basia Bulat's latest visit to Barcelona, this restaurant named duo is formed by Rafa de los Arcos, who is the drummer at our dear Manos de Topo, and Elena González Colominas, from Portrait. Active since 2013 they don't have proper releases yet, but the songs you can hear below are so promising this spot is well deserved. Defined by themselves as "little songs", this is confessional indiepop that endures, in the vein of the The New Raemon, with a sense of humour (try to watch them live, Rafa knows how to deal with an audience) and a genuine, melodic charm. Keep an eye on them!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Indie Anthology 38: essential songs

Journalists, critics or humble music writers tend to use words like "essential" or "seminal" quite often (probably too often). But our next "Anthology" song is an undeniably "essential" one, coming from a "seminal" band. A truly indiepop classic. Sometimes you need to get to the source to get some strength...

Song: Throw Aggi Off the Bridge
Artist: Black Tambourine
Year: 1992

Black Tambourine= noisy pop legend. Sweet pop vocals, instant killer melodies and behind a wall of noise. Mix the 90s shoegaze sounds with the humming classic pop of the 60s. Still there's a mystery on it, something genuine that escapes words. Oh, what a tune! I jumped on their bandwagon very late (I live in Spain, I'm sorry) looking for a version of Jesus & Mary Chain with a gentle, nicer voice until I found Pam Berry. But after a decade "Throw Aggi..." remains a timeless gem of a song for me. And a bit more than that. It's a song that, can't really say why, uplifts me, invigorates me, brings me renewed energy. A song that I keep going back anytime I need it.    

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox!

Introducing you a new blog section. Starting today, each Friday I will make a TOP TEN playlist of the tunes I'm listening / likening the most throughout the week, trying to focus on recent tunes that I'm enjoying at the moment.

The sets will be available at the blog's soundcloud (if you kindly want to share us there too) Hope you like it.

Welcome to the Bloodbuzzed Jukebox!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing When Nalda Became Punk

Back with our interviews (slowly back to normal, but different life), and our next guest is one of the most exciting (imo) Spanish bands in recent years, When Nalda Became Punk, injecting joy and infectious charm to indiepop... or whatever you want to call it. These Go to 11!

When Nalda Became Punk

Whatever you call it, gorgeous music
Born in 2006 as the solo project of Galician (Vigo) Elena Sestelo, under the "lonely" name of Nalda, putting out a demo but then came into hiatus until summer of 2010. A second demo, “Time to meet your family” was followed by the arrival of Roberto Cibeira in 2011: When Nalda Became Punk was a reality. After a 7” single out on Pebble Records, their debut album "A Farewell To Youth" came out in early 2013 on the infallible Shelflife Records, With Antonio Llarena completing the actual trio formation they have played many shows (mighty Indietracks included) and they have now released their new EP "Indiepop or Whatever!" Diverse (everything fits if it's pop), straightforward and fresh, WNBP make music that can make you smile, whisper & dance, all at the same time. What's not to love? Here we go!

Speechless, I'm speechless
1. First record that you bought (be honest)
Elena: The first record I bought that I remember was a Beach Boys compilation on a double tape, I can’t remember the title but I remember that there was a TV on the cover. Of course after that I bought a lot of albums that now make me be ashamed, but fortunately that was the first.
Roberto: I think it was “Camino Soria” by Gabinete Caligari.
Antonio: Even if now I’m totally ashamed, I have to say that it probably was the one by Glenn Medeiros that included “Nothing’s gonna change my love for you”… It was pop after all, wasn’t it?

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
E: That’s a bit worse, the first gig I remember I was by myself with my classmates and not with my parents, was… it’s so embarrassing… Heroes del Silencio, it’s clear I didn’t know what I was thinking about at the moment. The last one was Big City and Nine Stories in Vigo, a very nice one.
R: I’m not sure, but I think the first one was Duncan Dhu. The last one, Iván Ferreiro in Santiago.
A: The first one Doctor Explosion and Dover, in Murcia. The last one, Big City and Nine Stories in Vigo.

Advice: shut off you phone
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
E: I’ve got a lot of guilty pleasures that I enjoy a lot, maybe not bands, but commercial songs with catchy tunes such as “Call me maybe”, the great “Hey ya” or my favourite karaoke song, “Angels” by Robbie Williams.
R: Lady Gaga’s “Poker face”.
A: I love Abba, I think “Dancing Queen”, for example, is such an amazing song! And I also like every single by Katy Perry… tough I’ve never listened to a whole album.

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
E: I have a few signed albums of favorite bands and they are really valuable for me but I think what I appreciate most are some pictures I took with the members of Belle and Sebastian in London, those pictures always bring me a lot of good memories.
R: The singles box by Los Planetas.
A: I buy lots of music but I don’t buy many rare things, so I’ll say my “T-shirt weather” single by The Lucksmiths signed in their farewell tour or “Formula One Racing Girls” signed by Helen Love, both for not only musical reasons.

Neil Hannon, our favourite gentleman
5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
E: I’ve got a lot, but now I have in mind “Tonight we fly” by The Divine Comedy.
R: One of the lyrics I like most is “Northern Sky” by Nick Drake.
A: Lots and lots… Today I’ll say “¿Qué nos va a pasar?” by La Buena Vida, but I could tell you hundreds!

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
E: I’d love to meet Damon Albarn, I owe it to the teenager I once was.
R: I’d like to meet the members of Sigur Ros.
A: I’m really shy when it comes to talk with musicians I like, I just get them to sign a record or take a picture, but not much more… I’ll say Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy, I already have some pictures with him, but it would be great to go out for a drink with him.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
E: It’s not my favorite but I love the one for “Remember that I love you” by Kimya Dawson, it’s really cute.
R: “Doolitle” by Pixies.
A: I don’t know… there are so many great artworks out there! The cover of “Kung fu” by Ash is quite cool, it was really well thought!

Pop ruined my life
8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
E: I’m afraid I’m more of movies, I don’t think I can recommend one that you already didn’t know, for example I enjoy very much the films by Wes Anderson… Also "Once", "Wall-e", I don’t know, there’s a lot…
R: Movie: "Blade Runner". Book: “Demian” by Herman Hesse.
A: I prefer books, it entertains you longer and you can connect with the characters more than in a movie… A book: "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby, it is like a bible for the people who love pop music, isn’t it?. A movie: "Edward Scissorhands".

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
E: Right now I’d choose “Song for Carrie Mathison”, I’m really happy with the result of the tune and how they work with the lyrics.
R: “When Nalda Became Punk”, “Modest Circus” and “Song for Carrie Mathison”.
A: "Song for Carrie Mathison", it is the first song in which I wrote half of the lyrics! Elena was amazed that I was able to fit the word “Lasagna” in it… then I remind her that Oasis did it first in “Digsy’s dinner”.

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
E: That must be the question that I hate to answer the most because I never know what to say… I think that indie are the people that make music apart from the music industry, just doing what they want without thinking in success, money and that kind of things.
R: The possibility of doing things with the only aim of having fun, at your own way and doing just what we like.
A: For me it is enjoying the music you love without paying much attention to all the short of things that happen to be around the music but, in the end, don’t add anything special. For example, the feeling you get at every second at Indietracks Festival or at Madrid Popfest. That’s real indie for me! I also think that the Math and Physics Club explained it quite well in their song “We are D.I.Y.”.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
E: I don’t know, I’m such a pessimist! So I prefer not to think about it, but I just hope I’ll keep on enjoying writing songs.
R: With a lot of records released, playing everywhere they call us, meeting new places and interesting people.
A: Ah! Good question!! Who knows? Certainly not me…
Zillion thanks Nalda!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"American Hustle", the Big Empty

American Hustle

How many times I have written this before? Hype, the problem is the hype. You can have a flamboyant cast, the coolest aesthetics, a thousand nominations and all the favourable praise... but do you have a movie, one with substance, one that endures after the final vanish? I'm afraid not. "American Hustle" is a well-designed, extremely well in what regards to looks, entertainment product, but not a film that deserves to be remembered.

The other word that comes to my mind with "American Hustle" is fake. David O. Rusell wanted to have it all. Professional grifters caught by the police, who want to use them to catch a "bigger fish", so here's a thriller aiming to be the next "The Sting" (but loosely based on a real case, the ABSCAM operation)? Check. A tale about late 1970s -early 1980s, so every single scene must say something about how people dressed and behaved then?. Check. An eccentric comedy, with husbands, wives and mothers, all full of obsessions (again the looks)? Check.. Some sexual tension between the main characters, so we can add something else to the betrayal's game? Sure, check. A bit about corruption, but including an honest man? Check. Some dances? Check. And even Robert de Niro doing the mob impersonation once again, so you can proudly show what you are aiming for? Check, check, check. I know you already know what I'm going to write about: too much. Obviously, and that make the movie hard to believe.

"Silver Linings Playbook" was less pretentious, and to my view, although far from being memorable, it worked better as a whole. Primarily, because there was space for the characters to develop their roles, so Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence had the chance of showing their acting talents throughout the film. But in "American Hustle" the stunning cast doesn't have the chance. Lawrence's role as the vulgar and explosive Rosalyn Rosenfeld is just a need of the script (pretty weak imo) and a resource for funny scenes. Cooper as the cop Richie DiMaso and Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld do as much as they can with the material provided, but they are supposed to be suffering hell in one scene to be making fun in the next. Hard to believe. Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser might have the most interesting role... I can't see why does she need to be showing her cleavage in every single scene, but I'm certain she makes the film get going.    

I won't spoil the film for you, don't worry, but being a movie about scams, there's a gigantic one, and then THE TRICK. Couldn't buy it sorry, and wasn't that interested on the process to achieve it. Same goes about the finale, seriously lame. I concede that it could be just me. Entertaining? Yes. With some charm and some sort of originality? Agreed too. But not much aside from that. Seriously overhyped.

SCORE: 5/10

Sunday, March 9, 2014

"The Wolf of Wall Street", the Cult of Money

The Wolf of Wall Street

Funnily enough, it has had to be Martin Scorsese, not a thoughtful documentary director or an artie/indie filmmaker far from the industry the one to show what an aberration current capitalism is. And Scorsese has done it in a flamboyant, orgiastic and sardonic way. He has filmed “Goodfellas 2” in a bigger, bolder and stronger way, replacing the “traditional” mob for 90s Wall Street’s mafia. Arguably some of the most despicable human beings on Earth.

The Wolf of Wall Street is quintessential Scorsese. Although is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, who rocketed from an ambitious college graduated dreaming big with Wall Street to a megalomaniac, obnoxiously wealthy stockbroker living an out of control high life, involving himself into a neverending spiral of crime, corruption and vileness, this juggernaut tour de force that goes on for three relentless hours without never losing its punch and path couldn’t be filmed by anyone else.

This is a beast of a film. The tale is outrageous but you’ll probably laugh. Characters are so near of becoming a caricature with their gross behaviour, filthy language and over the top attitude, you are sort of expecting the movie will fall, and become a silly, incongruous parody. But it works, oh my, how it works. It’s a crude, raw and deformed mirror Scorsese forces to look at (the speeches at the office are so puzzling and frightening). He had done that before but the difference here is that while the majority of his villains acquire some sort of glamour, the characters on this movie are simply repulsive, repugnant people. It’s a monster’s parade.

Praise the actors for jumping aboard this bonfire of human values, specially Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort and Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff, his right-hand man, playing the Joe Pesci’s role without throwing a punch. And we shouldn’t forget Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia, Jordan's second wife. As gorgeous as complex and ambitious role, very far from the usual mannequin. Actors unleashing their talents in performances without a net.

But let’s conclude with Scorsese. I’m still shocked by his unparalleled narrative pulse, which imo makes “The Wolf of Wall Street” a director’s masterclass. I think of films that wanted to be “bigger-than-life” at the same time that aimed to be “state-of-the-art” works, like Brian de Palma’s laughable “Scarface”, Oliver Stone’s boring “Any Given Sunday” or the seriously empty “American Hustle” (review coming soon) to name just a few. But here the farce, the obscenity, the vulgarity and the sardonic humour all serve a purpose: to show how awfully wrong our societies are without delivering an indigestible, too depressive drama to assimilate. As a Spaniard, I just have to take a look to our suit & ties criminals, our corrupted, vile politicians and the cast of bankers and corporate leaders they serve. Are they glamorous, professionals to learn a lesson from, enterpreneurs (the ubiquitous stupid word)? No, the vast majority of them are people without any scrupulous. The mafia of the last 3 decades wears expensive suits and deals with “the market”. The American dream (and the Spanish, and the Russian, etc, etc) is a depraved one… Capitalism is greed and addiction. Is the cult of money. Nobody escapes it’s attraction, and choosing the right side (oh these jaw-dropping scenes on the subway and the tennis court) is never easy, and poorly rewarded. But it’s our choice, still. Our responsibility.

SCORE: 8/10