Friday, November 04, 2005

Universal Heartbeat

¶ You know the soft verse/loud chorus/soft verse dynamics of Kurt Cobain? It left its mark on a zillion bands. Kurt himself stole it from the Pixies, as he often liked to point out. Ten years ago, I went through a phase when every mixtape I made had Juliana Hatfield's "Universal Heartbeat" on it. It takes that Nirvana-esque song structure and dresses it up in alt-pop clothes, accessorizing it with electric piano for the verse and power guitars for the chorus. Why it was never a hit I'll never know. But Fluxblog's got it. And you should go get it.

¶ Mr. Culturespace sprinkles handy links all over these music roundups.

Cinephiliac Aaron Hillis doesn't just slap links up on his sidebar like the rest of us. He creates custom graphics for them. In my case, he picked (so thoughtfully) Wong Kar-Wai's Days Of Being Wild. (Thanks, Aaron.)

¶ The much-loved annual Indian festival Diwali (or Festival of Lights) was this week. In celebration, here's some nifty Diwali artwork by Sanjay Patel.

¶ Maud on those pink chick-lit books: "Women's studies, my ass."

¶ While minor Hollywood films command major promotion budget dollars, the work of some of the world's best filmmakers — so many of them from Asia — slips quietly to DVD: Tropical Malady.

William Gass in The Believer on teaching: "I was very limited. I was basically a classroom lecturer. And I wasn’t terribly good at seminars or with tutorials. I certainly didn’t feel as comfortable, and that may be because, as Stein said of Pound, I’m a village explainer."

Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the New York Times: "I'm fascinated by pop stars who seem to come from another planet. David Bowie, Bjork, Michael Jackson — they're like aliens. They've made their own reality."

29 Comments:

Anonymous acquarello said...

I think I would have liked Tropical Malady more if the first half didn't feel so belabored (and what's with the extended licking of the guy's hand?). Don't get me wrong, the metaphoric payoff in the second half is quite incredible and almost makes up for the first half, but there was just a little too much time dedicated to the "coyness" of the relationship, even when it seemed pretty clear early on what was going on between these two characters.

November 04, 2005 9:49 AM  
Anonymous dvd said...

I totally missed Tropical Malady while it was in theaters for a week this past summer, but I'll be getting it next week from my Netflix queue. My friend Yen and I were recently discussing how Strand releases their films; they slip quietly indeed, both to DVD and to theaters. For example, I didn't even realize Tony Takitani was playing in Dallas until yesterday - the last day of it's engagement.

November 04, 2005 10:59 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hmm. I had a slightly different take, I think. Liked the first half too. Less the "what was going on" (which, yes, was telegraphed clearly and early) than the "how"--the details like the opening with the body, which actually picks up from the end of Blissfully Yours; the ice scene; the shrine; basically the accumulation of small details all of which somehow worked for me, even when they departed from naturalism, as they frequently did, e.g the hand-licking. :-). And yeah, the second half was a tour de force.

Acquarello, I enjoyed your review of Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Uttara aka The Wrestlers. As you probably know, Dasgupta loves to film in the Purulia region of rural, less-economically-developed West Bengal and it's always great to see him place such importance on landscape as he does in his movies.

Have you seen anything else by him?I saw Tale Of A Naughty Girl, then noticed that the Viennale used a German-language version (!) of my synopsis for their program. Looked weird to see it German.

I also saw Chased By Dreams (which I confidently, and unfortunately, dragged Doug to--neither of us cared for it).

Here's Asiaweek on Dasgupta. And The Hindu, my hometown newspaper. And also, India Today.

November 04, 2005 11:01 AM  
Blogger girish said...

The cinetrix takes aim, and Quiet Bubble fires back.
[Actually, I quite liked this movie.]

November 04, 2005 11:26 AM  
Blogger girish said...

David, I've been hoping Tony Takitani would open here in town, but no sign of it yet.

November 04, 2005 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Hillis said...

You're most deservedly welcome!

November 04, 2005 11:47 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"Anathema! Child of Satan!".

November 04, 2005 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Hatfield's great, and "Universal Heartbeat" is really seamless -- much more so than some Nirvana songs in which it's like, "okay, here's the chorus." The drums that open the song are great.

By the way, I haven't seen George Washington, but Quiet Bubble's retort is great.

November 04, 2005 12:54 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Yeah, I like that opening frantic flurry of drums too. Followed--wham--by those wondrous electric piano chords.
Love electric piano. Would luuuve to get me a sweet fat Rhodes someday.

November 04, 2005 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Hillis said...

Here's your sweet fat Rhodes, G!

November 04, 2005 1:08 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Heheh. Yes, I was clearly asking for that one.

November 04, 2005 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

That's too funny.

November 04, 2005 3:47 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Joshua: "Wasting time on Wikipedia this morning, I arrived, through a serious of grotesque links, upon the entry for Loogie."

November 04, 2005 5:07 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Regarding Dasgupta, yeah I've seen a few, including Tale of a Naughty Girl, which I liked as well, something of a harbinger for Born into Brothels, wasn't it? ;)

November 04, 2005 5:22 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Now that you mention it...yes it is.

November 04, 2005 5:25 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

girish, I'm curious how you see the beginning of Tropical Malady picking up from the beginning of Blissfully Yours. I saw both films in close succession last year and didn't make any such connection, other than the fact that the landscapes were similar (shot in the same national park, if I'm not mistaken).

November 04, 2005 8:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

[POSSIBLE SPOILER]

Brian, Apichatpong spoke about it an interview (if I'm not mistaken here) he did with James Quandt for Artforum (May 2005 issue, I think). (It's a terrific essay-interview.) The body in the park/woods at the end of Blissfully Yours, could, he said, be thought of as the same one that is discovered at the beginning of Tropical Malady, thus establishing a continuum of setting and concerns.
I looked--the interview doesn't seem to be on-line.

November 04, 2005 8:54 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh, and I reviewed Blissfully Yours for Senses of Cinema when I saw it at TIFF, and got an email from Apichatpong saying he had blurbed my review at his site. We exchanged a few emails soon after. And then, he said he was heading off into the jungle for a while to shoot his next film...

November 04, 2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Okay, just found the Artforum here at home. (In the kitchen!). He does indeed say that. And he also says this, which sorta confirms for me the false, clean dichotomy some critics have drawn between the supposedly "realistic" first half versus the patently "formalistic/allegorical" second half. (Yes, that's true but no so cleanly, I think).
He says, "The burden of memory connects both halves. I wanted the first half to seem unrealistic like a memory of something, so that when you leave the theater, you question what was real and what wasn't." And there's more interesting stuff here about the film, his method, etc.

November 04, 2005 9:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Acquarello kicks off a Top 10 film directors discussion at Cinemarati.

November 04, 2005 10:11 PM  
Blogger girish said...

AO Scott on Jarhead:
"It is a movie that walks up to some of the most urgent and painful issues of our present circumstance, clears its throat loudly and, with occasional flourishes of impressive rhetoric, says nothing."

November 05, 2005 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I liked Patel's illustrations. Meanwhile, I have my own "Festival of Lights" to deal with. I missed out on Thai films playing at the Ontario Cinematheque, but I saw some films at the ImagineNATIVE film fest the weekend I was in Toronto. I saw a feature by a Philipino, as well as shorts by Native Americans, a Maori, and Samoan, and one short by a woman from India, produced by a Native American.

November 06, 2005 12:38 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, I've never heard of that Toronto festival. It sounds interesting though.

On another note, just back from Barnes & Noble, where they were piping "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open F***ing Fire".
Already?!

November 06, 2005 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Yeah, it's way too early for holiday music, but at least it was "The Christmas Song." Mel Torme could really put together a chord progression.

November 06, 2005 5:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Yes, it's a beautiful tune, no question.
I also like (as much) his "Born To Be Blue".

November 06, 2005 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

From what I figured, there are several smaller theme based film festivals that occur in Toronto, such as an Asian film festival that's coming up. The film fest I was at was held at the Jewish Community Center near Yonge and Bloor. I was at the Eaton Centre in Toronto (my significant other needed to shop), and they were already setting up some holiday trimmings. When I worked in a book store ten years ago, we set up for the holidays on Holloween after the store was closed. Netflix promises Tony Takitani for January, btw.

November 06, 2005 5:50 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, good to know about Tony Takitani.
I've attended a few small Toronto fests--Images (avant-garde) and Hot Docs are both good.

November 07, 2005 7:15 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I'll have to track down that Artforum issue. The funny thing is that in that opening scene of Tropical Malady the soldiers handle the body as if it were not a humanoid but a larger beast (perhaps a tiger). I'm now trying to remember if there are references to tigers in Blissfully Yours at all. I think there is a brief mention of one, but it's all getting confused in my mind (I've seen the film twice in theatres and absolutely cherish it; I wish there was a definitive DVD or VCD edition out there with English subtitles; heck I'd settle for an unsubbed copy if it was uncut and cheap enough).

November 07, 2005 3:57 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Funny you should mention. I think I read that there was a reference to tigers in Blissfully Yours. Perhaps even in that Artforum issue.
Oh, and in a more recent issue, Quandt has a nice, long essay on HHH and Three Times, which is a pleasure too.

November 08, 2005 8:50 AM  

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