...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Post without a Theme, Vol. 2

I'm back with another post without any specific thematic goal. Let's see if I can keep it tight.


I've given the The Zombies' Decca Stereo Anthology 2-CD set a week of traffic listening. Technically they only released one sorta-album "Begin Here" that was cobbled together by the label when they had their first successful single, "She's Not There". "Odessey and Oracle" remains their only intentional album. The Decca Anthology scoops together most of their efforts in the studio between 1964 and 1966 and remixes them from mono to stereo. The result is interesting but not as impressive as I'd hoped. "Odessey and Oracle" is amazing, everything before is generally OK. In their early stuff I find little sign of what was to come.

CD 1, chronologically earlier tunes, sounds like a bit like early-Beatles-lite, albeit a little more jazzy. A lot of harmonizing about kissy-poo things. "She's Not There" stands out because it's trippier and crazier. Their other hit "Tell Her No" can be taken as really demeaning to women since the girlfriend in the song is treated like a mentally-disabled child. The theme is, paraphrased, "If she tries to f--- you, tell her no because she's supposed to be f---ing me."

CD 2 is much better. Though the songs are generally about smoochy subjects, The Zombies seem to be ironing out their own sound. My favorite tracks on the album are actually the final four, which are just the instrumental backing tracks for some of their songs. The tunes are very cinematic.

Alas, "Odessey" stands alone. But that's okay, at least it exists.


"Une Femme Est Une Femme" - Saw it, love it. Godard wins this round as well. I really enjoy his early cinema -- a lot of playing with expectations, music, archetypes, and cliches. This one is almost pure bliss, though both intelligence and a lack of directorial modesty hide well behind all of the antics. The film belongs not to Godard, but rather Anna Karina (whom he scooped up for himself around this time). If one were to edit out all of her mugging for the camera, all that would remain would be 5 minutes of Jean-Paul Belmondo smoking.

"Antonio Gaudi" -- Hiroshi Teshigahara's documentary on this Spanish artist is mostly a head-scratcher. The art and architecture are shot and edited beautifully. I gained an appreciation for Gaudi's creations. That's about all of the positivity that I can dig up. Teshigahara chooses to have no narration whatsoever, which in theory is a great thing. Documentary talking heads can be the equivalent of radio's dead air. But the lack of non-visual information forces the viewer to focus on the rest of the sound, which is uneven at best. Moody eerie music alternates with symphonic pieces, neither of which really influences the visuals. Rather than highlighting the potential multiple reads that one can get from Gaudi's art, they instead clash in a more irritatingly drawing too much attention. Also, there's about 60 seconds of spoken information and on top of being largely irrelevant, one doesn't know who the talking head is or why that information is chosen. I'm left wanting to know more about Gaudi, but not in a good way. I'd rather start fresh, ignoring that I ever actually watched this movie.

"Iron Man" -- Enjoyed it. Was exactly what I'd expected, which is a good thing since I expected a lot. It's not Jean Vigo, but it's the perfect summer movie. Casting against type worked very well. Good call Favs. Robert Downey Jr.'s screen presence did not wane for a moment and Jeffrey Lebowski was really creepy as Obidia whatshisname. And Gwenyth Paltrow was smart and gorgeous. Here are some pictures of Gwenyth Paltrow: