Friday, 9 February 2007

Esoteric Picks Of The Week #4 (02/12/2007)


Bobby Previte - The Coalition Of The Willing (2006)

As a drummer, Previte has played with a wide ranging set of musicians across many styles. Grounded mostly in jazz, his solo albums have been (the ones I've heard) odd but with great moments and sections. This latest has a more rock vibe and is consistently driving with great riffs and tunes throughout. Charlie Hunter guests on guitar and blasts out some great lines backed with Hammond B-3 and additional support by a few members of Galactic. This is instrumental music that is challenging, but remains interesting throughout.

Classic English Language Film

The Night Of The Hunter (1955)

As a crooked preacher, Robert Mitchum gives one of his biggest performances. On the trail of some stolen money, he convinces a young widow and her town that he is a righteous man, but he's really looking for the cash that only the widow's children know about...Beyond some great monologues by Mitchum and a fine story, the black and white cinematography is just glorious. The trip down the river by the children is given a slightly surreal feel and one specific image under the water (you'll know it if you see it) will leave a lasting impression upon you.

Recent English Language Film

Next Stop Wonderland (1998)

One of the best romantic films around. Not so much a "rom-com" as it doesn't try hard to be cute or laugh out loud funny, but you'll find a smile on your face for a good part of the film. Most of that is due to an excellent performance by Hope Davis who is just radiant in some of her scenes. Her male co-star (Alan Gelfant) is less successful in his role, but the script shores up any of those shortcomings. I've yet to see a mediocre film from director Brad Anderson ("Happy Accidents", "Session 9", "The Machinist") who has a great eye for visuals, but really knows how to tell an interesting story about interesting people.

Foreign Language Film

Le Samourai (1967)

Jean-Pierre Melville's superb film of a lone hitman and the rituals and lifestyle he leads. Alain Delon is the coolest cucumber you'll ever see in a film and he never seems to break stride. I hesitated to put this under Foreign Language (ie. for me --> non-English) because it's probably closer to a silent film and would have worked just as well. So there is a great deal riding on the visuals to lead us through the tale. There's a terrific, tightly choreographed sequence in the police station when the head investigator in a murder moves between rooms and other portions of the police station all the while questioning different suspects - just one example of Melville's sure hand at delivering the proper feeling when required.


Hukkle (2002)

A gem of a little film (~75 minutes) from Hungary's Gyorgy Palfi. It's almost completely without dialog, but certainly not silent. The chirps, chortles, blorts, clicks and hiccups of nature, humans and machinery all coexisting together fill the soundtrack and feel almost musical at times. The men of a small village seem to be dying off at a fast rate and a police constable is on the trail. But the beauty of the film (and it's almost like "Baraka" mixed with "Microcosmos" at times) rests with the nature scenes interspersed with village life. Sometimes the film contrasts quiet nature versus clanging farm machines and at others it parallels the humans simple existence (a snorting hog and an old man hiccupping). Even more so than some of the Shohei Imamura films I've seen of late, Hukkle tosses mankind into the same ring as the rest of nature.

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