vineri, 27 ianuarie 2023

Au hasard Balthasar (1966)

One of cinema's top masterpieces is on HBO Max (wtf, together with Romanian Netflix these must be the most Arthouse streaming services in the world!!!). Au hasard Balthasar (1966) is Robert Bresson tragic story of a donkey and the girl who befriends him (Anne Wiazemsky in her film debut, she later encountered -and married- Godard and that story is told in in Le Redoutable, she also wrote a book about her experience on this film, 'Petite fille')

It's Dostoievski's The Idiot put on Schubert's music (Piano Sonata no. 20 in A Major, II Andantino) , in pure black and white. One of the saddest films ever made but also one of the most beautiful. And if you don't love a donkey... (Colin Farrell knows, see The Banshees of Inisherin and weep...) 
And I can't wait to see Jerzy Skolimowski take on the donkey tale in EO (2022) !!!

Also on Romanian HBO Max there are other 3 films by Bresson (courtesy of Argos Films), all classics and voted masterpieces by the film lovers of the world 60 years, do yourself a service if you are true film buff and watch them.

Pickpocket (1959)

The Trial of Jeanne D'Arc/Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (1962)

Mouchette (1967)

I remember (and will never forget) the days (& nights) we were hunting those from Criterion Collection....The world was purer when everything was not at a touch of a button on your remote, when you had to walk for miles to catch on a good film, book or album...I know, I'm just old ;)                      ...but trust me on what Bresson pointed with this film, 'We are all Balthasars'...sooner or later, you're IT...

joi, 26 ianuarie 2023

Babylon (2022)

Hollywood, Cal. The year is 1926, the world was cool and the movies were silent...well, they also shot Horses, didn't they? ;)

Welcome to Babylon, a film abut excess, ambition, dreams and nightmares together, the fourth feature of Damian Chazelle (now 38) after the succeses of Whiplash, La La Land and (so/so) First Man. 

A self-indulgent epic especially in the end montage of 'joie du cinema', which I could've done without (and most of us think about the same!!!), 3 hours long (and 9 minutes) but for me could've been longer ;). 

It's also rough and vulgar and decadent and loud, just like those times were supposed to be. Or so thinks Chazelle. Here's an interview with him explaining the sources and history of Babylon. 

Brad Pitt is silent movie star, Jack Conrad, modelled especially after John Gilbert...He's mostly Brad Pitt and that suffices plenty. 

Margot Robbie is the 'It' girl, Nellie LaRoy, made upon Clara Bow. She also has a scene that's sooo reminiscent of her playing Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood.. She's gorgeous and uber sexy, but she's kinda too modern and too sexy... 

The Mexican dude, Manny Torres (Diego Calva), I guess it's a composite.

The afro-american trumpet player Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) too. These may seem like 'Woke' characters, but actually they were there then.

Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li) is inspired by Anna Mae Wong, the first Asian star of Hollywood (she later went to Europe). 

The film makes the transition from the silent age to the talkies, borrowing plenty from 1952's Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen masterwork, Singin' in the Rain.

Other inspirations: the infamous classic book Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger, Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon, John Schlesinger's Day of the Locust (two Paramount productions as this one is, even starting with the old black and white logo, but using Kinescope as a substitute of the studio). 

There's a comparison of Hollywood with a jungle, an Animal Kingdom, from the elephant at the beginning to a lizard, a rattlesnake, an alligator. Where's the Monkey? Well, plenty on the screen, from the extras to the actors themselves.

There's cameos of the era VIP's, from Irving Thalberg (Max Minghella) To Marion Davies and WR Hearst, to even Patty Arbuckle. I guess the German director should be Erich Von Stroheim. Also nice to see Eric Roberts in an A picture again, he plays Margot's father, Robert Roy. 


If I would've seen the film in 2022 (it opened for Xmas in the US but only beg. Jan. WW) it would've made made my Top Movies of the year list, even flawed as it is...It got mixed reviews,  loved the SF Gate calling it 'the worst movie of the year' and quote:

`It is like “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” if Quentin Tarantino directed it as a teenager.'

Got 5 noms and a Golden Globe for best music (Justin Horwitz, Chazelle's collaborator on all his fares) and only 3 Oscar nominations tho (music, which might win, set design and costumes). More generous with the Brits at BAFTA -8 noms (including cinematography and editing, which I think were shunned :(). Horwitz's score has some cues from La La Land, mixed with Fellini's Nino Rota circus music and Mussorgsky's Night on a Bald Mountain. And a song about a certain pussy...

3 1/2 out of 5 - 7 out of 10

“Careers come and go, and movie stars come and go. That, on some level, is very scary, and it can even be depressing. But on another level, and hopefully this is where Manny kind of reaches a place of peace at the end, it's comforting, because you can’t help but be aware of how much bigger it is than you, and how you’re a part of something bigger. Just to be a small part of that is, in its own way, really special and eternal.”

Damien Chazelle in EW 

And here's Chazelle's screenplay for the film, in it's entirety.

miercuri, 25 ianuarie 2023

Top albums 2022

well, mostly The Usual suspects, I have no urge to re-invent my taste....

here's my Top Ten from 2021....

 Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp -18 (the most special album of the year, especially now with Jeff Beck gone :(...)

Ozzy Osbourne-Patient Nr. 9  (title track with Jeff  Beck, many other guests incl. Tony Iommi, Eric Clapton)

Jack White-Fear of the Dawn  (one of the two albums he put out in 2022)

Rammstein-Zeit  (8th album from Till & co.)

Kirk Hammett-Portals (EP)

Neil Young With Crazy Horse -Toast (one of the two albums he put out in 2022)

Jethro Tull-The Zealot Gene (1st JT album in 19 years and their 22nd)

Joe Satriani-Elephants from Mars

Megadeth-The Sick, the Dying... and the Dead!


Billy Idol-The Cage (EP)

The Black Keys-Dropout Boogie

Todd Rundgren-Space Force (with special guests, Sparks, etc)

Bruce Springsteen-Only the Strong Survive (the covers album)

Udo Dirkschenider-My Way (Udo covers whatever he lkes.., and those songs I know better than the Boss`)

The Smile-A Light for Attracting Attention (the band is formed by Radiohead members Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood with drummer Tom Skinner). 

Elvis Costello & the Imposters-The Boy Named If

Blues albums:

Edgar Winter--Brother Johnny (featuring Joe Bonamassa, Steve Luckater, Bobby Rush, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, etc)

Ry Cooder &Taj Mahal-Get on Board

Boney Fields-Bump City

Van Morrison-What's It Gonna Take? 

Music video of the year:
(from their album, Fever Dream)

vineri, 20 ianuarie 2023

RIP David Crosby

David Crosby, co-founder of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young is now gone (Jan. 18, 2023). He was 81...

DEja Vu :(

Here's one of his top albums (and highly psychedelic), If I Could Remember My Name, from 1971. 
Well, thy name shall be remembered...

duminică, 15 ianuarie 2023


Gone at 54, two days after Ausgin Butler won the Golden Globe for best actor and she and her mom Priscilla were in the (ball)room 

joi, 12 ianuarie 2023

RIP Jeff Beck

 This is too close to home...:(((((((((

I saw Jeff last time in south of France in July 2022, he was great, in great shape, touring with Johnny Depp, which he supported in his ugly trial days...everyone was an awe...most of the audience came to see the pirate of Carrrab...what? no worries

...we had a lot of wonderful Pastis was such a Pefect Day (Mishu? Lou?,Marseilles;)

Jeff was in super shape, playing his greatest, his Bolero included, Stratus too...all those french sweet girls came to se Jack Sparrow tho...but we knew the drill...and the roze... (accent on e;)

Jeff Beck is my favourite (and emphasise this, never WAS) guitarist (I guess / on a tie with Eddie Van Halen -and he was one of Eddie's faved  too:)

but at least I got to see him (JB) twice... (in Bratislava about ten or 11 years ago, remember Mircea, Relu, Ursu?)

-maan,mind typos, i'm shattered and half-drunk watching Jeff on Ronnie Scott's on youtube  now...few years back it was only the rare DVD...andigotthat concert as aXmas gift from a dear friend (Cristi Exo), wirt Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Tal Wikenfeld on bass... Stratus at 5.50¬ (Billy Cobham, how I saw him playing this, I gotta write that story someday too;, Vlad ?) As u know my dream for Transilvania Blues was to bring Jeff Beck to Romania:(((( Too far, gone.....

I loved Jeff from The Faces on (can't say Yardbirds),  and one of my faved clip of the 80's with Rod Stewart, black and white/sepia cover of  People Get Ready, an anthem for friendship, if ever was one (or none;),  the train et all...yep, that train is gone for sure:(((( (mr.T.)

I loved him for all the refusals/ denials of greatness in super-bands  and his love of vintage cars, and gone mad in  fusion, Jazz, Jams  and yes, the Jan Hammer records..
.first record by Jeff Beck Group is entitled TRUTH ! which he BEHOLD !!!!
JB was an honest guy in a crooked business...He stood tall, or better said, he didn't give (a) shit about fame and brands...he cared about his custom cars...
I wish'd I had a drink with him...(but I did, and somehow I'm having one as I type this...)
I feel very sorry for Johnny (Depp) and Ronnie (Wood) and Rod (Stewart), whom I feel are carrying this load more than the rest...
**********It was an honor, sir !!!  And what a pleasure! I lived years of my life with theee...

You surely made this a better word !!!(and rock world, and jazz, and music whatsoever)..

Kudos! Love forever..(i can't get the emoticons, fuck off haters)

This is Jeff Beck's inducer's Jimmy Page in HALL OF FAMEin 1999 (and playing with Metallica)... bonus: Jimmy Page ( I knew him since we were 13).

...check out Ronnie Wood being happy !!!

vineri, 6 ianuarie 2023

Copenhagen Cowboy (2022-2023)

 “Four hundred years ago, they would have burned you at the stake” 

Let's start the year with a blast!!! 

A #NWR (Nicolas Winding Refn) UFO comissioned by Norsk Netflix ! Streaming from Jan. 5 2023!

For film lovers (and fans of the polarizing NWR) a must-see, for others proceed with caution!

Neo(n)-noir, surrealism, synth electronic score, sexual deviance, existentialism, nihilism, violence & pigs, all in Copenhagen Cowboy, a six-part mini-series (well, more like a pilot) from the Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn. It's also a comeback of sorts to motherland Danmark, where Refn hasn't made a film since Pusher III back in 2005.

Plot? Who cares? Or, what plot? This is a NWR trip, a visual, audio feast, existential, experimental mind f*uck.  Neon Punk again.

Miu (Angela Bundalovic) is a spirit, or a lucky charm, or what? She looks androgynous, short hair and a blue jumpsuit that she wears in every scene. She is bought by the Serbian/Albanian Danish mob dealing in sex traffic and other evil deeds. Very Evil, very dark, strong accents (I think the Dansk and Serbain and Mandarin are the forte of the show). Later on we get to the Chinese mob -or Danish Yakuza? and the bigger deal Serbian mob. A gang war ensures. Plus a degenerate ubermench (but not somench)serial killer (Nikolas) living in a castle. Some Hannibal (Thomas Harris)inspired plot? Should we mention his sister  (sister?) Rakel (played by Refn's daughter Lola Corfixen) ?  And what about those pigs? 

We get some answers in episode 4 from Miroslav- Zladko Burik (best European actor in Triangle of Sadness), a regular of Refn's Danish films,  The Pusher trilogy and Bleeder. 

And what's that cameo in the end (ep.6) from Hideo Kojima, world's most famous video game designer? Suffice to say NWR and HK are good buddies but he's a prelude for something more. ALSO Refn cameos in the series, as a shady businessman (or?pig?) in a suit. 

I am very curious if this will be renowed for season 2, I kinda guess not but who knows? There's nothing even remotely similar to this produced by Netflix or any other streamer!

But it happened before. Too Old To Die Young, NWR's first fare into streaming game in 2019, with the 10 episodes/13 hours of cinematic mayhem left comissioner Amazon Prime jawless, and that was a show slower than CC and more violent, decadent and sexually deviant. And well, it was better than CC out of which I liked best the first two episodes, for ambiguity, elipse and setting. 

The best assets of CopenhagenCowboy are the neon noir cinematography by Magnus Nordenhof Jonk, on his first fare with Refn, the editing (where I gotta congratulate an old schoolmate, Olivier Bugge Coutteon his 1st NWR  flick), and of course the score, pulsating synthpop 80's electronica by old collaborators Peter Peter, Peter Kyed, of course Cliff Martinez and Julian Winding, Refn's nephew whose Neon Dance he used in The Neon Demon. IMO Winding's piece "Pigs- A Slight Return" takes its cue from Krzysztof Pendercki/Wendy Carlos' piece, used in opening titles for The Shining. One of the best cues of CC is also Winding's trance dance Undead is the New Red. Indeed;)

CC premiered in Venice (bits) and here's a review:

”I looked at Copenhagen Cowboy more like a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, with Denmark as a multiethnic, multi-language place that, to certain people, is supposed to be heaven because it’s the country of Bernie Sanders.” (#NWR)
from his interview in Vulture here

one of my favorite shots,reminescent of The Keep!