There’s a delightful ramshackle quality to the newest album by Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs. All Her Fault has a spontaneous, lively sound, and wickedly witty lyrics. It’s the kind of album that is not only instantly engaging, but also gets better with each listen.
The tagline on the DVD for Concussion is the kind of lurid text that implies we’re going to watch a Lifetime movie from the 1990s: Wife. Mother. Escort. When you examine the plot—middle-aged wife and mother gets hit on the head and then creates a secret life as a prostitute—it doesn’t do much to dissuade that notion. Yet Concussion isn’t a cautionary tale and the head injury doesn’t produce dissociative fugues; no one gets blackmailed, kidnapped, or murdered. It’s a frank examination of dissatisfaction and desire that could easily be transposed onto a heterosexual relationship, but in Concussion the married couple are lesbians with two kids.
With more than 300 films screening in a ten-day time period, the Toronto International Film Festival makes time management a challenge. Rumor has it that some film critics will leave a screening after ten minutes if they’re not fully engaged. I’m going to bet that there were quite a few who walked out on Violet & Daisy at TIFF 2011. That would have been a big mistake.
Chiaroscuro is defined as “the technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation.” It’s a ideal name for the second album from I Break Horses, the musical project from Swedish singer/songwriter Maria Lindén. Rather than a contrast between light and shade, however, the songs on Chiaroscuro are a study in the interplay between the retro synths of ’80s shoegaze and the more contemporary flavors of techno and EDM. In a way, Chiaroscuro reminds me a lot of School of Seven Bells’ Ghostory, but while that album was crystalline ice, these songs are like smoldering embers.
With a voice as soulful as Shelly Bhushan’s, Something Out Of Nothing could have taken a straight R&B route, and she could have thrown in boatloads of melisma to impress. Instead, she’s turned in an album full of interesting, unexpected arrangements and thoughtful lyrics, and presented them with her gorgeous, versatile voice. Something Out Of Nothing is a stealth charmer.
Diablo Cody hit it big a few years ago with Juno and everyone and their mother flocked over to her fan club. I watched Juno and admit I enjoyed it, but it was so filled with pop culture one-liners that it became boring. People said it was fresh and new but to me it was someone just trying way too hard. After that, Cody wrote Jennifer’s Body, which I was a fan of because of the silliness and how the film actually presented itself. Of course, people didn’t like this one and it was easily dismissed by critics. Cody wrote another “hit” called Young Adult which was just OK by me and many others.
Recently a new film called Paradise has surfaced that Cody wrote and directed. This is actually her directorial debut and the project she decided to helm first. First off, let me say this film feels like a total passion project for Diablo Cody. I could be wrong, of course, but Paradise falls flat and is so boring it doesn’t feel right.
There’s a lot to be said about the decidedly bizarre time capsule that is Saâda Bonaire. They weren’t so much a band as an experiment, but one that definitely pays off.
In 1982, Bremen DJ Ralf Behrendt, a.k.a. Ralf von Richthofen, embarked on a musical project that he hoped would replicate something akin to the influence Caribbean and Indian music was having on British pop. Behrendt had an exposure to and fascination with Turkish music due to his work in the German government’s immigration department. He enlisted local Turkish and Kurdish musicians, as well as his then-girlfriend Stephanie Lange and her friend Claudia Hossfeld (who both wrote the songs), to create Saâda Bonaire.
Thirteen tracks were recorded for EMI in Kraftwerk’s Studio N with producer Dennis Bovell, including “You Could Be More As You Are” as the intended single. But then, it all hit a snag.
Oh, Brian De Palma. You broke my heart but I keep coming back. First, it was Mission To Mars, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (and this from a diehard MST3K fan). Then it was the dreadful adaptation of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia. Still, I was excited about Passion. Noomi Rapace and Rachel Adams in an erotic thriller with lesbian undertones? Who could resist? Not me.
The critics weren’t kind at Passion‘s TIFF premiere in 2012. But Noomi Rapace! Rachel McAdams! Erotic thriller! Plus a score from the great Pino Donaggio. My desire to see the film did not wane.
Well, I’ve now seen Passion. And I have a lot of thoughts, and most of them good. It’s vintage De Palma, that is for certain: heightened emotion masking flatness of emotion, weird artificiality bleeding through lush production design, over-the-top music, exquisite framing, and outlandish narrative. I haven’t seen Alain Corneau’s 2011 inspiration Crime d’amour, so I can’t speak to it, but I now understand why so many hated Passion. It’s not a straightforward movie; it’s a straight-up giallo. Forget Hitchcock. It’s all Italian. There’s even a police investigation, a hallmark of the genre.
Short Term 12 opens and closes with a group of counselors relaxing outside the at-risk youth foster care facility where they work. Mason (John Gallagher, Jr.) shares a humorous story while Grace (Brie Larson), one of the female counselors, seems skeptical of Mason’s ability to convey the story accurately and without embellishments. They are soon interrupted by Sammy, a resident trying to run away as fast as he can. These bookends hold a lot of emotional wreckage between them, but also indicate that despite all the suffering, life can and does go on and in some cases, does get better.
I think it’s safe to say that Neil Jordan has a fondness for vampires. Byzantium is his second film about them, and although I haven’t seen Interview with the Vampire in a long time, I feel confident in stating that Byzantium, while dealing with similar themes, is superlative in every way.