Tuesday 20 February 2007

Esoteric Picks Of The Week #5 (02/19/2007)


Rockpile - Seconds Of Pleasure (1980)

Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds each released great solo albums in 1979 ("Labour Of Lust" and "Repeat As Necessary") and did so with virtually the same lineup on each record (both artists plus Billy Bremner and Terry Williams). So the next year, the whole band went into the studio to record as, well, a full band. The result is some pure pop pleasure. Opening with "Teacher Teacher" (proof that "Cruel To Be Kind" could be tweaked a bit and still sound fresh) and wrapping up with the exuberance of "You Ain't Nothin' But Fine", the album flows from one hook to another. Rockabilly-pop with a strong sense of humour.

Classic English Language Film

In A Lonely Place (1950)

Humphrey Bogart gives one of his best performaces as a struggling screenwriter in this film noir from Nicholas Ray. The mood and lighting are both dark and you can't help feel that fate has already played its cards. The gorgeous Gloria Grahame provides Bogart's character (called Dixon Steele - what a great noir name) with an alibi for a murder and they begin to fall in love. But Steele's dark side keeps popping up and threatens the new relationship and casts doubt on whether he really is innocent.

Recent English Language Film

Frailty (2001)

Bill Paxton's debut as a director has him directing himself (and Matthew McConaughey) in the story of a father who enlists his two sons' aid in killing demons. Is the father a fanatic who simply sees evil everywhere or is he really doing the world a service? Along the way, we see flashbacks that show a split in the devotion of the two sons - one firmly believes in his father's calling and the other questions his sanity. Effectively creepy and manages never to let your interest wane.

Foreign Language Film

Casque D'Or (1952)

You know how some films just grab you right out of the box? And sometimes you can't even explain why? I started this film late one night just to get an impression of its style and ended up cruising through the whole thing (even though I was quite tired). Jacques Becker has a natural ability to tell a story in an interesting manner without you ever being overly conscious of what he's doing. It just seems effortless. The tale here involves some small time Parisian gangsters at the turn of the century. The golden haired Marie is at the centre of the attentions of three of them, but only desires one. Let's just say that it then gets a little bumpy...Each character of the film is rendered so well with small touches that enable you to join their world easily.


Branded To Kill (1967)

Drop any pretensions of narrative cinema at the door. Seijun Suzuki takes a completely different approach to telling a basic yakuza style tale of a hitman looking to reach the pinacle of his profession (ie. No. 1 killer). For his efforts, Suzuki was fired from his studio after delivering this picture, but you can't blame the guy for trying something a bit different than shooting the same old 'B' picture quickie. What he's doing is playing with the form...The plot and storyline still come across, but the images aren't exactly what you would expect. Other films of his like 'Tokyo Drifter' and 'Youth Of The Beast' are also highly recommended.

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