Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Quentin Tarantino published a list of what he thought of the films in 2011.
He lists Drive under Nice Try.
I can see why he doesn't love it though, it takes inspiration from everything in a way similar to what he does (hell it even takes from Tarantino) but the end product is something very different.
i'm not Tarantino though, so i can say without a doubt that Drive was the best film of 2011 (that i saw anyway!)
Not only that, but i can say it's one of the best films i've ever seen, it's gripping, thrilling, and interesting on so many levels.
And has one of the best uses of a hammer outside of Oldboy.

The trailers do it great injustice, they make it seem like some high-octane car chase action flick, when in reality, there's two car chases that are more about the intensity of the situation than the speed, and the rest is very low key, a lot of things go unspoken, and i appreciate that.
To get a better idea of the tone of film, watch the opening credits:

Lovefoxxx :3

This movie is very much a lovesong to the 80's, the style, the music (including the theme song that spells out the story) characters reminiscing of the 80's, the character archetypes, hell it even turns into an 80's slasher for a bit:
Complete with slow walk and everything!
After seeing this i looked up the director and honestly wasn't surprised to see it was the same director that was behind Valhalla Rising:

The same unspoken quality, same cartoony CGI violence. Really though it just told me i should stop putting off watching Bronson.

i suppose it's impossible not to mention Taxi Driver, as there are striking similarities, but while Taxi Driver is about a man going insane and questionably being viewed as a hero, Drive is about the driver becoming human, and then unquestionably a hero. This cool and calm machine, meets a cute girl and her son, spends a weekend with her, and it changes him, he becomes human "The best time of my life" We see him becoming human in his rage and rash decisions , he's suddenly not so collected anymore. By the end of the film he's elevated to the divine. Valhalla Rising had similar themes, and i'm told Bronson does as well.

If you love film, if you love storytelling, if you love the darker bits of the 80's, i cannot recommend this film enough.

On earworms.

There are three songs from the 90's that are forever stuck in my head, a line or two from each will always sneak up and lodge itself in.

Laid by James
The less interesting video, but it's uncensored lyrically.

i'm not entirely sure where i first would have heard this song, perhaps the video was 120 minutes one night, my older sister did have the CD so perhaps i randomly came across it going through her music. Regardless i was a bit wowed but how unabashed and without shame this song goes into sexual and romantic issues.  The opening lines have always stuck with me, with the bed being on fire with passionate love. Even though it was never meant in a sexual context, it reminds me of Midnight Oil song, how can you sleep when your bed is burning?
It's understandable why poor James is going crazy.
Also bravo to a song mentioning gender roles and a guy feeling pretty.

Discoball World by David Garza

This song was featured in an issue of the CDROM magainze LAUNCH. (Oh LAUNCH, you introduced me to Cake, Poe, Everclear, and even let me know the Presidents of the United States of America had a second album coming out. <3) If not LAUNCH it might have been some random compilation my sister gave me. i've never been able to find too much of his music, but listening to bits on youtube, it seems like he's comparable to Jeff Buckley, which makes him AOK in my book. He has unique poetry in his lyrics, and i love the deep loss of love in the lyrics of this song: "Everyday I miss the you I used to know" ""I can't forget the day that you forgot me" "I lost God, I found you" And honestly a line i'd never payed much attention to until now "I fell for your coffee eyes, your half-and-half white lies" Clever, but it's also reminiscent of my favourite song of all time. (Perhaps one day i'll sing la te da too)

Now those songs are great honestly, i love them both, i never get tired of either, and the way they've shaped me is probably quite important. However, the next song is torture, and it never goes away.

Forget About Love by Gilbert fucking Gottfried

i've only seen Return of Jafar once, my grandparents bought it for all my cousins and me to watch at their house, i don't even really remember how Jafar comes back, or what he does, but this song, has been in my head since 1994. Honestly, i'll just be going about some mundane task when "Forget about his charms, forget about the way he held you in his arms" Or i'll just want to burst out with "It matters so much!"
At least in my head it's not in Gilbert's lovely voice. i don't know though, actually listening to the whole song for the first time in a few years (i do look it up every now and then) it does have terrible singing, and it's so damn cheesy, but it does have elements in there of something from a traditional musical, elements i do enjoy, so perhaps it's because of this song i can appreciate things like this or this. It's still pretty god awful though.

For better or worse these songs seem integral parts of my thinking process.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

biff's favourite songs of '11

Mostly in no particular order.
Ashley's Song by Des Ark

Now this song is a bit different from the rest of her work, but i was still quite psyched when this album came out. After randomly coming across this song, i was instanly reminded of Circa Survive, only with female vocals. So you know, Circa Survive.
this song is so brutal due to it's topic, and the raw emotion that pours into this song is why it's currently my most played. Just dark and amazing.

Que veux-tu by Yelle

Now, i don't speak Fench, but Yelle is nice enough to give us English translations.
And it's easy enough to parse that not only does Yelle write ridiculously catchy pop, they also write clever lyrics that suit the music so. My biggest bummer of the year was discovering this group the week after they played in Portland.

Midnight City by M83

M83's Hurry Up We're Dreaming is a fantastic dreamscape of the 1980's. It's cheesy and and endearing, and one of my favourite albums of the year. i never thought they'd top Kim & Jesse, and yet, here we are. Midnight City is my church.

Settle Down by Kimbra

i love this girl's voice and style. Very soulful, retro, and beautiful. i also quite enjoy this video is about little girls playing at being mature, just in case you were inclined to take the song at face value. Nebraska Jones is a pretty cute name though.

Spitting Blood by WU LYF

This song is a wonderful ritual to ancient and forgotten gods. It is the pagan heat lamp our hearts all lack.

A+ Brain by 1994!

That van is a rockin'
rock on van, rock on

Swim Good by Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean is one of my favourite artists this year, Nostalgia, Ultra is a great listen. And he's featured on one of Tyler's best songs, and the only tracks worth a damn on Watch the Throne.

Bad As Me by Tom Waits

Mr. Waits continues to be the craziest hobo with the loveliest songs.  Bless his heart.

Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys

Don't care what you say, this is completely applicable to this list. The original Beach Boys Smile is out, and Good Vibrations continues to be the greatest pop song of all time.

City Grrl by CSS

Lovefoxxx :3
i love her attitude, i love the driving synth, this is by far their best song yet.

Sandwitches by Tyler, the Creator, Hodgy Beats, and the Roots

This is the performance that sold me on Tyler, i love the censored lyrics, the zombie girl, the horn, the energy, WOLF GANG.
And the entire thing is capped off perfectly by Mos Def swooping in out of nowhere to repeatedly shout "Swag!"

Mother by Wye Oak

Despite her claims to not be badass, this song is fucking badass, it's one of the greatest covers i've ever heard.

212 by Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks is adorable, has a ridiculously foul mouth, and completely amazing skills. This girl is going to be huge if she keeps this up.
She did pick a twitter fight with Kreayshawn recently though. Don't fight, i <3 you both.

Nightcrawlin' by Royal Canoe

This song is a holy experience, it fills me with awe, the slow build up, the distortions, it's magnificent.

Colours by GROUPLOVE

This song is here on the virtue of it having grown on me, not that there's anything wrong with it, it just seems generic, like every other song on alternative radio sounds exactly like this.
However it includes a few elements that i make it noteworthy.

King Park by La Dispute

It took awhile for La Dispute to grow on me, there was something grating about such small hands the first time i heard it, but eventually i realized i couldn't get it out of my head.
And since mewithoutYou has gone on to became Emmet Otter's Jug Band Jamboree, it's nice to have a hardcore pick up where they left off, odd Christian overtones and all.
Regardless of what you believe "Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself?" is damn haunting.

Rites of Initiation by Circle Takes the Square

That's right, the whole EP, it's really meant to be listened to all at once anyway.
Honestly, new Circles Takes the Square was probably the biggest surprise of 2011, and it's ridiculously good to boot.
The entirety of Decompositions will be mindblowing

Keep My Addresse To Yourself, Cause We Need Secrets by FUCKING WEREWOLF ASSO

i believe this speaks for itself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Feed My Frankenstein

One of the things i find fascinating about Frankenstein and it's adaptations into film is the spectacle of the birth of the monster, the would-be-Adam.

It's adorable when the skeleton waves.

Apparently it's not Karloff in this scene, as he was terrified of being electrocuted.

Beef :3

Oddly enough, I couldn't find a video of Rocky's birth.

Oh Kenneth, how did this ever seem like a good idea.

Let's compare those to the scene in Mary Shelley's book:
It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.
The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.

Now, while it does mention a spark of life, i never took it literally. It's important to remember Frankenstein was a chemist, he idolized alchemists, if anything the birth of the monster was done chemically.
The 1910 film is contains a chemical vat, a bit too much of a spectacle but still has the right reaction of Frankenstein anyway. The 1931 film is obviously playing off the idea of Tesla and the mad scientist, and if wikipedia is to be believed they even used a Tesla Coil built by Nikola himself. As for the Phantom of the Paradise, while obviously taking influence from the 1931 film, it at least realizes that the monster is the spectacle, and not the means of animation. The lyrics nicely reflect Frakenstein's reaction, and it's paralleled in story as "Life at Last" sung by Beef isn't what Winslow had intended to create at all. In the Rocky Horror Picture Show, our dear Dr. Frank-N-Furter animates Rocky through chemical means, also rainbows.
As for Branagh's version, electric eels, really?
If anything Lovecraft was likely the closest with Herbert West and his reanimating injections.

In the story Frankenstein never reveals his process, as he doesn't wish for something like this to happen again, but Mary Shelly didn't include it because it doesn't matter, the fact that the monster exists matters, the exact details of how he came to be don't. If you try to come up with something plausible you end up with vats of amniotic goo and eels, some random magic serum and you leave the audience disappointed. It's why Lovecraft wrote most of his terrors as indescribable, they're vague notions of crawling horrors, the more you define them the less interesting they become. Take Aliens for example, it changes the terror of the creatures, they become a defined living, insect type species, now put that up against the original Alien in which this unknown terror lurks in the shadows and Oh my god, it's going to violate everyone on the ship!
But i digress.

Personally, i envision a body on the slab, some various beakers, test tubes, retorts, and other such things, perhaps something relating to alchemy for inspiration, or just a supernatural tint. The pale and sickly Victor finishes a stitch and the creature opens it yellow eyes.
Just something low key, some mundane final touch. i do find Frankenstein running and hiding in his room quite interesting, it's a far cry from "Now I know what it feels like to be God!"
It's also interesting how often the monster has been portrayed as something evil through .
Truly the monster must be frightening to behold, more human than human, his translucent skin a constant reminder that we are meat, that we are mortal, that we are weak. But the monster is kind, it's mankind that treats him terribly. It's like believing the asshole at the end of King Kong "It was beauty that killed the beast." Yeah, fuck you Carl.